After Mom Watts’ pancake breakfast, the whole group went on a long bike ride, to work off all the calories and bulging stomachs. Of course, we ended at Coach Earl’s who had cold sodas ready.
“You’re my bad penny,” he told me.
“You keep turning up.”
“I know you’re glad to see me,” I argued.
“You gonna introduce me to your new boyfriend? He looks like he’s ready to burst, if you don’t.”
Jack came running over. “Coach Earl meet my boyfriend, Jack. He’s also the lead in our play and the singer in my band.”
“Very pleased to me you, sir. Thank you for creating such a fine body,” as he literally stroked me.
Everyone laughed at me. Coach just shook his head. I took him aside.
“How’s John doing on the team, Coach?”
“He seems to enjoy the B team. so much so, I think of him as a permanent member. It’s good living with the Watt’s. It definitely agrees with him.’
“Well, that’s something.”
”I see you’re on again with Scott.”
“Yeah, Mrs. Watt read him the riot act this morning at breakfast.”
“That why you’re with us today.”
“We invaded Stu’s room in the middle of the night. Six of us stayed there after a party in the Gables. Scott complained that we woke him up. She made us make up, just not kiss.”
“Well, your young man might have objected to that. How was Stu’s big debut?”
“It went so well, we had to come and burst his bubble.”
“That won’t last. He’s irrepressible and self-inflating.”
“I wish you could see us play sometime.”
“I just like seeing you every once in a while. You’re a fire cracker.”
“They say I’m hot-blooded.”
“Coach Diaz is still mad at you for ruining his plans to make Scott an Olympic swimmer with that stunt you pulled at the State meet. He’s never come close to that time again.”
“He’ll always be an All-American.”
“He’s so burned out this year. You really shook him up. He’s lost his passion for it.”
“Unintended consequences. It’s hard to see those when you’re 15.”
“Ah, the wisdom of a 16-year-old who still rides his bike with the kids.”
“I’m taking drivers ed. this spring.”
“No swim team at school?”
“Places to be, people to see, things to do.”
“Remember your roots, son.”
“That’s why I’m here, Coach.”
He gave me a quick hug. We were off.
Jack and I rode with Scott, while the younger kids were all over the place.
Jack wanted information from Scott, “You’re the brother, when Stu was Tim’s only friend after he moved here.”
“Yeah, I accused him of molesting Stu when I found out he’s a fag, er, gay.”
“Is that why you were fighting?”
“We were always loving or hating each other. It was like we were twin brothers,” I said.
“He got everybody to call me Cry Baby because I always called my little brother ‘Stupid,’ instead of Stu.”
“We even had fist fights at the pool, until Coach made us swim together.”
“Yeah,” Jack noted, “we’ve been together less than a month, and he’s already had two fights. One with an adult he clobbered with his guitar after the guy tried to hit me.”
Jack proceeded to do the blow-by-blow account, including why we were at Out & Proud and how people think I’m Teen Jesus.
“My life is so boring since you left me. You always cause crap to happen and then come out looking and smelling like a rose.”
“You guys were together?” Jack’s mouth dropped.
I looked at Scott, who confessed. “Yeah, all last summer. Then his girlfriend from New York came down, so I got a girlfriend and threw him over. He tried to kill himself and started hanging out with you stoners.”
Jack looked at me, “You have another girlfriend, in New York?”
“It’s like Jenna and Michael. She’s 14 and determined to remain a virgin.”
“So you never have sex with them. It’s like all those pre-teens at the store.”
“No, I am attracted to girls my age. Scott and I were double-teaming two sisters in North Carolina last summer on vacation.”
Jack started to cry. We stopped and sat on the grass. He fell into my arms.
“I crushed on you all year in English,” he sniffled. “Finally I couldn’t stop from coming on to you. Then you protected me, and in the morning when I told you I loved you, you said you loved me back. I’m a silly virgin thinking if I love you enough, you’ll love me too.”
“You are silly, but it is so cute,” and I kissed him.
The homeowner came out and yelled at us, saying we couldn’t do that in his yard. We took off, with Jack riding with me while Scott pulled wheelies. Jack was curled up and continued to sniffle. Too many revelations. It seemed odd to have a sexual history at my age.
When we got back to the Watt’s, Stu yelled at Scott that he was trying to break up Jack and me.
“You are so mean. You can’t stop making people unhappy.”
He ran into the house, with Mike Jr. and John following him. Casper had been riding on John’s handle bars, but he came over to see what the trouble was for our little family three-way.
“Jeez, Jack, I thought you’d know all about Tim,” Scott noted. “Liking girls isn’t so bad. It only got in our way when I got jealous and used Lydia to get even. We had some fine fucking in North Carolina”
I looked at Scott, and he shrugged at his confession. I was afraid he’d tell Jack about Floyd raping me. Scott realized he was out of his depth. He hugged both of us and went inside. Casper did his best to cheer up Jack. I went through my entire sexual history with him, including getting Tina off just by making out.
“Makes me feel pretty inadequate since my only other experiences have been crushing on D&D friends who are so nerdy they never knew.”
“How’s jumping my bones working out for you?”
“I don’t know what you are feeling when I’m feeling totally in love and totally turned on by you.”
I just wanted to kiss him and make it better. That approach would end up getting us arrested on the Watt’s front lawn.
Mrs. Watt marched out, with a look in her eyes. “Did Scott try to break you boys up, like Stu just told me?”
“Mom to the rescue,” I laughed. “Scott just assumed Jack knew I liked girls as well as boys. I’ve been telling him everything now. It makes him feel inadequate.”
“Oh, Jack. You’re a virgin?”
He mumbled, “Yeah.”
She put him in a bear hug, he sobbed once, swallowed, and felt better.
“But what if he leaves me?”
“Don’t doubt him. It hasn’t been that long.”
“Two weeks,” he whispered. “Two weeks, one day and thirteen hours.”
My heart was breaking, but I just let the tears come without sobbing. He grabbed me, Mrs. Watt hugged us both and Casper wrapped his arms around all three of us.
Mrs. Watt looked up and all around.
“That’s Casper,” Jack innocently explained.
“The Friendly Ghost?” she laughed.
“Yeah, it’s Jace. Whenever anyone still loves him, they can feel his presence.”
Now she was crying. “Jace, oh Jace..”
Casper’s wispy tears started floating around us and flowing down his cheeks onto the top of her hair before disappearing. The crying jag lasted a few minutes.
Finally Mom took both our hands, placing them together. “Tim, Casper and Jack, never the three shall part.”
Jack looked at me and said, “Now we have our Pledge, like Hippie.”
“What does Hippie have to do with all this?” Mom asked.
“The abstinence pledge in his church. It’s like they’re betrothed or engaged.”
“Don’t worry, boys, my Pledge requires lots of sex.”
We jumped up and ran into the house before she got arrested on her own front lawn. We all chased Stu around for saying Scott tried to break us up.
“See, I told you. Remember how hard it is for teenagers to be in love.” Scott defended himself.
“That’s just for you. Tim’s got boyfriends and girlfriend everywhere.”
“Think about it,” Scott told Stu, “how does he handle all that?”
“Very well,” said Jack.
Jack said we had to leave soon, as his parents always had Sunday dinner after Church. I guess I was invited. All the Watts and various boarders hugged both of us, even Scott did. I thought about calling him later, but that urge was self-destructive. I already had a nervous boyfriend to retain.
Taking a quick shower and changing, we came down to the sitting room just as the Stones arrived from church. With them was a priest plus an obviously gay, middle-aged couple. Someone had been gossiping.
“Hello, Father Frank. Good to see you. You too, Uncle Tam and Uncle Steve. This is my boyfriend, Tim Castle.”
“Ah, the boy in the news,” one of the uncles clapped me on the shoulder.
“Yes,” Father Frank joined in, “You’ve caused quite a stir in the old Church debate over Jesus and gays. You don’t mind us interrupting your Sunday dinner””
“Nothing interrupts Sunday dinner, as long as we have friendly conversation over the roast and no one chokes on their words,” pronounced Mrs. Stone. “I promised your uncles you would do a short Astaire & Rogers number after we eat.”
“Oh, Mummy, can’t we do it now, while you have your drinks.”
“Of course. I found that old 78 with the music from ‘Swing Time’
“We’ll change, while you get your drinks.” We ran upstairs.
“Mummy? She’s not that old and certainly not Egyptian.”
“Oh, did I slip. I’m trying to be more mature.” He looked crestfallen.
“Oh, honey, you’re perfect the way you look tonight.”
We straightened each other’s ties and set up the phonograph with the show recording. It was scratchy but it felt like we had transported to that other era. Even Casper had put on a coat and tie. He did all the stage managing, with doors and lights, as we danced and sang through the whole song.
They insisted on an encore. We did two. Our voices blended perfectly with the record so the guests only heard us, with the real stars echoing us from the other room, where the phonograph was. We bowed, and Jack insisted we have an aperitif to calm down.
Father Frank and the Uncles looked ready to verbally spar, but I felt we at least had the advantage, 4 gays, the Dowager and the Prince against an old priest. But I was on my guard.
“Are you a Jesuit, Father? I asked
“No, a Franciscan.
“I hope you didn’t take a vow of poverty.”
“That’s why I appreciate these generous friends.”
I was savoring the upcoming repartee.
“I feel we should hear from our hosts about their evening at the Antonio’s and Johnny’s performance,” I suggested.
“Everyone at Church was congratulating them on the excellent review your interpretation of Shakespeare received from the Herald. Another photo of Johnny was on the front of the Arts,” Uncle Steve declared.
“He is a stunning beauty,” I bragged. “We haven’t seen it, yet. We were being kids in South Miami this morning, riding bikes with the band kids. I’m surprised the Herald didn’t wait for our formal opening night this weekend.”
“When two prominent Italian families in Miami build a replica of the Globe Theater for a party performance, everyone wants to read about it.”
“It was like the Medici’s in Medieval Florence,” Jack added.
I was dying to read the review. I thought to call for Isabelle to fetch the paper. Then I had a flashback that saw how silly I was, laughing at my own better self with the adults.
“They said you were the director, Tim.”
“Oh, no, only when Robby was sick and missing. In fact, it was genius because I was to play Queen Titania, and Johnny was my understudy. All the good things happened when we added music and singing. I changed to playing mandolin and discovered Johnny’s beautiful voice. When the original director returned, he took his Puck character and turned it evil which created the dramatic tension with the black boy who spoke no lines but represented innocence.”
“My goodness, you sound more erudite than the reviewer.”
“I wanted to ask the Stones what their reaction to Johnny’s performance was. The Black boy Grant was so concerned that his parents would be upset by his character. We had to change the program from ‘Slave” to read ‘Innocent.’”
“It reminded me of 1930’s cabaret theater, so amusing and fast paced.” Mr. Stone spoke up for the first time. “The children misbehaving in the orchestra pit were disturbing at first, but quickly they were just part of the play. I believe that was authentic to Shakespeare’s time, as well as my youngest son cavorting in a dress. A shock that turned to brilliance.”
“I felt I had found the daughter I never had. And now with Tim here, I have two.”
“Better be careful, Mummy. He can get very rough when he is upset.”
“Oh, did I upset you, dear.”
“Johnny exaggerates. I only get protective when I feel he’s threatened.”
“A hero, protecting my dear son.”
“Many times, Mummy. Friday he had a man arrested for trying to hit me when we were performing together in Coconut Grove.”
“Why would anyone want to hit you, dear?”
“He was a religious nut who thought Tim was defaming Jesus with our music.”
“What were you playing?”
“’Amazing Grace’, and other hymns.”
“That man was obviously deranged.”
“You are playing hymns on the street?” Father Frank asked.
“It’s a long story, but we’ve been advocating that young people report bullying to adults. We went to a holy roller church.”
“You mean the Baptists?”
“Yes. People started speaking in tongues and someone claimed Tim was Teen Jesus.”
“Leave it to the Baptists to be confused.” Father Frank confirmed.
“How did this man come to attack you?”
“We were playing for about fifty 10-14 year old kids. A girl had lost her mother when she was four. Tim asked her if she had Jesus in her heart, which she said she did. He asked if her mother was in her heart too. He said that was a safe place, and she should allow good people in, as well. There was a small group of adults; they started yelling ‘heresy and abomination’ at us. We asked them to come up and talk about Jesus. They pushed to the front, called us names and threatened to kill us. When the one man tried to punch me, I hid behind Tim who knocked him down with his guitar. We called the police while Tim kept him down, so he couldn’t attack again. We talked with the police and they arrested him. We said to let him out the next day and not file charges.”
Everyone was speechless.
“Oh, Johnny, this performing sounds so dangerous.”
“No, Mummy, I have Tim to protect me. What we do is so wonderful. I never thought I was anything but an ugly duckling. Now I feel beautiful. He’s my living hero.’
“Your son has the voice of an angel, ma’am. Anyone would want to protect him. I feel he has been sent to me.”
“Have you had a rough time growing up, Tim, having to fight so much?” Father Frank asked.
“No, Father. I grew up in the military. It seems natural to stand up for your friends and for what you believe.”
“Like that black boy at school.”
“Oh, he doesn’t need defending, but the blacks at Gables High needed to have someone say it was wrong to isolate them from the regular kids. They wanted to come to our school and were riding buses across the City to be with us, but we never saw them. They even put them in special classes because they weren’t as smart as us. We changed that.”
Isabelle announced that dinner was served.
“I think that any debate about whether gay boys can be saved by Jesus has been answered,” Uncle Tam announced.
“Thank goodness, that’s resolved,” concluded Mrs. Stone
“Praise the Lord,” Jack quipped and everyone laughed.
Dinner was excellent. We never had to explain what we did in bed. Perhaps that approach would serve the Church better than current strictures and snooping.
We excused ourselves after desert. In his room, while changing, I saw in the mirror Jack ogling me in just my briefs.
“Feeling sexy?” I asked, turning to give him a better view.
“Strangely, no.” he surprised me, but I didn’t feel disappointed. Casper went up to him and grabbed his package and gave it a twist. “I’m spending the night with John,” he signed and left.
“That feels weird,” I remarked when I could no longer see him, for the first time since he died
“Are we getting old?” I suggested.
“It’s this house. Let’s go to yours.”
That made my dick thump and heart skip a beat. We made it just in time to walk Max. My dad had it on a schedule taped to the refrigerator.
“This feels much more exciting,” as Jack rubbed my ass with his thumb. I looked for Casper, forgetting he was at the Watt’s.
“What about the sex pact?” I asked Jack.
“Is it like Hippie’s Abstinence Pledge?”
“Jesus, (Yes?) haven’t you ever broken it.”
“Just that time I was so worked up after beating down Robby.”
“Let’s go beat him up again,” he suggested, winking at me.
I showed Jack the route to Robby’s through the trees. That got him excited enough to take the edge off his horniness. We popped in Robby’s window to the surprise of the usual suspects getting high in his bedroom.
Robby looked up, amazed by our return. “Can’t get high now that Iggy’s dry?”
“Naw. Jack gets horny when I beat you up.” Both of us tackled him, but we pulled all our punches. The others scattered to the corners and cheered us on. Soon he lorded over us as we lay subdued on his floor.
“Close your eyes,” he ordered and lighting a joint gave us both shotgun hits. Jack was erect from the play fighting. Once he got high he attacked me. Totally aroused, I threw him out the window, put him over my shoulder and marched him to my bedroom. We pulled off each other’s clothes. He pushed me onto the bad and sat on my dick as I waited for him. Pumping him and jerking his dick, I soon had him spurting jism all over me. We heard gasps and looked to see the entire crew watching our sex act from the window. As soon as Jack stopped spasming and ejaculating, I pulled out and menacingly charged the window, jacking myself until I was spraying in their direction. All but Dave screamed and ran away. He was frozen, until Jazz grabbed him and pulled him away. They were in my backyard checking themselves for possible cum spots.
“Get out of here. There’s more from where that came from.”
They squealed and ran back to Robby’s. Max was barking at them as they ran off, which set off all the other neighborhood dogs. We howled at them and shouted, “We are the Wolfmen.”
“Let’s beat Robby up every night,” Jack murmured, laying in my arms on the window sill. I leaned over backwards and we rolled off the roof, falling ten feet to the ground. I held him so I cushioned his fall.
“Euff,” I grunted and pretended to be knocked out.
Jack panicked, shaking me, yelling and crying for me to wake up.
I may have waited a bit too long, because when I opened my eyes and said, “Gotcha,” he got really mad and started beating me on the chest.
“Better than sex for an audience?” I asked him.
“We’re staying at my house from now on. Some of those voyeurs are 14.”
“We’ve corrupted their morals. Robby watched Scott and me all last summer. I never knew until Casper threw me on the bed to fuck me and I saw Robby and Maria watching from a tree branch.”
“What did you do, beat him up so you could fuck Casper.”
“I told them it was our new band act and invited them in. It was the first time Maria and I sang our ‘Free Bird’ duet.”
I locked the window and we lay on the bed talking.
“We’re all taking driver’s ed this Spring. You should sign up.”
“Mummy doesn’t approve.”
“You’ll turn into Mummy Jr., if you don’t break out.”
“That what I like about staying here. It feels like our hideout.”
“Except with everyone watching us perform.”
“You sure Robby’s isn’t really gay?”
“Why, getting turned on by him? He just uses sex to control everyone.”
“Like Mr. Clark?”
“That reminds me, you ready for our performances this weekend at school?”
“I’ll be gorgeous as always.”
“What if Robby decides to sandbag Puck?”
“What if Grant gets freaked by his home boys calling him a faggot?”
“That boy is as cool as a cucumber
“That’s what I told him last night when he had pre-show jitters.”
“Scouting out some dark meat.”
“He’s as straight as Hippie, even has a 14-year-old girlfriend.
“That’s a sure sign. He’s a breeder.”
“He wants to set me up with his gay home boy.”
“Once you go black, you never go back.”
“I told him I was otherwise engaged.”
“Aren’t we just the most welcoming students at Gables High?”
“I’m more concerned about you spending the day with your ex-boyfriend. And there’s the dead boyfriend who’s always hanging around. And when do I get to meet the New York girlfriend?”
“Road trip for Spring Break? We’ll tour the South before the Skynyrd concert, playing road houses and square dances, ‘til we get our songs just right. We might be Florida boys, but we ain’t their kinda Florida boys. And we ain’t gonna try. But them boys up in North Carolina put a fuck load of hillbilly in me. We may be pussy boys, but if they chase after us, we’ll chase after their women. We’ll get you laid, boy. Do wah?”
“You’re scaring me, again.”
“That’s just Floyd, he comes out when I’m riled, kinda like Casper coming out when I’m horny. My true apostles.”
“Teen Jesus. I beseech thee. Take me away. I won’t die to be your apostle. I’m just poor Maid Mary Magdalen. Save me, Teen Jesus.”
“Tie up my hands and feet to the bed posts, so I can’t get away”
“Put the pillows behind my neck and head.
Get on your knees.
Grab my ears.
Fuck the spit out of my mouth.
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Gays.”
It got him really wet and hard.
“Pull my jeans down.
Snap my briefs and pull them down, too.
Sit on my dick and jerk off until we cum.”
He loved taking orders. Would it break his heart by revealing I’m not Teen Jesus? No way. He fucked his way into my heart. Now if he accepts Jesus into his heart, we’ll all be in there together. Oh, fuck where’s Casper? If I break the sex pact again., he’ll feel left out.
“Stop. Call Stu and have him send Casper here. I may die.”
Jack fell off my dick before cumming. He ran and called Stu, who needed signing lessons to get the message right. Later, he said he didn’t see Casper, yet didn’t want to admit it. It must have worked because Casper floated in the locked window shortly thereafter.
“”Sup, home boys?” he observed me still tied down to the bed, “A little S & M? Were you bored and missing me?”
Floating naked above me, he dropped his ass directly on my hard dick and got Jack back into position bending and fucking my mouth. Casper was fully aroused, our own special Puck. Jack wiggled his ass toward the swinging dick, as Casper bobbed up and down on my cock. Tight Pussy Boy 3-Way, except the bottom (Casper) was driving the top (me). Jack was getting off too quickly. I stuck my middle finger in his mouth, catching all the spit there and smearing it into Casper’s ass. Casper exploded as I pressed in, causing me to leave love bites on Jack’s dick. It jerked, then started spurting like a fountain down my throat. I arched as far as the ropes would let me and felt the bed rotate 90 degrees upwards from the foot board. I was floating in the crucified pose. I even crossed my legs like Saint Sebastian. I held that arch so long and so rigid, that when I did cum, the bed shook and shook until it finally collapsed, like our stage trick at the end of the play. Stuck in the ropes and the bedding, we all struggled pitifully, finally giving up and falling asleep.
Hours later I woke up, stuck again to Jack and all the bed linen. All the bed posts were broken. I would have to ask Susan to buy a new bed. I knew she would step up to queen size. Jack and I hugged, sad that we’d never sleep in this bed of lust again. Casper and I commiserated that a piece of our past was disappearing. He signed, “We’re going on a road trip.”
I was trying to write a memo to Mike Sr. detailing our plans for Easter Spring break. Jack read over my shoulder.
“Why not get Father Frank to book us at St Patrick’s. It would be free and open for their youth group,” he suggested. No hassles. Perfect. +I left a message for Mike Sr.’s assistant, Jay, to set up a van for us as we needed to be on the road during Spring Break. I asked him to find a crash driver’s ed. class so we all could get legit IDs. I asked him to book two nights at the Chelsea while we were in NYC. We needed to play as many parties as possible before the road trip, as well as schedule at least a day’s recording for the Jace Tribute movie. If we got all this done, we’d be back in time for April’s concert date. Jay said the Skynyrd concert contract had been signed, so we better get back on time. I heard Mike Sr. yelling at him. Then he came back to say Guido’s dumb brother Tony would drive and roadie for us; when we got arrested, he’d be the responsible adult. I told him the road trip was our reward for working hard so far this year. He laughed and said not to wish for what we wanted because we might get it. He was cool.
Jack came back and said Father Frank was on board. He was asking if we’d come to their youth group, promising no tongues or snakes. We would have to “encourage the holy rolling ourselves,” Jack said with a gleam in his eye. After school, we all got together at Michael’s to discuss all these plans. Grant had shown up with his gangsta crew and wanted to show us their Doo Wop act. They were great and we asked them to play with us at the rich kids church that Wednesday night. They had hoped to be in Grant’s play, but it was too late to change things. A Doo Wop chorus would have been great but I would be out of a job again.
After practice, we went to Out & Proud. Felix was proud to show us that he had turned the storefront next door into a drop-in youth center. Space was set aside for when we wanted to perform. He had used the walls to display underwear and other accessories for sale. Phillip was back, having been thrown over by the sugar daddy. He would man the cash register and, at 19, be an adult figure for the kids.
“Hi, Phillip, you’re back?”
“I’m just a sugar daddy reject.”
“I’m sorry. How’s your friend from the show last fall.”
“Apparently he was jealous that I went with someone and hasn’t forgiven me. Are you still available?” he looked hopeful.
Jack, sizing him up quickly, ran over.
“This is Phillip, Jack,” I introduced him. “Jack’s my new boyfriend,” I explained.
“Oh, I missed my chance,” he lamented.
“You’re in college,” I tried to assuage him.
“Not anymore. Now I’m a full-time babysitter.”
“Sorry. You should go back,” and I gave him a peck on the lips.
Jack gave me a quick, faux slap to my cheek. All the girls there were twittering at our gay antics. We took a tour of the set-up and the girls lost their shyness. We sat and told them about the play and promoted the Out-Crowd, promising to bring Stu and Mike Jr. to the store.
“Are they gay?” a girl asked.
“Stu’s 12, he just acts gay. Maybe he’s too young for you.
“Twelve is good, as long as he does what we tell him to do.”
Ah, middle school, as I flashed back to my ‘date’ with ‘Julie, Julie, Julie.’
“Anybody here named Julie?” I asked. A shy girl stuck up her hand. I took her to where the equipment was and we played the Bobby Sherman ‘Julie’ song for her.
Then I told her about my trying to date Julie in 8th grade.
“Didn’t you know you were gay then?”
“I never even thought about it. I just wanted Julie to like me.”
“Did she break your heart?”
“No, but she walked out on me on our first date because the movie had swear words.”
“I didn’t think about being gay until I realized I was very attracted to Stu’s older brother, between 9th and 10th grade. The hormones had kicked in.”
“Stu has an older brother. Was he your boyfriend?”
“Until he decided he liked a girl more than he liked me.”
“Being in love and having your heart-broken is normal in high school. I also fell in love with Jace when Scott and I were breaking up. He really loved me back.”
“But he died.”
“See all you have to look forward to?”
Jack jumped in for the first time, “Now he has me and we’ll never be apart.”
The girls clapped, and Jack kissed me for an extended time.
They all squealed. Phillip came over and pulled up our shirts to reveal the briefs we had on that day. The girls with credit cards went dashing to purchase that style for their boyfriends, some of the boyfriends were dragged along, and once the purchase had been paid for, sent to the boy’s bathroom to change. When the boys didn’t return, Jack and I were sent in to rescue them from each other. There was a group of five of them posing for each other in the mirror.
“Better get out there before I tell your girlfriends you were making out.”
One boy ran out, forgetting his clothes. The girls all screamed, as he ran back into the boy’s. The other boys who were getting dressed decided they wanted the attention too and strutted out together, vogue-ing and air kissing each other. Thank god cellphone cameras hadn’t been invented. Someone had seen Jack snap my waistband, making me hard, and the rumor grew that it was a turn-on. The girls attacked the boys who promptly surrendered to be tested. The consensus was that only gay boys found it a turn-on, when one boy watching the action had an obvious stiffy. He was embarrassed until all the girls turned their attention to him. One of the boy’s friends stood up, “Hey, I got hard too,” but no one could tell if he was lying or not. We stopped the test when the boy stared to pull down his jeans. Otherwise, Out & Proud Youth Center was a success. The police came by and complimented Felix on solving his crowd control problem. It was the same officer from Friday. He told me the redneck had been released after a weekend in jail. Apparently he had been drinking before our encounter and was not sober. He now felt guilty. “Probably he was just embarrassed at being beaten up by a gay high schooler.”
The cop laughed, then asked about Teen Jesus.
“We went to youth group again and tried to explain that with Jesus in your heart you are more willing to let other people in as well. Since they normally get worked up, seeing a vision wasn’t irrational. I was not trying to encourage them.”
“Well,” the cop observed, “I’m more interested in whether Teen Jesus likes to fight.” He winked at me.
“Well, I believe Teen Jesus did get in a fight with one of our band members, but he lost that one.”
“How’d he handled that?”
“He turned the other cheek.”
The cop roared. It felt strange liking a policeman.
The next day we brought Stu and Mike Jr. with us to Out & Proud. Scott was driving them that day, and when the girls found out who he was, they flocked to him and wanted to know all about being my boyfriend. I thought Scott was going to blow up at me, but he seemed to like all the pre-teen attention. He must be getting desperate.
“Do you tell everyone now that I was your boyfriend,” he complained later.
“Yeah. I’m real proud of it.”
“You’re incorrigible,” he surprised me with a five syllable word.
Stu and Mike Jr. did a few Motown songs and all the kids had a sock hop. Felix reminded them that socks were for sale as well.
Stu got me aside and asked if Casper got his message.
“Yeah. You were great. He got back to our room quickly. Want to learn some signs, too?”
“So, Casper was staying with John?”
“Yeah, but John may not know. You have to keep Casper a secret.”
“But he’s my brother, too.”
“Just protect him, then. Believe me, people will not react well to a ghost in your house.”
I hit him softly.
I popped him upside his head.
“Good.” Tim, the abuser. “How’s John doing?”
“Fine, except his parents won’t pay my folks, saying they want him back. Is that why Casper’s there, to protect him?”
“We all have to do that. Casper just tries to make him feel loved,” I explained.
“John doesn’t like to be touched.”
“Well, that’s why Casper is the only one who can show him love. John just feels it in his heart, not on his body.”
“If I get down on the floor with John, will Casper know I’m there?”
“Good luck with that. If you really love Casper, you can feel him. Let him into your heart.”
“Like letting a vampire into your house?”
“You watch too much TV.”
“I never see my shows. You keep me too busy. We have band shows every weekend now.”
“You must be getting rich.”
“Guido only pays us $5 for each show. That’s slave wages.”
“Slaves don’t get paid. I’ll check into it. That sounds fishy.”
I asked Mike Sr. about the Out-Crowd pay. He got on the phone to the Lombardi’s. Guido was put on probation for stealing from the kids. Because he was family, there was nothing to do but collect back what he’d already taken. After an accounting, each member of the band were sent a check for $1000, made out to be held in trust by their parents.
Mike Sr. also called John’s parents, as John’s legal guardian, and threatened to sue them if they didn’t pay the support to the Watt’s, including back support. They sent a check as well. Mrs. Watt called to thank me for helping.
“It was all, Stu. He was worried about John.”
“My twelve year old is earning more money than we bring in.”
“Well, wait until he becomes a teenager. You may want to rent him out.”
“I was worried about John, as well. But he seems better the last few days.”
“Casper’s been with him. John doesn’t know it, so don’t tell anyone. Casper knows John is fearful of others getting too close, especially physically, so he sometimes holds him in his arms while they sleep.”
“That’s so sweet and scary. So there are four boys in the room now.”
“More like three plus one. We miss him, but we care about John, too.”
“Only when you care.”
“That’s your secret. I just realized. You make everyone care.”
I hadn’t thought about it that way. I thought it was from being horny and hot-blooded.
Wednesday night we went to our local Catholic Church. Rather than worry about Father Joseph recognizing me from the time I slid down the drain pipe, I got the kids laughing when I described those antics in more innocent terms. Instantly the kids asked why we were being foolish.
“’Cause we’re kids and sometimes we get carried away, just like everyone here,” looking warily at Father Joseph who was not amused. “Our drummer and I were the only ones who dared use the pipe. Father Joseph caught everyone else.”
They all giggled.
“He let everyone go with a warning, except Dave got a personal session, as he is a parish member.”
One of the boys remarked, “I know him. He’s a cut up.”
“Not with Father Joseph on his case.”
Everyone laughed, even Father Frank.
“Are you a Catholic?”
Both Jack and I said yes.
“But sometimes it’s hard to be a good Catholic. When we were wrong for sneaking in and fooling around on the roof, it was easy to admit it. Father Joseph let us off with a warning.”
“Did he make you say ‘Hail Marys.””
“Just Dave.” Everyone laughed.
“Other times it’s hard to believe we are wrong for what we do. Then the Church cannot forgive us, saying we’re living in a state of sin. Is that right, Father Joseph?”
I wanted to make sure he was drawn into our discussion.
“Yes, son. You must truly repent to be forgiven.”
“Jack and I were raised in the Church and believe we have Jesus in our hearts. But we are told that Jesus is ashamed of us for being sinners.”
“What did you do?”
“We love each other, as boyfriends.”
The kids were truly shocked. This was not what they expected to hear in Church. Many kids started to get angry. I sensed the hate in their hearts. Some of the girls had that dreamy look, similar to young girls at our shows who innately trust older boys who are gay.
“It is very hard to understand why loving someone as Jesus loves us makes you a sinner. I try to think what Jesus thinks as I have let another boy into my heart. Like our brains, our hearts tell us what is right and wrong. So I trust my heart when it tells me that it is right to love Jack.” He was just staring at me, in a state of wonder.
“Maybe you are selfish and just want to believe it?” one of the boys asked.
“I definitely am a doubting Thomas and over-think everything. But Jack just kept loving me, hoping I would love him back.”
“What did you decide?”
“I didn’t. I just loved him back and then knew how right it was. My heart wasn’t lying. There are people with evil in their hearts, but I knew I didn’t. I can sense the haters, people with hate in their hearts.”
I pointed to boys, one after another. “I feel your hate for what I am saying. If you let me in your heart, as you have let Jesus in, you will know there is no conflict. Just try, while I tell you what’s been happening with the Baptist kids we meet.”
The boys looked confused at my suggestion.
“Do you know how Baptists worship?
“Speaking in tongues.”
“Immune to rattler bites.”
“Does it sound like hokum?” I asked.
They all answered, “Yes.”
“We went there two weeks ago because our bass player belongs and his girlfriend wanted to pray for us, as sinners. We rolled around, got freaked out by the tongues, and then a girl said she saw Jesus, as a spirit standing beside us as we spoke with the youth leader. She said he looked like a teenager.”
“Teen Jesus,” someone said.
“That’s where the Teen Jesus rumor started. I believe she was seeing our guitarist who was killed and I hold as dear to me as I hold Jesus.”
“She saw a ghost?”
“No. She saw the love in my heart and it matched the love she had for Jesus and her dead mother.”
“Oh,” everyone said.
I turned to the first boy I had seen as a hater but didn’t have that same sense now. “Do you feel that the love we both have for Jesus is enough for you to love me, even though I am gay?”
It was too much for a kid. He sat down hard in his seat and tried to stop his eyes from tearing up. All the girls near him moved closer and soon he felt safer.
“Does it mean I’m gay?”
“Your heart is telling you that it’s okay to love everyone, boy or girl, old or young. You let go of the hate. Now the easy part is finding someone who also doesn’t hate.”
He looked at all the faces surrounding him and smiled.
I went through the same routine with the other two boys who had softened their hate. They both felt the relief of banishing their hate. Two more boys were still broadcasting hate toward Jack and me.
“You two are not convinced. I’ll ask you to honestly question the love you feel for Jesus and try to believe he does not hate anyone, sinner or not. Try not to let that hate cause you to hate the people who love you, boy or girl.”
I looked at both Father Joseph and Father Frank and felt their warmth toward me. I don’t think they fully accepted my convoluted love theory, but maybe they hoped it may work for these kids.
“So, just one question, then I’ll tell you what we’re trying to do with youth groups. Who is Teen Jesus.”
“You are,” someone yelled.
“I call myself Plastic Jesus, when someone tells me that.”
They all laughed.
“Your dead guitarist.”
“No, I hold him in my heart, right with Jesus, but he’s still the same boy I knew when we were boyfriends.”
“You have two boyfriends?”
“Jack’s my boyfriend. Jace is the love in my heart. Jack and I share that. We call Jace Casper now.”
“The Friendly Ghost.” And they all laughed.
“So who’s Teen Jesus?” I asked again.
Jack jumped up. “We all are. He has given us his love to grow up on. Lose the hate and don’t let the haters in.”
Everybody jumped up and cheered, even the doubtful haters. Jack and I started ‘Amazing Grace,’
and everyone joined in.
Nice kids are so easy to lead astray. I hoped I really hadn’t.
The meeting broke up, but we were surrounded by kids who wanted us to bless them, like we had the three boys.
“You don’t have to be in Church to offer each other a sign of peace, like after mass.”
Everyone was hugging. The three boys had the most girls hugging them and looked totally satisfied with their spiritual conversion. Two boys kept hugging each other until someone told them to get a room.
“Try the confessional,” I shouted.
Looking for Father Frank, we heard him arguing with Father Joseph outside.
“True to your Franciscan vows, you sew doubt about our catechism in my youth group,” Father Joseph was upset. “Those boys turned it into a Baptist revival tent meeting.”
“You must let your heart answer the questions they asked.”
“Am I to dismiss the acts these children bring to confession as no longer a sin.”
“Do not judge an innocent heart.”
“Those two boys are not innocent children. I heard they also worship the occult.”
I walked up to them, “Invite us into your residence and we can continue your argument. We did not intend to disrupt your youth group. Can I ask if you felt their love there? I don’t feel you have a hateful heart, but it is hardened.”
He glared at me for being impertinent and interrupting his argument with Father Frank, who took me by the elbow, “Best to depart. Maybe Father Joseph will invite you back next week.”
That seemed doubtful.
As we walked to his car, Father Frank gave me a frank opinion of our performance.
“It was quite like a revival you ran. Even laying on of hands to throw out the devil.”
“I don’t suppose you want to hear about my conversation with the devil?”
Even Jack looked shocked.
“Only if you need confession.”
“I denied him. Do I need to confess that he appeared to me.”
“If that is an honest question, then no. But if you are baiting me, then maybe yes.”
I looked at him and gave the old bird a hug. “Now can we play at St Patrick’s in New York.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Maybe you should explain why you call yourselves ‘False Gods.’”
‘We are challenging all those who set themselves up as petty idols. They are the false gods.”
“Well, that’s a relief.”
“We’re low level Rock gods.”
“Oh, dear.” He hugged both Jack and me.
We walked back to our room. Jack who had been quiet all night was suddenly full of questions. Mainly he couldn’t believe I was so enthralled with Jesus.
“I can’t explain why I feel so strongly that He is in my heart,” I answered.
“For those kids, all they want is to go back to the day of their First Communion, when they felt blessed with Jesus’ love.”
“You know I don’t try to freeze the moments when my life is peaking. It’s what’s next that intrigues me.”
“What is next for us.”
“You will be my Queen Titania for three nights.”
He made me and Casper worship her before we had sex each night.
We had been rehearsing the play all week in the school auditorium. The seating allowed little room for the kids to stand down front. If we put the kids on stage, people in their seats would be blocked from seeing the players. Finally we compromised with a split pit on both sides of the stage, which was quite wide. The kids were already divided into sibling factions – crew and players. Grant and Robby discussed how they would incite the different camps into flinging the white balls at each other as well as at the players. One of the girls on the crew suggested that the crew members should be attacked as well as the players. We wanted chaos but now were trying to control it. Good luck.
At school on Friday, I found Grant and we discussed his Doo Wop act. I didn’t care they failed to show for church group.
“Y’all still wanna be part of the show?” I asked.
His eye lit up, “You kidding? For those guys, it’ll be the chance of a lifetime.”
“Here’s what I’m thinking,” and we hatched our plan.
“Make sure your boys really dress up and sit down front.”
“Oh, they have that covered. They plan to make the most of embarrassing me for being in a faggot play.”
“Does it really bother you?”
“Nope. They been tryin’ to dis me all my life. I don’t care.”
It was finally Friday night. I set myself up in front of the stage with my mandolin and small amp as everyone filed in. It felt like a normal school assembly, except for all the parents there and the absence of the stoner kids, who were oblivious to us making an effort. As I played an extended version of the overture, I thought how different we’d become since returning to classes. Then I saw Grant’s crew come down the aisle. Everyone was murmuring about how nice looking they were in matching dark suits, white shirts and bow ties. Before sitting down, they turned and bowed to the crowd. I saw the surprise on AP Spencer’s face while he watched their entrance. I hoped he wouldn’t stop the show if the mayhem got out of control. The power of the petty bureaucrat. Mr. Clark came out in front of the curtain and welcomed everyone with his Prologue. I finished my overture and started the march of the wooden soldiers
and the curtain was drawn back. The two pits erupted with fake snow balls going back and forth. When Puck appeared and started his dialogue, both pits directed their attacks on him. Grant appeared and handed him two water balloons. Puck chased his main tormentors before landing square shots on one from each side. Puck restarted his entrance speech but the poor fairy had completely forgotten her lines, resulting in an avalanche of snow balls descending on him. While the Queen and King marched in, a slew of kids ran down the audience aisles. Puck started tossing them snowballs. Grant jumped down and had his crew direct the kids in front to attack Puck. The play pretty much went on without anyone watching it. When Thisby appeared, all the kids started mocking him. The Hispanic kids yelling pendejo at him. As soon as he turned into a jackass, all the kids, even the ones who had just jumped in, sat down and Puck and Grant sat with them. When Puck started flirting and harassing King Theseus, the black kids started yelling faggot at him, so Grant stood in front of him to block the attack. At the end Grant and Puck walked off together, hand in hand. After a second’s silence all the kids burst into cheers and clapping. The adults barely moved, totally confused about a different kind of Shakespeare.
Mr. Clark came out and announced that the play was over and thanked everyone. I jumped on stage and grabbed the mic.
“Wait. We have a surprise performance. Our play is of course a shortened version of the late, great Shakespeare’s original, so we don’t want you leaving wanting more.”
Grant, still in costume, and the four other Doo Wop crew came out and started warming up their signature sound. They started with ‘Shu-Boom She-Boom,’
“Heart and Soul.
I led Jack out, still in full makeup, and sang Dion’s “Why Must I be a Teenager in Love.”
I took the mic and announced, ‘This is for my girlfriend, Tina,” and we sang ‘Up on the Roof’ to Jack.
AP Spencer had had enough and marched down to shut us off. I sang ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ to him and everyone was laughing and pointed at him.
Jack and I joined the crew and we all sang ‘In the Still of the Night.’
We bowed to great applause and exited stage left. I went to retrieve my mandolin and amp. When I got back, A P Spencer was reading the riot act to poor Mr. Clark.
“In all my years I have never seen a worse performance on this stage. I am cancelling tomorrow’s and Sunday’s shows. We have standards here.”
To my surprise, it was Jack who defended us, after A P Spencer had refuted Robby and me, his nemeses.
“You are a little man with no cultural taste. Do you think Shakespeare put on plays with wooden players speaking barely memorized wooden lines? You don’t even comprehend that you were a main player tonight, with your boorish behavior, nasty remarks about ‘those blackies’ from Hialeah, and clownish attempts to exert control. If anyone should be shutdown, it is you. My father is on the school board. I know your contract comes up next year. If you stop our play, you will find yourself at a much different school. I hope it is Hialeah.”
Queen Titania proclaimed him irrelevant. Just in time Mr. and Mrs. Stone came back stage with flowers for the Queen.
“Congratulations, Principal Spencer. The play came alive again. I loved the part when you threatened to shut them down and the kids bombarded you with snowballs. Imagine, snowballs in Miami.”
A P Spencer was suddenly thrust into his obsequious role in front of the school board. He bowed and kowtowed, then curtsied and left.
“My boy, the Queen,” Mummy presented Jack with the flowers.
Jack beamed, “Oh, pansies, my favorite.”
The whole cast burst into applause, picking Jack up and carrying him through the curtain on stage. All the audience, still there, burst into applause. We had forgotten to have curtain calls, so everyone rushed out to more applause.
The next two nights went well. The kids on stage learned to stay on their sides and not block the players from acting. The word was out that it was meant for kids and by Sunday it resembled a ‘Rocky Horror’ audience participation event. A P Spencer never returned.
My parents attended Saturday night, saying they wanted to wait until we were over opening night jitters. I seated them with the Stones who explained all the nuances of the play’s chaos. My parents listened politely, but I knew they were in the AP Spencer camp about well-organized performances. They seemed to get along but obviously came from different worlds. They remained in the auditorium after we finished, and when Jack and I came up to be with them, I could tell they were on a first name basis at least. All those years of Emily Post had the Stones comfortable with my parents’ rough and ready military manners. I caught Mr. Stone speaking about me to my dad.
“You know, Burt, I must speak to you about Tim. My Jack is something of a hot-house flower with little preparation for many of the realities of life. He really isn’t prepared to protect himself from the slings and arrows of the street. Tim has become something of a hero to him, and it has made a world of difference in his attitude. He seems ready to conquer the world, much as Octavius did after Caesar’s assassination.”
“I was telling Susan how much better Tim’s attitude has been also. Jack seems good for him, as well.”
“Excellent. Perchance, they are made for each other. I must personally thank you for the many times Tim has stood up for Jack. It means the world to us.”
“Tim never has a problem standing up for his friends and what he believes in.”
“Please accept our invitation to come to Sunday dinner tomorrow, at one-ish, as long as the good priest finishes his homily promptly. I believe the boys shook up his youth group this week.”
“I have been surprised in Tim’s renewed interest in church, but last I heard he was attending a Baptist one.”
“Well, I hope I’m not spoiling a surprise, but I understand the boys all will be performing at St Patrick ‘s Cathedral on Park Avenue on Easter Sunday. They’ve promised me that the warlock drummer is under control now.”
“Too fascinated with the occult, I believe.”
“We certainly appreciate the invitation. Maybe the boys will let Susan and me know more of these plans.”
“Sorry to jump the gun about New York. It seems Miami may be too small a stage for our boys.”
“Or perhaps, they’ve gotten too big for their britches.”
They turned around to catch us standing there with huge grins on our faces. Jack ran into his father’s arms, while my dad put me in an unyielding arm lock and told me we’d speak later. Barely escaping, we air kissed our moms and ran back stage in time for Ganja with the home boys. Robby was peeved that his pot competitors were moving in on his territory, but one hit and he was in serious negotiations to become the local distributor. Mary was sitting with Flo and Edi, who welcomed us.
“Do I need to bleach my hair to compete with this hussy?” Flo quipped.
“Oh, that was Queen Titania. She’s a frigid bitch. You have no competition.”
They sized each other and burst out laughing.
Looking at Edi, I announced, “We have a special occasion coming up in honor of Jace.”
“My poor, baby,” Edi moaned referring to Jace, not me. “Is it his birthday.
“Yes, his 16th. You know what that means?”
“He’ll be driving around in the Ghost Busters ambulance.”
Mary had been clued in. “Robby says Tim promised Jace an orgy for his birthday.”
“How can it be an orgy if just one person’s there,” then looking at Jack, “well, maybe two.”
“I told Jace that every boy gets an orgy when he turns 16, as a joke, and he believed me.”
“Well, that boy won’t be turning 16 unless its turning over in his grave.”
We all burst out laughing, but Casper who had been listening attentively, put on a sad look, then twirled around on the stage.
“Well, we can get together and celebrate his birthday anyway.”
“That boy talk for having an orgy?”
“Well, there may be someone who might want to get over being a virgin.”
“I told you Edi and I are planning on virginal weddings.”
“Good luck with that,” Mary observed.
“I’m not talking about girls’ virginity.”
“Oh…” and everyone stared at Jack, who turned bright red.
“I’m gay,” he proclaimed, “With no plans to change that.”
I could see the wheels turning in Forward Flo’s head, so we had set the idea in motion.
“When’s his birthday?” Mary asked.
“Well, you boys will be in church,” Flo kidded us.
“Probably not, when we told all the kids we were gay, the priest almost had a stroke.”
“Called to Jesus,” Edi quipped.
“What did the kids say?”
“The girls were fine about it but a lot of the boys got angry,” Jack explained. “Then Tim used his Teen Jesus talk to turn them away from hate.”
“I suppose you walked on water.”
“Tim’s the water boy,” Jack snapped back.
“So who’s Teen Jesus? I heard about it at church,” Edi asked.
“Long story, but it takes the hate out of the haters if they have Jesus in their hearts.”
“I always thought Jesus was gay. What thirty year old man runs around turning water into wine for his twelve man posse?”
“Come to the youth center at Out & Proud and check out our 12-year-old girl posse.”
“I want some of that gay underwear for myself,” Flo snapped my waistband. I started getting hard. She looked at it and pushed Jack and me toward the boy’s room. “Go scandalize the school facilities for once.”
We didn’t hesitate.