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 hind quarters.

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 72a -- Interlude (part a)

After the awful start of the summer, and all the terrible emotional ups and downs Jade and I went through, the rest of the summer was almost too peaceful. Well that's not quite exactly right. What I meant, everything seemed so normal; we were just waiting for something to happen. (OK, maybe it was just ME who was waiting). I don't mean necessarily something bad. Just something that had a loud mental noise to it. Something that made our emotions go up and down and maybe even twist a bit. But nothing. Just a great time. And that was the problem -- almost. We kept wondering how we could have gotten so lucky all of a sudden. Where were all the anticipated problems we talked about? How come all the things we said we were afraid of never happened?

It was strange. You would think it would be Jade that was a little anxious about the immediate future. It's he that didn't have a permanent foster home yet. And about that I was pretty disappointed. I handed out over half the circulars and nothing. About half to the people of the Unitarian Church, and the rest throughout Jade's old neighborhood. I put them in stores in the area, and even went door to door. No luck. I was more than discouraged. The lady in charge of finding a foster family for Jade came to the doctor's place a number of times with exactly the same news. She said that one of the problems lay in that fact that in just eight months, when Jade reaches 18, the family would get no more money from the state, yet Jade will still be more than a year away from graduating from High School. He would still get some disability money from Social Security (and because his Mama had died) but that was all.

One day when I was bemoaning this very issue, Jade finally said: "Look White-boy, just cool it. Things are going great. Just enjoy our no-problem time together."

I couldn't help feeling happy just seeing Jade happy. "OK, I promise." And I even kept my promise most of the time.

Almost two weeks after Jade and I went to see the ADA about the hearing for his uncle (and right before our family's big vacation trip) we got delivered to our house a summons for me to appear in court on the very last day of our summer vacation. Jade and I were at Summer Camp at the time but I was told about it when I got home. I was very disappointed that I would still have to testify. I sure hoped that the ADA could make sure that the questions I didn't want asked, weren't. Mom told me that they also got a call from the ADA that he needed to see me again about a week before the hearing. I had a whole month to fret about it. And one of my parents had to be there with me. I found out later that the same was true for Jade.

We talked about it some after our family got back from our vacation, but both of us were still reluctant to talk about any specifics of the time his uncle was assaulting us. On one of these occasions, just a week before the hearing, I remarked to Jade that the whole event hardly seemed real anymore.

Jade replied: "Well, I tell you what White-boy, there's a series of fine scars on my back that are quite real. I can still almost feel the burning pain of that strap."

I looked at Jade to see what he might be feeling as he said this. It was the first time he had ever said anything specific about that day since the police interrogation, at least that I heard. He never did talk much about what the ADA and he talked about other than what he said to me the day we went there. We were in his room at the time. I started undoing his straps, and he never stopped me. I got off his hooks and then I started pulling up his shirt. Neither of us even said a word. I pulled off his shirt and sat behind him. Still without a word I started tracing the fine lines still evident there. They were pretty clear close up but if I looked from more than a few feet they weren't very evident. It was the first time I carefully examined his back since he got hurt and I grabbed Jade from behind, laying my head against his back. I was almost in tears. "I'm sorry Jade. If I hadn't . . ." I never got to finish.

Jade turned around and grabbed me and held on. I could feel a small shudder go through him. "I'm sorry for a lot of things too White-boy, but I really would like you never to punish yourself over this again. It happened because both of us probably made some foolish decisions. But I realize now that mostly it was my uncle. Let's just enjoy us now. The lawyer just about assured us that after the hearing, my uncle will be stupid not to go for a plea bargain and then it's all over."

I surely hoped so. I felt guilty about a number of things, but getting Jade hurt was the worst. "Jade, do you want to talk about things? I mean what your uncle and you did? You don't have to, but Dr. Krazenski said that it could help get over it."

Jade back away a bit and paced the room. "Yes, I do. But I'm not up to it yet. But I promise we will eventually."

I looked again closely at his back; and then tracing the faint lines with my fingers. "There really are only several lines of scars on your back, and they're pretty faint. Your back is almost its usual coal black. I can just barely feel a few of the lines back there."

"Yeah, Dr. Krazenski said that except for those few raised areas, most of the marks will fade eventually. And they don't feel stiff anymore."

"So I guess you don't have to worry too much about the girls, as you remarked to Dr. Ambrose." I tried to lighten the mood.

Jade actually laughed. "I was really only worried about one specific boy. Do you think he'll mind?"

I was starting to make some snide remark but the occasion suddenly didn't seem right for it. Instead I said: "I love every square inch of you. . ." And I added almost as an afterthought: "And I think your color is sexy."

I tried to keep it light but there was also a nagging worry in the back of my mind. Since that day, Jade and I have never lain naked together. Together sure, but not without our clothes or pajamas even during Summer Camp. And I missed those intimate times. The few times I tried to make the suggestion, Jade put me off. And the longer it went on, the more worried I was getting. And it was awkward for me, because it had almost always been Jade that initiated those events.

"Jade, I'm a bit worried." I was trying to figure out how to bring this up. I finally just said it right out. "We used to lie naked together occasionally, and I really miss those times. How come we don't anymore?"

Jade stopped in his pacing and turned. He started to say something a few times and he finally just came to me and started to pull my polo over my head with his arms. I unbuckled my belt and undid my zipper. Jade did the rest.

I could not believe how aroused I was so suddenly. I had a premature ejaculation that might be one for the record books. We hadn't even lain down yet.

Later, when we were just laying entwined with each other, and basking in the pleasant after glow, Jade finally said: "So I guess I can still turn you on, huh, White-boy? Gees, three times in two hours. For such a small guy too."

"Sorry about that first time, but I couldn't control it. And anyway that just allowed me to make sure you enjoyed things too. I could concentrate on you that much more."

"Well you sure did a lot of concentrating, but I would have used several different words." Jade seemed more like his old self.

I was so happy I could hardly contain myself. "I'm glad to have you back like this Jade."

"I'm happy to be back."

That was near the end of the summer. During the three weeks we were not there we were able to get a couple friends to deliver our Thursday circulars. Our TV business also seemed to slow down during the summer. We had to print off a whole pot-load of circulars and deliver them around since we were going to be essentially shut down for three weeks. Jade wound up going with the Krazenski's for the same two weeks I'd be gone with my family. I REALLY wanted Jade to come with us but that was a no-starter. And I couldn't really horn in on the Krazenski's vacation.

My father and I almost had a big blow up. He said since I was working that I could pay for my own summer camp. I tried to point out to him that Carl never had to, but that got nowhere. I almost blew up. Fortunately I realized in time, that nothing good could happen by remonstrating about it. So I lumped it and paid the $25. It seemed our bank balance could never get over the 200 dollar mark. Two days before camp, while I was washing some clothes, Mom came down into the basement to see what I was doing. I was in a pretty good mood; I had just gotten home from Jade's house. That morning we had watched the second manned Mercury shot on Jade`s TV. (Unfortunately it was not in color). But I was really all excited about the shot even if nobody got into orbit yet. And then I stayed on to have dinner there. I had almost forgotten how good an eye roast could be when it isn`t overcooked. We even had dessert which was a rare thing in my own house. So anyways, I was actually smiling while attempting to wash my own clothes. And in spite of having to pay my own camp fee, I was too happy about everything else.

"You're doing your own clothes?" Mom I guess seemed surprised.

"Well, it's easy enough, and I need a few things for camp." I didn't think much about it although I rarely did my own clothes.

"Well I'll be." One of Mom's favorite expressions. Then she brought up another topic: "I was just wondering, to keep track of family expenses, did you get a receipt for your camp fee?"

"I'm not sure where I put it. Probably still in the pocket of my Scout shirt." I pulled it out of the washer and started looking into its pockets. "Didn't know you needed it."

I found it and felt embarrassed that I hadn't checked all my pockets before starting the wash. Mom reached for the receipt and said: "Well, I need to keep track of all of our family's expenses."

"But how come you never kept track of the money I've spent before?"

"What do you mean you've spent?"

Well eventually she figured out that Dad didn't pay for camp. I think she was more upset about it that I was. "How come you didn't say something? Here, I'll pay for it."

I almost grabbed at the offer, but suddenly realized I liked my newly found semi-independence from my parents. "Thanks, but that's OK. I like the idea of being just a little independent. And I can afford it. Besides, when Dad said he didn't want me and Jade sharing the same tent, I already showed him the receipt with the tent assignment, and he just walked away without saying anything."

I walked away reveling in the look my Mom gave me. Well "growing up" don't mean I didn't still like basking in her expression of regard.

Summer Camp was nearly a repeat of last year. Jade and I had a two man tent together. They were pitched on wooden platforms to keep the interior cleaner and drier. But instead of using the two cots, we put our air mattresses on the wood floor and then our sleeping bags so we could sort of sleep together. It was so amazing! Except for that one night for a few hours last summer, we had never done this before. I couldn't figure how I could ever go back to sleeping alone when camp was over. We carefully tied each end of the tent closed from the inside so we wouldn't so easily get caught. Fortunately, nobody ever suspected anything untoward was going on and it was well worth the minor apprehension I first had.

But I was totally frustrated by not being able to learn how to swim. No luck again. I was still too skinny to float. But I did have a slightly harder time sinking this time. I think too much muscle in my legs. Jade and I tried to make a bet again with some of the other scouts about my ability to sink with a full lung full of air, but too many kids remembered about it from last year.

One of the things we did accomplish was to collect a small bunch of different salamanders for the Nature Exhibit. (We must have turned over a million rocks and fallen branches). And our afternoon exploring the various "babbling" brooks, that meandered down the steep hillside of the east side of Hart Boy Scout Camp, felt like a tiny piece of paradise. Jade was as enthusiastic as I was in searching under all the rocks. We eventually collected five different varieties but were most excited about finding a Mud Puppy. It was quite a bit larger than the others we found.

At one of the prettiest spots, where two different streams flowed over small cascades (OK so they were only two to three feet, but we called them cascades), and joined into one stream and then plummeted another three feet into a pool, totally surrounded by all kinds of flowers. We spent about 120 hours (OK, 20 minutes then) holding on to each other, and drinking in the beauty and charm of the spot. We didn't have to say a word. Our wonder of the moment and the place was intimately understood and shared. It felt so special that we exchanged lockets again, affirming our life long bond. We were so just enjoying being with each other.

That was until I almost died of heart failure when two other scouts wandered by and discovered us in each other's arms. I think I was actually on top of Jade. Me and one of the boys saw each other at just about the exact same time. I could see the expression on his face. Jade was facing the other way and was totally surprised by what I did next. I wonder if Jade had yet forgiven me even now. In spite of his claims to the contrary. I just grabbed Jade even harder and with all my strength, I wrestled him into the small pool. And that was when I discovered just how deep it was. Jade, of course, thought I did it in a moment of devilment. He yelled something that I will choose not to record here. But I was still determined to pretend to the kids walking up to us, that we were just goofing off.

So I forced a laugh and exclaimed: "There, got you back for the last time."

Jade was momentarily in total confusion, until he heard the two boys behind him. He turned around, and fortunately went along with the ruse. "God damn it Rocco, you nearly drowned me. And remember, when I get even, I get a whole lot evener!"

I was just hoping that the two boys were convinced that we were just engaged in some horseplay. I think the one kid who had shown surprise on his face was convinced by the act. I sure hoped so. Jade and I talked about it on our way back to camp, dripping all the way. His biggest concern, however, was getting his hooks off so he could dry them and get some clean socks on (the thick cloth sleeves that fit over his arms). By the time we got to camp he had me almost believing that he had forgiven me. Finally he gave me a smile and said: "By the way, I meant that about getting evener."

We teamed up with Troop 246 again as we did last year, but this time we only came in third in the games and scout craft competition. Which was still quite an accomplishment. Jade and I were in the competition to bring back as many different plants as possible and correctly identify them. We had just 15 minutes. We had mentally staked out some of the specific spots from the past couple days where we knew some of the less common flowers were. We had it all planned out. Jade would collect from this side of the river, and I would take the run to the east side of camp which had a quite different collection of plants and trees. I assured him I could get back in time. I even carried a watch I had borrowed from one of the other scouts. (My Hopalong Cassidy watch had long since bit the dust). I had well over a half mile run to get to the first big brook where most of the different flowering plants were growing. I slipped on my way back and literally slid through a small swamp. (Where I found a Skunk Cabbage). When I got back I was quite a sight, entirely out of breath, but definitely pleased. I had even gotten to the far pool where I had found some Speedwell and even a Bog Orchid.

When we presented out finds to the counselor he was quite surprised by some of the plants we had obtained. And he pointed to the Bog Orchid. "But those don't grow within a mile or more from here. You didn't have these stashed did you?"

I was immediately quite upset and Jade could easily see it. I thought we had done great and the counselor didn't want to believe us. And besides, that plant I found only a half mile away. "Look; they're still fresh; the flowers aren't the slightest bit wilted. If you don't believe me I will run back again, with you with me, and prove I can do it in time." I kept looking at Jade. Just his look was enough to make me try to be as calm as possible.

The counselor finally believed me. He had to look up some of the plants himself. I was proud of that. But we got them all correct. "But you seem to be one short of the number you claimed. Where's the last one?"

I wondered that myself. Finally Jade smiled and pulled his left hook from behind his back. He had one last plant in his metal gripper. "Poison ivy!"

We won first place by quite a bit. And it wasn't until the counselor asked about me going all that distance that I even thought about the long distance race near the end of the competition. I found out that it was three and a half miles long, somewhat shorter than the races I was used to school. (I did better at the longer distances and more difficult terrain). Also only two runners will be entered instead of four. I went to our scoutmaster and asked if I could run for the troop. After some talking with a few other people it wound up being me and Teague running for our two troops. It was to be our combined time that was used. At the start of the race a few of the other boys started laughing when they saw how small I was, but Teague came to my rescue. "Tell you what, we can both run you into the ground. I bet both of us beat your time by a whole minute. I got five whole dollars. Any bets?" The two loudest boys shut up. That was a lot of money. Teague and I both smiled and shook hands as the race was to start. "OK, Rocco, show me some of that grit I know you have. This for pure guts and pride!" It was a sort of challenge. I also had a hard time still believing that he and I hit it off so well considering he still had a lot of resentment toward whites as a general rule.

We ran side by side for the first mile. There were only five or six kids ahead of us by the end of the first leg. But it was pretty flat. The next leg was up the long hill on the east side of camp. Teague read my mind and said: "Don't worry. We'll catch up good on the hill." I was not so optimistic. I had a lot of stamina but not a lot of muscle strength. But when we started up I was determined to keep up with him. I thought I was going to burst a blood vessel by the time we got to the top, but we passed all but two of the others. (And I was only about 50 yards behind Teague at the top). The third leg was over pretty uneven ground where I believed I had a good advantage and I almost caught up to Teague, and by the last leg Teague and I were still pretty close. We only had two kids ahead of us. About a third of a mile left I looked at Teague and we read each other's minds. We laughed as we tried to outdistance the other. Teague went into fourth gear and beat me by a more than a hundred yards. I didn't have a fourth gear. In fact my third gear was almost stripped out. One of the boys we never did catch. It turned out he was one of the best cross country guys in the city. When I crossed the line I collapsed onto the ground and promptly threw up. But our combined time easily got us into first place. It was all worth it. Jade ran to me and pulled me up and tried to hug me, but Teague was there first. Damn he was strong. He lifted me right off the ground with ease. I was on the top of the world. I finally got to hug Jade, and since we were being mobbed by our troop members it didn't matter. Everyone was hugging everyone.

We never did see where the other two kids placed.

