By dawn we had left North Carolina and Virginia behind and were passing through DC. Five hungry teenagers could not be denied. We took a break for breakfast in southern Maryland. The landscape changed from rural farmlands to suburban sprawl. There were no hominy and grits on the menu. Blueberry pancakes were a welcome substitute. Drinking coffee and going outside for a wake and bake joint, we took the time to review our progress. Our primary goal had been to find Jace/Casper’s real mom; we did that. Next we wanted to see if we could tour and survive on the road; with a lot of help from the Uncles, we believed in ourselves. Third, we wanted to test our own songs, which we had to believe in if we were to play them to a New York City audience; our reviews were mixed. As performers with a host of antics to involve the crowd, we had the teen energy to make a splash. The ditty ‘Barefoot’ was a sure crowd-pleaser. Some of the sex songs were cool. The southern blues of ‘False Gods’ and ‘South Florida’ showed we only had grits in our bowels, maybe not in our hearts. ‘Sneakin’ and ‘Look Before You Leap’ were getting decent receptions. The added confidence made them better. They were true reflections of our Miami lives. We trusted their authenticity. No band writes a hit song every time. No band can take NYC by storm with only seven songs. We agreed not to do covers unless the show was really sucking. At least we were being honest.
Fourth was the Teen Jesus crusade. We hardly were aware of what our goals were with the church youth groups. I kept thinking back to the cop in Coconut Grove who had always wondered what Jesus was like as a teenager. He hoped he was rowdy. We definitely were that. When kids let Casper and me into their hearts, where the authentic Jesus lay, it made them open to each other and broke down the hard-heartedness they learned from family, friends, school, and even church. Every kid we met needed to be open with others, to belong to an uber-family of peers. We told them to fight abuse and report it even when they had only observed or suspected it. Those who had been abused needed the support of their peers. The progress that Casper’s brother John had made convinced me that the abused can learn to love again, not keep their hearts closed, and not have to repeat the cycle of abuse. After a success with the Storefront Church at Daytona Beach, we had not made any effort to reach out to youth groups. We had been having so much fun, we had forgotten it was one of our goals. Pretty immature of us. I signed my concerns to Casper who replied that we were being open to new friends and experiences. Teen Jesus wasn’t a crusade but an attitude. We were fine and would be in the proper spirit in New York. Maybe he was Teen Jesus.
Michael had an idea. “Why not take today to go to Asbury Park. There’s a folk singer named Bruce Springsteen who is so New York that he lives in New Jersey.”
Michael’s ideas were always so right on, who could deny him. It meant taking the Garden State Parkway instead of the New Jersey Turnpike straight into New York.
“If he’s a hippie, how do we meet him?” Robby was skeptical.
“I got my peeps, too,” Hippie bragged.
That convinced us. We were in Asbury Park before noon.
We went out to the beach, which was unlike Miami Beach. Even though it was early April, the wind and moist air made it miserable to get out of the car. Jack and I volunteered to go into the dance pavilion, a huge 1920’s Art Deco dance hall, right on the boardwalk.
“You mean the E Street Band,” the man in the ticket booth told us. “Let me get their address for you.”
With that kind of help, my opinion of the Northeast was changing. Soon we pulled up to an old warehouse building in a commercial part of town. We all piled out while the Uncles parked and stayed warm. I knocked at the door with the correct number; there were no markings.
“Whadda ya want?’ came a reply.
“E Street Band?”
“B Street Beats.” I ad-libbed.
Hippie elbowed me aside. “Hey, man, ya gotta hear our groove. We come to relate.”
“Why didn’tcha say so?” and the door opened.
A skinny guy about 25 with a Jewish fro and beard opened the door.
Robby stepped up, “We’re here to get you high,” and produced a joint.
“Well, don’t just stand there. Com’n in. Where are yer shoes?”
The place was pretty barren except for a full band setup and couches and chairs strewn around. Lots of cigarette butts were everywhere but in an ashtray.
“So, where are the B Street Beats from? Do we have local competition?
“Naw,” I admitted. “E Street Rules. We’re from Miami.”
“Jesus, no wonder you look so cold.” He went over and turned up the thermostat. “How’d ya get so lost?”
He produced a bic and Robby lit up the joint.
“We’re playing a couple of shows in the City this Easter. We wanted to meet you. See what you think of our band. See if we’re ready for New York City.”
“What if you’re not?”
“We’ll just work on it. We’re just a cover band, only been together since October. But we got good press and Ry Cooder booked us to open with Skynyrd at the end of the month. Also, we were asked to play Easter services at St Patrick’s and Abyssinian Baptist, plus we got a CBGB’s gig for Good Friday.”
“Well, Ry Cooder is cool. But ya can’t be playing covers in New York.”
“We know you write your own songs, so we hoped you hear the ones we wrote. We played them at road houses on the way up. It’s hard to know if they’re any good, when everyone loves the covers we do.”
“You want my opinion?”
“We want to play with you and your band. We come after your generation, come to strike a chord for the future generations.”
“Are you poets or singers.”
“We sing of our lives and our times, as you sing of yours.”
“Our times are harsh, full of war and protest.” Springsteen proclaimed
“We fought with your times and protested for our people.”
“Tell me of your fights and of your people.”
I told the story of my firefight with burned out Viet Vets in New England.
I told of my cousin, the Little Joe of ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’
I told how we protested segregation at our schools in order to know poor black students who only wanted to be our friends.
I told of the abuse that killed our guitarist and my best friend while defending the only creature that had always loved him.
I told of Teen Jesus, come to open the hearts of those hardened by hatred, fear, and ignorance.
I told of runaways refused shelter by authorities, who then turn to prostitution..
I told of hillbillies who have no hope of a future.
I told of pregnant, unmarried girls.
I told of arrogant students self-involved in foolish sports.
“You are the poet of your generation,” I told him. “We are the kids that come next. We have not yet learned to be afraid. We were born to run.”
Springsteen laughed and laughed, as did we. “You may not be a poet but you know how to spin a tale. I will be happy to do battle of the bands with you, as well as battle of the generations. I will call Clarence and Van Zandt to set up an evening of the E Street Band versus the B Street Beats.”
Robby took another joint from behind his ear. The deal was sealed. Springsteen came back with a six-pack and confirmation that their studio would open at 9 pm for our face off.
Off we went to a hotel he suggested, road weary and horny. We paid extra for our own room, deciding to sleep first before any action. Casper lay between us. When Hippie burst in (the rooms were adjoining, so the door wasn’t locked) to complain about Robby harassing him, he only saw the two of us, separated by Casper’s space.
“Can I use the spare bed?” he asked.
We mumbled, “Sure,” and went back to sleep.
We got up in time for Jersey pizza. Then it was time to get to the studio and have it out with the Band of the 70s.
We dragged our equipment into the space, taking the right side of the wall while the E Street Band was to the left. They were all there, tuning up, plus about twenty hangers-on.
Van Zandt came up, “The Boss said you were all kids. We were having a rehearsal tonight anyway, so you won’t mind if we work on our new songs?”
“Great. We love your stuff,” I responded. “I’m Tim, guitarist. Jack’s the singer. Hippie on Bass. Michael and Robbie are drummers.”
“Like the Allman Brothers, double drummers.”
“Yeah. Lynyrd Skynyrd, too.”
“Yup. If you think Miami’s the South.”
“That’s questionable. Bruce says you’ve been playing road houses this week.”
“Had to skip out of getting paid for last night’s show ‘cause there was so much damage. We just threw everything in the cars and took off. Them hillbillies was still fightin’ in the parking lot as we tore out of there.”
“Ya talk the talk. Let’s find out what all the commotion is about.”
“Thanks. We usually toke up before we play, if you want to indulge?”
“Maybe after we work on this one song first.”
“You go first. We’ll all pass the ‘j’ before we go on.”
It was on.
Bruce stepped up to the mic.
“Welcome to the B Street Beats, boys from Miami, inspired by the sounds of ‘Welcome to Asbury Park.’ They need a little warm-up for their show in the Bowery tomorrow. This is how it’ll work. Each band will do a song and the other band will follow. We’re going first. We’ll try our new song that’s a work in progress: ‘Runaway American Dream’
“In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin’ out over the line
Oh-Oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`Cause tramps like us, we gotta grab the fun”
“Stop,” he yelled. “That line don’t work. You,” he yelled at me, ‘what was that line you said about not being afraid.
“Yeah. We was born to run.”
He thought and decided,” We’ll try that, but say ‘Baby, we were born to run.’”
They started up and used my line. As they finished, Springsteen yelled ‘stop’ again.
“Let’s use that line at the ending and repeat it over and over:
“Where we really wanna go
and we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
baby, we were born to run
Oh honey, tramps like us
baby we were born to run
Come on with me, tramps like us
baby we were born to run.”
“From the top, go through it again.”
They finally played the whole song through. His idea of a competition was subsumed by wanting to work on a new hit. They ended at ‘baby we were born to run.’ The twenty or so hangers-on gave them a smattering of applause. It was our turn.
I got Robby up at the mic with Jack and told him to go crazy with his monkey act.
“Y’all might notice we’re runnin’ ourselves, ‘cause it’s a bit cold up here. We don’t wear shoes. We ain’t hillbillies. In Miami, we never wear shoes. This song’s called ‘Barefoot in the Park.’”
Makes a stand
To take his joy
Going hand to hand
Flying out free
Branch to branch
Through the trees
“Free to be
A monkey like me
Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee”
Robby was off around the room, jumping up on the amps and grabbing pipes and hanging lamps. He came down on top of the E Street Bands amps, mocking Springsteen with his monkey moves. He turned around and mocked the bystanders. Several of the girls started their own monkey moves. They went over and mocked the E Street Band. We kept playing the chorus until Springsteen screamed, “Stop.” As good boys, we stopped.
Jack shouted into the mic, “Who won round one, us or them,” pointing at the other band.
“You,” everyone shouted.
Instead of being mad, the older guys were laughing and mocking Springsteen, who pouted and asked us how they could make their song better.
“Just add those monkey noises at the end and run around.”
“Okay, from the top.”
“..Come on with me, tramps like us
baby we were born to run.
Never been caught
All over town
Better than not.
Thrill’s in the chase
No time to waste
Folks on my case
All is in haste.
Waiting’s the worst
You were my first
I need you now
We’re on the prowl.
Back of an alley
Sprawled in the dirt
No time to dally
Who’ll cum first.
shaka shaka love?
‘shaka shaka love shaka shaka
Shaka shaka love shaka shaka.”
The bystanders were whooping and laughing when we sang ‘cum,’ They were shakin’ it to the chorus, which naturally we repeated until it was too much..
Jack was now the MC, “Us or them?” again pointing at Springsteen .
It was “You,” meaning us, although not unanimously.
“Com’n.” Springsteen was frustrated. “we’re just tryin’ to get it right.”
“Score, Beat Street 2, Easy Street zero.” Jack announced. “Better you try another song, for round three.”
“No. We got this now,” he proclaimed. Pointing at me, “In your honor, the song is now called ‘Born to Run.”
They played all the way through. Everyone was cheering, especially us.
“Hey, Steve,” Robby called over, “Ready for that joint, now that we solved the song y’all been workin’ on.”
“Break it out,” he called back.
Robby pulled out two joints from behind his ear, one for the bands and one for the crowd.
“Hey, that’s influencing the jury,” Bruce complained.
“Well, break out the beers,” I challenged him.
He ran to the back and returned with a case of PBR. There was a break in the action. B Boys – 2, E Men – 1 at halftime.
“Ya havin’ fun, at our expense?” Bruce came over and slapped me on the back.
“That song is definitely a hit,” I told him.
“I ‘spose now you expect royalties?”
“Hell no. I just wanna win this competition. You’re the poet. You recognized a throwaway line for what it could be.”
“Y’are havin’ fun.”
“Yeah, thanks. This is great. If’n you want, we’ll throw the next few songs, so y’all don’t look so bad to the home crowd.”
“No way, get up there. It’s your turn.”
Jack took the mic, “While y’alls appreciating our fine Colombian weed and Bruce’s working class beer, we’ll play our runnin’ song.”
He turned around and mouthed, ‘Runnin’ Scared.’
“That ain’t fair,” Springsteen complained after we were done. “That’s a Roy Orbison cover.”
“Who said we couldn’t play covers?” Jack countered. “Hell, we practically rewrote your song. You were basically covering us.”
The inebriated crowd heartily agreed. It was 3-1.
“Thank you, loyal fans. How about we switch and we go first,” Jack challenged. I realized the pot was getting to his libido. I mouthed ‘Sex Inside’ and walked over so he could sing while hanging on to me.
“I need you to give,
what we need to live.
Take my hands,
shake my hips,
all that we can,
kiss my lips,
invade my mind,
don’t leave my side,
forget my pride,
I need you inside.”
take me inside
take me inside.
take me inside.
You act so true,
With me so blue,
you need me,
a reason to love.
Take my hands,
Take my hips,
all you can,
kiss my lips,
invade my mind,
don’t leave my side,
forget my pride,
I need you inside.
take me inside.
take me inside.
take me inside.
Jack was all over me as I ripped the guitar licks. I was afraid he’d lick my ears. The crowd was stunned. As usual, the girls had dreamy faces as they saw Jack fag off on me. The guys were grabbing their girlfriends for protection. Each time we did the chorus the guys humped the girls. It was hot. It was as steamy as a disco in that warehouse.
“Fuck, yeah,” someone called out.
Springsteen took the mic. “I ain’t competing with that. You boys are corrupting my boys here.”
It was 4-1 in favor of youth.
They started the next round with ‘Blinded by the Light,” ripping it apart.
The vote was close. If a count were taken, we might have won, but the girls were out-shouted by the guys. B band – 4, E Band – 2.
“Take that teenaged werewolves,” Springsteen crowed. “We’re on a roll.”
“Y’all wanna know ‘bout Miami? Where’d ya think all that pot comes from? This is our ‘South Florida.’”
“Go deep to the South
When you can go no more
Find our city so you can score
Come to our cool house
We bewilder with our drug
Whether it be love
Or just wanting a hug
We’re free to meet the need
Miami’s here to serve
keeps you safe and sound
Southern man beats you down
That’s what you deserve
Life too tough?
Take the time
Follow our sign
Girls are free
Jack your shit
Get into it.”
“Fuck, yeah,” the hangers-on were still on our side.
It was no contest. The pot addled the judges. Boys – 5, Men – 2.
“What the hell do I havta do. Ya hang out and drink my beer, then vote for the out-of-towners?”
“We’re adopting these boys. They know how to have a good time. You just want to sound good,” a naysayer responded.
“Hey, we love this guy,” Jack spoke up, forgetting he had outed himself to everyone.
“Whoo eee, Bruce, you got yer self a boyfriend”
Springsteen turned beet red, until a young girl jumped on stage. “He’s all mine,” Patti Scialfa yelled.
The E Streeters broke into ‘Rosalita,’ with Springsteen singing to her.
After they finished, I ran over and asked her to sing with us.
“Y’all knows Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird?’”
“’Course, but that’s a single guy’s farewell song.”
“We do it as a duet. Jack sings the first line and you respond back and forth until at the end you sing together. First time, you’re sad he’s leavin’. Second time, you rejoice with him and hope to go, too.”
“Cool. I can do that.”
“Jesus. Now they’re stealin’ my girlfriend,” Sprinsteen complained
“I ain’t your girlfriend until ya grow up, in another ten years.”
She came over as I did a slightly longer intro than usual, so they could get set. The duet was amazing. She could really sing. After repeating the verse, I did an extended finale, letting Casper take over and play soaring riffs, as I rocked back and forth. Patti had tears in her eyes, so I let Casper play the full 7 minutes, knowing we had scored by using Bruce’s girlfriend. He bowed to her without calling for a vote. B Boys – 6 E Men – 2.
“Time out,” he called, and came over to our area.
“I hope you’re having as much fun as we are?” I looked sweetly at Bruce.
“I’m open to suggestions as to why this is fun.”
“Okay, let’s both take a dead rocker and bring his songs back to life.”
“You’re on.” He challenged me.
“Okay. Elvis. You go first this round.”
I had remembered that they had done one of the King’s slow songs to his mama, ‘Wear this Ring Round your Neck.” It was not a crowd pleaser, but they did their own folk version.
We did the pop hit ‘Teddy Bear’ with the opening line of “Put a chain around my neck and lead me anywhere,” to mock Springsteen’s mama’s boy Elvis song. Jack jumped in front of the crowd, swiveling his hips and thrusting in true Elvis style. Ending up on his knees to several girls, who squealed their approval.
“We concede,” he gave up. “Defeated at twenty-five by a band of 16 year olds.”
“We are the future,” I crowed.
“No,” he countered, “you are winning now, but I am the future.” He looked at Patti, “You will marry me and we will conquer the world.”
“Yes, I will, but tonight I am their’s,” and Patti hugged me and Jack, with Casper in between, as always.
“And when you conquer the world, remember our song, ‘False Gods.’
We played it in the original long version:
“We rushed in where angels feared to tread
They gave up hope, gave us up for dead
But our memory lingers on eternally
And from the abyss we heard Lucifer’s plea
But we too wanted a world of our own
We always dreamed of having a throne
So we ran away from them to see
Now we’ll be happy for eternity
We are false Gods
We are false Gods
We found this world so meek and blind
We stand here laughing at your kind
But you cynical fools don’t understand
You fall to your knees useless fleas
Your world so full of flaws
Facades and miracles applause
Eulogized not despised
Yes! We’re eulogized ‘cause
We are false Gods
We are false Gods
From up the hill
We hear your pleas
You bring us presents
Fall to your knees
Pray and speak in semaphores
You sacrifice your hallowed sheep
Pitiful slugs which you are
Dance and sing in a pit of fire
Arms waving in the air around
We’re so happy at this world we found
Our omnipotent beneficence
Astounds your boggled minds
But you’re just like toys
So we made our minds to be
We are false Gods
We are false Gods
So we will live eternally
And hear your painful screams
Just wait twenty years or so
And you will know just what we mean”
We won because we were young and had nothing to lose. Springsteen and the E Street Band went on to conquer the world because it meant everything for them. They just needed reminding that you had to have fun to stay young.
We kicked back with Patti and the other hangers-on. Bruce and the band worked on the other songs they were preparing to record. They had been on Columbia for three years without really breaking through. The label had promised heavy promotion on the new album, so the pressure was on to create hit songs. Instead of learning our craft from them, we kept chatting up Patti. She was 21 and in college. She and Bruce weren’t really together. He was married, but there definitely were sparks flying around them. She was small, Italian/Irish with blue eyes and red hair.
I had to express my opinions, “Maybe he needs to stop being all these rock stereotypes, a man of the street, a folkie, a hippie, and a bohemian. He should dump all those types and be an American rocker. Fuck the hippie crap.”
“Yeah, he wants to be a poet, like Morrison, and a one-man Beatles.”
“He’s incredible. And nice to take us in. I feel so much better about our show at CBGB’s tomorrow.”
“Who did you suck off to get all these crazy gigs?”
“I see you’re not shy and demure. We only suck off each other.”
“So, that wasn’t an act up there? You are really gay?”
“No doubt but not something we shout.”
“Girls seem to like it. And we have girlfriends. They weren’t allowed to travel with us. They’ll be in New York Friday.”
“And they’re in the band, too?”
“Sure, we call them the Jacettes, after our dead guitarist, Jace.”
“You gotta tell me all your stories sometime.”
“Come back to the hotel with us, Mrs. Robinson.”
“Hey, watch it. I’m only 21.”
“Well, we’re both 16 so that’s 32 total years, less ten years for being gay, makes us 20 together.”
“That’s teenaged thinking, sonny.”
“You don’t have to sleep with us. We can keep telling you stories. Watch out for Jack though when he smokes pot. He’s a cat on a hot tin roof.”
“Yeow,” Jack purred.
“You know how to make a lady feel wanted.”
“We are Southern gentlemen.”
“What happened to your hillbilly accents?”
“We’re a mite fur from the South, y’all.”
“Whatever you are, you’re fun to be around.”
“We always have fun. Come back with us tonight.”
“I like persistent.”
“I never feel this way.
Just happy full of play.
I wake up every day,
You’re by my side,
You reach and touch,
I say goodbye.
There’s no future,
But we have now.
“We’re perfect for each other,
I never think of another.”
Can’t be love, but who can say
I know you’re here to stay?”
There’s no future,
But we have now.
‘We can’t live by ourselves.
We need people that we love
We hate those who hate themselves
We know what they’re made of.
Love, love, love
I need your love
I need your love
I need your love
I need you”
“’Godspeed your love,’” crooned Bruce. “Now you’re stealin’ from the Righteous Bros, boys.”
“Actually, the ‘love, love, love’ is from the Beatles. We only steal from the best.”
“Following a long tradition of plagiarism.”
“Makin’ rock into folk music, passing it on down the generations.”
“It’s a little bit sappy.”
“Love’s kinda tricky for teenagers.”
“Well, I liked it ‘cause they sang it for me. We’re going to shack up now.” Patti walked out the door. Jack and I hightailed it with her. Bruce just stared after us.
The Uncles were sitting in the De Soto, smoking.
“We need to go to the hotel, Uncle Tam,” I requested nicely. They looked at us and saw Patti and quickly looked shocked. We all piled into the back, with Patti in the middle, Casper on her lap and Jack and me with our arms around her.
She shifted her legs and asked, “Who’s pushing down on my legs?”
“Oh, that’s Casper. If you feel him, it means you have an open heart.”
“Like, The Friendly Ghost?”
“That’s what we call him. Most people don’t notice him. You’re special for feeling him.”
“He’s a ghost?”
“Yeah, we’re the Three Musketeers.”
“Stop the car,” she ordered. “No way I’m hanging out with a ghost.”
I looked over and saw Casper still on her lap.”
“Well, now you done it. You hurt his feelings. I’ll bet you don’t feel anything now.”
“You’re right. What kind of trick is that?”
“More like a test to see how open-hearted you are.”
“Well, did I pass the test?”
“Definitely, but you also can be closed up, when you wanna be.”
“You guys are too full of yourselves, with antics and pranks. Maybe you’re too immature for a woman.”
“Oh, please Missy Patti, we want you to stay.” We both cried.
“Well, alright. But no more ghost talk.”
Casper was sulking in the corner.
“Onward, Uncle Tam. The lady has relented.”
At the hotel, the desk clerk was used to seeing Patti there. We went right up to our room. We sat around, telling her our stories about the band. She cried when I talked about Jace’s murder. Casper came and sat with us, careful not to touch her as she had shown she was sensitive about him.
Hippie came in and sat with us.
“Let’s go over and get a joint from Robby?” I suggested.
In the hall I asked if he could sleep in the other room. He was glad to see us show interest in a girl for once.
Once Jack got high, he couldn’t stop himself from making moves on me. Patti was enjoying the show, so I motioned for her to sit on our bed. Jack needed no more encouragement.
“You just wanna watch us get it on, or join in, too?” I asked in my direct way.
She moved in between us and put her hands down our jeans, finding us both fully aroused.
“What have we here,” she smiled.” Mr. big and fatty and Mr. long and pointy. How can we make this work?”
I slipped my jeans and briefs down. She sat on my outstretched thighs, after removing her jeans and panties. She grabbed my dick in both hands and started stroking it. I pulled her forward into a kiss. Jack was kneeling next to my ankles with his dick out. He wiggled it by hand over her ass-crack and poked her butt-hole with it. She started moaning. I reached underneath and stroked her pussy with my middle finger. She was totally wet from Jack’s ministrations. I lifted her and stuck my cock inside her in one motion. Her ass bottomed on my balls. I thrust upward and then fully withdrew. Jack used the opportunity to thrust into her with his longer member. She started screaming. As he withdrew, she begged him to stay inside her. I was ready to penetrate her cunt as he pulled out of her ass. Casper was standing in front of me with his dick out, which I sucked into my mouth. She was so into being fucked that she stopped screaming and automatically started licking his ass and balls as he moved his cock gently while I sucked it. All four of us were fucking like a clockwork orange. Patti had a short fuse. I counted at least three maybe five orgasms before any of the guys were getting close. Her Farrah Fawcett red hair was now stringy from sweat as she whipped her head back and forth. Casper had my head in a vise grip as he quickened his thrusts, finally going deep into my throat as I sucked as hard as possible. I felt him let go off inside my throat, as his dick swelled and stiffened before each spurt. Patti was hanging on to Casper as she approached her final climax. I pulled out just as my first string of white cum sprayed from my dick all over my stomach and chest and into my hair. Jack pulled out and exploded on Patti’s buttocks and back, pushing us all forward. I fell backwards and had all three of them on top of me.
As our breathing slowed, Patti suddenly realized she was hanging on to an invisible boy. She totally freaked. I tried to explain that it was because she had opened up her heart to all of us, including Casper. At the word ‘Casper,’ she bolted from the bed, gathered her clothes and made for the door. All three of us were begging with outstretched arms for her to stay. She looked back at us, shook her head, and was gone. Our initial disappointment changed to hilarity once she left.
“That wasn’t very romantic,” Jack complained.
“You’re looking for love in all the wrong places.”
“She got loved in all her places,” Casper signed.
We lay back, cuddled up, and were asleep almost instantaneously.
Sometime later, Hippie returned and used the other bed. He woke us up in the morning, all excited to be going to New York City. After loading the cars and having breakfast, we went by Bruce’s warehouse studio. He answered the bell, looking groggy and not that happy to see us.
“Hey, Bossman, we gotta get out of this place, but want to thank you for last night. We’re feeling really confident about our songs now.”
“You’ll do great. Keep up that energy. You’ll conquer the world.”
“We just wanna put on a good show. Your boys are doing the conquering.”
He looked me square in the eyes, “What did you do to poor Patti. She came home all freaked out.”
“We told her our ghost story. It was too much for her. She ran off screaming.”
“Yeah, Casper, the Friendly Ghost,” Jack added.
“It was good to play with you guys. It made us feel young again.”
“Hell, Bruce, you’re just 25. Shave your beard. You’ll be young again.”
“Thanks for the advice. Good luck at CBGB’s.”
“Yeah. I was onstage there with the New York Dolls when I was 14.”
“Jesus, kid. You’re non-stop.”
“Gotta be, if 25 means you’re old.”
“Get outta heah.”
“Love ya, Bruce.”
“Just don’t tell any of my boys. I’m a married man.”
We stared at each other. He was looking at his past. We were looking at the future.”
In an hour, we were traveling through all that urban sprawl of oil tanks and refineries that I remembered from my trip south less than two years prior. I sensed the excitement I had experienced when first coming to the City. We took the Holland Tunnel and drove to the Flat Iron District and the Chelsea on West 23rd, just north of Greenwich Village. It was dark, dank and full of cockroaches. Just our kind of place. Even Max was welcome there. We had two rooms for the six of us plus Casper. Hippie had decided he was sick of the antics with Robby, Michael and Iggy and didn’t mind about the faggots. Also he got his own bed with us. Casper went roaming and swore he could sense other ghosts in the hotel. Jack cited all the famous people who had died there, to make him feel right at home. Michael figured he’d move to the Waldorf when the Miami crew arrived on Friday. Robby got Iggy to go with him to score drugs in Washington Square, while everyone else went with me to meet Andy Warhol. The Gay Uncles were staying at the Waldorf, leaving us to fend for ourselves Downtown.
Andy had promised to make me a star when I was legal. I figured sixteen was legal enough. The factory was off Union Square, just a few blocks away. After knocking without a response, Michael pushed on the door which wasn’t locked. Having only been there once in the early morning hours, I was surprised to find the Factory humming with actual workers doing silk screens and other projects. We wandered around without anyone asking what we wanted. Finally we found an office and went in asking to see Andy.
“He’s not using any extras this week,” we were told.
“No. This is more of a social call. He told me to come back when I was older.”
“You’re hardly older,” he commented. “Who are you?”
“We’re False Gods, a band from Miami. We’re playing CBGB’s on Good Friday.”
“Hang on.” He called Andy’s assistant.
“Andy’s not up yet, but he suggested you talk with Gerard, the editor of Interview. Maybe he can get a photographer to your show and do a review. Later, he said to meet him here at 1 pm and go to breakfast. He doesn’t exactly remember you. How did you meet?”
“My cousin Joey did some porno for him. We came here with David Johansen after a Dolls show. It was pretty late. I was fourteen which he said is too young. That was two years ago.”
“Well, sixteen is still too young for porno.”
Hippie and Michael turned bright red.
“No. We’re not here to audition. We just want to show him that sixteen’s not too young to rock and roll.”
“I’m sure Andy will find you fascinating. You are gay, right?”
“Just Jack and me.”
Jack came over and put his arm around my waist, “Hi. These other two are just eye candy.”
The assistant kept asking questions. “You came up from Miami to do a single night in the Bowery?”
“Actually, we’re here to do Easter morning services at St Patrick’s and Abyssinian Baptist, plus Scorsese is doing a film on us and is shooting the services.”
“Holy crap. And you need Andy for..?”
“We’re doing fine. I just like Andy and promised I’d come back when I was older.”
“Well, I’ll make sure he knows your story. Remember, Andy’s not in great health, so don’t wear him out.”
“We can be civil. We’re Southern. It’s just hard not to do everything at once when you’re sixteen.”
“I wish I remembered. You guys are firecrackers.”
“That’s what they say.”
We went downstairs to meet Gerard at Interview . Their offices were busy with paste-ups of new articles on the walls. I glanced through an older issue, which was unlike any magazine I’d ever seen. It was also twice as big as any other magazine. Once the editor spoke with us, he called Jon Landau into the room. We were formally ‘Interviewed.’ They asked if we had a press kit and a portfolio of still photos. We looked confused until Michael pulled out the card of the photographer in Savannah who had shot Robby in the trees and taken formal shots of us as a group.
“What were you doing in Savannah?”
“Jack’s gay uncles wanted to stop there. We ended up doing a couple of songs in a drag show. Tim and I stripped to Abba’s Mama Mia and then four of us did ‘We are the Champions’ for all the queens there.”
“So, you did four shows at Southern road houses, a drag show, a teen sock hop at a storefront church, and a battle of the bands with the Springsteen band in Asbury Park, all this last week?”
“It’s our Spring Break. Gotta take advantage of the opportunities while you can,” Michael pronounced.
“How come the Easter services? Don’t the Churches ban this kind of music?”
We went into a long explanation about Teen Jesus and how well kids respond to us. We even invoked Pope John the twenty-third and Vatican II.
“Saving the world with rock and roll?” he asked.
“More like letting kids be themselves instead of closed off.”
Landau decided he’d hang out with us for Easter.
“Hope you smoke pot,” Hippie told him.
“I’ve been known to. I just don’t inhale.”
Andy’s assistant called down to tell us to come upstairs to meet the man. Landau came with.
“I do remember you,” Andy gushed when we walked in. “The fresh-faced boy down in the gutter with NY degenerates. Where is that crazy cousin of yours?”
“Joey’s living with Doug Weston from the Troubador in West Hollywood.”
“Always chasing the brass ring on the fame merry-go-round. Tell him we want him back.”
“I will. These are my band mates, Jack, Michael, and Hippie. Would you like us do an a Capella song for you?”
“Why not? Anything, but Rock and Roll.”
Jack and I looked at each other and nodded, before launching into our Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes.’ Jack soloed the intro.
“Wonderful,” he clapped his hands. “That’s my kind of rock n roll.”
We did an encore of Gerswin’s ‘It‘s Wonderful, It‘s Marvelous.”
“What can I say?”
“Anything goes,” we answered.
“I’m taking you to lunch. Coming, too, Jon?”
“I have to now. They just spent the evening with my newest prodigy. Now I’m afraid he’ll be doing show tunes, too.”
“Don’t worry about Bruce. He’s hung up between being a folkie or a rocker.”
“Think he’ll ever finish that hit I need, ‘American Dream.’”
“It’s now called ‘Born to Run.’”
“That sounds more like you guys.”
“He asked us why we were so energetic. We said we were born to run. He adopted it. He also added some doo wop from the fifties, like we do in our pop song.”
“Hey, I’m producing this album.”
“Hell, Bruce knows what a hit is, he just gets hung up on wanting to be a poet, like Dylan.”
“So your answer is to be carefree teens?”
“He thinks he’s old at 25. Teens will be his fans for a lifetime.”
“You’re predicting this?”
“We all know who he is. We’re just waiting for him to write songs for us.”
“Instead of for the critics like me?”
“Well, you grew up in the 50s. Elvis was King.”
“They do an Elvis cover.”
“Yeah, he played it last night when we did our battle of the bands.”
“What did you do?”
“’Teddy Bear.’ We won that round, if only because we smoked out the audience.”
“Jesus. I don’t need something like that to deal with. What have you done to my artist?”
I pulled out a joint. “Okay to light up, Andy.”
“Why not. Jon asked for it. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen him flummoxed.”
After smoking out, Andy declared we had to go eat. Even artists get the munchies. We walked across Union Square to Max’s Kansas City. As we got seated, Andy asked Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe to join us.
“You should shoot these boys, Tim and Jack are lovers,” Andy remarked to Maplethorpe, the photographer.
Having just gotten stoned, Jack went and sat on his lap and started flirting.
“Hey. He’s my boyfriend,” Patti complained.
“Well, Tim’s mine. We can share.”
I complied by moving my chair next to her’s. There was something reptilian about her that was kind of a turn on. We stared into each other’s eyes, daring each other to blink. She was ferociously stubborn. I blinked first.
“You are cute,” she admitted. “Andy, we’re playing here tonight. Why don’t you bring the boys over. They can get on stage?”
“Je ne sais quoi. They just did Gerswin and Cole Porter for me. I don’t want to ruin that memory by watching them do your brand of raucous rock.”
“We’ll come,” Jack enthused, not knowing what we were in for.
“Alright. Be here by midnight.” Everything started later in the City.
By this time, Jack was actively making out with Maplethorpe. I followed his lead with Patti, until Andy announced we were ruining his breakfast. Jack’s manners kicked in. We moved back to our original seats.
“Thank you. Someone has manners,” and Andy patted Jack’s hand.
Jon pulled out a notebook, but was chagrined when Andy gave him an icy look.
“I think I’m jealous,” I whispered to Jack.
“Casper was turning him on, not me.” He responded. “I think we should get it on for him, so we can have professional photos.”
“I’m calling Mummy.”
“Oh shit, don’t be a drag. Why are you jealous?”
“I’m not turned on by either of them, but you are, at least with him.”
“It’s just the pot. I can’t help myself.”
“Being with Andy is like really being ourselves, even the comic book versions of ourselves. I like it.”
Andy was giving us the ‘eye.’
“Shh,” Jack warned. It was bad manners to whisper.
“Sorry, Andy. We were thinking the same thing and had to confirm it. We like being with you,” and I threw my arms around him, just as Jack and Casper did the same thing. We were so surprised at ourselves that we jumped back quickly.”
“You were whispering about attacking me?”
“More like we’re so happy to be with you. Sorry we were whispering.”
“Our manners are usually better,” Jack smoothed over the moment.
“Now is when you ask me for money.”
“Only if you like paying. We both are receptive.”
Jack tried to explain. “We are totally being ourselves right now. You are an incredible host. See how Michael and Hippie are so used to our gay antics, they just ignore it. Hippie’s sharing our room at the Chelsea because he gets his own bed.”
I could tell Jack was going to go too far.
I pulled on his sleeve, “Remember the no kiss and tell rule.”
I took over explaining. “When we go out, it’s a performance. But with you, it’s the real us. You bring out the best in us. You’re an incredible host.”
“Well, you’re too old to sit in my lap, as you did when you were 14. You’re more than a big boy now.
“Show your manners, Tim,” Jack nudged me. I air-kissed him twice, and then lip locked briefly. I was blushing. Maplethorpe pulled out his camera.
Jack stated, “Another rule we have is the sex pact. We always share.” He kissed Andy as well. Maplethorpe got the shot.
“I gotta go piss me a river,” Patti got up and left.
I was waiting for her when she came out of the Ladies.
“Don’t scam a scammer, buddy.”
“I’ll be your buddy. The thing is Jack is acting out, making me jealous because we are going to the Bronx to meet my old girlfriend. Things have calmed down, now that he’s coming on to Andy, if you can grok that.”
“We just call it queer. The English say bent.”
“You two going to pose for Robert today?”
“We’re going to the Bronx, remember?”
‘Why would anyone go to the Bronx?”
“So Jack can meet my girlfriend.”
“Why do you have a girlfriend in the Bronx?”
“I courted her for a week before she decided she liked me. I was 14 and she was 13.”
“A long distance relationship?”
“We stare at the same stars at night to remember how close we really are.”
“And she’s a Virgo?”
“How did you know?”
“You were 14 and safe for a girl. She must really like you.”
“Yeah. That seems like what I need, just that someone really likes me.”
“Jack really likes you. Don’t mess that up.”
“Yeah. It’ll be a soap opera this evening.”
“Well, come to our show here tonight. You guys can do a couple of songs. I’ll be able to tell you how it went.”
“Hey, I’m only 28.”
She hit me on the arm. We went back to Andy’s table and sat with Maplethorpe.
“Hey, now you’re hitting on my partner.”
“You snooze, you lose.”
Jack was sitting close to Andy. He gave me a wink.
“Still wanna go meet Tina?” I asked him.
“That’s why we drove 1500 miles. For sure.”
We said goodbye to the group, thanking Andy for lunch. Jon Landau got up to come with. We told him to meet us back at Max’s Kansas City that night, as we needed to be alone with Tina. He shrugged.
I turned to Maplethorpe, “Anyway to keep that photo of Andy and Jack out of the press?”
“I’m not a paparazzi hack. Come to our studio and do a series of shots. We’ll put them in an exhibit. I will give Andy and you a print.”
“Thanks. We’ll make time,” I answered. Then I leaned over and gave ‘Mom’ Smith a real kiss.
“Oh, you nasty boys,” Andy waved us away.
The four of us walked back to the Chelsea. I called Tina’s number from the lobby and was told in Spanish she’d be home from school after 3. When I walked into our room, Michael was all upset.
“Something’s wrong with Robby and Iggy. I can’t wake them up and Max is moaning. I think they’ve taken some kind of drug.”
“No. He’s just upset.”
We rushed next door. I knew the second I saw them what was wrong. Just like Joey, they were nodded out from heroin. We should get them to a hospital. They were cold and clammy, but still breathing shallowly.
“Help me get them into the bath tubs. We’ll try to get their circulation moving faster.”
The four of us dragged them into each bath room. We pulled their clothing off and dumped them into the tubs. They didn’t fully revive but were sputtering and muttering from the cold. After about twenty minutes we pulled them out and stuck them into separate beds.
“When they wake up, they’ll probably puke, so get waste baskets by the beds.”
“How come you know how to handle this,” Michael asked.
“My cousin Joey. He was a junkie. I saw him nodding several times. Once he totally OD’d. I had to take care of him.”
“We should call the medics.”
“They’ll be arrested.”
“Shit. What if they die? We’ll be arrested.”
“They’re not going to die. But we have to stay with them and make sure they don’t stop breathing. Or throw up and breathe it into their lungs.”
“Jesus, Tim. I don’t want them to die,” Michael was almost crying.
“Calm down. If it gets worse, we’ll call an ambulance.”
We sat around, watching them. No one wanted to talk. I grabbed my SG and played Pink Floyd licks. Casper was agitated. He signed that he could see their spirits hovering over their comatose bodies. I played ‘Wish You were Here.’ Jack and I sang the lyrics softly to them.
“So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue sky’s from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
And how we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
Songwriters: WATERS, ROGER/GILMOUR, DAVID JON
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., IMAGEM U.S. LLC
I hadn’t cried for a long time, but the tears were rolling down my cheeks. Robbie was my first friend after swim team. He wanted me to be a boyfriend, but it never happened. I almost killed him myself because he was such a dickhead, but I still loved him. I thought about Jace’s death. Just when everything seems perfect, life crushes your little dreams.
Max barked, then jumped up on Iggy’s bed. He started licking Iggy’s face. Iggy’s eyes flew open. He swatted Max away. Max just barked at him. Everyone crowded around. Jack tried to hug him, but he was swatted away, too.
“What, the fuck?” he slurred the words.
“You OD’d,” Jack told him.”
“Where are my clothes?” he demanded. “I knew you fags would try something.”
Michael defended us, “That fag,” he pointed at me, “saved your life. We were going to call the medics.”
“Shit. I’d be in jail now. Sorry, Tim, I didn’t mean it.”
He was too woozy to get up. Hippie got his clothes from the bathroom. He dressed himself slowly.
“Whatta ya lookin’ at?”
“You, ya big lug. Just ‘cause Iggy Pop’s a junkie, doesn’t mean you havta be,” Michael told him.
With all the commotion, we didn’t notice that Robby was back. He sat up and barfed all over himself. We were too late with the waste basket. He fell back and was out again. It really stunk up the room. The color came back to his face. It was a positive sign. Maybe the Great Spring Break wasn’t ending there in the Chelsea.
Finally things settled down. Now we were angry at them. We were not their parents. After a week on the road, there was a sense of group protectiveness. They promised not to do it again.
I told them we were going to play a few songs at Max’s Kansas City that night. If they were still drowsy, it would be okay. I wanted to save our Monkey song for CBGB’s, so it would be a surprise. We’d see what the vibe was that night and play to it, probably ‘Sneakin’ Around’ and ‘Look Before You Leap’.
All this drama. It was after 5pm when I finally reached Tina. I suggested we meet at the same pizza place we had been to during the kidnapping. Jack and I got on the IRT and were there in an hour. It was rush hour. Tina and Pete were waiting. I was so happy to see them. I made the introductions, informing them that Jack was the band’s singer and we were boyfriends. That was a shock. Tina seemed comfortable, although she needed to digest the news. Pete looked crestfallen.
“I guess you didn’t feel that way about me.”
“Jeez, Pete, we were kids then. That’ll never change.” And I hugged him, even though he felt a bit stiff about it.
“So, what about us? You just like boys now?” Tina was direct.
“No way. I have relationships with girls still. With Jack, we’re together all the time. Even our parents know. The main point of coming to New York was for you guys to meet him. It’s never been about sex with us, Tina. We are in each other’s hearts. So is Pete. I hope you’ll find a way to let Jack in, trusting what my heart has done.”
They looked nervously at each other. I was a bit jealous that they were so close. Long distance relationships suck.
Tina took the lead. “Tim, I trust you completely. If Jack has your trust, then he has mine.”
Pete nodded agreement.
Jack’s worried look disappeared and he smiled. “This is great. I want to know all about you. Obviously Tim is as important to you as he is to me. He has a huge heart. Wait ‘til you see him work with church youth groups. They flock to him.”
“Church?” Pete asked.
“Yeah. That’s how we get to play at St Patrick’s on Easter. We teach kids to trust each other by sharing the Jesus they hold in their hearts, opening their hearts as kids are supposed to. He even changes the haters.”
“What about doubters?”
“You mean someone who no longer believes as they did as a child?”
“Yeah. Life’s not as nice as it seems when you’re little.”
“You protect your heart by trusting those who are open. The haters, doubters, scareds, or meanies, you have to get them to open up.”
“Come to youth group at St Patrick’s on Saturday with us and see how it works.”
“You want us to come to Church? I guess you may yet win over the parents.”
“Good. Get them to hear us perform on Easter.”
“That’s Park Avenue. They’ll feel uncomfortable.”
“See, adults have an even harder time from all the years of putting up barriers in their hearts.”
I reached out and held Tina’s hand, looking into her eyes. She smiled in an open and trusting manner. Casper placed his hands over her’s.
“Wow,” she said. “I can really feel the spiritual presence right now.”
“That’s the ghost of my boyfriend, Jace. We call him Teen Jesus. If you have a trusting heart, you can feel him. He’s sitting with me with his hands on our’s.”
Pete placed his hands on top of ours. “I can feel him, too.”
“Now all you need to do is let him into your heart. You’ll be able to know if anyone is open and trusting, those who also share this love.”
Pete reached out and took Jack’s hand and placed it on top of the other hands.”
Jack kissed me. I kissed Tina. Tina kissed Pete. Pete was unsure about kissing Jack to complete the circle.
“Com’n, Pete,” Jack told him. “Just grab Tim’s hand. You don’t have to kiss me.”
“I want to, but what if someone sees me?”
“You don’t have to touch to receive the spiritual energy. I’ve always known how you feel about me. Just as I know how Tina’s always felt.” I reassured him.
He was absolutely glowing. Casper started to glow as well. It felt so good being with the four people I loved and I knew loved me. We all sat there until the pizzas came. Pizza trumped love.
I finally relaxed. We had been non-stop for a week. Sure, there was lots to do in the next few days. The original idea was to get together with the people I love here in the Bronx. My need for others to love me seemed insatiable. Surrounded by Jack, Tina, Pete, and Casper, I felt complete. We should have brought Max with us.
“How about a tour of all those friends that come to Miami Beach every year. I wanna slap around that brother of yours for what he caused last fall.”
“Good luck,” Tina said. “He thinks he was the one who stood up to the gangs. Cockier than ever.”
“Your Dad still think I’m a threat?”
“To my virginity? For sure.”
“And how’s that working out for you?”
She gave me a look that didn’t need explaining.
“Maybe I need to come around more,” I asserted.
She winked at Jack. “You look well taken care of in that department.”
“Boys are so much easier than girls,” I complained.
We got up and paid the bill. Tina and Pete took us around to say hi to the original summer gang of 1973. They remembered I had promised to visit. “What took you so long, Huerto?” one asked.
“You know, Tina. Always putting me off.”
Finally we were at her house. Her dad actually seemed happy to see me with my improved high school Spanish. I told him we were singing at St Patrick’s on Easter and invited their family to come. He thanked me and wished me well. No leaving the neighborhood was his rule. Tina’s little brother, Beto, acted shy. I slapped him around, telling him to stay away from the gangs. Then he hugged me, calling me ‘hermano.’ We left, walking Pete to his house. He felt comfortable enough to put an arm on both our shoulders as we walked up his stoop.
“Better pay her more attention, Huerto. I might move in on your amiga,” he advised me.
“There’s no prize for second place, Pete,” I kidded him.
“She’ll never be second in my heart,” he admitted and blushed.
“Timing, my friend,” I advised.
“Don’t break her heart,” he warned.
“?tu es son hermano o son amigo?”
“E, yo tam bien.”
“Bring Tina to Max’s Kansas City in Union Square tonight. We’ll sing for you both.”
“Si, es posible.”
“Adios, Pete,” Jack smiled at him.
“Si, a Dios.”
It was nine o’clock by the time we got back to the Chelsea. Robby and Iggy were still pretty out of it. Michael and Hippie had been watching them sleep regularly. Jack and I relieved them, so they could go eat.
“Don’t forget the show with Patti Smith tonight.”
“Yeah. What time?”
“She said after midnight.”
“Why so late?”
“Nothing happens in the City until late.”
After they left, Jack and I talked about our visit to the Bronx.
“Looks like Pete’s waiting to move in on your lady,” Jack observed.
“Ah. He’s just being a good friend.”
“You keep all the girls wrapped around your little finger.”
“Tina doesn’t get too involved emotionally. Even though we talk on the phone, she keeps away from being too personal.”
“Was it disappointing tonight?”
“Naw. I finally relaxed. It felt great. The band’s been non-stop for a whole week.”
“There weren’t real sparks between you two.”
“That’s what bothers me. I feel her slipping away.”
“She handled the gay thing pretty well.”
“Maybe. She didn’t react. She liked you, though.”
“My perfect manners always get the ladies.”
“Not getting conceited, are we?”
“I just know who I love and who I want to be with all the time.”
“Me, too. I’ve never doubted that I’m gay. I just always liked girls as well. Now I wonder if I can’t get emotionally involved with them.”
“Well, Flo and Edi will be here tomorrow. They’re always fun. You arn’t giving up on girls because of me?”
“Between you and Casper, there’s little sperm left available.”
“Let’s keep it that way.”
Casper had been listening. He floated down and put an arm around each of us. I worried I wasn’t paying him enough attention.
When Michael and Hippie came back, Jack and I were sound asleep at the foot of Robby’s bed. Casper was there too. Michael was concerned that adding a performance that night with Patti Smith at Max’s would be too much. We had been performing day and night for a week. I suggested we just go to the show. I had promised Pete we’d sing for Tina and him if they showed up. Jack and I thought we could sing some Spanish songs. ‘Oye Como Va.’ ‘La Bamba,’ and ‘La Cucaracha,’ were the only ones we knew. We weren’t even sure that we were pronouncing the Spanish properly. At least these were familiar pop songs. Max was lying on Iggy’s bed. He had been whining for a while. Obviously, with the pot connections down all day, no one had provided the addicted dog with his pot fix. Michael had smoked out Andy and friends at lunch, but Max had missed that. Truthfully, we all were coming down and increasingly lethargic. Robby woke up and staring at us through squinty eyes declared, “What’s wrong with you? Did someone die?”
We all laughed and told him we were out of pot. He reached behind his ear but he was out as well.
“We had to smoke out those dealers we met in Washington Square. They were insatiable.”
Now we all were depressed.
“Have no fear my Samhein acolytes. My supply is right here,” Robby smiled and pulled out his stash box. It was bong hits all around. I grabbed Jack and with Casper we rushed back to our room and proceeded to fuck for an hour. It was almost midnight. We went to gather everyone, but only Max wasn’t comatose. Robby tried to get up. His balance was shot and he couldn’t walk. New York dope had kicked his ass. Iggy hadn’t woken up again. Michael was asleep in the bed with Robby. Hippie just asked for our room key. Max came with us, excited to get out.
As Jack and I walked over to Max’s, Jack asked if I was going to confession on Good Friday.
“I may not make it to our gig at CBGB’s if I confess, repent, and do contrition for all my sins.”
“You don’t generalize them all?” he asked.
“Isn’t that cheating?”
“Well, Father Frank arrives tomorrow. He can hear our confessions. Then we can go to Mass. If we don’t take the Eucharist, people will notice. How will we be able to speak at the youth group on Saturday, if we haven’t renounced our sins?”
“Will you renounce me?”
“God, no. I feel blessed every time I think about you and what we do.”
“The devil’s work, I’m sure.”
“This is Maundy Thursday. The Gospel according to John states, ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.”
Casper got all excited. He signed, “See. Our love is blessed, not sinful.”
Teen Jesus had spoken. Casper kissed us both. That glow we felt with Tina and Pete returned. Casper hugged Max. He positively shined from the glow.
As we walked into Max’s, the glow increased. People turned to watch us as we walked to Andy’s and Jon Landau’s table.
Jon asked, “Who’s dog?”
“This is Max. He’s a trained pot sniffer. He’s the band’s star power.
“You boys look divine,” Andy observed.
“We celebrated Holy Thursday with the last joint. Now we are spreading the Gospel according to John to love one another,” Jack smiled and we both kissed Andy on opposite cheeks. Photo flashes went off all over the bar. We went to Jon. He seemed uneasy about being kissed but relented.
“It’s Maundy Thursday,” we announced and blew kisses to the room.
Finally seated, Andy was still breathless. “Can I kiss you back?”
“Of course,” we both answered. More flashes went off.
Jon stated, “I’ll just say that I’m totally under your spell. More kissing is off-limits.”
As I had said to Pete, “No problem. We can feel your love without a kiss. For gays it’s more important. Despair not your sexual preference.”
Meanwhile, Patti and her band were setting up. They had observed the whole scene at Andy’s table. She got on the mic and complained, “What about me?’
Max and I rushed up on stage. I French kissed her for twenty seconds. Robert appeared, seeming a bit put off. Jack came up and kissed him. I looked out from the stage. Tina and Pete were sitting way in the back by themselves. They waved. I told them to come up, too. All six of us were hugging.
I introduced them to Patti and Robert, “This is my girlfriend Tina and her boyfriend, Pete. They came here from the Bronx to see you.”
Pete turned bright red, but Tina just held his hand.
“Interesting developments from the Bronx. Why don’t you guys do your portion of my show, while we set up. Where’s the rest of your band?”
“We celebrated the Last Supper with our last joint. The others passed out. We’re here to celebrate John the Apostle’s new Commandment to love one another.”
“Ah, the new Beatles. So what blissed-out crap are you going to do a Capella?”
I turned on the mic. “You asked earlier why I’d go to the Bronx. My Bronx friends were just as reserved about coming here. So, to make them comfortable, Jack and I are going to sing Spanish songs we all know and hope all you Manhattanites will sing to them as well.”
I had plugged in my SG and did the lead riff into ‘La Bamba.’ Jack ululated “la la la la la la Bamba,” and we all came in for the verse, including Patti, Tina and Pete.
‘Arriba y arriba
Y arriba y arriba, por ti seré
Por ti seré
Por ti seré
Yo no soy marinero
Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán
Para bailar la bamba
Para bailar la bamba
Se necesita una poca de gracia
Una poca de gracia pa(ra) mi pa(ra) ti
Para bailar la bamba
Para bailar la bamba
Se necesita una poca de gracia
Una poca de gracia pa(ra) mi pa(ra) ti
Arriba y arriba
Y arriba y arriba, por ti seré
Por ti seré
Por ti seré
EMI LONGITUDE MUSIC
Everyone was standing up and singing the words as they knew them. Tina was standing between Pete and me with her arms around our waists, singing into the mic, while I played guitar. At the end of the song, I kept going and we did the whole song again.
Next we did ‘Oye Como Va,’ which people only knew a few of the words. Tina and Pete made it a duet.
Patti took over her mic, “Well, I guess I’ve gotta get my ass up to the Bronx now. Everyone this is Tim and Jack from False Gods. They play CBGB’s tomorrow night. They’re a hella bunch of fun.”
People kept shouting more. I escorted Pete and Tina to Andy’s table, but Patti told me to come back up.
“You gotta ‘nother Spanish ditty?”
“Pete’s my best friend. It looks like while I’ve been gone, he may have snaked my girlfriend Tina. This song’s for you, buddy.”
Jack and I sang ‘La Cucaracha,”
La cucaracha, la cucaracha, The cockroach, the cockroach,
ya no puede caminar can’t walk anymore
porque le falta, porque no tiene because it’s lacking, because it
marihuana pa’ fumar. doesn’t have marijuana to smoke.”
We sat down to many laughs and cheers.
Patti’s band took the stage and did their set.
She began by doing a cover of ‘Gloria,’ G L O R I A.
After they were done, she and Robert joined us.
“You just about stole my show, asshole.”
“People came to rock out with you. We’re just kids having fun. It’s no competition. We won’t be 16 forever.”
“Our best song tonight was a cover. Our own songs are too much like poetry.”
“We are just a cover band in Miami. It’s what people want, to rock out to the songs they love. You want to be an artist, learn to paint. You wanna be popular, rock out like kids.”
She leaned over and kissed me again. Then she whispered, “You showed me how to be a pop artist. I’ll win ‘em over. Then I’ll kill ‘em with my poetry.”
Remembering that morning’s bathroom tryst, “Try Pissing in a River.”
Andy pulled me over. I sat on the arm of his chair. I knew not to be too physical with him but wanted the closeness.
“I promised I’d make you a star when you grew up. Looks like you did it on your own, without growing up.”
“Am I still too young for you at 16?”
“Let’s just say you’re living up to your potential.”
I kissed him. Casper waved and pointed to Jack who was kissing Maplethorpe. My jealousy flared. Casper knew what to do, knocking Robert’s drink into his lap. He stood up quickly.
“Looks like he’s already cum, Jack. You better get your ass over here if you want longer lasting lust,” I ordered him.
Jack tittered and rushed over, whispering, “You really are jealous.”
“Naw, it was Casper who did that. But my jealousy made me make a joke about your sluttiness.”
He hugged me and wouldn’t let go.”
I didn’t want to be making out in front of Andy, so we moved to an empty seat.
Tina asked me, “Why did you say Pete was my boyfriend? Are we breaking up?”
“No. My feelings are just the same. But I can see how protective Pete is of you.”
I took Pete’s hand and placed it on Tina’s. “He loves you, too. He would never make any moves, because of me. Jack is willing to share me with you. I love Pete as a brother. He’s here with you all the time. What we have is special. But we can share it with him as I have shared it with Jack.”
“It’s not exactly like one big happy family, is it?” she mocked.
“Naw. We’re teenagers. Until we figure it all out, let’s just love each other and not worry about the future.”
Tina looked at Pete for the first time. He swallowed and kissed her for the first time. Jack kissed me for the infinite time. Andy clapped his hands, “Bravo.” He was the NYC’s greatest hostess.
We begged off going to the Factory. The Miami supporters were arriving in a few hours. Tina and Pete were anxious not to be too late getting home. I promised we’d see them after Mass the next day. They shook their heads in amazement. I found them a cab and gave the driver a twenty to take them all the way home.
“You always take care of me, Tim.”
‘That’s ‘cause I luv ya.” I joked. I saw they both were holding hands. Little steps. Pete pulled me into the window and the two of them kissed me on both cheeks.
“Hey. Whadabout me,” Jack complained. He got two kisses as well. “John the Apostle would be pleased.”
We walked arm in arm to the Chelsea, Max on a leash was leading the way. Casper was riding on his back.