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 callipygians.

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 74 -- Catholics are Weird, and Catholic Schools are Even Weirder

I can't believe that I was this nervous, but it was almost a good kind of nervous. And I was equally as thrilled at the same time. It was a beautiful day and Rocco and I were walking the almost mile or so to Father Judge High School. I felt strange wearing a tie and sport's coat. I hadn't even owned such things and they had to be purchased specifically for school. It sounded strange now that it was my school too. I couldn't stop asking all kinds of questions. "What're the teachers like? Some of them are actual priests? You mean that you even go to a church service in school once a week? You mean they even have a church service during lunch periods in a small chapel? And some students actually go to this? And what's this Religion Class going to be all about? Does Twain even go to that class too?"

But I asked some important questions too. "How is the food in the cafeteria? When will we be able to arrange to be on the newspaper staff? Won't it be great to work together on it?"

And as we neared the school, I couldn't help myself: "Do you think that you'll be turned away again because you still look like a grade school kid?" Rocco tried physical retaliation, and complained when he hit the base of one of my hooks. "Ooowww!"

"Serves you right. How come someone so small keeps trying to resort to violence?" I couldn't keep the snicker out of my voice.

Rocco was chuckling along with me. (While rubbing his hand). "I HAVE grown a little; I'm almost 5' 3" now and I gained some weight over the summer. I'm up to 80 pounds! And besides, by now most of the teachers know me."

I suspected Rocco was stretching things a bit especially about his weight. But hearing about Rocco talking about his size, got me to thinking that in some ways I liked his being so small. Although there have been a couple exceptions recently, I usually find great satisfaction in being the very active partner in our sexual activity, and the one that takes control. I like being able to so dominate a much smaller person. I just like being able to maneuver him around when we have "fun." I used to get worried about doing this. But he seems to really like me taking control. I suppose we really need to talk about this more. I sure want to make sure my White-boy is happy with our moments of physical intimacy. And this thought leads to another. Ever since I talked to Rocco the other day about what happened with my uncle and me, and perhaps also the hearing being over, I have really been feeling like my old self -- and that certainly included just how turned on I get when I'm with him much the time.

But right now my entire focus was on the school we were approaching and the students all milling around. We went in the door and I couldn't help being so self conscious. I was the only Negro in a school of almost 4000 white boys. (OK, Rocco insisted there was a very small smattering of Puerto Ricans). And I sure got stares, but nothing really bad. Just anywhere from surprise to almost amazement. (And only two kids wound up walking into things while their heads were twisted around). And I couldn't tell if some of it was because of my hooks. Rocco and I were both supposed to be in Junior One, and we were in search of the classroom where we were first supposed to meet. It was to be our home room, as Rocco called it. Rocco already had the card he needed to hand in to the teacher, but I was new and had to pick mine up from the main office. Which I thought was awfully small compared to the one at Lincoln. In fact when Rocco told me how many administrators they had I almost laughed.

"You mean, there's a Principal, Fr. McNeil, a Vice Principal, Fr. Sabo, a school disciplinarian, Fr. Brand, a senior counselor, and that's it?!"

"Well there's a number of secretaries hired also."

"Wow. How does everything get done?"

"Like what? Most of the teachers do some part in running the school including directing a lot of the extra-curricular activities."

I still was thinking about the four Assistant Principles at Lincoln. And four counselors. And the one million secretaries. But I was soon totally absorbed by all the newness of everything. I mean experience-wise. (Although now that I think about it, I haven't seen even one fragment of graffiti). I suppose that I was staring just as intently at people as they were at me. When a secretary handed me a pass to get into class, she was a bit disconcerted when I reached for it with my left hook. (I'm left hooked). She sort of said "oh," but only drawn out some.

All the way down the corridor people were still staring but nobody approached me or Rocco. While I was still apprehensive, Rocco was smiling, probably thinking the whole thing a big adventure. And I guess in a sense for him it was. But I thought it felt more like a science experiment with me the Guinea pig. When I started at Lincoln, at least there was a sizable population of other black kids. But here I was it. Although the stares didn't diminish as I approached the classroom, at least that was all that was going on. And I was feeling a bit more at ease. Then Rocco yelled to someone.

Over came a kid in a not very conservative sports coat. He was about my height, but pretty thin. But the main thing was his open smile. And he seemed to have no embarrassment looking at me up and down. "Hey, how's it going Rocks? And I assume this is Jade. Hello. I feel like I know you, Rocco's talked about you enough."

It turned out to be a friend that Rocco had talked about before, Jim Jabloski. He seemed to be immediately friendly. Rocco introduced us and as I raised my hook Jabloski said: "Holy shit!" I guess out of reflex because he looked awfully embarrassed a second later.

"Sorry, Rocks told me but I guess I was surprised a sec. I hope you'll like it here. We don't have too many other colored kids here. None in fact!" And he sort of chuckled with what he thought was a big joke. "Rocco never told me you were coming here. And I didn't know you were Catholic!"

