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 hineys.

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 III -- Confrontation and Resolve

Chapter 66 -- A Dreadful Decision

I remembered back to when I thought about whatever happened to Jade, happened to me. And I got this terrible idea. Maybe I will force the issue and make it come true literally. There was one idea I haven't yet talked to Jade about, because I didn't want to raise false hopes. I was hoping to talk to whoever comes from the state and talks to Jade about where he might go if a foster home isn't found. The problem was that NOBODY would be happy about this idea. Not even Jade. And not even myself. But the more I think about it, the more I'm starting to make this resolve. And if I do it, it will be the worst thing I have ever done.

I went to sleep that night thinking: "Jade, I can't leave you."

I finally went home from the hospital several days later, right after getting most the stitches out. It was a Monday, and I had gone home with Mom in a cab. It was now near noon and I was in the basement, moving things all around. I had actually made up my mind three days ago, but now started to implement my new plan. And what a horrible plan it was. I was going to try to blackmail my own parents. I dared not yet tell even Jade.

I took down the ping pong table, and almost had a heart attack when Critter scampered by. OK, how did you get inside? He didn't answer but took off straight up the wall. I wished I could do that. I chased him outside and got back to my determined task. Two hours later, I had the entire end of the basement clear and my bed and clothes down in the basement. The bed was difficult. I had taken it apart. It had no headboard, so it was just the box, frame, and mattress. It was still quite a job. I put my clothes in an old dresser that had been converted to storage space for a million other things. I converted it back. I even had a makeshift closet.

On to stage two. (I was making them up as I went along). I had called Jimmy asking him if that old mattress and box spring were still in his basement. "Do your parents ever expect to use them again?"

"We recently tried to give them away to the Salvation Army, but it never got there for some reason. Why do you ask? I feel a Rocco-quake coming on."

"A what?"

"A Rocco-quake. My Dad's word for all the mischief you get into. Believe it or not we have a special 10 minute period each week just categorizing all the things you did the past week."

"You're making that up."

"Yeah, but we should. Is this going to be as bad as your last plan?"

"I hope not, but it has the potential of becoming a disaster of horrific proportions."

"Now who's talking like my father? And stop avoiding the question. Why the mattress and box spring?

"Tell you when I get there. But can you ask your mom if we can have them?"

"Will do."

Ten minutes later I was at his back door with my old wagon. (I don't think anyone ever uses his front door). Jimmy was there and the mattress was already in his back yard.

"Help me with the box spring. Mom said OK, as you can see."

Twenty minutes later we were manhandling the items into my basement. Forty minutes later we had a sort of bedroom for two people set up.

"OK, now for the TV set," I said.

Jimmy responded: "How come I don't like this already and I don't even know what it is?"

Twenty minutes later we were breaking into Jade's house. Well technically probably not. I had a key. We started transporting the TV set back to my place.

"I think I'm experiencing déjà vous, but in reverse. Perhaps you could jog my memory?" Jimmy was being sarcastic.


"And I'm getting certain vibes. Does this mean that Jade is going to stay in your basement, and neither of your parents knows about it yet?"

"Yes." I was afraid to explain much more.

"OK, Rocks, what's really happening?"

"The less you know the better. But have you ever thought about blackmailing your parents?"

"You're kidding!?" He laughed; then he saw my face. "Please tell me you're kidding?"

"Unfortunately, I am deadly serious. I told you I had a truly dreadful idea."

Jimmy stared at me for a second and then said: "Rocco, I just tried to imagine myself blackmailing my own father. And I saw the heavens rock, and chasms opening up from the depths. Or something like that. Whatever that quote is from Revelations." He then started laughing. "I just had a thought. My father would lecture me for a couple hours on the proper behavior expected of teenagers, with many specific examples and why. And my Mom would be pleading with me to change my mind. But truthfully I can't really even imagine doing such a thing."

"I can't either. I actually expect there to be less than a 50% chance this will work. Maybe even less than 25%, but I have to do it. I have no choice. And before you ask, I can't tell you why I have to do it."

Jimmy looked at me like I'd gone off the deep end. And maybe I had. "You are sure interesting knowing. I just could never do the things you do."

"Sometimes I even surprise myself. But this time is the worst ever. This is by far the worst thing I have ever done."

A bit later the TV, with a makeshift antenna was in my basement.

"Rocco, I was wondering. What's gonna happen to Jade's house? Or I guess his uncle's house?"

"I don't know. But it's his uncle's, not his. Almost nothing there is his. I also got all the stuff from his dresser. Including about 45 dollars. We were making pretty good money. We need to do one more thing."

"Do I have to help you? And now we're on that subject, how come it's always everybody doing what you want done? It always seems to work out that way."

I smiled. "Didn't you ever hear of peer pressure? Well I'm the `pressure'."

I laughed while Jimmy just frowned. I kept remembering all the times my Mom worried about me caving in to peer pressure. I could never completely understand what she really meant. And it's taken me this long to understand how ironic it really was.

We finally made one more run. Jade had remarkably few clothes, but we got what was there, along with his record player, records, and anything else we could find. Well, we left the bicycle. I couldn't make myself revisit the basement. The things eventually found their way into our basement. I started shaking. Now was the moment of truth. I might wind up being grounded for life. I hoped I had the courage to go through with this.

Jimmy could see something was wrong. "You're really going to do whatever terrible thing you have planned, aren't you?"

"Yes. I'm going to blackmail my parents. Or attempt to anyway. I have it all thought out. The big problem is, if this doesn't work, it's quite possible I won't be living here by this time next week."

"Now I know you've gone over the edge. Just what are you going to do?"

I finally decided to test it out on Jimmy. "OK, you asked for it. I intend to give my parents an ultimatum. Either they let Jade move in here, or I move out, and join him in whatever group home they send him to."

I never saw that look on Jimmy's face before. He finally said: "My god, you're really serious aren't you?"

"Deadly serious. I told you it was terrible. Especially for me."

"But what if they won't do it?"

"Then I live in a group home."

"You can't be serious. How can you give up your home?"

"Now you know why I am shaking so much right now and I haven't even said a word to my parents yet."

"But you can't actually mean it."

"I absolutely do. I have to convince my parents I do. And there's only one way. To actually mean it."

"My God, I think I believe you. Damn. And I never say damn. My father won't believe it. And if he does I could just see him. He will be down here talking to you. Do you know both you and Jade have impressed him? You two have become a part of his lectures. My father sometimes points out how I can be more like either of you about certain things." And then Jimmy laughed. "But on the other hand, you've done hundreds of things he tells me I'd better not ever do. But if you really do this, it will live in the annals of the neighborhood legend for ever. Or for at least a year or two." And Jimmy laughed again.

I was not in a laughing mood. I was starting to have second thoughts. I started to wonder if I really had the courage. I had to keep one thought foremost. "Whatever happens to Jade, happens to me."

A half hour later, I was armed with the papers from the Foster Program woman. (I couldn't remember her actual title). And I was trying to rehearse what I was going to say. I'd go to Mom first. And then Dad. (Or Mom would probably go to Dad). Whatever. I had a hundred and four dollars in my pocket too.

I suddenly almost collapsed when I heard the back door slam. Someone was home. I wondered where Mom had gone. I wasn't like her to be out of the house that long without saying where she was going. Then I heard Dolores yelling if anyone was home. I went upstairs.

Dolores greeted me. "Oh hi. How you feeling? And where is everybody? Isn't Mom and Mariann home yet? They were just going grocery shopping."

"I don't know. After Mom and I got back from the hospital, I was downstairs doing stuff. When I came upstairs, Mom and Mariann were gone. I didn't know where."

"Well, where's Carl?"

"Haven't seen him all day."

"What were you doing in the basement?"

"You might as well see. The world is about to explode."

"Oh no, Rocco. What have you done now? We seem to go from one Rocco crisis to the next."

"Very funny. But this will be the worst thing I've ever done." We went downstairs.

"Rocco, what is all this?"

"Where Jade and I will be sleeping."

"WHAT?! Mom and Dad actually agreed to that? Mom maybe, but Dad? I can't believe he ever agreed." Then she saw my face. And I explained.

"My God Rocco, you can't. You just can't."

"Nobody can stop me." I was now resolute again. Even my shaking knees have stopped.

Dolores paced back and forth. Finally: "Don't you know what will happen? You never think of consequences when you do stuff like this."

"I've never done something like this before. And I fully realize the consequences."

"Thank goodness they will never believe you. They will just wait you out. You'll have to give in eventually."


"What do you mean why? Because you'll have to, that's all."

"But I won't. Give in that is. If Jade doesn't live here than I don't. It's that simple."

"I don't believe you and no one else will either."

She had a point. How could I make certain they do believe me? I thought a bit, and then added stage 5b, to my plan. "They will have to when I call the Foster Program woman and tell her to get me."

Dolores looked at me, and finally said. "Still won't work. It will only be a few hours or a day at most, and then the woman comes and your bluff will be called."

"Dolores believe me. I've never been so serious in all my life. You of all people should know. I love Jade. I will NOT be separated from him. I am definitely NOT bluffing. If Jade has to go to some Juvenile Home, then I will too. It's as simple as that. Whatever happens to him, will happen to me." I started getting tears again.

"Then I'm going to blackmail you. If you try this I'll tell them why. About you and Jade. The whole thing."

"Don't matter. What do you think that will do? Just make it worse for both of us. And then Jade will never get to live here, and it will just insure I don't ever live here either. I'm asking you not to do that. It will just make things worse."

We heard a noise upstairs. Mom was home. Now or never. I marched upstairs.

"Rocco, please don't." Dolores was almost yelling.

Mom was at the foot of the stairs. "Don't do what? Rocco, what are you doing down there? How about coming up here and help putting groceries away."

I went up with Dolores trailing after. Dolores looked worse than I imagined I did. Mom could see right away something was wrong.

Dolores made one last plea: "Rocco, please don't."

Mom asked: "Don't what? Now what's going on here?"

I started: "Mom, remember what I was saying in the hospital about Jade needing help?"

"Yeah. I have some vague recollection."

"Look, when Jade was about three or four he lost his father. When he was ten, he lost his hands. Last year he lost his Mama. And a few days ago he lost the last place he could live. So I decided he's living here. Until a permanent foster home can be found. I have the papers right here. You and Dad need to fill them out and send them in. You can get an emergency Foster Parent license. I checked it all out and even talked to the lady in charge when she was at the hospital."

Mom just sat and looked at me. I started to shake again. That part was rehearsed. Now it would be ad lib. "You're serious aren't you?"

"Yes. We have to help. It's just our Christian duty." I threw that in to try to make her feel guilty.

"Rocco, you're shaking. Please sit down. You have to realize that a decision like that affects the entire family. First we must find out if every one is for it. Then we probably can't afford it. And your Father has to agree, and I seriously doubt that he would. Have you thought of these things?"

"Yes, and that's why I've decided not to give you any choice. . ."

Before I could finish, Dolores yelled: "Please, Rocco don't. Let Mom handle it."

Mom started to look worried. "What's going on here? Rocco, what have you done?"

Again Dolores butted in loudly: "Rocco please don't do it. Mom, he hasn't done anything yet except to set up the basement as a bedroom. But he plans to."

Mom got up: "What's this about the basement?"

I finally got in an answer. "I set it up for Jade and I. We couldn't fit upstairs, so I got our beds down there, our dresser, and all Jade's things. That's where we can stay. Just until he gets some foster parents. They even pay so we CAN afford it. And besides, Jade and I are making at least 70 dollars a month. That can buy all his food and everything. He can stay here and it wouldn't be much different than before. He was over here all the time anyway. This won't be much different. I have everything figured out. You just need to convince Dad."

I was shaking so much I was gripping the back of the chair. Mom stared at me and then got up. She went into the basement and we both followed. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what have you all done down here, and where did you get that bed?"

"The bed's from Jimmy's house. They said we could have it. And that's our TV set. And there's all his clothes. And we have a dresser too. See, everything's all set up. I'll do all the work. And we will pay for his food and other expenses. See, and all the money from the State will be extra. See, we'll even make you and Dad money. And. . ." I never got to finish.

"Rocco, come upstairs now. We need to talk." I got real worried. I'm not sure that I ever heard that tone of voice from my Mom before. We went.

"Dolores, what do you know about this? Rocco keep quiet."

Mom rarely acted this way, but this was one of the ways she got that I was always afraid of.

"Mom, honest, not much more. And Rocco, you still can't do what you said you would do."

Mom looked worried again. "Rocco, now it's your turn. What is Dolores talking about? What were you planning? I need to know before your father gets home."

I again was starting to panic. Can I really go through with this?

Dolores made one last appeal: "Please Rocco don't!"

Mom said: "Dolores keep quiet. Rocco, talk. What's going on? What else could there be?"

"Mom. I've decided. And you can't make me change my mind. And if need be I can prove I won't change my mind. If Jade doesn't come here to live, then I will leave."

Mom just stared. Then she said: "You're serious aren't you?"

"Mom, you know me. I would not say this unless I was serious. And you know how stubborn I am. I am deadly serious. If Jade doesn't come here to live until permanent foster parents can be found, then neither will I. In fact, I've already talked to the lady that visited Jade. And you can't change my mind."

"Rocco, you're too young to understand. You haven't thought of the consequences."

"Yes I have. I will go to the same group home as Jade. And I've talked to our cousin Georgie. And I guess you have too. I know what those places are like. Kids have even died. Life there is totally miserable. I don't care. I won't change my mind."

"Rocco, your father will never agree to this. He will never let Jade live here. I don't think you realize that. I will not be able to talk him into it, and I won't even try."

I started going white. I'd failed. Mom saw it. "Rocco don't. We have to find another way."

"What other way?"

"I don't know, but we must. I can see that you would actually follow through on your scheme. And you would regret it forever. I can't let you do it."

"How if I asked Dad myself?"

"Your father would not even discuss it with you. You know that, as well as I do."

"I have to try."

"No. Look at me. Think very carefully before you answer. How can your going to that group home help Jade?"

"I would be there with him. And even if it doesn't, it would help me."

"Than that is a selfish motive. Look. I've never done this before, but we've never been at this point before either. Before you do anything else, let me at least look into some things. And I am asking you as your mother to do this for me. When is Jade supposed to get out of the hospital? Do you know?"

"Pretty soon, maybe three days. According to his doctor."

"The give me at least those three days. Do this for me."

DAMN! Now what? "OK, I'll wait three more days." I was so wrung out. I barely could walk. Damn, blackmailing your own Mom was exhausting. I looked up. I had tears in my eyes. "Sorry Mom. I know this is a terrible thing to do, but I can't see any other alternative. I need to save Jade." I wanted to ask her just why she can be so sure Dad wouldn't help Jade, and why he wouldn't even listen to me. But I was too emotionally spent to engage in that battle. Mom came over to me and gave me a big hug. Even after what I just did to her. I was feeling terribly guilty.

Dolores seemed so relieved. But I could see I put my Mom in a terrible position.

Suddenly the phone rang. I ran to it. Actually I barely walked to it. "Hello?"

"White-boy, I need you here. Can you get away?"

"I just did something we may both regret. I will explain when I see you. I probably can get away after dinner. In fact I know I can. Can you wait about an hour and a half?"

"No, but I will. Thanks. You know why don't you?"

"Yes. I do. I'll be there. Don't leave."

"Funny. By the way, I have my cast off."

"Great. See you soon."

While waiting for dinner, I started going over all we said. And suddenly it occurred to me. Mom never asked WHY I was doing this for Jade. I started to wonder. And I didn't especially like what I was wondering.

Mom said I wasn't allowed out after dinner, even to go to the hospital. Well, I snuck out anyway. I took the bus up Rawn Ave. I got lucky and made it in less than 20 minutes. I explained to Jade what I had just done. I even had to sneak into his room. Visiting hours were over.

At the end I said: "But there is one other thing that sort of worries me. She never asked me why. Why I was doing this."

"White-boy, just two things. One, are our lives together going to be like this all the time?"

I could see how Jade meant it also. Partly as a joke, but partly sad too. Am I only 16? OK, am I only 15.8?

We sat silently a while. I finally said: "Jade?"


"What was the second thing?"

"I'm trying to figure out if I should just kill you."

"Huh?" I was startled.

"Well, you just got done pounding into my skull, that anything major, we HAD to talk about it. And now you do this without even talking to me first. How come? And I'm trying my best not to be really mad."


"I know. But you keep doing things without thinking them through. And this won't even effect the slightest how much I love you, but I think I deserve an explanation."

"I didn't tell you because I thought that this only had a small chance of working. I didn't want to raise your hopes only to be hurt again."

"Let ME worry about my hopes. Anything major, especially something that affects both of us, we GOT TO talk about it first. I promised you! Now White-boy, you promise me!"

"OK, Jade. I promise."

"Good. Now I'm going to make you pay for your sin. You good Catholic boy, you confessed, now your penance. I want you to go to your Mom when you get home and tell her you changed your mind. You will not go with me to the group home."

I went white. I looked at Jade and started crying. "Jade, how can I NOT go with you? You are part of me!"

"I know why you did it. And I think it's the bravest thing you've ever done. And also the stupidest."


"I thought you were so smart? But can't you see? How do you think I would feel if you had to go through all that, just for me? I couldn't forgive myself. I would LOVE you there with me. But every time something bad happened to you, it would be the same as if it happened to me."

"But that's the same for me!"

"Yeah, but I can't change my fate. You CAN change yours."

I sat there stunned. Jade was right. How could I have been so stupid? Again!

Jade continued: "You're probably right now wondering how come you could be so stupid. Because you let yourself be ruled by your heart, and not your brain. And I love you for it, but this time we have to pick the sensible thing."

"OK." It was barely a whisper. And I chanced a small kiss, and hug.

After that, Jade and I just mostly just sat together.

"Oh yeah. I asked the nurse earlier. I got your TV set. I'll bring it here tomorrow. She said it's OK."

"Good. Thank you. And we will just leave it here when I leave."


"I took a walk to the Children's ward today. They have two huge rooms with one set in each room for all those kids. I was thinking they could make better use of it than I could."

I started crying. Would I EVER be as naturally kind as Jade? I doubted it. Maybe if enough of him rubbed off eventually. I started smiling. I was just trying to think of myself as having black skin.

"You were crying; then suddenly smiling. What's going on in that brain of yours?"

I told him.

I so wanted to just hold onto Jade forever. It wasn't fair, but we couldn't chance hugging or kissing for very long. If we were a boy and girl, people would approve and possibly even say to themselves "how sweet." But not for us. Would the world EVER allow two boys to love each other? Not all the way to approve, but just allow? God, how come? I suddenly though of something.

"Jade, remember long ago, your Mama gave you the name of a pastor of some church, she said was like us?"


"Do you still have the name of the Church?"

"Somewhere. She said it was a Unitarian Church. In fact I just came across that paper a few weeks ago. I was thinking of seeing the guy when I was feeling real depressed, and then chickened out about asking one of the priests at your church."

I looked at Jade and hugged him. The hell with the nurses. Jade winced. I stopped touching his back. "I don't know anything about that kind of Church, but I was wondering. You think that pastor would marry us?"

"Rocco, we can't get married yet. The age of consent in this state is 17. You're more than a year away."

"That's for LEGAL marriages -- with a marriage license. We can't get that anyway. I just mean a religious ceremony?"

"You got me."

"Did you say this guy actually had a partner?"

We talked a bit more about possible plans, but got frustrated when we realized that nothing definite could be planned.

When I got back home, Carl was in our room when I snuck upstairs. He asked: "Where have you been? You have everybody worried. You better let Mom and Dad know you're home."

I went downstairs. Mom and Dad were sitting there. I had just snuck past them hoping they hadn't realized I was out. I finally said: "I'm home."

Both Mom and Dad were angry and I spent 5 minutes getting totally lambasted. Dad finally said: "Your mother specifically told you not to go out. And you deliberately disobeyed her. You're grounded for the next week. That goes for everything. And no TV either." Etc. Etc.

I was almost crying. And I almost said something everybody would regret, especially me. And Mom could see that I was ready to explode. Mom then added: "Come on Rocco, let's get some of the ice cream you missed."

"What're you coddling him for?" That was my father. Fortunately he didn't expect an answer.

When we got to the kitchen, I started crying in earnest. "Sorry Mom, but Jade called. He's so scared. He needed to talk to me."

"You have sure caused a lot of problems, and seem determined to cause more. We're tired of you just deciding what you're going to do, and not caring about anybody else. I'm already not happy with you. Especially after this ultimatum of yours. That alone proves you're not mature enough to be let on your own so much. I still can't believe that you're doing this."

"Well I'm not anymore. That's what I wanted to tell you."

"What do you mean, not anymore? You've finally come to your senses?"

"I guess so. I mean I'm not moving out or nothing. But I still want Jade to stay here."

"Well that's a relief. I don't think you really understood how you were trying to ruin you own life. And Jade will be taken care of. In any case he's not our responsibility. Nor is he yours. In fact he's almost an adult if you haven't realized. And we think he's been taking quite an advantage of you. Sometimes you don't have your priorities straight. You have to think of yourself and your family first."

By this time I was getting more and more scared. How come she can't understand? "I thought you told me you'd start trying to understand me. You promised. How come nobody cares? How come nobody can see how much he needs help? He's deathly afraid about what's going to happen to him. And it's all my fault. I was the one talked him into confronting his uncle." By this time I was so upset that I was half shouting and half crying.

And that unfortunately brought my father into the kitchen. He must have heard what I had just said. He half yelled himself: "What I would like to know is how come he could go all that time and not report what his uncle was doing to him? Something's not right about that. And don't look like that. Don't think we wouldn't learn things like that. We don't like you keeping these things from us."

Then I got the next part of the one-two punch from my mother: "In fact your father and I had discussed this and think his moving away might be for the best. Obviously, you'd have not done any of this if it hadn't been for your friend. We think he's been quite a bad influence on you. In fact, we don't want you going to the hospital to see him anymore."

I was so shocked and upset, I could hardly see straight. How can they just completely not understand? I couldn't stop myself. I started yelling at the top of my lungs. "YOU CAN'T DO THAT. JADE NEEDS ME NOW MORE THAN EVER."

Dad rejoined: "And if you can't stop yelling you can just go upstairs right now."

That's another thing that I hated so much. Some people seem to believe that getting emotional is the same as being wrong. "Can't. Everything's downstairs."

"That's right. Your mother told me about that nonsense also. Well tomorrow you can just put everything back and forget about this nonsense."

I was so upset and so not able to understand how they absolutely wouldn't listen to me, I shouted the first words that came to me. "How come you hate me so much!? And Jade too?" And my emotions were in such a turmoil I said something to my Dad I never would have had the courage otherwise. Only now it wasn't courage. It was just plain anger.

"And Dad, I don't understand why, but you haven't cared about me for years. And I could never understand why. I get straight As every report card, and you don't even care. I do lots of good stuff you just ignore. Mr. Alexander's complemented me a couple times, but I bet you don't even care. How come just once you can't say `good job Rocco,' or that you were proud of me, or even just `Hello, how you doing?' And how come you haven't apologized to me for accusing me of lying when I got my Ham Radio License?" Everything was boiling out. I could see my Mom looking scared. But I couldn't stop. The damn had burst. "I think I'm a pretty good kid. The only times I really disobeyed you was when you told me to do something that I just couldn't. Like seeing Jade tonight. Can't you understand what he's been going through?"

My Dad simply wasn't listening. "That's enough. Obviously you don't know the meaning of respect or obedience."

I was so angry, and all inhibitions were bashed down by now: "I'll start respecting and obeying you when you start to deserve it!" And I turned to Mom: "Maybe it'd be best if I left home after all!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Dad asked.

"You mean you actually care? Ask Mom. Why should I even talk to you? You never talk to me unless you're accusing me of something."

The only thing that stopped the torrent was the look on my mother's face. I was always mad at Dad when he got Mom crying and now I was doing it. "Sorry Mom, I lost my temper."

I couldn't face them anymore. I figured I couldn't get into worse trouble. I was too upset to stay in the house. I took off.

I stayed in the yard a while to hear what they were saying. It wasn't good. My Dad was now yelling at my Mom. And I caused that too.

"Look, Carl, he's upset. And he's been through a lot lately. He was attacked for god sake. He keeps saying that he's OK, but that has to be difficult to get over. You saw him, and he's very emotional. He always has been. And he cares about his friend. He's just too young to understand how to control his emotions so he can start making better judgments."

"And what's this about leaving!?"

Now I had to hear this. I stood plastered to the closed door. "He was just upset the other day just like tonight and said that just to get our attention."

"And that's another thing. He's almost 16 and he acts like a sniveling grade school kid. No backbone. And no respect either. And I don't understand how you can keep making excuses for him. His outbursts tonight I won't tolerate. If I'd done that to my father, I'd a' been backhanded across the room."

"Carl, why can't you just try. . . to give him a bit more attention?"

From that point it degenerated into a shouting and crying match, and Mom sat there crying when my Dad finally just refused to hear anymore and walked away.

I felt so bad I was physically sick. I had caused this. I hurt my Mom and that hurt me worse. I needed someone to hold me so bad. Someone to just say everything would be OK. I walked toward Jade's house like remote control until I realized where I was going. I then almost went to the hospital but remembered the K bus didn't run that late. I almost decided to run there, but at the last second realized I was in enough trouble already. I needed a plan. A real one. One that could work. So I spent the next hour or so just walking and thinking.

I wasn't surprised when Mom was still up waiting for me. But she went into Mom mode again and I sure needed that. She just hugged me a while, and kept saying that she wished I'd grow up a bit.

I finally got my emotions under control enough to say something. "But Mom, we really have to help Jade. He don't have anyone else now. Why can't you understand?"

"Look Rocco, you just get one thought in your mind and fail to think about anything else. This obsession you have that it is YOU that has to do something is unhealthy. Jade's the responsibility of the state now. Not ours. It is you who needs to finally understand that."

Now I was getting upset all over again. But more angry than anything else. But I didn't want to hurt my Mom any more. "Mom, sometimes I think I don't ever want to grow up if it makes me like everybody else. Our religion says we should care about other people, but nobody really seems to care. Sometimes it seems me and Jade are almost the only ones."

"Look Rocco, you know we love you, but you need to grow up a bit and understand that you can't live in a dream world when you become an adult and responsible for your family."

"Well if it means we can't care about other people anymore, then I don't want to grow up."

"You're just young yet. You'll eventually understand."

"If it makes me like Dad I hope I never do."

Mom changed the subject. "Well I'm glad you finally realized that your ultimatum was unreasonable. I'm glad you finally realized that. We both need to get to bed. We can talk more when everyone's calmed down."

"Mom,. . . can I visit Jade tomorrow? He is REALLY scared?" I also planned on getting him the TV set.

Mom was quiet for a while. Then finally said. "I don't think that would be a good idea right now."


Another lie. It was anything but OK. But that's the answer I expected. I had no intention of not seeing him. But the only new plan I could come up with was just asking Dr. Krazenski if he's come up with anything. And hoping. I felt so helpless. The "fix-it" boy couldn't figure out how to fix the most important thing in his life.

"How about my TV business? I was supposed to go to a house tomorrow. I already promised. And I need to see Dr. Krazenski also. He's supposed to do checkup. I'm getting the rest of the stitches out. They're itching bad."

"You need to go to the doctor, but we'll see about everything else. Don't push it. You're on thin ice right now."

I wanted to ask about how come Dad doesn't even seem to care what I've gone through this week? He acts like what I went through I just deserved. But I didn't have the energy, and Mom was upset enough. Maybe Dr. Krazenski will listen. My parent's don't seem to want to. Or worse, maybe they aren't capable of listening.

Chapter 67 -- Resolution

I'm not really quite sure why I went along with White-boy's plan. He didn't really know my uncle like I did. And I thought that the chances of success weren't as good as Rocco had thought. I guess it was more desperation and hope than anything else. And also knowing I had to be with my White-boy. But I never though that even my uncle could do what he did. I was paralyzed when he grabbed Rocco. As bad as he was I never thought that he would do what he did. And that room. I couldn't believe it. He was much more twisted that I ever dreamed. I wasn't thinking clearly then, but afterwards it was so obvious he had been planning something like he did do for quite a while. And we got real lucky. I shake thinking what he really had in store for us. Or at least me. I still have nightmares about it. I can't believe that Rocco seems to have recovered so easily. I know I can't. And I may never completely recover. I still have trouble when I think about having sex with my White-boy. And I still feel like I gave part of myself away. And the big problem isn't what he did to me in that room. It was what I did to myself in giving in to him all those times before. And what I cost White-boy. But I asked him about it. And wondered how he could react so differently.

We talked about it some last night when he snuck into my room. And I know that I need to talk about it some more with him. But he seemed so, I don't know how to say it, but sort of like it was real bad when it was happening, but that was almost a week ago. I asked him about that.

"But how can you not keep thinking about it? I mean he raped you!"

"Actually I do think about it a lot. But I worry about you more. And I'm really sick about the first time not being with you. For that I have trouble forgiving him. I know I will eventually, but I can't right now."

"Forgive him! I can't EVER forgive him."

"Yes you will, because I will. And you're too naturally kind not to. Eventually. Besides, it's what he tried to do to me that you hate worst, and if I ask you to, you'll do it for me."

"How can you say that so easily? And even if you asked me, I don't know if I can."

"That's why I'll wait a while." And White-boy even smiled. That was when I started to have hope we could really get over all this.

"I'll try." I said.

"But seriously Jade, eventually you have to forgive him. Otherwise you will keep hurting. It's one of the things from my religion I really believe."

"But how can I forgive myself?"

My White-boy actually smiled again. He held me and said: "That's easy. Because I forgive you."

I knew I had to eventually tell him everything that happened, but it was too difficult to think about it right now. But I sort of felt better just after our little talk. And for the first time in a couple of weeks I felt like I could have sex with my White-boy again.

I was still pretty scared about what will happen to me. But for the couple hours he was there, I felt a lot better. But when he left, I felt so alone again. And scared again. But not quite as scared. I still can't believe that he really would have gone to the boy's home with me. But it's exactly the type of impulsive thing he'd do. And it's why I love him so much. I wonder what he's up to now.

And it's so just like him. I reminded myself how come I got here to begin with. I guess, for some reason, all I had been able to focus on was losing the only home I had left. But after he came over and insisted he was staying, I finally realized there actually was one thing I feared more than losing any security I had left in my life. It was losing my White-boy. And when he pulled that stunt with those handcuffs, well I was finally starting to realize just how much we were already a couple.

And it was not just all these thoughts that kept me from sleeping right now. Even though I frequently slept on my stomac, but my back now ached just too much. And I hated the pain medicine. I couldn't think. So I started reading one of the books that Rocco had left. I never liked science fiction too much but I needed a distraction. But every few minutes my worries kept intruding.

I finally gave up trying to read when the nurse showed up a bit later. I also asked if I could have something for the pain. After a while I started to half doze. And I kept thinking about the weird things White-boy's done lately. Sure, I know I called him part of my soul and all that, but there's something about being stripped of everything you hold dear. It makes you see things differently. I started finally to understand also just how much my decision to try to ride out the situation alone was really hurting not just me, but more importantly us. I just couldn't hurt my White-boy like that any more. When he said he would give BOTH of his hands to me I knew he really meant it. It would be just like him to actually do it if he could. He would only think of me and not think too much about the consequences to himself.

I still find it hard to understand how I let myself keep doing what my uncle demanded. It was almost as if I was frozen. But now what? I need my White-boy. Mama, what would you say to me right now? I know, keep fighting.

I finally got a good night's sleep. I was awakened lots of times by nurses, but still got good sleep. When that psychologist guy showed up again, I had fun trying to remember all my previous lies. Damn! How does Rocco keep all his lies straight? And I claim I don't want to complicate my life. This time I tried to just barely hint that I hate white people. It seemed to keep the guy distracted. But I first asked him how come it wasn't that other doctor.

"Well, he will take over after you are released from the hospital. But I believe that you need to talk about what happened to you as soon as possible."

When I didn't say anything he went on. "So, are we still feeling guilty about what happened with your uncle?"

"You mean you also feel guilty about this?" He didn't seem to like that answer.

"Are you always this hostile?'

"I just a dumb nigger. You have to use easier words." I hope he hadn't looked up my school record. Rocco saw through me right away. Wonder how long it will take the good doctor.

"How about describing what you're feeling right now about his attacks on you."

"I feel relieved they's over."

"Will you be glad if he is convicted?"

"If? Don't you mean when? And he hurt a white boy. Although that boy was pretty dumb to get caught like that."

"This other boy's been your friend for a couple years. And in speaking to him he seems to regard you pretty highly."

(A long pause).

"Aren't you going to reply?"

"Didn't hear no question."

"Jade, I happen to know that you are more intelligent than you're letting on. Why the continued hostility? I'm just trying to help."

"Don't need help. I'm fine, now it's over. Too bad I don't have no home no more. Now if you REALLY want to help, how about gettin' me some foster parents."

He changed the subject. "Have you had any nightmares this past week?"

"Yeah. And I can't remember much but it's strange. I keep seeing my uncle but half way through the dream he turns white. What's that all about?"

`Well what do you think it's about?"

"How should I know? You're the shrink."

That's just a sample. I was starting to have fun with him. Pay him back for ambushing Rocco. But he did trigger a couple thoughts. I know Rocco was talking about getting married again. And I'm pretty sure I'd like that, but did he really think even that Unitarian pastor guy would do it? Yeah Rocco sure regards me highly. Almost as much as I regard him. But I can't let this shrink know that. Maybe if I give him a victory.

"But you must have thought that was significant," the doctor persisted.

"Sorry, I was sort of thinking about something else. What you say?"

"Let's go on. Just what were you thinking?"

"Well, I was just thinking it'd be my luck that they make a big mix-up, and I get white foster parents."

"But your best friend is white. Why do you think that would be so bad?"

"Hay look OK. Sure Rocco helps me a lot, but that's just the way he's built sort of. He's a natural helper type person. And why should I turn down the help? Need all of it I can get. But he's WHITE. Don't you get it?"


"Meaning he's white that's all. No matter how they try, they can never be a Negro."

"How do you feel about him? After all you've been his friend for almost two years?"

"Nice enough guy. He's one of the exceptions. But still, he can't never really understand me."

"Have you discussed this with him?"

"Course not. Think I'm THAT stupid? But it makes him feel good helping me an' stuff."

"Don't you have ANY close friends?"

"Well, there's Consuelo at school. We do a lot together. An' I would sure like to do more together than what we do. You know what I mean?"

"Let's get back to what your uncle did to you. Do you think you could ever forgive him?"

"You kiddin' right? Now how does that make sense? Maybe in a million years."

"So you consider him more culpable then yourself?"

He almost caught me, but I saw it just in time. "What does how good I am at stuff matter now? You tryin' to say I can't do as much as him `cause I got these?" And I lifted my arms. And my right arm was really aching again. Damn, with the cast off, I got both hooks back on, but it's going to take some building up again.

"You misunderstood. Not capable, I said culpable. That means guilty of something. Do you feel he is more guilty for what happened to you than yourself?"

"We're both guilty. He started everything, but I sure didn't stop him."

"Now we're getting some where. Why do you think you couldn't stop him?"

"Because I was a coward, and couldn't stand not having a home no more. He's all I had left." How about that. A lot of that was even true.

"Well, you had your friend, didn't you?"

"How many times I gotta tell you, HE'S WHITE!"

"So you think that a white person and a Negro can't ever have that close a friendship?"

"OK, but so what?"

"Look, I'm not disagreeing. So you think you were a coward? I think you've been handling everything that's happened to you very well. That takes courage."

"Now you just sayin' things. I know what I did and what I didn't. And it wasn't for Rocco, I'd be still letting' my uncle do things."

"So you are grateful for how he helped you?"

"You kiddin' right? He's got me into this mess. Just bein' his do-gooder self. He can't help himself. Now I got nothing."

"You mean you wish you were back with your uncle?"

"That be sure a sight better than any boys' home! That's for sure!"

"So you really didn't mind that much what your uncle did to you?"

"Talk sense man. See my back? Think I liked that? Or that gross sex stuff. It was sickening. Wanna make me puke. Did in fact once and he beat me for it. But at least I had a home."

And so we went on another tangent. He tried to pry out of me just what my uncle said and why I thought he started this stuff with me. I lied real good of course. Or real bad depending. I think he must have liked my answers. He started writing like mad. The more he liked the answer, the more bullshit I dished out. Finally it got to the end.

"Well, I think we have come a good way today. I'm glad to see you have finally been able to talk about what happened to you. Of course I need to tell you that after today, it will be Doctor Krazenski who will be seeing you about this."

"Yeah. Maybe you could rustle up a black shrink? Any of them around?"

"Actually I don't believe so. But I'm sure that Dr. Krazenski will do well for you, if you let him."

"Yeah. I guess so." I made sure my tone intimated I really didn't believe it. He was smiling when he left. I was glad to have entertained him. I couldn't wait `til I told Rocco what an accomplished liar I had become.

The next day I found out I wasn't quite as good as I thought I was.

But right now it was still morning. And there was a big commotion in the hall. I got up dragging the damn IV with me. Sure enough it was Rocco. Should have guessed. And the commotion was the TV set. Wonder how he got it here?

"What are you doing White-boy?"

He had this guilty smile. "As far as my Mom knows, right at this exact moment I'm talking with Dr. Krazenski. Seems I got in trouble last night real bad and I'm grounded again. So I'm not really here."

"Damn, White-boy. For someone so smart, you sure get yourself in a lot of trouble at times."

We talked about what happened at his house last night. Neither of us were too happy afterwards. He talked about seeing Dr. Krazenski right after he left.

"I told Mom I was using the bus, but I actually used cabs to save time. Damn I'm spending too much money at a dollar a whack for the cabs. I'll just run home from his office though."

Then I told him about the fun I had with the resident shrink. We both had a good laugh.

"So I'm WHITE huh? I thought I was an honorary Negro? You hurt my feeling."

"Only one?"

"Yeah. Can't afford more right now. Think you hoodwinked him?"

"Not really sure. But it don't really matter. So long as he never suspects that I'm one of those pervert sickos like you are. Now I'm getting worse than you at this big lie stuff."

"Darn. I'd like to show you just how perverted I am right now. But too many people around. And how come you have to use real pajamas today? Can't see your cute butt."

We were going strong when a doctor came in I never saw before. He had a billion other doctors with him. OK only four, but what was going on? It turned out these were student doctors and I was the prime exhibit. Never saw a male rape before. Rocco started smirking so I decided to make him specimen number two. "Actually, this here is the other victim."

The doctor beamed. "And so it is. Doctors, this is Master Rocco Papariello." Then he went into very graphic detail. Rocco can't seem to tan, but he can sure turn red. I was silently laughing. Then the doctor asked if he had his stitches out yet. And of course all five of them had to have an inspection. I suspected I will pay for that sometime in the future. Rocco had a good memory about things like this. They all finally left.

"Thanks Jade. I WILL get even."

We hooked up the TV and a makeshift antenna. We could only get in two channels. The other was all fuzzy. I said I was wondering what shows were on in the daytime. Then Rocco commented about that magazine in the supermarket just for finding out about the schedule of TV shows for the week.

"It's called TV Guide. And cost 15 cents. How dumb can you get?" He commented. "Why would anyone pay good money to get something you can get for free in the papers? I bet the magazine don't last another year."

I laughed. "Not especially observant are you. TV Guide's been around for years."

Finally Rocco had to go. Every time he left, I felt a wave of real "scardness" come over me. (That's a word. If Shakespeare can make words up so can I). Damn, my arm was sore! Maybe I need the hooks checked out again. Well, I had a scheduled visit next month.

The rest of the day was mostly boring in spite of the TV. That was until later that afternoon. Someone must have told some of the kids there was another TV on the floor. The Children's Ward was just down the long hall. By dinnertime, I had four kids sitting around. They were pretty young, and all white, but it helped to have company. There was this one kid burnt real bad. Especially his arms. I didn't feel sorry for myself so much when I saw him. And damn, he was a lot like my White-boy. And smiling most the time. His name was Charlie. I found out also he had no parents left and was from St. Vincent's orphanage. Damn. Talk about a bad luck kid. For some reason he took to me and we played a lot of games together.

Had another pretty good night. But I still was scared. The closer I got to leaving the hospital, the "scarder" I got. That orphanage didn't sound too bad the way he talked about it. Too bad they have only kids there up to thirteen. It was down way past the prison. Rocco said his own grandmother had lived there when she was young. Must be a real old place. Run by some Catholic nuns. They are sure weird for women.

The next evening, I was watching The Flintstones, with a couple kids who had snuck into my room. I wasn't all that interested but kids sitting on my bed sure were and I couldn't disappoint them. They were supposed to be in bed. Then a nurse came in and I thought she was going to chase the kids back to the ward but instead she said I had a phone call. It was Rocco. What did he do now? I beat her back to the nurses' station.

"Hay Jade, maybe there is some hope. I had to let you know. Dr. Krazenski and I had a real long talk today and toward the end he asked a lot of questions about me and you and I started to get the impression that maybe he had someone in mind to take you in just `til regular foster parents can be found. I couldn't wait `til tomorrow to tell you this."

We talked a bit more but he was at home and because his Dad was there he couldn't say too much. I wanted to ask him lots of questions but no way. But it DID raise my spirits. Any ray of sunshine.

The next morning, they took the rest of my bandages off for good, and I finally got a real bath. Not just that rub down type. It sure felt good. My back was really tender yet but I wondered about any scars. I wouldn't stop asking until a nurse brought in a mirror. And it was Dr. Krazenski himself this time. He was really nice. He said I shouldn't have very many scars. The lines would mostly fade. (That meant for me they would get darker). And they took out my IV so I was mobile again. I even went outside later that day but that wasn't the exciting thing. He finally started talking about what happened to me. Damn, you would think he had been right there when the stuff happened. He kept saying what I was feeling. His ESP must have been as good as White-boy's.

"How the heck you can know that? I wasn't even sure how I felt until days later."

"Well, in this type of case, how the victims feel is pretty much the same often enough. And it is very common for the victim to feel guilty."

"But I really WAS guilty. I could have stopped him."

"All right. Pretend we're at your home right now. Pretend you're in bed at home. I'm your uncle. Just what would you do to stop me?"

Damn! We talked that out for quite some time. Maybe I was more a victim than I thought.

"Now, let's take a break. I tell you what. I bet you are sick of hospital food by now. How about we go out some where?"

"Just like that? You mean outside? I don't have real clothes."

He pulled out a bag. Undershirt, shirt, boxers, pants, sneakers. How'd he get my stuff?

"I stopped at your friend's house. He had them ready for me. He's quite a boy. We had a long talk ourselves yesterday at my office. And he can be pretty persuasive. You know you two are helping to convince me that a lot of what we thought we knew about homosexuals may not be quite accurate."

I looked around making sure we were not overheard. "You're right on one score. He's quite something. Not your average boy. White or Negro. It's strange. When we're together, I never even think of him being white. Even when I call him White-boy, like White-boy is just a special name and not a description. Except when I want to. Does that make sense?"

"A lot of sense. Let's go. There's a sandwich shop up on Roosevelt. Great pies too." He helped with my straps. My back was still sore but it was manageable. We talked about a lot of stuff, just making conversation. It seemed every other sentence I was talking about Rocco.

I ordered pastrami and cheese on rye, with Jewish pickles and hot mustard. And I got a vanilla milkshake. For dessert I had lemon meringue pie. The doctor declined the pie. I sure was hungry. My appetite was coming back quite a bit. My back was sore but I could still sit back pretty well.

We talked a lot more and then he said something that surprised me a bit. "You know we could have you discharged from the hospital today if we had a place for you to go. Has Mrs. Winston been to see you lately?"

That was the lady from Juvenile Services. "She said she'd be back this afternoon. With more paperwork of course. But she's really pretty nice. Just always in a hurry."

"Very busy woman. The only woman in her department. Does a pretty good job. You know she really cares."

I started to get a cold sweat. We were talking about my immediate future. "Yeah. I got that feeling. Any news yet?"

He understood what I meant. "Well I have a couple questions. If we found you a temporary place to live, would you mind if it was with a white family?"

"You kidding?! They could be green!"

"Well let me read you something." He made a big production about getting a few papers from his beast pocket and opening them up. "Let's see. OK, I am going to read you something I found very interesting. You might recognize it. `Individual at first stages of recovery from deep psychological trauma.' He looked further on. `He tries to hide his deep seated animosity for whites." And another place. `Has difficulty forming close peer attachments. Fails to reciprocate or even understand true friendship.' And it goes on in that vein. Sound familiar?"

By this time I was looking for a small place to hide. "I guess this means I got caught."

The doctor chuckled a bit. "I found it a bit amusing. You sure fooled the good Dr. Ambrose. But considering the extent of the affection shown you by Rocco, he should have been suspicious from the start. And he isn't a bad doctor if you would have given him half a chance."

I sort of shrugged. I was very hesitant about talking about how Rocco and I felt about each other. I said finally: "I couldn't chance being diagnosed as a `neurotic inverted homosexual'."

"Got the language down have you? I guess you have a point. But I'm sure he would have caught on eventually."

"I guess I didn't really care if he caught me lying. I was just trying to keep his attention diverted from only one thing. And yeah, I had a little fun too."

"Well, I would like to follow up on this. And I can't help much if you lie too much. Although some lies actually tell more than some truths. But considering what you have gone through these last weeks, I think you really need to get your feelings out in the open. And the fact of your sexual orientation will make your assumed guilt just that much more severe in this case."

"What do you mean `assumed' guilt? The guilt is real."

"Very well. We will start with that assumption. But that's for later. I do agree with part of the good doctor's assessment. You are starting to recover. I have a couple more questions. If I found you a home, do you think you would also be able to get along with say a slightly spoiled and intelligent 12 year old?"

Is that question implying what I thought it was implying? "Why you asking a question like that?"

"Well, my daughter is intelligent and 12 years old."

I stared, not quite believing just what I heard. "Please." I gasped out. "I can't take playing with words. What are you saying?"

"Good. I am saying that I've, . . . I mean my family has decided to take you in until the state can find you permanent foster parents."

It wasn't until that very moment when I realized just how scared I had been. I started crying with relief and happiness. I grabbed the doctor and hugged him. I told him what I was feeling. It was a while before I finally got myself under control. My first thought was to call Rocco with my great news. I looked around to see if there was a pay phone. No such luck.

"Doctor, I have to make a call. Right now. Please." I paused a moment. "Sorry. I didn't mean to bully you. But I REALLY would like to make a call. Rocco needs to know."

We drove to a pay phone a few blocks away at a gas station. He even put in the dime. I finally got Rocco's house, but his Mom answered. He was out fixing a TV set she said.

"Could you tell him I have great news? He'll know what I mean."

"I will. He should be home shortly. He's been out all morning on that TV set."

I didn't know what else to say. He told me his parents thought I was having a bad influence on him. Wonder what they would think if I were white and Catholic? Well, anyway, we had to be careful. I hope Dr. Krazenski didn't mind being in another conspiracy.

We were on our way back to the hospital when the doctor suddenly mentioned going to my house to get my things. He already had signed the papers earlier that morning. Mrs. Winston, the state worker, he said, would be meeting us as the hospital in a couple hours.

"Doctor, all my things are at Rocco's house."

"How did they get there?"

That took a big explanation. I wasn't done by the time we got back to the hospital.

"And you believe he'd have done that? Actually left his home?"

"Definitely. He's a strange mixture of really smart and really stupid. . . and really caring."

"And I specifically told him not to do anything rash."

I started to laugh. (I was so happy, I think I would have laughed at a tooth ache. OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get the picture). "Rocco has the ability of not letting that kind of advice interfere with what he believes he must do." That got the doctor thinking some.

Plans got changed. He didn't want to show up at Rocco's house without calling first. I just got my stuff from the hospital. He started asking about where the TV came from and I told him. He seemed surprised for once.

"You and Rocco run your own TV repair business?"

"Yeah. Rocco's idea. Although I'm finally getting pretty good at it myself. We've been able to fix all but one set so far. We only charge 5 dollars a visit and cost of tubes and stuff, so the people are pretty happy. Most of our business we get now are customers telling their neighbors and friends. Rocco knows a lot about electronics." I smiled. "Last year he got a Ham Radio License. And it caused him a lot of trouble." And that took another explanation.

I was chuckling again. Doctor Krazenski was too. I was finding this too hard to believe. I was remembering what the doctor had said earlier. I was too excited to think at first. So now I asked him: "You said earlier that Rocco could be persuasive. I'm curious about what Rocco said to you?"

"I'm sure he will fill you in. Eventually we will all need to have a good talk. All three of us."

I was so happy, I would have agreed to anything. "Anything you say."

"Well situations can change. I will tell you the same thing I told Rocco last week. Don't give up hope. And remember, I'm on your side."

"Thank-you. I don't know how to explain how great this is for us."

The doctor looked at me with this strange look. He soon remarked: "I find it very elucidating that both of you frequently keep using words like `us' and `we'."

We eventually arrived at Rocco's house. Dr. Krazenski had called from the hospital. Rocco greeted me at the door and we were all smiles. Rocco had all my stuff ready to go including the record player and records. Dolores was there and said hello. She asked how I was doing, and this started a conversation about my stay in the hospital. She seemed awkward around me since she found out about us. Rocco's Mom greeted Dr. Krazenski.

"I wasn't sure that my son had heard right. I see you're here to get Jade's things." She turned to Jade and said she was glad he was out of the hospital. She also seemed awkward. "Well Jade, do you know where you'll be living?" I told her and she seemed surprised. I found out later that she just assumed that Rocco got the story wrong and that Krazenski was just acting as transporter.

"Jade will be living at your house?" She still asked the doctor with some incredulity.

"Well until he can find a permanent foster home. Hopefully that won't be too long. I had a student from Argentina with us last year. The room is still set up. When I was talking with Mrs. Winston about getting licensed for emergency foster care, I mentioned already having a room set up and ready. I even think some of Nestor's clothes are in a box somewhere. He was the student. Although looking at Jade I think they might be too small."

Rocco's Mom for some reason still couldn't get over the fact that the doctor was taking me in and I wondered why. She asked: "You have a small daughter of your own don't you?"

He smiled. "And thankfully she is the image of her mother. She is quite precocious for a 12 year old and I'm sure she and Jade will hit it off well. I believe that Jade is quite a remarkable young man to have even thrived after all he has been forced to go through. I don't think your son could have picked a better person to be his good friend."

Damn! Rocco was almost speechless, and that's quite a feat. I figured that the doctor was doing a little selling job. I was grateful. I didn't want to have to sneak around all the time just to see him. We had been involved in our own conversation all about my moving in with the doctor. We'd be a little further apart but still relatively close. And I'd be much closer to my own school. Of course I was just a little bit uneasy about living in an all white neighborhood. But the neighbors must have gotten used to Nestor living there for a year.

Rocco's Mom seemed to be looking question marks at everybody. She and the doctor exchanged a few more words while I was catching up with Rocco about our TV business and the Thursday circulars. Charlie, now a full sized duck, was confined to the back yard. As was Critter -- that is when he decided to stay there. He was roaming a lot lately. We were bringing my stuff out to the car when Dr. Krazenski said we had to get going. We went back to the hospital, met Mrs.Winston and I formally became the doctor's foster son -- even if temporary. It sounded so good. We headed home. I liked the sound of that.

I was still having difficulty really comprehending my good fortune. Suddenly I was living again; my life was no longer on hold. I was again formulating all sorts of things I wanted to do the rest of the summer. I had wiped all these things from my future, and now it felt like I had unlimited options. I couldn't wait until Rocco and I could get together and make some definite plans. I hadn't fully realized how much of my life I had shut down.

And it was probably during those moments of reverie, just before I reached my new home, that I fully realized the extent of how much I wanted my White-boy in my life. I could not conceive of a future without him.

And damn, we haven't even had proper sex yet. I smiled. And then I laughed. Dr. Krazenski glanced over at me, and I faced him with a huge smile.

"Let me show you around. My wife and daughter want to meet you." I couldn't believe how nervous I was. The house, I thought, was rather small for that of a doctor. The lowest floor was his office. While his wife was gracious, his daughter was excited. They were introduced; the daughter's name was Cheryl, Cher for short. She was adamant about that.

She began a barrage of questions as I was looking around. "Did you know Nes? Are you going to be my brother too? How come you're so dark?"

I was quite taken by her spirit and tried to keep up with her questions. She insisted on showing me my room. I was quite amazed. It even had its own TV set -- and it was a color one! What `til I told Rocco. The day was one of one amazing thing after another.

That night, as I was getting ready for bed, I was going over what Rocco had told me earlier during a phone call. We had arranged to meet the next morning at the doctor's house. The doctor had talked to Rocco's parents a several days earlier and had advised that Rocco be included in a number of counseling sessions to help him deal with the events of his assault. Rocco said he had two good talks with him already. Another one was scheduled for tomorrow morning. I tried to tell him about the whole setup here but didn't have much time. His parents had recently been insisting that his time with me be limited. This aspect was quite upsetting, but Rocco insisted that I wasn't to worry about it. He was only grounded `til the end of the week, and we would be together as usual after that. I was hoping he was right.

The doctor was a little surprised about my needing help with the straps holding my hooks. "I can't see why these can't be made so you don't need help with them."

I explained about a different set up that could be used once I stopped growing but was much more expensive. "It is annoying."

"I find it hard to believe that your uncle was even willing to help you every night. That didn't seem to be part of his personality."

"It wasn't. Rocco frequently came over either in the evening or in the morning to help out. He said he absolutely loved my calls at all hours." I laughed.

But Dr. Krazenski was surprised. "You mean that he did that often?"

"Oh yeah, sometimes a half dozen times a week. He didn't mind. As I told Dr. Ambrose, Rocco liked doing stuff like that so I took advantage of him." I laughed, but Dr. Krazenski gave me this strange look. I don't know why.

"Well I`m sure, when I am not available, either my wife or even Cher would be glad to help out. Please let me know if you need anything else. I assume Cher showed you everything. If you're up in time tomorrow, Mrs. Krazenski will be making breakfast for me at about 7 AM. I have rounds in the hospital at eight, and I'll be back at about 10:30 for you and Rocco. See you then."

I surely couldn't fall asleep right away. I was too wound up.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello