After Mom Watts’ pancake breakfast, the whole group goes on a long bike ride, to work off all the calories and bulging stomachs. Of course, we end at Coach Earl’s who has cold sodas ready.
“You’re my bad penny,” he tells me.
“You keep turning up.”
“I know you’re glad to see me,” I argue.
“You gonna introduce me to your new boyfriend? He looks like he’s ready to burst, if you don’t.”
Jack comes 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 strokes me.
Everyone laughs at me. Coach just shakes his head. I take 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 gives me a quick hug. We ride off.
Jack and I ride with Scott, while the younger kids are all over the place.
Jack wants 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 say.
“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 notes, “we’ve been together less than a month. 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 drops.
I look at Scott, who confesses. “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 looks 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’m attracted to girls my age. Scott and I were double-teaming two sisters in North Carolina last summer on vacation.”
Jack starts to cry. We stop and sit on the grass. He falls into my arms.
“I crushed on you all this year in English,” he sniffles. “Finally I couldn’t stop from coming on to you. Then you protected me. 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 kiss him.
The homeowner comes out and yells at us, saying we can’t do that in his yard. We take off, with Jack riding with me while Scott pulls wheelies. Jack curls up and continues to sniffle. Too many revelations. It seems odd to have a sexual history at my age.
When we get back to the Watt’s, Stu yells at Scott for trying to break up Jack and me.
“You are so mean. You can’t stop making people unhappy.”
He runs into the house, with Mike Jr. and John following him. Casper has been riding on John’s handle bars, but he comes over to see what the trouble is for our little family three-way.
“Jeez, Jack, I thought you knew all about Tim,” Scott notes. “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 look at Scott. He shrugs at his confession. I’m worried he’ll tell Jack about Floyd raping me. Scott realizes he is out of his depth. He hugs both of us and goes inside. Casper does his best to cheer up Jack. I go 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 know.”
“How’s jumping my bones working out for you?”
“I don’t know what you’re feeling when I’m feeling totally in love and totally turned on by you.”
I just want to kiss him and make it better. That approach will end up getting us arrested on the Watt’s front lawn.
Mrs. Watt marches 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 laugh. “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 mumbles, “Yeah.”
She puts him in a bear hug, he sobs once, swallows, and feels better.
“But what if he leaves me?”
“Don’t doubt him. It hasn’t been that long.”
“Two weeks,” he whispers. “Two weeks, one day and thirteen hours.”
My heart is breaking, but I just let the tears come without sobbing. He grabs me, Mrs. Watt hugs us both and Casper wraps his arms around all three of us.
Mrs. Watt looks up and all around.
“That’s Casper,” Jack innocently explains.
“The Friendly Ghost?” she laughs.
“Yeah, it’s Jace. Whenever anyone still loves him, they can feel his presence.”
Now she’s crying. “Jace, oh Jace..”
Casper’s wispy tears start floating around us, flowing down his cheeks onto the top of her hair before disappearing. The crying jag lasts a few minutes.
Finally Mom Watt takes both our hands, placing them together. “Tim, Casper and Jack, never the three shall part.”
Jack looks at me and says, “Now we have our Pledge, like Hippie.”
“What does Hippie have to do with all this?” Mom asks.
“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 jump up and ran into the house before she gets arrested on her own front lawn. We all chase 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 defends himself.
“That’s just you. Tim’s got boyfriends and girlfriends everywhere.”
“Think about it,” Scott tells Stu, “how does he handle all that?”
“Very well,” said Jack.
Jack says we have to leave soon, as his parents always have Sunday dinner after Church. I guess I’m invited. All the Watts and various boarders hug both of us, even Scott does. I think about calling him later, but that urge is self-destructive. I already have a nervous boyfriend to retain.
Taking a quick shower and changing, we come down to the sitting room just as the Stones arrive from church. With them is a priest plus an obviously gay, middle-aged couple. Someone has 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 claps me on the shoulder.
“Yes,” Father Frank joined in, “You’ve caused quite a stir in the Church’s old 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,” pronounces 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 run upstairs.
“Mummy? She’s not that old and certainly not Egyptian.”
“Oh, did I slip? I’m trying to be more mature.” He looks crestfallen.
“Oh, honey, you’re perfect the way you look tonight.”
We straighten each other’s ties and set up the phonograph with the show recording. It’s scratchy but feels like we are transported to that other era. Even Casper has put on a coat and tie. He does all the stage managing, with doors and lights, as we dance and sing through the whole song.
They insist on an encore. We do two. Our voices blend perfectly with the record so the guests only hear us, with the real stars echoing from the other room, where the phonograph is. We bow. Jack insists we have an aperitif to calm down.
Father Frank and the Uncles look ready to verbally spar. I feel we at least have the advantage, 4 gays, the Dowager and the Prince against an old priest. But I’m on my guard.
“Are you a Jesuit, Father? I ask.
“No, a Franciscan.
“I hope you didn’t have take a vow of poverty.”
“That’s why I appreciate these generous friends.”
I start enjoying the repartee.
“I feel we should hear from our hosts about their evening at the Antonio’s and Johnny’s performance,” I suggest.
“Everyone at Church was congratulating them on the excellent review your interpretation of Shakespeare received from the Herald. Another photo of Johnny is on the front page of the Arts,” Uncle Steve practically shouts..
“He is a stunning beauty,” I brag. “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’s like the Medici’s in Medieval Florence,” Jack adds.
Now I’m dying to read the review. Can I call for Isabelle to fetch the paper? Then I get a brain fart, realizing how silly I acting, laughing at my own better self with the adults.
“They say you were the director, Tim.”
“Oh, no, only when Robby was sick and missing. In fact, it’s genius because I was to play Queen Titania, and Johnny was my understudy. All the good things happened once 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 reminds me of 1930’s cabaret theater, so amusing and fast paced.” Mr. Stone speaks for the first time. “The children misbehaving in the orchestra pit was disturbing at first, but quickly they were just part of the play. I believe that’s authentic to Shakespeare’s time, as well as my youngest son cavorting in a dress. A shock that turns to brilliance.”
“I felt I have found the daughter I never had. And now with Tim here, I have two,” Mrs.Stone labels me.
“Better be careful, Mummy. He can get very rough when he’s 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 is obviously deranged.”
“You are playing hymns on the street?” Father Frank asks.
“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 confirms.
“How did this man come to attack you?”
“We’ were playing for about fifty 10-14 year old kids. A girl has lost her mother when she was four. Tim asks her if she has Jesus in her heart. She says she does. He asks if her mother is in her heart too. He says that’s a safe place, and she should allow good people in, as well. There’s a small group of adults; they start yelling ‘heresy and abomination’ at us. We ask them to come up and talk about Jesus. They push to the front, call us names and threaten to kill us. When the one man tries to punch me, I hide behind Tim who knocks him down with his guitar. We call the police while Tim keeps him down, so he can’t attack again. We talk with the police and they arrest him. We say to let him out the next day and don’t file charges.”
Everyone is 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 asks.
“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’s wrong to isolate them from the regular kids. They want to come to our school and are riding buses across the City to be with us, but we never see them. They even put them in special classes because they aren’t as smart as us. We changed that.”
Isabelle announces that dinner is served.
“I think that any debate about whether gay boys can be saved by Jesus has been answered,” Uncle Tam announces.
“Thank goodness, that’s resolved,” concludes Mrs. Stone
“Praise the Lord,” Jack quips and everyone laughs.
Dinner is excellent. We don’t have to explain what we do in bed. Perhaps that approach can serve the Church better than current strictures and snooping.
We excuse ourselves after desert. In his room, while changing, I see Jack in the mirror ogling me in just my briefs.
“Feeling sexy?” I ask, turning to give him a better view.
“Strangely, no.” he surprises me, but I’m not disappointed. Casper goes up to him and grabs his package and gives it a twist. “I’m spending the night with John,” he signs and leaves.
“That feels weird,” I remark. I can no longer see him, for the first time since he died
“Are we getting old?” I suggest.
“It’s this house. Let’s go to yours.”
That makes my dick thump and heart skip a beat. We make it just in time to walk Max. Dad has it on a schedule taped to the refrigerator.
“This feels much more exciting,” as Jack rubs my ass with his thumb. I look for Casper, forgetting he’s at the Watt’s.
“What about the sex pact?” I ask 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 suggests, winking at me.
I show Jack the route to Robby’s through the trees. That gets him excited enough to take the edge off his horniness. We pop in Robby’s window to the surprise of the usual suspects getting high in his bedroom.
Robby looks 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 tackle him, but we pull all our punches. The others scatter to the corners and cheer us on. Soon Robby lords over us as we lay subdued on his floor.
“Close your eyes,” he orders and gives us both shotgun hits. Jack is erect from the play fighting. Once he gets high he attacks me. Totally aroused, I throw him out the window, put him over my shoulder and march him to my bedroom. We pull off each other’s clothes. He pushed me onto the bad and sits on my dick as I watch him. Pumping him and jerking his dick, I soon had him spurting jism all over me. We hear gasps and looked to see the entire crew watching our sex act from the window. As soon as Jack stops spasming and ejaculating, I pull out and menacingly charge the window, jacking myself until I’m spraying in their direction. All but Dave scream and run away. He’s frozen, until Jazz grabs him and pulls him away. They’re in my backyard checking themselves for possible cum spots.
“Get out of here. There’s more from where that came from.”
They squeal and run back to Robby’s. Max is barking at them as they run off, setting off all the other neighborhood dogs. We howl at them as we shout, “We are the Wolfmen.”
“Let’s beat Robby up every night,” Jack murmurs, laying in my arms on the window sill. I lean over backwards. We roll off the roof, falling ten feet to the ground. I hold him so I cushion his fall.
“Euff,” I grunt and pretend to be knocked out.
Jack panics, shaking me, yelling and crying for me to wake up.
I may have waited a bit too long. When I open my eyes and said, “Gotcha,” he gets really mad and starts beating me on the chest.
“Better than sex for an audience?” I ask 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. 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 lock the window as 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’m 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 on 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 gets 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 loves 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 falls off my dick before cumming. He runs and calls Stu, who needs signing lessons to get the message right. Later, he says he didn’t see Casper, yet doesn’t want to admit it. It must have worked because Casper floats in the locked window shortly thereafter.
“”Sup, home boys?” he observes me still tied down to the bed, “A little S & M? Were you bored and missing me?”
Floating naked above me, he drops his ass directly on my hard dick and gets Jack back into position bending over while fucking my mouth. Casper is fully aroused, our own special Puck. Jack wiggles his ass toward the swinging dick, as Casper bobbed up and down on my cock. Tight Pussy Boy 3-Way, except the bottom (Casper) is driving the top (me), with Jack getting off too quickly. I stick my middle finger in his mouth, catching all the spit there and smearing it into Casper’s ass. Casper explodes as I press in, causing me to leave love bites on Jack’s dick. It jerks, then starts spurting like a fountain down my throat. I arch as far as the ropes would let me and feel the bed rotate 90 degrees upwards from the floorboard. I’m floating in the crucifixion pose. I even cross my legs like Saint Sebastian. I hold that arch so long and so rigid, that when I do cum, the bed shakes and shakes until it finally collapses like our stage trick at the end of the play. Stuck in the ropes and the bedding, we all struggle pitifully, finally giving up and falling asleep.
Hours later I wake up, stuck again to Jack and all the bed linen. All the bed posts are broken. I’ll have to ask Susan to buy a new bed. I know she’ll step up to queen size. Jack and I hug, sad that we’ll never sleep in this bed of lust again. Casper and I commiserated that a piece of our past is disappearing. He signs, “We’re going on a road trip.”
I’m trying to write a memo to Mike Sr. detailing our plans for Easter Spring break. Jack reads 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 leave a message for Mike Sr.’s assistant, Jay, to set up a van for us as we need to be on the road during Spring Break. I ask him to find a crash driver’s ed. class so we all can get legit IDs. I ask him to book two nights at the Chelsea while we were in NYC. We need 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 get all this done, we’ll be back in time for April’s concert date. Jay says the Skynyrd concert contract has been signed, so we better get back on time. I hear Mike Sr. yelling at him. Then he comes back to say Guido’s dumb brother Tony will drive and roadie for us; when we get arrested, he’ll be the responsible adult. I tell him the road trip is our reward for working hard so far this year. He laughs and says not to wish for what we want because we might get it. He’s cool.
Jack comes back and says Father Frank is on board and wants us to come to their youth group, if we promise no tongues or snakes. “We’ll have to encourage the holy rolling ourselves,” Jack said with a gleam in his eye.
After school, we all get together at Michael’s to discuss these plans. Grant shows up with his gangsta crew and wants to show us their Doo Wop act. They’re great. We ask them to play with us at the rich kids’ church that Wednesday night. They want to be in Grant’s play, but it’s 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 go to Out & Proud. Felix is proud to show us that he turned the storefront next door into a drop-in youth center. Space is set aside for when we want to perform. He uses the walls to display underwear and other accessories for sale. Phillip is back, having been thrown over by the sugar daddy. He mans 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 looks hopeful.
Jack, sizing him up, quickly runs over.
“This is Phillip, Jack,” I introduce him. “Jack’s my new boyfriend,” I explain.
“Oh, I missed my chance,” he laments.
“You’re in college,” I try to discourage him.
“Not anymore. Now I’m a full-time babysitter.”
“Sorry. You should go back,” and I give him a peck on the lips.
Jack’s hand gives me a quick, faux slap to my cheek. All the girls are twittering at our gay antics. We take a tour of the set-up. The girls lose their shyness. We sit and tell them about the play and promote the Out-Crowd, promising to bring Stu and Mike Jr. to the store.
“Are they gay?” a girl asks.
“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 flash back to my ‘date’ with ‘Julie, Julie, Julie.’
“Anybody here named Julie?” I ask. A shy girl sticks up her hand. I take her to where the equipment is and we play the Bobby Sherman ‘Julie’ song for her.
Then I tell her about my trying to date another 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 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 jumps in for the first time, “Now he has me. We’ll never be apart.”
The girls clap. Jack kisses me for an extended time.
They all squeal. Phillip comes over and pulls up our shirts to reveal the briefs we had on that day. The girls with credit cards go dashing to purchase that style for their boyfriends, some of the boyfriends are dragged along and sent to the boy’s bathroom to change, once the briefs are paid for. When the boys don’t return, Jack and I are sent in to rescue them from each other. There’s a group of five of them posing for each other in the mirror.
“Better get out there before I tell your girlfriends you’re making out.”
One boy runs out, forgetting his clothes. The girls all scream, and he runs back into the boy’s. The other boys, who aren’t yet dressed, decide they want the attention too and strut out together, vogue-ing and air kissing each other. Thank god cellphone cameras haven’t been invented. Someone has seen Jack snap my waistband, making me hard. The rumor grows that it is a turn-on. The girls attack the boys who promptly surrender to be tested. The consensus is that only gay boys find it a turn-on, when one boy watching the action has an obvious stiffy. He is embarrassed until all the girls turn their attention on him. One of the boy’s friends stands up, “Hey, I got hard too,” but no one can tell if he’s lying or not. We stop the test when the boy starts to pull down his jeans. Otherwise, Out & Proud Youth Center is a success. The police come by and compliment Felix on solving his crowd control problem. It’s the same officer from Friday. He tells me the redneck got released after a weekend in jail. Apparently he’d been drinking before our encounter and was not sober. He now feels guilty.
“Probably he’s just embarrassed after being beaten up by a gay high schooler.”
The cop laughs, then asks 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’m not trying to encourage them.”
“Well,” the cop observes, “I’m more interested in whether Teen Jesus likes to fight.” He winks 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 roars. It’s strange liking a policeman.
The next day we bring Stu and Mike Jr. with us to Out & Proud. Scott is driving them that day. When the girls find out who he was, they flock to him and want to know all about being my boyfriend. I fear Scott’s going to blow up at me, but he seems to like all the pre-teen attention. He must be getting desperate.
“Do you tell everyone now that I was your boyfriend,” he complains later.
“Yeah. I’m real proud of it.”
“You’re incorrigible,” he surprises me with a five syllable word.
Stu and Mike Jr. lead a Motown sock hop. Felix reminds them that socks are for sale as well.
Stu gets me aside and asks if Casper got his message.
“Yeah. You were great. He got back to our room quickly. Want to learn some signs, too?”
“So, Casper is 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 pop 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 explain.
“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 ask Mike Sr. about the Out-Crowd pay. He gets on the phone to the Lombardi’s. Guido is put on probation for stealing from the kids. Because he’s family, there was nothing to do but pay back what he took. After an accounting, every member of the band gets a check for $1000, made out to be held in trust by their parents.
Mike Sr. also calls John’s parents, as John’s legal guardian. He threatens to sue them if they don’t pay support to the Watt’s, including back support. They send a check as well. Mrs. Watt calls to thank me for helping.
“It’s all, Stu. He’s 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 worry 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 so scary. Now there are four boys in the room?”
“More like three with an occasional guest. We miss him, but we care about John, too.”
“Only when you care.”
“That’s your secret. I just realized it. You make everyone care.”
I hadn’t thought about it that way. I think it’s from being horny and hot-blooded.
Wednesday night we go to our local Catholic Church. Rather than worrying about Father Joseph recognizing me from the time I slid down the drain pipe, I get the kids laughing when I describe those antics in more innocent terms. Instantly the kids ask why we were being foolish.
“’Cause we’re kids. Sometimes we get carried away, just like everyone here,” looking warily at Father Joseph who is not amused. “Our drummer and I were the only ones who dared use the pipe. Father Joseph caught everyone else.”
They all giggle.
“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 laughs, even Father Frank.
“Are you a Catholic?”
Both Jack and I say yes.
“But sometimes it’s hard to be a good Catholic. When we’re wrong for sneaking in and fooling around on the roof, it’s easy to admit it. Father Joseph let us off with a warning.”
“Did he make you say ‘Hail Marys.””
“Just Dave.” Everyone laughs.
“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 want to make sure he’s 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 are totally shocked. This is not what they expect to hear in Church. Many kids start to get angry. I sense the hate in their hearts. Some of the girls have that dreamy look, similar to young girls at our shows who innately trust older boys who are gay.
“It’s hard to understand why loving someone as Jesus loves us makes you a sinner. I try to think what Jesus thinks as I 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’s just staring at me, in a state of wonder.
“Maybe you are selfish and just want to believe it?” one of the boys asks.
“I definitely am a doubting Thomas and over-think everything. But Jack just keeps loving me, hoping I’ll love him back.”
“What did you decide?”
“I didn’t decide. I just loved him back. Then I knew how right it is. My heart isn’t lying. There are people with evil in their hearts, but I know I don’t. I can sense the haters, people with hate in their hearts.”
I point 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 look confused at my suggestion.
“Do you know how Baptists worship?
“Speaking in tongues.”
“Immune to rattler bites.”
“Does it sound like hokum?” I ask.
They all answer, “Yes.”
“Well, we went there two weeks ago because our bass player belongs and his girlfriend wanted to pray for us, as sinners. We rolled around and got freaked out by the tongues. Then a girl said she saw Jesus, as a spirit standing beside us as we spoke with the youth leader. She said he looks like a teenager.”
“Teen Jesus,” someone says.
“That’s where the Teen Jesus rumor started. I believe she was seeing our guitarist who was killed. I hold him as dear to me as I hold Jesus.”
“She saw a ghost?”
“No. She saw the love in my heart. It matched the love she had for Jesus and her dead mother.”
“Oh,” everyone says.
I turn to the first boy I had seen as a hater but don’t sense that 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’s too much for a kid. He sits down hard in his seat and tries to stop his eyes from tearing up. All the girls near him move closer and soon he feels 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 looks at all the faces surrounding him and smiles.
I go through the same routine with the other two boys who have softened their hate. They both feel the relief of banishing their hate. Two more boys are still feeling hate toward Jack and me.
“You two are not convinced. I ask you to honestly question the love you feel for Jesus. Try to believe he does not hate anyone, sinner or not. Try not to let the hate cause you to hate the people who love you, boy or girl.”
I look at both Father Joseph and Father Frank and feel their warmth toward me. I don’t think they fully accept my convoluted love theory, but maybe they hope it works 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 yells.
“I call myself Plastic Jesus, when someone tells me that.”
They all laugh.
“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 laugh.
“So who’s Teen Jesus?” I ask again.
Jack jumps 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 jumps up and cheers, even the doubting haters. Jack and I start ‘Amazing Grace,’
and everyone joins in.
Nice kids are so easy to lead astray. I hope I really hadn’t.
The meeting breaks up. We’re surrounded by kids who want 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 is hugging. The three boys have the most girls hugging them and look totally satisfied with their spiritual conversion. Two boys keep hugging each other until someone tells them to get a room.
“Try the confessional,” I shout.
Looking for Father Frank, we hear him arguing with Father Joseph outside.
“True to your Franciscan vows, you sew doubt about our catechism in my youth group,” Father Joseph is upset. “Those boys turned it into a Baptist revival tent meeting.”
“You must let your heart answer the questions they ask.”
“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 hear they also worship the occult.”
I walk up to them, “Invite us into your residence. We can continue your argument. We did not intend to disrupt your youth group. Did you feel the love there? I don’t feel you have a hateful heart, but it is hardened.”
He glares at me for being impertinent and interrupting his argument with Father Frank, who takes me by the elbow, “Best to depart. Maybe Father Joseph will invite you back next week.”
That seems doubtful.
As we walked to his car, Father Frank gives me his 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 looks 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 look at him and give 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 hugs both Jack and me.
We walk back to our room. Jack, who has been quiet all night, is suddenly full of questions. Mainly he can’t believe I’m so enthralled with Jesus.
“I can’t explain why I feel so strongly that He is in my heart,” I answer.
“For those kids, all they want is to go back to the day of their First Communion, when they felt blessed with Jesus’s 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 and Casper worship her before we have sex each night.
We rehearse the play all week in the school auditorium. The seating allows little room for the kids to stand in front. If we put the kids on stage, people in their seats will be blocked from seeing the players. Finally we compromise with a split pit on both sides of the stage, which is quite wide. The kids are already divided into sibling factions – crew and players. Grant and Robby discuss how they’ll 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 suggests that the crew members should be attacked as well as the players. We want chaos but now are trying to control it. Good luck.
At school on Friday, I find Grant. We discuss his Doo Wop act. I don’t mention that they failed to show for church group.
“Y’all still wanna be part of the show?” I ask.
His eyes light up, “You kidding? For those guys, it’ll be the chance of a lifetime.”
“Here’s what I’m thinking,” and we hatch 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’s finally Friday night. I set myself up in front of the stage with my mandolin and a small amp as everyone files in. It feels like a normal school assembly, except for all the parents there and the absence of the stoner kids, who are oblivious to us making an effort. As I strum an extended version of the overture, I think how different we’ve become since returning to class. Then I see Grant’s crew come down the aisle. Everyone is murmuring about how nice looking they are in matching dark suits, white shirts and bow ties. Before sitting down, they turn and bow to the crowd. I see the surprise on AP Spencer’s face while he watches their entrance. I hope he won’t stop the show if the mayhem gets out of control. The power of the petty bureaucrat. Mr. Clark comes out in front of the curtain and welcomes everyone with his Prologue. I finish my overture and start the march of the wooden soldiers
and the curtain draws back. The two pits erupt with fake snow balls going back and forth. When Puck appears and starts his dialogue, both pits direct their attacks on him. Grant appears and hands him two water balloons. Puck chases his main tormentors before landing square shots on one from each side. Puck restarts his entrance speech but the poor fairy had completely forgotten the lines, resulting in an avalanche of snow balls descending on him. While the Queen and King march in, a slew of kids run down the audience aisles. Puck tosses them snowballs. Grant jumps down and directs the kids in front to attack Puck. The play pretty much goes on without anyone watching it. When Thisby appears, all the kids started mocking him. The Hispanic kids yell ‘pendejo’ at him. As soon as he turns into a jackass, all the kids, even the ones who came down the aisles, sit down. Puck and Grant sit with them. When Puck starts flirting and harassing King Theseus, the black kids yell faggot at him. Grant stands in front of him to block the attack. At the end Grant and Puck walk off together, hand in hand. After a second’s silence all the kids burst into cheers and clapping. The adults barely move, totally confused about a different kind of Shakespeare.
Mr. Clark comes out and announces that the play is over and thanks everyone. I jump on stage and grab 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 come out and start humming their signature sound. They start with ‘Shu-Boom She-Boom,’
“Heart and Soul.
I lead Jack out, still in full makeup, and sang Dion’s ‘Why Must I be a Teenager in Love’ to him.
I take the mic and announce, ‘This is for my girlfriend, Tina,” and we sing ‘Up on the Roof’ to Jack.
AP Spencer has had enough and marches down to shut us off. I sing ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ to him. Everyone laughs and points at him.
Jack and I join the crew and we all sing ‘In the Still of the Night.’
We bow to great applause and exit stage left. I go to retrieve my mandolin and amp. When I get back, A P Spencer is 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 is Jack who defends us, after A P Spencer refutes 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 proclaims him irrelevant. Just in time Mr. and Mrs. Stone come back stage with flowers for their Queen.
“Congratulations, Principal Spencer. The play comes alive again. I love the part when you threatened to shut them down and the kids bombard you with snowballs. Imagine, snowballs in Miami.”
A P Spencer is suddenly thrust into his obsequious role in front of the school board. He bows and kowtows, then curtesies and leaves.
“My boy, the Queen,” Mummy presents Jack with the flowers.
Jack beams, “Oh, pansies, my favorite.”
The whole cast bursts into applause, picking Jack up and carrying him through the curtain on stage. All the audience, still there, restart their applause. We forgot to have curtain calls, so everyone rushes out to more applause.
The next two nights go well. The kids in front learn to stay on their sides and not block the players from acting. The word is out that it is meant for kids. By Sunday it resembles a ‘Rocky Horror’ audience participation event. A P Spencer never returns.
My parents attend Saturday night, saying they wanted to wait until we’re over opening night jitters. I seat them with the Stones who explain all the nuances of the play’s chaos. My parents listen politely. I know they’re in the AP Spencer camp about well-organized performances. They seem to get along but obviously come from different worlds. They remain in the auditorium after we finish. When Jack and I come up to be with them, I’m relieved they are on a first name basis at least. All those years of Emily Post make the Stones comfortable with my parents’ rough and ready military manners. I overhear Mr. Stone speaking about me to 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. 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’ve been surprised in Tim’s renewed interest in church. 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 for 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 their 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 turn around to catch us standing there with huge grins on our faces. Jack runs into his father’s arms, while Dad puts me in an unyielding arm lock and tells me we’ll speak later. Barely escaping, we air kiss our moms and run back stage in time for Ganja with the home boys. Robby is peeved that his pot competitors are moving in on his territory. One hit and he’s in serious negotiations to become the local distributor. Mary is sitting with Flo and Edi, who welcome us.
“Do I need to bleach my hair to compete with this hussy?” Flo quips.
“Oh, that was Queen Titania. She’s a frigid bitch. You have no competition.”
They size each other and burst out laughing.
Look at Edi, I announce, “We have a special occasion coming up in honor of Jace.”
“My poor, baby,” Edi moans 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 has 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. Casper puts on a sad face, then twirls 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 observes.
“I’m not talking about girls’ virginity.”
“Oh…” and everyone stares at Jack, who turns bright red.
“I’m gay,” he proclaims, “With no plans to change that.”
I can see the wheels turning in Forward Flo’s head, so we’ve set the idea in motion.
“When’s his birthday?” Mary asks.
“Well, you boys will be in church,” Flo kidded us.
“Probably not, when we told all the kids we’re gay, the priest almost had a stroke.”
“Called to Jesus,” Edi quips.
“What did the kids say?”
“The girls were fine about it but a lot of the boys got angry,” Jack explains. “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 snaps back.
“So who’s Teen Jesus? I heard about it at church,” Edi asks.
“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 and isn’t gay?”
“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 snaps my waistband. I start getting hard. She looks at it and pushes Jack and me toward the boy’s room. “Go scandalize the school facilities for once.”
We don’t hesitate.