By dawn we left North Carolina and Virginia behind us and passed through DC. Five hungry teenagers cannot be denied. We take a break for breakfast in southern Maryland. The landscape changes from rural farmlands to suburban sprawl. There are no hominy and grits on the menu. Blueberry pancakes are a welcome substitute. Drinking coffee and going outside for a wake and bake joint, we take the time to review our progress. Our primary goal – to find Jace/Casper’s real mom: we did that. Next, could we tour and survive on the road: with a lot of help from the Uncles, we believe in ourselves. Third, to test our own songs, which we had to believe in if we are to play them to a New York City audience: our reviews are 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 are cool. The southern blues of ‘False Gods’ and ‘South Florida’ shows we only had grits in our bowels, maybe not in our hearts. ‘Sneakin’ and ‘Look Before You Leap’ are getting decent receptions. The added confidence makes them better. They are true reflections of our Miami lives. We trust their authenticity. No band writes a hit song every time. No band can take NYC by storm with only seven songs. We agree not to do covers unless the show is really sucking. At least we’re being honest.
Fourth, the Teen Jesus crusade: We’re hardly aware of what our goals are with the church youth groups. I keep thinking of the cop in Coconut Grove who wondered what Jesus was like as a teenager. He hoped he’s rowdy. We definitely are that. When kids let Casper and me into their hearts, where the authentic Jesus lies, it makes them open to each other and beaks down their hard-heartedness, learned from family, friends, school, and even church. Every kid we meet needs to be open with others, to belong to an uber-family of peers. We tell them to fight abuse and report it even when they only observe or suspect it. Those who have been abused need the support of their peers. The progress that Casper’s brother John has made convinces me that the abused can learn to love again, to open their hearts, and not repeat the cycle of abuse. After a success with the Storefront Church at Daytona Beach, we made no effort to reach out to youth groups. We’re having so much fun, we forget it was one of our goals. Pretty immature of us. I sign my concerns to Casper who replies that we were being open to new friends and experiences. Teen Jesus isn’t a crusade but an attitude. We’re fine and will be in the proper spirit in New York. Maybe he is Teen Jesus.
Michael has 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 are always so right on, who could deny him. It means 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 is skeptical.
“I got my peeps, too,” Hippie brags.
That convinces us. We’re in Asbury Park before noon.
We go out to the beach, which is so unlike Miami Beach. Even though it’s early April, the wind and moist air make it too 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 tells us. “Let me get their address for you.”
With that kind of help, my opinion of the Northeast is changing. Soon we pull up to an old warehouse in a commercial part of town. We all pile out while the Uncles park and stay warm. I knock at the door with the correct number; there are no markings.
“Whadda ya want?’ comes a reply.
“E Street Band?”
“B Street Beats.” I ad-lib.
Hippie elbows me aside. “Hey, man, ya gotta hear our groove. We come to relate.”
“Why didn’tcha say so?” and the door opens.
A skinny guy about 25 with a Jewish fro and beard is inside.
Robby steps up, “We’re here to get you high,” and produces a joint.
“Well, don’t just stand there. Com’n in. Where are yer shoes?”
The place is pretty barren except for a full band setup with couches and chairs strewn around. Lots of cigarette butts are everywhere but in an ashtray.
“So, where are the B Street Beats from? Do we have local competition?
“Naw,” I admit. “E Street Rules. We’re from Miami.”
“Jesus, no wonder you look so cold.” He goes over and turns up the thermostat. “How’d ya get so lost?”
He produces a bic and Robby lites up the joint.
“We’re playing a couple of shows in the City this Easter. We want 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’re to play Easter services at St Patrick’s and Abyssinian Baptist, plus we got a CBGB’s gig for Good Friday.”
“Well, Ry Cooder’s cool. But ya can’t be playin’ covers in New York.”
“We know you write your own songs, so we hope you’ll 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 tell the story of my firefight with burned out Viet Vets in New England.
I tell of my cousin, the Little Joe of ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’
I tell how we protested segregation at our schools in order to know poor black students who only wanted to be our friends.
I tell of the abuse that killed our guitarist and my best friend while defending the only creature that had always loved him.
I tell of Teen Jesus, come to open the hearts of those hardened by hatred, fear, and ignorance.
I tell of runaways refused shelter by authorities, who then turn to prostitution..
I tell of hillbillies who have no hope of a future.
I tell of pregnant, unmarried girls.
I tell of arrogant students self-involved in foolish sports.
“You are the poet of your generation,” I tell him. “We are the kids that come next. We have not yet learned to be afraid. We’re born to run.”
Springsteen laughs and laughs, as do 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 takes another joint from behind his ear. The deal is sealed. Springsteen comes back with a six-pack and confirmation that their studio will be open at 9 pm for our face off.
Off we go to a hotel he suggests, road weary and horny. We pay extra for our own room, deciding to sleep first before any action. Casper lays between us. When Hippie bursts in (the rooms were adjoining, so the door wasn’t locked) to complain about Robby harassing him, he only sees the two of us, separated by Casper’s space.
“Can I use the spare bed?” he asks.
We mumble, “Sure,” and go back to sleep.
We get up in time for Jersey pizza. Then it’s time to get to the studio and have it out with the Band of the 70s.
We drag 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 approaches us, “The Boss said you were all kids. We’re having a rehearsal tonight anyway, so you won’t mind if we work on our new songs?”
“Great. We love your stuff,” I respond. “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 is on.
Bruce steps 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 yells. “That line don’t work. You,” he yells at me, ‘what was that line you said about not being afraid.
“Yeah. We was born to run.”
He thinks about it and decides,” We’ll try that, but say ‘Baby, we were born to run.’”
They start up and used my line. As they finishe, 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 play the whole song through. His idea of a competition is subsumed by wanting to work on a new hit song. They end at ‘baby we were born to run.’ The twenty or so hangers-on gave them a smattering of applause. It’s our turn.
I get Robby up at the mic with Jack and tell 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 up and off around the room, jumping on the amps and grabbing pipes and hanging lamps. He comes down on top of the E Street Bands amps, mocking Springsteen with his monkey moves. He turns around and mocks the bystanders. Several of the girls start their own monkey moves. They go over and mock the E Street Band. We keep playing the chorus until Springsteen screamed, “Stop.” As good boys, we stop.
Jack shouts into the mic, “Who won round one, us or them,” pointing at the other band.
“You,” everyone shouts.
Instead of being mad, the older guys are laughing and mocking Springsteen, who pout and asks us how they can 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 are whooping and laughing when we sing ‘cum,’ They’re shakin’ it to the chorus, which naturally we repeat until it’s too much..
Jack is now the MC, “Us or them?” again pointing at Springsteen .
It’s “You,” meaning us, although not unanimously.
“Com’n.” Springsteen is frustrated. “we’re just tryin’ to get it right.”
“Score, Beat Street 2, Easy Street zero.” Jack announces. “Better you try another song, for round three.”
“No. We got this now,” he proclaims. Pointing at me, “In your honor, the song is now called ‘Born to Run.”
They play it all the way through. Everyone is cheering, especially us.
“Hey, Steve,” Robby calls over, “Ready for that joint, now that we solved the song y’all been workin’ on.”
“Break it out,” he calls back.
Robby pulls out two joints from behind his ear, one for the bands and one for the crowd.
“Hey, that’s influencing the jury,” Bruce complains.
“Well, break out the beers,” I challenge him.
He runs to the back and returns with a case of PBR. There’s a break in the action. B Boys – 2, E Men – 1 at halftime.
“Ya havin’ fun, at our expense?” Bruce comes over and slaps me on the back.
“That song is definitely a hit,” I tell 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 toa esthe mic, “While y’alls appreciating our fine Colombian weed and Bruce’s working class beer, we’ll play our runnin’ song.”
He turns around and mouths, ‘Runnin’ Scared.’
“That ain’t fair,” Springsteen complains after we were done. “That’s a Roy Orbison cover.”
“Who said we couldn’t play covers?” Jack counters. “Hell, we practically rewrote your song. You’re basically covering us.”
The inebriated crowd heartily agrees. It was 3-1.
“Thank you, loyal fans. How about we switch and we go first,” Jack challenges them. I realize the pot is getting to his libido. I mouth ‘Sex Inside’ and walk 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 is all over me as I rip the guitar licks. I’m afraid he’ll lick my ears. The crowd is stunned. As usual, the girls have dreamy faces as they see Jack fag off on me. The guys are grabbing their girlfriends for protection. Each time we do the chorus the guys hump the girls. It is hot. It is as steamy as a disco in that warehouse.
“Fuck, yeah,” someone calls 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 start the next round with ‘Blinded by the Light,” ripping it apart.
The vote is close. If a count were taken, we might have won, but the girls are out-shouted by the guys. B band – 4, E Band – 2.
“Take that teenaged werewolves,” Springsteen crows. “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 are still on our side.
It’s no contest. The pot addles 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 responds.
“Hey, we love this guy,” Jack speaks up, forgetting he has outed himself to everyone.
“Whoo eee, Bruce, you got yer self a boyfriend”
Springsteen turns beet red, until a young girl jumps on stage. “He’s all mine,” Patti Scialfa yells.
The E Streeters break into ‘Rosalita,’ with Springsteen singing to her.
After they finish, I ran over and ask 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 complains.
“I ain’t your girlfriend until ya grow up, in another ten years.”
She comes over as I did a slightly longer intro than usual, as they get set. The duet is amazing. She can really sing. After repeating the verse, I do an extended finale, letting Casper take over and play soaring riffs, as I rock back and forth. Patti has tears in her eyes, so I let Casper play the full 7 minutes, knowing we scored by using Bruce’s girlfriend. He bows to her without calling for a vote. B Boys – 6 E Men – 2.
“Time out,” he calls, and comes over to our area.
“I hope you’re having as much fun as we are?” I look sweetly at Bruce.
“I’m open to suggestions as to why this is fun.”
“Okay, let’s both take a dead rocker and bring one of his songs back to life.”
“You’re on.” He challenges 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 My 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 jumps in front of the crowd, swiveling his hips and thrusting in true Elvis style. Ending up on his knees to several girls, who squeal their approval.
“We concede,” he gave up. “Defeated at twenty-five by a band of 16 year olds.”
“We are the future,” I crow.
“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 hugs 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 win because we’re young and have nothing to lose. Springsteen and the E Street Band goes on to conquer the world because it means everything for them. They just need reminding that you have to be fun to stay young.
We kick back with Patti and the other hangers-on. Bruce and the band work on the other songs they’re preparing to record. They’ve been on Columbia for three years without really breaking through. The label promises heavy promotion on the new album, so the pressure is on to create hit songs. Instead of learning our craft from them, we keep chatting up Patti. She’s 21 and in college. She and Bruce aren’t really together. He’s married, but there definitely are sparks flying around them. She’s small, Italian/Irish with blue eyes and red hair.
I have 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 purrs.
“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 walks out the door. Jack and I hightail it afterher. Bruce just stares after us.
The Uncles are sitting in the De Soto, smoking.
“We need to go to the hotel, Uncle Tam,” I request nicely. They looked at us, see Patti and quickly look shocked. We all pile into the back, with Patti in the middle, Casper on her lap and Jack and me with our arms around her.
She shifts her legs and asks, “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 orders. “No way I’m hanging out with a ghost.”
I loo over and see Casper still on her lap.”
“Well, now you’ve done it. You hurt his feelings. I’ll bet you don’t feel nothin’ 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 cry.
“Well, alright. But no more ghost talk.”
Casper is sulking in the corner.
“Onward, Uncle Tam. The lady has relented.”
At the hotel, the desk clerk is used to seeing Patti there. We go right up to our room and sit around, telling her our stories about the band. She cries when I talked about Jace’s murder. Casper comes and sits with us, careful not to touch her as she is sensitive about him.
Hippie comes in and sits with us.
“Let’s go over and get a joint from Robby?” I suggest.