Why did everyone here talk about religion so much? "Actually I'm not -- Catholic that is, but can't I be allowed in if I'm just a regular Christian?" I smiled. And he did too. We moseyed on down to the same class room, amid more stares and even a shout or too.

Just before we got to the room, John Edell came up from behind. "I see you made it. I wasn't sure with the trial and all yesterday."

We turned and there was John with a big smile. But it was now Jim that had a puzzled look: "Trial? What's this about a trial?" And looking at Rocco he asked: "Cops finally catch you at one of your schemes?"

Oh boy! Rocco and I decided to say as little as possible hoping it would all go away. And I could see he was a bit miffed at Edell for even mentioning it. Rocco finally answered: "Actually just a hearing down town. I was just a witness, but not supposed to talk about it." A minor lie that I was only too ready to condone. Rocco made a try at changing the topic. "Hey Jim, how about your Phillies? Twenty-three straight losses last month. A record that will never be beaten! Have they lost a hundred games yet?"

And that got Jim bemoaning the hapless Phillies. "Hay I think it's only 97 losses so far." He changed the subject. "How about Maris and Mantle? Think either one of them will finally break Ruth's record?"

Someone opined that if Maris wasn't hitting in front of Mantle he wouldn't be in the homerun race at all.

We got to the room and it was already half filled. Rocco knew most of the kids there. They were all supposed to be the kids with the best grades. They put all the best students in Junior One and they had most of their classes together. There was even another Rocco in the class -- a Rocco Rinaldi. (I wondered if he was a relative of Mrs. Rinaldi of TV fixing fame). He was real quiet and barely talked to anyone. Unlike my Rocco who couldn't stop talking. I was introduced to a number of students and finally met the guy that Rocco claimed was his better at Math, Jerry Price. He was pretty friendly and didn't even flinch when he shook my hook. Just a bit surprised.

While Rocco and a few others were trying to recount their entire summer's exploits in five minutes or less, I was thinking about all the different-ness of the place. It was still hard to get used to no girls! And I certainly thought the kids acted different because of it. And those black clad figures in the halls. It turned out the priest, and seminarians that taught for two years in between their first 4 years college and final 4 years of Theology, all wore what Rocco called cassocks, and those stiff round collars. I thought it very strange but everyone else seemed like it was no big deal. And I guess to them it wasn't. The class was pretty full and we just sat where we wanted. Finally the teacher came in and when the bell rang they started to simmer down. It was all so strange. Not like Lincoln at all. When the teacher asked for quiet, he actually got it. Well almost. Very strange indeed. And I couldn't get used to the tie and sports coat I had to wear. No dungarees, no shorts, no clothes that feel comfortable. And the classes here were a lot bigger. We had over 40 students in this one. Finally the teacher started collecting all our cards. Then the principal came over the speaker (his voice anyway) and we got the usual welcoming speech and stuff about sports and other activities. Nothing about the newspaper.

Finally the teacher, a Father Kelly, who Rocco didn't know, had us all stand and give our name and say a few sentences about ourselves. I was surprisingly only a little nervous. I think because there was not a single solitary thing said bad to me. Not one word about my being Negro or my hooks. It was so astonishing. Sure I could hear all kinds of things said before the class started about me but all seemed merely curiosity. I was certainly relieved and so was Rocco. He said he really wasn't sure how it would go. When it came to my turn I just decided to get it all over with in one fell swoop. (And I think that swoop meant to sweep down or pounce. But what the heck is a FELL swoop? I'd have to look that one up). The teacher asked my name and then I saw he was putting our names onto a seating chart. So I guess we would be allowed to keep these seats. I was hoping Rocco and I could sit next to each other in all our classes. In my school we just sat anywhere we wanted usually. But here it was more regimented, with a few exceptions.

So when it came to my turn I said: "Father Kelly, I know everyone has been staring and very curious. So if it's OK I'd like to introduce myself and forestall a lot of questions." One kid snickered and said: "Forestall?" The teacher gave him a stare and he shut up.

I looked around. Holy smoke, I sure had all eyes. "My name is Jade Brown, and I'm a Negro in case you were wondering." (A few small laughs). Also you can see I have prosthetics on both arms as I lost both my hands about five years ago. And I do pretty well with them. I'm transferring here from Lincoln. (Several boos and other noises which didn't surprise me). I'm currently living with new foster parents who happen to be white. (I decided to just get that over with). They are Catholic and so they sent me here. They're already a couple of you in here I've known for some time. And one last thing. One of the main reasons I'm here is because a good friend I've had for two years is in this class and he's helped me with my school work, especially writing which I still labor over. And since I got the opportunity of us both being in most the same classes I jumped at it."

A bunch of murmuring broke out when I finished. I looked around and didn't see anyone who seemed really unfriendly. I was feeling a lot better. The teacher said something about happy to have me here etc. as I sat down. Finally it went pretty quick and then the teacher handed out information about lockers, text books, and so on. Just the usual. Then there was a long series of announcements over the PA about everything. Nothing unexpected.

Rocco said he would have to eventually see some counselor to see about changing into my Spanish class. A few students came up to me and we talked a bit about your basic "where do you live, what songs you like, who do you like in sports, etc." All pretty friendly. When we were going to our next class there was a lot of shoving along the very crowded corridors. And that was when I heard the first "nigger." I guess it was inevitable. I mostly ignored it. Rocco got much more angry that I did. Next we had a couple of our classes, much abbreviated. First was Math which was to be a combined Algebra II and Trig. (Next year was Calculus). We got our books and a sort of course schedule with what we'd be covering for the first semester. Then we went to English. A few of the students here were not in our first homeroom, and I got a couple more stares. Then Rocco introduced me to Francis Sariego, who was not in our Math class. He was very friendly and took my color and hooks in stride. Rocco said he was planning on going into the seminary after High School.

And so the day went. Right before lunch, we went into a large auditorium for assembly. It was pretty full and it was just the Junior class. It was boring and lasted forever. There we had all the usual back to school speeches, and that was when I met again the infamous Father Brand, the school disciplinarian. He looked intimidating. But he smiled when he saw Rocco, and even greeted him by name. And Rocco introduced me.

Father Brand replied: "Sure. I remember you from last June. Well, I hope you have better luck keeping Rocco in line than we've had. Glad to meet you again."

Rocco just laughed a bit and we moved on. Finally we were given our locker assignments. Our next class was Religion. I really wondered how I'd do since I certainly knew only the slightest bit about the Catholic Religion. The book we got was entitled "Laws of God and the Church." Rocco said it was just a rehash of their Catechism, whatever a Catechism was. Maybe with a bit more explanation I'd feel better. I said it looked interesting. Rocco groaned, thinking I must be kidding. But the day was not over. Our lunch period was not scheduled this day and instead we dropped the books that we got so far into our lockers. I couldn't believe it. Rocco's and mine were only about twenty feet apart. Definitely not Lincoln. Finally we got split apart as I went to Spanish and Rocco went to German. I would sure be glad to get back to some familiarity. Just about the only kid I knew there was Francis Sariego who I was just introduced to. We got back together in Civics and Political History. I was finished after this but Rocco had one last class, Latin III, which he said he was also trying to get out of since it was a voluntary course and he decided he didn`t want it after all. I went to the class with him and the teacher, a Father Saro, was very friendly and said I was welcome to learn Latin if I wished. He smiled and joked a lot and I could see that he was one of the more popular teachers in the school. Francis Sariego was in this class too and I was pretty well surprised when both he and the teacher started conversing in Italian, and totally flabbergasted when they switched to Latin. (According to Rocco). What a weird place. All kinds of reference to religion all day. I don't think Rocco realized it but I sure did. >From prayers during assembly to frequent references to what "Good Catholics" would do, etc. I guess not really a whole lot but sure different from Lincoln. And in general, the guys were either friendly or just left you alone and were mostly concerned with their own crowd.

Rocco put in a petition, as he called it, to switch language classes. I really hope that they let him.

On our way to my house, Rocco was riding high. He was as excited as I'd seen him lately. "Well, what do you think?"

And we talked about our day, the teachers we had, some of the students. All kinds of school related stuff. Soon after we got up to my room, after an after-school snack of course, my phone rang. Rocco guessed correctly. It was Consuelo. And she had to get a blow by blow description of my day and everything. She seemed to think she was entitled to it all. And then she started asking about the hearing. I said as little as possible, but with Consuelo that was still a lot. Then she said we (including Dan and Allen) were all going to have a big get together this weekend. Of course she had it all arranged.

School went pretty well Thursday and Friday, and then Saturday morning we were fixing two more TV's. One had a lot of solid state parts and it took us so long, Consuelo jumped all over us as we got to my house late. It was past noon and she was already there. Dan and Allen came a few moments later in an old Ford station wagon. I'd never seen it before

We all congregated in the large kitchen (which looked small with all of us there). Mrs. Krazenski had come driving up with some shopping along with Cher and we helped put some of the groceries away. This was in the midst of introducing Allen, a "college friend" of Dan's. And I'd thought Cher would never stop asking questions. I wondered at the time if she suspected anything about Allen and Dan. Fortunately she didn't ask that kind of question, but it even seemed to me that they were more than just friends. Now I could see what Rocco had been talking about coming home on the bus that time. And along with Rocco, I wondered briefly if he and I interacted that way at times in public. At school it was strictly "friends" stuff.

Consuelo had an absolutely humongous picnic lunch. She had all kinds of lunchmeats and a few different kinds of cheese, fresh Italian hard rolls, fresh tomatoes, a couple Jewish pickles and even pickled tomatoes, and a few fresh bagels and cream cheese. She was one very determined girl. She had hauled that all the way out here on the bus and trolley in a large wooden bushel fruit basket. So we all got into the Ford, which turned out to belong to Allen, and went to Pennypack Park where they had some picnic benches. These were quite uncommon through the park, and I was surprised we found an empty one. (Knowing Consuelo she probably called the mayor and had it reserved).

We talked about all kinds of stuff, especially about Dan and Allen. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find out that now Dan was living with Allen who had just gotten a new apartment. Allen had just graduated from Temple at the end of the summer. I had known he was near graduation, but I didn't realize he had been that close. He had a degree in business and had gotten a pretty good job at Sears. They were both thrilled. And then Rocco and I were a bit surprised when Dan handed us an envelope with a folded card. I looked over Rocco's shoulder as he opened it. And we both were a bit surprised. Surprised was too mild, astonished would be more accurate.

Rocco exclaimed: "Oh my God! This is great! And I see it's at that church near Jade's old neighborhood." He looked over at Consuelo. "Now I understand," he said, but didn't elaborate.

"Understand what?" I thought, but didn't ask.

It was Allen who replied. (That is after he and Dan got finished kissing). Consuelo had a strange expression on her face and I couldn't figure why she wasn't as happy as everyone else.

But Allen did say: "The service will be a private affair and it's been arranged for the evening when (we are assuming) the church will be otherwise empty. It was Dan's idea -- the marriage that is. I had bought us rings with the hope of convincing Dan into some kind of private commitment ceremony, and I was so elated not only because he said yes, but he even then spoke of an actual marriage. I know that we talked about it some when you came to the White Castle that day, but it still seemed so foreign to me.

Dan butted in and had to show everyone his "wedding band." He said: "It was the day Allen graduated. We went out to celebrate and he gave me the ring." Rocco and I looked as he lifted his finger. It was yellow gold with a very small diamond set flush with a small circle of white gold about it. It looked pretty expensive. Allen had an identical one on. "I had been thinking for some time I wanted to be with Allen permanently."

Allen added: "Well, you have to admit, NOBODY thinks about marriage between two guys. The idea felt so alien to me. I sure as hell wouldn't even think about asking our rebbe to marry us. Homosexuality is so forbidden in our Temple. It's prohibited by the Torah. My Mom still hasn't really accepted the fact that I'm gay. She's still yells at me every time I don't follow Kashrut. She still has hopes of finding "just that right girl" that will make me see reason, as she puts it. But when I found out I was gay, I just assumed I would never get married." And then he laughed. "Now if we can only figure out how to get one of us pregnant."

I was ready to ask what the heck "Casrut" was all about but Consuelo butted in first. Consuelo, being who she was, had to correct everyone. "The real fact of the matter is, it was Rocco that first came up with the idea of boys marrying. I couldn't go along with it at first. It seemed so wrong. That just wasn't what marriage was. But Rocco wore me down and eventually, after I got used to the idea, I asked myself `why not?'"

Dan continued: "Yeah, you should have heard the remarks from some of the group we meet with on campus. Many of them are only looking for sex, let alone some kind of long term commitment. Most have the attitude that their religion abandoned them so why should they care about their religion. And that's one of the big things that I think brought Allen and I both together so fast. We both realized that we wanted something more than just sex. I just can't believe a couple years ago I had even thought about suicide."

At that everyone got suddenly quiet. Consuelo especially. "What?! And you didn't talk to ME about it? And just when was this?" Consuelo looked more angry than shocked.

"Hey look Con, it was when I read that note from Mom. I felt there was nothing left. But it was just a fleeting thought. And besides, you DID come to my rescue. You were there when I needed someone so bad." Consuelo perked up at hearing that. "And then it was seeing how Rocco and Jade had actually found each other that gave me hope again. Allen and I talked all about it."

Well, we quickly got back to talking about happy things, though Rocco seemed to be in one of his newer quiet moods and didn't say much. And when I looked at him I couldn't believe it. Rocco had tears in his eyes. And not happy tears either. I could feel his mood. And Consuelo still seemed agitated about something, although when she and Dan hugged she seemed better. Was I just seeing things? I had to ask my White-boy when we were alone.

But we hugged all around as we were being filled in on about all the details.

Dan continued: "So anyway, I told him all about Reverend Burrowes, and the next day we called and we saw him that night. Everything went so fast. It was all arranged in the next couple days, and I even sent out a couple wedding invitations to just a few select people."

I could tell that Consuelo seemed a bit upset about something and couldn't understand why she wasn't as happy as we all were. And then we found out.

Consuelo started explaining. "Well Dan had a healthy case of the stupids and sent our Mom an invitation. She's been on a rampage ever since. Dan didn't have enough sense to know what this would do to her."

"Look Con, I had to eventually get to the point where I have to just let her think the way she wants to think. But she deserved to know I was getting married. How she reacts is her problem. I can't worry about it any more."

I could see Consuelo was not mollified. And Rocco seemed to go right back into his mood again. Was I the only one that was really happy about the situation? But suddenly Rocco stood up and grabbed Dan and gave him a big hug. And he whispered something in his ear I couldn't hear. Dan smiled. I again wondered what that was about.

Eventually we were all storied out about the wedding plans. Rocco and I were of course going. And Consuelo. Then Consuelo asked us about our summers, especially our respective vacations. Rocco and I had talked to each other about them a lot, but Consuelo was so insistent we re-covered the highlights.

Rocco went on: "Well we went on this small hike to a waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. The falls was pretty big, well narrow but a big drop. But it was on the way there that was also interesting. My family always goes so slow that I had to keep waiting up for them. Well anyways, here I was running down the trail where it made a big 180 degree turn about a big boulder, and sitting right on the trail was this small bear. I couldn't stop in time. I just put out my arms and rammed it. I pushed away and broke the world's reversing-directions record. I was so scared. But I looked back after a few steps and there was the bear running even faster than me in the other direction. I guess we both got scared."

"And I FINALLY learned to swim!" Rocco was beaming. "We were at a State Park in Kentucky called Cumberland Falls. They had a small hotel there with this beautiful swimming pool. And if you were camping there, it was only 50 cents to use it. Well, it was so hot those couple days, 104 in the shade, we practically lived at the pool. At least I did. I found a small lizard there on the fence and tried to grab it. It was a five lined skink with a blue head and these blue lines, and well I got bit as. . ."

Consuelo shrieked. OK, only a mild shriek, but one nonetheless. "Rocco, get back to the original story. You're starting to wander."

Rocco continued. "Well, that's it. I just kept kicking off the side of the pool and kept trying and finally the second day I was swimming. But see it was this lizard that got my attention and I wanted to show everyone and. . ." He had to finish the lizard story.

"You said Cunningham Falls. What about the falls?"

"Oh yeah that's another neat thing. Well there is this big falls there with this large cliff wall stretching along the other side of the river from the hotel and in the back there is this small outdoor area where a small orchestra sometimes plays music and the night we went there were these tiny lights all behind the falls and in the cliff area where the different lights were lit in turns to the music. It was really great."

We had to ask about the concert he saw and then Rocco suddenly burst out: "But you won't let me finish, the best part is what we saw just after the concert, when they turned out all the lights and the full moon was only a foot above the horizon. It was all dark except for the moon light and you can't believe it. There was a real rainbow from the moon on the spray coming up from the falls. I couldn't understand it at the time, but at times it was just this real eerie white rainbow but when the wind eased up and the spray was thicker it had all its colors!"

It was Allen that explained about the color. "You see black and white at night because there isn't enough light to see color. It takes less light to stimulate the black and white receptors in your eye's retina. I guess when the spray got heavy enough, there was just enough light to see color in the rainbow."

We all knew about it by then, but we didn't tell Allen. No point. Then Rocco started talking about Mammoth Cave. "Well it's the largest known cave system in the country, but they only open less than 20 miles of it to tourists."

But Consuelo had to jump in. "I could have sworn that it was Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico that were the largest in the country?" That was actually polite for her.

"Actually, your right I guess in a way, but while we were at Mammoth Cave, the ranger said that they just discovered a connection of the Mammoth Cave system to another huge system of passages of another cave system not open to the public. So together they're bigger. I guess its how you want to define a cave." He had to explain about all the passages his family went through, about 7 miles. "We even had to cross a small river down there in these boats. And there were these blind white fish in the water that lived there their whole lives. We ate in the Snowball Room. Imagine, an actual restaurant in a cave! The next part of the cave was just the opposite, instead of low and wide tunnels, these were narrow but very tall."

"What about cave formation?" Dan asked.

"Only the last half mile at the end of the trip. Not nearly as good as some other caves we've been in. Like the Luray Caverns in Virginia. There the stalagmites and stalactites were amazing. In fact there was one room where they had this small organ that played by a bunch of little hammers sticking different stalagmites. That was near the place where there was a this big geyser!"

Rocco liked to exaggerate sometimes but I had to believe him with all this -- he had pictures. But I could see Allen and Dan getting this look. Dan finally said: "Come on, a real organ? And there's no geysers except out west like Old Faithful in Yellowstone and such."

Rocco smiled. (Last year he would have been really annoyed). "Look, I guarantee that my stories are at least 95% true!" And he got this lopsided grin. "And I sent Jade a postcard of that geyser. And I got a recording of that organ at my house. I brought my brother's tape recorder with me just to do that."

I said I'd show the postcard Rocco sent me to everybody when we got back to my place.

Allen said: "This recording I got to hear. I guess you have that at YOUR house?"

And then Rocco started laughing. "Actually that was the 5% part of the story. No places to plug in the cord. And the geyser in Virginia was from a well and shot up cold water."

Rocco had talked at other times about Yellowstone Park and the geysers there and both Rocco and I agreed that as soon as we could we had to visit that park. He told me about a big earthquake they had there a couple years ago that even knocked down a big chimney in the old inn at Old Faithful.

"Yeah, we just got up real early one morning, I don't know why since it was summer, but anyways we were watching the Dave Garroway Show and they had the news of this big earthquake. There were a bunch of people killed in this campsite near the park in this big landslide. It also damned up the river and made this big new lake."

The Grand Canyon was another one he dreamed about seeing. "I want to hike to the bottom. That's one of my dreams. Also to climb Half Dome in Yosemite. That place has to be awesome!" He had only just recently gotten me interested in all this stuff. I don't know why, but the people from my neighborhood go maybe to French Creek State Park, or even to the Jersey shore, but you never hear anyone talking about Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon, or Yosemite, or stuff like that.

And that started Rocco going. And he went on to other things he and his family went to during other summers. His stories started churning up the wonderlust in me I never knew I had. Maybe it was because I always thought about those things in conjunction with my White-boy. He had to talk about Watkins Glen and Buttermilk Falls State Parks in New York, and finding a trilobite fossil at Letchworth State Park.

"At Watkins Glen we took a cab to the beginning of the trail and hiked inside this beautiful gorge for five miles or more. There were waterfalls all over and sometimes the walkway was even dug out of the side of the cliff in places. And at Buttermilk Falls we claimed up the falls in the water. It is actually a few sections of these wide ripply cascades where the water was only several inches deep. But boy was it cold. And there was another geyser in Saratoga, New York. That one was from a drilled well too but had hot water."

When he finished explaining about that geyser at Saratoga he mentioned other drilled wells that were now geysers. "There was even a geyser near Erie Pa., that erupted from a drilled well that they used to light at night. It had a lot of methane gas. But it's not worked for years. I would really have liked to have seen that."

I could see that people were wondering if that this was another 5% part. But later in the library, Rocco showed me the book he found it in.

Then Rocco told me to talk about some of the things I did with the Krazenski's.

"Well, there were the two boat rides. One was to a long thin island just north of Barnegat Light that is a wildlife preserve. It was part of Island Beach State Park. But there were no roads in that part of it. The place was so pristine and birds all over the place." I described all the birds and all we saw there. I finally explained that I could have stayed there forever." Then I told about our big fishing trip, and about Cher helping me with a deep sea line specially set up so I could turn the spindle on the reel. "I only caught one flounder in the bay and then we went way out about 20 miles in the ocean. No land in sight. I caught two fish there, both were what they called porgies. The sea bass bit so light and you had to hook them. I couldn't catch them because I couldn't put a finger on the line to detect the little nibbles. But we had great fun."

Rocco smiled: "Tell them about the crabs."

"Well, we went crabbing. That was easy for me. You just let down a short line with some bait and when it got pulled you eased the line up and then netted the crab. I had no trouble handling them." I smiled as I raised my hook. "They couldn't bite me with their pincers! When we got home we accidentally turned over the bushel basket in the kitchen, and Cher jumped onto a chair. She was barefoot. I had no trouble picking them up. One had crawled as far as the living room. We had them for a few meals. Boy were they delicious."

Jade went on: "Then there was the air show with the Blue Angles. That Fleur de Lis maneuver they did was amazing. Even with hundreds of people there you barely heard a word until it was over."

After Jade finished with stories about his vacation, we eventually had to tell Consuelo all about the hearing. For some reason it was a lot easier to talk about. It didn't give me this tearing in my gut feeling any more. And Rocco and I held hands as I related some of the details. Allen sat there almost dumbfounded. He hadn't heard any of this before. And Dan hadn't heard any of the details.

After I was finished, Allen exclaimed: "Holy shit! How come we never had this on the news? Or in the papers?"

Rocco answered this time: "Well, it was in the papers but they just stated that we were assaulted and about one boy being kidnapped. And we got away before anyone knew we were gone so it never got to be a big thing."

"My god, a kidnapping and it didn't make the nightly news? I can't believe I even know someone that was kidnapped."

"Well, I didn't even think of that at the time. It wasn't until the cops mentioned about being kidnapped, I thought about it like that. I was just mostly scared. In fact a whole new level of scaredness I didn't know existed before. That was the worst part. And when he hurt Jade so bad."

After we got talked out on that subject Consuelo asked me about school. "It's not been the same at Lincoln without you there, even if it's just been three days so far. We all miss you on the newspaper staff. How's it like at Father Judge?"

I didn't quite believe that but I could see Consuelo actually missed me at Lincoln. That made me happy and a bit sad at the same time. But I answered about Father Judge: "Well the place is weird. It sure helps though with being with Rocco most the time. He even got into my Spanish class after a big argument with this teacher that's sort of like this education counselor. They don't actually have a psychologist like at Lincoln. And I keep wondering where all the girls are. Everyone's been pretty nice most the time. I'm a bit surprised. And the priests seem just like normal people, you almost forget about their wearing these robes all the time. But the classes are somewhat harder, they expect more from you than at Lincoln. Especially Physics and Algebra. In Algebra they are going so fast already. They said we will cover the whole book in the first three quarters, since we go into Trig the last quarter. Rocco though says these classes are harder than most since we are in the advanced classes. Junior one's supposed to have the top kids in the Junior class."

"But how about being the only colored boy there? That has to be strange. How is everyone reacting?"

"Just a lot of stares mostly. But it's getting a lot less already. And even a few kids have come up to me to just talk. But they are all wondering when they see my hooks. That's what they most ask about. And for some reason it don't hurt so much to talk about it some anymore."

"You just said `mostly.' What else happened?"

"Rocco tried to get himself killed once. It was during lunch. These two kids came up to me while I was bringing my tray back to the table, and accidentally-on-purpose knocked it out of my hooks. They said that I didn't belong in their school. Just then Rocco came up behind me, laid his tray down and shoved in front of me. He's so little he can squeeze in anywhere."

Rocco smiled at that, but I was surprised when he just left me finish the story. So I tried the abridged version. "Rocco started almost a lecture."

Rocco said: `OK, how about letting us in on your great reasoning powers. Just WHY don't he belong here?" Rocco had butted in even if his voice sounded a bit high pitched and shaky.

"Well, if it's not the preacher. Just get lost. We don't need you here either. And take your nigger friend with you!"

I just wanted to ignore them and get to our table. But Rocco didn't let it go. "I don't know your friend's name, but I know you from Fresh 7, and you liked to express you opinions then. How about giving me some insight into your reasoning powers. I would like to write an article for the school paper."

But these two guys just started saying ugly things. And I couldn't believe it. Rocco actually started writing down what they were saying. When the bigger of the two realized what he was doing he tried to rip it away but Rocco just pushed it into his pocket and said: "Great! Thanks for answering, I'm sure this will be inspirational for the whole school."

And that's when they started threatening him. I was a bit scared. Damn, they both had 50 or more pounds on him. Fortunately a teacher finally came and broke it up.

Consuelo, and Dan and Allen looked at Rocco, and it was Dan who got in the first say: "Trying to get yourself killed before school hardly starts? You had to know that they would threaten you. Not the smartest thing to do."

Rocco smiled: "Really, I was scared stiff. But I had to do something. And besides, I already have a rough draft of an actual article written. It will be called "Bigotry at Father Judge." I have also a couple things said by a few other students. I don't know if the article will be approved that's all."

It was Consuelo that then asked: "What's this about him calling you `the preacher'?"

"Well, that was from a couple articles I wrote last year. One about prejudice and one on how we should be treating each other at school. They both had some bible quotes, and Szamborski, he's on the newspaper staff, dubbed me that. It actually got around the school. I was even trying to see if they'd let me write a regular feature about school life and sort of work in some stuff from the bible. I'd just like to show some positive things about being Christians and not all this emphasis on what we shouldn't do. I get real sick of it sometimes. I don't think that's what Christ had in mind."

It was then Allen who spoke, "But how can you still be a Christian, and especially Catholic when they condemn us so much?"

"Why not? It took me a big struggle, but I have finally been able to separate my religion from my faith. I know that don't make sense, but I had trouble believing in God and everything when I found out I was gay and I couldn't believe God would make me that way and then condemn me if I lived that way. But I finally realized that it's just the people who run my Church that are wrong. They tried to steal God from me but I finally separated what my Church was teaching from my faith in God. It took a while but I finally realized they weren't the same thing. So I still consider myself at least a Christian, if not a Catholic. I just don't believe anymore some of the things the Catholic Church teaches today. They've been wrong in the past about creation, slavery, women's role in marriage, and they're just wrong about homosexuality." Rocco spoke with passion.

Allen turned to Dan and said: "And I can now see how they call him the preacher."

I was very happy that evening to have Rocco over for dinner. It was a Saturday night and Rocco talked me into using some of our hard earned money to celebrate.

"Just what are we celebrating?" I asked, though I had a good idea of what he meant. We were on our way to Bredenbecks on foot. It wasn't very far and easier to carry stuff home without our bikes. And our celebrating included great deserts with about a hundred calories per bite. Of course neither of us had to really worry about calories. Rocco sometimes joked that just thinking about NOT eating something lost him weight. And I couldn't believe it. He actually ate at least as much as I did.

Rocco answered about what we were celebrating: "Because we are both in school together and things are going so well, and all that. So I guess our overall good fortune." Rocco was wound up and in good spirits. Which was actually his normal mode.

But I was wondering what had gotten to him earlier. "Hey Rocco, how come that sad moment when Allen and Dan were talking about getting married. What was that all about?" I almost didn't ask this question, but we already discussed this a number of times. If we had a choice of knowing how someone was doing or worried about how we would react at just the question asked, we decided communication was more important.

Rocco looked at me and even smiled: "Well I thought it was really funny when Allen mentioned about how he could get Dan pregnant, implying that the one thing missing would be children. And I just got sad for the moment because we won't ever have children. That's all. We talked about this a lot already."

I think he actually mentioned about how to get EITHER of them pregnant but why quibble. I leaned over and gave him a good hug. He seemed to just melt into me. "Thanks for telling me, I was just a bit concerned."

After a few minutes Rocco asked: "I was just thinking about how almost perfect everything is. At least so good that if I were to complain, the good fortune gods would zap me dead. But I was wondering. Has Dr. Krazenski mentioned lately about his continuing to foster you? I mean, the chances of finding permanent foster parents don't seem too good right now."

"Not to worry, in fact we talked about that just the other day. He realized that this might actually turn into a longer stay for me and he expressly told me not to be concerned."

"Well, that's good. I wonder why he doesn't just apply then to be your permanent foster parents?"

"We didn't discuss that and I was too chicken to ask."

"You think we should hand out more circulars? I got about three or four hundred left. We'd just need to get more copies of the picture."

"To tell you the truth, I just don't know. It seems that things are so good now I hate to change anything. Especially me and you being so close and going to the same school. If I get different foster parents, where would they live and will they still send me to your school?"

"Yeah, that would be a problem. And there's also them finding out about us."

I looked over at Rocco and smiled. "Actually no. I'd just tell them up front, before any papers were signed."

And then I saw Rocco go into one of his patented thinking modes. Oblivious to everything else. A minute later he looked up at me and asked: "You know I was wondering. That woman from juvenile, you think she knows about you being gay? I mean maybe she can't get foster parents because she tells them you're gay, or maybe because she knows it, she isn't really trying so hard."

"Who knows. But how would she have found out?"

"Well, I suspect she had to have talked to your uncle, don't you think?"

"Don't know. Never asked her that. You think I should next time she comes?"

"I don't really know Jade. Probably don't even matter. On both counts. Whether she actually talked to your uncle, or even if she knew you were gay." Rocco and I just continued on but now it looked like he was thinking about something else.

We almost bankrupted ourselves, at least of pocket money. We got a quarter pan of butter cake and a quarter pan of cheese cake, and one of my favorites, a quarter pan of apple cake. On our way home I said that we'd better not do this too often or we'd never save anything. We had over $400 dollars now in our savings account. We both agreed that it was for our college later on except if an emergency came up. I didn't want to think about any emergency which would entail us raiding our account. I looked over as we were leaving the store, and Rocco had that half-sad, half-worried look.

"OK, White-boy out with it." I didn't have to say any more.

"All right, I was thinking about your uncle. I still think we have to at least forgive him in out hearts before we can completely put this thing behind us."

I had been thinking about this myself a lot lately and told him so. "But it's hard. And I'm still having trouble even forgiving myself."

White-boy knew exactly what I was talking about. "I know what you mean, but look at it this way. You sure know that I have forgiven anything you think you did against me. And do you think God has forgiven you? Because if you have, then forgiving yourself should be the next step."

I thought about this some and finally said: "I guess so. I'm not so automatically religious as you."

"Well, I starting to wonder what being religious really means. Maybe this has nothing to do with being religious. So, if I asked you to forgive yourself, would you then be able to do it?" I could see tears in my White-boys eyes as he said this.

"If you put it that way, then yes. I can and will."

He suddenly smiled. Rocco can switch his mood faster that anybody I knew. "Then there's only the last part. How about your uncle?"

"Maybe in time, just give me some more time, OK?"

"All right." We were right in front of the back door of my house by then. It was a bit recessed and the neighbors couldn't see us unless they walked into the back yard. Rocco put the boxes down and we just sort of naturally gravitated toward each other, and pulled each other tight. Unfortunately, that was the precise moment the fickle fate gods chose to have Mrs. K open the door to go out. She was a bit flustered as she saw us kiss. Damn! It was only a small kiss but enough. And I kept saying we had to be more careful. She must have read my mind.

"You boys better be more careful. I really would not want Cher to see that please." She let us off pretty easy. "I'm trying to understand, but it's hard to reconcile it with my religion. So please be more circumspect. And Jade, Dr. Krazenski would like to ask you about school. He's in his upstairs office. And I don't see why Rocco can't be with you." She looked at our still blank faces. "Hey look, I just said to be more careful, I didn't say you couldn't do it." And she smiled..

We stepped aside as she started through the door. Mrs. K. had her car key and I wondered where she was going so soon before dinner. She must have read my mind again. "Just getting some desert for dinner." I smiled and picked up the boxes we put down. "We just been to Bredenbecks."

"Well, thanks boys. I guess I don't have to go out now. That was very thoughtful of you. And Rocco, make sure you wash up for dinner." And she just ran back up the stairs leaving Rocco speechless for once.

I looked at Rocco and said: "How can I possible get a better foster family then this? I'm even starting to feel real close to Cher. I mean even more so. She and I made quite a team during the vacation at the shore."

We walked through this back part of the basement to go up the stairs when Cher popped out of a big walk-in closet, almost scaring us out of a couple years of life expectancy. She looked not the slightest bit abashed for apparently listening in on us and her mother. Instead she said: "Thanks Jade. It means so much more since you said it without you knowing I was here." And she gave me a big hug.

Indeed, life WAS going great.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello