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

                                 Only Sometimes

Chapter 80 -- "The Pen is    Mightier than the Sword."


When I decided to join the school newspaper I though this might give me an opportunity to start expressing my views. Wrong! Although I still really enjoyed the work and even did write that column which I based on some Biblical passages, I still had to make sure it could be OK'd by one of the editors. That meant one of the priests at the school. This meant only the most of conservative and non-controversial themes could ever be expressed.

I at least accomplished one aim. That was to present Christianity in a more positive manner than it had been for so long been presented to me -- this actually meant a lot to me. And I tried my best to shake things up a bit -- but it indeed was a LITTLE bit. Even if I didn't do all that I could have hoped for, I did become known to some of the newspaper staff as "the preacher." Since they meant it in a good way I actually felt proud of this. But what Jade and I talked about the other day, about not being allowed to get most of what we wanted into the paper, got me thinking. What I really wanted to do was to sneak something into the paper about the problems of being gay. It seemed that one of the worst things about being gay was the fact that you felt so isolated and alone. And it was so hard to find out anything. I now had Jade, and it was wonderful. But it suddenly occurred to me "what about all the OTHER gay kids out there?"

You simply didn't hear ANYTHING on the subject. There were almost 4000 boys in our school and besides Jade, I didn't know of another single one of them who was gay. Reading The Kinsey Report on Human Sexuality was a revelation. And I don't know why this idea hadn't occurred to me before, but how about all those other kids in the school who maybe thought they were all alone? The word sex was hardly ever even used in our classes -- by the teachers anyway. There seemed to be a conspiracy of silence about the whole subject, and to tell the truth I can't remember where I even heard about homosexuality but it certainly was not in a classroom.

Fr. Schields had nixed our idea (OK, my idea) on the articles about what other people believed. And we had worked hard on that first article. I guess I was in part reacting to that disappointment, but I was also thinking about doing something "terrible" again. I was hoping to talk Jade into going along with me. I wrote something which I was thinking about sort of sneaking into the school paper.

The school newspaper was made up of 8 or 10 pages that were laboriously put together in column format, with both printing, headlines, and photos glued into place. And then sent to the printer. And I had a key to the newspaper office. I borrowed one a few months ago and forgot to hand it back. (Really!) So last night I called Dan and I got him to help write the following article:


Letter to Fellow Students and Faculty:

There are almost 4000 students in our school.  There are many different people here, belonging to many different groups.  Some are heavily into sports, some into their studies;  there are possibly as many groups here as there are ideas.  But whatever the group, whatever the people, most have similar hopes, and similar dreams.

These dreams usually include falling in love.  Getting married.  Having an intimate life with the one they love.  A chance at happiness.  This is taken for granted.  Surely, these rights are automatic.  Surely, all people have these same rights.

Actually no.  There is one unfortunate group in this school that in fact, do not have these rights.  Look around you.  There's likely one or two from this group in every classroom.

Members of this group can no longer dream.  They can no longer hope.  They risk being alienated from every possible institution from which the average teenager takes his support.  This group is so despised, so reviled, so hated, that when a person realizes he is a member, he usually sees no alternative but to hide this fact from everyone.  Some even try to hide it from themselves.

Otherwise, they risk losing everything.  They already no longer have the right to fall in love, to intimacy, to marriage.  If their membership in this group is discovered, they risk losing their friends, their loved ones, their family, their parents.  Even their religion and their God is stripped from them.  Some have even committed suicide.

I am a member of this group.  I detest the need to remain hidden.  I loathe the necessity of living "The Big Lie."  I despair of ever being able to be the person I really am.

And I start questioning.  Why would a kind God tell me that because of what I am, I'm to be hated and despised if anyone discovers the truth?  Why would a just God make me a member of this group and then not allow me to be who I am?  Why would a loving God make me this way and then bar me forever from any deep, intimate human relationship, bar me from finding that one special person, bar me from falling in love, bar me from striving to grow in the love of Christ by growing in the love of a spouse?  I am still searching for these answers.

In Christ's love, I am

A student of Father Judge High School, and

A homosexual.

Now to sneak it into the school newspaper.

The next day I showed it to Jade.

And I explained what I wanted to do.

"NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! I veto the idea." Jade wasn't overly receptive. "We'd get into too much trouble and maybe even kicked out of school!"

He really didn't need to say much to dissuade me. "But I get so angry. I remember thinking I was just about the only one. I was all alone. And I just realized -- how about all the other poor kids here?"

"I think it's a great article." Then he thought a moment. "Actually too great." He reread part of it aloud again and then asked: "You wrote this? Just last night?"

"Well, I had the ideas but I couldn't make it sound good. So I called Dan and he helped." I finally started to get so frustrated and looked at Jade. "Look, I guess I realize that we really can't. And don't worry, I won't do anything we don't agree on. I guess I realize it'd be too dangerous. But there has to be something we can do."

Jade looked at me with an expression I hadn't seen too often on him. It seemed like exasperation but with a small smile. "And you didn't come to ME for help with your article?" Of course he knew why I hadn't. And he knew I knew why I hadn't. He continued: "I'm hurt!" Left unsaid was the obvious. The article would never have gotten written.

After we just stood there semi-glaring at each other, Jade finally said: "Well, do you feel better now that you got this out of your system?"

We talked about the article and what was in it, off and on often during the whole day.

After school, we were in the newspaper office late and all alone. Fr. Schields had momentarily stepped out and all the other kids had gone home. (Fr. Hearn hadn't been around forever). I had just finished typing up the article on homosexuality on the brand new IBM Selectric Typewriter. What a fantastic improvement in typewriters. Everyone wanted to use it. It had this type ball that moved across the page and printed the letter. The paper didn't even move until you got to the next line! But the best part was if you made a mistake, you could use the top part of the ribbon and white it out instantly! And that saved so much time. (Especially for me). I made three copies with carbon paper. Jade kept looking at me and I knew what he was thinking without saying a word. I just had to at least pretend that we could get it published. And I finally looked at Jade and asked out of the blue: "How about we just show the article to Fr. Schields and appeal to him to put it in the paper?"

Jade pretended to look perplexed for a moment. "Huh? Why shouldn't he let the basketball story run?" That was what we had been working on. (So he was pretending not to have noticed just what I had been typing up).

"Jaaaaade!" It came out half accusation and half lament.

He finally deigned to admit that he knew what I had been really working on. "Oh, that's a riot. I can just hear you now: `You see, Father, kids in the school actually need to find out about how common homosexuality is. And we really need to question what the Catholic Church teaches about that stuff.' Right! That would convince him. It would be easier to convince Szamborski to become a Democrat!" We laughed at that. "But I like the idea that you're finally no longer trying to finagle your way through life."

I sighed. "Well, I can't think how we can distribute this article without risking everything." I eventually had to admit to myself that I never really expected for anyone else to actually see the thing. But it was sort of cathartic just to have written it.

Jade continued: "And remember, Fr. Hearn knows about us. He sure wouldn't keep quite."

"Actually that's one thing I've tried to convince you of. He wouldn't say anything. He's under the seal of confession, and no priest would break that. It's like one of the most solemn promises they make." When Jade seemed a bit dubious I told him he had to take my word on it. He finally believed me.

"But still, it's too dangerous." He knew that his argument had won before he even gave it.

"I know." I said with feeling, but also with a bit of despair.

Well, we finally cleaned up and closed out the lights. I almost closed the door when we realized the light in the inner office was still on. It just had most of our file cabinets, and a single work station. Nobody liked to work there. Too claustrophobic. "I didn't know someone was still there." I looked at Jade and then went back. Nobody. I turned out the light and left.

The current paper was entirely finished a couple days later and it had been placed into the leather art satchel used for its transportation. One of the teachers then brought it to the printer. That Friday it was distributed as usual during the last period of the day. A bunch were brought around to each classroom. Our teacher let it be distributed after he finished his lecture. We had about 15 minutes before the bell and most everyone was reading. I looked around to see if anyone was interested in my column. I sighed. Almost no one.

"HOLY SHIT! Look at this!" The shout reverberated through the class room. We were all pretty surprised. You just didn't use that language in school. At least in front of a teacher. The teacher was of course instantly annoyed and walked back to the perpetrator, who suddenly looked scared and said: "Sorry Father, but I was just so surprised about this." And he showed the teacher something in the paper. Everybody was either watching them, or looking at their own paper trying to find what he was talking about. Including me.

The teacher finally took the paper and started to read. Wow, he was suddenly furious. But not at the student who sighed in relief when the teacher took off across the room. "I need to leave for a minute. I want you all to behave. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Then Jade hit me pretty hard with his hook -- make that really hard. "Damn Rocco, it's here! Look!"

By now a number of students had seen the article. It was the one I had written. "How the hell?!" I actually said that aloud but nobody much noticed. I looked at Jade in horror. He was also looking at me with a whole mixture of emotions. He finally said: "You really didn't do this did you?"

"Honest, you got to believe me. I'm as shocked as you. Honest." I was scared out of my wits. Not just about what would happen in school, but more importantly that Jade wouldn't believe me.

"OK, I believe you." He then gave me a big puzzled look. "But then how? It's YOUR article!" He whispered with vehemence.

"I know!" My voice was in the stratosphere. I instantly came to understand the full meaning of the word dread.

By then there were a whole lot of comments. I heard a whole bunch of things which ranged the whole gamut from "Fucking faggot!" to "Wow, that's really going to stir things up."

It sure was, and I started to get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Jade and I started to talk about what this could mean for us. We REALLY couldn't afford getting into big trouble.

We found out later that the paper made it to well more than a half of the school before the alarm was sounded. But it was far too late. The article quickly became the talk of the school. Although much of the reaction was negative I didn't much care.

"Well, at least all the homosexuals in school will see that at least they are not quite so alone." Jade said.

"I wonder if we're in trouble though. My paranoia is up to DEFCON II! (An allusion to the country's war alert).

The school principal, Father McNeil, went apoplectic. Well he sounded that way. He called an immediate school in class assembly and over the speakers, demanded that all the papers be returned. Little chance that was going to happen. Then he stated that anyone caught with a paper would be suspended. A lot of the papers were turned in but there were still quite a few out there. Then another teacher got on the mike and started talking about the evils of "perversion."

I leaned over to Jade and said: "It's all bad, but at least someone is finally talking about a topic that was normally never mentioned." School was then let out but "the entire newspaper staff was required to report to one of the classrooms immediately." Now my paranoia went to DEFCON I. Dropping of the BOMB was imminent!

And then the "Inquisition" began, (fortunately it was not the "Spanish" kind). But what could they do? I was only the writer, but I was thinking furiously the whole way to the classroom, trying to figure out how in got into the paper. I was not the guilty person and I certainly was not about to commit suicide. Fortunately I was not as of yet even suspected. Wasn't I "the preacher" after all? And one of the most conservative members of the staff?

But just then Fr. Hearn showed up. He came over to me and asked me to step outside. I was sick with dread. I followed as one on death row.

"Rocco, you know that whatever we talk about is confidential, but I need to ask you. Did you put that article in the paper?" He seemed to be half angry and half concerned.

And I was almost paralyzed with fear. "Father, you have to believe me, I did not put it in the paper. I swear."

He looked at me for a bit and finally said: "I guess for now I will have to believe you. Would it be fair of me to ask you if you know who did?"

"Father, I really don't know who did it. But I'm probably as interested in finding out as everybody else." At least I didn't lie. I hoped he would leave it at that.

"Very well. Please remember if you wish to talk some more I am always willing to help."


I went back into the room but Fr. Hearn left. Only Fr. Schields was there. After a long rant and rave and a number of hollow threats, we were dismissed. What could anyone do? Of course the paper would be much more guarded in the future. Leaving the room I was so intently interested in what the other students were saying. Most of the comments were really negative and sometimes evinced a real hatred. This I could not really understand. Weren't all of us here supposed to be Christians? (Excepting Twain). For example:

"I would sure like to get my hands on that (deleted, deleted) asshole, to cause us all this damn trouble. My father says that all faggots will burn."

"How could someone write that and pretend that he was like a normal person?"

"Yeah, he really needs to see a doctor."

"I think you're all forgetting something." I interjected. "It almost had to have been someone on the newspaper staff." Boy did that get a few heads turning.

"I think it was Stan, if anyone's a fairy it'd be him," someone said.

"Hey, just a minute, Stan and I go out with the girls a lot, and take my word for it -- he's definitely a ladies man."

I added. "Aren't we're all supposed to be Christians here? How as Christians are we really supposed to behave toward these people? Didn't the article imply that there were statistically at least a couple hundred in our school alone?"

"My god, the preacher's at it again."

"It's probably a bunch of bullshit. There can't be that many of the perverts around. We would surely hear about it if there were."

"Well," I added, "perhaps we should find out more in our classes tomorrow."

"Oh good, I can just see it now." (And in a falsetto.) "Hey Father Carter, could you explain all about being a homo?"

A lot of laughter.

But what Jade and I were hearing was more on the subject than I've heard in the previous 2 years I'd been at this school. What I actually found more interesting was that Ted Szamborski WASN'T saying a word, and we usually couldn't get him to shut up. He automatically knew more than anyone else on any topic. I was starting to get a horrible idea. I whispered to Jade: "I think I know how this may have happened, and I think I know who -- it was Ted. He was the last person we saw that day in the newspaper office and he could have been in the back room. Remember the light was still on." Jade was instantly interested. We looked around and decided to wait. Too many people around.

Going down the school steps I reverted to my former role as the class clown. Putting my arm around Szamborski's shoulder, and also in a falsetto (which I didn't have to falsetto too much): "Oh Teddy boy, you're so big and strong. How about you coming to the dance with me this weekend?" Then I made a couple smoochie, kissie sounds. I was rewarded with a lot of hoots and laughter -- except from Ted. He went absolutely white.

I thought he was going to clobber me, but instead he looked at me with one of the most frightened looks I'd seen in a long time. My god, what did I provoke ? "God, Ted, I was only kidding. Honest I wasn't the one." I was becoming more convinced, however, that he was.

He continued to look at me but now more in confusion than in fright. He looked around and finally said: "Damn it preacher, the next time we have intramural football I'm going to pound you into the ground." (And he could easily do it too). A bunch of the kids still in earshot laughed. But I know he wouldn't. He really wasn't that kind of person.

"But you'd have to catch me first." I was one of the faster kids in the school in spite of my size. At least in long distances. By this time most of the other students had dispersed, and I definitely wanted to talk to him some more. We really did not know each other too well since I really did not mix with him in class much and only spoke to him on occasion in conjunction with doing stuff for the school paper. He was one of the very few students who had his own car, but I never once saw anyone riding with him. He seemed a bit of a snob to a lot of people, and really did not have a lot of close friends. "Hey Ted, do you have your car here? I could use a ride since all the busses are gone, and this wind is terrible for walking. And Jade needs a ride too." Jade looked at me wondering what the hell I was up to. We never did take the bus. But he went along. "Yeah, how about it Ted?"

Ted looked at us for a second like I was from the planet Xenon. Then just said: "Oh yeah, OK. I'm down the next block." (Now there is a story that goes with this).

Ted owned a small sports car. It seemed that one day when he was parked just outside the school, a bunch of students got together and carried his car up onto the school lawn, and Ted got in trouble for it. I actually laughed when I saw the car there, but later thought it wasn't fair to blame Szamborski since you could see he obviously did not drive it there. I also played a dirty trick on him in lab several months ago that I don't think he appreciated too well. But a lot of other students were in on it as well and I never did find out if Szamborski really knew that it was I who instigated it.

After getting in the car and telling him where we lived, we sort of didn't say anything for a few blocks. But finally he asked: "I got to ask you something. I thought you never really liked me very much, so how come out of the blue you ask me for a ride?" That was more then he said to me all last week. And I was pretty sure he knew but was trying to act innocent. Like I would do.

But being the wise guy I am sometimes, I did not answer seriously. "Because 3896 other students don't have a car." He looked over and just a hint of a smile crossed his face. I was trying to decide if it was worth the risk in talking more about the article in the paper. I really didn't know Ted that well and didn't know what his motivations were, but if he were the one, he then also knew Jade or I had actually written the article. And that was too dangerous.

Jade had squeezed into the back and I was in front. I finally said: "OK Ted, usually no one can get you to stop talking especially when a juicy controversial topic comes around, yet during the entire meeting and even after, you never said a word. And also when I joked about us going to the dance, you went absolutely white and for a second looked frightened to death. You're 6' 2" and probably outweigh me by a hundred pounds and yet you looked at me like I was Godzilla."

I swear Szamborski went white again. He kept staring straight ahead and was silent for the next 10 blocks. In fact he already passed the turn we needed but I didn't say anything.

I continued: "Ted, I have a question. Two actually. How come you keep avoiding Jade all the time?" I really wanted to know.

But he prevaricated: "I don't know what you mean." He turned and looked at Jade for a second. Then turned straight ahead.

"And the second question, how come you put that article in the paper? It had to be you! You were the only person around the office that late the day I typed it up on the Selectric. And I realize now the carbons went into the trash. And it had to be someone that afternoon since the janitor cleans the office every day."

Szamborski stayed white but didn't answer.

Finally Jade spoke up: "Hey look Ted; we're really on your side. We wanted to do this but didn't want to take the chance getting caught. Now we could be in just as much trouble as you."

No answer.

Jade said: "Turn here." We eventually directed him to Jade's house, and he parked. The car caught the attention of a couple black kids walking down the walk. Szamborski suddenly realized we were in a black neighborhood and I actually saw fear on his face.

Jade did too. "Holy smoke, that's why. You're afraid of Negroes."

Comprehension finally dawned on me too. I had the answer to my first question. And now Jade did something that surprised me. And by this time that was something. He reached over the seat and pulled out the key. "How about we all go inside and let Mrs. Webster fix us all a big snack."

Ted just sat rigid. He didn't even ask for the keys back. I couldn't believe it. How could he be so big and so afraid of Jade? "Look Ted, you owe us! And we need to talk about what we are going to do and say if the school keeps asking questions."

"I didn't do anything."

By this time Jade and I were out of the car. Jade said. "OK, but if you want your keys back, you have to come inside to get them." And for once it was Jade I was following along with.

Just as we got to the front door, Ted jumped out of the car, looked around a bit, and caught up with us. We went inside, and Ted just stood inside the front door. He looked somewhat intimidated but finally said: "OK, now give me my keys."

Jade just chuckled, then yelled out: "Home, Mrs. Webster!"

She came into the living room and stopped when she saw Ted. But she was all smiles a second later and did her usual talking without letup with all kinds of things that didn't sometimes follow what she said in her last sentence. But Ted started to relax a bit.

After introductions were made, in which Jade mentioned that Mrs. Webster was his foster Mom, she said: "Come on boys, I got some new sausage that I'm cooking up. You can give it a taste." We finally coaxed Ted into the kitchen, and I guess he was too polite to decline her offer.

While we were all eating some delicious sausage Jade finally appealed to Ted again: "Look, Ted. Please! We need to talk. I'll start." And Jade got up and startled not only Ted, and Mrs. Webster, but especially myself. He pulled me to him and kissed me on the lips. And pretty hard. I was so frozen, and scared, that the kiss was anything but passionate. Jade realized what I was thinking and said: "Rocco, he knows already. He read your letter after all." He then looked at Ted, "Now you know for sure. Rocco and I are boyfriends. And even more. We plan on spending our lives together."

Mrs. Webster turned away as Jade and I kissed but Ted just stared. And then turned toward Mrs. Webster probably wondering about her generally ignoring what Jade and I just did.

Ted looked at us and then at Mrs. Webster almost in panic.

Mrs. Webster then turned and said: "Jade, remember your friend here is a guest in MY house. Treat him accordingly. I don't know what the problem is here, but remember we're all Christians. Let me know if you need anything. I'll be back." We were left alone.

Szamborski looked back and forth at us. "You're really gay aren't you? And boyfriends?" It came out in a weak voice but he had finally said something.

It was Jade that answered again. I was still thawing out. "Yes. We've been best friends for well over two years, and sort of decided last summer we would stay together. We even intend on getting married."

Now that really got Ted's attention. "But we can't do that." And suddenly he realized what he had just admitted. "I mean. . ."

I finally jumped in: "Look, don't you think you can talk to us about this stuff? What do you think we're going to do?"

He looked at me and then Jade with some apprehension yet. Finally he said: "It's hard to get out of the habit." He turned to Jade. "And your Mom knows?"

"That's Mrs. Webster. She's my foster mom. And yes, she knows. My Mama died a couple years ago." Then Jade looked at me and smiled. "And she's almost Rocco's second Mom by adoption, he's over here so much."

Just then, BJ charged through into the kitchen. He always seemed to be in a hurry. He suddenly stopped when he saw Ted. He looked a bit warily at him, and Jade decided to introduce them. "BJ, I'd like you to meet a friend of ours, Ted. Ted, this is my foster brother Billy Joshua, but everybody calls him BJ"

Neither of them gave a big smile, but at least both were polite. BJ escaped after grabbing some food real quick. Ted seemed a bit apprehensive in spite of being quite a bit bigger.

Jade finally asked: "What's your hang-up man? We're friendly. Usually. Ask Rocco here. He's a little guy. He makes no bones coming around here. Even at night."

I smiled for reassurance.

Ted finally spoke again: "I guess I believed all the stories I've been told. Sorry. But it's a bit strange for me just to be sitting here."

Finally Jade said after looking at me for the go ahead: "Let's worry about the little stuff later. What we'd like to know, if you were so afraid of being known, how come you did something so reckless as putting that story in the school paper?"

I took up right as Jade finished: "And how did you do it?"

"I guess you didn't realize I was working in the back room. I heard you guys talking, and when I heard the word homosexual I was suddenly interested for obvious reasons. When you guys left I tried to see if you left whatever letter you typed out but suddenly one of you came back in and I hid under the desk. I can't believe you didn't see me. When you left I looked around and finally found the carbons in the trash. They were pretty easy to read. You guys had been talking about putting it into the school paper and suddenly it sounded like a great idea. I found a place on page 5 that I could replace a story and fit yours. I had to leave out a few words so it would fit, so I rewrote part of it. I put it into column format and pasted it in. Nobody looked since page 5 had already been proof read and put to bed."

"You still haven't said why?"

Ted looked confused himself: "I don't know exactly. Maybe frustration. And it was more the spur of the moment. I'm not exactly sure myself, but I guess for the same reason you guys wanted to do it. To get the story out. It's not easy with nobody to share your deepest fears with."

"Thanks for telling us. Now we need to worry about the repercussions. What happens if the school keeps looking for whoever did it? They most likely will suspect the newspaper staff and that involves only about 25 people. And then if Fr. Schields remembers who was in the office late the last couple nights and it limits it to maybe five or six. Including us! We can't afford to be discovered. Both Jade and I are counting on scholarships to get into college. If we're expelled, that limits our options quite a lot. And if it becomes known we're gay, we probably can't even finish at Lincoln. We'd be killed there."

Jade wasn't so generous: "And you're an idiot for putting yourself at risk too. Or is your family so rich you don't have to worry about a scholarship?"

I looked at Ted and that hit home. I was a little riled. I started to say something but Ted spoke first. "Look, guys, I'm sorry. I just never figured like that. And I didn't realize how I had jeopardized you two. I tell you what. If it comes to it, I'll admit I did it and say I wrote it also. You really think they'd expel me for doing this?"

Jade looked at me and we both sighed. "Damn Ted, they won't even need that! Just finding out we're gay will get us all expelled! It's a Catholic School. Homosexuality is immoral!"

I couldn't believe it; big Ted Szamborski looked like he was fighting back tears. He even looked around out the window for a moment. When he turned around he asked: "I need to know a couple things. How can you guys be so at ease with everything? I mean about being like we are? I hate it, and I can't figure out how I'm going to live the rest of my life. I guess part of the reason I did this too was that I've almost just about given up. What kind of life can I ever have? It wouldn't be fair to any girl if we marry. I don't even think I could really have sex with a girl anyway."

I looked at Ted and then Jade. "You know that's part of the reason we wanted to put this article in the paper to begin with. To at least let people know they aren't alone. There's a lot of us out there."

Ted seemed to recover some. "And that's another thing. Where'd you get some of that information? I mean you said about two in each class. I never realized."

I looked at Jade and asked: "That book in your room?"

"Yeah, I'll get it." And Jade left the room.

"I'd also like to say one more real important thing. Neither Jade nor I believe it is wrong. I mean morally. God made us this way and we will live this way. Let me also give you the name of the pastor at the church where we go. You should talk to him too."

Ted looked as if I'd gone crazy again. "What the hell pastor can you actually talk about this with?"

"Here is his name and address, it's the Unitarian Church near Frankford and Rawn."

"Unitarian? I thought you were talking about the parish you go to?"

"That will be the day. No, both Jade and I go to this church. I guess for all practical purposes I'm not Catholic any more. I can't believe a lot of what they try to teach."

Ted looked up quite surprised and said: "But my god, you're the `preacher.' Gees, half the guys on the staff have you pegged to be a priest. And you're one of the few people actually paying attention in Religion Class."

Jade came back with the book and with Tim on his tail. "Here, a lot of good information in there. We'd like it back when you finish. And be careful. Just having that book can get you into trouble if the wrong person finds out."

Tim was suddenly all ears. Jade and I both smiled. Again introductions were made. Tim suddenly asked: "What book is that?" and tried to grab it.

I just said: "It's all about sex stuff. You're too young."

"All heck." Tim answered, "I know all about that stuff."

I thought he might actually be right.

Tim then said: "Mrs. W asked when your discussion was going to be done. She says she wants her kitchen back. And I want dinner. I'm starvin'."

It was getting crowded as Mr. Webster also walked in. Another round of introductions. Ted was looking around almost trapped. "How about we talk more later." He asked. "And sorry about this but I just never realized. See you guys tomorrow." Ted almost ran out of the house. Twenty seconds later he was back for his keys.

Jade and I then went up to his room. He spoke first: "Well, this is in part just what we were wanting to do. If this blows over without us being suspected, maybe it will even be a good thing."

My paranoia though was revving up again. "I sure hope so." Then I got to thinking about the entire chain of events and then more particularly to what people had said. And then I got to realizing that not a single person ever addressed any of the issues I brought up in the article.

"Jade I was just realizing. As far as I can remember, not a single person, including Father McNeil or that person that addressed us afterwards about the evils of "sexual perversion" as he called it, made a single mention of the things I was trying to bring everyone's attention to. Your memory is better at this than mine. Do you remember anything?"

Jade could see that this was now getting me pretty upset. He wrapped me in his arms and pulled me close. "Sorry White-boy, I can't remember anything but words talking bad about us. But I hope maybe, after they think about it a while, maybe then they will start to wonder also. And remember, one main thing was to let anyone else like us know they were not alone."

Jade and I talked about this a bit more but I had to get home if I wasn't going to be late. He did make me feel better. And his kissing I had to stop if I weren't going to be real late.

I eventually got on my way home after saying I'd be back that evening for our school work. (And maybe for a few other things that we hadn't gotten to). On the way I was thinking about the strange day. And I was having a lot of mixed feelings about Szamborski. In one way I felt for him. Or anyone struggling with being gay. On the other hand I wanted to strangle him. Well, I just hoped this'd all blow over.

Dolores was going through boyfriends pretty fast ever since she split up with Charlie. I think it was a shame that they did split. But she was in a real bad mood when I got home so I tried to avoid her. And Carl was also on a tear about some test at college that day. I was afraid to ask Mariann how her day went. Dinner was a bit somber. (And I wish my Mom would stop overcooking the meat, and Mom forgot and put peas on my plate, and on top of that I was starting to sneeze a lot and worried I was getting a cold). Maybe I was in a bad mood too.

Up in our room Carl complained about me getting into his things again. And for once I wasn't guilty. I just tried to ignore him though.

I finally left for Jade's. We had a lot to talk about. And I was thinking maybe we should get our contingency plans in order after all.

I was also starting to think about a few other things. We had a good amount of money in the bank. I thought of a car for a while but finally decided we could do without that luxury `til we were through college. And then I thought of the coming summer. Maybe Jade and I could go somewhere for a few days. Probably couldn't get permission from Mom or Dad. And they'd want to know why? Oh well, it was just a thought. And then I thought about getting married again. And also thinking about wedding rings again. I really liked to have that symbol of marriage, but never brought up the subject with Jade since he couldn't wear one. I wished Jade had a hand to put one on. And even if I did get a ring I'd have to hide it just like the locket.

And then I started thinking about the necessity in graduating from Father Judge. I always had the thought if I didn't get a competitive scholarship, at least I would be in line for getting one of several the school handed out. They were mostly to Catholic colleges, but that didn't matter too much. Just that I wanted to go with Jade and he was leaning toward Temple. It would be easier there since they had this work-study program if you wanted, where you worked a half year then went to school a half year. And Jade also had the trust money. Thinking about college expenses, maybe I didn't need a wedding ring after all. I was already assuming that I'd get no help from my parents by then. Jade and I wouldn't be able to keep things a secret if we started living together. In fact, I was starting to really look forward to graduation so we could start doing just that.

When I got to Jade's, I got waylaid by Mrs. Webster. She rarely interrupted us in Jade's room but this time she knocked and came in. "Just wonderin' boys if everything was all right. You seemed real worried earlier today and that boy seemed disagreeable at times."

I didn't quite know how to respond, but Jade explained everything without the slightest hesitation. I sure wished I could talk to my Mom like that.

"So he's like you two?"

"Yes." (That answer sure left out a lot)!

Mrs. Webster got right to the heart of the problem. "Do you think you two will be in trouble?"

We weren't sure but hoped not. Then I finally saw the opportunity to ask Mrs. Webster an important question. I looked at Jade as I said I'd like to ask her a question. "Mrs. Webster, if it became necessary, could I live here? I'd be able to pay for my food and stuff mostly." I was worried about that "mostly," and what it implied.

"You think if your parents found out `bout you, it could get that bad?" She understood right away.

"Not certain, but I was asking just in case."

"Well, as sure as you're sittin' there, Rocco. You almost feel like one of my boys anyways. And don't you worry none `bout Mr. Webster. If I ast', he'd do it. Lord knows he's a good man."

And we talked about this some more and a lot of details got discussed. One thing I'd not thought of was medical insurance. That was a big item. I didn't know about this at all. The other problem was if my parents would let me live there at all. They might object about my being with Jade. And I wouldn't be 18 for 19 more months. That's what I was really worried about. Money wise I thought we could make it, but I wasn`t sure. Maybe I should ask Uncle Bill about that summer job after all. And come to think about it, maybe even staying with him and Aunt Valley if it became necessary. Unfortunately that left a awful lot of "ifs" and "maybes" and "not sures".

Fortunately, later that evening. Jade and I DID get back to our interrupted kissing. And other stuff.

Chapter 81 -- Some Concerns and Some Decisions

It was the PSAT that got us both thinking more seriously about college and our future. All the juniors took it as a sort of dry run for the SAT next year. And there were also the ACT which many of the colleges required to consider your application for admission. Rocco and I had talked vaguely about these things, but having to take this test suddenly made the future more imminent. We also discussed our contingency plans. Unfortunately they couldn't cover everything but we at least already talked to Mrs. Webster and Rocco living with us might possibly be an option. At least it was OK with the Websters.

We also decided to keep saving as much as possible for obvious reasons. The big thing was college tuition and how we could live while going to college. We decided to look into the work study program at Temple University since even if Rocco got a scholarship, he'd still need more money for living expenses. Mrs. Webster said we could still live with her but Rocco and I decided we should pay our way. (We just hoped it were possible). I was also hoping for a scholarship but I wasn't quite as sure about this as Rocco. I guess I'll see after we get our grades back from the PSAT. I felt I did well but you never know. Rocco said he was sure happy we had had our "word wars" as he called them. One whole category on the test was vocabulary. Rocco had also kept carrying around a book that had the entirety of English grammar in it -- or so it claimed.

Another curious happening was that we seemed to find different things to do. I mean we used to be frequently playing stick ball, or riding somewhere, or just palling around with some of our friends. But we seem to have drifted away from those activities. For one Rocco has gotten much more serious about his school work. He is determined to win a scholarship as I mentioned. He said he is also trying to beat out Jerry Price for number one in the class.

"For once I want to actually say something to people in our school that really means something. And I have my chance if I'm Valedictorian."

"You mean all this work just to be able to make a speech?" I looked over at Rocco who even had a couple books home with him and was studying.

"Well, there's the challenge also. And another big consideration, the school itself gives out 4 or 5 scholarships and if worse comes to worst, I want to be able to get at least one of those. And I think you should also try. Your grades are pretty good even considering your Freshman year at Lincoln."

I knew what he meant. My average has come up very well these past two years. Well I'd just try my best and hope. But then Rocco and I had our first real argument.

Rocco put his book down and looked at me and seeing his expression I knew it was something he must have been thinking about for some time. I've realized recently that he does that a lot and keeps some things to himself until he's made some decision. I know he will eventually tell me about these things, but I wished he'd at least discuss them with me sooner.

"I've thought about this and have decided that if necessary I'll just wait for college and go to work so you can get your degree."

That came out of the blue and I was not very happy for a number of reasons. First I didn't want to think that Rocco was sacrificing his own career for me. The other was how could he make this kind of decision without talking about it first? And I told him so. He was at first a bit shocked by my outburst. Then I could see the gears turning as he was thinking a mile a minute. That was another thing I've realized. When he is suddenly confronted with a problem his first reaction was to try to think of a way out.

I couldn't help but show some of my emotions as I then asked: "And since when is a decision like this just yours to make? I thought this was a collaboration? Something as important as this needs us both to agree. You're not going to run my life." My voice got louder as I continued and I even surprised myself at how vehement I had gotten. For the first time in months I was really angry at Rocco. And I showed it.

Rocco kept thinking, and when he realized how angry I really was, he also starting to look scared. But amazingly no tears this time. Maybe a different kind of emotion was percolating through him. "But Jade, I don't think you're being fair. This is my decision to make. Here I thought I was doing something for you and you get mad." He started to say something else about my hands and abruptly stopped. It was now he finally started to tear up. He turned away.

I was so angry however, I just stayed put. I so wanted to comfort him but something inside just couldn't let me. And I was getting upset by my own mixed emotions. It was strange, I suddenly realized. Rocco so much takes control when he is involved in something, but when it comes to us comforting each other and being physical, he seems to just look at me and usually waits for me to go to him. And this time I didn't. And I finally realized that that hurt him even more. After looking back at me for some time, he suddenly burst from the room and ran down the stairs. I heard the door close after him. Now I was almost crying. How did this happen? We always assured each other we'd talk about things. I was then remorseful that I let my anger control me. I wished I'd handled it differently. I decided to go after him. This was too important. Somehow we'd talk things through, but I had to find him first.

Damn, could he run fast. He was totally out of sight by the time I got my coat and was outside. I wondered if he was wearing his. I could think of only one place to look. Our rock. Even freezing as it was I got out my bike and went as fast as I could. About half way there I saw him walking in that direction. I sped up and stopped in front of him. I got off the bike and we just looked at each other. Suddenly it was Rocco who ran to me and hugged me tight.

"Jade, I'm sorry. I keep doing that and I'm sorry. You're right. We need to make these decisions together."

As I grabbed him I realized he was shaking pretty bad. No coat. Or maybe just his emotions. My White-boy was a very emotional boy. I tried to tell him I was also sorry for getting angry, but he kept saying it was his fault and would hardly listen. He finally calmed down, and we made our way back home. I had to walk my bike so it was a bit awkward. When we got back, Mrs. Webster was all in a fuss worrying about what had happened. We just said we had a momentary disagreement but it was OK now. Her reaction was to bring us into the kitchen and make us some hot chocolate.

Rocco's hands on his cup were still shaking. "Thanks Mrs. Webster. It was sure cold out." And we just sat there and talked but about unimportant things. Finally we went back to my room and started to work things out.

Rocco finally said: "It just hurt so much when you didn't realize I was only trying to think of you. I just so much want you to succeed that it doesn't really matter if I go to college `til later."

"But don't you see, how do you think I'd feel if your hopes and plans got abandoned because of me?"

We finally agreed that we needed to decide together. Then Rocco finally said: "Damn! Just like my father. Running away from a disagreement! And I hate when he does that to my mother. And here I did the same thing with you. I'm sorry."

We then started talking about maybe getting some serious work for the summer if we could find any. Jobs were pretty scarce for high school kids. You almost had to know somebody to get you in somewhere. And I said so.

Then Rocco lit up: "But I do know somebody. My Uncle Bill. I hadn't mentioned this before because I was wondering what you could do for him with just your hooks."

I tried not to flinch, but I told myself I had to be realistic. There simply was not a lot of physical labor jobs I could do that someone else couldn't easily do better. "Look, who knows? How about we just talk to your uncle sometime and find out. And even if only you get a job, I'll make the big sacrifice and just watch you work." We were both smiling and back to normal. But the whole episode had me just a bit concerned. How did we let things get so out of hand so quickly? And we then talked about that. As much as we really loved each other, we realized we had to constantly work at being together.

After Rocco left I was thinking I found out a few things about him, and also about myself. And how come things always had to be so complicated?

The next Saturday, Rocco and I took Tim to a Sports Night at Convention Hall downtown. The money raised was to help some local sports programs. It was specifically designed for high school kids and a number of local pro athletes were going to be there, including Ritchie Ashburn and Gene Mauck from the Phillies and even Wilt Chamberlain from the Warriors. There were a lot of tall tales told that night but the highlight for Tim was when he won one of the door prizes. It was a basketball. He already had one we bought for him a while back but just to actually win something out of the blue like that was exciting. But things then got more interesting and Rocco of course started it.

"Now what you should do is to get Wilt Chamberlain to autograph it after this thing is over."

And Rocco was so insistent that he practically dragged Tim to the front of the auditorium. We eventually got to talk to Wilt Chamberlain and damn is he tall! He was very friendly and Tim was beaming when Wilt signed the basketball he had just won.

On the way home on the el and then the trolley, Tim held on to the ball like it was gold. "I can't wait to show Billy!" That was one of his new friends. I was glad he had found someone his own age to pal around with. I remembered how lonely I was after I pushed everyone away and realized how important a good friend was at Tim's age.

A few days later I saw the ball sitting on his dresser and asked how come he was keeping it there.

"Wilt the Stilt is gonna be famous someday and I will have his autograph. And it's gonna be worth lots a money. Maybe even a hundred bucks, or maybe even more!"

I was a bit skeptical; who would pay that kind of money just for a signed ball? But I didn't want to dash his hopes so I just went along. Reminded me about last summer when Jimmy Alexander said he collected baseball cards. He had been excited as he showed me the Mantle and Maris cards. I couldn't believe anyone spending all that money just to get a set of cards with baseball players on them. And I didn't like bubble gum anyway. I had more important things to do with our money. Funny, I kept thinking about it as OUR money.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello