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 bottoms.
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.
As a couple of my readers have pointed out, the Time Machine was written by H. G. Wells, and not Jules Verne. What a blunder! To Doug Bradley I am very grateful. Besides catching this mistake, he has graciously offered to help edit the next chapters. Hopefully this type of error, along with the occasional misspelling, mistakes in paragraphing, and so on, will now be eliminated.
Chapter 33 -- School Restarts and Some Kinsey Stuff
I was flying. At least my spirit was. I just had the best summer of my life. I was a little sad it was over, but my future was ahead of me and I was basically happy. My future was full of hope and promise.
My father even spoke to me a few times this week. Critter was doing well. I was almost getting along with my brother -- even if we mostly ignored each other. The few problems I had or saw looming, I could dismiss most of the time and just let myself enjoy life.
I have my Ham Radio License but can't use it. I have never been allowed to use the equipment my father helped buy. But to be honest, I was not that disappointed. I mostly got the license to try to get my father's attention. It backfired terribly, but that was long ago.
But mostly I have Jade, my best friend, in my life. Thus all is well.
I had been thinking about all this as I walked to school on that first day. I was looking forward to the new year. I was wondering if I would get teachers I liked this year. I looked at my watch. I must have been walking pretty slow; I realized I was almost late. I ran the last block and approached the doors at one of the main entrances walking pretty fast. There was almost nobody else in sight. I had to hurry; I didn't want to be late on the first day.
I started through the door and all of a sudden someone grabbed me. "Nice try kid." I twisted around. It was some new teacher I'd never seen before. And I couldn't understand what he was talking about. He looked at me and said: "We can't allow grade school kids inside." I kept insisting I belonged there. He plain wouldn't let me enter.
Our high school started classes a day before the grade schools, and only for 10th through 12th. And teachers were stationed at all the doors to stop the enterprising grade school kid from entering. Only I was a Sophomore and he wouldn't let me in. I know I looked young, but this was ridiculous. And worse than that, it was plain embarrassing.
"But I go to school here. I went here all last year."
"Good try. But came back in a couple years when you're old enough."
Grrr. I decided to try the next entrance. He was still laughing, thinking it all a big joke as I was walking away. So I just went to the next door, . . . and then the next. I hardly wanted to believe it. Where were the teachers that actually knew me?
Finally! I got in and ran to the front office to get my schedule. The door was locked. I knocked.
"You're late. All the schedules are now in Father Brand's office. You have to go down there." Grrr.
Father Brand stated the obvious: "You're late. Here's your schedule and pass to get into class. We need to enforce the rules strictly."
"They wouldn't let me in. I had to go to four entrances before someone let me in."
"Who wouldn't let you in? In where?"
"Into the school. The teachers stationed at all the doors."
"I can't accept that as an excuse."
"Why not? I would have been on time if I could of gotten in. They kept saying they were told to keep out grade schoolers."
Father Brand sat there looking, and then gradually smiled. "OK, but it's your fault anyway for not growing." Damn, I thought. He made a joke? I ran to class.
Roll was taken. It was Home Room period; it was usually 15 minutes and the second period of the day. But today it came first and lasted an hour with all the announcements and all the stuff starting the new year. I got most the classes I wanted. Advanced Math, advanced Science, plus the usual ones. All the best students were put into the same class -- Soph 1. Some students had a few different classes scheduled, but most of us were together for the whole day. This was a nice feature of a BIG school. An entire class of us "brains." We were insulated from the people that would tend to pick on us. Although at our school this usually wasn't a big problem. I might get a larger share of picking-on-ness because I was still so small, but there were only a relatively few kids that caused any real trouble.
After walking through the school between classes I was starting to realize that I was still the smallest kid in the school. Even including all the incoming Freshmen -- well, except for the midget. Darn, why can't I grow? Oh no, gym was 3rd period. Now I was in trouble. But I was a "fix-it" type person rather than a "bemoaning-type." So I bent all my brain power to the problem. There had to be at least SOME compensation for being one of the "brains."
First period was Latin II, not my favorite. But this was a Catholic school. Oh well. The teacher however, was great. Maybe not so bad after all. Then Biology. I loved this subject. Jade and I explored all kinds of nature stuff. We even planned to buy a microscope soon.
Gym. Entry into hell. Not the class itself. I was athletic enough to do OK. Even enjoy it. It was the dreaded common showers afterwards. I simply COULD NOT do that. Jade and I talked about this possible problem just the other day.
Jade remarked: "You've got to be kidding. Why not? Damn, I love the shower room. All those gorgeous butts! I just have to be careful not to let anyone see my frequent boners."
I was embarrassed just using the words "boner" or "cock" or even "naked." "You know I even have a hard time talking about these things, let alone parading naked in front of a lot of boys. I'd almost feel more comfortable in front of a lot of girls."
"So, BECAUSE YOU'RE HOMOSEXUAL, you will have trouble in front of boys?"
"No! Well maybe. OK probably. But I'm still hoping (and he joined in as I said it -- he heard it so often) when I go through puberty, things will change."
"You're almost hopeless. A forlorn hope. You're as much a homo as me."
"Thanks for the helpful words." But I smiled. This was the usual running argument. "There's something you refuse to understand. I can't let anyone know! I don't know how YOU do it. How come you don't have any problems?"
"Much different school, and different people. Many are even atheists. Many kids even proudly parade their boners around in the shower room! It all has to do with your attitude."
"Well in my school, we're not supposed to do those things. And at least in that kind of public situation the kids at my school don't. But the real problem is I'm desperately afraid to put myself in that situation. I just can't help it."
Then Jade had one of his typical Jade-ideas. "I have a great idea. You practice in front of me and get over your worst fears. I'll gladly sacrifice my time." And laughed. And ducked the flying pillow. And the flying shoe. And the second flying shoe.
"You're not helping. I can make it fast and not look, but I'm starting to get boners just thinking about the weather."
"That's what started happening to me as I started going through puberty! You should finally be happy!"
"Well, that part's good news, but WHAT CAN I DO?"
"I'm sorry. It's hard for me to commiserate. I'm just having trouble understanding how it can be a problem."
"OK, I know you'll snicker, but mostly it's my religion. It keeps getting pounded into us that ANY sex before marriage is wrong. And this is sexual. According to our church, even having what they call impure thoughts is a sin. And that's a lot of it."
"Then stop being Catholic, and start just being reasonable. Normal people have thoughts of sex all the time and don't feel guilty about it." I thought for quite a bit before I answered. "Well, I guess I'm too well indoctrinated. But I will think about things. I'm starting to wonder about a few things already. Thanks for trying to help."
Well we talked about it some more, and it really did help. It's just hard even just considering my church could be wrong. That is a revolutionary thought for me. And if Jade and I hadn't talked a lot about religion, I wouldn't even have got to the point of considering it.
But now I had to try to fix the problem. The first thing I did was to go to the school counselor to see if I could get my gym class changed to last period. Simply put -- he didn't have the authority over schedules. Next, I was in religion class still thinking what to do. All the classes today merely handed out books, lesson plans, etc., etc. So I had lots of time to think. Eventually, all I could think to do was see the Principal.
"I'm sorry. Your seventh period is Advanced English. That's the only time it's given. So we can't give you gym then." The Principal was nice about it. But that was it.
"So just put me in a regular English Class during 3rd Period."
"Well there simply is no Sophomore English offered that period. We'd have to juggle your whole schedule. But with all your advanced classes that might not be possible. And even if it were possible, we'd need a better reason to do it."
Jade met me as usual outside school. "What's the matter?" He could see I was intently thinking about something.
"My classes and even teachers look pretty good. My Geometry teacher I think is really great. And we will be covering the entire year of Plane Geometry in the first semester. Then we start some really neat stuff."
Jade smiled as he said: "I know very few people who would say that math could be `neat stuff.' So what's the problem?"
"Gym is 3rd period, period!" I smiled at my own pun. We walked toward Jade's house, which got me thinking. "How's things with your uncle?"
"He's drinking more again. You know what happens then."
Yes I did. He was then very abusive to Jade. Not physical, but verbally is bad enough. A far cry from his Mama who Jade missed sorely. "Well you know what I told you. If anything bad happens come straight to me. And I mean ANYTHING. PLEASE promise me!"
"Don't worry. I will. I just ignore him when he's like that. When he's sober he's OK. Well, mostly OK."
I still was worried. But whatever happened, I figured we could fix it. I asked: "So, how's your classes and teachers?"
"I got put in some advanced classes too. Damn, it's nice. You can learn something there. Not near the crap or problems the students start as in the usual classes. Things actually looking good. And I have to do good for Mama."
"And for yourself. Don't forget that."
"You worry too much. Let's talk about gym. As my math teacher keeps saying, `first we have to precisely define the problem'."
"OK, how do I get out of gym?"
"NO. Wrong question. And you claim to be the logical one."
"You're right. How do I NOT have to go into a public shower room."
"Almost. How can you avoid BEING WITH PEOPLE while you shower?"
"YOU'RE A GENIUS! That's it. It's showering in front of guys I got to get out of. I'll give it some more thought." I did have an inkling of an idea.
"Good. Claim it's YOUR idea. OK by me. By the way, how's Critter?"
"Finally not stealing any more pears. He's already eaten them all. You know now Mrs. Baxter is actually BUYING pears and putting one out for him! I think she likes Critter as much as we do."
"It's sure nice you got friendly neighbors."
We started toward Formica's Market to get tomorrow's circulars. I was pretty quiet thinking.
"OK. What is it you can't tell me?" Jade suddenly asked.
"Please kindly turn off your ESP. I promise to talk with you before I do anything."
We went into the store to the back office. The radio was playing. "Ally Oop, Opp, . . Oop Oop Oop. . ."
"Please, stop that torture music!" I said. I HATED that stupid song. Bob Formica, who had the radio baring said: "It was number one most the summer!" It was his Dad who owned the store.
I not too subtly snuck over and turned the volume down. I commented: "Continuing proof that the average IQ of today's teenager is seriously declining."
Then Jade, playing peacemaker: "Every one has different likes. By the way are the circulars ready?"
"Here. Hay Rocco, what classes you got? Didn't see you all day."
"I'm in Soph 1, mostly advanced classes."
"I always thought you was a braniac. Good luck. I don't want to work that hard. Besides, I'll just be running the store when I graduate anyway. And what's great -- I'll even like it. My Mom and Dad said they would like to spend more time away from the store. They said it's taken up too much of their lives already."
Bob Formica was a good guy; our interest was just a lot different.
"Thanks. Usual route?"
"Oh, I almost forgot. You will see about 400 more circulars there. My father thought that since Jade was from the black neighborhood, you guys wouldn't mind trying to expand what he calls "our client base." What do you think?"
Jade looked a little uneasy.
I looked at him and volunteered: "What Jade is thinking, is two things. Most of the people there are generally not so well off. Your vegetable and meat prices are pretty high. Also there's a market run by a black couple at the other end of their neighborhood. And they tend to be loyal." I saw that Jade seemed to be relieved that I answered.
"Well, we'll try it anyways. Notice there's a separate page. That's for your neighborhood only Jade. It explains our store policies, credit arrangements, and our prices and explains about our vegetables in the summer being fresh and mostly from neighboring Truck Farms, also our meat is the best quality, and butchered here. It can't help trying. And the new person we hired is from you neighborhood. My father even fired someone who objected. No loss, the guy was worthless. The colored guy already does twice his work. Dad gave him a raise already."
"OK, we'll deliver them." I said. I looked at Jade though when I said it just to make sure.
"Besides it's more money." Bob added. Jade and I agreed that that was always welcome.
After we left Jade was saying. "He might get some new customers, especially when people find out a local was working there, but some of the prices there are pretty high. But let's get back to the shower thing. What were you thinking?"
"OK." For some reason I wasn't in a serious mood just then. "How about me giving my family a line of bullshit and you writing a letter for me pretending to be one of my parents?"
"Wannnt." That was Jade's rejection buzzer.
"Telling the teacher I was allergic to the detergent they use in their towels."
"Wannnnt. Just tell you to bring your own towel."
"Fake the shower and just leave."
"Wannnnnt. You'd smell and eventually be caught."
"Threaten to shoot the teacher if he makes me take a shower."
"Do you think that's creative enough? How about picking a fight every time you get into the shower room and eventually the teacher will feel sorry for you and excuse you from the shower."
"Funny. You should get on the Red Skeleton Show as a clown. And how come YOU don't have any trouble hiding?"
"Easy. Most people can't get passed my hooks, or in the shower room, no hands, to ever think anything else about me. It's almost the only advantage they give me. Also that also gets me out of the trying to look tough, like a lot of my friends think they need to do." And then Jade smiled again. "How about my original idea? You parade around my room naked until you get used to it."
I wasn't about to say what I really thought of that suggestion. But I might need to go to confession again just thinking about it. "I usually can figure these things out. I'll think some more." Turning toward Jade, I added: "And I promise not to do anything stupid."
And the next morning I awoke with an idea which I thought would probably work. My inkling of an idea had blossomed overnight, but now scared me to my bones. Jade seemed a bit incredulous when I gave him my possible solution. (OK, a whole lot incredulous).
"You will do WHAT?"
"You heard me."
"OK. At least it's honest. But I still don't understand about your Catholic confession thing."
"Don't worry. I might not actually get the nerve to do it."
School went well. I had been a little afraid about Geometry with needing to do proofs, but the teacher said we didn't need to actually memorize the postulates and theorems word for word, so long as we knew their content. And looking through the book it looked like everything was pretty obvious. Just picture the problem and the answer just stares back at you. I had a very good visual memory.
At lunch, I was getting reacquainted with a few school friends including Jabloski and Twain. Both were in Soph 1 too. I was remarking on the weird situation that had occurred in Latin class. Father Saro, the teacher, asked for someone to answer a question and called on me, or so I thought: "And what is the Imperative Mood ending for the Fifth Conjugation verb here, . . . Rocco?"
I stood and started to answer just as another student I'd never seen before ALSO started to answer. There were TWO ROCCO'S in the same class! That's going to cause confusion. For all my life when someone called Rocco, it was always me. Now I wondered how all the Johns, James, and Mikes handled it.
Jabloski remarked: "Too bad Nestor's not back. Have you heard from him recently?"
I answered: "Not since mid-August, he's having trouble with his father, but won't say what."
Jabloski replied: "Your gonna hafta fill in for him more Rocco; he'd get some colossal ideas. We need to invent new ways to get into trouble."
We all laughed. Twain asked: "Still friends with that colored kid?"
"Yeah. We're best friends. We were together almost all summer. Except for the family's vacation."
"Where'd you go? We went to the shore for two weeks." That was Jabloski. Twain said he and his Mom went back to the west coast to visit relatives for a couple weeks, and also managed to visit the Grand Canyon on the way back.
And so went the rest of Lunch Period. And then time for my new plan. If I get the nerve. I was already shaking! I KNOW I wouldn't even have entertained this solution before I met Jade. Somehow he had to fight so hard to overcome stuff, I was a bit inspired. I thought usually I would have tried some finagle method. But because of Jade I was doing it the "honest" way. I finally went into the office of the school newspaper right after classes. Father Hearn was there. He's one of the priests that I felt the most at ease with. He was pretty down to earth and had his own demons. He was an alcoholic, although I don't think most the other students knew. I served Mass for him a few times and with no exaggeration, he used a single drop of wine in his chalice.
"Father, do you have some time right now?"
And said in his half fake cranky voice: "If it's important enough. What's up?"
"Well it's complicated. I think I need advice and I need a favor, a really BIG favor. But I'm REALLY afraid to talk about it." He could see me going pale and shaking. And I thought he was one of the people who really and truly cared; that's another reason I went to him. I always saw that about him. How he treats his students. I think he has enough of his own problems, he feels for other people more.
He looked at me a bit, and must have realized how utterly serious this was. "Come with me. And no need to be afraid. I was a boy once myself." We left and he locked up.
And miraculously, even if I was still scared "shitless," I felt I could at least move now. (I AM NOT exaggerating; I was so scared, I was glad I just went to the bathroom).
I was surprised; I thought we were going to some school office. But we left the school and he led me into the faculty house. This was where all the priests and people in their Congregation who taught at the school lived. Students NEVER went there. (Or so I supposed). We went into the back of the kitchen; he went to a beer keg and drew a tall glass. He turned and gave me a funny smile. "Medicine. Everyone knows I'm an alcoholic." I was floored. Almost no one knew. At least not students.
We then went up to his room. "OK, please remember you can tell me anything. NOTHING will leave this room."
"How did you realize it was that serious?" I asked.
He sat down, finished half the beer, and finally answered. "Please sit. You're ready to collapse. And that's why I knew. I thought you were going to faint. You went white as a sheet and were shaking like whole tree full of leaves in a hurricane." A long pause. "And I mentioned me being an alcoholic to help you realize I'm just human too. I've been through a rehab program -- twice."
"But I'm still afraid. NOBODY talks about this. And I mean NOBODY."
He looked at me awhile. "At first I thought it was drugs. Now I think it's something else. Let's play twenty questions. Did you kill someone?" I almost smiled. "NO."
"Thinking of killing a brother or a parent?"
"No. Nothing like that. Although I don't get along with my Dad too well."
"OK, you're having so much trouble at home you're thinking of running away? Or maybe suicide?"
Suicide? Hell no. "No."
He just sat for a bit. "What's you phone number?" I told him. He turned and called. He talked to my Mom.
"This is Father Hearn, one of Rocco's teachers. " (Pause). "Definitely not. In fact just the opposite." (Pause) "No again the opposite, he's helping me with something important. Your son is a good student." (Pause) "Well, yes. In fact, I will probably need him long enough; he'll be eating dinner here if that all right." (Pause) "Yes, often enough. I'll be driving him home then." Eventually he hung up. I was stunned. Literally.
"I'm going to EAT here? In front of all those priests?"
He just laughed. "We can go out to eat if you want."
He started taking off his cassock as I thought. He had on just regular clothes underneath. He then put on a dress shirt. "So what's it gonna be?"
"I need to call a friend. We were supposed to meet right after dinner to deliver circulars." I had told Jade my plan and I'd meet him at his house after dinner. I called.
Father Hearn asked after I hung up: "A good friend of yours?"
"Yeah. My best friend."
"You talked to him about the problem you came to me about? Or is HE the problem?"
I said "no," but got real scared with his last sentence, and looked down.
"Let's go outside," he suggested. We wound up walking all the way into Pennypack Park which ran immediately behind the faculty house. We talked about everything but my problem it seemed.
Then suddenly: "Does it have to do with sex. Many teenagers are afraid to talk about sex."
Finally I said yes.
"Got a girl pregnant?"
"Thank goodness no."
"You're sure giving me a toughie. I thought it might be about sex right away but didn't want to embarrass you if I was wrong." Then he looked straight at me and said: "If this is too hard for you, we can quit `till you feel more comfortable."
"I'll probably never get up my nerve again. I think I'm homosexual." I almost shook apart as I said it.
I was surprised at his reaction. He just looked sad. He answered: "I was starting to think it might be something like that. You should know you're not alone."
I was so stunned; I stopped abruptly and my jaw dropped. "I don't know what to say."
"First I have some questions. You're pretty young physically yet. Have you gone through puberty?"
"No. But I think it might be starting."
"Now, you realize you may actually be able to function as a heterosexual eventually. You can't be sure until you go through puberty. And even then you can't be sure. And also some people can be attracted to both girls and boys."
I was embarrassed just thinking about this let alone talking about it. Both boys and girls, I wondered. "I'm still hoping. But all my urges are for boys. It don't seem fair." I said the last with vehemence.
"It probably isn't, but we are taught God will give us the strength to face what we must. But enough religion. I think you came for more practical help. I would hope you can trust me enough later that we talk about religion, but aside from what I've said, it's now a waiting game.
"Well no one talks about these things, at least around here. But before that, I have absolutely no intention of judging you. I'm here to try to help."
"I feel lucky. I didn't think I'd find anyone to talk to. How come we can't find out these things in school?"
He laughed. "No in today's society. Not yet anyway. So I assume your parent's don't know?"
"Only my best friend knows."
"You also said you needed a big favor."
"Yeah. I have 3rd period gym." Father Hearn looked puzzled. "We have to take public showers after. It's like asking a regular kid to take a shower, naked, in front of a bunch of girls."
He actually laughed. "Now I understand. So I guess it would for you. Don't worry; be absolutely sure I'll work something out. And that is a firm promise."
"Thanks. That's quite a relief."
"Of course now I'm wondering what you did last year?"
"Had gym last period of the day. No body worried if you just skipped the shower." I had another thought. "I'm glad I took Jade's advice. He said to do things the honest way."
"Is that your friend?"
"He must be quite a person to have that philosophy at his age. How old is he?"
"Sixteen, and he's had some really tough times. Compared to him I have no problems. I love him like a brother."
"I'd like to meet him. He must go to school elsewhere."
"Yeah. Lincoln. He's a Sophomore. He lost a year. We talk about everything."
"He sounds like a friend you should keep. How did you guys meet? He go to your church?"
I laughed. I wasn't sure why. "He's a Baptist if anything. You might not like us talking if you knew how he tries to get me to quit being Catholic. But being Catholic is like part of my life. He has trouble understanding that and I have trouble explaining it. We met by accident a year ago. It was sort of serendipitous. . . I guess he had trouble fitting in just like me."
"I glad to hear you're sure in your faith." He smiled. "I promise that's all I'll get into religion right now. I'm sure that can wait, unless you need to ask me something? Who does he live with now if both his parents are gone?"
"His uncle. But I try to avoid him. He sure don't like white people."
"Your friend's a Negro? Do you think that's unusual?"
"Yeah. You should see all the fuss some people made. Both black and white. But we'll be friends for life. Nothing can break us up." I was afraid to tell Father Hearn about Jade also being homosexual. But I kept remembering Jade saying to be honest and to not tell ALL the truth is close to lying. "There is one more thing but I'm not sure if I should mention it."
"Don't worry, you don't need to. Just if and when you feel you can." We started going back. "Anything else?"
"Well, not really. I don't believe I'd ever got the nerve to talk like this. And there's one more thing. It's why I could talk about this stuff with Jade. He's homosexual too."
Father Hearn looked at me with concern. "We should talk about that some time if you can."
"Don't worry, we don't do any sex stuff and I don't plan to. I keep telling him it's against my religion." "And besides," I thought to myself, "I'm still not totally, completely, abso-hundred-lutely-percent convinced I AM a homosexual. I still hope . . ."
We got back to his room. He said he had a book I should read. I mentioned that just recently I've felt an urgency to find out everything I could about everything. Maybe I really am starting to go through puberty.
"How come you haven't said a word about how sick I am?"
"Do you think you are? Do you feel like you're psychologically ill?"
"Well that's what everyone says."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"Well, no actually."
"I don't think so either, just maybe immature."
Father Hearn looked through a big pile of books next to his desk. "Here it is." He started leafing through it. And then changed his mind: "But you don't need all this. Tell you what. There's a section in this book I would like you to read. I'll have it for you soon as I get it copied."
I was feeling pretty relieved. Also totally wiped out. "I don't know how to thank you. I feel so. . . I don't know. So relieved. It's even more than that."
As we talked some more a book slid off the big pile on his desk and I reached to pick it up but Father Hearn beat me to it. But as I stood up I happened to catch a name on a fairly thick book in the bookcase behind his chair. I was riveted. I labored to read the title from this distance and discovered it was one of the books I'd been trying to get a hold of. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred Kinsey. I WANTED that book so bad! But I was TOTALLY afraid to ask about it. (I guess I used up my year's supply of courage already). I'm not too sure all he said after that; I kept being distracted, glancing at that book tantalizing only five feet away. Eventually Father Hearn turned to the wall and looked at the clock. "Dinner in about 20 minutes. I'll show you where the refectory room is." At my puzzled look, he explained: "Refectory, dining room. But I will have to leave you on your own till then. I need to see someone else before dinner."
My mind raced at light speed. I HAD to see that book. Using my most innocent voice I replied: "I'd feel so self conscious being there on my own. Could I stay here for now and maybe you can come back for me when you're done?" I wondered if he could tell how nervous I was. (Well, I guess compared to earlier, I was as calm as a Buddhist monk).
"No problem. You be OK on your own for 15 minutes?"
I actually got about 4 pages worth copied before he returned. I was shaking so bad it was a wonder I was able to write at all. I must have dropped the book five times, and looked up in fright every time I heard the slightest sound. It took me precious minutes to even find the section I wanted, and then I wasted more time looking for some paper and a pen. I wished I knew shorthand. As I wrote I was completely astounded. I could hardly believe what I was reading. As the 15 minute mark got closer I was totally scared I'd be caught. I finally put the few pages in my pocket, put the pen back, and closed the book. Then I battled temptation. I WANTED that book. But I was afraid he'd miss it and I'd be caught. I then thought about just ripping out the pages on the section I'd been copying. Again I resisted temptation, not because I decided it was wrong, but again only because I was afraid I'd be caught. I finally put the book back. He didn't come back for five more minutes. And to make sure I'd do it without allowing myself to think too much about the consequences, I impulsively grabbed the book back and put it in my book bag. And then got scared. And then put the book back. I did that three times.
Father Hearn stuck his head into the open doorway. "Let's eat. Steak tonight. Remember, don't worry about that shower. I guarantee you I'll fix it. . . . And thank you too."
I was puzzled. "For what?"
A bit of a sardonic smile appeared on his face. "I usually have three beers by now."
Dinner was scary at first. But everyone just was so normal. Father Brand even said hello! After dinner we drove over to Jade's place. When I got inside, I called my Mom and let her know we were delivering the circulars, but we'd be a bit later because of the extra houses we were delivering to.
Jade was surprised that I came to his house in a car. "Hay Rocco, who was that dropped you off, and how'd it go?"
"Believe it or not that was a priest from my school. The one I talked to. And he was great. I'm totally wrung out though. I think I used up a year's supply of will power. Maybe two. We have a LOT to talk about. And you won`t believe what book he had in his room."
Thanks God. I feel so lucky. I never dreamed today could end this way. I guess it's now September 9th. I spent an hour memorizing the stuff from the Kinsey book. Even though we talked about the stuff while delivering the circulars, when we finished Jade wouldn't let me go home until we both read through those pages a couple times. Then he had to talk about what we had found out all over again. We were both surprised about some of the information. Amazing! This changes EVERYTHING! It would mean that at least as many as 140 students in my own school alone were homosexual. And possibly as many as 400! I wonder who else?
Earlier, as we were trying to figure out what to do about taking a public shower, lots of ideas whizzed through my head. Jade wouldn't have approved of any of them so I kept quiet. For someone who claimed not to be very religious, I think he's actually a better person than I am. I like to think of myself as a good person, but too often I try to finagle my way out of situations and I lie now and then. I'm ashamed to admit it. But Jade actually inspired me to go what he called the "honest" route. I am SO glad I did. I even told Father Hearn EVERYTHING! And he was so great. He didn't try to preach. I felt SO good afterwards. I think I'm learning to be honest. I just hope I can be honest with myself. And then I read the Kinsey stuff. A REVELATION! To think that they seriously question that homosexuality has any co-relation with a person`s masculinity. Like they are two separate categories. Now that one had me worried. One of the reason's I kept using to convince myself that I was not homosexual was that I believed I was not feminine in the least. I loved sports, and being competitive, and all that stuff. Of course I never thought of Jade as not being masculine. (OK, so I`m mixed-up).
Classes look good, and my teachers too. Father Hearn is my Religion teacher, and also is co-editor of the school newspaper again this year. I was hoping to be even more involved with the editorial staff this year. Jade is going to be on his paper again too. Boy I wish he went to my school. I am SO glad I've been completely honest with him. Father Hearn I mean. I feel so . . . I can't think of the word, but free is as close as I can figure how to say it.
Chapter 34 -- Girls and Other Bumps In the Road
I was really tired after doing the circulars. I never let Rocco know, but the effort to grab those circulars and fold them is really hard on my arm muscles. My arms still ached this morning. And of course I didn`t tell him that for the two-hundredth time my uncle complained how come I can`t get "no normal black friend." I said it didn't matter if Rocco was colored or not. It's just the way it was. Then he said that we shouldn`t be using the word "colored" -- that it was almost as bad as "nigger." And then he started in with all his white people just wanted to take advantage of us stuff. I told him if anything, I was taking advantage of Rocco. He sure didn`t like that. I got out of there when the windows started rattling. How come I can just shrug off when I hear white folk say something about us, but got angry when my uncle starts in on white folk? And some of the stuff is probably true. I've also not told Rocco yet there was a girl at school really causing me trouble. Rocco will probably laugh. Ironically, most guys would be thrilled. She's really a fine girl and real smart.
But when Rocco and I met after school my focus was first entirely on the book Rocco mentioned last evening. "Rocco, there's a lot of stuff I was thinking about. For instance, was there any difference in the percentages of homosexuals between white people and colored people? And even more important, all the stuff you talked about was just sex stuff. Did they happen also to talk about two guys not just having sex together, but deciding that they could fall in love with each other?
Rocco got this look like he was got caught at something. I asked him what.
He got this half grin-half frown. Like his mouth was smiling but that was all. Then said: "I felt a bit abashed." He looked at me like "you know that word?" I looked back like "sho' I do." He added: "Leave it to you to think of more than just the sex stuff. As for the questions, I`m not sure. I know there was one place I read that long term relationships between guys was not common but I can't remember anything more specific. As for Negroes, I don't remember anything in particular.
"OK, so let's find out." That should be simple enough.
"From the book."
"Well, let's just look it up?"
For some reason I started to get exasperated. Rocco's perverse streak was showing. Usually I went right along thinking it funny and a challenge. But this time I was just too anxious to find out all I could about this stuff. After thinking about how I was reacting I asked: "And exactly why can't we just look it up?"
"Well, I guess we could, but I'm not sure that we'd be able to sneak into the faculty house behind our school, sneak all the way in Father Hearn's room, grab the book off his bookcase, and sneak all the way out again."
"You said you had the book!" It came outlouder than I intended.
"I said I took the book. And I put into my book bag."
"Then why would we have to sneak. . ." I never finished, because I finally realized he didn`t have the book in spite of him saying he had it. And I knew he lied to me sometimes, but never anything that mattered. And he always confessed later. Couldn't he tell that this was too important? I looked down at him and said: "You're doing it again!" And what I didn't say was: "Deliberately being literal but this time even lying."
And before he could say anything, I snagged his belt with my left hook, and literally through him into the air. Well, maybe not very far he was definitely air born. He landed on his hands and knees trying to break his fall. I regretted it before he was even air born. I couldn't even remember when I had ever been angry at him before. At least not important-type angry. He looked up and looked so hurt. I could even see his tears try to start. Damn! I was now ten times more angry with myself. I then instantly went from angry to anguished. Before I could say anything it was him that said something.
"Jade, I'm sorry. Didn't know you were gettin' mad. Really I didn't. You`re the one always telling me I got angry too easy."
I reached down, snagged his coat, and pulled him to his feet. I was trying to figure how to fix things but I didn't know how.
Rocco still looked like he was scared himself. He tried to say something a couple times but no understandable words came out. And for Rocco, that's means he's REALLY upset. And that got me more upset. Finally he found what he wanted to say. "Sorry. Honest I didn't know. And you sure know how to bully a kid who's only half your size! Damn, right out into the street." He seemed to be trying to smile. "And that could have got you killed."
"Sure. If a car came you would have run out and tossed me back to the sidewalk, and got yourself run over saving me." He tried to smile.
I couldn't figure out what to say. I realized I still had my hook caught in the back of his coat. I sort of just reeled him in and gave him a big hug.
"Sorry White-boy. I never get really angry. I guess I do, but I never get angry at you. And I don't know why but I want to see that book so bad I guess I just got frustrated. And you did say last night you had it."
He looked into space and I knew he was doing his weird kind of thinking and then he said: "You know I just realized I mentioned telling you about putting the book in my bag and then how scared I got, but then you kept asking questions about what I found out I just plain forgot to tell you that by the time I left Father Hearn's room, the book was back on the shelf. When I thought what would happen if he discovered the book missing, I put it back. I didn't lie on purpose." He looked so earnest. He then remarked: "I hope you never look at me with the look you looked at me with. The one you looked at me with when you were looking at me mad."
How can anybody reply to that? I think twenty different thoughts blitzed through my brain in the next two seconds. I wondered if my face showed it. When you don't know how to apologize, do something physical. I lunged and tackled him to the ground. He fought back pretty good. We wrestled around for an entire 5 seconds before I had him spread eagled underneath. We were both laughing by that time. I let up and said: "I can't believe it. The very first time I was GLAD you did something bad, and now I find out you undid it! . . . Damn!"
By this time we were sitting up. He started looking at his pants. "I hope I didn't get any grass stains. And you always complain when I lie or cheat or something. So now I do the right thing and you complain."
"You didn't do the right thing; you did the I'm-afraid-of-getting-caught-so-I-better-not do-this thing."
We both laughed at this. As we got up he used what he claimed was his I-am-so-wounded voice: "Jade, I'm really hurt." It was more like an I'm guilt-but-trying-to-get-out-of-being-punished voice. We got up and started walking toward my house again. He then got this excited look. "Sorry about not having the book after all, but at least I DID find out pretty neat information. And I got this greatest idea about getting a copy of the book anyway." That got my attention.
"Elucidate." I said. And managed to smile.
"You used that word a long time ago," he temporized.
I ignored that and gave him my start-explaining-now-or-else stare.
"Well, when I was leafing through the book, a receipt fell out saying where he bought the book. Well actually he got it through the mail from some bookstore in a different city. But that got me thinking. Leary's! They have a billion used books on simply everything. I can't believe we didn't think of this before!"
"Great idea but what do we do? Just march up to the counter and right out ask `Do you have that Kinsey sex book?' I don't think so. And even if we did get the nerve to do that, maybe they won't even sell it to us." But we finally decided it was worth the chance. We would go down town to Leary's Book Store tomorrow. Rocco said he'd just have to figure out a way to get his Mom's permission.
Thinking about all that homosexual stuff got me thinking about this girl at school. "I have something you might take interest in, White-boy. There's this girl. Her name is Consuelo. She's in my Advanced Math class this year." I started mentioning other stuff.
Rocco interrupted as he often does: "She!? That's what I should be interested in? Sorry, not interested. I dated a couple times last year to help bolster. . ." Rocco suddenly stopped. I think his ESP must have been rusty and finally kicked in. "OK, Jade. Talk."
"She's a fine girl, but. I don't know how to NOT get involved. She's really smart, and quite nice to talk to. Not excessively `girly'."
"By that I assume that she has some maturity. And not just looking for ANY boy."
"Yes, and that even makes it harder. Two problems, that you probably can state without me saying."
But I guess we would have to get back to that topic later. We never got further. Now if a regular person was going to get hurt, they'd do it in a regular way. But of course Rocco was definitely not regular. Rocco and I were just stepping off the curb when a car went right through a red light. Damn, another couple seconds and we could have got smeared. We both jumped back and Rocco make a noise that couldn't be reproduced by mere letters of the alphabet. He dropped to the ground, and than said: "I don't believe it. I think I broke my foot."
At first I thought he was joking -- not beyond him. But then. . .
He got up and started walking, or at least tried to. "Damn, I DID break something!"
I was a little skeptical yet. "But nothing happened!"
"When we jumped back I stepped on your foot just as you were lifting yours. I think I snapped a bone in my foot. I'm not kidding. I almost don't believe it myself."
An hour later, Rocco called his Mom from Dr. Krazenski's office. That was his family doctor. (It was also where Nestor lived for a year). We took the trolley for most of the way and he hobbled, with me helping the final block from the trolley stop. Fortunately the doctor was there. He did have a broken bone and the doctor put on a cast. "Where do you want me to sign?" I asked when Rocco finally got off the table. The doctor made him stay there until the cast had dried enough.
"It's still not dry enough to sign." Rocco was definitely NOT happy. He started complaining. "And I still don't believe it. This just ain't fair. All the stuff I had planned."
"The doctor said only four weeks." I couldn't help chuckling; it had its humorous angle. "Does this mean I'll have to take Critter on its walks? Oh, damn, I just thought of what we wanted to do tomorrow. And then Thursdays."
"Well, maybe I can still deliver the circulars on crutches. We'll have to see. And Joey helped a few times. He could always fill in. Maybe our microscope will have to wait a few more weeks." Rocco and I were hoping to have saved enough money soon.
I had been at the doctor's house just visiting once last year with Rocco. I told him I HAD to see Nestor. I was a little surprised to find that we got along great. And I told Rocco he had great taste. I could easily fall for Nestor myself. He was so easy with everything. Nothing seemed to really bother him. I couldn't believe Rocco when he said Nestor had recently been having "trouble with his father." But Rocco said he didn't write what. "I have to call Mom and I guess I will find out how to use crutches. Dr Krazenski said I could use some he had there and so I won't have to buy them myself. He is one of the more generous people I know. There have been several stories in circulation saying nice things. He also donates his time to several clinics in the city."
The doctor came back from upstairs and let Rocco use his phone.
"Mom, I'll be home a bit late today. Can Jade eat with us tonight?"
(Pause) "Thanks." (Pause) "No Jade's fine. I just had a small accident. I stepped on Jade's foot and believe it or not I broke a small bone in my own foot." (Pause) "Actually no, in fact I'm calling from Krazenski's office right now. I have a small cast on my lower leg." And so it went. It seemed his Mom wouldn't stop asking questions.
By the time we got to his house I was carrying my books, his books, and even his shoe, and Rocco had the temerity to say HE was exhausted. Using crutches I guess was hard work, but still. Twice he stopped to adjust the height of the crutches.
Rocco explained: "It's so much easier going on your hands rather than under your arms." And then he got this worried look. "I hope the doctor's bill isn't too bad."
Dolores greeted us at the door. "So Jade, how's school so far? Any girlfriend yet? Rocco hardly dates at all. But he still thinks he's a sixth grader." She ribbed her brother, but I could tell it was only in fun. But looking at Rocco I don't think he saw it that way.
Rocco kept telling me that his brother never dated at all. And he was a Senior. So his parents never really seemed to wonder about Rocco. Before I could answer, he did. "Actually there's a girl in Jade's Math class that's after him. And what's even better, Jade really likes her."
My mouth just dropped. I gave him my best kill-you-where-you-stand stare. I'll have to work on it; he didn't even wither. Before I could answer myself, Dolores jumped back in. I wondered if they planned this. "Jade! What's her name? What's she look like? Is she smart? Does she live near you?" And that was just the start.
Now I know where Rocco's Mom inherited her penchant for rapid firing questioning. OK I got that backwards, but you know what I mean. Again Rocco butted in. "She lives in Torresdale, near your school. Her name is Consuelo Martinez. And according to Jade, she's as smart as she is good looking, and he said she's, and I quote, `a babe'."
I couldn't believe he could so brazenly make up all that. I finally got in a word. "Rocco, you're enjoying this entirely too much." And if possible his smile got bigger. Then I got a Rocco-type idea. I retaliated. "Be careful or I'll tell everyone how you really broke your foot." I said with my carefully practiced innocent look.
Rocco spoiled it by laughing, and then put on his trying-to-appear-sly look. "But I promised you I wouldn't tell them how you really broke my foot."
Before I could answer, his Mom, who had just entered the living room, interrupted: "Just how DID you break it?"
"Jade did it. Just as I was putting my foot down, Jade put his underneath. He deliberately forced me to step on his foot."
His Mom again asked: "Really, joking aside, how did you break it?"
Rocco and I both laughed. Rocco exclaimed: "No, it's true." And he described the entire incident.
Then Dolores re-attacked: "Who cares about that. Jade, tell us more about this Consuelo Martinez."
Again someone interrupted, but now it was Carl: "That name is Spanish." His expression and tone of voice made the remark pejorative.
And I STILL didn't get to answer.
Rocco rejoined: "But you should be happy that she's Catholic. Besides, our name is Italian, and I don't look anything even close to Italian." I could tell Rocco was annoyed. I think he was more annoyed by the oblique racial slur than I was.
His Mom finally broke in. "OK, that's enough. Let's not squabble. It's almost time for dinner, and your father will be home soon." Rocco then said Consuelo's father was from Puerto Rico, and that her mother's name was Kennedy and from Hyannisport." (Rocco can make up lies faster than the devil. I told Rocco that Consuelo's father was Negro). Now everyone, except Mariann, looked at him.
I wasn't sure what to say. All of a sudden I was embarrassed. I really wish Rocco hadn't gone that far. I stepped in to stop any more unnecessary complications. "Actually Rocco's just joking. I'm not certain exactly what her nationality is." And I jabbed Rocco in the ribs with one of my hooks. Hard. Rocco got the message and we changed the subject. We watched some TV until his Dad came home. His Dad simply said hello, and then saw the cast on Rocco's foot. We had to explain everything all over again. His Dad then went upstairs to clean up. His Dad seemed pretty friendly toward me most the time, and I was wondering how come Rocco and his Dad didn't seem to get along too well. I could tell by his Dad's questions that the main thing he seemed to insinuate was that here was just one more careless thing Rocco was responsible for. I could see Rocco cringing inside.
His Dad came back down a bit later and we went into the kitchen for dinner. It was spaghetti and meatballs. It had been settled that I'd eat there when Rocco had talked to his Mom from the doctor's office. The topics included Critter, our penny collection, classes at school, and Dolores' new boyfriend, and Dolores' old boyfriend, and Dolores' boyfriend before that. His Dad seemed friendly enough at dinner. And then Carl remarked that Rocco was a master at inventing new ways of getting hurt. Then I learned of how he had broken his nose by running face first into a tele-pole* while playing baseball.
[* A colloquialism for telephone pole]
After the meal, Rocco and I went outside and played with Critter. (It was easier to coax him down from the cherry tree now that it had no more cherries). That meant we fed him and he allowed one of us to stroke his stomach. He promptly went to sleep. I remarked: "His name should have been Sleepy."
Rocco then talked about his broken foot. "I'll have to take the trolley Monday. I'm glad tomorrow is Saturday. I'm not looking forward to the walk up that hill."
No bus got close to his school from this direction unless you wanted to go miles out of the way and make two transfers. The closest the trolley got to his school was a five block walk up a substantial hill.
"One thing I've been meaning to ask, what's the situation with showering after gym?"
"Nothing yet. No gym today -- it was a free period. Won't know `till Monday. Of course now with the cast I have a four week reprieve."
We then talked about our current inexhaustible topic, the Kinsey stuff. Rocco then mentioned something he remembered that he hadn't written down. "They wrote that homosexual contacts occur least frequently among guys who were raised devout Catholics. Well that don't take no Einstein to figure why. We're constantly told that even impure thoughts are mortal sins. And even if they did do that stuff, I doubt that many would have admitted it."
We drifted to other stuff but I guess Rocco could tell I had something on my mind. Finally Rocco said: "OK, out with it. Let's get it over with."
"I don't have the slightest . . ."
He stopped me. "Jade!" He knew that I knew what he meant. And I knew he knew. Etc.
"OK. I really was embarrassed by your trying to bait your brother. Especially since it really didn't matter." There was more but he didn't let me finish.
"Didn't matter? I still have trouble understanding how you can say even indirect racial slurs don't matter."
"They matter. But complaining about them usually can do no good. You need to learn WHEN to fight back, and when not to."
"Well anyway, you know I apologize. But if you asked him, Carl would never admit being prejudiced. Yet he questioned you possibly dating a non-black girl."
"I claimed to not know her nationality, and I still am not certain, but she's definitely part Negro. And that brings us to another topic. How can I . . . Stop laughing! This is serious." We finally got back to what we were about to talk about when He distracted me by breaking his foot.
Rocco laughed even louder. "Simple. Do what I have to do all the time. Start the BIG LIE and date her. Or maybe just say you'd be happy to be friends but you already have a girlfriend where you live. Of course that will still involve lying to her."
"And that brings up another thing. You lie too easily. I'd rather not."
"Well then it's still simple. Tell her you would be happy to be her friend but you are homosexual."
"I wonder if I could."
"WHAT! You're crazy. You CAN'T chance that. You can just imagine if that got out. You'd have to quit school."
"Wishful thinking. I mean about being able to confide in someone. Oh well. I'll try to just tell her I'd like to be her friend, but. . ."
"Yes. BUT. That's the problem."
We talked a lot more but didn't get any closer to a solution. I really did not want to lie. BUT. And the next day I went to Leary's by myself, and miraculously the book was right there on a shelf. In fact two copies. I just took it to the counter and paid for it. (I made Rocco pay for half when I got back). When he saw my trump-that-if-you-can smile, he told met to stop smirking. We must have spent the next hour pouring through it.
We read some stuff on masturbation that totally floored him. "I never knew a boy could do that before he went through puberty!"
I sure knew it. (I'm not telling how)!