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 rear cheeks.
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.
Chapter 54a -- Mom and Mama (part a)
Jade and I talked about all kinds of stuff this evening that we never talked about before. I was thinking back on what dramatically emotional couple weeks we'd just gone through. And yesterday was the worst. I could so vividly remember my Mom coming into my room that evening.
"Rocco, are you all right?" The only way they were able to get me to go home from the hospital was to make a solemn promise to call, at any time whatever, if Jade woke up. And Mom had come into my room without my realizing it. I tried to hide my tears and wipe my eyes as unobtrusively as possible. I forced a smile as I turned toward her. I almost answered with a fast lie; I usually lied too easily. But I recently decided lies were not part of the person I wanted to be.
"No, I'm not. It's totally beyond my ability to understand why anyone would ever want to deliberately hurt someone like that. How could they hurt him so bad? And enjoy it?"
We talked about this for a bit. I started crying again. Mom was Mom at her best. Our talk eventually branched into other things. My emotional defenses were at an all time low.
"You know I AM your mother, and I have been trying to understand what has been going on with you. You keep saying I don't understand you and don't listen to you. Well now's your chance to talk to me about it."
"Thanks Mom, but a lot of it is difficult to talk about."
"Look Rocco; I care about you. Maybe we haven't paid attention to what we didn't realize was so important to you, but we're trying to make up for that. I really want to understand you. But you have to help. Right now I'd like to know what else is bothering you. I can't help otherwise. I was very happy when I finally saw my normally cheerful boy back last week, but I also know there are still things we need to talk about."
My Mom sat on the bed next to me and hugged me. I needed that. I hugged her back harder. Maybe I can talk about at least some things. "You mean you'll really listen?"
"We both have to try."
I hesitated. I was trying to figure out how to start. "OK. One thing is that you can't seem to REALLY take what I say seriously. Maybe what I say doesn't seem so important to you, but to me, when you don't seem to care, well it hurts!" I thought for a second that although important, this was not what was the cause of the tears.
"I don't understand how it can be that serious."
"And that's part of the problem. You DON'T understand. That's what hurts. And even worse I say things and you simply don't believe me. Just once I want to say something and you will believe me."
Mom looked at me a moment and simply said. "I'll try to listen better next time."
"And maybe even believe me?"
"And I'll try to believe you."
"Thanks. I'll hold you to it." I gave a weak smile. It's the best I could do. Then I added: "Sometimes I feel like that if I came to you and said the sun was shining you'd hand me an umbrella."
"I think you're exaggerating now."
We both smiled a little.
There were a lot of things I thought of adding but taking some of the things Jade said to me stopped me. It was more important to work at getting closer to people and not keep just trying to "win."
Mom hugged me again, and then said "Anything else?"
Now I got a bit scared. How much do I dare tell? "Well, remember those times I told you I was having some talks with Father Hearn?"
"Well, yes. You said things were being resolved. There's not something serious going on is there?" My mother suddenly looked worried.
"Please. Yes, it's important enough that I decided to find someone to talk to, but, don't worry. Nobody's pregnant."
We both smiled a bit.
"Mom, this is hard to talk about but I'll try. I have always taken my religion very seriously. And to tell the truth, after a number of conversations about religion with Jade, I'd come to realize that I've been very immature in how I thought of religion."
"Well that's good. And I think seeking advice shows maturity. I'm glad Father Hearn had been able to help"
"Well, he definitely has. He had given me a couple things to read." I thought: "Please don't ask what." I continued: "And we talked about a lot of the stuff. And there are now other things. I'm hoping to get to a college library somewhere to find some things."
But then I remembered I had determined to try to be someone who doesn't lie. How do I reconcile this with the necessity of the BIG LIE? I didn't know.
"I know I am being a little vague, but some of these things we are talking about are very personal. Just try to believe me when I say I am trying to be the person God wants me to be."
"Look Rocco. About that, I do believe you. In spite of the immature things you've done, you were always good at heart."
"Now you're embarrassing me. I know that I'm not even close."
"Well, I thought that you telling Carl that you didn't actually believe that he thought he might harm you, took a lot of maturity. To apologize to him considering what happened took a lot of understanding."
"Thanks, I just wished Carl could also apologize to me."
"Rocco, often I've seen you less selfish than Carl. And I'm proud of that. Remember he is also still a teenager himself. He needs to grow up a bit too."
I was a bit shocked. And then the full implication of what she said hit me. I was too embarrassed though to say more than: "Thanks."
Then Mom got this serious look: "One thing I've been meaning to bring up. Have you ever considered that maybe your close association and amount of time you spend with Jade is possibly adding to the problems you seem to be having with your religion? You are too young to understand how much this can be affecting you. After all, he's not Catholic, and from what you say doesn't even go to any Church."
And our conversation was going so well. I was thinking that maybe Jade doesn't go to Church, but I was starting to think that he was helping me be a better Christian than all the Baltimore Catechisms in the world. Well Rocco, how about using some of your great maturity. I used about a year's supply of will power to think logically, and force myself not to say anything I would regret. "Mom, I am glad this topic has come up. (Damn, I just told a whopper)! I had the impression from Dad, and now you, that you think I spend too much time with Jade. This I really don't understand. I don't think you, and especially Dad, really know him. He's a good person."
"Well, I just worry that he's having a bad influence on you."
Now THAT was something that Mom did that always aggravated me. How come she kept thinking that other people were bad influences on us? What I finally asked was: "Why can't it be the exact opposite? Did you ever think that maybe it's me that's having a good influence on him? Or maybe even him having a GOOD influence on me?"
Mom smiled a bit. "And you're sure about that?"
"Actually I was probably just trying to make a point. We obviously have a big influence on each other. But that doesn't mean it's bad. I think that Jade right now is maybe a better person than I'll ever be." I tried to relax a bit. "You mentioned that you were proud of how I talked to Carl and all. But guess what? Jade and I discussed the whole episode and it was JADE who convinced ME that's what I should do. And that I was being unfair. Now, was that a bad influence?"
"If what you say is true, than no."
And thinking about Jade brought many feelings to the surface. "And another thing. Do you have any idea what might happen to Jade if he didn't have someone to help? He has NO HANDS. Have you really thought out how terrible that is? Think of it. It affects EVERYTHING. Eating, writing, dressing. Did you know that he can't even put on and take off his own artificial limbs? Think about something as simple as gripping things, picking up a penny, even . . ., well all kinds of things. . . . And how about the pleasure a person can have by just simply touching. He can never do that again."
"Obviously your time with him has led you to think of these things."
"And there are even more important things. How about his future? What work can he ever do? He needs to go to college. Sure, he gets a small amount from Social Security, but he needs a career. Forget about who influences whom. I have to help him don't you see? Father Hearn and I even talked about this. He said that Christian charity outweighs other considerations." I was getting very emotional and tears in my eyes. "Why can't we just ask what's the right thing to do?"
"You really care about him don't you?"
I was so emotional that I almost answered without thinking. "Mom, we're best friends. Of course I care about him." Fortunately I didn't say what I was thinking: "If I could, I'd give him one of my own hands! I'd cut it off right now!" I started crying as I realized just how much I did care for him. Mom held on (or I held on) until I stopped. "Thanks Mom."
And I started crying even more when I realized that after all this I couldn't really talk to her about what was most important in my life right now.
April 3, 1961
Easter Sunday I felt great. Today my world tried to end. Jade was attacked at school, and hurt bad. The doctor said Jade should wake up within the next 24 hours. His concussion isn't serious. But his arms are. When I imagine what had happened I can't even think straight. How could any body hurt someone like that? It seemed especially terrible. He lost his hands and now they have to bring this hurt back to him all over again. This hurts me more than I can understand. I need to be with him.
God I love him. Please help him.
I will . . . I'm not quite sure WHAT I will do. I'm too exhausted to write any more right now.
I was so grateful that my Mom finally was trying to listen to me for once. But it really hurts that I can't talk about what is really most important. When Dolores and Charlie really got interested in each other, everybody was happy for them. Who will be happy for Jade and me?
I finally got to talk to Jade in the hospital and I think I was still in shock somewhat. I simply couldn't handle thinking about the horrible things they did to him. I just needed to hold on to him. I was also starting to realize that my feelings for him were more than just being best friends. That delighted me and scared me at the same time. The relief of having Jade awaken, along with the exhaustion of a day forever waiting, and the overwhelming emotion of worrying about Jade, seemed to inevitably bring us together in that small bed. It was then only natural to find us in each other's arms.
I had convinced the nurse to let me stay after regular visiting hours. Fortunately he was in the adult part of the hospital so the rules were a lot different. They even had a short visiting time in the evening. Consuelo called when I was at home earlier and said if she could get a ride, she'd try to visit Jade herself. I guess she never did find one.
While we were in the bed together (I made sure the curtain was drawn around the entire bed), Jade kept talking about his Mama. How she had got him to start living again after he lost his hands. And how she always worked so hard to make a living for both of them. And how scared he'd been when his Mama kept getting sicker. Then he started talking about all kinds of things that they had done together. He finally wound down and we just lay there, just feeling good holding on to each other. I think we may have dozed a bit because something sort of startled me and I looked up and realized I was already late getting home.
I told Jade I'd see him the next day after school, and ran the few blocks to the bus stop only to see a bus pass by when I was less than a half block away from the bus stop. There was no point in waiting for the next one. This time of night they only came every hour. I ran all the way home and Mom was in the kitchen when I came in the back door. She didn't say a single word about my being late. Just asked about how Jade was doing.
April 4 1961
"Holy smoke!" To borrow a phrase from Jade. Did I really say all those things to Mom yesterday? Did she say all those things to me?
I wondered how she took what I said about caring for Jade. And I got so emotional that I almost told her that I'd give him one of my own hands if I could! I don't think I could have adequately explained that.
I do have this terrible nagging worry. After I thought on what I told Mom, I never lied, but the whole thing felt like a lie. Part of THE BIG LIE.
Well Jade always says not to complicate things. But how not?
And there's something I need to think about. Mom asked about me really caring about him. My first thought at this question was of course I do. But the question kept nagging at me. I think it was at that moment I finally realized that I couldn't think of Jade and I not being together. Then I wondered; I won't even be 16 for months yet. Can Jade and I actually make a decision to be with each other forever? Is that what I want? I always assumed we'd be friends, even best friends for life. But do I love him? Am I in love with him? Is he in love with me?
I know I'm certainly attracted to him. And a thing causing me immense trouble -- I want to have sex with him. But I still believed that sex outside marriage was immoral. But what of us? Jade joked about getting married the other day and suddenly I thought: "Why not?" And I think I realize now that that's maybe what I really want. To marry Jade. Isn't that weird? I can't imagine not loving him. I'm pretty sure he thinks about me the same way. Maybe not marriage but at least I know he wants us to be together. We need to talk about this.
And that's something else. I never would have believed I could be this close to someone. As soon as I think about something I automatically think about sharing it with Jade. I believe I can even talk to him about my most guarded secrets. With him I want him to know all of me. I feel so free all of a sudden. I feel so happy.
Chapter 54b -- Mom and Mama (part b)
I was unconscious all the rest of Monday and did not wake up `til Tuesday morning. Rocco I sort of remember was there; I didn't see him but I could hear him. But I soon lost it again and didn't really wake out of it until right before dinner time. Rocco seemed to arrive along with my "dinner." (Although calling Jell-o and juice dinner is quite a stretch). Rocco said he had gone home, eaten fast, and had come back by bus.
On Tuesday evening I started explaining to Rocco about all that had happened. Rocco would, from time to time, just suddenly start crying. He still hadn't heard any of the details of the fight. But when he saw my right arm, I thought he was going to collapse. It was good there was no one else there at the time. We both somehow wound up lying on bed holding onto each other. There was a curtain around the bed, which Rocco had closed. Of the other two beds in the room only one was occupied and he was snoring up a storm.
When I got to the actual encounter with Carter and friends, Rocco started changing the subject. And finally asked me if we could talk about it later. I realized that he didn't want to listen to any of the details. Well, it's probably more accurate to say he COULDN'T bring himself to listen to the worst details. He tried, but I think his imagination got the best of him. He was even more emotional than normal and that's saying something.
Well, I realized then that my White-boy was far worse off than I was.
There's a story that goes with this. It was a story that Rocco had found some amusement in telling me a while back. It seems he got a bad cut on his forehead from a flung rock. He arrived home, jumped from his bike and went inside to find his Mom. He had his polo shirt wrapped around his forehead, full of blood. And dripping down his face. His Mom screamed when she saw him.
"Mom, I got a cut."
They took a cab to the emergency at Nazareth Hospital. The nurse brought in stuff to clean, stitch up, and bandage. Just before the doctor started, he asked the nurse for a mild tranquilizer.
The nurse was sure that the doctor had made a mistake. "Doctor?"
"No, not for the boy. It's for the Mom!"
Rocco told me his Mom was always far worse off than he was whenever he got hurt.
Well, as I said. My White-boy was far worse off than I was. I had known that he was very emotional, and that we were close, but something seemed out of proportion here.
"Rocco, I know you're really upset, but what has you so overwhelmed tonight?"
"I really don't know for sure. Just that your getting so hurt, just really got to me." And then Rocco talked about what he and his Mom talked about yesterday. I was happy that finally he and his Mom were able to talk about these things. Then he said something that put tears in my eyes.
"And Jade I suddenly realized last night just how much you really mean to me."
"Thanks. You know I feel the same way."
I thought he wanted to say more, but he never did. He seemed to hesitate a while and then let out along shuddering breath. What we did start talking about was stuff about my Mama and his Mom. He gave some more detail about what his Mom had said last night and how he was feeling, and I found myself talking about my Mama. Stuff I hadn't let myself think about a lot. And all kinds of stuff came out. I talked about things before I lost my hands even and I never talk about that. How my Mama so loved the ocean and breakers on the beach. And looking for shells and sand crabs with me. And how my interest in nature started way back then. And how my Mama got me through that horrible year after I lost my hands. And how we were always able to talk and some of the conversations we had. It all poured out. It felt like I needed to share all this with my White-boy. And I thought I loved him, but I don't think it was until then just how much I did. I was almost overwhelmed by how much I realized I was in love with him. I figured I would have to talk to him about this soon, but not tonight. When things calmed down a bit. But soon.
We sort of both ran out of energy and wound up just holding onto each other. I didn't want that moment to end.
Rocco actually fell asleep for a bit. And I think I dozed for a bit too. When he awoke, he was disoriented for a bit, then panicked. Looking up at the clock he said he had to zoom home, he was already late. The busses that late only run every hour, and I found out later he ran the whole distance -- more than a couple miles.
It was even Rocco's Dad who drove me home the next evening. Both of us were surprised. Uncle Mike never showed. I was still quite wobbly and it will probably be another week out of school. Consuelo was again pressed into service. I already had one test to make up.
"Tell you what, Jade. The test tomorrow is in Geometry. No sweat. I'll go in and take the test for you. Nobody will notice." Rocco pretended to be serious.
"Sure." I pretended to agree.
"OK, I admit they might notice I didn't have any hooks." Rocco thought he was being humorous.
I changed the subject. "Your Dad surprise you?"
"Yeah. That was weird. He was pretty nice to you. I was wondering who was inhabiting his body. Actually, to be honest, I can't say that. He's usually pretty nice around other people. He just doesn't know how to really talk to Mom, and doesn't seem to want to talk to me at all. They argue so much and fight. It really hurts. But I guess compared to your uncle, he's almost the perfect Dad. . . . Sorry, that wasn't nice of me to say. And I just thought; maybe my Mom actually talked to him about some of the things Mom and I talked about."
"Don't worry; I know how my uncle is. It's me who told you after all. Did I tell you he hasn't mentioned anything about that night? He got so drunk, he never remembered. I got lucky."
"How are you feeling? I mean emotionally?"
"Actually not too bad. Maybe even better than last week. I had been constantly worried what might happen. Now it's all over, I just can't get over how apparently stupid they were. How could they think they wouldn't get caught? I should ask how YOU are doing. You were worse yesterday than I was."
"Oh, I'm OK. I was just sort of in shock yesterday. I just can't understand how they can think like they do."
"Let's forget about that stuff for a while. Do your parents know you're playing hooky today?"
"In fact, my Mom does know. And it only took an hour, and the persuasive skills of a Clarence Darrow, to argue her into it. She claims I just plain wore her down." And Rocco started smiling. "What finally convinced her, was when I told her you needed help wiping your cute butt!"
"Damn. I can still see the expression you had when you said that and turned around and saw my Mama. Wow." I even surprised myself I could focus on a memory like that and not get too sad.
Rocco and I reminisced for a while. I started to feel whole again. Damn my arms hurt though. That's one of the things that still scared me.
"What were you just thinking? I saw one of your worried looks."
"OK. It's my arms. It actually scares me so much. It's hard to explain. It's that I have only limited ability with the hooks. But I think that has sensitized me so much, I'm positively frightened not at least then having the use of them. It's hard to explain."
"I understand. I will help and do whatever else is needed. When is the appointment to get them refitted?"
"This Saturday, but only if the swelling is totally down. I'm sure glad that we don't have to pay for all that stuff. That reminds me. Last week, Uncle Mike made reference to the fact that Mama left me some kind of trust. I doubt it could have been much, but until then I knew nothing about it. He was angry because he couldn't use it himself. I can't believe I forgot all about that until now."
"Holy Smoke. I wonder how we can find out about it. Your Mama then, must have had a will. Which only makes sense. Maybe the funeral home would know who her lawyer was."
"Great idea. In fact, how about calling now?"
We looked up the number. I realized I'd have a lot of trouble just dialing the phone. The phone rang and rang. I wished they could invent something to answer phones when no one was around. Most doctors had answering services. We'd try after lunch.
"By the way what was it that you brought over?"
"Oh yeah." Rocco pulled a chessboard out of the bag and checkers. OK then, a checker board.
I complained: "You clobber me all the time at chess, and I probably won't do much better at checkers, though I do beat Joey more than he beats me."
He flipped the board over. "It's a Backgammon board on the other side."
We had both sort of suddenly started getting interested in the game. We played it from time to time, but we now were trying to figure out the best strategies. I`m still trying to figure out the best move for an opening 6 - 4.
Rocco added: "It's a simple game, but can get interesting. Sort of like chess, easy to learn, hard to master." He also put on a few 45s he got from his sister. (He almost never bought any of his own).
But when I heard that boy soprano thing assaulting my ear drums, I had to object. "You taste in music is sometimes execrable."
"Hay, now THAT is true singing. And it's coming out of the speaker, not me."
"Uck, what an image. Thanks. And annnnngt. Wrong. It has nothing to do with excretion. Execrate means to be declared hateful or abhorrent. And you're the one taking Latin. I'm now up to 6 points. And you almost had me down to zero. And remember we're using the new rules. You tried to cheat last time."
We played around, both literally and figuratively, the rest of the day. Rocco even fixed dinner here. But unfortunately my uncle came home sooner than expected and Rocco had to sneek down to the basement and out the back door. Rocco made lasagna and never got to taste it himself. Damn, it took way more than an hour to fix. Why did he NEED five different cheeses? We had found some of my ancient eating utensils, deep in the bag of miscellaneous attachments. Miracle of miracles. Rocco had fed me himself this morning, but insisted we look for the things this afternoon. Really difficult to use, but infinitely less embarrassing.
My uncle barely took the time to eat and never did comment on how good the lasagne tasted. I called Rocco and he came back over.
"Sorry I took so long. I had to convince my Mom I needed to come back and it was hard without thinking up some convenient lie. How was the lasagne? I never made it before."
I almost didn't believe him -- about the "never made it before." But then realized Rocco dared doing all kinds of things on pure gumption. He tasted some himself and said: "Still not as good as my Dad makes it. I'll have to experiment more." He cleaned up and we got back to having lazy fun. He said almost matter-of-factly: "Remember last year when I moved your birthday, well I just did it again bu t only by a couple days this time. It's this Sunday! The party starts right after lunch. Same birthday, same plan. How does it feel to be 17?"
"I feel so immature sometimes. I don't think I can grow up anymore. I'm too scared." Damn. Did I just say that? Rocco looked at me curiously. But even more curiously, he never remarked on my remark.
I would eat cereal for breakfast. It was all ready to go. And leftover lasagna for lunch. Everything, straws and all, were ready.
"See you tomorrow after school." Rocco then got one of "those" looks. "I'll get your assignments from Consuelo Friday after school so I don't have to do it Saturday. Since I'll be coming with you Saturday."
Now THAT surprised me. "What do you mean? I can get to the clinic by myself." The prosthetic clinic was at Hanaman Hospital, downtown.
"Good. I'll carry all the hardware. And do guide dog service. And hold your hand -- figuratively -- while you're there."
I couldn't stop myself from laughing. "OK. But definitely no barking. You know it may eventually take a few visits?"
"I will make whatever sacrifices of my school time as necessary." He was smiling.
"I'm sure." It felt good laughing.
"And while we're traveling, I'll give you details of our new make-lots-of-money scheme."
Rocco didn't elaborate. And he had that sort of half smile that he claimed was sly. Damn. He surprised me twice in one evening. I was dying of curiosity, but knew he'd give in first. I can always outlast him. His need to tell me things is so great, it easily exceeds my curiosity.
"Great, thanks for everything. See you tomorrow after school."
He left?! Without explaining? So that's how he's playing it. I sat by the phone. He would no doubt be calling. Thirty minutes later and I had to admit defeat. I went to bed astonished. This definitely had to be some new reincarnation that I needed to figure out again.
I showered, (and yes, with difficulty, wiped my butt), and went to bed.
Holy smoke. There was a note left under my pillow. I tripped only twice getting to the light switch. He had to have been laughing all the way home. The temperature was already sharply dropping in hell as I read the note. He surprised me three times in less than two hours. Good thing I have much of tomorrow to figure out a suitable get-more-than-even strategy.
Chapter 55 -- Consuelo and Dan (or "Experiences in Heart Failure")
I was at Lincoln High School on Friday, at the benches right at the main bus stop, just where Consuelo said she'd meet me. I was really surprised when she called me last night. Well, my Mom took the call since I was at Jade's, but I found out when I got home that Consuelo practically insisted that I meet her. She said she'd have assignments and stuff for Jade. It was going to be a busy weekend with the trip to the clinic to get the cups on Jade's prosthetics refitted on Saturday and the "couple-days-before-his-birthday" party on Sunday.
Even at a distance I could see that Consuelo had that look she gets when she's determined to have her way! Period. (Or exclamation point).
I went from happy nonchalance to full panic mode at her first question. Consuelo had ignored my greeting and lobbed a verbal bomb. It stopped the world right in its orbit. "OK, spill it. What's going on between you and Jade?"
"What do you mean?" I asked. And wondered if there were a doctor handy. My heart was breaking every speed limit around. I didn't want to believe the implications of her question. Had THE BIG LIE come undone? Forget the doctor. Where's the ambulance?
"Rocco, you know very well what I mean. I just asked what exactly was going on between you and Jade?"
I still wouldn't concede disaster. "You're not making sense. We're best friends. You know that."
"I do. And I've also seen how you and Jade act around each other. Nothing obvious. But enough, to someone who is very observant, like myself for example, to raise suspicions. And Tuesday evening they were no longer suspicions."
"Tuesday evening?" My racing heart was tending toward heart failure. Fast.
"Yes. Carlotta and I went to the hospital to visit Jade. Mr. Romaro gave us a ride. It was just after visiting hours but I sort of convinced the nurse to let us look in on you for a moment. I opened the curtain and found Jade asleep. And that was what I told Carlotta and her father so we all just left."
"You opened the curtain?" I was now on full life support.
"Do I have to drag it out? I saw both of you on that bed, asleep in each other's arms."
"In each other's arms?" I tried to make my brain race as fast as my heart. "I was just exhausted. So I just happened to fall asleep on his bed."
"Look. I've read enough romance novels to know when two people are in each other's arms. In those books, it's almost one word."
I was finally pounded into silence. I just stared. My appearance must have frightened Consuelo though. "Oh my gosh, you better sit down. You look about to pass out."
There were a couple benches there. So I did. Sit that is. But I still was unable to talk. My brain froze. All I could think was "deny." At all cost THE BIG LIE must be maintained.
"Damn it Rocco, talk to me!"
My brain finally started to thaw. When all is lost -- change the subject. "Do you have Jade's assignments?"
Consuelo looked at me, then reached into her bag and pulled out a sheet of paper and also handed me a couple books. Then she seemed to get this determined look. "Let's go. We're going to The White Castle down on Broad St. We have to hurry."
I allowed myself to be led by Consuelo to the bus currently taking on passengers outside the school. Why is she taking me to a burger place? We were packed into the bus.
"Consuelo?" I got her attention. "Why are we going to this place?"
"I want you to meet someone." She looked determined. "You need to meet this person. And he needs to meet you." She looked at me a few moments. "Then you can go home." She looked out the window.
I latched onto her last sentence. HE needs to meet ME? Fortunately she stopped her assault. I took the reprieve. Perhaps I was still hoping to salvage THE BIG LIE. If only I cooperated. She started talking again. Strangely she seemed perfectly content in talking about inconsequentials.
This continued through two transfers. "We're almost there." Suddenly I realized that I was already late for meeting Jade. On this level I could function. "I need to find a phone. I was supposed to meet Jade about 10 minutes ago."
"A few more stops. There's a public phone inside."
What the hell was Jade supposed to think? I finally got to a phone. Even after someone picked up the receiver it seemed forever before Jade answered. "Jade, your crazy girl Consuelo has kidnapped me. I'm in a burger joint near downtown." Then I realized. "I guess I won't be home `till dinner."
"You said Consuelo? What's going on?"
"Consuelo kidnapped me and I am now in one of The White Castles, the one on Broad Street. Why? I'm finding out now. I guess I'll see you after dinner."
"OK. You know, you're speaking in full sentences, but still not making much sense."
"I hope to be able to explain it all when we meet after dinner. . . OK?"
"OK, White-boy, this has gotta' be good. See you then." We both hung up.
Consuelo grabbed me, took me to the counter, then moved me to the right. The older boy behind the counter greeted her with a big smile. "Oh hi Con, what're you doin' here?"
"Dan, meet Rocco. This is the boy Jade calls `White-boy.'"
She knew that? I think my IQ was hovering just above freezing. I could hardly understand what was going on. Who the heck was this Dan?
She turned to me with an even bigger smile. "Rocco, meet my brother, Dan."
Brother!? Consuelo didn't have a brother! And this guy definitely wasn't colored. Well, more like a really good tan. More Hispanic, with wavy black hair, and eyes that my sister would go wild over. Hell, eyes I'd go wild over. He reminded me a bit of Nestor but was an all around bigger guy. And Nestor's hair was straight. And Nestor looked more Indian than Spanish. But looking at both Consuelo and her brother, well I found it hard to believe they were even related.
"While we're here, two burgers with fries and Cokes." Then a slight pause. "I forgot my money."
"That's OK Con; be right up."
"Can you get free to talk?"
"No problem. I'll be out with the food."
She dragged me to a table and we sat. I gave proof that my IQ had plummeted: "You don't have a brother." But what did I really know.
"Yes I do and you just met him. Dan is 19 and working his way through college. And it'll only take him a hundred years."
"You wanted me to meet Dan. How come nobody knows about Dan?"
"Mom. . . No, I'll let Dan tell you."
Ahhg! Now instead of frightened, I was intensely curious. How come no one knew about Dan?
He finally came over, without his apron. He put down the food with a burger for himself and sat across from me. I started thinking he was really good looking.
"Dan, this is Rocco again. He doesn't know anything. . . except you're my brother. Why don't you tell `im?"
Dan looked down a second. And then back up. He exhaled pretty heavily. Finally he said: "Two years ago I was sort of forced to leave home. And that's when Mom and Con moved. I was an embarrassment." Then he looked at his sister. "The whole thing Con? Can I ask why?"
"Yes, at least the basics, and you`ll see why later. I already told you my suspicions." Consuelo was at her manipulative best. Her force of will would have made an Al Capone confess.
"Well they, my Mom that is, found out I liked boys. You see the result. I don't live at home. Mom sends me money but that's it. I'm working my way through college. They never talk about me. And Mom never sees me. Only Con." Then again to his sister. "Mom doesn't know, does she?"
"No. I'm careful."
Her brother's like me and Jade?! They both looked at me. I didn't know what to think. My instinct was still to maintain THE BIG LIE. I just couldn't make myself admit anything. And I started getting a little scared again. (But at least no longer catatonic). So all I did was reach over to shake Dan's hand. "Glad to meet you."
Consuelo looked at me with big eyes. "That's it?!! `Glad to meet you?'"
"Well, what do you want me to say?"
"Arrrgh. You ARE a hard case! Why do you think I brought you all the way down here? Why do you think I had you meet Dan? It sure wasn't for the burgers!!" She was almost shouting at the end.
I just smiled, weakly. I thought about it bit. But that's all. I just couldn't do it. I stayed quiet. Finally: "When are we going? I need to get home for dinner."
Dan suddenly erupted into laughter. In short bursts. And each time he seemed to find it funnier. He turned to me, grabbed and shook my hand. "Congratulations, Rocco, someone finally got my sis!" And looking at her again, he laughed, but a little more quietly."
"Boys!" She yelled in disgust! And after a moment she grabbed my arm "OK let's go."
"Bye Con, see you again soon?"
"Sure, . . . Saturday. Gees, I guess that's tomorrow. Usual time."
They hugged. We left.
We rode almost silently all the way home. And that was a long time silent. Finally near home, she looked over and said. "You're gonna have to talk sometime."
To her? My silence was all the answer she got.
Later, I was talking to Jade. It was unusually warm for early April, and we were at our rock. Surprisingly, to myself that is, I was not falling apart.
"Remember that strange conversation you mentioned having with Consuelo a while back, with her doing all that quoting and about not choosing between family members?"
"Yeah. She never would explain what she was talking about."
"Well, now I know. She has a brother who's like us, and she knows about us too." And I filled Jade in on what happened. "For a while there I was in need of life support. I finally just 'out stubborned' her. And she wouldn't ask me directly again."
"I guess it's pretty certain she knows about us?"
"Definitely. . . .And she said to me `You're gonna have to talk sometime.'"
"Meaning to her."
Jade was thinking. "Damn. . . . Now what? . . . Think she'll tell?"
"You know her much better then me. But I don't think so. Make that an almost certain no. I just factored in her brother."
"I think you're right. Not after she did all this. And that's a relief. But now what?"
We just thought our own thoughts for a bit. But then it occurred to me. "You know there might be a bright side."
"Look, assuming she doesn't talk, she could make a great ally? Think of all the good points. Somebody we can talk to. A whole lot of things."
"Do you think she'd even want to?"
"Look at her and her brother? She's keeping in touch with him, and obviously hiding it from her own mother."
Jade finally relaxed a bit. "Yeah. Everything might turn out all right after all."
We turned to each other and said at the same time: "Scary isn't it?" We both laughed. More in relief than humor.
We then talked about tomorrow's errands.
I asked Jade: "What time we leaving tomorrow? And to change the subject again, are we ever going to talk to Consuelo, or let her come to us? You will see her at school next week. Do we just wait `till then?"
"I have quite a bit of school work to catch up on yet. With the hospital tomorrow, and the party Sunday, why not I just wait `till Monday to talk to Consuelo? I think things will work out OK. In fact, right now, things are looking better than they have in a while. I feel pretty optimistic. And while we're changing subjects, that was a totally amazing thing you did to me about that job. You totally surprised me with that note. But remember, I love getting even."
We both smiled. We seemed to be smiling a lot more, and realizing so much has changed. "OK. I'll let you worry about Consuelo for now. You know, I just feel so free. We can now be ourselves, at least when we are alone." I pulled Jade to me and we hugged. It felt so great. "You still didn't tell me the time for tomorrow."
"Oh. We need to be there by 10 AM, so why don't you come over by 8:30. It's just three blocks from City Hall. That way we can get any last minute stuff done before we go. We can use student tokens too. Now how about filling me in on this TV repair scheme. How much money do you think we'll need just to get started?"
We talked a lot about this and I figured with multimeter, and basic tools, we could get started with about fifty dollars. "We can just use the tube tester at Penn Hardware to start. They sell tubes there too. Eventually it would be much easier to at least keep a supply of the basic tubes ourselves. I have a couple books on basic troubleshooting. And I can see your expression. Believe it or not, it's a lot easier than it looks. About 90% of the time it's something simple, like a tube, or a kid having messed with the adjustments on the back of the set. . . Or someone forgot to plug the set in."
"I was just wondering how much I can really contribute. I want to learn. And your excitement is contagious. You're right. Everything is looking so good right now."
"Just how are your arms doing?"
"Fine. Only some soreness in my right arm. But no swelling any more. The doctor was worried because of the much decreased circulation in an amputated limb, but apparently the damage wasn't as bad as first suspected. Even if it hurt like it. And I was needing new cups at least anyway. I keep growing. It's sure good the government pays for most of this."
"Ever get the name of that lawyer yet?"
"Oh yeah. I meant to tell you. I thought they might not give the name out, but the woman there remembered me and I got the name. It's actually a woman. I was a bit surprised -- a woman lawyer. Her name is Mrs. Goldstein. I got her office's address and phone number, and it's not too far from here. I made an appointment to see her legal secretary late tomorrow. He said they were working on a Saturday because Mrs. Goldstein had a court date in Juvenile Court that morning. Probably go there right from the clinic."
"That's great. Could you get any information about the trust over the phone?"
"No. But didn't expect to. Probably won't even get to see the lawyer. But we just need the information."
We talked about how strange this seemed to us especially since his Mama never mentioned anything about it. Probably just expected his Uncle Mike to tell him.
Jade then asked: "Any more thoughts on the plan? Seems like it's been put on hold for so long."
"Well maybe next weekend. I was hoping to get to the library at St. Joe's College. It's quite a ride out there. I was hoping to leave right after church since it's almost two hours just to get there. The good thing is the library is quite large. Maybe we can find that book by Bailey. Remember the library card said it discussed some of the different bible passages on homosexuality."
"So, you are trying to figure out what the bible says about homosexuality? How can we learn enough to even be able to decide for ourselves? I read the passages in the bible my Mama used. God destroyed Sodom because of it. And some are really confusing, but Mama decided it didn't apply to boys like us who just want to fall in love and have a partner for the rest of our lives."
"How come you never seemed bothered by everyone saying all homosexuals are immoral?"
"Mama claimed the passages only condemned immoral sex acts like rape or prostitution or so on. You have to use the whole message of the bible. There's places where it says a slave must obey his master and even a wife must obey her husband. But society changes. And what we understand changes. Mama said what finally makes sense is that true love brings us closer to God. Her favorite saying was true love can't be wrong."
"Actually, I'm starting to agree. I have to agree. I came to this conclusion from the opposite direction. God made us homosexual. Therefore He must have wanted us to live as homosexuals. I can not believe that He would have been so cruel to have expected otherwise. But I still want to investigate for myself."
"OK. I got a PTC map to help us get there if we need."
We held each other tight. At that moment all felt right with the world. But I needed to share with Jade the few misgivings I still had. "Jade, . . . there are two main problems I know that somehow I have to eventually face. And the reason for THE BIG LIE. I can't see how I can ever let my Mom know. I couldn't hurt her like that. And I also keep thinking how come she even has to be hurt if she finds out? How come everyone is so filled with so much revulsion against us?"
"Not all people are like that. Just the same way not all people are prejudiced against Negroes."
I wasn`t quite as optimistic. Compared to being a homosexual, being colored was an honored position in society. "And that brings up my second problem. If people find out then we will have all kinds of problems. I would almost certainly be expelled from school. And how about going to college or getting a decent job? Or just being able to live without harassment or even worse?"
"Well, we'll have to help each other. And I had another thought. I wonder about Consuelo's brother Dan. It might be nice just getting to know him. Of course that assumes we have Consuelo on our side."
I said: "We don't have to do everything at once. Let's just take things easy. There's no hurry." I thought for a moment I was sounding like Jade.
We started back. I grabbed Jade over his shoulders and pulled him down to me and kissed him. He grabbed me back and made the action mutual. I went hard immediately.
"White-boy, you are full of surprises. Nice surprises." We walked a bit and talked about our worries and how others may react toward us. One of my worst fears came to mind: "You know there's one more thing in the back of my mind I haven't mentioned yet. And this scares me the most. My parents could put me in a mental institution and I wouldn't have the slightest way to stop them. Except maybe just running away."
April 7, 1961
My thoughts were whirling. I felt so good. I wanted to talk to Jade about our future. But I had this tiny doubt nagging at the back of my mind. EXACTLY what does Jade want? And if to be partners for life can we really make it work? I want to talk about this. I was planning to bring it up as soon as I could get my courage up. Why am I such a coward?
And if we decide to be together, can we survive the world?
God please help us.
And I did something very impulsive. I kissed Jade just as he got up. It felt like my world was perfect for at least several seconds.
And I just got another idea right now. I was thinking about what his Mama said: "Love can not be wrong." I keep believing it more and more and it has become the bulwark that supports me.
And I just checked. I have a little over 45 dollars. I hoped it was enough. I just got a new idea for Jade's birthday.