“It was twenty years ago today,
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Has it just been twelve days ago since we left Grant’s BBQ? Am I no longer a kid? I feel incredibly different. But Jack is lying next to me, still asleep. Max looks up when he sees me move. He wants to do a joint run to Robby’s. We have school in a couple of hours. I decide not to tell Mr. Clark that Andy Warhol is coming to the ‘Tempest’ performance. I wonder if anyone knows what we did over Spring Break. My swim team tan is completely faded. Will people question why I hadn’t been laying out in the sun. Now I felt a bit more like a high school kid. After school, we’ll be at Michael’s for band practice. An ache in my heart tells me I really want to see John to work on his guitar playing. Tim 333 I’d completely forgotten about ‘The Out-Crowd.” My mind is revving up. My heart says to cuddle with Jack.
“Fuck you, mind,” I say out loud.
Jack rolls over. “What?” he mumbles.
I slid into his embrace and go back to sleep. I’m still a teenager.

Mr. Clark looks up as Jack, Robby, Grant, Hippie, and I walk into English class.
“All hail, Caesar,” he announces.
“I thought we’re doing ‘The Tempest?” I ask.
“ You’re right, of course,” he answers.
The class breaks up; laughing at Mr. Clark’s joke? – laughing at me?
“Et, tu, Brute?” I get in the final word and laugh.
On second thought, Mr. Clark says, “Why don’t all four of you take the class and tell us what you did on your school vacation?” He sits in my regular seat, at full attention.
I let Grant take the lead. I figure he’’ll talk about what he did and that will be enough. He is prepared, having written a “What I Did on My Vacation’ paper.
“It’s a rap, Mr. Clark. That okay?” Tim 381
“No vulgar language.”
“I’ll bleep it.”
“Go ahead.”

“The name is Max
I’m a big black dog
Like girls in the sack
They say I’m a god.

My master he died
I’m with his best friend
That memory seems fried
It’s like the end.

Went to New York
Black’s beautiful there
Acted like a sport
All the girlies were fair.

Now I’m back
Still am black
Take me aside
I’ll never lie.”

The class erupts in applause (we’re all drama queens). Mr. Clark is satisfied. We get our regular seats back.
“We are doing ‘The Tempest’ in May. Has anyone read the play?
Everyone keeps their heads down.
“Does anyone know what it’s about?”
“A storm?” Hippie raises his hand.   Tim 131
“Yes. That’s what a tempest is. You know anything more.”
“These rich people are having a party in the country?”
“Why do you think that?”
“I saw the movie.”
“Well, that’s a good start. Gregory. Why don’t you be the director and assign roles. We’ll read the first act today.”
He has only a few booklets so everyone has to share. Jack moves to my desk. We shared the one seat together. Mr. Clark notices but doesn’t say anything.
One of the girls raises her hand. “Mr. Clark, can the girls go back to doing the female roles? My mama says I’ve been acting all uppity since I was on the crew last time.”
“What does that mean, ‘uppity?’”
“I just run around all the time playing sports and making my brother do all the chores.”
“Just call it role reversal. See what she says. But why not do a modern version of the play and let the girls play some roles? What do you think, Gregory?”
Hippie looks around, as if the question isn’t directed at him.
“Me? Please call me Hippie.” Everyone laughs. “Sure. I don’t wanna play no girl.”
Robby scrounges down, Tim 134 not willing to argue. I feel sorry for him. Ever since our fight, I feel he doesn’t love me anymore, in his homophobic way.
Mr. Clark goes on to explain the plot so far, to help choose the best actors for the roles.
“Yesterday, we introduced the sailors, incompetent and drunk, causing the shipwreck of the King of Naples, his family and followers. Today we cast Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, his daughter, Miranda, stranded with her father since she was three, twelve years ago; Ariel, a spirit who, rescued by Prospero from an evil witch, is beholden to Prospero; and, Caliban, a deformed slave and son of the Island’s witch Sycorax, impressed into service to Prospero. Ariel has caused the shipwreck by creating the Tempest.”

Hippie asks me who to cast for the four roles.
“Grant will never be the slave, so cast him as Prospero. Robby will love being the rebellious slave. Jack can be the spirit, Ariel. Ask Kimberly to be the young daughter, Miranda.”
Hippie follows my advice and the chosen characters stand in front of the class and do a first reading of their lines.
“Start after Prospero lays down his cloak,” Mr Clark instructs.

(Look it up if you love Shakespeare so much).

‘Lie there, my art. Wipe thou thine eyes; have comfort….’

Ariel (Jack) explains how he has shipwrecked Prospero’s enemy, Alonso, King of Naples, with all the passengers now survivors on the isle. Ariel asks for his freedom, but Prospero reminds him how he was cursed by the witch and Prospero used his magic to save him.

‘This damn’d witch Sycorax..’

Ariel is dismissed and Miranda awakens. Caliban is now Prospero’s slave now, as well as Ariel.

A poisonous exchange between Prospero and Caliban comes alive when Robby throwing himself into the role. I expect him to sulk and withdraw from the acting. He doesn’t hold back.

‘When thou camest first,
Thou strokedst me and madest much of me, wouldst give me…’

‘So, slave; hence!’



Mr. Clark stands and claps.
“This is a good place to stop for the day. Keep the script books and read ahead. There are other characters to be cast. The play is full of magic and romance. The first Romantic Comedy…Go, go, my pets.”

