The build up to Michael’s party increased in intensity, with construction apace in the backyard. We had decided that since the Out-Crowd performance was to be a dance/sock hop, we had to clear the music room in order to have enough space for dancing. We set up for the band to perform in a corner, to keep the main part of the room free of obstacles. A table was set up by the door for refreshments. There was no place for the kids to sit down. Hopefully they’d be dancing the entire time. Guido was assigned to keep alcohol out of the punch and limit entrance to just the kids. I asked Mike Sr. if any of his jazz combo friends would be attending, suggesting they could perform a few Sinatra favorites on the Elizabethan stage while the adults mingled after the play’s performance. He called around and said the singer and keyboard player would attend. His smile told me my party planning skills were appreciated. At the end of the play’s performance, extra tables and chairs would be set up in the pit area, so the adults would be comfortable to enjoy the jazz ensemble. It would be a cocktail party with a full bar for the adults. We claimed the garage for the few actual teens attending where beer and pot consumption could be ignored. Mrs. Antonio’s special spaghetti would be served to the kids. They had really gone all out. Mike Sr. told me the guest list had expanded to 250. The house would be bursting. It was the bands’ job to keep everyone moving.
Mr. Clark was stunned when I brought Intrepid Jimmy to our after-school rehearsal, with an actual drama critic to give a professional opinion. We were in dress rehearsal mode, so they saw the full production. Jimmy took photos. After we had finished, the critic had many questions. He said he didn’t want to give any advice because we had obviously brought a modern interpretation to the classic. He asked about Grant’s role, aware of the efforts we had made to have him in our cast. I explained it was crucial for him to be the observer (he had no lines) of the dream sequences, as seen through innocent eyes. In the program we removed the love slave description and called him the Innocent.
“Grant has really interpreted his role himself, as he is on stage but not participating in the action. We hope the audience sees the play through his eyes.”
He asked if we were using Elizabethan music.
“I actually used parts from ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘The Mikado,’ and ‘Flight of the Bumble Bees,’ mixed with mandolin scores appropriate to Shakespeare.”
He was taking notes and smiled at me. “You’re more ambitious than John (Jimmy’s real name) had told me. Do you think of yourself as a prodigy, like Mozart?”
I laughed, “I play in a cover band. We copy real musician’s hits because everyone loves them. The play is genius; we are having fun with Shakespeare.”
“What about the rumor that you call yourself ‘Teen Jesus?’”
“That’s just an old Beatles legend being recycled. We went to our bass player’s church youth group last Friday night, and enjoyed the waving of arms, rolling on the floor, but not so much the speaking in tongues. A girl felt Jesus come into her heart and thought he looked like a teenager. She came to Out & Proud. We told everyone there to open their hearts to Jesus and all the good people in their lives. Since our guitarist was killed by his abusive brother, we’ve been telling kids never to remain silent about abuse. We want them to tell responsible adults if it happens to them or if they see it happening to their friends.”
“Do you see yourself as a teen leader?”
“I’m just a minstrel in a play right now. I’m like the changeling. I have no lines.”
“Tell me about Out & Proud?”
“This interview is about our play, so I’ll just say this and stop. I just came out to my parents, who are very conservative. They love and support me. Out & Proud serves a role model for teens and older that you can be a good person and be gay. It’s the haters who cause problems.”
We didn’t want anyone to know we were doing a pre-opening night at Michael’s party. We pushed to get publicity for the school performances the next weekend. Jimmy gave me the thumbs up, and they left. Mr. Clark was breathless.
“Do you think we’ll get in the paper?”
“Don’t sell your soul for popularity. It tends to come back to bite you,” I told him.
“Do you think the kids will like the play?”
“Robby plans to highly amuse them with this play. I keep warning you that he isn’t gay. He’s has all the boys acting like girls which will surely create a stir. Think of it as another authentic Elizabethan norm where the audience throws rotten fruits at the actors. By making fruits of the actors, he’s throwing it back at them. ”
“My goodness, will it be that bad.”
“He’s releasing the dogs of hell on us. His role as Puck is vital to saving us from a riot.”
He rushed over to work with Robby. Jack had been quiet during my interview, but he’d been in all the photo shots. I’ll have to start calling him Freddie Mercury.
The next day we were prominently featured in the Miami Herald’s Arts section. The article was titled “Fun with Shakespeare,’ with several photos of Robby and Jack in full costume and makeup. I smiled at Puck/Robby’s bushy tail. Jack’s Titania was gorgeous. He got hoots and whistles at Nutrition, which weren’t exactly compliments. We steeled ourselves for the next ten days of attention and derision. Casper floated above the haters and tried to harass them back. They were impervious since they had no hearts. At band rehearsal I asked Jack what his parents’ reaction would be to seeing him in the paper.
“Crap, I haven’t seen or spoken with them in a week.”
“I haven’t even met them, yet. Now that you’re part of my family, maybe they need to know.”
“Oh, they’re too old to care. Gay means Fred Astaire to them.”
“We could do an Astaire/Rogers dance number for them.” I suggested.
“Well, you must come by and meet them.”
“But now we have to get to Out & Proud. We’ll make big bucks with that article out today.
Felix was prepared. He had rented the store next door and set it up with a massive underwear selection that had just arrived. All we had to do was sit and sign the purchases.
“Felix, I’m glad you’re expanding, but it makes me feel exploitative of these little girls.”
“They love you.’
“Well, they deserve better than a cash grab. We’ll play for the crowd first.”
“The cops are warning me that the crowd’s too big. They’re going to eventually shut me down.”
“Well, from now on keep all the ‘product’ in the back and we’ll play in here. When we’re done, you can start selling.”
“Okay, just for today you can be outside.”
We set up. A girl came up and asked if we’d sing to her.
“What’s your name, honey?”
“Shaniqua,” she answered.
“Do you have a nickname?”
We started singing ‘Amazing Shaq,’ which sound sweet as we sang low.
The girls were surrounding Shaniqua and loving her.
Someone yelled, “Heresy, Abomination,” at the back of the crowd.
I looked up and saw a small group of adults. I instantly knew they were haters. I wasn’t going to allow them to destroy the good feelings. We turned up the amps and played the song through again. When we finished, I asked, “Why don’t you adults come up and tell us why you don’t like us singing a traditional hymn to this girl?”
They pushed aside the kids and were standing in front of us. I’d hoped that the happy faces and nice feelings would calm them down. Hate easily won out. At least Jack and I were as tall as them as they towered over the pre-teens.
“You’re corrupting these children’s morals,” one of the haters said.
“We sing hymns because they need to feel love in their life.”
“Only Jesus brings love.”
“Maybe that’s your problem. No one has ever loved you.”
“Jesus is enough for everyone.”
“Jesus brought love to this world. He never said his love was the only love in life.”
“You mock Jesus and are an abomination in his sight.”
“You act like Jesus is a hater who only accepts haters into his heart.”
“You’re a damned faggot who’s going to Hell right now.” He swung at Jack, who stepped behind me. I swung the Mustang and knocked him down. I put my foot on his neck and told him to stay down. His friends had jumped back. They thought faggots didn’t fight back.
“Felix,” I yelled, “Call the cops. This guy tried to assault us.”
He ran out and saw me towering over the hater(with my foot literally on his red neck) and ran back to call. The other haters couldn’t decide whether to attack me or run. The police sirens made up their minds, and they were quickly gone. All the girls were cowering behind Jack and me.
“I’m sorry you had to see that. Haters are the abusers we are fighting. If you see someone being abused, don’t do what I did just now. Find a responsible adult to help you or the friend who is being abused.”
Casper had a new way to hang out. He put an arm on each of us. We felt all connected that way, but it left a short distance between Jack and me. Someone, a girl, in the back yelled, “I see him. I see him. It’s Teen Jesus.” There were other screams and girls began falling on the ground and shaking. The garbled sound of ‘tongues’ was gurgling up. I signed to Casper to go back inside. It made him sad.
“I know, but let’s not make the situation worse,” I signed.
The Police arrived and immediately called for backup when they saw all the kids writhing on the ground. Felix ran out and grabbed the officers, taking them to me.
“This man assaulted Jack,” I told him. They put the hater in cuffs and led him to the police car. We all went inside, where I related what had happened. They got a statement from Jack. They warned Felix that he must know this was a bad way to run his business. Felix said he had everything going inside the next afternoon. They told him to shut down the circus for now.
“Did you hit that man with your guitar?” the officer asked me.
“Yes, but after he said he was going to kill us and lunged at Jack.”
“Good boy. You don’t seem like a typical musician.”
“I grew up in the military, officer.”
“Well, I’d say you used reasonable force to subdue him. Since you stopped there, you obvious had the situation under control.”
“Not really. There were five of them. They hesitated jumping me. When you arrived, they took off”
“That’s our job. You were wise to call us.”
“You’re the boy in the paper today. You’re Teen Jesus.” I guess even cops read the Arts section with their coffee and donuts.
“That’s not true.”
“I always wondered if Jesus fought back when he was a kid.”
We all laughed. He took our names and said they would lock the redneck up overnight, unless we wanted to press charges.
“Only losers press charges,” I said.
After they left, Jack and I went back outside. All the girls rushed us, saying we had saved them. My Teen Jesus role was expanding beyond soul saver.
“Tim has been my savior before,” Jack told them.
“Are you his apostle?” one girl asked.
“They’d have to rewrite the bible,” I told them and gave him a sexy kiss. All the girls screamed. Several fell down.
“Stop,” I yelled, which amazingly they did. “All this holy rolling is giving me a headache.”
“Ah,” They sympathetically moaned.
Felix announced that the new shop was ready for buyers. He pulled up our tees and showed off our matching briefs. The girls grabbed their credit cards and lined up at the new annex. I flashed on the real Jesus at the temple throwing out the money lenders. Before signing underwear, I found Casper in the backroom. Jack and I gave him a blow job and rim job, to make up for banishing his Teen Jesus apparition at the melee.
After earning our hundred bucks, I called Intrepid Jimmy to inform him about the exploits of Teen Jesus. He was all excited to be building his story. I told him to emphasize that we wanted nothing to do with religious controversies and that having Jesus in your heart was a good thing.
“Better start going to church,” he suggested.
Then I called Mike Sr. to let him know what happened. I explained that no charges were being filed. He told me to let him make those decisions. I agreed.
Finally it was time to go meet the new parents. I called Susan to tell her I was having dinner with Jack’s parents. She said my dad would be pleased and thanked me for calling. Since she now was on my side, I generally ignored her normal subservience to him. Whatever.
We changed clothes to look presentable. Casper asked if he could go. He was acting strange.
“Of course,” we both said. “I’ll say grace and maybe they’ll see Teen Jesus. You like that name better than Casper?”
We rode our bikes to Jack’s house. It was big, almost as big as Michael’s.
“Jesus, you’re rich,” I told him. Casper signed that it’s easier to thread a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich boy to get into heaven.
We threw Casper on the ground and were stomping on him, while he giggled. Then Jack felt sorry for him, “Jesus, Tim, did you eat too many Wheaties this morning?” We all rolled around, messing up our (sorta) nice clothes. We went straight to his room. He lent me a fresh shirt and trousers. He had two closets full of clothes.
“Are you super rich or something,”
“All hand-me-downs from my older brothers.”
I looked and saw they were mostly 50s style button downs, even Ivy League khakis, with the loop belt on the butt.
“I like these,” as I snapped his loop.
“Stop it,” he warned, “I’m not letting you fuck me until you met my parents.”
Casper pulled out his cock. I held Jack down for a few seconds while he humped him.
We all jumped up when we heard is mom call up, “Is that you Johnny? Are you home?”
“Yes. I have friends with me.”
“That’s nice. Do they want to stay for dinner?”
“I’ll tell Isabelle. We’re eating at eight.”
“Are you having cocktails now?”
“Yes, dear. Do you want to introduce your friends.”
We all trooped downstairs to their large sitting room. I saw a more formal living room beyond. The sitting room had a bar. Jack’s father was preparing drinks. I was ready to have a high ball, after all our fooling around, but got offered only a Coke.
“This is Tim Castle, Mother and Dad. He’s the one who invited me to be in their band.”
“Is it a jazz combo, Tim?” Mother asked me.
“We play mostly popular music,” I answered, ‘Ma’am.”
“We actually were playing hymns today at a store in the Grove,” Jack was more talkative than usual. Casper was sitting back on the opposite couch, enjoying my debut.
“That’s nice, dear. Now, Tim, we did speak with your father this past weekend. He seemed very nice, wanting to make sure Jack could stay with you. You are of course welcome here as well.”
“I was looking forward to meeting you, ma’am”
“The pleasure is all ours. We’re just older parents than most. Jack was our November mistake, you know.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say any later than, say, October, ma’am.”
“What a charmer, you are, Tim. Isn’t he, dear,” she deferred to her husband, whose role was being agreeable to everything she said and to make the drinks.
Jack complained, “It’s not fair to be referred to as a ‘mistake,’ you know.”
“What do we know, Jack?” she tittered.
“You very well know,” he responded.
It was definitely repartee from the 1930s. I glanced around and saw the normal pictures of grandkids. Casper pointed out Jack’s picture, looking very young, with his older brothers. I jumped up so I could see them better. Jack came over and explained he was just a kid in those pictures. He was so cute, making faces at his serious older siblings. Casper was making the same faces at Jack. Jack showed me formal, recent photos. He was really handsome.
“Did you see Jack’s picture in the Herald today” I asked.
“You were in the paper, Jack?”
“Yes, our play debuts this weekend. They gave us a nice write-up.”
She rang a bell and a Spanish maid came into the room.
“Isabelle, this is Johnny’s new friend, Tim,” she introduced me. “Would you get today’s Herald, por favor. Johnny’s photo is in it. Gracias.”
She nodded to me, and then returned with the paper. Mrs. Stone looked at the Arts section, reading the whole interview.
“Look at this, dear,” showing the photo of Jack to his dad, “I always wanted a daughter and now Johnny has given me one. You are gorgeous, Johnny.” She kissed him. He finally seemed embarrassed.
“And Tim, most of the article is about you. They compare you to Mozart. You said you play popular music.”
“Well, for the play, I’m just the minstrel. I play Elizabethan madrigals.”
“It says, Johnny, that you sing in your role. It’s quite avant-garde. And I thought you should have gone to Exeter or Andover, to become more cultured than your dreadful magic games.”
“You’ll send me away soon enough.”
“Oh, Johnny, you’ll never leave my heart.” He bent over and air kissed her. Casper came over and double air kissed her.
“I hope you’re coming to our preview this Sunday at the Antonio’s. They’ve set up an Elizabethan Theater in the back yard.”
“We so admire Mr. Antonio and all his work for the blacks. I’m afraid we’ve never had the chance to meet them. We go out so little at our age.”
“Well, you have to come and see Jack sing Shakespeare. He’ll be wearing a dress.”
“Well, then, we must. Thank you Tim. We look forward to hearing the next Mozart.”
“That’s all publicity for the newspaper. I just play other people’s songs in a rock band.”
“People are calling him Teen Jesus, Mother.”
“Don’t encourage that, please,” I complained.
“It does sound better than a Teen Mozart.”
“Well, you certainly are becoming more sophisticated, Johnny. I think Tim’s a good influence on you.”
“Oh, he is, Mummy,” Getting up and hugging me. “We’re boyfriends now.”
“Our little Johnny is growing up.”
And Mr. Stone nodded his approval. We both air kissed, three times.
Isabelle announced that dinner was served. We all went into the dining room. There were five places set.
“Where’s your other friend, Johnny?” she asked.
“Oh, he’s around, but he’s not eating with us.”
“You should introduce him. You don’t have two boyfriends now, I hope.”
Casper was all ears for this response.
“Well, actually yes. But Casper finds it hard to be seen with us. Not everyone accepts us being gay.”
“Well, tell him we are very supportive, but don’t have too many boyfriends at your age. You’ll find you may be conceited when you grow up.”
“Well, I can be a little conceited. I am the most beautiful girl in the play.”
“He really sings like an angel, Mrs. Stone. I’ll make sure you receive a formal invitation to Michael Antonio’s party.”
“There’s the son, Michael Jr, “she noted. “I’ve heard through the grapevine that he’s called Romeo and is engaged to a Capulet Juliet.”
“Not engaged, but betrothed.”
“We did Romeo and Juliet for Jenna Lombardi’s 14th birthday over the holidays.”
“Oh my goodness. You poor boy. It was your boyfriend that was so viciously murdered. You played on so bravely. So many people came to Viscaya. I am truly sorry. You must miss him so.”
”He sent your son to me. We share our love with him.”
“Are you writing your own Shakespearean tragedy?”
“Sometimes it does seem so . Maybe Julius Caesar.”
“Oh, all that deception. I hope you don’t feel jaded by life at 16.”
“No time for that. As well as the play, Jack and I have been getting ready for the new band’s debut in April. We are opening for a famous rock and roll band at the hydroplane course.”
“Can we see about getting Symphony Hall for you?”
“We’re just the opening band. It’s a rough crowd. They’d be smoking and leaving a mess at a formal concert hall.”
“Well, someday you’ll play Carnegie Hall.”
“I did perform once in New York when I was 14. I love New York.”
“Maybe you boys should apply to Columbia and live your dreams.” I felt I had entered into the world of our Midsummer Night’s Dream.
We looked at each other, holding hands, sitting at a grand dining table, smiling at Casper whose arms were around us, and thinking how perfect. The first bite of my chicken cordon bleu confirmed it.
I insisted we spend the night there. His bed had silk sheets and was twice as wide as mine. Who knows what Isabelle thought when she washed those sheets. I felt like a dog marking my territory.
I woke up late and missed Jack. He was sitting by the window.
“Are we becoming too much alike,” I asked after hugging him from behind. “When did you start sitting at the window contemplating your life.”
“It’s nice. I know why you do it now.”
“It’s better with someone in your arms.” Casper lay on his back in bed, naked, and snoring with a big hard-on.
“Then, come here,” and we snuggled and spooned.
“Is it silly that I enjoyed your coming out to your parents, more than to mine.” Jack said.
“Well, I totally enjoyed yours more. I wanted to kill Hippie.”
“He was right, though. You had to grow a pair. Now look at you, beating up haters in the street.”
“Am I rough trade for you.”
“You are my hero. That asshole attacked me.”
“You didn’t tell your folks that part of your day.”
“Some things are better left unsaid.”
“How about telling them you have two boyfriends.”
“Oh, half their friends are closeted homosexuals.”
“But they are so sophisticated.”
“The rich are more up tight than regular people.”
“Is that what you want, just to be a regular person?”
“No, I kinda like it the way it is now, with you and Casper.”
“I can’t think past our show in April. How can we stay together until we’re really adults?”
“You don’t want to grow up?”
“Of course I do. Look at the people who try to freeze a certain time in their lives and hold onto it as long as possible. I know this is my best time ever, but I also want to push it further, to see what’s around the next corner.”
“You are too hot-blooded, Tim Castle.”
“I can barely keep up with you and Casper, Johnny Stone.”
“You want it any other way?”
“How about this way?” and I wiggled my little finger into his butt. He shrieked. Casper woke up and, as already noted, was good to go. We teased Jack until he became Johnny Come Lately. I was glad to have Casper ready to fuck me when I had just cum myself .
In the morning we decided to have a ditch day and had breakfast with Mrs. Stone. Jus d’orange, café et croissants. Frenching each other completed our continental breakfast. Lounging by the pool, Casper complained he couldn’t get a tan. We put Oil d’Olay on him and he wandered around as a little, naked brown boy until the lotion was absorbed. We investigated Jack’s clothing closet and found many costume possibilities. I put on a tux and Jack, a thirties sporting outfit. We acted out ‘The Way you Look Tonight’ from the Astaire & Rogers movie ‘Swing time.’
It was a duet, with Jack doing the high Rogers role and me as Astaire. We danced throughout the downstairs rooms as we sang. Casper was our stage manager, opening and closing doors and shining the spotlight (a floor lamp) on us. Mrs. Stone told me to call her Dorothy, but when she saw the look in my eyes, she relented, “No, just call me Mother.” Sounded like a Joan Crawford movie. “Now I have my wish, not just one, but two daughters.”
Casper laughed at my discomfort, signing I’d become too butch lately, going around beating up people. I promised to seek my feminine side.
“Mummy has already found it,” Jack signed.
We showed up for afternoon rehearsal, tanned and feeling beautiful. Mr. Clark breathed a sigh of relief that we hadn’t gone AWOL. Robby continued to avoid me. I was beginning to feel sorry for him. No one treated him like the director anymore, and he wasn’t that into his role as Puck. I told Casper to check up on him. The report was that he was just feeling sorry for himself. No sympathy there. I decided to give him a pep talk right before our first performance. A couple of days to feel superior. I knew we needed his crazy energy to make it work, for the band and the play.
The day of Michael’s party arrived. We had returned to Hippie’s youth group the night before, which thrilled the kids and leader. We explained that the rumors about Teen Jesus had started there. Regardless of what they saw, they must remember that I wasn’t Teen Jesus. Several kids were at Out & Proud. They recounted what had happened.
“I had to defend Jack when one of those haters attacked us, putting him in jail. I feel sorry that it happened. He was angry because people thought I was mocking Jesus by pretending to be him.”
I warned them not to believe in false idols, but to keep Jesus in their hearts and share the love they find. I also gave another anti-bullying pep talk.
We were all gathered behind the Globe Theater replica, getting high and laughing about our adventures. I told everyone that Jack’s family had accepted us as boyfriends and how we entertained his mother with the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers song and dance. Grant came up to me and said he hadn’t known I was gay, but he liked me a lot for my straight parts. I promised to keep my gay parts away from his straight parts.
“You’re still my hero,” he admitted.
“Like a gay Superman?”
“More like a gay Shaft.”
“Your command of the Shakespearean double entendre is excellent. Where are your folks?”
“They’re sitting up on the dais with all the famous people. Michael’s dad said they were honored guests because I was the star of the show.” I thought he was tearing up. “I’ll bet you arranged that.”
“Naw, Mike Sr. arranges his own life. The straight guy always is the star.”
“But I feel like a kid up there. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m doing.”
“You nail it. I switched the program to read ‘Innocent’ instead of “Love Slave.”
“That’s a relief. I knew my Mama was gonna tan my hide if she saw ‘slave.’”
“No slaves around here. You wanna hit the weed?”
“Later. I’m too nervous now.”
I felt his forehead, “But cool as a cucumber.”
“You’re a special dude, Tim. You wanna be set up with a brother?”
“Naw. I got my hands full right now.”
“Jack’s a hot tamale. Somehow I feel jealous.”
“Well, you’re still his sex slave.”
“I need someone to take off some of the pressure.”
“Sorry, No can do.”
“You got a main squeeze?”
“Sittin’ right there with my folks.”
“Church girl, huh?”
“You got it.”
“There’s my squeeze over there,” as I pointed to Flo.
“You got a girlfriend, too?”
“Yup, another church girl. She likes that Jack relieves me of my excess hormones.”
“Sweet deal, man.”
“Check out the garage afterward.”
“Cool. Okay if I bring in a few brothers? They insisted on coming to see me act gay. They don’t wanna crash the party.”
“Well you can be gay at school for ‘em, but for sure bring ‘em to the opium den out back.”
“You got hard drugs?”
“Just pot and beer – have no fear.”
I walked up to Robby. He was pretty angry with me for ruining his life. I didn’t care. Without a great performance from him as Puck, our play was a flop. I wasn’t about to beg him to turn it up. I just lit into him.
“I’m not even going to say anything about what you did. You ruined our friendship. Now you’re trying to ruin all these kids’ performance by being a lame Puck. If you don’t turn it up and play your asshole self, I’ll make sure to always call you ‘Fuck.’ ‘Cause you are a fucked Puck right now. No spirit. No joy. No gay flouncing. Just a stupid high school kid who has taken his ball away when he didn’t get his own way. Grow a pair and do what you do best. Make Puck the star of the play.”
I walked away without looking back. Casper told me that Robby just sat there watching me walk away. When I didn’t look back, he got really angry and walked out to the garage. He and Guido did massive bong hits. Then he put on his hat and marched to back stage, slapping a couple of the fairies on the ass. Good start.
It was time to put on the play. Robby had convinced Mr. Scott I had to wear tights and a flouncy tutu. I put a huge hat on to cover my face so no one would recognize me, or at least not take an indecent photo. I walked out, bowed, and sat in front of the stage with my mandolin. The stands were filled with parents. I teared up a little seeing how proudly Grant’s parents sat next to Michael’s parents. I gave them a small nod. The pit was filled with all the crew and players’ siblings, including the Jacettes’ brothers and sisters. I noticed they all were holding objects, I hoped it wasn’t rotten fruit. I started to play the overture.
Mr. Clark walked out on stage, wearing a similar hat, but no tutu or tights. He began my Prologue,
“Good eve, gentles and dames.
Welcome to medieval England
Where fairies and royalty cavort
And love is treated as sport
“Tis the summer solstice
And King Oberon wants justice
From his wanton Queen
Who’s not all she seems
A changeling has been found
An Indian lad for the crown
To be slave for love
Or King’s page or none.
We are in the bard Bill’s house
The speeches may sound rough
To modern ear to hear
Listen as gay youth appear.
Thank ye, one and all,
Enjoy our play ‘til curtain’s fall.
Puck rushed out so fast that his accompanying fairy couldn’t keep up, which was okay because Robby tripped, causing the fairy to fall on him. All the kids roared. They started throwing the white things they had in their hands and pockets. When the kids realized the fairy was a boy in a dress, they yelled ‘she’s a boy’, and more yelling and throwing. I was fairly safe in front of the stage, until Puck ran forward and started kicking the white balls back at the pit. I was getting pelted, too. When Queen Titania marched in followed by her fairies, the kids all roared at all the boys in tutu’s and yelled, ‘she’s a boy, too.’ Puck was racing around clearing the stage. I saw the bewildered look on the parents faces that soon turned to laughter as Puck incited the kids to more mayhem. Oberon came in with his fairies to equal ridicule and excitement. Someone even yelled, ‘they’re all boys.’
It all made sense. Puck started teasing Oberon, kissing his ear, which brought the roars of laughter back. The king faked his dismay, as if he still wasn’t used to being fagged on after all our rehearsals. After all the lines were said, everyone trooped off stage and the stage crew of butched-up girls rushed out. Another roar, then mayhem, as they swept up the white balls and started yelling ad-lib insults at the pit. The parents really enjoyed that.
All the balls were back in the pit. No one liked King Thisby until he started acting like a donkey. The kids now loved him and sat down, listening to every word. Grant came down off the stage and sat with the kids. He had been sparring with Puck throughout the play, then sitting with Lysander and Demetrius when the prospective brides were fighting over them. The kids didn’t like Theseus and Hippolyta and continually threw balls at them. Puck flirted with Theseus which they loved and attacked Hippoyta which drove everyone to hysterics. Grant and Robby were vying for the kids approval, cavorting and cajoling them. Then Grant would sit quietly with the cast watching the workmen’s play, egging the kids to laugh at all the antics, while Puck abused them. Standing on the stage above me, I got pelted more than he did. At the final curtain, Puck stood alone and bade all farewell:
“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.’
It was not the silly plot that drove the action, it was the hilarity between actors and audience. One can only wonder how much more hilarious this play would play out to an audience not jaded by mass entertainment.
He joined hands with Grant and they skipped off stage to thunderous applause. All the players came out for a curtain call. Mr. Clark was cheered. He even motioned to me. I received a modest hand. Jack received his own call, with his parents standing and cheering his performance. Grant’s parents hugged the Antonio’s and the Lombardi’s toasted the High School and hugged the Grants. The Pit did a group hug that was ready to explode, when Robby still in makeup bounded on stage and kissed Mr. Clark. ‘Bang’ There was an explosion and the stage curtain tumbled down on the crew and players. Bare boys legs and dresses stuck out of the collapsed curtain. Honored guests were escorted to the bar, while all the kids in the pit were hustled into the music room.
John was playing ‘Free Bird,”
Michael: “If I leave here tomorrow”
Jenna: “Would you still remember me?”
Michael: For I must be travelin’ on now
Jenna: There’s too many places I got to see
Michael: If I stay here with you girl
Jenna: “Things just couldn’t be the same
Michael: ‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
Jenna: And this bird you cannot change
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
And the bird you cannot change
And this bird you cannot change”
VAN ZANT, RONNIE / COLLINS, ALLEN
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
The Out-Crowd was mixing two youth groups, the pit and the invited kids, meeting for the first time. The Pit kids were two opposing gangs, the siblings of the crew and the siblings of the players. They all had the white balls and began pelting each other. The rich kids backed away. The band jumped into ‘ABC.’
Stu and Mike jumped on the mic, dancing like Michael and Tito Jackson. The pit crew adversaries looked like they were dancing with each other, which got the trendies dancing instead of leaving. They had been standing around talking with the band and had been bored since there was no place to sit down. There were kids sitting on the floor. They immediately grabbed the loose balls. Puck snuck in and was chasing boys around with a water balloon. The boys started screaming. Hippie’s church kids heard the high screeching and went into seizure mode. Max came out and Stu sung ‘Ben’ (Max) to him.
The fighting stopped for Max. While Stu sang lead, Mike Jr went to a group of blonde girls and sang backup with them. Stu immediately went into the Beach Boys’ ‘Wendy,” and Mike got down on his knees to the girls, singing the high parts.
All the girls rushed to Mike, with Stu standing alone and not singing. He yelled, “Hey,” and launched Freddy Cannon’s ‘Palisades Park, moving around and picking girls to dance with.
‘Last night I took a walk after dark
A swingin’ place called Palisades Park
To have some fun and see what I could see
…That’s where the girls are
I took a ride on a shoot-the-chute
That girl I sat beside was awful cute
After we stopped she was holdin’ hands with me
…My heart was flyin’
Up like a rocket ship
Down like a roller coaster
Back like a loop-the-loop
And around like a merry-go-round
We ate and ate at a hot dog stand
We danced around to a rockin’ band
And when I could, I gave that girl a hug
…In the tunnel of love
You’ll never know how great a kiss can feel
When you stop at the top of a ferris wheel
When I fell in love, down at Palisades Park
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Down at Palisades Park
Yeah, yeah, yeah
When at Palisades Park
Down at Palisades Park
I’m at the Palisades Park
CLARIDGE MUSIC CO.
The Out-Crowd was out the gate and running. No stopping them now. Mom Watt came up and hugged me.
“He’s pretty good, isn’t he?” She asked as only a mom can do.”
“I prefer the old spazz model. It was more electric.”
“You like the little suit he’s wearing? He bought it with his band money.”
I looked at her, winked, and whispered, “I make a hundred dollars a day selling underwear.”
She laughed, then looked embarrassed. “Is that all you do for $100?”
“No, I have to autograph and sign ‘Praise the gays.”
She automatically said, “Praise the Lord.”
“And praise old Ben Franklin.”
She hugged me and whispered, “This is all your doing. It has your finger prints all over it.”
“How do you like the Globe Theater? I’m thinking of giving it to the high school.”
I noticed she had a wine glass in her hand, “A little too many trips to the bar?”
She giggled, “Only way to watch your boy grow up in front of your eyes. He is so cute.”
We stood there hugging and swaying to the music.
“I told my folks, you know,” I told her.
“They already knew. Right?”
“Yeah, but they really came through for me this year. And I don’t mean buying me a car.”
“Scott got the station wagon.”
“Better keep an eye on that boy or we’ll be calling you Gramma?”
“Shut up. I’m not forty yet.”
“Want to take a spin,” I asked her to dance by reaching out my hand.
“Oh, Tim. I can’t.
“What song?” I asked.
I ran up to Stu and told him his mom had a request. He knew instantly, and by the time I got back, Mom was doing the shimmy. I could swear, with her hair was up in a ponytail and wearing a top with fringe, she had them bouncing.
Stu stopped singing, but Mike was there to pick up and ogle Stu’s mom. My Mom! We’re all perverts.
Taking a break meant hanging with the homies in the garage. Everyone was back in the corner where there were chairs. Guido was entertaining Grant’s real homies with tales from his crib. They were enjoying a relaxed beer and spliff. Someone had broken out the Jamaican.
“Where’d you score the ganja, mon?” I asked.
Up popped Grant.
“Oh, my little Indian orphan.”
All the guys circled me, “How many gay things did Grant do?”
They hadn’t seen it. Grant wanted them to come to school and put on a fake rumble, gangster style.
“Don’tcha wanna wait and see it at school?”
“We’re definitely there.”
“Why ruin the excitement of seeing him hold hands with a fairy in front of all his friends.
“That’ll be trippin’, man.”
“Shut up Clyde, you don’t havta act all gangster in fronna him. He’s in the band.”
“What’s your name?”
“I heard of you. You be beatin’ down a redneck and havin’ him arrested.”
“No, man. That was Teen Jesus.”
“My Jesus, Your Jesus, Yesterday’s Jesus, Ping pong Jesus. Hit the bong Jesus, Ay man.”
“Another example of the advantages of the white man,” Clyde said.
“Shit, man,” Grant defended me, “he got the whole school to stop the number 3 from leaving so I could be in the play.”
“You can call me, Mr. Jesus.”
“You is my brother,” Clyde said.’
“Y’all’s my brother, too”
“You ain’t from here, right? Maybe North Carolina or up north?
“I spent last summer there. Street draggin’ at Charlotte, did a run, chased pussy boys, and fucked the sheriff’s wife.”
“Fuck that sheriff.”
They broke up.
Security stuck their head in the door, “Everything okay here?”
I popped up. “Just tokin’ up, man.”
They broke up again.
“Another advantage of the white man.”
“This our welcome to Gables – stuck out in the garage?”
“Well, we needed some runaway slaves for the show, but Grant wanted to get all the glory, so y’all were cut.”
“Runaway slaves?” they looked at me with bad intent.
“Better then love slave to a queen.” And I winked at Grant.
They all whipped around and tried to ask, “You were a slave?”
“I was a child, ‘cause we all are new here and I was innocent.”
“That’s the biggest lie of the day.”
“The play ends with me walking off stage with the fairy. It’s symbolic.”
“Ready to sneak in?”
Grant & I both looked at each other, asking ourselves “who said that?”
“Com’n,” I said. We sneaked backstage while the ‘hot three’ played jazz for people seated and standing in the pit.
The cocktail party was on. No way we were seen. Clyde pulled my sleeve, and we all followed him. Soon we tip-toed past the bar, at which we all looked enviously.
“No drinking in here. I got a joint, but let’s go into the bathroom,” where Flo had given me head. We locked the door and lit it up. Soon the smoke was so heavy the fire alarm went off. We ran out and people were trying to fan the smoke away. White man’s advantage. Because they went to our school, they were welcome, but it was more fun to sneak them in. We got by Guido into the music room, where the Out-Crowd had everyone warmed up and moving like a seething holler of snakes.
Not shy, the boys grabbed the 14 year olds with the biggest titties and started jungle dancing around them It was disco invading a 50s time warp.
“Like my friends?” Grant asked.
“Yeah, ‘cause they like me, their favorite honky.”
“Don’t really like ‘em, then?”
“I really like them, like ‘like’ them.”
“I can set you up with Clyde?”
“I don’t need a pimp.”
“You white boys think all we do is be pimps.”
“That’s your fault for having big dicks.”
“Yer great granddaddy plantation mastah bred us that way so when we fucked his daughters they’d never leave home on him, the old pervert.”
“Don’t be talkin’ ’bout my Gramma.”
“You are sompin’. I’m taking you up home to Mississippi. You’ll have all them white crackers crackin’ up.”
“They’ll kill me for being a pussy boy.”
“You got that right.”
“I’ll go. We’ll call it a run. If anyone survives, they’ll write about it for years.”
I started missing Casper and Jack. I kinda hoped they were wearin’ each other out in the bathroom. I found them with Jack’s folks who were with my folks. Dad was almost standing at attention, which meant good news. I tried to get them to come over, but they were engrossed with the adult world.
I watched the Out-Crowd. John was making all the old Jace moves, fingering the frets and how he moved his body. Maybe there was a part of Jace in his heart. I was pretty wiped, so I got teary thinking about their lives as 8 & 10 year-olds. It made me so mad, but I was watching a smiling John as he played from his heart. That heart always loved Jace, a Jace I didn’t know. Casper was set free from that nightmare. Maybe John would be free too. Just not yet, but definitely for tonight. Casper and Jack came over finally.
“Lusting for my little brother?”
“He has your ass.”
“I’ll have your ass.”
“I was thinking that the part of you that’s in his heart is still Jace, the old Jace. Like now there’s two, Jace Jace and Casper Jace .”
“Will time stand still if we both meet?”
“Good reason not to come out to too many people.”
“Unfair,” Jack complained, “You and I both came out to our parents this week. Poor Casper. He’s an orphan.”
“Let’s find Casper’s real mom and tell her what an asshole he is.”
“I love that asshole.”
“His mom’s knows it real well from wiping it when he was a baby.”
“I’m right here, you know.”
“How about we find your moms?”
Pretty soon all three of us were crying.
“Trouble in paradise, boys?” It was Robby.
Jack glared at him. Casper gave him a kiss which he ignored.
“We‘re talking about finding Jace’s mom and telling her how great he was.”
“I’m in,” he claimed.
“No. You’re still on probation.”
“Com’n. I know where to find her, just go down on skid row.”
I popped him on the chin. He collapsed like a house of cards.
“Fuck, man. I was just kidding,” he complained, rubbing his jaw.
“No, you’re just mean and you’re making me play your mean game.”
“Why did you try to rape me?” Jack intervened by changing the subject.
“You’re just too damn cute,” he flippantly replied.
“You’re pitiful, under all that talent and imagination, you’re a sorry boy who has to steal love instead of earn it.” Jack was spot on. “You’re not even gay.”
I picked Robby up, shaking him by the arms. He looked fearful, then angry, and finally broke down and cried. He didn’t have to say anything. A great ball of pity welled in my heart. All the fun times versus all the spiteful mean things. He was a mess. I just held him. Casper and Jack came over. We surrounded him. Robby was a blubbering sack of shit. Mary had been watching. I remembered how he raped her at Halloween, making me mad again. Casper had never been abused by Robby; he’d had more abuse than anyone, but forgiving Robby was a way to release some of those tangled emotions. When he kissed Robby on the cheek, Robby didn’t even notice. I saw that his heart was hardened against wanting someone. Mary came over. He had abused her the most, but she never complained. He reached out to her, and she pulled him away from us. They walked off together. Maybe she could heal him. No, only he could do that.
“That was intense,” Jack noted.
“How can you forgive him?” I asked.
“He never really raped me. He just scared me shitless. Then you came to save me. I felt so much love for you. After you beat the crap out of him, I figured I better hate him or you’d feel guilty for almost killing him. Now I want to forget what he wanted to do .”
“So we go back to the way it was?”
“No way. If he hasn’t learned how to be a better friend, forget him.”
I kissed Jack, and Casper hugged us.
Michael and Jenna came over and asked if we’d had a fight. “It looks like you’re making up.”
“Not us, we never fight,” and we both laughed.
“You still fighting with Robby?” Michael asked.
“Yeah, I punched him out for making a crack about Jace’s mom.”
“That’s him, the crackster.”
“He broke down a little. Maybe he’ll come around and start acting like a friend, instead of being Puck the Tormentor.”
“He’s a great Puck.”
“It’s the perfect role for him.”
“If you make him be nice, it may get boring around here.”
“You on his side?”
“I’m the one who told you to grow a pair.”
“Now I go around beating down rednecks on the street.”
“What?” and I told him about Teen Jesus, the one hit wonder.
“Jesus, that’s great.
“That’s Mr. Jesus, to you.”
We laughed and Michael brought out a small hash pipe. We got so wasted, the rest of the party was a blur. I remember Mike Sr.’s combo playing Sinatra classics and wildly cheering. He got us up and we played Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Boots,’
dedicating it to Robby. Mary and Robby got up and sang Lesley Gore’s ‘My Boyfriends Back.’
Then everyone including the Jazz combo was on stage singing Elvis’ ‘Love Me Tender,’
and I rubbed Robby’s chin to make it better. I guess it was.
After the music, Mike Sr. had Michael and Jenna come over to him at the mic. He looked at his son. I saw the love and pride he felt for Michael, as he told him all those things. I glanced at my parents, whom I had avoided, being so high. Dad gave me the biggest grin I’d ever seen from him. He knew how badly I wanted to please him and let me know it was possible. Susan glowed.
Mike Sr. looked at me and then at my dad. “Just a short note of appreciation to Tim for being the brains behind everything. And an announcement, Tim’s dad and Susan are getting married so Tim doesn’t have to mooch off of everyone. Buona fortuna.”
Everyone clapped and I rushed over to hug them, stoned or not.
Mike Sr. thanked everyone for coming. Tipping his hand toward the Lombardi’s on the dais. “Oh, one last thing…” Guido came roaring into the pit area in a brand new red Alpha Romero convertible, scattering guests as he parked it in front of the stage,
“Happy Birthday, Michael… Now go pass drivers ed.”
They hugged. Michael hugged Jenna. I realized a two-seater was Mike Sr.’s way of making sure Michael didn’t drive our crazy band around stoned and drunk.
As the party wound down, Jack and I argued about which bed we’d sleep in that night, as we both wanted to be in the other’s. My addled brain said, “Let’s go to the Watt’s and molest Stu. He’s too much all about himself after the Out-Crowd show.”
We rode our bikes to Kendall. Knowing the layout of their house, we sneaked into Stu’s window, pulling him and Mike Jr. out of their bed and tumbling them on top of John who was sleeping on the floor. Soon all six of us were whooping and yelling, waking the rest of the house. When Mr. Watt burst in and saw a pile of 5 boys, he laughed instead of yelling.
Pulling me out of the pile, “You? How many times do I have to kick you out of my house.”
“Every time,” I replied.
Mom Watt protected me, confessing she had lured me there by doing the Shimmy Shimmy at the party with me.
“Well, just this one time,” he conceded, “But no molesting Stu. He’s a star now.”
“But that’s why we’re here,” Jack said, “he needs to be taken down a peg or two.”
“And who are you?” Mr. Watt asked, feeling boy overload for not the first time.
“Good evening, sir, I’m Jack Stone, Tim’s boyfriend. You must not have recognized me, as I was wearing a dress in the play. I’m Queen Titania, thank you.”
“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” he answered, “Welcome to the zoo.”
We settled down. Stu insisted we stay the night. He and Mike gave up the bed, since we were ‘lovers,’ and he and Mike Jr. joined John on the floor. Once it was quiet, Jack reached over to feel my dick, but finding it soft, realized I was in boy mode, not teen mode. I looked over and Casper was wrapped up with John, who had that smile I’d seen when he was playing earlier. Stu and Mike Jr. were sprawled half over each other and drooling. I gave Jack a little wank but he too couldn’t get hard – too much acne cream and not enough testosterone in the room.
In the morning, Mom Watt cooked her traditional Sunday breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon. She was at the stove for an hour before everyone was bursting with burps. Scott came down and looked at us, turning around to leave.
“I’m going back to sleep,” he remarked grumpily.
“You sit down right here,” Mom had his attention. “These are your friends, also. Have you met Tim’s new boyfriend, Jack,” as she put her hand on his shoulder.
Scott turned purple with apoplexy. “Not now, Mom.”
“If not now, then when are you going to get over your pout. It’s been six months. This boy,” she put her other hand on me, “still loves you and has gotten over what you fought about. At least recognize that he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to your brother. It’s time you two made up.”
Scott was thoroughly crushed. I stood up and shook his hand, “This is Jack, Scott. He’s our new singer and my boyfriend now.” I looked at Jack, “This is Scott, He’s Stu’s brother and last year he made me a member of their family.”
Jack stood up, confused by a history he wasn’t aware of, “Nice meeting you, Scott. Sorry we disturbed you last night. We were just having fun with the boys.”
Scott looked in shock. Mom made him sit down and five boys and a ghost sat there watching him eat as if he were in the zoo.
Finally, he looked up at me, “Sorry, Tim. I don’t know why I’m such an asshole.”
“At least you’re no longer a CB.”
Stu, Mike Jr., Scott and I all laughed. Everyone else wanted to know what a CB was. (Cry Baby) We’d never tell. Brothers forever.