“Are you Tim Castle and is this your dog?” the cop not in uniform asked.
I nodded twice.
“You have to come with us. Is that your beer?
“I’m not drinking it.”
At this point, Jay rushed over and intervened. The cops explained that I needed to be questioned about the shooting.
“We already have enough evidence to hold him,” the uniformed cop pointed at the beer. “And obviously there is illegal drug activity going on here.”
“He’s not going anywhere without his parent or a legal authority going with him.”
“Who are you?” the cop asked.
“I’m the band’s manager. I work for Michael Antonio. He’s Tim’s lawyer.”
“We know who Michael Antonio is. He has interfered with our canine unit before.”
“I will call Michael and we can meet at his office on Monday morning so you can conduct your investigation at that time. You’re not taking this boy anywhere. He’s been traumatized enough tonight.” Jay really knew how to stand up for me.
“Have it your way. But, I’m taking this beer, as evidence.”
“Maybe you should be speaking with spectators of the incident to confirm that your officer shot into a crowd, endangering a lot of people, instead of arresting this boy who was on stage at the time.”
“We’ll conduct our investigation in our way. This is my card. Call me about Monday’s interrogation.’ The officers left in a huff. Two uniformed officers came and took away Max’s lifeless body, ‘for evidence.’
I was on my two feet for the police exchange with Jay. Now, Jack was holding me up.
“What was that all about,” I asked Jay. “After siccing a dog on Robby and killing Max, they want to arrest me for one sip of beer?”
“They just want to find someone to blame in order to take the spotlight off their abuse of power.”
“Well, thanks, Jay. You saved me from them.”
“Let’s hope they get their heads on right before Monday. The Miami Police are probably boiling mad about losing crowd control tonight. They have a lot to answer for.”
“What’s the worst that can happen to me?”
“Don’t worry. They’ll calm down. Michael has their number for prior abuse with dog incidents in the Black community.”
“Let’s get you all out of here. I need pizza and beer, myself.”
In short order we were at Sorrento’s. Everyone was excited about our performance and seemed over the gloom about losing Max. Jack quieted everyone down by saying that I may be arrested on Monday.
“What the hell for, being a faggot?” Robby joked.
“Yeah, and you’ll be the main witness for the prosecution.”
Jay stopped our repartee, “I spoke to Michael’s dad. He wants no one to talk about the investigation to anyone. The cops are looking for a scapegoat to cover up their abusive behavior tonight.”
That pretty much killed our buzz from the night’s show, no matter how great a show it had been, Max’s death was a shroud over our spirits. Now the police investigation was just the icing on a rotten cake.
“Rock n Roll sucks,” I thought for the first time.
I turned to Jack, “Your house tonight?”
His smile perked me up. “We can practice prison sex,” he joked.
I gulped then guffawed at the thought of going to prison for a sip of beer.
Prison sex turned out to be no sex. I was too drained to satisfy anyone, even always horny Jack. I woke up to find him setting out outfits for us to attend church.
“We need to present a wholesome attitude at tomorrow’s interrogation,” he explained.
I was more interested in Isabelle’s breakfast than image burnishing. I was still frazzled but looked decent in Jack’s suit and tie.
Mr. Stone looked up from reading the paper as we entered the dining room.
“You boys certainly have the Herald’s attention. Maybe you can give me the actual story of what happened last night? What I’m reading is too bizarre to believe.”
“It’s worse, Daddy. Tim may go to jail after the police killed his dog.”
“The paper says the police had dogs attack concert goers who had broken in and a policeman had to shoot one to restore order.”
Oh, god. I’m going to jail, I realized.
“No, Daddy. The police shot Tim’s dog who was fighting the police dogs. He was defending the band.”
“You mean, Max, as reported in the Herald.”
“Everyone knows Max, Daddy.”
“Well, I don’t, but that isn’t important.”
I suddenly thought my dad was probably upset about Max, as much as I was. He would blame me regardless of the circumstances….who ya gonna call?
“I gotta call Mike Sr. May I be excused?” I asked.
“What about breakfast?” Jack whined.
Oh for god’s sakes. For once, I detested his self-absorption.. No, no…
“I’ll be right back.”
I got Jay on the phone, who quickly understood my concern about the law, but had to be filled-in about my gun-touting, police supporter dad.
“Let’s just concentrate on Monday’s interview,” he suggested.
“Please, Jay. I need to talk with Mike.”
“You’re the boss.”
“I thought Mike Sr. was the boss, but I’ll take it.”
“Go over and practice. Mike will join you.”
“Jay, you know I love you.”
“That will get you everywhere,” he laughed.
“Well?” Jack interrogated me.
“We have to go practice after breakfast.”
“No song and dance?” Daddy asked.
“Just, ‘aaaaaaaaaah, that’s all folks,’” as I bit down on a celery stalk.
I sat next to Jack, who looked worried finally.
“It’s okay. I need to speak with Mike Sr.,” I explained.
“I was hoping to get your side of the story,” Daddy looked me in the eye.
“Well, the easy answer is Robby, but I bear all the responsibility for our actions. We put on a show like never before. It’s what we do. We played before 5,000 people and we rocked.”
“The voice of youth is heard.”
I grabbed Jack and we pedaled to Michael’s. No one was there, so we let ourselves in and found Michael sleeping in his room – alone.
“Wake up, Italian Stallion,” we both rough-housed him into a sitting position.
“What’s up,” he mumbled.
“Meet us in the music room.”
“Why?” after thinking it through.
“Never mind. Join us when you can,” I dismissed him.
He plopped under the covers. Jack jumped in as well, whispering in his ear. Michael’s eyes were wide open in shock, until a Jack jumped out of his bed.
What did you whisper?” I asked.
“That this may be our last chance to be together.”
“Why was he looking so shocked, then.”
“He has homophobia.”
“What the fuck is that?”
“Fear of homos.”
“He’s not afraid of me.”
“You don’t jump in his bed and whisper in his ear.”
We settled into the music room, sitting opposite each other, with the amps barely on.
“Let’s write a song,” Jack suggested.
“Jail house blues,
I got the jail house blues.
I need the news my pardon’s come through.
Jail house blues.
Jail house blues.”
“No,” Jack complained. “No time for blues. I need a funky love song.
Sally in the alley,
Takin’ my time
Make her feel fine
Making me dally
“You, dick. Stop pretending you like chicks.”
Back at the alley,
Sally looks sadly
Dusts off and smiles
Loves my wild wiles.
Jack played Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
‘all that glitters is gold,
And I’m buying my way into heaven.’ I sang
We smiled at each other and laughed.
“Why can’t it always be this way?” Jack asked
“Someday we’ll be boring together. We’ll be old.”
“Fuck, no. I don’t wanna live that long,” Jack, the romantic.
“This will never get old,” I reached out and kissed him.
Michael and Jenna walked in.
“Caught you,” Michael crowed.
“Are we stealing your make-out place?” I answered back.
Michael just held Jenna tighter. She smiled. Just two couples together.
He sat at the drums and casually ran through several rolls and riffs.
“Trying to impress your girl,” Jack teased.
“Don’t havta,” Michael smiled.
Jack ran the long string of a lead, which Michael deftly followed.
“I’m dazed and confused…”
I started the verse, until I saw the adoration in Jack’s eyes.
“You don’t need to impress me, either,” I quipped, looking at Jenna.
We all smiled.
“You guys recover fast,” Mike Sr. complained as he arrived, still in night-clothes and a robe.
“We’ll get coffee,” Michael suggested. I sho’d Jack to go with them, so I’d be alone with Mike Sr.
“I can’t say I didn’t know this would happen,” was all he said.
He wanted an explanation. There was no excuse. John could’ve died. How would I feel about that?
His face held no hint of amusement or encouragement.
“I’m going to jail, aren’t I?”
“Juvie, because you’re unsupervised and insuperable.”
I looked down. I had nothing to say.
“Let’s concentrate on tomorrow. It would be inadvisable for me to show up at your interrogation. Jay will do it. Be honest and not sarcastic. Show no fear about their threats. You are innocent.”
“Except for a sip of beer.”
“You’re a juvenile. They can do whatever they want to you. I’ll go through channels to resolve all this. The bigger story should have nothing to do with you. Keep your mouth shut.”
“So, I tell them what happened to me, without going into detail of what I saw happening.”
“Good. If they ask you about what you saw, just say you don’t remember.”
“Okay. What about my dad. He loved Max and, I’m sure, blames me for losing him.”
“I’m your lawyer, not your therapist. Talk to your mother. Get her to calm him down. You miss Max, too. Bond.”
“You’re always right.”
“You’re always plotting three moves ahead. Just stop manipulating everyone, especially me.”
I wanted to hug him but knew better.
“Right.” As I realized I had stopped myself from crying, I could at last look him in the eye. Grew me some.
I called home, praying Mom would answer. But prepared for the worst. Of course, Dad answered.
What,” he sounded curtly.
“Tim. You get home this instant.”
“Yes, sir,” and I hung up.
I looked across the room at Mike Sr. and shook my head. He nodded back.
I whispered in Jack’s ear, “I have to go home alone. Please let me do this.”
He looked as shocked as Michael had been when he whispered into his ear. I kissed each eye shut, turned, and left.
Riding home alone meant I played all the possible scenarios over and over. I was totally busted. Playing the Max card was too obvious to Dad’s bullshit detector. My only hope was Mom, but I had to save that one for life or death. Mike had planted the right seed. I had to rely on Dad to save me, show him how much I trusted him. Jace’s trademark pinged in my heart. I sighed and walked in, sitting next to him before he had to tell me to. It had been awhile since I had faced the music like this. Mom was in the kitchen, oblivious. I had a definite sense of déjà vu.
“He’s dead, Dad. The cops shot Max when he was protecting Jace’s little brother.”
All the suppressed tears came flooding out. Dad glared at me.
“Don’t you dare cry in front of me. You’re the reason Max is dead.”
My newly found ability to stop the tears kicked in.
“Dad, the cops killed Max.”
“You will not disparage the police in this house.”
“Max is a hero. He died (I hiccupped) protecting us. I loved him so much. I know you did, too.”
“Stop it. I blame you and you know it’s your fault.”
“I loved Max, too,” speaking, his eyes glistened.
“Dad, what am I going to do? The police want to arrest me for drinking a beer.”
His eyes turned icy.
“We both know that is the least of your crimes.”
“You’re right, but I need you to stand up for me.”
“Where’s Mike Antonio?”
“He’ll help but can’t be at my police interview. Dad, I need you,” I implored.
“You expect me to cover up all your misdeeds, to lie.”
“I promise to tell the truth. I did nothing wrong. You have to show you believe me. Without your support, no one will believe me. With you defending me, they’ll back down..”
“Tell me why they’re after you when Max is the one who died?”
“We caused a riot at the show, playing Dixie and riling up all the Southern boys from North Florida. The police lost control and let their dogs loose on the crowd. A police dog attacked our friends who were sitting in a boat. Max defended them and the dog handler shot and killed him.”
I broke down a little, prompting Mom to come in and comfort me. Dad was still glaring at me, but Mom made him nervous.
“Well, as long as you admit it was all caused by the riot you started and don’t accuse the police of killing Max, I will go to the interview with you.”
Mom beamed at him. “Maybe we can start thinking of getting a new dog,” she suggested. She didn’t understand dog lovers.
“But there are new rules around here until everything is cleared up. You’re on restriction. You come home directly after school lets out. No more sleepovers here or at the Stones. Has Jack even told his parents?”
“We had a long conversation about what happened with his father over breakfast. He knows what we talked about.”
“Will Jack be arrested too?”
“Not unless I tell them it was him that gave me the beer.”
“’He,’ Tim,” Mom piped in. “It was he that gave it to you.”
“That doesn’t matter. The boys were breaking the law and must suffer the consequences. But it can’t be that serious. Even we allow you to drink on occasion.”
Nothing was said about not using the phone. I called Jack. Our fears were warranted – we were to be separated.
“It’s all my fault, getting you that beer.”
“No, Jack. My dad knows we’ve been bending the rules for months. We caused a riot and Max was killed. It coulda been John that was shot.”
“You’re siding with your dad.”
“Because he’s siding with me. It’s my only hope for staying out of jail, by showing I have ‘adult’ supervision.’”
“We can still see each other at school and talk on the phone.”
“Just the places to have sex.”
“We’ll figure it all out. All you have to do is stop smoking dope.”
“It’s more than being high that makes me need you.”
“Can you tell everyone that I’ll only be gone temporarily?”
“Tim, I can’t stand it.”
“We’ll get through this.”
We cried together before hanging up. Tears don’t help.
Jay called and said everything was arranged to meet at their office on Brickell at 9am. I told him that Dad was coming and he wanted me to confess my guilt and not blame the police.
“That’s not a bad strategy. Just tell them what you did and avoid describing what you saw.”
“That’s what Mike said.”
“We’ll all be on the same page.”
“Dad a big police supporter.”
“That may work in your favor.”
We arrived early enough to be settled in the conference room when the police investigators arrived.
“Where’s Mr. Antonio?” was their first question.
“He asked me to help Tim,” Jay answered. “Is this just an interview or is Tim being accused of a crime?”
“We can take him in right now for the open beer and being involved in drug activity.”
“Then I’ll get Mr. Antonio to represent him if he’s being charged.”
“He’s not being charged yet. We are investigating the circumstances that led to the shooting at the stadium.”
“Let’s get started. I assume you will read him his Miranda rights if you plan to charge him with a crime. Remember, it was his dog who was shot. Luckily there were no other fatalities.”
“There were plenty of injuries from the melee during their set. We want him to describe what happened and what these boys had planned that led to the incident.”
I began, “We never plan what happens. We play to the crowd. We’d never played in a stadium setting. In clubs and frats, the small space keeps the mayhem under control. We never thought it would be worse than our singer being chased up a tree by football players.”
The interviewer guffawed.
Dad stepped in. “Tim knows they were wrong to incite a riot and is willing to take the consequences of his actions. He’s already on complete restriction. He knows right from wrong.”
“Thank you, Mr. Castle. We know you are a strong supporter of our department. Is it possible that Tim’s rebellious attitude is a teenager’s reaction to strict parenting?”
“I’ve always been strict with Tim. He has always been a good student and athlete. This year with the band, we had serious disagreements but in the end I supported him. I don’t understand the music business, but the truth is that he and I are closer than ever before. He will be my best man when I marry my fiancée.”
“What about his drinking and associating with drug users?”
“I believe him when he says he only took a sip and didn’t want any more. The drug use at the concert is certainly something I condemn. I once worried he may be on drugs, but it turned out he was just growing up and challenging some of the rules we had set. I’m proud of his being City Swimming Champion last year. The protest to end de facto segregation at Gables High was justified and the result has been positive. Singing at churches and performing at Easter services in New York made me very proud. He is a good boy. Tell the officer what happened Saturday night,” he ordered me.
I told the officers the chronicle of our performance. I explained, “We played ‘Dixie’ and ‘Born a Rebel’ to welcome the other bands to South Florida and get their fans on our side. I was playing when the crowd broke down the fence and didn’t notice what happened with the boat people until Max jumped into ‘Sus’s boat. Max had been John’s dog before his brother Jace was killed. I instinctually knew Max went to defend John. When Max was shot, I jumped from boat to boat to be with him. It was too late. He had died. The rest is all a blur. I was back on stage and we played with Lynyrd Skynyrd to quiet everyone down. The rest of the concert I was with the kids holding Max behind the stage.”
“You didn’t try to start a riot?”
“We try to get everyone excited and dancing to our music. We were stunned when there was a gun shot. All the fans started to leave. I started playing Skynyrd’s hit ‘Free Bird,’ to get them to come back. It mostly worked and the concert was finished as planned.”
“So. What happened isn’t your fault?”
“No. I know from talking with Dad that we are to blame. He really loved Max and is really mad at me for getting him killed. Max was just defending us. I should have been more mature about putting him into that situation.”
“You don’t blame the officer for shooting Max?”
“He was just defending his dog. Max had thrown it out of ‘Sus’s boat. The boys were there to see us play, not causing trouble. I don’t know what went wrong. If I had not brought Max to be part of the show, he would be alive still.”
“You’re not going to make a big deal about your dog being shot?”
“How can I? I’m on restriction.”
They all laughed.
The tension in the room evaporated.
“Do you have any further questions?” Jay asked.
“No. You all have been very cooperative. I think Tim is more the victim here, but he needs to know he can’t drink beer until he’s 18 and to not associate with people doing drugs.
“I have a question,” the uniformed officer piped up. “Are you Teen Jesus?”
“Oh, God,” everyone on our side of the conference table murmured.
“That is the Miami PD’s fault,” I asserted. “At a street performance in the Grove, a redneck attacked Jack and I held him down until an officer arrived. After it was all settled, he asked me if I thought Jesus was a rowdy teenager in his youth. It’s just a crazy idea that gets people to see religion in a more positive light.”
“Well, we’re not going to crucify you yet.”
“That’s a relief,” and everyone laughed. The meeting broke up.
I hugged Dad for standing up for me.
“Isn’t that what you say, that you learned it from growing up in the military? We back each other up.”
“You’re my hero, again.” I gushed. Over Dad’s shoulder I could see Mike Sr. smiling. No legal fees for this crime.
“Well, don’t expect me to loosen your restriction because you claim to like me.”
I laughed. Little did I know how serious he was.
SHIT FOR BRAINS
My new name. That’s all Dad says when he sees me. I’m on restriction for life. I played the military card but didn’t get out of detention. Better than juvie. Jack says to remember my dreams by writing them down. At least we still talk. But I only remember one dream, and it started with me being in juvie. So here goes. i
I was put in an open cell of about ten kids, 12 – 16. The oldest one was also the fattest. He came at me right away to knock me down. I jumped back and fatty fell on his face. I put my foot on his neck and ground him into the floor.
“Don’t fuck with me,” I told him.
He squirmed a little before giving up. I looked around and threw my stuff on the nearest bunk. A few, then all the little kids, grabbed all their stuff and moved on the other side of me.
“You owe me one beat down,” I told fatty as I took my foot off his neck. He hunkered back to his corner, where the last few boys spit on him before running across. All the kids rearranged their bunks so I could protect them, and then sat on or near my bunk while I set up.
“Y’all look abused,” I challenged them, staring at two boys cowering in the back.
“Whatcha in fer?” the nearest boy changed the subject.
“Murder…of my dog,” and they broke up.
We chatted and the tension in the cell disappeared. My only worry was if some football hunk got thrown in with us, would I have to fight him? I was not surprised when shortly, the jock showed up. He gave me the stare, which I quickly averted and we left each other alone. Half the kids moved over to his side. Balance of power established. Fatty alone in a corner.
That’s all I remember but I do know I repeatedly went back to that nightmare. Boys fear juvie, it’s imprinted in our DNA or by fascist teachers. My greatest fear was facing Jace’s killer brother Jeff behind bars. No chance I wouldn’t kill him. Maybe I better stay out of trouble. I’m just shit for brains, right?
‘Sonnets’ came out of this period. It took me days to slog through the first ones where Shakespeare is trying to convince a secret boyfriend to stay straight and raise a family. Right, after Bill S ran away from his wife to be with him.
Finally in #27, I felt a spark of honest love and life.
“ Let me in bed lie dreaming in mischance; “
So Will has run away to be with his posh lover in London. Unschooled though he is, his use of rhyme and puns makes Will popular in the London scene as a singer of his verses. Will is spurned by his royal lover for a wife and mother to his children. Will deceitfully writes encouragement to his lover in his unrequited quest. When the marriage ultimately fails, Will is there to catch the spurned lover on the rebound. It only takes a few verses accompanied by Will’s mandolin to capture the wounded prince’s love.
By #29, Will is in complete despair:
“And I my self, my self always to hate
Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.”
I could relate.
By #30, Will has been rejected in the long wooing of his love:
“this song thy fault to thee it sings;
Displease thee not, for saying thus me thought,
Nor hate thou him from whom no hate forth springs;
For furies that in hell be execrable,
For that they hate are made most miserable.”
I liked the alliteration, ‘made most miserable,’ if not the thought. Back to being sorry for myself. Shit for brains.
I had to get Will introduced to his lover’s inner circle. That’s how he ends composing verses to sing for Princesses Mary and Elizabeth. They entertain King Henry by presenting Will to perform his verses, ostensibly to the ladies but truly to the King who has a powerful crush on Will. Neither princesses knows they are both employing Will to forward their cause to become the next monarch. Nor, do they realize that the success of their audience with the King will only promote Will.
In #31, it all boils over and lust conquers fear.
“The flaming sighs that boil within my breast
Sometime break forth; and they can well declare
The hearts unrest, and how that it doth fare,
The pain thereof, the grief, and all the rest.
The watered eye, from whence the tears do fall,
Do feel some force or else they would be dry;
The wasted flesh of colour dead can try,
And something tell what sweetness is in gall.
And he that lust to see, and do discern,
How care can force within a wearied mind,
Come he to me”
It was better than porno – gay soap opera. Each line was its own flirty pick-up. I started seeing who was to play these roles. Robby wanted to be the fat, old King Henry. Mary had to be Mary, Grant wanted to revive Falstaff, and Jack was a divine and royal Elizabeth. Maybe I could be Will and play mandolin by telephone. Hippie said he’d wire something up. He was to be a guard, with no lines, but pantomime instructions.
“my friend so dear,
I thought it good my state should now appear
To you, and that there is no great desert.
And where as you, in weighty matters great
Of fortune saw the shadow that you know:
For trifling things, I now am stricken so;
That though I feel my heart doth wound and beat,”
How typical, a confession of the heart. Only to be followed by #32’s suicide like despair.
“O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love’.”
That would be the final passage before dropping the curtain. What kind of applause did I expect? Not much if I showed Mary’s beheading. Well, it was a start.
“Jack,” I called him to the phone. “I got a way to practice Sonnets without deceiving Dad. I’ll give you the story and some lines that you can fit into the story dialogue.”
He thought, then anxiously answered, “You mean I get to write with you as we fill in between the quotes?”
“Yeah, duffus. We’ll write it together, that’s best and easiest.”
“Over the phone?”
“You could come and serenade me at night.
“Jeez, let Dad cool off. Do you trust Dave and Jazz?
“Have them teach you how to get from the library to my backyard through the trees.”
“Whoa. I only went up that tree because the whole football team was going to pounce on me.”
“Yeah. Well, that was a perfect start. You can serenade me from the trees.”
“Will you sneak out if I come.”
“You’re sure to cum,” I stated
“I quit pot,” he lamented.
“It won’t matter,” I knew he only needed me. Ah, such sweet sorrow.
I told Dad I was talking with Jack about our school project. He insisted I tell him what the project entailed. He didn’t know that Shakespeare wrote sonnets. When he learned we had to present it next month in May, he agreed I could be off restriction by then. I also warned him Jack was going to serenade me at night, just like Romeo and Juliette.
“More like Romeo and Mercutio,” he showed some Shakespearean culture. “I’m sure Susan will find it cute. No visitors in your room during restriction.”
I (fake) groaned, but agreed.
The first nightly serenade was the best. He was still in the trees when he cried out, “Tim,” and proceeded to sing Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben,”
substituting my name for the rat. I was laughing my ass off until he slipped from the branch. I caught him just in time. I led him up into the highest trees. He was still shaking from almost falling and petrified of the heights to which I had led him. We cuddled for the longest time. We had been apart for days. His shuddering made me extremely protective, stimulating my dick to its stiffest erection. I pulled it out just as I came, spurting all over the surrounding trees. A 60 second man.
“You real miss me,” Jack gushed, totally ignoring his own stiffy. I was pleased to see it wagging back and forth, as I knew it well. I placed both soles of my dirty feet over the straining denim of his jeans. My double massage set him over the edge almost as quickly as I had gone off. We sheepishly looked at each other, silently acknowledging that it had been too long since our last session of sticky love.
I lay back in the tree, while Jack carefully crawled over into my solid embrace. He was looking at me with those star-struck eyes. It was the best feeling, holding him secure and confident.
“We’ve gotta discuss ‘Sonnets,’” I insisted.
“Like, who plays Will?”
“Well, you have to be my understudy again, until I get off restriction.”
He slid his hands under my butt, messaging my cheeks. I wanted him to take me right there in the tree – a perfect simian I was, fucking on a branch. That wasn’t going to happen. Jack thought he’d get my attention by snapping the waistband of my briefs, but I had returned to going commando.
“Disappointed? It’s just more comfortable.”
“Yeah, it says you’re easy action,” he joked and we broke up.
“Still a New Romantic?” I asked
“We’re lying here talking and cuddling.”
“Yuck,” as I snapped his briefs, slipping a hand around front and getting a grip on his dick. His squirming made me hard as well. The whole tree was shaking as we got each other off. We came simultaneously. After which whistles rang out in the neighborhood, followed by the howling of local dogs. Instead of settling back into a cuddle, I jumped up, holding Jack. We moved to a more hidden tree branch. We are all monkeys.
Back in my room, Jack remained in the window, the newest lost boy. We talked through the plot for the next day’s English class. Just having the quotes to work with would be the guide about which way Will’s romance was going. Jack would sing and play the actual sonnets while the other characters could ad lib lines of their own. Mr. Clark would be shaking his head. Maybe I’d be missed.
This went on for several weeks, until it was time for a full rehearsal. I begged Dad to let me off restriction so I could direct and figure out my lines. He just yelled at me, ending with …”shit for brains.” Finally after Mom baked him his special peach pie, it was allowed that the rehearsal could be in our back yard but I still had to remain in my room.
Trying to direct the chaos from my window, I failed to notice an adult visitor had entered my room.
“I hear you’re under house arrest,” I recognized a Bronx accent, Martin Scorsese.
I left the chaos and sat on the music seat by my guitar. Martin was on Jack’s seat.
“My apologies for coming into your bedroom. It was the only way to see you, according to our favorite local lawyer.”
“Must be important,” I deduced.
“Well, the movie’s done and we need to promote it. I’m thinking Cannes.”
“Wow, and me on restriction.”
“Some little bird told me we might want the band to play at the premiere. Can you wrap up this silliness, or do I have to wait in line.”
“Cannes is at the end May. We can do our play here and be there on time. Do we get to play Pink Floyd?”
“They want to play with you. They heard about the jam with Skynyrd.”
“Can we book an arena?”
“I already have the bull ring in Nice. So be good. I’m having dinner with Mike after we complete our business. Why don’t you and your dad meet us at Joe’s Stone Crab on the Beach at 9? We’ll make sure everyone’s on board.”
“For sure. He’ll be home in plenty of time.” I knew not to ask to bring Mom, guys only, old school, for business.
“By the way, Andy called that writer into his office right after I delivered your letter. I watched him burn his review and flick the ashes in his face. The hack left to work on the Coast.”
A laugh disguised my dismay that my carefree life was over, no jokes with Andy as well. Martin was there to remind me that life does go on.
I had to twist Dad’s arm for him to go to Joe’s. I told him it was business, like school, and I wasn’t breaking restriction when I was with him. I prepped him on what Martin was asking – travel to France at the end of May. He looked like he was about to say ‘shit for brains.’ Instead, he would listen to what the other men said before making the final decision. Agreed.
The restaurant was open air with lots of cigar smoking and shots of espresso as patrons finished their meals. We were early, and they led us to a secluded corner to wait for the others. Dad had a beer and I ordered the cuban coffee. It was vile until I loaded it up with sugar and cream. Martin and Mike Sr. sat down and were served coffee as well. Martin didn’t really know Dad but Mike Sr. had gotten him up to speed.
“Congratulations on your retirement, Colonel,” He opened with a compliment. Dad had retired as a Lt Colonel.
“Not quite the achievement of a big time Hollywood director.”
“Thanks, but I mostly stay in New York. Tim visited and entertained my mother while he was there. Sang her old ‘Our Gang’ songs as Alfalfa. He has NYC fever I’m afraid.”
“Ever since he spent a weekend with cousin, years ago.”
“What is the story of Little Joe.”
“If anyone had NYC fever, it was Joey. Tim was 14 and fell under his spell. We were stunned how quickly he became a surly teenager. He no longer allowed us to call him Timmy.”
“Hey, this isn’t an interview,” I objected, mostly in defense of Joey.
Mike Sr. interjected, “Tim has no problem standing up for himself. My son, Michael, tends to go along too easily with whoever he’s friends with. I’ve seen Tim be a positive influence on him.”
“Can we stop talking about me?” I asked.
The three men laughed.
“If you insist, Tim. We’ll just interrogate you about what happened at the concert,” Mike Sr. took the lead in attacking me. “Tell us how it got so out of control.”
“Dad already knows this. After agreeing with him that the riot was our fault, he had me tell everything to the police and put me on complete restriction. Instead of throwing me into juvie, they agreed to let Dad punish me.”
“That’s how you got out of trouble, Tim,” Dad interjected. “They want to know how the trouble started.”
“All our shows in the road houses and in New York were about getting the crowd riled up and kicking in the rock n roll to let out all the angry energy. We never played for more than a few hundred people. The concert had thousands and what worked in clubs was explosive with so many people. We lost control, the police couldn’t contain the people who rushed in when the fence was knocked down. Only by getting the headliners to come out and play their hits with us did the crowd get back into the stands so the show could go on.”
“Michael says you told everyone to keep playing after the shot rang out,” Mike Sr. added.
“After losing it, when I had Max dead in my arms. We always wanted to play with Skynyrd but never thought it would happen. We just hoped the crowd would like the songs we wrote ourselves.”
“Do you write all the songs?” Martin asked.
“At first, all we did were covers. Jace and I wrote the first songs together, including ‘False Gods.’ When Jack replaced Jace, he brought in his D&D band songs which we rewrote to fit our point of view. Then we wrote some new ones.”
“Are you ready to record an album? We could release it at the show in Nice with Pink Floyd to go along with the movie.”
Wow, I thought. Then I remembered how worked up I got about our songs before Skynyrd. Were these songs good enough to sell records?
I looked at Mike Sr. and then Dad. Was I hoping that they’d tell me what to do? When did I become such a wimp?
“Are you screwing with me? I don’t have time enough as it is now with the student musical comedy. You want me to spend weeks in France doing movie promo at the same time we’re doing a concert with Pink Floyd, let alone record a studio album?”
They all laughed.
Mike Sr, explained, “I knew he’s too sharp to be fooled. You’re dead right, son, you can’t do all that.”
He turned to Dad, “I wanted to test his judgment, and he just passed with flying colors. So, let him go to the film’s opening. Everyone will want to see him.”
“I don’t know that I trust him yet. He’s still on restriction.”
“What type of restriction allows all his friends to be playacting in the backyard while he directs them from his bedroom window?”
“What if I have a chaperon?” I suggested.
“Susan and I can’t just go to France for two weeks.”
“I’ll get Andy to go. If my musical comedy is a hit, he’ll be sure to do it.”
“I’m not going to have my son traveling around Europe with some faggy twit.”
“He’s gay, Dad. We don’t say fag anymore.”
“Well, you know what I think about that?”
“Yeah, ‘shit for brains.’”
But Dad relented. Jack and I got to spend two weeks with Andy on Jackie Onassis’s yacht off the coast of the French Riviera. ‘Sonnets’ was a hit, but the Herald’s reviewer called it sophomoric in that it showed a disturbing dislike of Shakespeare by perverting the perfection of the full verses. Robby never lost the weight he gained to be Henry the 8th, claiming it was just the munchies. It slowed him down so much that he no longer could swing from the fire sprinklers on club ceilings for ‘Swinging.” (We changed the name from ‘Barefoot Boy,’ after it was banned due to the Skynyrd debacle). Michael spent most of the time visiting relatives in Sicily. The premiere of our film was in the early evening, after which we went straight to the bull ring and rocked out with Pink Floyd, including a laser show. Somehow Martin got enough film footage to put out a concert album of the two bands jamming. That was the only film of us that made it into the theaters. The Jace Tribute was not picked up for distribution. The studios rejected it for the overt gay content. Martin personally distributed it to his Hollywood buddies who enjoyed shocking their friends with private viewings. It never made it to the underground.