This story is about relationships between and among
teenagers. This includes intimate relationships between young males. If you
don't approve or are offended, then how come you're reading this? Go to some
other Internet Site. (Of course some people actually cultivate being offended;
if that's the case, read right on). As far as detailed descriptive sex acts, I
think you may find some good ones in other stories right here on Nifty, but as
of now I do not envision a lot of explicit detail in this one.
If, for some legal reason, you are not allowed to read this in your area of the world because of illogical laws, again I will not condone (publicly) anyone breaking the law, so either move or read sentence four. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our tushes.
Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it (whatever for I wouldn't know), please e-mail me and also give proper attribution. As of now no one has permission to put this story on another Internet Site.
This story is almost entirely fictional, and autobiographical ONLY in the sense that many of the incidents in the story really happened, but in some cases to different people and under different circumstances. In other words I've simply adapted things that happened in my life to a fictional story. In fact, some aspects of both main characters are in part modeled from my own experiences. Some of my family members are also in this story, and perhaps (definitely) distorted a bit (a lot) at times and sometimes approaching caricature, but since I really don't expect them to sue, I'm taking the chance. All other characters are fictional, except as noted).
I welcome any feedback. Constructive criticism appreciated.
I'm editing and re-editing, and re-re-editing but I keep finding spellling and udder errors. I would like to thank both David and Michael not only for their kind words, but also for pointing out my misspellig of "lose" and "losing." (And I'd like to thank the others who have also sent encouraging e-mails). However, the snow outside right now is so fantastic that I have an appointment with my cross-country skies.
Chapter 11 -- Thanksgiving (Including Being Thankful We Didn't Burn Down a Forest)
My Mama had a bad week. Therefore I had a bad week. Even Rocco couldn't get me out of my doldrums. Even trying to burn down a forest didn't perk me up. Almost gave me heart failure, but didn't perk me up. Did I ever tell you that Rocco tries to get me into more trouble than the devil? Well it's true. No wonder he's been late meeting me at least a half dozen times so far because he got detention. The last time was because he and someone named Jabloski tried to hide all the basketballs right before gym class. Rocco said he was tired of having to play a game during gym class that he was so poor at. One of the coaches caught them as they were concealing the last of them in the false ceiling of the balcony area of the gym.
I was giving a slightly censored rendition of the story (the burn-down-forest story) to Mama as I was getting the turkey into the oven. Mama insisted we WILL have a turkey dinner. I didn't really feel up for it, but Mama has the talent of coercion, oops, I mean persuasion, down to a fine art. Rocco came over last evening and helped peel the potatoes and stuff the bird. He tried to get Mama and me to come over there for Thanksgiving dinner but Mama wouldn't budge. She was having (her last) Thanksgiving in her own home. Even if I had to get the meal ready. Rocco did the tuff stuff last night. He even made the stuffing from scratch. After he was done I apologized for not believing him when he said he knew what he was doing.
"Pardon me for doubting. How many times you done this now?"
"You said you knew what you were doing."
"Well I've thought about it a couple times. . . . And I have a healthy ego." He gave me a slight smile.
One thing about Rocco, he has more self confidence than a ninja fighting a cub scout.
Mama eventually asked, as I was telling what happened at our miniature Cape Canaveral. "OK Noel. After you got the rocket set up on the starting base, and the fuse hooked up to the battery, then what happened?"
"Well the first stage had three solid fuel cylinders, and the second stage one. We also had a tiny altimeter in the nose along with a red ribbon that would come lose when it started to come back down. And everything went great. We were worried that we couldn't keep the rocket going up straight. But the slight twist we gave the fins worked. Anyway the second stage ignited just when it should, and we saw the ribbon deploy. But the wind really carried it. We eventually found it about a quarter mile away. When we recovered the altimeter with the nose portion we saw that it reached almost 2000 feet. Not bad for a small two stage rocket."
"So what went wrong? You made sure you set if off far away from any trees didn't you?"
"Of course, but what we didn't count on was the first stage drifting a bit and landing in a pile of pine needles. And the engines were still very hot. Thank goodness we had the bucket of water there. When we saw the smoke we both nearly had heart failure. Thank goodness there was almost no wind. I still can't believe that Rocco could run so fast with a bucket full of water."
"So he got it out?"
"Well mostly. Half of the water was covering him by the time he got to the smoke, which by now had a small flame. But he killed enough of it off, so by the time I got there we were able to beat out the rest of the fire with our shirts."
"I wondered how you happened to be wearing that new shirt when you came home. Where did it come from?"
"When we got to his house we went to his room and he gave me a shirt from his brother's dresser. He said his brother would never miss it. One of his aunts gave it to his brother last Christmas and he never wore it. He hated it."
"I've got a message for you Noel. He had reason to hate it."
And we both laughed. It felt good to hear my Mama laugh.
"I think you better not set off any more rockets for the time being."
"This is one time you don't have to convince me."
"You've really impressed me with this dinner, Noel. And this stuffing is great. Wherever did you get the idea to use walnuts and celery tops?"
I smiled. I would have to tell Rocco his stuffing was a success. "A chef does not reveal his secrets."
My Mama of course has a mother's ESP. "So Rocco helped you get everything ready last night?"
I explained what we did.
"Well, I do believe that boy will never admit there's anything he can't figure out how to do. He'd challenge the devil himself."
"Not true Mama. He said there's a couple things he'd never even attempt. One was understanding a girl. The other I better not say."
Mama didn't press me to tell.
The next day, Rocco showed up mid-morning with a large shopping bag. My curiosity peaked out. Mama was lying on the sofa and we were ready to set up the scrabble board.
"OK, I give. What's in the package?" I could see it was pretty heavy the way he put it down.
"Where's your manners boy? Rocco, we're happy to see you. How was your Thanksgiving?"
"I ate enough to feed even Jade. I bet I even gained an ounce or two. My Uncle John was there as usual. And Dad fixed the turkey as usual. How was yours by the way?"
"Very good. Thanks for making the stuffing." As she said this I gave her a funny look. I decided we stalled long enough. I turned back to Rocco. "All right, enough with etiquette. What's with the package?"
I did not think that Rocco could so surprise me, but that's just what he did. He pulled out three party hats and handed them out, putting his own on. He then went over to the bag and pulled out a small box. And out of it he pulled a small cake. He put it on the end table, pulled out a candle, put it on the cake and lit it. And then started singing happy birthday.
". . . Happy Birthday to Jade. Happy Birthday to you."
"Two comments." I said. "Worse caterwauling I've never heard, and I won't be 16 `till March."
"Wrong on both counts. First, I'll have you know that I've turned down no less that three auditions for the Vienna Boys Choir, and second, with the authority vested in me I have momentarily MOVED your birthday to today." And he ripped apart the large bag and handed me a nicely wrapped package.
To say I was a bit flabbergasted would be an understatement.
Mama said: "Close your mouth Noel and open the package."
So I did. It was a brand new record player. And then he pulled from somewhere a new record album, and handed it over. "How about playing it."
And I did. Its lead song was Remember When by the Platters. His sister must have told him about one of my favorite groups. But that wasn't all. And I don't know where he got them, he handed me another 6 records.
"That one is a gift from Dolores. And these other 5 she said you can borrow."
"That was quite a feat of prestiditation." I said, and gave him an I-got-you-now type smile.
But Rocco was up to the challenge. He replied: "I think the word legerdemain would be more accurate."
I'm going to have to take that dictionary away from him. I haven't gotten a point in almost a week.
Then for the next few hours, interrupted with a lunch of left-over turkey, we played Scrabble. Mama asked him a few questions. Well maybe a lot of questions. I'm not sure if he noticed what Mama was actually doing, but I think she knew more about him than his own mother before he left. Mama and I will be having a conversation later.
After Rocco won the first two games, Mama said: "Rocco, you have got to be one of the most competitive persons I know."
"Us little guys have to try harder." He laughed. "I play some scrabble at home sometimes. I spent several hours in a library once looking up all the two letter words. It sometimes helps improve your score if you build across a word rather than out from it."
About an hour later, Rocco and I were outside. He had ridden his bike so we only moved off a short distance where we talked. I was really moved by his gesture. It really lifted my spirits, and I told him so. I can't remember all we talked about, but I felt a lot better when I went back inside. I was really getting to like my White-boy. And maybe the word "like" isn't quite the right one.
A couple weeks after Thanksgiving, Mama surprised me by suggesting we take a trip -- just the two of us. She had specifically taken another day off from work and must have been planning it for some time. As I said I was quite surprised since she really doesn't do things like this. In fact she keeps saying that she barely trusted our car to get to the end of the block. Fortunately it was an unusually warm day for the beginning of December so the trip to the Delaware Water Gap didn't include our freezing to death. This is where the river takes a route through a couple high mountains. And was the furthest I've ever been from the city. We even took a short hike (read stroll) along the river. I would have enjoyed the trip more if I had not been constantly worried that the trip would put Mama into one of her "bad" spells. I couldn't seem to stop thinking about her being so ill for very long no matter how interested I was in what I was doing at the time. But I was at least happy since it seemed Mama was enjoying the trip. We even stopped at a restaurant on our way back. That was another thing we never did. And that was a real "never" never. We seemed to be able to pass the entire day without one word being spoken about what might happen in the near future.
The next day, I had so mixed feelings about the trip that when Rocco asked me about it, I couldn't figure out what to say other than just describing the beautiful country scenery we went through. Anything about how I was feeling was too hard to talk about.
Chapter 12 -- Christmas Holidays
I absolutely loved Christmas and the holidays. And, at least in recent years, it had nothing to do with receiving presents. By this time we usually mostly got clothing anyway. But Mom always asked us what one or two gifts we wanted special and this is what we also received. But I decided to do three interesting things for these holidays. I just hoped that one of the things I decided to do would not get me into too much trouble.
And Jade was getting his bike! That's what we were arguing about a short time before Christmas break.
"No! Absolutely not! If I do that then I won't have enough money for Mama's gift."
"You're forgetting something. There's no such thing as Jade. And there's no such thing as White-boy. That's where you're going wrong."
"I think you've finally lost too many marbles."
"And another thing, STOP growing! As long as I'm not growing, it's not fair that you do. You must be 2 inches taller than when we first met." And with a bit of a smile I added: "And three tones darker." I finally shut him up for at least a second.
But the corner of his mouth turned up. (Danger sign) "You have got to be the king of the non sequitur."
I could not afford to lose another point. "As king I should be allowed to make my own proclamations."
"You cheated. You can use the word proclamation without understanding what `non sequitur' actually means."
"You forget. Since I'm in a CATHOLIC school, one of my courses this year is Latin. Literally it means "does not follow." In context it means what I last said does not connect with what I first said." My smirk could be seen a block away.
"OK I concede. However, what you said still makes no sense."
"What I mean is this. We are NOT alone. Whatever we plan to do or buy, we plan or buy together. So it's not what you can afford, but what can WE afford. So exactly what did you want to get your Mama for Christmas?"
"I've already ordered it. It's a small silver locket of two superimposed hearts. Inside is to be inscribed: `Love can not be wrong.' The words have a special meaning for her."
Just as Jade turned away I could see tears appear at the corner of his eyes. I wasn't too sure if I should press him for what the significance of the words were. He saved me the decision.
"I also promise that I'll eventually tell you what this means to us. But I can't right now."
I started to get emotional myself. "All right then. How much money do you have left over?"
"Only a few dollars. So I can't afford the bicycle."
"True. But WE can! The police bicycle sale is this weekend. Right before the school break. And I actually talked my Uncle John into taking us there in his pick-up."
Jade looked at me and realized immediately that this was too important to me to argue.
"Thanks. And I'm actually one tone lighter without the summer sun." His smile made me feel very good.
We talked a lot about our holiday plans, and decided to make great use of our bikes. A couple trips were planned including the entire ten miles of Pennypack Park. (Unless there's snow).
Jade was then asking me about Christmas plans at my house. "You said your Mom asked what you wanted for Christmas. Do you know what you want yet?"
"Remember we talked about the different National Parks last week? Well the two parks I've dreamed of seeing are Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. In Leary's Used Book Store downtown they have a number of very old government survey books on these two parks. There's four I was hoping to get. I've seen them there just two weeks ago. One was the USGS Survey of Yellowstone in 1878, Vol I & II. The other was the USGS Survey of the Grand Canyon. I can't remember the date. They want twelve dollars for these three books. But the one that has my mouth drooling is the 1904 Atlas of Yellowstone. But they want ten dollars just for this one book alone. So it depends on how much my parents can spend."
"You are weird. How many 14 year olds ask for old books for Christmas."
It felt normal to me. "But you can almost feel like part of history when you read these books. And the maps and pictures are awesome. And these are places I've dreamed of visiting." Then I changed gears. "And I've already gotten a present for my younger sister. It's just a board game, but she should like it. I've started feeling guilty for not being too nice to her lately."
I evenually mentioned that I had planned to do three special things for the holidays, but even under the threat of bodily injury I refused to tell Jade what. "You'll just have to wait and see." Of the three things I'd planned, the first had a lot of risk. But I couldn't resist. I had it all planned. I was just hoping that even if I got caught, I still might not get into trouble. Well, too much.
On the last day of school before the Christmas break I arrived at the first period class pretty early. It was Algebra Class. I entered the classroom and handed the teacher a card. He was very polite and said to take a seat. I went to the very back of the room and sat. Soon the class started to fill and I received only a few glances. When the bell rang the teacher quickly took roll and then: "I'm not sure why they decided to send him here on the very last day before the break, but we have a new student in the class. I'd like you all to welcome Rocco Papariello to Lincoln High School."
I stood and said Hi. Jade turned around and the expression on his face was worth all the risk.
"Holly shit." At this exclamation, many of the students that were looking at me swiftly turned toward Jade.
The teacher remarked: "Mr. Brown, just because you expect special consideration because of your handicap, it doesn't include allowing those particular words."
A buzz ensued. Jade mumbled something I didn't quite hear.
The teacher spoke for a bit but no one seemed to pay much attention. Then he said: "Very well. Since no one really appears thrilled about learning anything new this class, I've decided to have a small contest. I will be handing out a list of 5 brain puzzlers, and you can work alone or in groups, and anyone, or group, who solves one before the end of class, will get his or her choice of rewards as also indicated on the handout."
The one thing I definitely did NOT take into consideration was that there were GIRLS literally all over the place. Well, of course I realized it, but it didn't seem to make its full impact until now. And a couple were even staring at me. Perhaps they were trying to decide if I was in the wrong school. The grade school was several blocks away.
Then I almost froze. A real live girl came up to me and started talking.
"My name's Darlene. Do you want to work together?" She was not bad looking. After a few very awkward moments, I actually started enjoying the attention. Soon another girl came over, and her name was Deniese. She turned out to be Darlene's good friend. I was REALLY NOT used to any attention from girls. Well, I had wanted a new experience, but this I had not anticipated.
After class, Jade and I were walking down the corridor. We both started talking at the same time. He finally left me have my say. "I dearly wish I could have taken your picture. You should have seen your expression."
"You are simply unbelievable! And you almost got ME into trouble. I simply don't believe that you pulled that off. I knew you were weird, and would dare almost anything, but this will go down in the annals of the most daring exploits of . . ."
"OK, you can stop now." But I was in prankster heaven and was basking in the glow of every word.
"You better leave before you're caught."
"I was thinking of getting into all of your classes." I really wasn't but I liked seeing his expression.
"And then you had to show off. You know a couple of the kids in that class now hate your guts."
I ignored his complaint. I was more wondering about something else. "I still can't understand how come you wouldn't join us."
"Yeah sure. A colored boy would just sashay over to two white girls. And the two Ds at that. A lot of the white boys in the class are too afraid to approach them. And then you have to make it worse by showing up the rest of the class."
"I couldn't help it. It wouldn't have been fair if I did anything else. The two Ds, as you called them, would have been left down."
"And that's another thing. How can a dork like you attract a couple of the nicer females in class? I think you have charms I wasn't previously aware of."
"You know Darlene is actually pretty smart. She got one of the brain puzzlers herself. Besides, only one of them was really difficult."
"But you still got a lot of dirty looks when you walked up to Mr. Goran and gave him the solution to all five. And wait until he finds out that he didn't really get a new genius in his class. He's going to be disappointed. And he's one of the good guys." Jade then looked up at the clock at the end of the corridor. "Damn, I'm almost late for my next class. See you after school. And remember, we get out at noon today. And it's not fair your school started its break one day early."
"Teachers' conference, and I'll meet you across the street."
Jade started running off but turned and yelled back at me: "And when I see you, you're going to tell me how you got that new student entry pass."
We were on the way to my house a few hours later. I had my bike so I was walking it since Jade didn't have his. "How do you like your new bike?"
"Your ESP is in good form. I decided I didn't want it stolen quite yet so it's at home. There's really no safe place to lock up a good bike around the school. And I really like it. The mid weight tires and rims make it much lighter than other bikes and so it's faster."
My uncle had taken us down to the police bike sale last Saturday and Jade FINALLY settled for a Schwin. It had been fixed up really nice and had cost only 16 dollars. We understood that part of that bike was my Christmas present for Jade.
"You said three things you wanted to do. I assume that prank this morning was number one? And HOW did you get that pass?"
"Well that was the tricky part, and where I worried about actually getting caught. I just went into the school office. When an employee entered who hadn't seen me before, I explained that I was a new student that morning and that after getting my locker assignment I noticed I had lost my new student pass. She was very solicitous as she filled out a new one for me." I smiled for two reasons. One, because he had to admire my nerve, and two, because of the new word I used.
Jade looked up and smiled. "Nice ruse, it obviously brought out the nicest side of her personality.
"OK, what does `ruse' mean? Damn, now I'm down 10 points."
"Ploy, strategy, trick. And I hope you realize that what you pulled off this morning makes great blackmail material?"
"Sure, but your too nice to take advantage of it."
Jade snickered. "You're right. And I'm almost afraid to ask what are the other two things you've in mind."
"Actually they're pretty tame. And we already discussed one of them. As long as it doesn't snow, the bike trip through Pennypack Park. The third is also accomplished. It was getting you your bike."
"Thanks again. My Mama was pleasantly surprised."
"And how is she doing?"
"She can't work anymore. But we're finally getting some state aid."
We finally reached my house. Carl was there, but fortunately he ignored us. I'd gotten several books from the library to read over the holidays. I recently got interested in some science fiction. A few of the books I had were by Robert Heinlein, Hal Clement, and Clifford Simak. Jade got interested in a story by Simak so he borrowed the book. Later, after watching the Rocky and Bulwinkle Show, Jade left for home. (My favorite part was the "Fractured Fairy Tales)."
A while later at dinner, my parents started to complain that I was almost never home lately, and that we were having company for Christmas and that I was expected to be there all day. I almost got grounded for complaining. It was a close call. I know that Jade and his Mama intended to spend the day together but I was hoping to see him at least for a bit and to see the gift he got for his mother.
But it was hard to be depressed on Christmas morning. We all actually opened our gifts the night before. I got the three books I was hoping for plus a lot of clothes. I was only a bit disappointed about not getting the Atlas.
About two hours before dinner there was a knock at the front door. Since all our relatives were already there -- well the one's planning on coming -- we wondered who. It was Jade. And I almost started crying when I saw what he was carrying. It could only be the Atlas. My Mom greeted him as he entered. I barely refrained from hugging him. I opened it quickly and then had to show everyone -- twice. I learned later it was a conspiracy that included Jade, his Mama, and my own mother. I was so amazed. Jade's Mama had actually called my Mom and said that she and Jade were getting the Atlas for me.
Later I followed Jade out of the house in spite of the cold. I almost cried as I hugged him. I knew that 10 dollars for him was quite a lot of money. My Mom then used her mother's ESP. Every once in a while my Mom surprised me. She came out with my coat and said to be back in time for dinner. She knew I wanted to go to Jade's house so bad. We were at Jade's in 10 minutes since we both now rode our bikes.
"How did you get that book here and ride the bike at the same time?"
"I didn't. Mama tied the package up for me and I carried it by the cord while walking my bike. It was quite a chore, especially with the wind."
We got to Jade's house in no time. When I saw Mrs. Brown however, I was startled. She really looked bad. I tried to hide how I felt. But I was really worried for them.
The locket was beautiful. I wondered what it cost but Jade wouldn't tell me. He showed me the inscription. This was the happiest Christmas I've ever had. I felt so guilty when I realized the worry and apprehension both Jade and his Mama must be going through.
December 26, 1959
I got the USGS survey books I so wanted for Chrstmas. It is hard to describe how Jade's present affected me. Sure I really wanted the Atlas, but because it was from Jade made in infinitely more precious. Jade also enjoyed the other two records I surprised him with. I snuck them to his Mama right before I left.
It was the specter of Jade's Mama's condition that really took from what would have been otherwise a perfect Christmas. The next day we took the long ride through the park and for a few hours distracted ourselves from the reality awaiting at Jade's home. We even saw a couple deer along the route. Many people told me they lived in the park, but that was the first time I'd actually seen them. And one other amazing sighting occurred when we were right behind the hospital. I was totally surprised, but right there not more than 50 feet away was a totally white pheasant. I've heard of albino birds before, but this was the first time I had ever seen one.
Jade and I talked a lot while we rested at the turn around point. He said that the shock of his Mama's imminent death was at least wearing off. He was just left with an intense sadness. This was the first time he talked to me about his Mama being sick in quite some time. He cried a bit, but then said his Mama said he should keep living with his eye on the future.
We held each other for a while and then headed back. Later when I got home I started feeling really guilty since I was thinking more about how this was all affecting me than him. I cried myself to sleep for the first time in months.