On the way back to camp Teague came over to me and said: "Damn, for a little kid you certainly got a lot of spunk. Not too many guys could have kept with me on that hill."

"You inspired me. I never ran that hard in all my life." And both statements were the truth.

Nothing special happened the last few days of Scout Camp. But we simply just enjoyed each other's company. And I was quite mixed up in my feelings about my upcoming family vacation. I absolutely loved these trips and what I thought of as explorations; yet I would be away from Jade for two whole weeks. Jade informed me a while ago that he was going with the Krazenski's to a rented house on Long Beach Island near Barnegat Light on the Jersey shore.

A few days later our family was on our long anticipated vacation. Something I looked forward to all year. I can't possible explain how thoroughly I enjoy these trips of exploration and just drinking in all the new sights and wonders. Our family went down through the Skyline Drive in Virginia and the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to the Smoky Mountains. I can never get enough of the mountains. This one place at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, we walked over a suspension bridge on our hike to the top of the mountain. I was so thrilled. There were a couple small waterfalls that I could sit all the day watching. My Mom couldn't cross the bridge because she had such a fear of heights.

The next part of our trip wound its way through The Smoky Mountains, where we couldn't go 5 miles without seeing another bear. We then proceeded to Cumberland Falls State Park where I finally and amazingly learned how to swim, and then on to Mammoth Cave where we went on a full seven hour trip through the cave. Near the end of our vacation we got news of my grandmother's death and this forced us to go home a few days early. I was never really close to my only living grandmother, but Mom was quite upset as you would expect.

There was one incident while on the trip that had me a bit worried. I'm a little afraid to ask my Mom about it even now. I had a thoroughly great time, but there where times when I would think of Jade and wish we could share such special moments together. On our hike on Grandfather Mountain, I hurried back to keep my Mom company on the other side of the suspension bridge. We talked a bit and then I wandered back just onto the bridge and stared out at the amazing scenery. I got to thinking about Jade and my thoughts were such a jumble of happiness that he was in my life, and then I wished he were there so we could share the moment together. There was another couple there who were hugging and then kissed each other. This led my thoughts wandering down a lane of wishing. Wishing Jade were there. Wishing we could also show the world our love and affection. Wishing that my Mom could look at us and share our joy. Unfortunately, I had blocked all other thought from my mind as I do on occasion, and didn't realize that tears were traveling down my face when I made my way back to my Mom.

She was suddenly surprised when she saw me. "My gosh, Rocco, what's the matter?"

Her exclamation came out of nowhere and in my first moments of confusion, my guard was down. My ability to think of a handy lie on the spur of the moment failed me. I just sort of stammered a bit. I finally made some excuse about the wind causing my eyes to water, but I realized she didn't believe the obvious lie.

Unfortunately, this was one of those times she chose to persist with her questions. "Rocco, you're obviously upset about something, can't you tell me what it is?"

My brain went into overdrive. I tried a part truth. "Well, I feel so embarrassed, but I saw that couple kissing and sharing the moment together, and just wished I had someone special I could also share it with."

My Mom just looked at me for a moment, and then said smiling: "Well, I know you're growing up, but don't think you have to rush things. You have plenty of time to find someone you can fall in love with."

We talked a bit more and I was trying to keep everything as vague as I could. But what a chore. I had never seen my Mom this persistent before with this kind of conversation. I so wanted to tell her that I already WAS in love with someone. But of course I couldn't.

Well, later in the summer, Jade and I went to Rosemont Farms a couple more times. We met Bran there each time and had a great time. I never got to get up on one of the thoroughbreds like I had hoped, but just being there and seeing the magnificent horses was great. And Jade being with me made almost anything enjoyable. Jade and Bran hit it off pretty well on our later visits and we even found out why Bran didn't talk much to Jade at first. He was just embarrassed about Jade's hooks and worried that Jade would feel bad when he couldn't do something. But fortunately he soon realized that Jade could do a lot more then one might first think. And just us enjoying ourselves helped most. We even went to a nearby track at Brandywine to see a couple of their horses run. One of the older guys drove us there right from the train station. It was all arranged. And I only lost two dollars betting. We were right up at the rail as they came around the last turn. Holy smoke were they fast. It was exciting if also a bit muddy. But I didn't care. That was part of the experience too. That kid Tim finagled his way into coming with us and I think he was almost as excited as I was.

When we were on our way home from the second trip, Jade made a funny remark about him having trouble relating to Bran as a Negro. I thought back to what he said about him and Bran earlier in the summer and almost started laughing but stopped just in time since to Jade that was important.

"What the heck does that mean? Relating to him as a Negro? That doesn't make sense?"

"It's sort of hard to explain. But most the time, even when meeting a stranger who is black, we already relate to each other just by the fact we're both Negro. But with Bran there didn't seem to be that connection. It just felt strange for a while."

I looked at Jade to see if he were serious and I realized he was. But as well as I knew him I still had trouble understanding. "Well do what I do. Just relate to him like he's Bran. And don't worry if he's black, white, or green."

"Well I have, it's just that the automatic connection didn't seem to be there. It's hard to explain."

"So don't worry about it. I'm not black and we connect pretty good." I looked at Jade with my best leer.

"OK, it's not a big deal. Just a bit different. And Bran and I did get on well today." And Jade seemed as if he finally got an idea. "It's like how you feel when you meet someone you find out is gay. Just by that fact alone there is some kind of connection already. That's what I mean."

I finally really did see what he meant. Although this "meeting someone else who was gay" didn't have a lot of incidences. We discussed it a bit more. "You know I think that being around you and Consuelo and Joey and Teague and your old neighborhood in general, I don't seem to really give a lot of notice to whether anyone is colored or not. At least as much. They're just people. I think Bran is at the same place. You keep telling me to just enjoy. So how about following your own advice?"

And we went swimming in Twain's pool a number of times also. Even Jimmy came with us a few times, once to see how his father's latest fin creations for Jade worked out. I was real happy that they worked so well.

Although Jade's scars were barely visible any more, Twain did eventually get to see them close up and exclaimed: "Holy shit! What the hell happened to your back?"

Everyone just froze. I was very reluctant to get into this whole story all over again. And I was sure that Jade didn't want to say anything about it. Jimmy was there and knew exactly where they came from but he just looked at Jade and me without saying anything. Definitely his father's boy.

Jade said something very vague and started across the pool. But unfortunately Twain did know that it was me and Jade who were assaulted by Jade's uncle. Like everyone else he read what was in the newspapers and knew it had to be us. And even if he didn't, his mother surely knew. John seemed to let it go at that, but Twain must have made the sudden connection and added: "Oh my god, did that happen when your uncle kidnapped you and Rocco, and raped you guys?" If the world slowed in its orbit at his previous remark, it completely stopped now. And it was Jimmy who seemed most shocked. I looked at Jade and we ESP'd to each other that we couldn't hide very much now.

Soon, the world's rotation restarted and everyone started talking at once. Except for Jade and I. Strangely, I was more embarrassed for Jade than myself.

Jimmy then looked at us and asked: "Raped?"

John Edell almost at the same time queried: "That was YOU GUYS in the news?"

I looked at Jade and motioned with my hand. And used all the ESP I could throw at him. He must have understood. He looked with some fright at the other three boys there, and just got out of the pool and went toward the house. He yelled back to us: "Need to use the bathroom." He was going to let me handle things, and that's what I wanted.

I tried to fall back on the tried and true. I lied. "Yeah, it was us. We were assaulted and that's where Jade got those few scars. No big deal."

But Twain wouldn't let it drop: "No big deal? You were kidnapped, and both of you were raped, and locked up, and no big deal? That was one of the most sensational things in the news all year. And the newspaper never did say how you were rescued."

Jimmy kept looking back and forth from Twain and me. He finally inquired about the same thing: "Raped? You guys were RAPED?"

I tried to downplay the whole thing and then John re-entered the fray: "Raped? How can guys be raped?"

Damn, I thought, he can't be that naive. But the look in his eyes said he was. And poor Jimmy, I thought he was coming unglued. Twain just seemed to be caught up in the sensation of it all.

I finally realized that I had to confront it all straight on. I was also surprised that it didn't seem to bother me that much any more. But I was still angry enough to try and make Twain feel a little guilty. It's him I addressed first: "Twain, how do think a person after being kidnapped, assaulted, sodomized, locked in a small cage, and not knowing if he were going to be alive the next day, would feel after all that?"

Twain went red and stammered a few unintelligible words. Jimmy looked horrified. John looked more surprised than anything.

I was relentless. "So please, you really didn't have to bring that all up, even if you did know it was us. And by the way, how did you know about the rape? It wasn't reported in the news."

Twain finally looked a bit embarrassed. "My Mom read the charge from the court docket and realized what type of assault it was. She was even asked to defend him, but she refused. Sorry. She told me not to say anything."

John Edell finally was starting to understand. "Sodomized? Holy shit!"

Jimmy just looked on not knowing whether to come toward me or not. He started a couple times and then stopped.

"Look you guys. This is really important. And please don't bring this up in front of Jade again. Ever! He was much more hurt by this whole thing than I was. So please. This is really important. And also this can't get out. If you ever kept a secret in your life this is the one to keep. We can't let people at school know about all this. Especially the rape. Please. For Jade's sake and mine, if you really care about us, please keep this whole thing quiet." I finally was winding down. "And Twain, what would your Mom say if she knew you blurted out about the rape?"

That hit home. Finally they all three agreed to say nothing about it again. We tried to just play around in the pool again, but the day seemed to be spoiled. Eventually Jade and I, along with Jimmy, went on our way home. We had come on our bikes and almost nothing was said on the entire long trip.

I couldn't leave Jade so I intended to go home with him, but Jimmy insisted that he talk to me. So after we all got there we went inside and raided the refrigerator. And Mrs. K's was always very "raid-able." Even for three teenagers.

Eventually, Jade pulled off his long sleeve shirt, and left to change in his room, after I had undone his straps. Jimmy seemed anxious to say something: "Gees Rocks, I didn't know how bad it had been. You guys seemed so normal these last weeks. And you seemed so OK when we saw you in the hospital the next day. And I was even wondering why you were there at all. I'm really sorry Rocks. I don't know what to say."

"Hey look, Jimmy. I know you're a good friend and really care. And thanks. But to tell you the truth, the best thing you can do is just forget about the whole thing. Just like me and Jade have to do. Well, we really can't forget, but at least let the whole thing sort of fade away."

We talked a bit more. Jimmy seemed unable to just let the thing go. I finally said: "Look, Jimmy, bad things sometimes happen. This time it was to us. But we're getting over it."

Jimmy had finally started out the door, when we turned back and asked about talking about what happened with his father. "Look, just my Dad. I promise not to talk to anyone else about it."

I knew how Jimmy and his Dad were so close. "That's OK. I understand. And thanks."

I went up to Jade's room. He had changed and was putting on his hooks. I did up the straps. He started saying something about some inconsequential things, but we finally got to what happened at the pool. We talked about it for a while and finally just had to accept the fact that the story might get out. We finally agreed that we'd just have to worry about it only if it happened.

We also talked about Twain and John Edell and that they were getting to be such good friends. I was glad for both of them. And oh yeah, it seems that Jade is seeing gay boys all over the place now. I remarked that I really didn't think Twain and John Edell were that way with each other. And we never did talk to Twain's Mom about why Jade's Mama put me into his trust. Never seemed important enough to overcome our scaredness of talking to Mrs. Goldstein about it. (OK, MY scaredness).

Jimmy was away with his parents on vacation for quite a while, and then Stan was gone, so we never did do a lot of half-ball. Not since the "World Champion Half-ball Game" earlier that summer. Teague and Joey seemed to be getting on pretty well and they played with us a few times. And sometimes Teague's friend Brim also played. And that little kid kept showing up also.

He had been here a while back when we were playing and just watched us the first few games. He seemed to be about 10 or maybe 11. His name was Tim and he said he lived about a block away. He wanted to play too but no one seemed to take him very seriously. And then I remembered being left out of a lot of things when I was his age. And then I got a thought.

"Hey Jade, how about we let Tim on our team next game?" And I whispered close to him: "So we just lose by a slightly bigger margin."

Jade smiled and said: "OK, but I don't even know him. He must have just moved here recently."

Tim was suddenly all smiles. And later in the game he even hit a home run! I couldn't believe it, nor could anyone else, but he just either got lucky or was even more a natural than Teague. Tim barely walked on the ground the rest of the game. I really got to like the little kid in just that half hour. He even reminded me of myself a bit at that age. Always with a lot of enthusiasm, but hiding some secret sadness deep down. I didn't think anyone else could see it. I talked to Jade afterwards and we agreed to try to include Tim in our games and even other stuff when we could. So Tim was playing on our team this time too.

Teague would take off his shirt when it was hot -- which was most of the summer -- and I couldn't help looking. Damn could he turn me on! Jade couldn't help noticing me noticing. He finally said something about it. I couldn't actually believe he was jealous. How could he even have the tiniest thought that I could ever do something with Teague? I couldn't understand how come Jade got upset that one time he caught me staring at Teague when he had his shirt off and had all his muscles rippling. I was just looking, not shopping. And I told Jade that. It would never even occur to me to hurt Jade that way. I finally convinced him of that. It seems that Jade isn't real secure sometimes. But that evening I made Jade forget all about it. Or at least I hoped so. Anyway, Jade never seemed so worried anymore after that one time. I finally convinced him that it was so much more than just physical stuff that made Jade get me all excited sometimes. The emotions of real love just multiplied everything. But don't think his body doesn't get me excited all by itself. Sure, Teague has all those muscles, but actually I really go for Jade's slim taught build much more.

I was a bit worried about Jade when it got towards the end of the summer and the hearing was getting close. He still hadn't talked to me much about what he and his uncle had gotten into. And even though he seemed much like his old self, I still knew that it had to be gnawing at him. If only I could get him to talk to me about it. He promised he would so I guess I will have to let it go at that for now. I was actually pretty surprised by my own reaction. Aside from a few bad dreams, and feeling just a bit guilty, I thought I was doing pretty well. Dr. Krazenski and I had a few more talks and it really helped to make me think about the happenings more objectively as he put it. But every time I talked about this stuff, I ended with me being more concerned about Jade than myself.

"I think that is a good response." Dr. Krazenski said.

I was hardly listening at that point, but that got my attention. "How come? Seems natural enough to me."

"Well some of the best healing can take place when your concern is more about someone you care about than for yourself."

He still had trouble saying the word love in connection with Jade and myself. I burst out in a big smile thinking about it.

"What are you thinking now? What's the smile about?"

And I told him. For once, he seemed more embarrassed than me. But things were going so well, I didn't even get too worried about the upcoming hearing. I was still thinking more about the first day of school, the day after the hearing. And that even brought more smiles to me.

Chapter 72b -- Interlude (part b)

The rest of the summer was so restful. No real complications. I could go on like this forever. Well almost. Rocco seemed restless sometimes but I could never quite figure out exactly why. We talked about it some but I just didn't understand when he said he kept expecting something to happen. But he couldn't say what.

"Look White-boy. How about just enjoying us being together with NOTHING happening."

And he mostly did. That is just enjoy us being together. It's just that he got this every-once-in-a-while melancholy. Like somehow he couldn't let himself be 100% happy. Only 97%.

Near the end of the summer, Rocco and I were in my room and everyone else was away for the day. I was feeling really horny and I knew that my White-boy was getting really anxious about how I was doing emotional wise. I mean in connection to the attack by my uncle. This was the first time that I really felt more like my old self. I had even gone impotent there for a short while when I was still in the hospital, and for a teenager that's traumatic. But Dr. Krazenski assured me that this was a common enough thing after what I had gone through and to just try to get back to my normal routine. And he was right. And I was quite relieved.

Well anyway, we were alone in my room and I wondering if I could say something about what had happened but didn't know either how to start or if I really wanted to start. There was a sort of tension in the air. We had been talking a bit about the hearing scheduled coming up soon.

Finally, Rocco mentioned something about what my uncle did to us. And he then remarked: "You know your uncle is charged with assault. What a small word for such a horrific event. It doesn't mean enough. There should be a bigger word for it. Maybe something with a hundred letters in it and with a lot of hard sounding consonants like x's or g's or b's or k's and stuff. And then other times when I'm thinking about it, it almost doesn't seem like it was even real."

I sure felt the real-ness of it. All over my back. And I made some remark to this effect. Rocco then just looked at me funny and then took off my hooks and then pulled my shirt off and started tracing the few scars on my back with his fingers. And I for once just sat there and let him do it. His touch was so amazing. And he tried to tell me he was sorry for what happened to me. I would have none of that, and I said so. I wanted so desperately to just grab my White-boy again and tear his clothes off, but it was as if my will was just frozen. But then he mentioned something about his worry that we hadn't been naked together for quite some time. It was all I seemed to need to unfreeze me.

Holy smoke! I had barely gotten him naked and he shot all over me. He helped me undress and I grabbed him and threw him onto the bed. And now it played out different than usual. He was usually very passive and just let me orchestrate events. But this time he took charge for a while and I just let him. A couple hours and several orgasms later we were just laying there together, enjoying the universe. And us being at its center. And I finally realized that I was more like my old self. It felt great.

We finally got up and I mentioned that it wouldn't be too good if Cher or someone came into the room with the odor of sex all around. We turned off my air conditioner and opened another window. Then we gathered up the dirty sheets and some clothes and we got them into the washing machine. We were just finishing up remaking the bed when Mrs. Krazenski and Cher got home. We both gave each other a knowing smile. Yes, definitely much more back to normal.

Earlier that summer, I was not too surprised when Dr. Krazenski just about insisted on paying for my Summer Camp. He said for me to keep my own money for college. And I still had the forty dollars he'd given me in pieces just to make sure I had enough "emergency" money. I remember not too long back when forty dollars was almost a week's wages for my Mama.

Summer Camp was great. Although the first night Rocco almost kept me up half the night. For the first hour or so it was because we enjoyed our usual laying together. We were both as horny as hell. But the next several hours brought out the worst of Rocco's paranoia.

"Jade, you sure we won't get caught?"

"Look, the tent's tied up tight. From the inside." I was used to it though. Besides, every time he woke me up I smiled just loving the feel of him in my arms. I now really understood a couple of my friends when they talked about sleeping with a girl that they thought they were in love with. Just laying there I started dreaming about our future. And it's funny; I used to be so tied up with worry about what I'd do with my life, and whether I could succeed at anything. Now I felt, that with Rocco, we could do anything. And also I kept getting thoughts about how I can help him. To me now I was starting to think at least as much about his future as my own. I just wanted him to be happy. Maybe I was growing up a bit.

Mama, are you still looking after us? I shed a couple tears thinking about how much I wished she could be here, and know how much my White-boy and I loved each other. If there's any justice at all in the universe, she has to know this.

Camp was even better than last year. Too bad Rocco still didn't learn how to swim. It was funny watching him try. Every time he pushed off from the side of the pool, after two or three strokes, he nosed down toward the bottom. And kept pushing off from the bottom with a sour but determined look. If effort alone could count he should have become another Johnny Weissmuller. (They even had him play Tarzan in the movies).

And there was that time we were in the camp competitions and we had to get all those different plants. He came back all muddy and got so instantly angry at the counselor when he intimated we had cheated. I don't know if the counselor realized it, but I could easily see. I touched him with my hook and fortunately that was enough to stop him from giving in to his temper. And the look on the counselor's face when I presented the poison ivy to him was a moment to be remembered.

"No thanks, I don't think I need to take it from you." The counselor said.

Rocco was again smiling by this time. And we won hands down. I was sure we would. I had only been a bit worried that Rocco would try to go too far and not get back in time. And then I was even more surprised when Rocco and Teague teamed up to win the cross-country race. Teague was one of the top runners at Lincoln. (Of course). Rocco told me he did pretty well in the junior varsity team at his school, but he had never actually won any of his races. But today he and Teague won! Only by 15 seconds combined time, but they won. I was quite proud of him. And I couldn't believe Teague. He was one of the most prickly kids in my old neighborhood. And at school he positively scared some of the white kids into turning and walking the other way. And now I thought for a moment that he was going to adopt Rocco. It's really hard to impress Teague and especially for a white boy, but somehow MY White-boy did it. Was I a bit jealous? I wondered. Teague never did like me that much. We only got along mostly because Joey and he had become friends.

Rocco and I celebrated in our special way that night. And for a rare occurrence, he seemed to take charge for a while. Gees, what was getting into him? But I enjoyed it. We both enjoyed it. I just hoped no one wondered what all the moans were about. A great night.

I really enjoyed the week there at camp, but the best times were when me and Rocco got away by ourselves. Unfortunately, the scheduled activities kept us so busy, this was only a few times each day. But there was one afternoon we had free and we took a long walk through the forest on the east side of camp. It was my favorite place with the steep terrain, and all the small streams wandering down the hillside. Rocco called them "babbling-brooks." And they did make quite a noise tumbling down the hillside, almost in a continuous series of small cascades. I had fun turning over the rocks so Rocco and I could find salamanders. I was so thrilled when we found a mud puppy. It was the largest newt there and not very common. The one we got was at least 6 inches long. A real giant of the salamander world. We had one of my old books and identified six different varieties. We brought them back to the Nature Lodge for an exhibit. We volunteered there part time just like last year.

But it was just at the end of this idyllic afternoon that Rocco tried to drown me. We were sitting next to each other on this flat rock in one of the prettiest places we had seen all day. It was right at a small pool. It was about the most special moment of the entire week. We had just finished exchanging lockets again. And I had my White-boy actually on my lap and was just pulling him up to me to give him a small kiss when suddenly I was transferred into another universe. Right into The Twilight Zone. And I couldn't believe how strong he was. By now although I was trim myself, I still had about 8 inches and easily 80 pounds on him -- about double his weight. But he suddenly grabbed me and actually lifted me over himself and spa-laaash! I didn't realize `til then how deep that little pool was. What the hell! I simply couldn't believe that he would pick such a special moment to do something like that. A few emotions warred inside me. First utter surprise, then annoyance, then a tiny bit of anger. I said something I see no need to repeat here. But then I realized something must have happened. And as I turned I saw the two boys looking at us with amazement. For once I was thinking almost as fast as Rocco, and said something trying to pretend we were just goofing around. I was pretty sure it worked. I tried to reassure Rocco on the way back that I wasn't mad about what he did. In fact I told him it was quick thinking. I was more concerned in getting my hooks dry and clean arm-socks on. Otherwise my arms would chafe and that was NOT pleasant.

Well, the week went too fast. How was I ever going to get used to sleeping alone? I felt that we had a small taste of paradise and now we had to go back to the real world.

A couple weeks earlier, the doctor asked me if I wanted to go with his family to the beach on the Jersey shore for two weeks, or if I'd prefer to stay in the city. I was a bit flabbergasted.

"You mean you'd trust me alone here for two weeks?"

"Don't you think I could trust you? You're almost 18."

I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to go with them until he told me the dates and I realized that Rocco would be away those weeks anyway. "I'd be thrilled to go. I haven't been to the shore in quite a number of years." I told him about those rare times my Mama and I had walked the beach looking for shells. I usually didn't like to thinks back on events like that when I hand my hands.

I guess it was now the doctor's turn to be surprised. "Well, then you're in for a treat. We will be renting a small house at the north end of one of the barrier islands, right near Barnegat Light. It's away from the big crowds of the lower shore areas. And we'll have to fix you up with some deep sea fishing gear since we usually go out for some night fishing if the bluefish are running.

"Night fishing? In a boat?" I looked down at my hooks. "I'm not sure if I could." It's a lot different with just a pole and a stationary line.

And seeing the expression on his face I think he had actually forgotten about my hooks for the moment. "Well maybe we can figure something out. And even if you can't handle a line, just going out on the ocean would be a good experience."

And even the fact that I probably couldn't figure a way to handle a deep sea line, didn't dampen the excitement I felt about going on vacation for two weeks. Too bad Rocco will be elsewhere. He mentioned something about Virginia, the Smokies, and Mammoth Cave.

About the fifth or sixth day of the trip, I was feeling especially lonely without my White-boy with me. I was out on the front deck, watching the sun rise over the ocean. No one else was up. The crashing waves were almost mesmerizing. And they seemed to match my mood. At least I imagined each of the waves as separate and alone, crashing onto the beach in a moan of resignation. I didn't hear the doctor come up behind me, so when I left out a great sigh, I was surprised to learn I had been observed.

"It can't be that bad. I thought you were enjoying yourself."

Startled, I turned and was a bit embarrassed to know Dr.Krazenski saw my moment of melancholy. I didn't actually answer. Instead I remarked on the beauty of the ocean and the sunrise. But the doctor persisted. "You want to talk about it?"

I turned and looked at him. I suddenly realized all over again just how much of a caring person Dr. Krazenski was. I was very fortunate. "I really have been enjoying myself. In fact that motor boat ride over to the south wilderness area of Island Beach State Park yesterday was so interesting, I went almost 15 minutes once without thinking of Rocco."

"So that's it."

"I so much enjoyed the trip and seeing all those shore birds so undisturbed by people. I added quite a number of new birds to my list. It just would have been so much better if I could have shared it with Rocco."

The doctor smiled and said: "You know I still am surprised sometimes to realize that you are just like any other boy in love for the first time. And it just seems so strange that all your reactions are so completely normal. As if the only difference that can be observed is your friend's gender. That is aside from the anxiety you feel about your relationship not being accepted."

We went inside and cooked breakfast for the four of us. I was showing off by breaking all the eggs. We were going on an all day fishing trip in a short time. The all-nighter for bluefish was out. The pollution coming down from the Hudson River had apparently stopped the bluefish runs this year. Instead we were going out on a small fishing boat with one other family. (I almost had heart failure when Dr. Krazenski told me how much it cost to charter the boat for the day. It was well over a hundred dollars). There was to be a total of eight people on the boat including the pilot. Cher had rigged me a deep sea pole and reel that we hoped I could use. She and her father had extended the knob so that I could turn it with my hook. Well, we shall see. But just going out on the boat again at all was going to be a thrill. We were to spend the morning in the bay going after flounder, and then out on the ocean for sea bass and porgies. Cher said that for a part of the day we would be way out of sight of land at almost 20 miles out.

And Cher became a real sister for me that I never had. Until this trip I had never realized how energizing having someone so close to you like that could be. In just two months I have felt a bond growing that I know will last my entire life. Cher seemed to embody all the best traits of both her parents. She had her father's deep intelligence and analytic approach in learning and investigation things, yet the real deep concern and empathy of her mother. Another thing was that she had absolutely no timidity. There was one time we got separated while venturing out among the commercial fishing boats. I was somewhat upset when her parents and I hooked up and I didn't know where she was. We finally found her in the middle of a fishing boat carrying on a conversation with a few of the commercial fisherman, feeling quite at home.

Except for being away from Rocco, the vacation was tremendous. I so thoroughly enjoyed seeing and doing so many things that I had never even wondered about before. I could now understand Rocco better when he described his life once as a series of vacations exploring the great unknown, interspersed with long periods waiting for next year's vacation.

And the few more trips out to the Rosemont Farms were even better then the first one. I seemed to feel more at ease. I even started talking to Bran a lot. He was somebody I could never quite figure out though. We were currying a couple of the horses one time while Rocco was out on the track talking to one of the jockeys. Rocco kept trying to get one of them to let him up on a race horse, but he couldn't see that they never could. Too dangerous. But I guess even after he realized that he just liked being up so close to the race horses.

Well anyway, Bran and I were alone for once and we started talking about our respective futures. He said that he just liked working there so much and he was just looking forward to some day having his boss's job.

"Look, I'm treated really well here. And I love my job. Well most of it. And the guys are all great. I guess it's I just like it here. And besides, where else would I go?"

His outlook was so different from anything I was familiar with I had a hard time relating to him, even if we got along pretty good. Rocco was just oblivious to the whole thing and just acted like there was no difference. Or any difference that mattered. And then it finally dawned on me what was nagging in the back of my mind. Rocco and I talked about it a little. I finally asked Bran a question that had been on my mind.

"Could I ask you a real personal question?"

He looked at me a second, and answered. "If I can ask you one."

"Well I keep getting the feeling that you don't feel like there's any difference between you and the white guys around here. What's that all about?"

Bran actually laughed. "Look Jade, stop being so black. You know that there really are a lot of white guys out here that just don't make no mind about me being colored, or whatever. To most of the guys here I'm just Bran. I'm defined by much more than just my racial background. That's all. It's one of the things I like so much working here. We're all equal. Or at least at equal as I'm going to see in my lifetime. So I'll never run the place. But I can have hopes of being in charge of one of the stables, or maybe even more."

That was the most personal stuff Bran talked about up to then. "OK, I guess that's great. It's just not in my experience."

Bran looked at my like I just said I was the Queen of Sheba. "Now then how come you and Rocco are such good friends? If you hadn't noticed, he's white."

I started to answer a couple of times but realized I didn't know what to say. Finally I answered. "I guess we are so close I keep forgetting he's white." And we both laughed a bit at that. Though I did also realize that it was pretty much true.

"OK, now my turn. You keep amazing me about how much you can do with those things of yours. Do you mind telling me about them? I don't mean you to talk about anything you don't want to."

And for some reason, it didn't seem to hurt as much as it used to. I mean the idea of having no hands no more. Maybe I'm so used to Rocco helping with all the stuff he does and us being able to just be together like we are that some of the deep hurt has eased a bit. I was actually able to talk about not having hands. At least a little bit.

On one of our trips, the foreman took me and Rocco all the way down to Brandywine Racetrack. He even arranged to pick us up right from the train station. And Tim, that little kid from down the block, even came with us on that trip. Earlier in the summer he sort of just showed up one day when we were playing half-ball. Rocco talked me into letting him on our team. Rocco explained why later and I started to see that Tim seemed pretty lonely, so sometimes we let the kid tag along with us. And this was one of the tag-alongs. If it were possible, he was even more excited about the trip than Rocco was. So we enjoyed Tim's enthusiasm. He asked a million questions.

So we were at this race track. Midnight Shadow was racing and Jacko was the jockey. He came in second. Rocco lost some money on that race. We got all kinds of mud on us standing at the bend of the track just before the last straight-away. I couldn't believe how far that mud could be thrown by the horses' hooves. And how the jockeys could actually see anything was a pure mystery. We tried to clean Tim up as he was lower to the ground so to speak and he got muddier than either myself or Rocco.

And we biked out to Twain's place a few times and went swimming. On some of those really hot days it was great. I felt so free there. Nobody cared about who I was or what I was or that I didn't have hands. Of course when I brought those fins that Mr. Alexander made they got a lot of attention. One of them broke and Mr. Alexander made an even better and lighter pair. Jimmy went with us that time to see how they worked out.

And oh boy, that was the day that Twain let everyone know what had happened to Rocco and me. Twain finally noticed my scars and everything exploded. I just didn't want to talk about it and was very thankful that Rocco realized just how I might feel. I left for a short time and he handled all the questions. Later he told me what happened and how come Twain even knew about the rape part. I was really annoyed at him and his Mom but we finally decided there was nothing we could really do and just hoped that it stops here. It would be terrible if everyone at school found out. We'd be guilty, never to be proven innocent.