English is my only class with Jack. I wave good-bye to him when he looka back from the hall. It’s our first separation in almost two weeks.
I approach Robby.
“You are really good in thatrole.” I compliment him.
“I guess you couldn’t make Grant a slave.”
“He’s more of an Uncle Tom type slave.”
“Like a house nigga?” Grant is right behind us. “It’s all cool. I like having Robby as my house nigga.”
We all laugh, a little nervously.
“Com’n, you’re better than stereotyping me. I prefer blatant racism to sissified ass-kissing.”
“Still we won’t make you play a slave.”
“Thanks for little favors. Com’n guys, let’s ditch and share a spliff.”

It’s too tempting. We follow him to where he and his boys always ditch. All we have to do was take Bird Road to Dixie Highway. Suddenly we’re in the minority. We hang out smoking at a corner store not bothering to look around for narcs. I feel like I’m back in the Bronx, but with much nicer weather.
Clyde acts ecstatic to see me, especially with no Jack in sight. I’m politely nice to him, which makes him grumble that our trip has killed my sense of humor.
Grant sticks up for me, “You should see these whites boys rap with the brothers in Central Park.”
“Say what?”
“We had a full-on face-off with a local posse, with the girls doing the mouth beats. I even busted a few moves and rhymes. Then these white boys had to bust out. Jack rapped, “My name is Jack Town, I never back down, This my man Tim, Girls, give him a spin.”
This pleases the boys mightily.
“You’s a bad influence on dese nice white boys,” Clyde declares.

It feels comfortable standing in the warm spring sun, with a slight sea breeze coming across Coconut Grove from the bay. Clyde slips his hand onto my shoulder. Tim 254
“Don’t git riled,” he whispers. “If I don’t make a move, these boys won’t never ever let me live it down.”
“It ain’t you, that’s wrong here,” I admit. “Can we keep it as friends, without making you sad.”
“I ain’t sad, boy, if you’re sayin’ ya likes me.”
“I do, Clyde. I just have a burnin’ love for Jack. I ain’t no pimp, but if’n y’all come by Out & Proud in the Grove after school, I’m sure we can find some sweet white boy for your likin’. Long as yer not just a player.”
He busts up. “You are too smooth, man. I’ll never stop likin’ you.”
“I’m just sayin’ there’s more action out there if yer willin’ to look.”
He kisses me on the neck. I shiver. Time to go.

We make it back to Nutrition just as Jack comes from second period.
“How was Biology?” he asks.
“We ditched and hung out on Dixie Highway with Grant’s boys.”
Jack looks at me. “Was Clyde there?”
“Sure. And he made all the moves, but I’m back here. I told him there was fresher white meat at Out & Proud.”
Jack smiles and gives me a quick kiss. There’s a sudden hush in the courtyard. We are not unobserved.
Jack looks around and quietly says,Tim 290 “Anybody bothered by us kissing? Y’all know we’re boyfriends.”
The quiet is deafening for about five seconds.
“Hell, no,” some redneck yells. “All the more ladies for me.”
All the girls clap and some guys whistle.
Jack grabs me and we really kiss. Tim 178 There are lots of wolf whistles. AP Spencer tells us to break it up.
“No PDA on school grounds.”
We have made it into the mainstream. Getting Jack worked up with jealousy really pays off. Clyde is standing across the courtyard, smiling.

I call Felix. He is busy but says to come by after school. He can use us at the store. He is now working out of a warehouse, doing mail order. He tells Jack not to wash our soiled briefs. He is so crassly commercial.
After school, I tell Grant that he needs to check out our ‘hood. He’ll be back in time for the last bus as we had band practice at 5. He says Clyde’s brother will pick them up at Michael’s. We ride our bikes and meet them at the Grove bus stop. We show them where Out & Proud is. When the four of us arrive, we were greeted as heroes by the kids at the annex. Dave and Jazz are there acting as DJs for the sock hop. Clyde complains that they are all so young. We go into the store, where all the pre-teen girls are picking out clothes for their boyfriends. Phillip is in charge again.
“Hey, boyfriend,” I call out to him
He sees me and lights up. Then he sees Jack and gives him an evil look.Tim 331 It’s all good.
I introduce Clyde personally to Phillip, telling him to set him up.
“How about older?” he ask.
“Not really old, just someone his age.”
“How about someone like me?”
“I’ll leave him with you, Rocky Horror. He’s been chasing me too long.”

Everyone but Clyde goes next door to the sock hop. I look around but didn’t see a single black face. We have a problem. I couldn’t prance these black boys around as underwear models. Those long johnsons would be too much of a distraction. Why weren’t black and Hispanic kids coming to the Grove? Were the white kids too cliquish? Was it just economics? Were they more homophobic than the suburban kids? Too many questions. I decided to call Felix about hiring Clyde. My underwear model career may be over.

“Whadya mean I need to hire a black? They don’t come into the store.”
“That’s the point. Why don’t they come in? Maybe they don’t feel welcome?”
“Com’n. We’re the outcasts here, like in ‘Out & Proud.’”
“And the only Hispanic we see there is you.”
“So this kid, how do you know he’s even gay?”
“Believe me, I know.”
“Some trick you wanna palm off on me.”
“More on Phillip.”
“Well, let me talk with him.”

Phillip proves more than amenable. Clyde is hired.
Next I call Susan at my dad’s office.
“What’s up, honey?” she is so hip.
“I quit my store job today. I hope Jack and I may be able to eat dinner with you and Dad more often. We need to schedule more band rehearsals with our outdoor concert coming up.”
“My goodness, Tim. We’ll love to see you boys more. I almost hesitate calling you boys. You certainly are mature for a 16-year-old. Your dad likes to eat at six. Just let me know in advance, so I can be prepared for hungry teen stomachs.”
“Not tonight. I’ll let you know in advance.” I promise.

I know that the Stone’s cocktail hour is at six,. We have to get Isabelle to prepare early meals at that house. Still, we’ll be spending more time with our parents. Band time will now coincide with our smoke out time, which is moved to Michael’s. Max will have to get used to waiting until 7 pm for his weed fix.

After I got off the phone, Clyde and Phillip are all smiles.
“I got me a job,” Clyde crow. “Phil’s my boss man”
“Let’s let Grant and Jack in the Annex know.”
Grant is debuting Jack’s rap persona, Jack Town, trying to get some of the younger boys to rap with them. The boys are shy, but one or two came up. Their girlfriends push to get them up there. One boy pushes his jeans down and pulls up his briefs to look fly.

“My name is Tray
But I’m not gay
I havta wear these
So my girl is pleased.”

Jack smiles encouragement for him.

“She must be fly
If I have to try
To look all gay
To make her day.”

‘Her name is Michelle
She makes my dick swell

Everybody screams, “No. Stop. That’s over the line.”
Grant takes over:

“When you wanna rap
You rhyme to a beat
If words you repeat,
It’s truth, not uncouth.”

What my friend Tray
Is trying to say
When he thinks of Michelle
It makes his heart swell.”

“There’s truth in a rhyme and a beat. You just say what comes into your head without thinking too much. Tray wants to say he likes Michelle. Then he lets his dick do the talking for him. Now he’s got to pull the right words out of his ass…”
“No. Stop. That’s way wrong.” All the girls complain.
“See what I mean. You want us to filter what we say. But if Michelle wants Tray to say he’s attracted to her, he’s got to say what he’s really feeling. She may never know. How sad.”
“It’s gross,” one girl objects.
Everyone laughs.
“That’s why what you hear on the street may be more real than what you hear at school. Sometimes you havta get out of school to get down.”
Grant gets his posse to rap one of the new songs on the street:


“What are you going to do when you get out of school?
I’m gonna have some fun.
What do you consider fun?
Fun, natural fun.”

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, Royalty Network

A bunch of the kids jump up, singing and dancing to the chorus. At least, they’re not shy. Dave puts on James Brown’s ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” to get the dance party going again.



“Well, that went well,” Grant jokes.
“Language, dude,” I kid him.
“That’s just how we talk.”
“These kids will get used to it. Phillip has hired Clyde to work in the retail shop.”
“Whoa, Clyde in a suit.”
“Naw. He’ll be his own fashion trend.”
“You down with that, my man?” Grant asks Clyde.
“’Course. Minimum wage means a pay raise for me.” Clyde gives Phillip a huge grin. After a second of shock. it’s returns in spades. I may have flunked Sex Ed., but I’m an ace at matchmaking.

I tell Jack about the dinner plans I had made.
“You really like putting on a show for Mummy’s cocktail hour?”
“Sure. Don’t you.”
He smiled, “Yeah.” 04
“And we will eat at my house, too. I can’t believe I want to do it.”
“Why all the changes?”
“It’ll make band practice better. We can work with The Out-Crowd before dinner. Then come back at 7 and have the whole evening to get False Gods ready for our first big concert. And, maybe I’m getting mellow after everything that went down during Spring Break?”
“You’re so sweet.”

Jack kisses me.Tim 307
The whistles we hear means the kids miss nothing that is going on.
It’s time to go to Michael’s for practice. Clyde insists on staying with Phillip for on-the-job training. Grant broke up, “We know what that means.”

He decides to come by himself to band practice. I tell him Hippie will give him a ride home. He promised massive spliffs. I realize he wants to join the band. We’ll treat him as we do Iggy, when we need his style. As soon as everyone is at Michael’s, he passes around a Jamaican Ganja spliff. Tim 600

Our management style is called chaos. It’s all about logistics. Stu, Mike, and John have swim practice at five; Scott is now driving them; I figure he’ll like waiting for band practice to be over by visiting Lydia: they  are back on again. Dave and Jazz will go to Out & Proud after Out Crowd practice at Michael’s. Robby, Jack and I have play rehearsal after school; then we all go to Michael’s to work with the cover band, go home to eat, and get back by 7 pm for False Gods’ band rehearsal. The Jacettes come some evenings except for Jenna who works with The Out-Crowd, has dinner with Michael and stays when the other girls come for the older band’s rehearsal. Max w go wherever he wants and come home with me; on special nights he’ll go home with John if Mom Watts agrees. That leaves Grant hanging; he says he’ll go home after play rehearsal and get his mama’s car to come to Michael’s at 7 pm.

We talk about new songs for the concert. We learned in New York that our shorter songs work best in rap mode. Instead of making the lines longer, we will write more songs about Miami, with a blues feel or maybe rhythm and blues with some soul influence. Also, we’ll do some fast thrash metal to get the crowd excited. Our goal was to get a solid set from playing road houses. New York only showed we needed to write more songs and revise the current ones. New songs means we need to test them at parties before the concert. Frat parties! We talk about money. We agree that regular members will all get equal shares. Bonus money would go to special appearances like Iggy, Grant, Jenna, and Jill. Half of all proceeds go to Mike Sr. for expenses and future investment, like studio time, equipment, and publicity. Someone asks where Jimmy Olson has been.  After my experience with Jon Landau, I can care less. Michael points out he’s the main reason people came to the Viscaya show.
“If we’re just doing house parties, we don’t want too many people showing up.”
“Wrong,” Michael asserts. “If we get press for whatever reason, it’s all good. No such thing as bad publicity.”
“If it gets people to come to the concert to see us, great.” I agree.

We talk after practice. It is time for the Out-Crowd to show us their current set. Max and I sit by John. He is so happy to see Max, getting down on his hands and knees to play with him. Max loves it, playing right along, expecting second-hand weed at any moment. Tim 311 John looks at me with the same expectation. Naturally I have a joint behind my ear. Jazz and Dave sit with us while we give Max his afternoon fix. Stu, Mike Jr and Jenna watch us get high. They usually are gone when we indulge. I lay down with John. Max lies on his back, his legs kicking spasmodically, as we rub his belly. John rolls around with him and ends up against me with Max on top and my arms around them both. It’s too much for Stu, who lays down with us.
“Do I havta get high to cuddle with Max?” he asks.
“No, duffus. Get down here. The pot is for Max.” I avoid telling him he shouldn’t smoke. I can imagine Scott’s expression when Stu tells him, which was a guaranteed event. Soon Mike Jr and Jenna are on the floor, too.
“Why don’t you do a dog song and get Max on stage with you?” I suggest. “How about Elvis’s ‘Hound Dog?’
“Naw, that’s about stealin’ yer best friend’s girl,” Dave remarks.
“How about Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs?” Mike Jr suggests.
“That’s pretty X-rated,” Jack objects.
“The Out-Crowd isn’t ready to really rock?” Robby eggs them on.
“You guys get all the really cool songs,” John observes.
“You can change the lyrics so it’s not about drugs and sex?” Jack says. “And change the name from Jack to Max?”
“How’s this sound?” John gets up and plays the psychedelic guitar licks.

“Whoa. When did you start playing like that?” I’m stunned.
“It just came to me now.”
It is so like Jace, I can’t stop myself from tearing up. Jack holds my hand. Jace would have punched me. I need the pain. John starts over and Mike changes the lyrics slightly:

‘As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent
You asked for the latest party
With your silicone nose and your freak show clothes
Dressed like a priest you was, Tod Browning’s freak you was
Crawling down the alley on your hands and knees
I’m sure you’re not protected, for it’s plain to see
The diamond dogs are poachers and they hide behind trees
Hunt you to the ground they will, mannequins with kill appeal
(Will they come?)
I’ll keep a friend serene
(Will they come?)
Oh baby, come unto me
(Will they come?)
Well, she’s come, been and gone
Come out of the garden, baby
You’ll catch your death in the fog
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
The Halloween Max is a real cool cat
And he lives on top of Manhattan Chase
The elevator’s broke, so he slides down a rope
Onto the street below, oh Maxie, go man go
Meet his little hussy with his ghost town approach
Her face is sans feature, but he wears a Dali brooch
Sweetly reminiscent, something mother used to bake
Cracked up and paralyzed, Diamond Dogs are sableized
(Will they come?)
I’ll keep a friend serene
(Will they come?)
Oh baby, come unto me
(Will they come?)
Well, she’s come, been and gone
Come out of the garden, baby
You’ll catch your death in the fog
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Call them the Diamond Dogs
Call them the Diamond Dogs
In the year of the scavenger, the season of the rich
Sashay on the boardwalk, soiree to the ditch
Just another future song, knowin’ it’ll never kitch
(There’s gonna be sorrow)
Try and wake up tomorrow
(Will they come?)
I’ll keep a friend serene
(Will they come?)
Oh baby, come unto me
(Will they come?)
Well, she’s come, been and gone
Come out of the garden, baby
You’ll catch your death in the fog
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Call them the Diamond Dogs
Call them the Diamond Dogs
(Bow-wow, woof woof, bow-wow, wow)
Call them the Diamond Dogs
Call them the Diamond Dogs
Call them, call them
Call them the Diamond Dogs
Call them, call them, ooo
Call them the Diamond Dogs
{Keep cool
Diamond Dogs rule, okay}
Beware of the Diamond Dogs
Beware of the Diamond Dogs
Beware of the Diamond Dogs
Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV

Our young protégées need to grow up. They are excited and into it. The lyrics are still too much for the pre-teen set.
“Okay. Make sure everyone knows it’s a song for Max. You should repeat the bow-wow-wows.”
“I can get him to bark,” John claims. He plays the ‘Call them the Diamond Dogs’ line, then he looks at Max and sniffs.
Max barks twice, thinking John has sniffed out weed. John repeats the line and sniffs the different barks and woofs to the beat. Max has perfect pitch and rhythm. Everyone cheers.
“Okay. Max is a natural star. But you can’t play it at a dance party. Next party we play, we’ll have you come out, leading Max.Tim 315 If we get an encore, you’ll play instead of us.”
“All right.” They are stoked.

Scott walks in, ready to take the boys home. He nods at me and Jack. He seldom shows the humor we shared through our many pranks and antics together in the past. I don’t expect much from him. I worry that once Stu tells him about the pot smoking, he’ll make them quit the band. It’s that rigid thinking that makes it impossible for him to accept that he loved me. It still hurts. I’m more concerned that three members of The Out-Crowd may be forced to quit. Jack reaches over and holds my hand. Is he being possessive or does he sense my unease?

Once the kids are gone, we continue our discussion about the set we need for the Skynyrd concert.
“We’ve got to play more blues,” Michael asserts.
“Why can’t we play a few covers to get the crowd going?” Robby wants to know.
“Wanna try doing that with this song I’m writing?” Jack suggested.
I’m amazed and speechless. Usually I write lines and we all work on the music together. Jack never said he wants to write. I’m not jealous, just pleased he’s into it.
“It’s called Life’s Lies,” and he takes my guitar, playing a slow heavy chord pattern. I’m thunderstruck; when did he start playing guitar?

“This is our life,
our pride alive
Its our times
Lost our minds
Stupid rules rule
Demand we act
Just like fools
To be like you.

Look at me, you havta scream.
You think we be freakin’
You gotta be fast to not be seen.
No wonder we’re always sneakin’

I want to kiss him. I want to slap him, as well. Is he trying to better me as songwriter. He looks up at me. His eyes tell me he only wants my approval. Dario 06 My smile is ear to ear. I tell him I like the internal rhymes. The slow tempo allows me to riff off of them. I rush over and pick him up, shaking him.
“We can now sing and play together.” I think how much it was like Jace and me. “Why didn’t you say that you played?”
He just shrugs. Maybe he didn’t want to upset Casper. It doesn’t matter now.
“We’ll go to Spec’s and get you your own guitar.”
“S’kay. I have a Stratocaster at home. You really like my song?”
“Of course. We can go from it right into ‘Sneakin’ Around.’
“I’ve got a faster part that brings it back to the opening verses. Wanna hear it?”
“Jesus, don’t stop now,” Robby adds.

“These lives…
Are mine to give.
Live your lies….
Death’s negative
It’s no surprise
When you die
To realize
You had no life

Some friends are gone
Way too soon
Missed for what they did
Missed for what they didn’t

You live the 9 to 5
At home the baby cries
Like desperate housewives
Bills eat you alive”

We all get up and practice the new song, coupling it with ‘Sneakin’ Around.’ It’s taking a short song and turning it into an anthem, like Queen does. Jack uses Dave’s guitar (my old Mustang) to play his song. I’m glad when we’re doing the old Sneaking song that he puts down the guitar and comes around behind me, to sing over my shoulder, grinding into me. Since we don’t usually do that in practice, everyone else comes to a screeching halt. Mike Sr comes into the music room, asking what’s wrong.
Michael avoids the grinding issue, “Jack’s playing guitar now. He never told us he plays.”
“Just like when Jace was here…” Mike Sr realizes he may be hitting a painful nerve and trails off. Jack looks quickly for my reaction.
“Nope,” I say “Jace was showing us how to play. Jack’s showing us how to write songs that go with our other songs.”
Jack beams, until I sat down hard, unable to stem the tears.
“I’ll never replace him,” he promises “I just wrote them this morning in class. First time I’ve been away from y’all. It made me start missin’ you.” Jack looks right at me. I feel like a waste case, having gone off with Grant to get high, while all he wants to do is help the band.
“I need you more than I needed him. He was the one who needed us.” I break down completely. Tim 08
“How about pizza?” Mike Sr tries to calm the waters.
“Can you order in? We need to work on the new songs, at least one more time through.”
“Sure. I’ll go pick it up,” Mike Sr is glad to get out of the teen drama scene.

We work on the transitions between the songs. I really let all my emotions go into the blues riffs in Jack’s songs. They make the sadness lift from my heart.
“I got another one, if’n you wanna hear it?”
“’Course, asshole. You’ve been holding out on us. We need more songs. Why didn’t you play them before?” Robby demands.

“It’s called ‘You.’”

“I say, …you…
You’re such a fool
You’re just a tool
But I love…you

I say…. you…
What can we do?
You said we’re through
What can I….. do

I say,…. you…
We break the rules
We look like fools
I really need…. you…
I say, …you..”

It really freaks me out. I it about us breaking up? Am I to blame? I need him so much at that moment.

“Pizza’s here,” Mike Sr announces.
Everyone just sits there, looking at Jack.
“It’s from Sorrento’s, boys. What’s wrong? No teenager ever turns down pizza.”
“It’s okay, Dad,” Michael says. “Jack’s written a song that’s scares us. That’s all. I think it’s what we do. Scare each other, then come back stronger.”
Michael is so wise.
Jack looks at me, and then at the others.
“It’s just a song. I imagined what it was like to break up. It’s not what’s happening.”
He runs over to me, hugging me, until I hug him back. All I could think is how I was getting high and fending off Clyde, while he was writing that we broke up. The guilt I feel was ridiculous. It hits me. The emotions of the song are so powerful. I feel what the blues was about for the first time, really feel it.
“It’s brilliant. It’s desperate and powerful. It’s our first blues song. All we usually write is about having fun and adventures. This is so much deeper.” I hug Jack. Tim 575
I pick up my guitar and play a long, slow riff with dark, minor chords and muted leads. Mike Sr puts the pizza down. Jack sings all the words, barely looking at me, not daring to do so.
“Then, we can go into the first sex song:”

“He’s the boy who breaks all the rules.
He takes his time until you’re primed,
then gets it done 60 seconds flat.
Out the door always wanting more.
Don’t tell him you’ll do it later when you know
he’s gonna do you now.
Love it.”

“Jesus,” Mike Sr said as he walks out.
A minute later he returns, with two six packs of PBR tall boys. Tim 449 Cracking one himself, he tells us to grab a beer with the pizza.
“Yesterday I have the Archbishop of New York telling me Tim has performed a miracle and should be sent to a seminary to become a priest. Today you’re singing bawdy songs about getting it on with your boyfriend. I have no problem with you boys being together. I just don’t wanna know about it.”
“We havta sing about what’s real,” I assert.
Grant takes Mike Sr’s side. “Being gay is okay but all the drama is killin’ me.”
“Your best friend’s gay.”
“You mean you or Clyde? I’m down with the gays. I like it that you have someone. I just don’t wanna know all about it.”
I keep my head down, trying to get my feelings to stop boiling over.
“Mike, you chewed me out when I broke down at Spec’s because I couldn’t take you being so nice to me. I straightened up. Look how far we’ve gone. I think we’re all over-wrought after the long road trip and the Easter performances, all the shows in New York.”
“I think we have to be real when we sing about love and sex,” Jack argues. “Bowie, T-Rex, the Dolls, they all sing about it without directly saying either way. It’s called androgyny. Bowie It gives hope to lonely gays that there are people who understand how they feel without telling straights to fuck off.”
“So you boys go both ways?”
“We both have real girlfriends. It’s just that we love each other more, not them less.”
Michael jumps in. “That’s why Jenna likes them going out with Flo and Edi. They love them but are not going to have full-on sexual relationships. We’re all too young.”
“Well, thank god for that,” Mike Sr. sighs.
“At sixteen, it’s just easier to be with a boy,” I assert. “Nobody’s getting pregnant. We’re learning how to make a relationship work. Girls actually prefer us because we don’t pressure them all the time.”
“Sounds more like friendship than love,” Mike Sr. counters.
“There’s guy friendships and girl friendships. They’re different. Girls don’t want to share with other girls. Guys aren’t so emotional. We can have as many friends as possible. It’s the love and sex part that is different.”
“We’re with you, Mr. Antonio, we don’t care to know the details. I’m just happy they have each other.”
“Girls like us when we fag off on stage. Their boyfriends get jealous and wanna kick our butts. The girls stop them from actually doing it.”
“I don’t wanna see you boys get attacked or hurt.”
“We get the crowd riled up. Energy, even hate, needs to get out. As long as it stays on the floor, we’ll be safe.”
“I must be the only parent in the world that can have this conversation.”
“We don’t see you as a parent. We know that you’re a great dad to Michael. You taught me how to get my dad to come around. For a time I so wanted you to be my dad. Now I love my own dad just as much.”
“Tim, you are too much of a charmer.”
I know he’s right, as usual. It works for me. Tim 592

We finish the pizza and beer. I ask Mike Sr. to discuss a business idea I had.
“Can I get your assistant to contact Ry Cooder’s studio in Memphis for help us with the Skynyrd concert?”
“Sure, but what’s up?”
“It’s about our set list. We may need to pump it up.”
“Well, come by the office tomorrow after school. I’ll tell Jay you’re coming.”
“Great. Jay does a great job for us.”
“Just don’t have him doing things behind my back.”
My charm was working on Mike Sr.

Everyone split. When Jack and I get to my house, the folks are sound asleep. It’s midnight. I leave Susan a note that we’ll eat dinner with them the next night. We can’t wait to get in bed together. For the first time I’m the sixty-second man. But I’m not out the door. I let Jack have his way with me, enjoying the feeling of letting go to his demands. I no longer care if bottoming is my role. I figure I’ll catch him in the shower in the morning.
He rolls off of me. “I’m sorry I upset you with my song. It’s the first time we were separated in the longest time. I was feeling the loss. It became a song, just not about us. It was as if we broke up.”
“Never. We’ll never break up.” My usual doubts are no longer there.
My OCD kick in. “Hey. We haven’t seen Jill and Wilkie for the longest time. We’re their gay parents. We’re neglecting our straight children.”
He gives me the strangest look. I forgot that it was Jace who was my co-parent. Instead of feeling lame, I know it was something we could share together.
“Let’s get Jill to sing a Rod Stewart song at the concert.”
“Sure,” Jack sleepily agrees, “As long as it’s a ballad; he sucks at rock n roll.”

By Wednesday, we are back into the school/practice routine. We even are on time to Mr. Clark’s class. There we continue reading aloud scenes from ‘The Tempest.’ I’m not really into more Shakespeare. We have two months to get it together. Jack’s nerds start hanging out with us at Nutrition, braving the general disdain for socializing with stoners. It may be a step up the high school social order from their point of view.

After School, Jack and I go to Mike Sr.’s office. We meet Jay in person for the first time. He was so much help during our ‘tour.’ We need to thank him. I also think he seems gay. I’m intrigued to find out what he’s really like. He has to be at least in his twenties to be working.
“You think Jay’s gay?” I ask Jack when we get to the office.
“You usually talk to him. Should I be jealous?”
“Let’s try to bring him out. He can be our ally in the music business,” I deflect the jealousy. “Let’s both treat him that way but not really flirt with him.”
We walk in to the office. Just as Jay looks up, Jack and I kiss him on either cheek. He doesn’t flinch and looks quite pleased. Tim 399
“That’s for helping us so much the last few weeks. We couldn’t survive without you.”
“Just doing my job, boys,” he beams. He is about 25, well dressed and extremely confident. We have found an excellent ally. “What can I do for you today?”
“You know about our band? All we used to  play were cover songs at parties.”
“Yeah, I read the articles. I sent them to Ry Cooder. I used to play in a band when I was your age.”
“Great. Then you can understand how freaked out we are about opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd in a couple of weeks?”
“Well, yeah. But you boys seem to handle the pressure. The tour went well. You got to play your own songs and all.”
“Well, the truth is we’re much better as a cover band than doing originals. The crowd really gets into the songs they know and love. Our songs lack that familiarity.”
“You just want to keep playing covers?”
“We’re hoping you can get Ry to get us rights to play a few covers to get the crowd on our side. We’ll keep the excitement going with our songs.”
“Well, he’ll want to cut your performance fee to pay for the royalties.”
“The money’s not as important as putting on a great show. How much are we being paid anyway?”
“You don’t know?”
“We just let Mike take care of the money. We don’t get much until we’re 18.”
“What covers do you want to do?”
“Any Southern Blues hits – Allman Brothers, Doors, Jefferson Airplane, ZZ Top. Also, any English Invasion bands, like the Animals, will do. Maybe he can get a deal on certain songs so we don’t lose much on the fee. We can play anything that everyone knows.”
“So, you want me to work my magic.”
We hug him. This time he does turn red. He tells us he’ll call with a list of approved covers.

“He’s hot,” Jack notes after we leave the office. Heads turn with that comment. We must look strange, two 16-year-olds, barefoot and in ratty jeans, on the twelfth floor of a Brickell Avenue office building in downtown Miami.
“No smoking pot around him,” I forbid Jack. The looks we get.

The next few days we fall back into our school routine. Eating with my folks is silent torture, but everyone is happy to be together, especially Max. The first night we eat at the Stones, Jack’s nerd pack of D&D players show up before cocktail hour. We entertain them in his room. Isaac is over-excited to be with us. He spills the beans on Jack’s guitar playing. Tim 617 It seems Jack tried to start a band with the group. He is so embarrassed when Isaac tells me there are a slew of songs Jack wrote. If he’s trying to make me mad at Jack, it’s a dud. I’m so happy to have more songs to work with. We are desperate. We can’t play covers. All we had were the roadhouse songs and some new ones that hadn’t been played in front of anyone. Jack brings out a notebook of his songs, Dungeon Dweller, Lords of Time, Apocalypse Now, Curfew. They are all ponderous with fancy words no one knows. Perfect for our Southern Blues debut. I grab Jack. We hurry to Michael’s to work on the songs.

I’m showing Jack how I’ll change the tempo and the chords, while keeping the lyrics. I figure it will confuse him to write new words. I use slow blues riffs in the intros for each song. At the end of the songs I add long guitar solos. Jack doesn’t know what to do, so I show him how to play rhythm on my old Mustang.
Michael walks in.
“You’re early.” Jenna is peeking around the corner.  We  interrupted their regular make out session.
“We’ll just go into another corner and make out, too.”
Michael’s placid demeanor momentarily changes to an odd expression.
“What song are you playing?”
“Jack has a bunch of songs he wrote for his old band. We’re working them into our style of Southern Rock. They’re pretty gothic.”
“Kool.” He’s interested and sits behind his drum kit. Tim 608
Jack plays him the rhythm track to Four Horseman. He’s soon following along. Hippie and Robby come in together. Soon we’re rocking out to a whole bunch of new songs. With the two from the morning, it was seven new songs, plus our original eight songs. We have a 15 song set. Progress.

I stayed over at Jack’s. I told him to tell his nerd friends to come to our practices at Michael’s. He pulls out all these costumes he made.
“Why did you fool me about being in a band before?”
“I like you telling me what to do. Why do you think I was your understudy for ‘Midsummer’s Night?’ I’ve been in drama club for years. I just was so crushing on you, that being your understudy was all I wanted.”
“Get over here. There’s under-studying to be done.”
He jumps on the bed. He definitely is loved back.

The next morning Jack and I both dress as preps. After school we go around to the University frat houses and commit to house parties the next weekend. We just walk into the frats and find out who the social chairmen are. They all heard about the party we played at Christmas and the Wilkie send-off. We up our price to $300 a night plus 25% of the door. They’re glad to pay.

Next we go to Out & Proud. Clyde has obviously moved in on Phillip, ordering him around and generally taking charge. It’s a match made in Hell. They’re oblivious to our scrutiny.
“You seem to have passed job training,” I observe.
“Of course,” Clyde agrees. “Felix asked if you will do a photo shoot for the catalog. It comes out next month.”
“Just us two?” I wasn’t sure the Out Crowd guys should strip for Felix.
“He wants me, too. He has come up with a design for the man with bigger equipment. It’s called a boxer brief.”
“Anything to satisfy the customers.”
“Great. Go get changed. We’ll shoot it at the Annex. The kids can be spectators for a runway show.”
He really has taken over.
He sets up so each of us walks up and back with the skivvies showing above the waist bands of our jeans. Tim 143 t

Then we strip behind a screen and come back out in just the underwear. Tim 76 He sets up the cameras, with Dave, Jazz, and Phillip at various positions. We’re ready to roll in fifteen minutes. The kids are totally into it, yelling and screaming when we do the first strip. We can’t help laughing and acting unlike any runway model would ever act. After the shoot, the kids all demand to buy the used product with our autographs written on them. tim-801

Escaping the kids, we go over to Jill and Wilkie’s place in the Grove. They’re glad to see me. I introduced them to Jack, my boyfriend.
“Our little fishboy is growing up and not so shy,” Jill remarks.
“Tim was shy?” Jack exclaims.
“At 14, I was his only friend,” David claims.
“Well, there was also Stu.”
“The 10 year old motor mouth? You can’t count the ankle biters.”
Everyone laughs at me, which feels cool.
“We want to get Jill to sing with us at the Skynyrd concert. It’s in two weeks.” Tim 296
Jill beams and David shakes his head. “Still trying to horn in on my girl?”
“We’re your gay parents. She needs more to do than hanging around and pressing your Speedos.”
“Bloody Women’s Libbers, are ya?” in his precise English accent.
“Just standing up for ‘our’ Jill,” I quip back with a fractured Brit accent.
“Right wanker, y’are.”
Jill takes Jack aside for girl talk. They are soon fast as thieves.
“How’s yer cousin Joey doin?’”
“Hard to tell. He’s stuck in a bungalow in West Hollywood. I call but he never picks up.”
“Sounds like a drug problem.”
“I am worried.”
“Well, you can’t always save the world, Tim, let alone those you love.”
“I’m finding that out. We went to New York for Easter. The Catholics and Baptists are setting up youth shelters in Jace’s name. We’re really tight with Andy Warhol. He’s coming here this Spring to see our Shakespearean play. You wanna meet him?”
“I wish. I’m off to England soon. Shooting for the Olympics next year.”
“Will Jill go with you?”
“Once she graduates in May.”
“Aha. You do need your gay parents, after all. You can’t just run off and expect her to twiddle her thumbs at home.”
“Twiddle dee dee,” he breaks up.
“What are you boys laughing about?” Jill walks back in with Jack.
“We’re needed as gay parents again, Jack. David’s off to Jolly Old England again, leaving this damsel in the lurch.”
Jack gives me a look because I have mixed him up with Jace again.
“Right. I never told you that Jace and I made sure Jill didn’t stray last Christmas when David was gone.”
“I’ve always wanted to parent. I just didn’t expect my child was going to be older than me.”
“You have an old soul,” Jill encourages him, holding his hand.
I reach for Wilkie’s hand, but he sees it coming and backs away.
“It’s all set. Jill will sing ‘Reason to Believe.’ We’re responsible for fending off groupies,” I crow.
We all laugh. I feel their undercurrent of sadness that they are separating again.

We are back to my house for dinner. We had more to talk about, as we had been working all afternoon, making money. Dad requests the details of our negotiations with the frats and how much the modelling is paying.
“We should clear $2000 for the frat parties. Felix will pay us for the modelling once the catalog comes out. He pays 10% of sales. It may be a lot or if nothing sells, not much.”
“Sounds like he treats you like a partner. You only get paid if the product sells.”
“It’s just fun, Dad. If it succeeds, we get paid, if not, it’s only the time we wasted.”
“Time is money, son.”
“Jeez, Dad. We’re only sixteen. You know that Mike Antonio has set up trust funds for college? Half of what the band earns goes into the funds.”
“I have to admit the band has turned into quite a success.”
“We are doing what we love. Somehow the money has followed,” Jack pipes up.
Dad isn’t used to Jack acting like one of the family. I chang the subject.
“How are the wedding plans coming? Have you chosen the groomsmen yet?”
“Terry and Helen are coming with the boys. I’ve asked my boss at work and Joe Mertz. You have any suggestions?”
“I know Jack would be pleased. I consider him family.”
Jack and Dad both turn bright red. Dad hates being put on the spot, but he is learning to put up with me.
“That sounds great. Do you really want to do it, Jack?” he asks.
“Sure. It’ll be a thrill. Is there a Bachelor’s Party?” Tim 577
“I’m not sure I approve of that,” Susan rescues Dad.
“How about if Tim and I put on a sketch at the rehearsal dinner?”
“As long as it isn’t the Great Coming Out.”
“Oh, it will be all about the bride and bridegroom.”
“I can hardly wait,” Dad groans.

Once we had all finish, Dad makes a great show of feeding Max the scraps. Jack and I know Max is really excited because we’re going to band practice and he’ll get his pot fix. Riding to Michael’s with Max trotting along beside us, we reflect on the fun of just being kids, still riding bikes. Tim 271
“I kinda want to get my license soon. We have permits,” Jack announces.
“And give up the pleasure of wheeling through the Gables?”
“You are really happy, huh?”
“What’s not to like. We have total freedom, the band, friends and each other.”
“Don’t you want to travel and meet new people and see new things?”
“We will, but we always will be together.” I’m feeling crushed that Jack needs more.
He looks at me and knows what I feel.
“Don’t be scared of what may come our way. I’ll never leave you.”
We lean over and kiss each other, still pedaling along the tree-shaded streets. We’re still 16 after all.

.Tim 324

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