In the hall I ask if he would sleep in the other room. He’s glad to see us show interest in a girl for once.
Once Jack gets high, he can’t stop himself from making moves on me. Patti is enjoying the show, so I motion for her to sit on our bed. Jack needs no more encouragement.
“You just wanna watch us get it on, or join in, too?” I ask in my direct way.
She moves in between us and puts her hands down our jeans, finding us both fully aroused.
“What have we here,” she smiles.” Mr. big and fatty and Mr. long and pointy. How can we make this all work?”
I slip my jeans and briefs down. She sits on my outstretched thighs, after removing her jeans and panties. She grabs my dick in both hands and starts stroking it. I pull her forward into a kiss. Jack is kneeling next to my ankles with his dick out. He wiggles it by hand over her ass-crack and pokes her butt-hole with it. She starts moaning. I reach underneath and stroke her pussy with my middle finger. She is totally wet from Jack’s ministrations. I lift and stick my cock inside her in one motion. Her ass bottoms on my balls. I thrust upward and then fully withdrew. Jack uses the opportunity to thrust into her with his longer member. She starts screaming. As he withdraws, she begs him to stay inside her. I prepare to penetrate her cunt as he pulls out of her ass. Casper is standing in front of me with his dick out, which I suck into my mouth. She’s so into being fucked that she starts screaming and automatically licks his ass and balls as he moves his cock gently while I suck it. All four of us were fucking like a clockwork orange. Patti has a short fuse. I count at least three maybe five orgasms before any of the guys are even getting close. Her Farrah Fawcett red hair is now stringy from sweat as she whipped her head back and forth. Casper has my head in a vise grip as he quickened his thrusts, finally going deep into my throat while I suck as hard as possible. I felt him let go off inside my gullet, as his dick swells and stiffens before each spurt. Patti is hanging on to Casper as she approached her final climax. I pull out just as the first string of white cum sprays from my dick all over my stomach and chest and into my hair. Jack pulls out and explodes on Patti’s buttocks and back, pushing us all forward. I fall backwards with all three of them on top of me.
As our breathing slows, Patti suddenly realizes she is hanging on to an invisible boy. She totally freaks. I try to explain that it’s because she opened up her heart to all of us, including Casper. At the word ‘Casper,’ she bolts from the bed, gathers her clothes and makes for the door. All three of us are begging with outstretched arms for her to stay. She looks back at us, shakes her head, and is gone. Our initial disappointment changes to hilarity once she leaves.
“That wasn’t very romantic,” Jack complains.
“You’re looking for love in all the wrong places.”
“She got loved in all her places,” Casper signs.
We lay back, cuddle up, and are asleep almost instantaneously.
Sometime later, Hippie returns and uses the other bed. He wakes 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 answers 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 looks 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 adds.
“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 stare at each other. He is looking at his past. We are looking at the future.”
In an hour, we’re traveling through all that urban sprawl of oil tanks and refineries that I remembered from my trip south less than two years prior. I sense the excitement I experienced when first coming to the City. We take the Holland Tunnel and drive to the Flat Iron District and the Chelsea on West 23rd, just north of Greenwich Village. It is dark, dank and full of cockroaches. Just our kind of place. Even Max is welcome there. We have two rooms for the six of us plus Casper. Hippie decides he’s sick of the antics with Robby, Michael and Iggy and doesn’t mind about the faggots. Also he gets his own bed with us. Casper goes roaming and swears he can sense other ghosts in the hotel. Jack cites all the famous people who died there, to make him feel right at home. Michael figures he’ll move to the Waldorf when the Miami crew arrives on Friday. Robby gets Iggy to go with him to score drugs in Washington Square, while everyone else goes with me to meet Andy Warhol. The Gay Uncles are staying at the Waldorf, leaving us Downtown to fend for ourselves .
Andy promised to make me a star when I’m legal. I figure sixteen is legal enough. The Factory is off Union Square, just a few blocks away. After knocking without a response, Michael pushes on the door which isn’t locked. Having only been there once in the early morning hours, I’m surprised to find the Factory humming with actual workers doing silk screens and other projects. We wander around without anyone asking why we’re there. Finally we find an office and ask to see Andy.
“He’s not using any extras this week,” we’re told.
“No. This is more of a social call. He told me to come back when I’m older.”
“You’re hardly older,” he comments. “Who are you?”
“We’re False Gods, a band from Miami. We’re playing CBGB’s on Good Friday.”
“Hang on.” He calls Andy’s assistant.
“Andy’s not up yet, but he suggests you talk with Gerard, the editor of Interview. Maybe he can get a photographer to your show and do a review. Later, he says 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 comes over and puts his arm around my waist, “Hi. These other two are just eye candy.”
The assistant keeps 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 go downstairs to meet Gerard at Interview . Their offices are busy with paste-ups of new articles on the walls. I glance through an older issue, which is unlike any magazine I’ve ever seen. It was also twice as big as any other magazine. Once the editor spoke with us, he calls Jon Landau into the room. We’re formally ‘Interviewed.’ They ask if we had a press kit and a portfolio of still photos. We look confused until Michael pulls 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 pronounces.
“How come the Easter services? Doesn’t the Churches ban this kind of music?”
We go 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 asks.
“More like letting kids be themselves instead of closed off.”
Landau decides he’ll hang out with us for Easter.
“Hope you smoke pot,” Hippie tells him.
“I’ve been known to. I just don’t inhale.”
Andy’s assistant calls down for us to come upstairs to meet the man. Landau comes with.
“I do remember you,” Andy gushes when we walk 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 look at each other and nod, before launching into our Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes.’ Jack soloes the intro.
“Wonderful,” he claps his hands. “That’s my kind of rock n roll.”
We do an encore of Gerswin’s ‘It‘s Wonderful, It‘s Marvelous.”
“What can I say?”
“Anything goes,” we answer.
“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’re so energetic. We said we’re born to run. He adopted it. He also added some doo wop from the fifties, like we did 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 pull 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 declares we had to go eat. Even artists get the munchies. We walk across Union Square to Max’s Kansas City. As we are seated, Andy asks Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe to join us.
“You should shoot these boys, Tim and Jack are lovers,” Andy remarks to Maplethorpe, the photographer.
Having just gotten stoned, Jack went and sat on his lap and starts flirting.
“Hey. He’s my boyfriend,” Patti complained.
“Well, Tim’s mine. We can share.”
I comply by moving my chair next to her’s. There’s something reptilian about her that is kind of a turn-on. We stare into each other’s eyes, daring each other to blink. She is ferociously stubborn. I blink first.
“You are cute,” she admits. “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 enthuses, not knowing what we’re in for.
“Alright. Be here by midnight.” Everything starts later in the City.
By this time, Jack is actively making out with Maplethorpe. I follow his lead with Patti, until Andy announces we are ruining his breakfast. Jack’s manners kick in. We move back to our original seats.
“Thank you. Someone has manners,” and Andy pats Jack’s hand.
Jon pulls out a notebook, but is chagrined when Andy gives him an icy look.
“I think I’m jealous,” I whisper to Jack.
“Casper is turning him on, not me.” He responds. “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 warns. It’s bad manners to whisper.
“Sorry, Andy. We’re thinking the same thing and have 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’re so surprised at ourselves that we jump 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 smooths over the moment.
“Now is when you ask me for money.”
“Only if you like paying. We both are receptive.”
Jack tries 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 can tell Jack is 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 nudges me. I air-kissed him twice, and then lip locked briefly. I was blushing. Maplethorpe pulls out his camera.
Jack stated, “Another rule we have is the sex pact. We always share.” He kisses Andy as well. Maplethorpe gets the shot.
“I gotta go piss me a river,” Patti gets up and leaves.
I’m waiting for her when she comes 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 likes 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 hits me on the arm. We return to Andy’s table and sit with Maplethorpe.
“Hey, now you’re hitting on my partner.”
“You snooze, you lose.”
Jack is sitting close to Andy. He gives me a wink.
“Still wanna go meet Tina?” I ask him.
“That’s why we drove 1500 miles. For sure.”
We say goodbye to the group, thanking Andy for lunch. Jon Landau gets up to come with. We tell him to meet us back at Max’s Kansas City that night, as we need to be alone with Tina. He shrugs.
I turn to Maplethorpe, “Any way 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 answer. Then I lean over and gave ‘Mom’ Smith a real kiss.
“Oh, you nasty boys,” Andy waves us away.
The four of us walk back to the Chelsea. I call Tina’s number from the lobby and am told in Spanish she’ll be home from school after 3. When I walk into our room, Michael is 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 rush next door. I know the second I see them what is wrong. Just like Joey, they’re nodding out from heroin. We must get them to a hospital. They’re cold and clammy, but still shallowly breathing .
“Help me get them into the bath tubs. We’ve got to get their circulation moving.”
The four of us drag them into each bath room. We pull their clothing off and dump them into the tubs. They don’t fully revive but are sputtering and muttering from the cold. After about twenty minutes we pull them out and stick them into separate beds.
“When they wake up, they’ll probably puke, so get waste baskets ready by the beds.”
“How come you know how to handle this,” Michael asks.
“My cousin Joey. He’s 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 is almost crying.
“Calm down. If it gets worse, we’ll call an ambulance.”
We sit around, watching them. No one wants to talk. I grabbed my SG and play Pink Floyd licks. Casper is agitated. He signs that he sees their spirits hovering over their comatose bodies. I play ‘Wish You were Here.’ Jack and I sing 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 haven’t cried for a long time, but the tears roll down my cheeks. Robbie is my first friend after swim team. He wanted me to be a boyfriend, but it never happened. I almost killed him myself because he’s such a dickhead, but I still love him. I think about Jace’s death. Just when everything seems perfect, life crushes your little dreams.
Max barks, then jumps up on Iggy’s bed, licking Iggy’s face. Iggy’s eyes fly open. He swats Max away. Max just barks at him. Everyone crowds around. Jack tries to hug him, but he’s swatted away, too.
“What, the fuck?” Iggy slurs the words.
“You OD’d,” Jack tells him.”
“Where are my clothes?” he demands. “I knew you fags would try something.”
Michael defends us, “This fag,” he points at me, “saved your life. We were going to call the medics.”
“Shit. I’d be in jail now. Sorry, Tim, I don’t mean it.”
He is too woozy to get up. Hippie gets his clothes from the bathroom. He dresses himself slowly.
“Whatta ya lookin’ at?”
“You, ya big lug. Just ‘cause Iggy Pop’s a junkie, don’t mean you havta be,” Michael tells him.
With all the commotion, we don’t notice that Robby is back. He sits up and barfs all over himself. We’re too late with the waste basket. He falls back and is out again. It really stinks up the room. The color comes back to his face. It’s a positive sign. Maybe the Great Spring Break isn’t ending there in the Chelsea.
Finally things settled down. Now we’re angry at them. We’re not their parents. After a week on the road, there is a sense of group protectiveness. They promise not to do it again.
I tell them we were going to play a few songs at Max’s Kansas City that night. If they’re too drowsy, it’ll be okay. I want to save our Monkey song for CBGB’s, so it’ll be a surprise. We’ll see what the vibe is tonight and play to it, probably ‘Sneakin’ Around’ and ‘Look Before You Leap’.
All this drama. It’s after 5pm when I finally reach Tina. I suggest we meet at the same pizza place we’d been to during the kidnapping. Jack and I get on the IRT and are there in an hour. It’s rush hour. Tina and Pete are waiting. I’m so happy to see them. I make the introductions, informing them that Jack s the band’s singer and that we’re boyfriends. That is a shock. Tina seems comfortable, although she needs to digest the news. Pete looks crestfallen.
“I guess you didn’t feel that way about me.”
“Jeez, Pete, we were kids then. That’ll never change.” And I hug him, even though he feels a bit stiff about it.
“So, what about us? You just like boys now?” Tina is 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 look nervously at each other. I’m a bit jealous that they’re so close. Long distance relationships suck.
Tina takes the lead. “Tim, I trust you completely. If Jack has your trust, then he has mine.”
Pete nods in agreement.
Jack’s worried look disappears and he smiles. “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 asks.
“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 hold Tina’s hand, looking into her eyes. She smiles in an open and trusting manner. Casper places his hands over her’s.
“Wow,” she says. “I can really feel a 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 places his hands on top of ours. “I 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 reaches out and takes Jack’s hand and places it on top of the other hands.”
Jack kisses me. I kiss Tina. Tina kisses Pete. Pete is unsure about kissing Jack to complete the circle.
“Com’n, Pete,” Jack tells 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 reassure him.
He is absolutely glowing. Casper starts to glow as well. It feels so good being with the four people I love and I know love me. We all sat there until the pizzas comes. Pizza trumps love.
I finally relax. We’d been non-stop for a week. Sure, there’s 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 seems insatiable. Surrounded by Jack, Tina, Pete, and Casper, I feel 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 says. “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 gives me a look that doesn’t need explaining.
“Maybe I need to come around more,” I assert.
She winks at Jack. “You look well taken care of in that department.”
“Boys are so much easier than girls,” I complain.
We get up and pay the bill. Tina and Pete take us around to say hi to the original summer gang of 1973. They remember I had promised to visit. “What took you so long, Huerto?” one asks.
“You know, Tina. Always putting me off.”
Finally we’re at her house. Her dad actually seems happy to see me with my improved high school Spanish. I tell him we’re singing at St Patrick’s on Easter and invite their family to come. He thanks me and wishes me well. No leaving the neighborhood is his rule. Tina’s little brother, Beto, acts shy. I slap him around, telling him to stay away from the gangs. Then he hugs me, calling me ‘hermano.’ We leave, walking Pete to his house. He feels comfortable enough to put an arm on both our shoulders as we walk up his stoop.
“Better pay her more attention, Huerto. I might move in on your amiga,” he advises me.
“There’s no prize for second place, Pete,” I kid him.
“She’ll never be second in my heart,” he admits and blushes.
“Timing, my friend,” I advise.
“Don’t break her heart,” he warns.
“?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 smiles at him.
“Si, a Dios.”
It’s nine o’clock by the time we got back to the Chelsea. Robby and Iggy are still pretty out of it. Michael and Hippie had been watched them sleep regularly. Jack and I relieve them, so they can 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 leave, Jack and I talk about our visit to the Bronx.
“Looks like Pete’s waiting to move in on your lady,” Jack observes.
“Ah. He’s just being a good friend.”
“You wrap all the girls 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 feels 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 likes 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 never doubt that I’m gay. I just always like 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 available.”
“Let’s keep it that way.”
Casper has been listening. He floats down and puts an arm around each of us. I worry I’m not paying him enough attention.
When Michael and Hippie come back, Jack and I are sound asleep at the foot of Robby’s bed. Casper is there too. Michael is concerned that adding a performance tonight with Patti Smith at Max’s will be too much. We’ve been performing day and night for a week. I suggest we just go to the show. I promised Pete we’d sing for Tina and him if they show up. Jack and I suggest we sing some Spanish songs. ‘Oye Como Va.’ ‘La Bamba,’ and ‘La Cucaracha,’ were the only ones we know. We’re not even sure that we pronounce the Spanish properly. At least these are familiar pop songs. Max is lying on Iggy’s bed. He has been whining for a while. Obviously, with the pot connections down all day, no one provided the addicted dog with his pot fix. Michael smoked out Andy and friends at lunch, but Max missed that. Truthfully, we’re all coming down and increasingly lethargic. Robby wakes up and staring at us through squinty eyes declares, “What’s wrong with you? Did someone die?”
We all laugh and tell him we were out of pot. He reaches behind his ear but is out as well.
“We had to smoke out those dealers we met in Washington Square. They were insatiable.”
Now we’re really depressed.
“Have no fear my Samhein acolytes. My supply is right here,” Robby smiles and pulls out his stash box. It is bong hits all around. I grab Jack and Casper. We rush back to our room and proceeded to fuck for an hour. It’s almost midnight. We we go to gather everyone. Only Max isn’t comatose. Robby tries to get up. His balance is shot and he can’t walk. New York dope kicks his ass. Iggy hasn’t woken up again. Michael is asleep in the bed with Robby. Hippie asks for our room key. Max comes with us, excited to get out.
As we walk over to Max’s Kansas City, Jack asks if I’m going to confession tomorrow, 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 asks.
“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 goes all excited. He signs, “See. Our love is blessed, not sinful.”
Teen Jesus has spoken. Casper kisses us both. That glow we felt with Tina and Pete returns. Casper hugs Max. He positively shines from the glow.
As we walk into Max’s, the glow increases. People turn to watch us as we head toward Andy’s and Jon Landau’s table.
Jon asks, “Who’s dog?”
“This is Max. He’s a trained pot sniffer. He’s the band’s star power.
“You boys look divine,” Andy observes.
“We celebrated Holy Thursday with the last joint. Now we’re spreading the Gospel according to John to love one another,” Jack smiles. We both kiss Andy on opposite cheeks. Photo flashes go off all over the bar. We look at Jon. He seems uneasy about being kissed but relents.
“It’s Maundy Thursday,” we announce and blow kisses to the room.
Finally seated, Andy is still breathless. “Can I kiss you back?”
“Of course,” we both answer. More flashes go off.
Jon state, “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 are setting up. They observe the whole scene at Andy’s table. She gets on the mic and complains, “What about me?’
Max and I rush up on stage. I French kiss her for twenty seconds. Robert appears, seeming a bit put off. Jack come up and kisses him. I look out from the stage. Tina and Pete are sitting way in the back by themselves. They wave. I tell them to come up, too. All six of us are hugging.
I introduce 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 holds 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 turn 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 the only Spanish songs we know and hope all you Manhattanites will sing to them as well.”
I plugged in my SG and do 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 is standing up and singing the words as they knew them. Tina is standing between Pete and me with her arms around our waists, singing into the mic, while I play guitar. At the end of the song, I keep going and we do the whole song again.
Next we do ‘Oye Como Va,’ which only a few people knew the words. Tina and Pete make it a duet.
Patti takes 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 keep shouting more. I escort Pete and Tina to Andy’s table, but Patti tells 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 sing ‘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 sit down to many laughs and cheers.
Patti’s band takes the stage and does their set.
She began by doing a cover of ‘Gloria,’ G L O R I A.
After they’re done, she and Robert joins us.
“You just about stole my show, asshole.”
“People come 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 leans over and kisses me again. Then she whispers, “You’re showing 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 pulls me over. I sit on the arm of his chair. I know not to be too physical with him but wand 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 kiss him. Casper wave and points to Jack who’s kissing Maplethorpe. My jealousy flares. Casper knew what to do, knocking Robert’s drink into his lap. He stands up quickly.
“Looks like he’s already cum, Jack. You better get your ass over here if you want longer lasting lust,” I order him.
Jack titters and rushes 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 hugs me and won’t let go.”
I don’t want to be making out in front of Andy, so we move to an empty seat.
Tina ask me, “Why did you say Pete is 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 place 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 mocks me.
“Naw. We’re teenagers. Until we figure it all out, let’s just love each other and not worry about the future.”
Tina looks at Pete for the first time. He swallows and kisses her for the first time. Jack kisses me for the infinite time. Andy claps his hands, “Bravo.” He the NYC’s greatest hostess.
We beg off going to the Factory. The Miami supporters are arriving in a few hours. Tina and Pete are anxious not to be too late getting home. I promise we’ll see them after Mass the next day. They shook their heads in amazement. I find 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 joke. I see them both were holding hands. Little steps. Pete pulls me into the window and the two of them kiss me on both cheeks.
“Hey. Whadabout me,” Jack complains. He gets two kisses as well. “John the Apostle will be pleased.”
We walk arm in arm to the Chelsea. Max on a leash is leading the way. Casper is riding on his back.