‘I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing, will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day
And you, you can be mean
And I, I’ll drink all the time
‘Cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact
Yes, we’re lovers, and that is that
Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time, just for one day
We can be heroes, forever and ever
What’d you say?’
Songwriters: BRIAN PETER GEORGE ENO,DAVID BOWIE
© Universal Music Publishing Group,Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,TINTORETTO MUSIC
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a blur of rock and roll excitement, pot, pizza, frat shows and I have a girlfriend. How did that happen? Even Max is in the band, our guard dog when shows become rowdy with haters fighting our glitter/gay fans. His need to score pot identifies those in the audience who are ‘holding.’ We shame them into sharing with everyone to mellow out the screaming fans. The craziness only grows. People stop us on the street. They idolize Max, not us. We sell gay underwear by playing Christmas carols in Coconut Grove, modelling the colorful briefs to 12-year-old girls who buy them for their little boyfriends. The boys complain that they can no longer go to gym.
The highlight of the holidays is Tim beating up Jeff, home from college, after I tell him about all the years of being molested. The first time they meet at the garage, Tim steps up, socks him in the stomach, and puts him down with an uppercut. Tim holds him with a foot to his neck and swears he’ll kill him if he ever touches me again. Everyone is in shock. Jeff rushes out but not before Max bites him on the butt. John is the happiest I’ve seen him in years.
It all comes crashing down. What can I expect. I never even knew I could be happy. On Christmas Day I again celebrate with Tim and his family at a fancy restaurant. I show everyone I’ve learned how to properly crack the glaze on my creme Brule. When we get home, Tim and I walk Max so he can relieve himself.
Once we’re outside, Max runs to his favorite spot by the bushes and after sniffing, settles down for a good shit. Suddenly I hear a car race around the corner with the wheels screeching. It’s Jeff. He pulls right up onto the lawn, jumping out. He has a hand gun.
Max is pulling on the leash to get at him. Tim holds Max to shield him. I jump in front of them.
“Give me that dog, or else,” Jeff threatens.
“You have to kill me before I’ll do that,” I shout.
“You have to kill me first,” Tim yells, jumping in front of me.
“I’ll do it, you faggots,” as he waves the gun at us.
I lose my grip on Max, who pulls away to get at Jeff. Jeff fires the gun, barely missing us.
Lights go on all over the neighborhood. Tim’s dad comes out the door, with Susan screaming behind him. He goes back in, probably to get a gun; he’s a gun nut according to Tim. Jeff waves the gun around and tells everyone to stay back.
“I want the dog,” he screams.
I bend over to protect Max. Tim is standing in front of me.
“Jeff, you’re going to jail in the next ten minutes. Drop the gun and you might get off.” Tim yells.
“You’re the asshole who turned my brothers against me. I had to beat John to get your address, and he’s my real brother.”
“You lose the right to be anyone’s brother when you abuse them,” Tim argues.
Jeff’s face clenches up. I realize he’s so incensed that he’s acting insane.
“Calm down, Jeff. Stop now and you won’t get in trouble,” Tim tries to talk Jeff down.
Max starts barking. Jeff takes another shot at us. Tim’s dad steps out with a rifle. In his military voice he orders, “Drop the weapon, now.”
Tim steps in front of us, but Max gets loose. I lunge to protect him. Jeff fires twice more. Tim’s dad fires and Jeff goes down, shot in the leg. Tim runs and grabs the handgun. Max has him by the leg, wildly shaking him. Tim’s dad runs over, putting a foot on Jeff’s neck as he squirms. The police sirens are close. I feel a slight sense of relief. Then I think, “Why am I lying on the ground?”
Tim looks back and sees me there, staring at him. He drops the gun and runs to me. I feel so safe as he holds me.
I whisper, “Tim,” and close my eyes.
Tim screams, “Jace.” Over and over. His voice fades as I lose consciousness.
I dream of flying with the angel. We’re hovering above Tim’s front yard. It is a flurry of activity. Police cars and ambulances are parked at odd angles. The police have Jeff in handcuffs while the paramedics work on his leg wound. Other police are talking with Tim’s dad. I see myself lying in Tim’s arms as he rocks back and forth, refusing to let me go. I’m dead. The angel holds me tighter as we fly over the neighborhood. We set down on the bell tower of Holy Family Church.
“This is where you belong,” the Angel tells me.
“I belong with Tim,” I assert. Dave is the religious one, not me.
“Your heart is your soul,” the angel answers my unspoken question. “I believe this is your answer.”
“Trust is the answer. Ask your heart if it trusts me.”
I know the answer to that question. “You found Tim to save me from my depressing life.”
“You can show Tim and everyone who trusts you how to trust and have an open heart.”
“Nobody will listen to me, especially now that I’m dead,” I contend.
“Well, watch how your actual death plays out.”
The angel grasps me. As I cling to him, we fly to Mercy Hospital, hovering over my body in Emergency. My body lies silent and blue, while Tim is crying his heart out, holding my limp hand. I’m stunned to see how much he loves me and what distress my death causes him.
“Let me go to him,” I ask the angel.
“No, watch as I stop his tears,” the angel leaves me hovering as he lands and approaches Tim.
I flutter a bit, having never floated or flown by myself. The angel calls to Tim who recognizes him from the hallucinogenic trip he took on Halloween. I can tell what Tim is thinking. He wants to die, too.
“Are you ready to let go? To enter the spirit world?” the angel asks.
Tim looks up. “Will I be with Jace?” he asks. “Is Jace in the spirit world now? I’ll go if he is.’
“No. He is still here,” the Guardian indicates the other side of the gurney. I see myself in spirit form, wispy and transparent. I can see right through me.
“Can you speak?” Tim asks.
Shaking its head my ghost makes hand signs. I know instantly what he signs, ‘I love you forever.’
Tim cries so hard, the ghost has to hit him five times. Tim tries to hug him, but the ghost holds up a hand to stop him from passing right through it.
Tim asks the angel, “Can I let his spirit take me over?”
“It won’t be his spirit as both of your souls will become one with the spirit world.”
“How long will he stay with me like this?”
“Until you die and both of you are absorbed as pure energy.”
Tim asks the ghost, “Do you want to stay with me like this?”
The ghost signs and nods his head vigorously yes.
Tim speaks aloud to the angel, “Thank you, friend, my true friend. The devil promised me protection. You have given me back life, mine and Jace’s.”
The angel smiles and slowly disappears. I’m left fluttering above Tim and the ghost.
He’s oblivious, so happy to have that false ghost of me back from the dead. I worry that I have lost my angel. My heart says, “Go back to the Church.”
The first time I pass through a wall, ceiling, window or door is memorable. Almost instantly I’m back on top of the Holy Family bell tower. I remain discombobulated but feel safe enough to relax. My angel is waiting for me to recover.
“Don’t like passing through solid objects?” he laughs at my perplexed confusion. “Once you realize it’s only an illusion, you’ll get used to it.”
“How can I see my own ghost?” is my first question. I’ve already accepted being invisible and flying/floating about.
“It’s Tim’s projection of his need to keep you alive.”
“Tim is deluded?”
“He’s sixteen. He’ll get over it.”
“What about the ghost. What is it?”
“Whoever Tim wants him to be.”
“There’ll be lots of sex. That’s for sure.”
“Are you jealous?”
“More relieved. Tim was wearing me out.”
“Well, you’re still getting over being molested.”
“How do I do that?”
“Develop more self-confidence.”
“You mean be like Tim.”
“Trust what you feel. Know what you want instead of doing what other people want.”
“Was Tim abusing me? We had lots of sex.”
“Did you do it for him or for yourself.”
“I stop thinking when we’re doing it until I’m done. It makes Tim pretty happy. I really love him.”
“But you didn’t know how much he loved you until you died in his arms.”
“That was pretty sweet, even though I died.”
“Compare that to how you feel when Jeff molests you.”
“I hate him. I just want it to be over.”
“You must be glad that he’s going to jail.”
“I’m not glad I died! He wanted to kill Max. At least, John is safe now.”
“We should see how he is doing,” the angel suggests.
Almost instantly I am hovering above Robby’s bedroom.
Everyone is packed inside. Tim is a mess, covered in blood, and hugging Max who seems stoned as usual. My ghost is hugging Tim and Max. John is cowering in the corner. Tim and Max go sit with him.
“Jeff beat me to get your address. It’s all my fault. Jeff is insane, evilly insane. I’ve lost my real brother.”
“I love you like a brother,” Tim promises. Max is licking away his tears. John smiles and stops crying.
It bugs me that my ghost is holding Tim’s hand and doing too good a job of substituting for me.
“Don’t worry. The ghost is only doing what Tim wants and needs it to do. It is the Jace in Tim’s mind. You are the Jace in his heart.”
“How will Tim know the difference?”
“He can’t. Otherwise your ghost will be exposed as his own delusion. He needs to believe in it to get over your death..”
I think for a second that it isn’t fair. How do I get over my own death? Then, I know in my heart that I don’t want Tim to suffer. My heart says that Tim is glad.
“Tim tells my heart that it’s all okay.”
The angel smiles.
Soon Tim tells everyone that the party for Jenna will still go on. He’ll take over my part on guitar. He thinks the ghost will help him play properly. We’ll see.
The angel and I reconvene at the Holy Family bell tower.
“Are you still jealous of your ghost. It’s just a figment of Tim’s imagination.”
“He needs it to stop mourning over me. I’m glad he’s happy. It’s just weird. Everything’s weird.”
“Life is all an illusion.”
“And I was beginning to believe that you are a real angel.”
“I’m your guardian angel. Everyone has one. The only difference is I had to stop Jeff from hurting you.”
“Why. It went on for years with him doing it to me.”
“The energy flow was out of balance. Now it’s better.”
“Yeah. Now that I’m dead.”
“Don’t play the victim.”
“So I’m to blame for my own death?”
“Tim blames himself for aggravating Jeff into going insane.”
“He was only standing up for me.”
“I guess you are to blame.”
We laugh. At least my sense of humor isn’t dead.
The next few days are a flurry of activity getting ready for Jenna’s New Year’s Eve party. It’s to be a tribute to me. The band expects thousands to come. The fans must be desperate for entertainment. I can count on a few hands how many people actually know me. Tim is a basket case. My ghost doesn’t know what to do, just hovering over Tim, who has no trouble playing the guitar parts in my stead. It makes me uncomfortable to also being hovering with Tim who is unaware that the real me is also there. I hate being invisible. When Tim confides in Robby about the false ghost, I run my fingers across Robby’s head. The ghost watches and repeats what I show him. Robby freaks out but believes what Tim tells him. The ghost expects me to show him what to do. I resent it taking my place. My heart tells me Tim’s heart knows the difference but his head won’t accept that the ghost is an illusion. The angel tells me to stop lurking around Tim.
“Tim’s heart will tell you when he needs you,” the angel explains. “Let him be while he creates his delusion of a ghost.”
I feel excluded, but that is nothing new.
“I have other plans for you,” the angel asserts.
“What?” he asks. “You want to remain here in limbo?”
“Isn’t that a Caribbean dance – ‘How low can you go?’
“How little you know about religion,” my angel states, shaking his head as I realize I only know that Dave hates being an altar boy.
“Welcome to my world,” he announces. Taking my hand he leads me through a quick visual review of the Bible’s main events. Creation is pretty cool, except God looks a lot like Dad when he’s not happy. Adam and Eve quickly populate the Earth. Moses gets a leading role. Maybe it’s because he has all those rules about honoring your parents and such.
“You want rules?” the angel dares me, pounding on what he calls the Torah.
The suffering of the Jews is a quick footnote until we see Jesus throwing the moneylenders off the steps of the Temple. At least he’s a younger God.
“Don’t you know anything?” the angel complains. “He’s the Son of God.”
“That’s cool. Any grandkids for the old guy?”
“He wasn’t allowed to have sex. Too many heirs to the throne, like the Islamists.”
Then he shows Jesus with his 12 apostles. Just like our band, except they eat a lot of fish, with bread and wine, instead of pizza and beer. Judas must have been their manager, selling them out for 30 pieces of silver. Sound familiar? Then Jesus dies on the cross. Pretty agonizing and the angel stretches that part out for far too long. Finally Jesus expires and ascends into Heaven where God looks none too pleased.
“The rest of the story is pretty much made to make the early Church leaders look good,” the angel concludes my religion lesson.
“That’s it? Everyone’s Jewish?”
“Pretty much. After the moneylenders get back in good graces, they create Capitalism for Christians.”
“Where do you fit in. What about other angels.”
“We have nothing to do with religion. Our job is to be guardians. A longtime ago a bunch of angels went on strike and got thrown into hell. After that we got raises and pretty much do what we want. I love what I do.”
I can feel that he really loves me.
“It’s not like with Tim. We’re neither male or female. We don’t procreate,” he explains. I’m still not used to him reading my mind.
“You never have sex? You’re like Jesus?”
“That’s the rumor.”
“Well, good. But how can there be more angels?”
“Angels are people who learn to love everyone before they die. They comeback as guardians.”
“So, you’re really old?”
“You don’t want to know. You don’t trust anyone over twenty.”
“I trust you.”
“That’s because you know I love you.”
The angel’s next lesson is about time.
“Everything you know is an illusion. Time is much more flexible than you believe. We call it flex time.”
The whole idea that everything I know is an illusion stops me from even trying to understand a different concept of time. My confusion confuses the angel. That I can’t understand what he’s trying to tell me means now we both know what each other is thinking. It relieves my fear about the angel reading my mind. At least I can tell if he really understands me and correct him when he doesn’t.
The angel shows me how to control time. He calls it the Time Warp.
If I want to go ahead in time, I put my hands on my hips and take a jump to the left, then a jump to the right, and instantly wake up in the future. Or, if I want time to slow down or stop it, I do the pelvic thrust. The only hitch is I can’t go back in time. The angel knows I’ll go back and kill Jeff before he kills me. I’m becoming quite butch. But reverse time travel is impossible. Maybe because I’m invisible.
“Maybe I’ll understand an example better,” I telepath to him.
“Okay,” he agrees. “By flex time I can be in more than one place simultaneously.”
“Watch as we leave the bell tower so we can come back to it without any time passing while we’re gone.”
“You can slow time down, like in the movies?”
“Watch that pigeon on the ledge.”
He throws a pebble at the bird which takes wing. Next he grabs me. We are instantly in Jazz’s house where Dave and Jazz are sneaking around trying to peep into Dawn’s room. Just before we make the transition I observe the bird in flight appears frozen. We return to the bell tower and the bird is momentarily still frozen before taking wing.
“So you can freeze time to go off to do another task, unfreezing it when you return?”
“Not exactly. Time flows as normal but speeds up incredibly for us. We went to your friends’ house, observed their juvenile behavior, and returned here in an instant. The pigeon never noticed we had gone and returned. I call it instant flex. If we take ‘our time’ before returning you might be able to see that the others have moved ever so slightly. That is extended flex.”
It is too much for me. The angel shrugs and tells me, “You will get used to it.”
I wonder why will need ‘flex time.’
“Even though you are dead, you’ll find that you are very busy and need the extra time to finish all the tasks we have to do.”
“So I am training to be a Guardian Angel?”
“Oh, there is greater hope for you than just an angel.”
“Who has these hopes?”
“All the spirits that exist between your world and the greater spirit world of energy.”
“Why do they care?”
“It keeps us from losing faith, passing into pure energy, with no individual identity.”
Whatever. I just want the training to start. It sounds like a job, hopefully more interesting than flipping burgers at the BK Lounge.
The angel laughs. “You want to get going? Well, fasten your seat belt. It is a bumpy ride ahead.”
In a flash, we’re hovering over a family group on a cliff, taking pictures of themselves. The parents and the two older kids are involved in some argument. A toddler wanders away to peer over the top of the cliff. The angel, whom I decide to call Fred, pushes over several small boulders, catching the parents attention and directing their sight to the toddler, now dangerously close to the edge. They run and grasp their child before he can tumble off the cliff.
Next we’re on a busy city street. Traffic is moving rapidly. An inattentive pedestrian is reading his newspaper, about to step off the curb. I am able to read what is in Fred’s mind; he sees seconds into the future when the pedestrian is struck violently in the middle of the street by a speeding car. Fred returns to the present, grabbing the pedestrian’s newspaper, scattering it like a sudden gust of wind. The man stops to collect the paper at the curb when the car speeds past.
“You go around rescuing people from danger?” I ask Fred.
“That’s what guardian angels do. The little boy and the businessman are assigned to me. Both have important roles in the future. If they were to die now the flow of time would be upset.
“Can’t you go back in time and fix things?”
“Too dangerous. If I were to meet my previous self, it would create a paradox. I may stop to exist.”
“But you said time is an illusion.”
“It is what we do with time that lets things happen.”
The next few days keep us busy. One drawback to being dead is I never sleep. It is not that my body is tired. After all, it is dead. All these chores are exhausting. After so many rescues, there is no ‘rush’ from saving people.
“How if I become Tim’s Guardian Angel?” I ask.
“Does he need saving?”
Tim is a complete basket case. I had no idea he was so infatuated with me. How was I supposed to know how to love someone? I had never even had friends before, except my neighbors, Robby and Michael. And, they thought I was lame. Watching Tim’s grief, I never want to feel like that. When he is sleeping, I lay there next to him. It’s weird pretending to be sleeping, but I enjoy Tim’s dreams. They seem normal, now that I am a ghost. When Tim notices me in his dreams, he instantly starts having sex with me. Fred reminds me that it is normal to have wet dreams. I am glad to make Tim happy.
Sharing a wet dream works. The first night is embarrassing with his sheets needing extra detergent to get clean. Tim goes to the pharmacy and gets a big box of rubbers with extra-large tips to collect multiple emissions. His mom finds all the used ones. She’s totally grossed out. She leaves Tim a note that he should put them in the trashcan, not leave them in the waste basket upstairs. I find out she’s his step-mom and not used to teenaged boys.
The climax comes when they turn Michael’s girlfriend Jenna’s party into a tribute for me. They shine my picture on the walls of the mansion and play all my favorite songs. Two kids from the swim team sing all the pop dance tunes from the 50’s and 60’s. Tim is too overcome to do it. Thousands of people come and stand outside. The band plays Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd songs.
Everyone waves their lighters. Of course, the band finishes with Beatles songs. Tim keeps crying and at the end Michael and Jenna are crowned King and Queen of Miami, our own Romeo and Juliet. I’m Mercutio, stabbed to death. That’s fine since I’m already a ghost. I get to spend all my time with Tim. But he’s so into his grief that I feel ignored. I start spurning him in his wet dreams. He wakes up frustrated and angry. Everyone thinks it was from missing me. No one dares rattle his cage. He is subject to random meltdowns.
When school starts up again, I have to go with Tim to all his classes. It’s totally unfair. I am not prepared for the college-bound crowd. Robby is put back for ditching so much and is now in all of Tim’s classes. He becomes the star of the Shakespeare class, playing Puck in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I make the curtain crash down on him after he kisses his teacher during curtain call. It’s so funny because Robby makes all the boys play the girls’ roles.
In the other classes, I use the Time Warp to jump to after-school at Robby’s pot hangout. Tim tries to give my ghost a shotgun, but the smoke passes right through it. Max was right there to get his second-hand high. Ghosts can’t get high, but I can fly around the room – that’s high enough. Tim teaches me sign language for the deaf, so we can communicate. Everyone thinks he’s mental. He tells Robby about me, making him promise to keep it secret. Robby now knows Tim is mental. Tim uses my Gibson SG guitar at my tribute show. I help him with the fingering until he is able to do it himself. I tell him, he has to play the songs as his heart knows them. He quickly gets good at playing leads. I help Hippie Greg learn to do better on bass. Everyone is becoming conceited.
Tim refuses to play a girl’s role in the Shakespeare class; he says being gay is enough. His understudy takes over the role. Jack is a nerdy little guy with rich parents. The first time he smokes pot, he attacks Tim. They became boyfriends. Tim isn’t really into him at first and makes me do all the love-making. Jack just keeps his eyes shut. Tim tells him he’s having wet dreams. What he remembers is just a dream. Tim signs to me that we’re keeping to the rule of never having sex unless both of us there.
The band gets a gig opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Practices become more serious as the band has to write their own songs. I spend time teaching John how to play guitar. I want him to feel me but anyone touching him freaks him out. With Jeff in jail and my Dad and Edith declared negligent parents, John is living with on one Tim’s swim team families. He hates going to swim practice. He looks so cute in a Speedo, which makes me feel incestuous. Tim just laughs. It’s Tim who gets John to play from the heart instead of learning songs by rote from sheet music.
The angel sits me down (in thin air) for a serious talk. Everything has been going so well. Tim stops having meltdowns. He has me as his constant companion and a new boyfriend that we share. It’s time for a reality check.
“The guardian angel cooperative has been monitoring your behavior. They’re either shocked or jealous, but whatever ever the cause, you will no longer be just Tim’s guardian angel.”
“What? Tim’s guardian angel is you. I’m his dead boyfriend. What about being inseparable until his death?”
“You’ve been doing such a good job. This is a promotion. You have learned how to use the Time Warp. Now you’ll be assigned to be the guardian to other needy, deserving souls. Tim will not know when you are busy doing other guardian work. Face it, you often just skip forward in time when Tim’s asleep or in class.”
“I’m being punished for being a good angel?”
“Don’t worry. You’ll realize it’s a promotion once you are guardian for other boys.”
“Just boys? I did have a girlfriend you know.”
“You just seem better with boys. Maybe a tom boy in the future.”
“Tim will know that I’m ignoring him, even if he’s asleep.”
“It will be a long transition so Tim fully accepts his delusion of a ghost. We have a great Resurrection planned for you this Easter.”
“What? I never go to church.”
The guardian gives me a bemused look. “You never were so assertive either. Being dead has released your inner demons.”
“What else have you planned for my life. Do I have a choice?”
“What about being dead do you not understand?”
“Do I have to be all goodie-goodie?”
“You are so funny. You don’t realize yet that you’ll always be fifteen. Tim will outgrow you, like he did his imaginary friend at age three.”
“He will outgrow his guardian angel?”
“He already did, now that he has you.”
“That’s not fair for him. He needed a guardian when I died.”
“It’s all in the master plan, even the free will to choose otherwise.”
“I have a choice?”
“No, you’re already dead.”
“What if I refuse to be a guardian angel?”
“You could be evil, I guess.”
All I could think of was how Jeff and Edith are evil. No way.
“What if I want to be Jesus?” I wasn’t versed in heresy, like good Catholics.
“Well, how will that work if you’re already dead.”
“I can be Teen Jesus, if I’m to always be fifteen. No one knows what Jesus was like as a teenager.”
“Two thousand years ago they didn’t have teenagers. You went to work when you were thirteen.”
“And they didn’t have rock and roll either. Maybe I can be Rockin’ Jesus.”
“You are not the same boy you were when you died. I’m not used to being told what to do. I’m hundreds of years older than you.”
“And you’re surprised I want something you don’t understand?”
“I’ll give you time to work this out. Just because you’re a good guardian doesn’t mean you can play God.”
“That’s our band’s name, False Gods.”
“Enough. You’ll have time to make the transition from Tim’s guardian to whatever you can think up. Remember, you will always be fifteen, until Tim dies.”
That makes me sad, but it’s good to have a deadline (please note irony).