And I started wondering about Twain and John Edell. They seemed awfully close all of a sudden. Or was I seeing gay people everywhere I looked? Rocco and I talked about it some but we never even hinted to them what we wondered. Of course we were worried how they would react to us. But most the time I didn't even think about those things. Just having fun filled most my thoughts. Why get concerned about things that you don't have to.

And then there was an incident that happened near the end of the summer that made me realize that maybe I wasn't as secure in thinking about myself as I had thought. Rocco and I were playing ball with Teague and Joey. Teague had his shirt off as usual due to the hot day and it seemed that Rocco couldn't keep his eyes off him. And I started getting annoyed. And even more annoyed. Eventually I said something when we were alone later on.

"OK White-boy, is this something I need to be jealous about? You have a thing for Teague?"

Instead of looking embarrassed, Rocco just smiled and admitted it right up front. "Damn Jade, Teague can really turn me on!"

I couldn't hardly believe it. He didn't even seem one smidgen guilty.

"My god White-boy. You admit it just like that? Not even feeling the slightest bit guilty?"

And then a really strange response. He seemed really puzzled. He finally replied: "Guilty about what?"

"You looking at Teague like you want to get into his pants! That's what!" I couldn't believe it. I was now super annoyed. And maybe a little hurt. And he was acting like it didn't matter. And I told him so.

Rocco started to say something a number of times and then started crying. I couldn't believe it. Now what? And I couldn't stand him unhappy like that. I pulled him into me and hugged him tight. "What's the matter White-boy? Please tell me."

It came out is a series of gasps punctuated with hiccups and sobs: "How can you even think there is anybody but you? It would never even occur to me to do anything with Teague or anyone else. I thought you knew that. It hurt me to think you could ever have even the slightest doubt."

Now it was me that was suddenly sad. I finally realized that Rocco was so open about looking at Teague that he couldn't understand that it could ever really matter. And I guess from his point of view it didn't.

"Sorry White-boy. Maybe I get worried for nothing. It's just sometimes I start wondering how come you love me so much. Especially after all the things I did that almost broke us apart." I still couldn't talk to him about the stuff I did with my uncle.

Dr. Krazenski and I talked about a lot of this stuff a few times and I was starting to see it differently but it still was hard to stop blaming myself. Thank God that I had my White-boy. Without him I'd be in real trouble.

"Look Jade. That's what makes love so great. You really don't need reasons. But if you need a few, you ARE a great person. Look at all the things you do. And how smart you are. And I know for a fact that I lost my hands like you, I'd have rolled into a ball and cried forever. I wouldn't have had your strength. And that's what I get from you. Your strength. And you teach me how to love. And that's the most important thing of all. If only you could see yourself the way I do, you'd never have a doubt again."

And I started crying myself. And I don't cry over things like this. I think some of White-boy was rubbing off on me. We just stood there holding each other tight. And I realized just how much we were just plain so good for each other.

Chapter 73 -- Trials and Trials

It was the day after the long Labor Day weekend. I had been quite annoyed since my parents insisted I go with them on the three day camping trip to Rickets Glen. Well, actually that's not quite true. My feelings were mixed. I would have loved it, (actually I DID love it mostly), it's just being apart from Jade just is so lonely. But the park was just about my favorite in the whole state. There are more than 25 water falls along three different streams. And we hiked enough to see about half of them. It was amazing. Only I wished Jade were there seeing them with me. He gets captured by the falling water almost as much as I do.

I couldn't believe it, but the last day Carl just stayed in camp and read a book. But that last day Dolores made sure that we were alone, strolling along together, and I wondered about why until she started asking all kinds of questions about Jade and Consuelo. It just happened that Consuelo and Dan were at our house a few days ago and Consuelo cornered Jade for a good fifteen minutes in the back yard. And Dolores started getting ideas of just maybe. . .

I tried to assure her that there were no "maybe's." As far as I was concerned we were engaged and were going to some day get married. She seemed to get so frustrated when she realized that we were as serious as ever. I got a bit worried a couple of times since I knew Mom knew we were talking about something a bit more serious than just a casual conversation.

And even Mariann behaved pretty well. Only two or three temper tantrums the whole weekend. Dad and I seemed to be back to our usual ignoring each other as much as possible routine. I recently started to wonder how Mom put up with everything. It was starting to occur to me that she had to see how Dad and I interacted, or actually DIDN'T interact, and wondered if it hurt her as much as it did me. It's strange but that point of view hadn't occurred to me before. I was starting to realize that she maybe had more problems than I did.

Well it was finally the day of the hearing and I was a bundle of nerves. I couldn't eat that morning. Mom and I were going in a cab, while both Dr. and Mrs. Krazenski were taking Jade. Cher was staying at her girlfriend's house much to her displeasure.

Cher wanted to go. "How am I going to learn about things if you keep `protecting' me?" One of her favorite expressions. But she soon arranged all these "neat things" she and her girlfriend would be doing and was diverted. (And I was wondering, how come girls can say they have a girlfriend, but boys can't say they have a boyfriend)? Jade I could see was probably worse off than me in spite of his bravado.

Of course Dad was at work and wasn't coming. For this I was grateful. His being there would have been real difficult. I just hoped the ADA was as good as he kept telling us. I was with him almost two hours last week. He kept shooting questions at me at a barrage. It was quite a trial for me and I thought about the irony. This whole thing was not only Mr. Brown's trial, but also Jade's and mine too. Even if in a different way.

Well the ADA kept at it for almost ten hours. (OK, more like one hours; it just felt like ten). He was tricky too. He asked about one thing than suddenly asked about something related but that happened at a different time. Every time he asked me a question about me or Jade which even had the slightest hint of our being gay, he kept training me to show no emotion, and just wait for him to object to the question. He said to be very deliberate but then very natural. Then to be so unemotional, yet show the judge that I was telling the simple truth. Even Spencer Tracy couldn't have taken all his directions. But we kept at it and he seemed satisfied when it was all over. Jade went through the same treatment and said he was feeling better about the whole thing. I was feeling a bit better myself. That was until this morning.

Jade and I compared notes the evening after the grilling by the ADA and we both decided we were just wanting the thing to be over. It was that night, while I was lying on his bed leaning back on him, that he just suddenly started talking about what he and his uncle had done together. By the end of it he was crying every bit as much as I had ever done. And that was not the usual Jade. Thinking about it, I now realized that Jade had actually cried in front of me a couple times this past summer. And this time it was such an emotional torrent that I was getting scared. It was now my time to hold on to him tight.

"I know now it wasn't all my fault White-boy, but the memory of what I did to you and us still hurts so much."

Was this the same Jade that only few days ago told me to stop feeling guilty myself? I didn't know what to say so I just kept telling him that only us loving each other now mattered. "Look Jade, let's just assume that a small part was your fault. So what? I love you more now than I thought possible just a couple months ago. Just keep thinking about that. And don't dare say you don't deserve it. I don't deserve it either. Let's just enjoy it."

Jade finally stopped crying and just held me tighter than ever. I was being crushed. He finally started smiling and that got me feeling so much better. "I guess my Mama was right. God gave you to me."

"And just remember that goes both ways. God gave me you too."

And we didn't even feel like doing anything but just hold on to each other. I finally had to leave. But Jade had talked about things. Dr. Krazenski said he needed to be able to do that in order to get over what happened. Or at least past it. And I guess for me too.

Well, the hearing had started almost two hours ago, and we were still out in the corridor waiting. I was disappointed not to see what was going on but the ADA said this was the way it worked. Witnesses were not allowed in `til after they testified. And I was still grateful that Mom wasn't in there either.

Jade and I walked the corridors for quite some time but it didn't seem to help. We were both wound up tight. It seemed there was no end to the trials both Jade and I were going through ourselves. Finally he got called. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally he was escorted out of the jury room and I was not allowed to talk to him. Then just when I thought it was my turn, they broke for lunch. For TWO hours! And it was just me and Mom. We went to Horn 'n' Hardarts, and I had my usual -- Harvard beets, fish sandwich, and milk. Mom and I didn't say much. I was too nervous to barely think. I was like on automatic. But finally 1:30 crept around and soon it was my turn. Mom and I went into the court and I was announced as the next witness. And it happened just like I was told. I was surprised by the way everything went. Almost like it was all in slow motion. Everything took forever. Certainly not like Perry Mason's trails. No dramatics, but just cold blooded. I went on the stand and the ADA started the questioning at the point where I was grabbed by Jade's uncle and I just gave the barest bones of the story. I don't think my Mom had even heard some of this and I was awfully embarrassed talking about some of these things. But I was done in less than 5 minutes. I didn't describe anything but the barest facts. And especially nothing about how I felt except to say I was so scared that I wet my pants. But then it was the other lawyer's turn. I looked at Jade's uncle as the lawyer stood and he was actually grinning. Oh shit! Now what?

His lawyer started out with obvious questions but then suddenly asked if it weren't actually true that his uncle didn't grab me at all. "Isn't it a fact that you were the one that wanted to have sex with Mr. Brown and the problem started when his nephew discovered that and became jealous?"

I was awfully glad that I was prepared for this type of question but just the fact that it was asked was almost shocking. How can he be allowed to ask something like that? And my Mom was sitting right there. But I had a lot of coaching. I sort of looked perplexed. We had planned what I would answer. "That doesn't make sense." I said. I just left it there, and the ADA stood and objected to the question. All the next questions were awfully suggestive but the judge finally stopped it.

"Mr. Broadcast, if you can't confine yourself to normal cross and to the facts at hand I will end your cross examination."

He then made a good attempt to trip up my story but I was well prepared. He finally made one last parting shot. "Now let's get to the real truth. You testified that Mr. Brown had locked you into a cage?" I answered yes. "Now I show you a picture. Is this the cage?" I again answered yes. "Now isn't it a fact that instead of being kidnapped as you claim, you were actually a co-participant in a mutually arranged scenario, and that you actually had a key given to you by Mr. Brown? And that was how you made your so-called escape? There was no kidnapping at all. Isn't that true?" I simply answered no. Though I was broiling inside. And I think everyone noticed.

"So you claim that you squeezed through that rectangular space no larger than 11 by 14 inches? Because that is the precise measurements of that area." And he pointed to one of the rectangular openings. I looked at the photo.

And I answered again. "No. I didn't." There was a small eruption as my answer sank in. The lawyer was even surprised. And the ADA suddenly looked at me with a big question on his face.

Eventually the lawyer said. "So now you're changing your story and admitting you didn't escape from that confinement as described?"

"Your getting it all mixed up. I didn't crawl through that square there. I didn't realize it was the bigger one. I squeezed through the slightly smaller one two squares down." And I pointed.

That entirely deflated him but just for a moment. "Now what you're saying sounds even more improbable."

The ADA objected again and there was a big conference with the judge that no one could hear.

Finally after a few more not very important questions, I was allowed to leave. I found out later that the ADA got a couple more witnesses to back up my story including the taxi driver who said I was limping real bad and had bruises on my shoulders and hips, and one of the doctors from the hospital that I had a partially separated shoulder and very badly bruised hips.

But I was more worried about what my Mom was thinking after hearing my story. She had actually never been told all those details, even though this was the extreme expurgated version. But outside the courtroom, Mom never asked a single question, nor even commented on anything I had said. I thought, "Thanks Mom."

We didn't even stay at the court house. We just went home. I felt totally exhausted like I had almost gone through the whole thing all over again. After dinner I was so totally wondering how Jade was doing. His session must have been much worse. I called him a few times but he was never home. When Dad got home from work he asked Mom a few question about how everything went but never even asked me a single question. Typical.

It was Dolores and even Carl that asked all the questions. I tried to answer without actually saying anything about what really happened to me and finally pleaded to be left alone a while. I called Jade a couple more times until I finally got him. He seemed pretty OK, just exhausted like me. He told me to come over. Mom said yes but Dad for some unknown reason said no. When I told Jade this, he said to wait a minute. Finally Dr. Krazenski got on the phone and asked to speak to my father. I wasn't sure what the doctor said but my Dad got so red I thought he was going to explode.

The upshot of it all was the doctor was actually coming over and picking me up. When we got back to his house, we went to his upstairs office and he and Jade and me all had a talk.

"Rocco, I would like to tell you that the reason Jade wasn't home for several more hours was that I stayed around to talk to the ADA, while Mrs. Krazenski took Jade to dinner. The ADA assured me that there was no way now that Mr. Brown would chance a trial."

And then the doctor explained that the hearing would be over the next day and he was going to offer him a plea bargain, which would allow Mr. Brown possible parole after 20 years. If he insisted on taking it to trial, he would ask for life without parole and get it. And the other lawyer knew it. So that for Jade and me it was all done.

Jade already knew this and he was smiling. "So White-boy, we are finally free. Don't it feel good?"

We hugged right there in front of Dr. K. I didn't care. I was so relieved and I was finally realizing the full implication of what both of them said. And yes, I couldn't help it. I started crying. Jade held me tighter, and the doctor left us together. The doctor came back when we had finally calmed down, and then he proceeded to take us both through the entire ordeal and kept making us explain our feelings in detail. And then to explain WHY we felt that way. And pretty much helped us to see the episode in a "more objective light" as he kept insisting. It was his favorite phrase. I knew we had to eventually do this but hadn't expected it to go on so long. This was the very first time I even talked about my feelings as everything was happening. The doctor had some way of making me feel that I could say these things without being judged. After we were done, I didn't think I was ever so exhausted in my whole life.

Jade and I finally started taking about school which was to start the next day. And in spite of total exhaustion, I was getting excited all over again about us being in the same school together. Jade said that the doctor had seen the principal several weeks ago and we had all but one class together. Jade would be taking Algebra II, a combination Literature and Advanced Writing course, Civics and Political History, Religion (he made a big smirk at that), and Advanced Physics with me. He also had a Spanish class while I had both Latin III, and German. I was going to do my best to get out of German and take Spanish with Jade. Heck, a good part of the people in the country spoke Spanish, and if I wanted to teach, it made more sense to take that than German. No gym, thank god. Not this year. No more showering in the faculty house.

When I got home, it was pretty late. Dad was already upstairs, but Mom was waiting for me. "Dr. Krazenski called a while ago and told me about this thing with the hearing finally being over. Are you all right? That had to be a terrible ordeal."

I wondered which ordeal she was talking about, the trial, or the assault. Or the big talk we had at the doctor's house? But I decided it didn't really matter. "Mom, I'm just so glad it's all over. Mr. Brown will go to prison, and Jade and I can forget about it all. (Not likely but she knew what I meant). I'm just really relieved. And Mom, thanks for being with me, and more important, thanks for not asking any questions."

We talked about it some more, but it seemed that my Mom didn't want to talk about any of the really bad stuff either. And for this I was grateful. I finally smiled and said I was really looking forward to school the next day. It was to be a day of shortened classes, just to get our schedule, and books, and all the rest. No real work yet. I can't actually remember any time in the past when I was more looking forward to the first day of school. And I guess it showed. My Mom just hugged me tight and she was smiling with me.

Journal Of Rocco P.

September 5, 1961
I am so exhausted but I wanted to write about the hearing and the anticipation I felt about school with Jade tomorrow. I finally feel so free. And so excited about Jade and I being in classes together for the first time. I think that l;'/.,-=;'-.___

I just woke up leaning over my journal in bed with the batteries in the flashlight barely able to see by. I guess I must have fallen asleep. I can't even figure what I had been writing when I fell asleep.

School tomorrow with Jade! ! !

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello