Is it the hand of fate that gets Hippie Greg to bring Tim and Jack to his Baptist youth group? I appear there to a young girl in the throes of holy rolling and speaking tongues. Then a drunken heckler in Coconut Grove gets beaten down by Tim. The cops wonder if Jesus was rowdy and misbehaved as all teenager. My death makes Tim a pious heathen. He’s soon leading church youth groups to Teen Jesus. I help by the laying of hands on the gullible teens. It works best on girls who easily convince many boys to be ‘touched.’
Along the way my angel leads us to my grand finale at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Easter Sunday. I do my part, disappearing on the altar’s crucifix and ascending into heaven in a shower of shining diamonds, backed by a medley of Pink Floyd music. Unfortunately, Tim reverts to a major meltdown. Hippie saves the day by kicking him off his ass to start rescuing teen prostitutes in Times Square. The churches forms youth shelters named for me, remembering my final words – ‘protect the children.’
“You’ve done well, Jace,” Fred beams. “You may get that Teen Jesus role approved.”
I’ve forgotten whose idea that was. I’m spending most of my time tending to the guardian needs of the kids I’ve already touched. I make it fun to get rescued by Teen Jesus. Girls just need to feel loved. Boys need pranks and antics to enjoy their rescue from the dark side. Even Robby has his moments of being good, but usually I’m just a foil to his bullying during the Robby Magic Mean Show.
My personal crisis comes that summer when Tim is subjected to mental torture in the youth prison. He hardens his heart and refuses to let anyone in. For four months he lives in the Everglades, believing everyone has abandoned him. He ends up on the road, working as a prostitute throughout the south. Soon four truckers repeatedly rape him for twelve hours without respite. He hits rock bottom. Passed out in an Alabama ditch, I lay with him and enter his dreams. I show him a way out of this mess by finding his birth mother in Iowa. Subconsciously he accepts that the Jace he knows is a delusion to keep me alive. He finds the ghost an alter ego to replace me, someone he can manipulate and give him purpose in the remaining years of his life. Together, he and the alternate me create bands with performances in Iowa, New York, Boston and Hollywood. He’s an honors student at Harvard and publishes a business case study in the Harvard Business Review. He works with the best Hollywood movie producers as a music coordinator and is a founding member of the LA Punk Rock scene. Then he dies in a surfing accident, believing he’s surfing into the sunset with me and our dog Max. End credits.
So much for Tim. He really got me out of the rut from being an abused child. I’m a little jealous that he stole Max from me, but the dog deserves to be with someone who’s a pot-head. Teen Jesus is unable to get stoned. I never really enjoyed it anyway. I like to harass Robby when he is pulling pranks on the latest gang of junior high pot-heads hanging out in his room. With Tim in College, Robby recruits Dave to be his foil in whipping up terror in the eyes of the 13 to 15-year-olds smoking pot in his bedroom. As soon as Robby has the kids cowering in the corner with his holy water tricks or other devil-summoning, I appear and raise him into the air and chase the kids out of the room. One time I allow him to fly down the street screaming satanic curses at the hysterical boys.
Eventually I convince Robby to attend Rollins College where his high school Shakespeare teacher Mr. Clark is now a teacher. Jeff has been released from juvenile detention and is now back at Rollins as a second year freshman. Our goal is to make him so miserable that he drops out and goes back to working at Burger King. Robby dresses identically to Jeff. Then, he’d gets the football players to chase him for no other reason than he is a long-haired hippie. He leads them in Jeff’s direction, disappearing into the trees and laughing as the ignorant jocks beat up the hapless Jeff. Making Jeff miserable doesn’t make me feel better about all the years of abuse. Robby’s need to be stoned and cause havoc eventually gets him suspended from Rollins. He can care less. Mr. Clark is devastated, mostly because he never fully ‘seals the deal’ with gay impersonator Robby.
Robby returns to Coral Gables a month before Tim dies in the surfing accident. The alt-me and Max are no longer heard from as well. No one is really surprised that Tim ends up dead. The only exception is Tim’s latest boyfriend from Oregon, Trevor, who has only been with Tim for three days. He’s the son of a Baptist preacher-man and extremely naïve. His love affair with Tim is a complete shock to the choir boy. He is completely open and sincere. When I come to him in his dreams, he at first mistakes me for Tim. There was no hesitation about accepting me into his heart.
Once Trevor returns to college in Oregon, I spend long evenings debating the Teen Jesus phenomenon with him. He disappoints his Phi Psi fraternity brothers by no longer practicing gay sex. He can never love anyone in the same way and intensity that he loved Tim. The straight brothers are relieved not to have to deal with more boyfriends among the pledges.
Trevor becomes an college activist for homeless, throwaway kids. He finds his place in the Campus Crusade for Christ. Right from the start, he encounters vociferous resistance from the youth leadership. His belief that Christ was a rowdy, fun-loving teenager is attacked as heresy. Almost all the student members are on Trevor’s side. It’s the adult staff against the college kids. It doesn’t go well for the staff, especially when it turns out that several of them have extensive records of seducing and abusing youth. Trevor’s ability to instantly trust or distrust anyone at their first meeting is shared by all the other trusting members. When a newcomer is open and trusting, the typical golden glow that surrounds Trevor and the others intensifies and can be seen by all the other students. With the Campus Crusade for Christ thrown off campus, the student membership reorganizes. The group’s new name is The Golden Shower. That name dies years later when gay groups adopt it for its scatological humor.
I worry that Trevor is in denial about being attracted to others. His parents are relieved that he survived the Sodom and Gomorrah of Hollywood. They are proud of his budding ability to speak out on issues and his charismatic presence. Preacher Dad is hoping his son will follow him into the ministry. That dream blows up when Dad attends a youth meeting on campus. When the discussion turns to sex, he’s shocked to hear Trevor talk about the innocence and purity of young love. The proscription of sexual exploration with only those of your same age is too much for Preacher Dad. Rejection of young love is a golden glow-killer between father and son. Everyone sees the glow disappear. The others commiserate with Trevor. His dad is pitied. Trevor is conflicted between ‘honor thy parent’ and ‘suffer the children.’ I decide to visit him in his dreams.
Trevor is home in Astoria, dreaming he’s playing on the beach with the family bull-dog, Tuffy. I insert myself into the Tuffy role of this dream. Trevor tosses a stick several times. I waddle after it and bring it back to him. Tuff is no spring chicken or an energetic puppy. Trevor tosses the stick into the water. I run after it but stop short of the surf, turning around and glaring at Trevor.
“Really?” I ask.
It’s a dream.
“If you think I’m swimming after some random stick, you have another thing coming.”
“Whoa. You don’t like playing fetch?”
“What am I now – ten-years-old? That’s like seventy in dog years.” I trot back to Trevor and sit down.
He sits with me, scratching my ears and patting my head. The ear stimulation almost makes me cum. My back leg thumps the hard sand. The petting feels like being hit on the head with a hammer. Trevor notices my discomfort and stops. I sigh and lie down. Trevor lays back and we talk.
“Why aren’t you at college?” I ask.
“Home for the holidays.”
“What happened with that boy you liked so much?”
“You know about that?”
“That’s all the folks talked about that weekend you were in LA.”
“I like dogs.”
“Right. You like to send them into the waves and watch them drown.”
“You don’t like playing with me?”
“How about you chase me?” I pick up his wallet and run off. He chases me all over the beach until I collapse. I guess I am seventy.
“That was fun,” I remark.
“You’re not so old.”
Trevor grabs me and we roll around in the sand. We’re a mess. I shake sand all over him. He stands up and it all falls off.
It’s a dream.
“Take me to college with you. It’s boring here with you gone. The folks are too old to play with me.”
“They’re not seventy, like you.”
“Well, you could stay at my frat. You may get hazed.”
I growl. I’m still Tuffy.
Trevor wakes up. Tuffy is laying at the foot of his bed. Trevor grabs and shakes him.
“Wanna go to College, Tuffy?”
“Woof. Woof.” The dog is clueless.
Tuffy is a hit at Phi Psi. Trevor continues to talk to him. The dog totally understands and never talks back. He’s the perfect friend. With the Campus Crusade kicked off campus, the students in The Golden Shower need a place to meet. Trev convinces the seniors at Phi Psi that Golden Shower is not a bunch of crazy Jesus Freaks and to at least allow a trial period to meet at the frat on Sunday afternoons. Anyway, that is when the frat members are hung over and sleeping in. After attending various church services, meeting at a frat is a relief from the moralizing and opprobrium of traditional churches.
Once John Landis and the National Lampoon crew show up to film ‘Animal House’ at the abandoned frat next door, the excitement level at Phi Psi ramps up. John appoints Trevor as coordinator of cast extras. The well dressed and mannered Golden Shower members make excellent extras as members of the more exclusive fraternities. After shooting all day, everyone puts aside their roles as good or bad students and hangs out together. The Golden Shower attitude about sex (trust your heart) works, and they all becomes very cozy. Trevor’s reputation as a gay boy serves him well with the Christian girls who made it their mission to ‘save’ him. The Golden Shower’s primary rule is never to be judgmental, about conflicting religious dogma, dietary strictures, as well as sexual preferences. Hanging out at a frat seems second nature after a while. Once the movie finishes their shoot, The Golden Shower applies to take over the abandoned fraternity house next to Phi Psi as a residential and social center for the Jesus freaks. Trevor’s preacher-man father is pleased to see that his son is spontaneously founding his own congregation. Father and son are back on speaking terms, avoiding sexual issues, and pretty much agreeing on all other doctrine. The Golden Shower’s Sunday afternoon meetings are moved to the morning after they have their own building. Most students prefer to attend services with their friends, rather than judgmental adults. Dinner is served immediately afterwards. Someone puts up a sign on the The Golden Shower’s house – Angel’s Home. The Phi Psi’s put up their own – Devil’s Pit. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Meanwhile back in Coral Gables, Robby slowly accepts that he was not Peter Pan and will soon turn twenty. Jack comes home for Spring Break with Minehan and the Neighborhoods in tow. The Stone mansion has plenty of room for the extra visitors. Jack realizes he no longer wants to play D&D. The staff is expanded to keep up with Jack’s high maintenance friends. It’s only for a week. Mummy and Daddy wisely spend the time away, in St Bart’s. Minehan purged his Neighborhood friends from the band and is missing a drummer. Michael offers the music room for rehearsals, playing drums for the Boston boys. Robby is incensed and refuses to be upstaged. He and Jack get Hippie to escape childcare at the two moms and play as a trio. Mary, Flo and Edi show up and help Jack with back-up vocals. It’s a constant jam session at the Antonio mansion. Mike Sr. provides beer and hires clean-up staff. After three days, many old fans of False Gods and new fans of the Neighborhoods are hanging out. The music room is bursting at its seams. An abandoned movie theater in downtown Miami is rented for the final weekend and the multi-band jam session moves in. The Out Crowd kids feel excluded until Dave and Jazz start charging admission at the door, plus running a beer-only concession stand. Stu and Mike Jr hear about the impromptu performance and show up ready to play to the college crowd. Stu is still in junior high. Mike Jr. refuses to play the dance oldies that is the Out Crowd’s standard set. They have been working on more current cover songs, like Jim Croce and Tony Orlando & Dawn. They are rounded mocked. Minehan, the high school dropout, takes pity on them. He has them playing faster and singing about lost girlfriends. It’s a jam session that lasts from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. John, Dave and Jazz make all the money as well as playing in the Out Crowd. When Robby demands to be paid, Stu tells him he’s now old and not scary any more. Stu knocks him off his drum seat, revenge from two years before.
Jack tells Robby to get up off his ass and go to Boston with the Neighborhoods. They supposedly have a new drummer lined up from the Rat. He claims he can beat out anyone from Boston. Minehan says Robby is old but that he’ll give him a chance. Dave takes over pot sales and Robby’s bedroom pot den is closed. The remainder of Robby’s stash is packed up for distribution and sales at Harvard. Grant is a freshman at Howard and promises to create a Ganja supply chain between DC and Boston. The only profitable industry on the East Coast is the black market. The Oil Crisis has led to a deep recession. President Carter’s economic plan is to switch to peanut oil. That industry is located in Georgia. New York City is about to go bankrupt. The music industry continues to flounder when the record business can’t sell disco as rock and roll. Springsteen is a star but he only makes money playing Jersey seaside dance halls. Punk Rock is not about to save the music business. As Scorsese said, ‘this is no bizness for kids.’ Jack is talked into letting Robby room with David Minehan and him. Before leaving Miami the three of them are already fighting about who gets which bed. Jack is refusing to sleep with Robby and Minehan is not about to give Jack back his bed. David agrees to try for the hundredth time to sleep in his girlfriend Carol’s room. Robby brings a sleeping bag for Jack to sleep on the floor. It’s all drama to be repeated endlessly in Cambridge and Boston.
Driving back to Boston from Miami is a repeat of the 1975 False Gods tour of the South. Robby shows the way to the Daytona and Charlotte road houses. The Neighborhoods are out of their element. Southern bar crowds don’t warm up to kids playing punk in 1977. No one wants to hear about The Rat. Again, the bar takes are great and the band makes good money. As far as gaining new fans, it was more like surviving beat-downs at the end of their sets. Only the Charlotte roadhouse asks the band back for a second night, mainly because local fan Floyd alerts all the hillbillies to come out from their ‘hollers’ for the shows. Minehan cares less about popularity than getting the crowds excited. His worst beat-down comes in Charlotte when he approaches fans at the bar after finishing their set, looking for adulation from what he thinks is a great performance. He still sports a serious black-eye when they arrive back at Harvard in Cambridge. Carol is suitably sympathetic at the state of her beat-up boyfriend. Just not upset enough to let him spend the night on the third floor of the dorm.
Minehan is officially granted admission to Harvard after scoring honor-roll grades during the fall semester. Missing three days of classes after Spring Break has him in Dean Epps’ office with official notice that he is on probation. He was better off as a sneak-in student. Waltham High mails him his diploma after he passes all his classes at Harvard.
He tells everyone that his birthday is coming up soon and plans a party in Harvard Yard. When he gives his favorite guard Mick an invitation, he is again in the Dean’s office for failing to get a permit. Robby has passed the audition to be the Neighborhoods’ new drummer. At his first show at the Rat, the original drummer Mike stages a protest. After the set, Robby is surrounded by Mike and his friends for a beat-down. I have to rescue him by flying him around the club while he screams satanic curses at his abusers. Superstitious Catholic boys, they quickly exit the Rat. The rumor is Minehan made a pact with the devil to guarantee The Neighborhoods’ success.
The final straw occurs the night before Minehan’s birthday party. When dorm residents find out he is just turning 18, they are outraged that David lied to them all year-long. A snitch goes to the Yard Police and exposes Robby’s pot dealing out of Jack and David’s room. A police raid discovers a sizeable quantity of pot, confirming the drug distribution accusation. All three are expelled from Harvard. Jack is devastated. He has only recently been accepted by Porcellian and is awaiting acceptance at Hasty Pudding. His social-climbing dreams are shattered. The Stone family name protects the three roommates from actual prosecution. It is handled internally by the Harvard Campus Police. Jack is secretly told to reapply in the Fall. Minehan is told to go back to Waltham High School. Dean Epps has no idea who Robby is. Mick the friendly Harvard Guard stands up for Robby and gets a two-week suspension for dereliction of duty.
The boys are given 24 hours to clean out their room. Jack was in shook. He has never been in trouble before. Mummy is on the warpath and on her way to collect her little boy.
“You’re such a wimp, Jack,” Robby mocks him. “Mummy to the rescue?”
“You’ve ruined my life,” Jack screams at Robby.
“Jeez, Jack. You’ve been in trouble since the day you and Tim showed up here,” Minehan piles on. “Take a hint. You’re ‘A Rebel Without a Cause.”
Jack was not a fan of minor meltdowns. 3D girl Jill, having crushed unrequitedly on Tim, is now stuck dealing with Jack. She creates an improved model of proper propriety. Jack decides he’s now a lesbian, rushing to Smith and the welcome arms of his girlfriend, Trudie. She promptly declares she is not a lesbian. Jack’s plan to register at Smith, until his readmission to Harvard, goes for naught. Minehan retreats to Waltham with Robby now the sneak-in roommate. That also lasts a week. With nowhere better to go for the down-and-out Harvard rejects, Tim’s cousin Joey gives the three of them a room at Rahar’s in Northampton. Jack persistently pursues the revival of his relationship with Joan, much to the despair of Tim’s ex, Trudie, who is dealing with her own meltdowns. Trudie is not subject to tearful outbursts. Her outbursts are fiercer. Baseball bats are known to appear. Only Jack’s sense of good manners can tame the rock n roll widow. Trudie needs Jack to calm her down. The two of them work on Joan to take Jack back.
Minehan has other ideas – the Neighborhoods (with Robby and Jack on drums and bass) are hired as house band at Rahars’s for the month of May. While Jack is pursuing his failed girlfriend relationship, David and Robby cultivate a rabid following among the local high school dropouts. Rahar’s becomes a hangout for the underage rebels. Joey attempts to limit their access to the boys’ upstairs room only. Once the kids start sneaking into the nightly shows, the local police warn Joey he’s risking loss of Rahar’s liquor license. The night Jack comes back from Smith after a final rejection as a male lesbian, he finds his meager personal effects stacked on the porch outside the bar. David and Robby are waiting for him to solve their homelessness problem. A limo ride to the Dakota assuaged their egos. A day of pampering in NYC ends with the arrival of Mummy and Daddy.
Teen Jesus is aware of all this teen drama. I finally tell Minehan in a dream that he is too good to be wasting his time with the rich Miami kids.
“I’m a rich kid,” he asserts.
“Your parents totally ignore you. You’re free to roam around the neighborhood. Just not to spend their money.”
“Ya got that right. And, who are you?”
“I’m Jace. Some people call me Teen Jesus.”
“You died with Tim.”
“That was Tim’s Jace. Tim was delusional after I died and made up the whole Teen Jesus trip. I’m his guardian angel.”
“Like I Dream of Jeannie?”
“I’m recently promoted to the real Teen Jesus.”
“You can have your own delusions.”
“You still gonna help me play the MOOG?”
“You don’t need lessons. You have all the talent you need.”
“At least someone finally knows that. Can’t you stick around to help my band mates?”
“What if they get better than you?”
“That’ll never happen.”
“Okay. Anytime you need me, you know the magic word.”
“What? You mean ‘Please?’”
He understands. But he’s never asked for help from anyone, dead or alive. He finally finds his niche – a replacement in The Replacements.
Rejection by Smith means Jack no longer claims to be a lesbian. He and Robby fly back to Miami. Dave refuses to give Robby the pot business back, after Robby’s entire stash was confiscated from his Harvard bust. With Grant in DC, the ganja connection refuses to front Robby any pot. Scrounging for roaches and loose shake keeps him going but a reckoning is at hand. After years of ‘maintaining’ his high without ever coming down, Robby refuses to humiliate himself to Dave and beg for pot. After a week of no pot, a significant change of personality is unfolding, Robby became quiet and no longer obnoxious. Only Jack finds the change positive. Everyone else is shocked that Robby is boring. Jack reunites with his first girlfriend, Edi. She is living off-campus at the U of Miami with Flo, Jenna and Mary. Robby is unwelcome there, as Mary is now going out with her old boyfriend, Ned. Jack decides to attend classes at the U of M with his friends. Daddy is not amenable to Jack giving up on Harvard. The fix is in for Jack to return to Cambridge in September.
I slip under the covers one night after Jack is sleeping. I enter his dreams.
“Jace. You’re not with Tim?”
“This is a dream. I want to get you out of your funk.”
“Better to work on Robby. He’s suffering severe pot withdrawals.”
“I am aware. He’ll be fine. What are your plans?”
“Daddy wants me to get a job at a bank until I re-enroll at Harvard. “
“Maybe I’ll go into the pot business. At least Robby has connections.”
“Like that worked out so well in Cambridge.”
“There’s always someone. I’m avoiding guys named Judas.”
“It’s boring in Miami.”
“You know, Tim paid three’s months’ rent in Hollywood.”
“You want me to be a prostitute on Hollywood Blvd?”
“The prostitutes are on Santa Monica Blvd.”
“I’m not doing that and Daddy won’t pay my rent.”
“Edgar Bronfman Jr is setting up his own record label. Your friend Jay is the lead lawyer. You can be an A&R (Artist & Repertoire) rep.”
“You’ve thought this all out?”
“I’m no longer a lame duffus.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I’m bored, too. Being Teen Jesus isn’t that much fun. And you need to get out and do this on your own. Mummy won’t approve running off to Hollywood.”
“Good. Tell Robby we’re leaving.”
“This is a dream. You go tell him.”