Two Boys

Rocco Paperiello


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 glutei maximi.

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.

Rocco Paperiello


PART II -- Discoveries

Chapter 50 -- My Pet Dinosaur

It's been exactly one week since Jade and I were working on that book report. And I had to finish it this weekend. A lot of things were going through my mind. Strangely I was in a pretty good mood. And because of the book, I had to talk to Jade. His uncle answered and said he wasn't home. So I tried about a half-hour later.

When I finally got Jade on the phone I told him what happened.

"Crap. He's always doing things like that. I was here."

"I know what he's like. But I need to see you, how about coming over since your uncle's there? We need to talk."

"OK." I suspected what was suddenly urgent. "You found the Baldwin quote haven't you?"

"You better do some fast thinking before you get here. By the way, did you get that grip fixed on your bike?"

"Last night. I almost got killed when the old one split. I re-did both of them."

I never stopped admiring what Jade could do with those hooks. We made special built up grips for the handle bars when he first got the bike. "I'll be waiting."

I could hear the TV on downstairs. Mariann was watching Heckle and Jeckle. How cartoons have changed. Give me Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck any time. I went down to let him in. Dolores was also there. She turned around: "You take the last apple?"

"No. Critter did." And I smiled.

"You owe me. Jade coming? Charlie's supposed to be picking me up soon and I wanted you to let him in. I need to get ready."

"I need to talk to Jade. It's pretty important, and we'll be in my room. I'll leave my door open and keep an ear out."

"Thanks." Just then there was a knock. It was Jade. I opened the door.

"I could have been a burglar or something. You never even looked."

Dolores turned on the landing. "Hi Jade. Get that new album yet?"

Jade replied: "No. Not yet. Consuelo said she and Carlotta are still trading it back and forth. I'll be in Rocco's room, so I need you to call the police if you hear any screaming. I pulled one over on your brother and he has a bad temper and an inflated sense of justice." I laughed along with them.

I was at the top of the stairs and turned around. Jade was still talking to Dolores: "Upstairs Jade, she's MY twin." I then yelled down to my sister: "He deserves everything he gets. And I will be showing no mercy."

Jade followed.

"OK, put your right hook right there and repeat after me," I said. I had all I could do to keep a straight face. I found three bibles I found plus my biology book for extra effect. Jade looked at the bibles and chuckled. He did as told. "Repeat after me. I, Jade Brown, swear that I never knew that essay was in Baldwin's book when I finagled my best friend into reading it."

"Stack of bibles hunh? Nice touch with the biology book. But I can't swear. I was bad. And got caught."

"Why didn't you just show me the quote? You made me suffer through that horrible book!"

"Yeah, but I had an ulterior motive. I wanted you to read about what some people feel about growing up black."

"But damn. Couldn't you find a more readable book than that?"

"Well, there's Malcolm X, but he's REALLY radical. He wants us to have nothing to do with you and even wants to overthrow the white establishment. I think even the FBI's been after him. I`ve read up on him since my uncle seems taken by him. But I think my uncle would be a bit surprised if he really understood what Malcolm X was advocating."

"Well. That quote probably had more an effect that you could have expected. Wow! Especially when I've been trying to figure out all that crap I read in the Cavanaugh article. It seemed almost as if Baldwin read Cavanaugh, or someone like him, before he wrote it. But I still am having trouble understanding it. And I picked up Baldwin and read the quote aloud:

The really horrible thing about present-day homosexuality. . . is that today's unlucky deviate can only save himself by the most tremendous effort from falling into an underworld in which he can never meet either man or woman, where it is impossible to have either a lover or a friend, where the possibility of genuine human involvement has altogether ceased, so has the possibility of growth.

One thing really struck home. I've been really struggling with myself over the Church's stand and here Baldwin seems to actually challenge it and say that human involvement and growth cannot exist if it's followed."

"Definitely. And I agree."

"But is Baldwin here saying that we need to save ourselves from the type of policy the Church is advocating?"

"That's how I read it. What do you think?"

"It's a bit hard to follow. But I never thought about that angle before. That the Church's policy can actually not just be unfair, but also very bad for us. How can God want that? When I got up this morning I must have done some unconscious thinking but it was almost like a revelation. Suddenly for the first time, I started thinking that our Church might even be wrong!"

Jade walked over to me and hugged me. "FINALLY! There may be hope for you yet." And I distinctly heard Jade add under his breath: "And hope for us."

"Thanks a lot. I really mean it. I think that quote has done more than you ever suspected it might. I have to do a lot of serious thinking." And then another thought came to me. "I suspect also that Baldwin himself must be homosexual. Do you know for sure?

"Well, yeah. I also know that at least one of his novels is about people who are homosexuals too."

I laughed. "Wow. I bet my teacher never suspected that when he OK'd that book! But Jade." And I then jabbed him in the ribs to make sure I really had his attention. "Never make me read something that horrible again!"

And I gasped as he jabbed me back with one of his hooks. "Oops, sorry. Was only trying to fake it."

"Damn. Are those things registered with the police as lethal weapons?" We got into a wrestling match. I didn't have a chance. "OK, OK, I yield. Heck. How come you keep growing, but I'm still 5' 2" and barely 80 pounds? And I'm so hungry lately, I'm eating more than my Dad or Mom put together."

"Hay. I got it. Why not be a jockey?!" And laughed.

I gave him my most deadly glare. He must have had his shields up. I said: "I've always liked horses, but a jockey? Be real."

"Well, you're small enough."

"Yeah. I've always liked horses. I remember when the trash collectors still picked up oversized articles thrown away in a big wagon pulled by horses. I remember feeding them apples a time or two. Gees, that must have been years and years ago. The last time I can remember seeing the horse wagon was about the time the Denglers got that weird car."

"Weird car? A red blooded American teenager and all you can remember it was a weird car?"

"Well, I do happen to know -- it was a 1952 Studebaker. I think. It was red. And looked strange, sort of like a weird looking sports car. Mr. Dengler must have been out there polishing it every day when he first got it. And now I remember. It must have been 1952, because that's when I got my first "I Like Ike" button."

"Ike? You mean Eisenhower?"

"Of course. Sometimes Jade you amaze me with your ignorance of current affairs. It was a campaign button. I barely remember when Truman was elected. All I remember was that my Dad went to bed really mad. He was really mad that Dewey won."

"But didn't Truman win?"

"That's just it. When we went to bed I guess everybody said Truman lost. What was I talking about? Oh, you got me sidetracked. Horses."

"Yeah. I was just kidding you know. And then YOU started down memory lane."

"Let's keep strolling down that lane. How far back can you remember?"

"Cute. Well, I remember falling down the stairs when I was four. No, five. It was just after Mama finally got her Practical Nurses' License."

"That's it? Only five?"

"Well, let me think. I know! When I just turned four my Mama bought that old car. The Henry J."

"Wow! And it lasted all those years. What ever happened to that car? It has to be older than we are."

"Uncle Mike sold it. Didn't get much." Jade looked over at me and asked: "OK Rocco, how far back can YOU remember?"

"That Truman election was just after I turned three. But I can actually remember before then!"

Jade exclaimed: "I don't believe you!"

I looked my best glare at him.

"Well, that was only a rhetorical statement. Not really meant."

"I think you just misused the word rhetorical. If you did I claim a point." We looked it up, and I got a point. I admitted it was an imaginative way to use it though.

And then I began thinking back. "The earliest I remember was just before I was three. I was in the yard and sitting on a large flat stone and looking through a wide slat fence. It had to be before I turned three that September, before we moved, since we didn't have flagstones or a slat fence here. I was crying because my Dad was taking Carl for a walk and left me behind. That one image and thought is all I really remember."

"Holy smoke! You mean you and your brother started having trouble before you were three!" And Jade started laughing wildly. "No wonder you have years of resentment. It's been going on for over 12 years!"

I swung and missed. "Don't dodge. You deserve my best punch and I need to really wind up."

Jade ignored that comment. "That's got to be a world record!"

We talked a bit about this and I finally said: "But the most amazing memory I have is when I decided to talk." I liked watching Jade's expression.

"Now you really ARE prevaricating."

(He snuck that one in, but I knew it from the context). "I'm not `cating anything. Want to bet. Remember I'm a twin. My sister and I were always together for a couple years, even sleeping in the same crib. I remember being in the kitchen. It must have been probably right before I turned three because it was this house but we still had the blue linoleum on the kitchen floor. I wanted a glass of water and was pointing at the spigot and saying to my Mom. "Wa-ya-ya."

I was interrupted by a ridiculing laughter. "OK, stop laughing, I was not quite three. And that's what my twin sister and I called water. We had our own language and Mom said we would talk back and forth and nobody could understand us. I know I could understand what I thought of as people talk but just never used it. Well to get back to the story, my Mom kept insisting I call it water. She kept saying `not wa-ya-ya, say water'. I kept saying wa-ya-ya, and she kept saying `not wa-ya-ya, say water'. I finally gave in and called it water. I got my glass of water. I then decided to start using people talk, and I remember arguing with my sister for quite some time before she gave in also."

Jade didn't know whether to believe me or not. Belief won out. "That's really weird. As I've said, you are really weird. So what other words did you use?"

"Actually I can only remember 2 other words. `Ah-ah' was the word for my brother's teddy bear and `bong' was bread. That's all I can remember."

"Your brother named his teddy bear `ah-ah'?"

"No, that's the word my sister and I used for the bear. I can't remember what my brother named it."

"And to think in Biology class the other day we were arguing about just that. Whether we would have language if we didn't learn words from our family. I think the final consensus was no. Wait `till I tell them about this! You invented your own language!"

"I never thought about it that way. But I suspect a lot of twins do that."

I then changed the subject. I had been wondering all day if he talked to either Joey or Teague or someone. Jade said he caught Teague at school.

"So what'd he say?"

"I asked him to talk to that Marcel kid for me. He didn't like it. He really didn't like it. But you must have impressed him."

"Me!? But we really don't know each other that well. How could I have impressed him?"

"Teague said he wasn't too happy being asked to confront them. That we, meaning us Negroes, had to pull together. I mentioned that they may be Negroes but they just bullied people all the time and would cause trouble for all of us. Teague agreed and said he'd try. Oh, by the way, Marcel's real name is Carter Goodsen. Don't think it fits him though. But it was what Teague said next really surprised me."

I looked at Jade and wondered what his smile was all about. "You gonna tell?"

"I better try to use Teague's own words." Jade searched the ceiling for Teague's words and must have found them: "`But I'm doing this because of Rocco. There's no give-up in him. I like him.' And then he smiled and added. `For a white-boy that is.'"

I was stunned. I always felt a bit uneasy around Teague. He always tried to act like he was the best at everything and wasn't too concerned about other people, especially other white people. I explained that to Jade. "I always thought that Teague cared about himself first, then about other Negroes, and then the list ended. That just doesn't make sense. And besides, it's you that has no `give-up' in him."

"Well, I guess he's deeper than that. He said he'd help because you showed him there are more important reasons for doing things than just race. He also said he liked your competitiveness. Even though you mostly lose, you always battle and give it everything you got all the time."

"I'm gonna have to do a re-think on Teague. I didn't think he thought much of me at all. It's really great he's gonna help."

"Well, I just told him you were just too stupid to know when to quit."

Jade successfully ducked everything I threw but the last piece of apple. And Critter suddenly put in an appearance and scampered after it. Jade was so startled he fell off the bed.

"There you are!" (That was directed at Critter). I exclaimed. Critter had disappeared. Then Critter looked at Jade as he got back onto the bad. (Jade that is). While he was coaxing Critter onto his lap with the piece of apple, he gave me a dirty look. (Not nearly as good as my death-glare). "I'm happy to see you're doing well." (He said that to Critter, not to me).

Critter gulped down the piece of apple whole, and jumped off the bed, and suddenly decided to walk up the wall. We both laughed. Jade looked closely at the wall.

I remarked: "It's textured paper. Probably how he gets a grip."

"Really neat. And gees, Rocco, he has to be almost two feet by now. He's starting to look like one of those fake dinosaurs on those hokey science fiction movies."

Big exaggeration, but Critter was growing. "Just reminded me. I finished my paper for Biology Class. I'm really proud of this one. It's titled `My Pet Dinosaur.'"

"You're bringing Critter to class? I'd like to be there for that."

"Yeah. But it gets better than that. I get everybody's attention by bringing Critter into class on his leash. I already got the teacher's permission. I don't want to visit Father Brand any more this year."

"And I thought you were trying for a record."

"I will assume that's a rhetorical statement." I was really excited about my dinosaur idea. "I am really sure I've got a great idea. I bring in Critter, and explain a little about Dinosaurs, and mention how Critter looked prehistoric but was just a real distant relative. Then I put a covered box on the desk and claim that I actually had a pet dinosaur and it was in the box. Then I whip off the cover and underneath is a birdcage holding Consuelo's pet canary. I still have to ask Consuelo if I can borrow it."

"But that's crazy. What's the point?"

"The point is my paper claims that the canary is not just closely related to the dinosaurs, but all today's birds are actually present day Dinosaurs, and not just a close relative. I should win a Nobel Award for this."

"At best just an Academy Award. Your parents taking you to the head doctor soon?"

"Yee of little faith. Let me finish."

I explained how I was going to use diagrams to compare skeletons of a generic type bird to that of a Tyrannosaurus type monster. "They compare almost exactly but for one problem -- dinosaurs have no breastbone, critically important for a flying animal. And because no one can figure out how they could have evolved it in the short time period required, birds have only been considered distant relatives to Dinosaurs. But I figured it out!" I was REALLY proud of this one.

"You're serious aren't you?"

"I am. This is a certain A+. Maybe the teacher can even help me get this in some paleontology journal. I'm really excited."

"Well I'm now excited with you. But tell me before I have Critter attack you. How do you explain away the breast bone?"

"There IS one way a breastbone could have suddenly shown up! It evolved gradually over huge periods of time and then suddenly DISAPPEARED. THIS CAN happen with just some quick mutation. And then suddenly REAPPEARED much later! Which can happen merely by the former gene being masked! Voila! All we need is for scientists to find some fossil evidence. We need to find some early dinosaurs with breastbones and maybe some intermediary dinosaur-bird type fossils, before the Archaeopteryx. That's a real primitive bird fossil. But I really think this theory is a good one."

"Wow. You sure about all that evolution stuff?"

"Yes. I read up on it a lot. This is the second best idea I've ever had!" And I gave Jade my best sly smile.

"OK, I'll bite, what was your best idea?"

"Deciding we were going to be friends." I had to turn away and pretend to do something. I started tearing up. I didn't expect it, but my emotions were never far below the surface.

Jade said to my back: "Thanks, White-boy."

Journal of Rocco P

March 4, 1961
God how in the world can I make any decision? I am really mixed up. Can the church actually be wrong? Jade thinks so. But he isn't even Catholic. What should I really do? What REALLY is your plan for homosexuals? You're supposed to be a good God. How can you make us and then condemn us if we try to actually have a real life? Is Baldwin even close to being right?

And while you're listening. Please help Jade. He doesn't need any more grief in his life. You sure let him have more than his fair share. My problems aren't even problems compared to his. I wish I could be even half as strong as he is.

Maybe I could talk with Father Hearn again. I definitely have got to read through that pamphlet on sexual morality again.

Chapter 51 -- Even More Complications (or "A Couple Different Natural Laws")

I was still sneaking about, staying away from the newspaper office. I was even being careful when Marcel and his crowd were about. And Rocco claimed HE was the coward. Consuelo and I are also working on a new article but nothing controversial this time. Just the baseball team. Simple. She's getting the quotes. I wonder why people talk to her so much easier then me? (I really don't understand).

"Hay. Honky lover. Ready to prove yourself?" (That was from Carter aka Marcel).

I turned in fright. Well, probably more anxiety than fright. Damn. Where did they come from?

Me: "Just trying to mind my own business."

Carter: "Well don't you have an attitude. But we're here to forget and forgive." Turning toward the guy with him he added: "That so Mick?"

So that guy was Mick. One of the guys that pounded those other kids. Never got a good look before but he had a couple inches on me.

Mick: "Yeah. And we need your, let's say, moral support. We just targeted a couple of boys really hassling us and we need you there for moral support." They seemed to be taking turns.

Carter: "You know. And to see if your repentance is sincere."

Me: "Look. I don't want any trouble. And why make trouble yourselves? It can only backfire and hurt us all in the end." I realized that reasoning with them was probably futile.

Mick: "Be down by the park at the north gate after sixth period."

Now what the hell can I do? What I did scared me even more. I think Rocco's struggle with his religion was getting to me. I mean if he's struggling so much trying to do what was right, I guess I somehow felt like a hypocrite when I started walking toward Father Judge High after classes. I only got about 20 feet before my conscience took control of my feet. Before I realized it, my feet were walking into the vice principal's office. And I absolutely despised Mr. Muller. Usually, it was really hard to oppose the inertia of the administrators, but when race was involved, they erred on the side of caution. But one problem with Mr. Muller, the Vice-Principal, was the black guy was always the one in the wrong. Ten minutes later, Mr. Muller, three other administrators, and myself were approaching the far north gate. We heard a lot of yelling. And mostly we heard the high pitched screaming of one person, as he was being pummeled by a few much larger kids. There were about a dozen others watching.

"You (censored) assholes. Stop it. We never did anything against you. Stop, you (censored)!" That was one of the white boys trying to stop his buddy getting pounded.

The adults started rushing toward the boys in the actual fight. I still don't know why I did it, but I rushed straight at Marcel. His fists were pretty bloody by now, but it wasn't his blood. The boy being hurt was a small white kid with dirty blond hair and maybe only a little bigger than Rocco. I barely knew him, but instead of this kid, I momentarily saw my White-boy on the ground bleeding. I went berserk. I screamed as I plowed into Carter (Marcel). I can't actually remember swinging, but I do remember the impact of his face with my left hook. (Pun definitely intended). Later I found out I really didn't break the kids jaw with my hook, but it sure felt like it at the time.

Later I learned the meaning of the saying "No good deed goes unpunished." The Vice-Principal, Mr. Muller, was at the end of his long lecture. I was the "lecturee."

I responded. "But that's not fair. I was only defending the kid on the ground!"

"Our school policy is clear; you are suspended for a week, and . . ."

I was so angry I zoned him out. I really wished I hadn't hit the guy so hard. I finally zoned him back in just in time to hear: "You're lucky that's all that's going to happen. He was far in the wrong himself. Only because you were the one who brought us onto the scene, and because you've never been in trouble before, are we being so lenient."

I started to squirm. What the hell now? I was really more worried about the reaction of some of the students in the school. I was going to be high on the let's-get-him-next-list of Carter, Mick, Hank & their group.

Then came a big knock on the door. A secretary opened it. And right there was Rocco. I had to resist rushing over to him.

"Yes, young man?" That was the Vice-Principal.

"I was worried. I was waiting for Jade Brown and he never showed up."

The Vice-Principal said: "We're finished here. If you know Mr. Brown, maybe you can convince him that using his fists isn't the way to resolve things."

Then Rocco figuratively delivered a knock-out blow himself. "That's impossible isn't it?" Not just the Vice-Principal, but a couple others looked at him. "Jade has no fists!" Wow!

The vice principals face went as red as a highway flare. His expression was priceless. Rocco 10, Vice Principal 0.

Later we were in the park nearby. I was so upset I had to talk about it.

"You actually fought someone?! With your hooks?! And broke his jaw?! Damn. When I said you should register them as lethal weapons, I thought I was just joking."

We talked it out. I reiterated that his jaw wasn't really broken. I had just thought it was. And then I explained my worry over what I might now face.

Rocco said: "I don't think even Teague can help now. Shit. We have to think about this. We have a week to work out a plan." That was Rocco's optimism. He always assumed he could find a solution to everything. Maybe not this time.

We walked and started talking about both our most current worries. We eventually ended up at Shef's Pizza. We decided to splurge. I'd never been in there before. Neither had Rocco.

We went inside.

"Well, Rocco, I don't think I've ever seen you in here before. What can I get you?" The older boy behind the counter was talking to Rocco, but was staring at me. I stared right back. And then I folded my arms, and got the reaction I wanted.

"A large cheese pizza, and two cokes." I answered. Rocco smiled, knowing what was happening. I was now thinking that maybe a black kid had NEVER been in here before. It was a white teen hangout.

Rocco then said: "Oh, sorry. Frank Moore, this is my best friend, Jade Brown." Frank made a good recovery, I must admit. Not only did he smile, I even thought it was real. We sat down and discussed how I would get my assignments. Consuelo's name figured largely.

Frank finally came over with our pizza. "Here we are. Would you mind if I joined you? I can take a few minutes."

Rocco looked up. "Great. Have a seat." Turning to me, Rocco said: "Jade, Frank was the kid who gave me rides to school when I had the broken foot. In a Cadillac."

So this was that person. Maybe I should give him a break. "So you're the Frank that Rocco's talked about."

Frank seemed still a bit ill at ease, but seemed determined to be friendly. "Nothing bad I hope?"

By this time there were a few stares from some of the others in the place. Frank looked around and felt the pressure of the moment.

"Damn it Rocco, I should have known. You have a reputation for causing trouble." And then Frank looked at me. "Jade, our school disciplinarian, Father Brand, has a supply of Jug slips already made up with Rocco's name."

We talked a bit and Frank then said: "Jade, you probably don't know but my father-in-law, just last month, chased a couple other colored kids from this place. He's really a good guy but I apologize Jade, he just can't change the way he thinks about the kids from your neighborhood. He thinks all you guys want is to rip us off. If you ever discover who they were please give my apologies. In fact if they come back while I'm behind the counter tell them we owe `em a free pizza."

The conversation lagged a bit after that. No one seemed to know what to say. We finally left with Rocco eating the last piece of pizza. Soon after we left the place, we talked about everyone starting when I walked into the place.

Rocco seemed a bit remorseful. "Sorry Jade, I just didn't think."

I laughed. "I really liked Frank's reaction when he saw my hooks! But I thought he recovered well. He seems like a nice guy."

"He really is. But I thought we were going to be stared to death."

I replied: "Not to worry. Everything came out OK. Besides I could have just not followed you inside. I also got to like Frank."

"You should hear what my Mom says about him. He got his girlfriend pregnant in the 8th grade. They are even married and raising the kid."

"Holy smoke. I also know where you got some of your ultra fanatical ideas of religion from. So I can just imagine."

We then wandered to Rocco's house. Mariann was in front of the TV watching the Mickey Mouse Club. We eventually got to his room and saw that Carl was on the air.

"Watch out. Don't get fried!" Carl yelled.

Rocco said: "Gees, I forgot. Don't touch that wire. He's only transmitting at 40 watts right now, but you'd still get quite a jolt."

Carl chimed in: "There's a big band opening. I was just talking to someone in Texas. We were doing well until we were overridden by one of those blasted Mexican Kilowatts!"

We finally wound our way to the basement to say hello to Critter. He was under his rock. I almost thought Rocco and his brother were speaking a different language. "Could you explain what that was all about?"

"The rotor for the beam antenna on the roof is broken. He took it down to get it fixed. He hung an emergency dipole in the room because we started having great sunspots, which can cause what are called band openings. Six meters is so small the signal usually can't bounce off the ionosphere, but with all the energized particles caused by the sun spots is allowing the signal to bounce back. Usually, even a hundred miles for 40 watts transmitting on the six meter band would be a good distance."

"What about that Mexican?"

Rocco laughed. "Legally, you can only transmit with no more than a thousand watts. However, Mexico never enforces that. They're people down there transmitting with even 10,000 watts or more and can drown out any signal near their frequency. They're called Mexican Kilowatts."

Eventually we got to a topic I was anxious about. "So, White-boy, what's happening with our plan?"

"Well, I'm getting there. It still bothers me, but at least I feeling better about making some decision now. And as I've told you before, I am having serious trouble believing that God wants what our Church is teaching about us. But even other stuff is starting to bother me. For example its teaching on masturbation, or birth control, or even divorce. I just don't know what to think right now. I'm still struggling. And I`ve read that stuff Farter Hearn gave me a number of times. One thing for sure, that stuff on the Natural Law, don't seem so natural to me."

I started to get even more anxious. I thought Rocco had resolved some of this the other day. He was backsliding. Of course it took me a whole month to even get Rocco to openly talk about this stuff, without getting too embarrassed. I asked him: "Can you explain some of it? Maybe we can discuss it?"

"Let me go upstairs and get the pamphlets Father Hearn gave me. It can explain some of it better. I can't see how they decide things. It keeps saying one thing then concludes something else."

I looked around while he was gone. There was a ping-pong table set up. That was new. I suddenly started feeling sorry for myself again. "Stop, Jade boy, this can lead to no good." I said to myself. I have to stomp out these feelings ruthlessly. Five years, and I can still be blindsided.

Rocco came back. He saw me looking at the table and then at my expression. He didn't even say a word. He just hugged me briefly. Here's what the Church says about masturbation and other sex stuff"

Rocco started reading from a small pamphlet entitled The Natural Law and Sexual Ethics:

The innate purpose of the sexual faculty is twofold: procreation and love union. Every sexual act must be open to procreation, and must be expressive of love. These purposes may not be separated. This is the church's basis for condemning masturbation, contraception, sterilization and homosexual acts.

"How can they know that? And what do they mean by `open to procreation'?"

"I'm not exactly sure. But right here -- let me find it." Again Rocco read from the booklet:

To live in accord with natural law is to live in accord with God's will. . . . Natural law principals are natural to plain persons that is, natural to all mankind for natural law holds that many of the most fundamental principles of moral reasoning are obvious, that is easily known by all.

Rocco continued: "But that phrase 'open to procreation,' makes no sense to me what so ever. I mean I know what it's saying, but it makes no sense the way they try to apply it. I still have to think more about it."

"Well, most of that sure isn't obvious to me. To me that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It makes no sense. Have you actually thought about this stuff or just memorized it? If masturbation is so UN-natural, then how come it never seemed that way to me? Or my mates? Or even anybody I know? How come Nature never got around to telling all of US? And what about wet dreams? If they are against nature, we better redesign the human body. And I sure know this stuff ain't in the bible!"

"According to my Church, if you masturbate, you commit a serious sin. You go to hell."

"Even if it can be thought to be wrong from the point that it's a selfish act, maybe. But sending you to Hell? That's ridiculous!"

"Don't kill the messenger. I'm just saying what my Church says."

"Well how about you?"

Rocco seemed pretty unsure. "Well, up to a couple months ago, I just accepted what they said. But now I don't know. I'm still trying to make up my own mind." And Rocco must have seen my expression. He quickly added: "Stop. Don't say it. At least I'm thinking about it. For me that's amazing!"

"Well, how about sex outside of marriage? You said before your Church said that was a big no-no."

"Well, let me see. That's on the next page: Here:

Rational behavior requires that those who are not prepared to be parents ought not to engage in sexual intercourse.

And so on. It says you must be married to have sex. I think I've read this thing through at least three times but it's still hard to follow their reasoning. I'm still trying to understand this stuff. I guess what I need to do is just try to think of lots of examples and see how this stuff applies. I got a lot of thinking to do."

"I don't see how they get that part on marriage. But anyway Mama did keep saying that sex should be an expression of love, and not a recreation. I had that memorized about the time I reached twelve she said it so much." It felt great finally being able to talk Mama with an overpowering sadness. Well not overwhelming anyway.

"That's close to the Church's position I think, except ALL sex outside marriage is forbidden."

"Then we just have to get married." I said it as a joke, but I couldn't believe the expression on my White-boys face. You'd `a thought he just found the Holy Grail. OK, maybe just a jewel from it.

He rocketed up and started pacing. Suddenly he turned. "Holy smoke, Jade! You're a genius! You keep inspiring me!"

Now I was more than a bit bemused: "So what's up?"

"You just said it. Why can't homosexuals get married!?"

"But that's stupid. Two boys can't marry. One's got to be a girl."

"But why? Who said? Is it in the bible? And even if it is, does it say we can't?"

Now I was in a whirl. I never gave it serious thought. "But it's just what it is. Marriage is between a boy and girl. They can have babies! We can't."

"Now who can't come to their own decisions? And who says marriage is just for having kids? My aunt and uncle can't. I think my Aunt Valley had to have an operation right before they got married, and my Mom said because of it she can't have babies."

"But marriage is between a boy and girl. They have sex, and have kids. Or try to have kids. Find the dictionary and look it up."

"Oh no you don't. Why should Webster be the final authority? You keep saying I should listen to my own heart and not just the authority of the church. So how about you? Change YOUR definition!"

I smiled big: "OK, to borrow a phrase I heard somewhere, I'll think about it."

"And besides, I will have to look it up, but I think I remember in some class that even our church says that two people marry each other, the church only witnesses it and blesses it."

"Holy smoke. What's suddenly got into you? You're starting to be a regular rebel."

We talked a bit more and then Rocco was called to dinner. He asked his Mom if I could stay and she said yes with barely a thought. "We have spaghetti and meat balls. Should be able to stretch. But I keep asking that you ask ahead of time."

His Dad pretty well ignored both of us. Carl kept commenting about the band opening, and Dolores about her boyfriend Charlie, and Mariann about some new TV show.

"Are we watching The Week That Was tonight," Rocco asked his Mom.

"We usually do."

Rocco said to me: "I told you about this show a couple months ago. It's produced in England. And no, they haven't been sued off the air yet."

We did watch it and I had to admit it was really good. Rocco complained that it was a rerun, but I didn't see it the first time. They had one skit where they had Khrushchev banging his shoe, like he really did at the U N a while back. Then suddenly the U S ambassador throws his shoe at him. He throws his back but it hits the person behind him. In no time there's a shoe fight.

When I got home Uncle Mike was there but he was real drunk. He started his usual gripes again, and then yelled about me being suspended. He kept on and on. I got sick when he started calling me a faggot (among a lot of other things). I couldn't seem to defend myself. I felt so powerless with him.

"You stupid (censored) nigger! You don't fight your own people! Maybe I should get that boy over here and hold you while he gets even! And to break his jaw! What if they expect me to pay for his hospital bill? If that happens, I should be able to take it out of the money your Mama left you in that trust. I got to raise you and I can't even touch it. If it weren't for the Social Security money you'd be right out of here! That damn trust! I should have known the bitch would do something like that. I should wail you one myself."

That's all he got out. I started yelling back. I never did that before. But he can't call Mama that!

"His jaw wasn't broken. And don't ever use that word again for Mama. You aren't even fit to talk about her! You're just an ugly drunk nigger!" Damn, I went too far. I found myself flying backwards. He never hit me before. I was shaking all over. I was so scared I ran.

I wound up at our rock. It was pretty cold but I couldn't feel it. What should I do now? Maybe he was so drunk he won't remember. I have no one else. Where could I turn if my uncle throws me out? I got sick thinking about it. White-boy, I need you! I wrapped my arms around me and kept telling White-boy I needed him. I cried for I don't know how long. Eventually I was just shaking all over.

Suddenly I heard a shout and turned. I must have been hallucinating. I saw Rocco running up to me. He grabbed me and just hugged me. After a couple minutes he asked: "What happened?"

It came out in a rush, everything that happened, even about me getting hit and my real fears about having no where to go if Uncle Mike throws me out. We talked a bit with us still hugging. Eventually he let go and said: "You're shivering all over the place. Where's your coat?"

"I ran out without one."

"Let's go." He had ridden his bike. We walked toward my house, he just wheeling his bike.

And then I just realized. "Holy smoke, White-boy. How'd you get here?!"

"My bike. Why?"

"NO! I mean why'd you come here right now?!"

Then he got this puzzled look. "I just knew I had to. It was weird. Not like wondering or hearing a voice or something. I was just certain I needed to get there. It's just weird."

"Weird? It's not just weird, it's plain amazing. How'd you know I was there?"

"I didn't think about it that way. I just KNEW I had to get there!"

"Damn." I couldn't think what to say it was so weird. I would have bet everything I had that ESP really doesn't exist. Even though I claimed it did. I really didn't believe it. But now I was starting to wonder. I said something in this vein to Rocco.

"Well, this has happened before. I just never talked about it before. If I tell you things and you laugh, I'll be the one to wail you." Rocco smiled. And I smiled.

And then he started talking about a couple of REALLY strange things that happened to him. "Remember when I was on the phone with you last summer, and I was talking about where we were going to for our vacation? Well, I was trying to think of the name of the mountain that had that cog railroad?"

"Yeah. You talked to me about it before and I was also trying to remember. I knew it was also the name of a president. I started thinking and thought maybe I remembered the name was Mount Lincoln, but before I could even say it, you said no. It wasn't Lincoln. Damn, how'd you know that? I thought it was just a coincidence."

"Actually it wasn't. I just suddenly started to think Lincoln, but still knew that was wrong. And I told you. For some reason I was just certain that you were thinking that."

"You're serious!"

"Yeah. I just never told anyone. I don't think I would have believed myself if it didn't happen to myself."

"Remind me to give you my grammar book some time." We both laughed.

"You know what I mean. But there's more."


"Well, last year when I was playing a lot of chess after school, one day the other guy held a white and a black pawn for me to pick. To see who would get white. Suddenly I was certain which hand it was in. I pointed and said. `It's there.' And it was. But it wasn't a guess. I was certain."

"Well, that's not as fantastic as the other stuff."

"But wait. I then did it the next time. And the next. I picked the white pawn probably twenty times or more in a row. Suddenly one day I wasn't sure and that stopped the string."

"Wow? I got a great idea. A guy comes to the store on Walker Street a lot and sells numbers. How about you pick the right number and we get rich?" I was almost half serious. The Italian mob ran the numbers in the city and it paid 500 to 1. Quite a payoff. It went by the last three digits of the total number of shares sold on the stock market the day before. So there were 1000 possible numbers. It was illegal but I even saw cops buying numbers. I even bet a quarter now and then myself.

Rocco started laughing. "I wish. I can't control it at all. In fact what I talked about have been the only times it's happened. And now today."

"Rats. I was hoping to get rich."

We got home and I was afraid to see my uncle. But he was already passed out in his bed with a bottle on the floor.

"Shit. He's never done this before. He always drinks at the bar. I really hope he can't remember all what happened when he wakes up."

Rocco looked very concerned. "Call me if there's any trouble. Please promise."

"Don't worry; I will."

I had good hope he wouldn't remember. It happened often enough. Suddenly the phone rang.

"It's probably your Mom wondering where you are."

"Oh shit, I forgot to tell anyone when I left."

I answered. Rocco started to reach for the phone when I said: "Consuelo, this is a surprise. What's up?"

Consuelo gathering information: "What happened today? I heard something I don't believe. Someone told me you broke Marcel`s jaw and put him the hospital." Consuelo apparently heard rumor number 2A. (I have all the variants labeled).

I insisted: "I keep telling everybody that they finally found his jaw wasn't broken after all. And by the way his real name is Carter Goodsen. And I was trying to stop him and Mick and a couple other guys from beating up two white kids, and help avoid a race war at Lincoln. You know what would happen, and we always eventually lose."

Consuelo commiserating: "That's true. We always do lose. But I still can't even imagine you hitting anyone. Who were the white kids? Do I know them?"

"I don't know them myself. Both Freshmen, but apparently they did something to bring themselves to attention of Marcel and his following. We can't let a dozen kids start anything like this. I'm glad no one from my neighborhood was in on it. They tried to coerce me to be part of them. I went to the school administration instead."

Consuelo giving out advice: "You should have let them handle it. Whatever in the world made you do it? I still can't believe it. You're the most non-violent person I know." This coming from someone who once told me that the fastest way too convert a pacifist is a stiff jab to the kidney. (And I was just realizing how Consuelo's phone calls often followed this same pattern).

"The kid looked a lot like Rocco, and was getting really messed up bad. I just went berserk. (Pause) Consuelo, you still there?"

"Oh yeah. You get suspended?"

"One week. Well five schooldays. I'm glad I didn't get anything worse."

"Me too. I guess you'll need your assignments. I'll try to get them."

"Wait. . . Rocco will come and get them from you; where do you want to meet him?"

"Why not put him on? It'll be easier."

"OK." I thought it strange suddenly. "How'd you know he's here?"

"I'm smarter than a rock, Jade. Just put him on."

Damn. And suddenly I started borrowing some of Rocco's paranoia. I handed the receiver over. "She will give you directions where to meet her."

"Ouch! OK Consuelo, where?"

"What just happened? You yelled ouch. Jade just clobber you too?"

"Just got my finger pinched in Jade's hook grabbing the phone. So I guess you can say so."

Rocco got directions and I got back on. We talked about mostly newspaper stuff.

And then Consuelo said: "I need to ask. Would you guys want to come over here this weekend? Carlotta will be here. Boyfriend number . . . gees I don't know what's it up to by now. Well anyway, one more by the wayside."

I thought she needed some classes in how to pick a guy. "Let me get back to you later. Probably tomorrow. Thanks for calling." I finally hung up. And got tangled in the cord. "They can get a satellite to circle the world, but can't invent a phone cord that doesn't tangle. DAMN!"

"What's the matter with Consuelo?" Rocco was suddenly concerned.

"I said that about picking a boyfriend aloud?" I asked.

Rocco looked strange for a second and then asked his own question: "No, but how come Consuelo automatically assumed I was here with you? Or is it me, now, getting paranoid again?"

"Probably knows we're often together and after what happened at school, well . . ." And I thought to myself: "At least I hope so."

Rocco paused in thought: "Ha! She knew I was here because YOU told her!"

"I definitely did not!"

"Yes you did. I distinctly heard you say `How'd you know he's here,' thereby giving her information she most definitely tricked out of you. I told you she was smart."

"I suppose you're right. Well, I hope nothing else happens."

Rocco added: "I can't put up with any more complications."

I laughed. Now he's borrowing my complaint. Rocco then called home. No one even knew he was gone. His brother answered. And promptly tried to blackmail him. What a brother.

I was really upset the next morning, worried about Uncle Mike. And how can he get totally smashed and still get up for work I'll never know.

"How come you not gettin' ready for school boy?" he asked.

"Don't you remember? I got suspended for fighting."

Uncle Mike squinted a bit while swallowing a bottle of aspirin with his V-8 juice. God, how can he drink that stuff?

"Oh, yeah. I seem to remember something about that. How come you staring at me? Forget it. I'm almost late."

And he left. Thanks for small -- scratch that -- thanks for BIG favors. I still can't believe he hit me though. My ribs still ached. Now what should I do? Look at the bright side, I guess. A whole week off.

I wound up walking all the way to the park and then past Rocco's school. I was thinking about that stuff Rocco read to me. I was wondering how come his church thought that what God wants us to do could be discovered just by thinking about what's supposed to be natural. And that thing about two boys getting married -- that's got to be the weirdest thing my White-boy has ever thought of. I tried to figure out just what my White-boy would decide. I was still worried. After thinking about all this stuff all the way from the trestle to behind Father Judge High School, I decided I needed a break.

On the way back I thought about more mundane things. Like my birthday coming up. I'll be 17 in a couple weeks. I think I'm close to six feet already. No wonder Rocco gets antsy about his size. When I told him he's finally looking like an eighth grader he wailed on me. He can sure hit for his size! Joey called us Mutt and Jeff last week. Then I thought about needing some plain fun. The weather had been pretty good lately. I wonder if we can arrange a half-ball game involving everyone. Have to plan on giving people some calls.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello