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 82 -- Creative Writing Is Sometimes Creative

[Still Jade's point of view]

One of the continuing problems Rocco has had during this school year was his frequent difficulty in our English Class. After reading his papers I thought he was averaging a high B only because his mechanics were so good, but I told him never to expect to have a career in writing novels, or anything along that line. And all year Rocco kept getting more obsessed with the idea that he was going to eventually show everyone, especially me, that he indeed could write that one story which would make people sit up and listen. (Of course I'm not saying I was much better).

"OK, Jade, I need an idea for our short story. And if you were any kind of friend at all you'd give me one."

I looked at him in surprise. I was at my desk and Rocco was sprawled across my bed with books and papers all around. Tim was in the room too but was wrapped up in a book he had started reading last week. His very first book. And he was in my room so either Rocco or I could help him with some words as needed. It was a kid's mystery book entitled The Gold Bug. I had treasured it since it was the last book my Mama ever bought me. Its plot was somewhat simplistic but was interesting reading for a 10 year old (oops, an almost 11 year old -- as he keeps reminding us. His birthday and mine were coming up in a few weeks). The other choice we gave him was a series written in the scouting magazine Boys Life, that Rocco had collected over the past couple years. In it was a four part story called Johnny and the Space-o-tron. The other thing we were able to get Tim to read was Mad Magazine. (And I got caught reading it myself a few days ago; Rocco ridiculed me claiming its humor was aimed at a brain-deficient 7th grader. Of course I caught him reading it about an hour later). Too bad that copy had been confiscated by Tim's teacher for reading it during one of his classes. I hadn't finished it yet.

Rocco and I agreed (and so did Mrs. Webster) that it didn't matter what, but just to get Tim reading at all was a good thing. Even if we had to bribe him, for example, by taking him to the Franklin Institute tomorrow. And going to a Warriors basketball game a while back. Tim couldn't stop raving about his new "hero" -- "Wilt the Stilt" -- especially after he had that amazing 100-point game a couple weeks ago. As he listened to the game on the radio, Tim got so frustrated because he couldn't watch it on TV. By the time it was over, the New York Nicks had scored 147 points and still lost by 22. (Not a whole lot of defense). I think Rocco enjoyed our outings with Tim as much as I did. And the Franklin Institute was just as interesting for adults.

So where was I? Oh yeah. I was a bit surprised. It was Rocco that always came up with these wild schemes that kept almost working. Why couldn't he come up with a simple idea for a story?

I asked: "What are you interested in?"

"Why you ask that?" His English was even reverting. And I think he was reverting too. I wouldn't be surprised if next week he asks me to help him blow something up again. I think ever since that newspaper incident, Rocco was growing less mature rather than more. He was starting to get obsessive about some things.

I answered: "Because a person has more motivation to write well about something he's vitally interested in."

"That makes sense. Let's see." And after a short pause, Rocco continued: "You, getting married, homosexuality, how come God made us this way, the other gay guys we know, . . ."

I was stunned. "Whoa. STOP! What're you doing?!"

"Well, you said to tell me what I was interested in?"

"With Tim here?" At this Tim was all ears.

Rocco suddenly went rigid. "Holy shit! My god! I forgot he was here."

I looked at Tim who was now smiling, and who then just went back to his book. What the hell? "Hey Tim, you understand what Rocco was just talking about?' Now I had both their attention.

"Sure. Mrs. W told me all 'bout it. But she told me I didn't have to really let you guys know. But since you started talking some `bout it, I guessed it `idn't matter."

Holy shit I thought to myself. "How come Mrs. W talked to you about it?" She had previously told us that Tim didn't have to know about it yet.

"Well, a few weeks ago I saw you guys kissing and the kids in school think that stuff was real bad. So I got ascared and asked Mrs. W `bout it. Hope you guys ain't mad."

Rocco and I looked at each other and I think we were so surprised that here was Tim talking so matter-of-factly about our being gay. And boyfriends. "What else did you talk about?"

"Well, Mrs. W said that for some people it wasn't bad and that you guys were boyfriends. But I told her I didn't want any boyfriend, I mean THAT KIND of boyfriend. An' I don't want no girlfriend either, even if prissy Priscilla wants to. Yuk!" He made a motion as if to wipe his mouth. "And some of the guys at school make themselves stupid with girls sometimes."

I looked at my White-boy and ESP'd him, "now what?"

Rocco picked it up: "Do you understand about me and Jade? That we love each other like usually a boy loves a girl?"

"Yuck! Blucck! Pa-tuie! That's gross!"

Rocco was a bit taken back by Tim's reaction. "You mean you think me and Jade being together is gross?"

"Yeah. NO! I mean it's ALL gross. But if you guys like each other I don't care. I still like you guys. You guys'er always nice to me."

Rocco looked like he was going to get emotional again. I could see tears in his eyes.

I diverted the topic a bit. "And when did you see us kiss?"

Tim looked down at the bed a moment. "Sorry for spyin', but a few weeks ago I heard you guys in here talking an' all `n' then it got all quiet. So I snucked down into my closet and looked through the hole. I thought you maybe were talking `bout secret stuff real whispery-like, and I wanted to hear. But instead you guys were kissing. And I thought only boys and girls should do that so I asked Mrs. W. Sorry I was spyin'."

So much for being especially careful. We always had the door closed. But a hole? I went over to our closet to look but before I got there, Tim said: "No, not there. My closet is next to yours. I think the hole is somewhere to the left."

It was so small I didn't see it at first. "You can see us through that!?"

"Well it's big in my closet," he replied.

And we went into Tim's room and sure enough it was almost eight or ten inches around there. You could put your eye right next to the plaster covering the wall on our side. "Someone had to have deliberately done this."

We both looked at Tim, but before we could say anything, he spoke: "Honest you guys, it was there already!"

I said not to worry; nobody's in trouble. But I thought to myself I sure the heck had a hole-fixing job on the top of my list.

When Rocco and I got back to my room, Rocco said: "Remember I told you that eventually people will find out. It can't be helped. I'm just glad Tim's OK with it. I would be sick if he wasn't."

It took a while to finish talking about Tim and Mrs. Webster and we were wondering who all else knew about us. It was starting to include most the whole world. For myself I was starting not to care too much, but Rocco I could see hated what would probably happen if his parents or school found out. And we talked more about our contingency plans. Which included talking again about trying to get jobs this summer with his uncle. And we talked about what maybe I could do. I didn't think there would be much. Then we talked about just going to see his uncle at work when the weather got better and they were busy again.

The winter had turned frigid. OK, more frigid. We talked about the present cold snap and all the orange growers getting hurt in Florida by the big freeze down there. Even BJ was now off work more than on, but he said he had enough money so he liked it that way. And Kyle quit, and was working instead downtown with a plumbing outfit still hoping to get on with the union.

And then we got back to Tim finding out about us.

"It's all your fault!" Rocco accused me, but I could tell he was more amused than mad.

"OK. By what twisted legerdemain of logic do you get to that conclusion?" No points here, Rocco first used that word a while back.

"Well, it's you who always start our sex stuff and are the one who always sort of directs the activity. So therefore it's your responsibility to make sure we don't get caught."

"I think you need to study some logic. First your main statements are wrong. It's me who usually directs things, but it's you who usually invites me first!"

And that started us talking about all kinds of sex stuff, and both of us were hard as a rock. Suddenly Rocco went quiet, and said: "Oh my gosh, I forgot already. You think Tim can hear us right now?"

"Stop worrying," I said. "I heard him go down to watch TV just after we left his room. I think it was time for the Dick Van Dyke Show."

But Rocco sat there still with worry on his face. He continued: "And I wonder if he actually saw other things we've done."

And this eventually led two horny boys into musing about how they have derived pleasure from each other. Rocco was describing some of the things that really turned him on. "I sure like it when you make me lick you down there. And I like when you put your penis in my mouth even if it's too big to take very much." I was realizing that being as big as I was had its definite drawbacks.

Since we started experimenting with oral sex last Christmas holidays, Rocco can't seem to get enough. Our "experimenting" had led us into things we had not even thought about doing six months ago. We were talking about seeing Dr. Krazenski again to make sure we were safe but we couldn't get the courage to actually talk about these things with him. (When HE had brought up the subject it seemed a lot easier). Maybe Allen or Dan had a book we could read. But to even tell them we wanted such a book was hard to talk about.

Well anyway, we got so horny talking about all this stuff, White-boy started taking off my shirt and then we got rid of my hooks. Then he lay down and I got on top but with my equipment in easy reach of his mouth. He knew what was expected. I didn't especially like the taste when he shot but Rocco didn't seem to mind mine at all. He sure went crazy and usually came before me without me hardly touching him.

For some reason we never did get all our school work done that night. Nor did we get back to the topic that started everything about Rocco's writing assignment. For the assignment we were supposed to take a paragraph or so from any history book and write a short story that actually incorporated it in the story. Rocco did start to throw ideas at me but couldn't stick with any one long enough to do any good.

At school a couple days later was sign up day for Cross Country and I even thought about signing up with Rocco but decided I didn't want to embarrass myself. Rocco mentioned that he wished the races were longer since he didn't have the leg strength to keep up at the end with the better runners but he could keep up his pace "all day long" as he put it. And I saw him do it. On a bet he ran the whole length of Pennypack Park which was easy 10 miles. And he outdistanced the two guys from last year's Cross Country Team doing it. I ran along for about the first mile or so but gave up and went back to get my bike and met them at the finish. And then he challenged them to run right back! And he won two more bets. The other boys gave up half way.

I mentioned reading in the paper about some guy from Finland who claimed he would win the upcoming Boston marathon for a second time and wondered how come no high school ran the marathon.

After mentioning it Rocco said: "Actually twenty miles seems to be my limit at that pace. For some reason the couple times I tried to go further I suddenly got all muscle tired. And the one time I forced myself to go about 4 more miles I was so stiff the next day I was barely walking in the morning. Remember that evening when you were forcing my legs up and I complained?"

I did remember. (I smiled at the memory). But damn, I got muscle tired only after a mile or so. I consoled myself with the thought that my stamina was good for quite a few miles during sex.

And then one more in a series of fateful days occurred when we went back to St. Joe's library to look up more stuff about scriptures and homosexuality. Rocco wasn't so obsessed any more but every once in a while he got the urge to do more research. This time he got down one of the volumes of the Anchor Bible to look up the story of the centurion that had Jesus cure his servant. Rocco said he was interested ever since he started reading that book Allen had given him on the Roman's killing all those Jews after they destroyed Jerusalem.

I remembered it being one of the rare times over the past few months that I was in his room. And he was talking about some of the stuff he'd read. I asked: "You actually got through that book?" It seemed boring to me.

"Well mostly. Parts were very interesting." And then he got this look. "And you should read the part where they were talking about the centurions who were sent to man outposts in the far off lands like Judea and so on. They frequently came from important families and could be pretty rich. They also couldn't have a wife."

I looked at Rocco as if he were talking about grass growing. "So what? How is that interesting?"

"Well read this!" And he pointed out a certain page.

I did. "Holy smoke. Wow. How come we never find out this stuff in our high school history courses?"

The book said that many of the centurions that went to these foreign lands had boy lovers called catamites. I was amazed, that not only did this happen, but that some books would even write about it.

And so Rocco got all wondering again about that centurion story after we finished trying to make some sense out of the passage in Romans about homosexuality. "The one who is righteous will live by faith." [Rom.1:17] But people were guilty of "idolatry." This was an idea foreign to most of us. One commentary we read said that this meant for us today putting our faith in, or allegiance to, material things. Rocco said that he knew some people who were only interested in money and power. Therefore "God gave them up to degrading passions." [Rom 1:26] We still couldn't figure this out for sure, but we both agreed that this didn't seem to have anything to do with us. We just wanted to love each other. It wasn't merely a matter of lust or uncontrolled desire. For us it wasn't doing what was abnormal. I reminded Rocco (for the millionth time) what my Mama had said -- that Paul had no conception of people who were homosexuals and therefore this passage couldn't have anything to say about us.

We only found one more commentary on Romans but it didn't seem to be able to explain how Paul was connecting this up to idolatry.

Then Rocco's brain made what I started recently calling a "jump-shift."

"Hay Jade, do you remember where that story is?" He expected me to instantly know what he was asking about. I finally got out of him what he had "jump-shifted" to. The story about Christ curing the Centurion's slave. He asked me again where the story was located.

"How should I know?" I guess I never was a very good Baptist, carrying around a Bible and memorizing this and that. "You're the Bible expert."

"Not really. Only about a few specific things and also where they talk about homosexuality although they never use that word. One of the commentaries I read said that the idea of people being homosexual back then wasn't really understood. Wonder how we can find that story without reading for an hour?"

Sometimes Rocco is so concentrating on what he is thinking, he doesn't hear what I had just said to him. "Rocco, if you were paying attention to me exactly one minute ago you would have heard me say exactly the same thing."

"I heard you -- about what your Mama said. I just was meaning that at least one commentary agreed with her. Do you know where the Centurion story can be found?"

"Not sure. But my Mama had what she called a Concordance to find things."

"What's that?"

"It's a book that tells you where important words can be found all through the bible."

So ten minutes later we finally found the story of the Centurion. In the Gospel of Luke. A few minutes later a "Holy shit!" erupted from Rocco's mouth. We were suddenly given a few nasty glares from those close by.

"Gees, Rocco be quiet. And watch what you're saying."

"But read this!" Rocco was looking at the notes about the translation in the back of the volume. "It says here that Luke used the Greek word that commonly meant slave or servant but also the Centurion, when referring to the servant, the word used in one place actually meant "my boy!"

I still couldn't see why Rocco was so excited. "So what? So he was his boy servant. Or slave. What's to get all excited about?"

"Don't you see? According to that book Allen gave me, many Centurion soldiers had catamites, or boys for sex!" Rocco's voice carried so far I looked around to see if he was heard all over the library.

"Damn Rocco quiet down. We don't want to get thrown out."

"But don't you see! The servant Jesus cured could have been the Centurion's slave-boy!"

"So what? How can you jump from slave-boy to sex?"

"Because that what they did a lot in those days!"

"But it doesn't actually say that does it?"

"I don't know. Let me read it some more."

About five minutes later Rocco got excited again. "Look here; the Centurion calls the boy "dear to him." But it says here that a couple translators claim that the Greek word more commonly means `beloved' rather than valuable or dear. So don't you see? Jesus cured the Centurion's beloved boy!"

I finally started to be convinced but still was skeptical. "But you can't prove it was his boy lover."

Rocco finally sighed a bit and said: "Well maybe not prove, but it sure can easily be true. Wouldn't that be something? Jesus cured a Centurion's boy lover! Wow."

"Well don't expect to hear the preachers mention that during their Sunday sermons."

And if I had actually known what Rocco was going to do!

It was almost a month after the newspaper scandal as it had became known around the school. And I was wondering about the fact that every-once-in-a-while, a copy of the article would even turn up mysteriously on one of the bulletin boards around the school. Rocco was secretly happy. Especially since we got through the incident unscathed. Even Ted Szamborski wasn't discovered. All of us who worked on the paper and who had access to the office were questioned again but fortunately nothing happened. Except that no one was allowed in the newspaper office unless there was a teacher there at the same time. But eventually the incident was, if not completely forgotten, mostly laid to rest.

Except by whomever was still putting copies of the article on the bulletin boards.

And things in general were also going so well. Tim, if not a great student, was at least starting to pass most of his tests. Mr. Webster and his neighbors started making inexpensive furniture and even sold some to people in the neighborhood. Mrs. Webster kept on one of her diets for almost two weeks. School was going well and we both had some hope of getting mostly A's at the end of the year. Rocco also did very well in the PSAT test, all 99 or 98 percentiles except English grammar where he had a 96. Of course Rocco wasn't too happy with that and renewed his dedication to keep studying that grammar book he kept carrying around with him. I was pretty happy with my own results. I did better than Rocco in reading comprehension by one point, and except for math, got all 90+ percentiles.

Rocco also came in second in one of his Cross Country races, and he seemed more excited about that than any of his school work. We celebrated by going to a movie, a comedy called One, Two, Three. Rocco had actually seen it when it was around the first time, but liked it so much he talked me into seeing it with him again. I thought it pretty dumb but I didn't mind since Rocco liked it. We read somewhere that in making the movie, the company was kicked out of East Berlin and had to actually build their own Brandenburg Gate to finish the movie. (And we celebrated in my bed again the next day). We were still making good money. We also added a rare coin to our penny collection. Allan and Dan were doing well. And Consuelo had even found a boy friend.

One time when we were going upstairs to my room, we could hear very loud music coming from Tim's room.

My friend the witch doctor, He taught me what to say.
My friend the witch doctor, He taught me what to do.
I know that you'll be mine, When I say this to you.
Ooh-ee-ooh-ah-ah, ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang.
Ooh-ee-ooh-ah-ah, ting-tang-walla-walla-bang-bang.

Needless to say Rocco went bonkers. "Oh no! Tim's trying to torture us with more of his horrible noise! Where did he get that old record from?"

By that time we got to Tim's room. That new kid, Billy, who he'd started having over sometimes, was there with him and it looked like he had a stack of old 45s with him.

Tim and the other boy looked up as Rocco and I entered his room. I told Tim that it was obvious neither Mr. nor Mrs. Webster was home since they wouldn't let him play his record player that loudly. They immediately turned it down.

Rocco then asked the other boy if he could see his records.

"Sure, most of them are my sister's. She said I could borrow them as long as I don't get them scratched. But I got a couple of them myself."

I knew Billy had said he had some sisters but I never knew too much about his family so I asked: "Hay Billy, how many brothers and sisters you have?"

"No brothers but three sisters. And they cause me all kinds of trouble usually. So it's better I stay away as much as possible."

Billy though, was smiling so I assumed that the "trouble" was mostly the usual brother-sister kind and nothing serious.

Rocco was still sifting through the stack of records and was grimacing. Finally he groaned loudly and said: "Holy smoke, probably 20 records here and not a single one that contains music." By this time the "witch doctor" song had ended and another had dropped down from the record changer. Rocco immediately wailed: "Oh no! Another one of that guy's horrible creations. Jade we have to get out of here before our brains turn to mush."

Billy and Tim were laughing as The Chipmunk Song started. I was almost laughing myself as Rocco continued to cover his ears and kept complaining about Tim's music selection.

I told Rocco: "But both those songs were number one on the charts for at least a couple weeks." I think I noted that merely to get a rise out of him.

"Another proof that most teenagers have egregious tastes. The more horrible a song the further it will climb up the charts. And that Dick Clark, who promotes all that noise, should be declared public enemy number one."

I heard this all before. (Too many times). Rocco claimed that American Bandstand was the most corruptive show on TV, and that Dick Clark was a corruptor of youth -- well at least of their sense of good taste.

We went back downstairs and found both the Websters had just come home. Mr. Webster had the newspaper in his hands and was commenting that he should perhaps have the paperboy only deliver the sports' pages and the comics. "It jus' gets one too depressed reading all the news these days. It seems like wars are breaking out all over the world. And it looks like that Kennedy fellow is sending more of our boys over to that country that no one's ever heard of before `til we felt the need to start killing their people."

Mrs. Webster replied: "Well, I's sure hopes it will be done with quick." She then went on about how they kept drafting a disproportionate number of "colored boys." Of course it took her about ten sentences to say that.

Rocco got a sour look from Mr. Webster when he said that Kennedy was just trying to stop the spread of communism. I looked at Mrs. Webster and could see that she was upset by the whole thing. She had mentioned a number of times before she was worried about her (foster) son Adam who was in the Navy. She didn't want another of her boys killed in a war.

But Mr. Webster switched to the sports section and we started talking about basketball. Chamberlain was averaging almost 50 points a game and the Warriors were still not in first place.

When I looked over at my White-boy I had the thought that all was at least right with MY world. Of course it was when everything was going so well that Rocco had to chance fate once again. I first discovered what he did a day after it was too late. It seemed that for his English writing project he wrote a fiction about a certain Roman soldier who had a lover and eventually fell in love. I read the story later and thought for once he did pretty well developing the two main characters. The centurion and the lover. And he even added realistic touches from the history of the period he got from Allen's book. He cleverly disguised the fact that the lover was a boy instead of a woman. Until at the very end when he ended up using the text of Luke 7:1-10. Only where usual translations had the words "my servant" and "dear," in one place Rocco used "my boy" and then "beloved." In all, the story was really good. Especially for a Junior in High School. Especially for Rocco! (I suspected he got Dan to help him with it). But the problem was that he had two versions. Well that wasn't the problem. The real problem was he turned in ANY version. The first was as I described above, and the second was where the servant turned out to be a girl, with the usual lover's happy ending. It only took the change of three words. That was the one he handed in. But making the servant a girl really lost a lot of its charm I thought. (But maybe I was a bit biased). And to actually write that kind of a story using a passage out of the Bible was bad enough. The teacher only gave it an A minus, but said it wasn't too bad for an attempt at a love story. (I also thought it much better than a number of the A stories handed in, but maybe I was biased here too). And if only that was the end of the story (pun intended).

In spite of only an A minus, this was one of three stories the teacher had printed up on ditto masters so we could critique them. He used them to point out what was good and also how they could be improved. So we had about 45 copies of Rocco's story "G" (for girl) circulating about.

It was Francis Sariego, boy language genius that started the trouble.

In the midst of the class critique he made the observation: "But there's an historical inaccuracy in the story."

"And what is that?" the teacher asked.

"Well the servant in the real story was clearly a man, or actually a boy." I couldn't believe it. Sariego had a copy of the New Testament in both Latin and Greek in his hand. He was reading the Latin but that was just as bad as it turned out.

Then the teacher remarked: "Well, the story IS fiction and we can chalk that up to the author's license to write the story he wanted."

But Sariego just had to keep going and get legalistic about it. "But in the Latin the Centurion talks about "my boy," and you said we had to use a quote. And so it can't be a woman, and the story then completely falls apart. There can't even BE a love story."

I looked over and saw Rocco react to that, and I ESP'd him the most urgent "DON'T!" That he sat there thinking before finally raising his hand gave me hope.

"Mr. Papariello, do you have some defense for your use of this text?"

"Actually, as far as I knew, it said just servant and there was no gender specified in the bible I used. The only word that made me think of the story I wrote was the word `dear.' The slave he held dear. I just automatically thought of a beautiful girl. Who wouldn't?"

And everyone laughed at that.

Then Rocco's demeanor changed and he was starting to add something else and I gave him a big jab with one of my hooks. So all that was heard was a gasp. The class laughed again. Rocco looked at me with this terribly hurt look. His acting was pretty good. (Especially with his previous "beautiful girl" remark).

"Did you have something to add?" The teacher asked him, but was looking at me. He didn't.

Unfortunately, after class, there were some comments about the fact that the love story was about a boy. But fortunately it was Francis Sariego that took the brunt of what was said. Rocco was even smiling listening to them. He went up to Sariego and asked him if his Latin Bible gave the boy's name. A few nearby students laughed. Sariego was somewhat embarrassed, but innocently tried to explain he only was translating what he read in the text. Nobody was much listening. The story, in different guises, circulated around the lunch room later that day.

Rocco was ecstatic. He looked around making sure no one was listening. "Look Jade, I got my story out after all, even if by accident, and the help of Sariego!"

"OK White-boy, where's your paranoia now? How can you be so happy about all this?"

"But I'M COMPLETELY INNOCENT! Didn't you hear me in class? `Who wouldn't think of a beautiful girl?'"

"Well let's hope nothing comes of it. But Sariego was sure taking a ribbing."

"It was only done in fun. Besides, everybody knows he's going into the seminary after High School anyway."


"Yeah. To be a Catholic priest. So nobody was really serious."

It was Twain that started us worrying again as we met him for lunch. He came to the table, looked at Rocco and said: "Wow, your boy-lover story is sure making the rounds."

"Not MY boy-lover story. It was Sariego that claimed it was a boy!"

Then John Edell sat down and made a similar comment. "I can't believe Sariego. How naive! He didn't have a clue how people would react. But it sure livened up English Class."

So mixed reviews. Rocco was smiling again, and said: "If I'd known it'd be so entertaining, I'd have made it a boy to begin with!"

Damn, Rocco, stop playing with fire. Fortunately John Edell (and everybody else) took that remark as just a joke.

Another kid at our table remarked: "I wonder if Sariego made that remark deliberately and he was the one who put that story in the school paper?" We all knew what story.

Rocco chimed in: "Probably not. It almost had to be someone on the newspaper staff."

The talk turned to comments about who could have written the original newspaper story and who kept putting copies on some of the bulletin boards. Rocco was amazing how he prodded the conversation along. He seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.

Then someone asked: "Hey Jade, what was that big jab you gave Rocco all about?"

I couldn't think what to answer but Rocco filled in. "I told Jade I was thinking of his girlfriend the whole time I was writing the story." And he gave a small laugh.

I gave Rocco a dirty look. Now I had to fend off a bunch of girlfriend remarks. He was smiling at that too. Maybe that jab should have been harder. Well, that could always be remedied.

On our way home Rocco finally asked me: "And just what WAS that jab about in class? It still hurts."

"I thought you were about to say something about boy lovers that I'd soon regret." I smiled to show I wasn't really annoyed.

Rocco smiled too: "Well, the thought HAD crossed my mind. But no, for once I had my brain engaged. I was only going to add something about translations of the bible."

And then I remembered the conversation at lunch: "And what about all those remarks at lunch? Boy, for someone who claims to be so paranoid about people finding about us, you sure like to play with fire."

"It's really part of the big lie. To so casually talk about that stuff, you must be innocent. Basic psychology."

"More like basic playing with nitroglycerin. Someday things will blow up right in your hands." And I looked at my White-boy with affection, and added: "Then you'll be like me." I lifted my arms, and gave a small laugh.

I couldn't believe the reaction I got from my White-boy. He stopped dead in his tracks and just stared openmouthed. He tried to say something a couple times but no words.

"What's the matter?" I couldn't understand the reason for his reaction.

He finally asked a weird question: "Jade, how long we been friends?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"Well, in the entire time I've known you, that's the very first time I've ever heard you make a joke concerning your hands!"

And I was the one now a bit wondering. "Holy smoke, I did, didn't I?" And suddenly I had a whole range of conflicting emotions washing over me. I wasn't sure how I felt, but mixed up in there was just a feeling of closeness to my White-boy. And then I suddenly felt all right as he grabbed me and hugged me tight. I was glad that he realized I needed that even before I knew it myself.

And then a screeching of tires got both our attention. Damn! I wondered if the driver saw us hugging. It was a big fancy Cadillac. Frank Moore stuck he head out an opened window. "Need a ride?"

We got in. "Thanks, Frank, it's sure cold with that wind." I could get used to being given rides in a Cadillac. We started directing him to my house.

Rocco asked about his daughter and then we talked mostly about school stuff. When Frank remarked to me: "Gees, I've seen you around school. How'd you wind up at Father Judge?"

How to answer without using one of Rocco's never ending sentences? "Long story. The short version is my first foster parents were Catholic and sent me there."

Rocco interjected: "That leaves out so much it's almost not the truth. They also thought that since I'd been helping out it would be easier if we went to the same school, and had the same classes."

But Frank had fastened onto my first remark. "That makes sense but what's this with foster parents?" Then he seemed to reconsider. "Sorry, didn't mean to pry."

But Rocco answered for me, (as is not too unusual): "Jade's Mama died a couple years ago, and he's lived a couple different places. He's with permanent foster parents now. That's where we've been directing you."

I thought that left out at least chapters two through ten. Frank looked a bit disconcerted so I said: "Hey, I've been really lucky. My foster parents've been great. And I'm really happy where I'm living now."

We pulled up in front of my house and again the fancy car attracted some attention. I asked if he wanted to come in for a moment but Frank said he had to get to work.

But the conversation in the car really got me to thinking about just how fortunate I really was. And how fortunate I had my White-boy in my life. I renewed my determination to make sure he knew this. But it also started a few other thoughts percolating. I thought about this off and on while we finished our school work.

Rocco must have noticed I was distracted a bit. "OK, Jade, it's usually me that starts thinking about things. What's with you this time?"

"Well, Frank got me to thinking just how well things have gone for me. And you're the greatest part of that. And I was just thinking. I really want to get married. I want to make US official."

Of course Rocco got emotional again. Well I guess I did too. We wound up in each other's arms just holding onto each other and talking about possible wedding plans. The first thing we decided was to see if Reverend Barrowes would marry us yet. He had said to give it a year, but we both were getting impatient.

Then Rocco said something that totally startled me: "I was wondering. It really hurts thinking about us getting married and it's supposed to be such a happy occasion for everybody, and I can't even invite my own Mom. I wonder if I can actually talk to her about this."

I sat up pulling Rocco with me. "Could you say that again? I couldn't have heard right."

Rocco twisted around and stood up. He went to my desk and sat. Then he looked over and said: "I'm not saying I'm going to tell her. But I was just wondering if it were actually possible. I wonder if she could finally accept us being together. And one more thing I was recently thinking. Especially thinking about something that Dan said. Is it fair to get married and not even tell your own mother?"

"Is this the same White-boy who's been living "The Big Lie" these past years?"

"Well, maybe not exactly the same. I was just wishing I really could tell her, but I'm really more afraid of hurting her than anything else. But is it really fair not to?"

Now for some reason I was afraid and I couldn't quite figure out why. And then it finally came to me. I was afraid that something would stop us from being together. And we discussed this.

"I was wondering Rocco, maybe we can talk with Dr. Krazenski again about this. Maybe he can give us some advice." And that's what we decided to do. We also decided to see Pastor Barrowes again about getting married. At least maybe we can set a date. Then we started planning for Tim's upcoming birthday. We really wanted to do something special but couldn't figure out what. We had thought about a day at an amusement park but soon discovered both were closed until summer. We finally decided to give him and a friend (a boy named Billy seemed to be a pretty commonly seen companion lately) a day wherever they wanted to go (within reason), plus a more immediate present.

Chapter 83 -- Dreams and a Few Problems

It was a couple days before Tim's birthday and Jade and I had nothing better to do so we rode our bikes to the Hobby Shoppe. Tim had mentioned wanting some models, especially one of the new space capsule and rocket. We also picked up a balsawood kit to make a large glider. We wanted something we could do together with Tim. On our way back Jade suddenly skidded to a stop with me whizzing by. I circled back and asked Jade why the sudden stop.

"Just curious." And he pointed to the window of a jewelry store. I had pretty much given up the idea of a ring and wondered what was on Jade's mind. Besides, we might need all the money we could get for college. But I couldn't resist at least looking.

I smiled and said why not. "Window shopping is free." And we went into the store. Of course, we never considered just how we were going to ask the clerk about wedding rings -- especially when we only wanted to see men's wedding rings. But as I was going toward the clerk in his fancy suit Jade halted at a display case. I backed up. There were a row of all different kinds of rings with stones of all different sizes and colors. But the prices were pretty high. Some were almost a hundred dollars.

"They're not wedding rings." I said as I ducked between Jade and the case.

"Just looking. Besides, maybe I'd like a wedding ring with a stone in it. A sort of part engagement ring and part wedding ring."

I looked at Jade as if he had gone berserk. How the hell could I phrase the question? But he looked at the consternation written on my face and laughed. "I can wear a ring. I was thinking of putting it on the upper part of my left hook." And when he saw my surprised look, I added: "Why not?"

And then I smiled. I guess in some ways I was pretty traditional. I finally replied: "Why not, indeed!" I was also only thinking a regular plain gold band. There were a number of rings here with diamonds, and a number of other stones I didn't recognize. I never really looked at gem stones much.

Jade look through the case and then asked me: "OK, what color do you like?"

I looked over all the rings and saw one with a medium sized pink stone. It was actually one of the more plain rings there and the stone was set flush with the band rather than on a raised setting. "How about that one?"

Jade said: "Pink! Now I know you've flipped."

By this time the clerk had migrated over to us and I guess thought we were just a couple kids window shopping. I guess he would have been right. "Boys, unless you can actually afford one of those rings, I would ask you to please leave the store. We can't have you bothering our regular customers." He assumed, and I couldn't blame him, that no way we were really going to buy something. He was right but he could at least have been more polite.

Jade again surprised me. He pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket. He kept it in a steel spring money clip. He looked at the clerk. "I have almost two hundred dollars here, and we just might have been your best customer today. But not now."

The expression on the clerk's face was awesome. I don't know what he was shocked at more. Seeing Jade's hooks, or his money. I wondered what he was thinking as we were walking out of the store.

I turned to Jade. "Holy smoke, Jade! What are you doing with all that money?"

"I was really thinking of looking for rings for our wedding. I know you really want them and so I was thinking it would be my birthday present from me to you."

"But one, we need all our money for college, and two, it's YOUR birthday coming up!"

"Well, what better present for me than to make you happy!"

I had really mixed feelings. I didn't want to splurge that much money like this, especially on myself. But the thought came to me that it was not just me but us. I smiled and just said: "Thanks for the thought. But maybe we can find some rings a lot cheaper. It's the symbol that means so much, not how much they cost."

Jade was now smiling with me. "So you didn't mind I didn't talk about this with you first?"

"No. And we're talking now aren't we? Besides, I really like your idea. I guess we can spare some of our money. But're we going to look any more today?"

"Sure, why not. I got a list of jewelers within bike range. There's more than you'd think." And he pulled out a small list from his jacket pocket.

We went several blocks and found another store. As we parked our bikes I asked: "But I think we shouldn't get anything too expensive."

"Well, that ring you pointed to was less than 50 dollars, according to the tag. It also said it had a birth stone for September. Did you know your birth stone was pink? Is that how come you want PINK?"

"Well, no. I was talking to Allen a while back about Jewish history, you know how he is into that stuff, well anyway he was talking about the holocaust and the subject came up about gays and pink triangles."

Jade interrupted me: "What the heck does the killing of all those Jews have to do with gays?"

"If you let me explain, that's what I'm trying to say. I never heard this before, and of course not in history class, but he said that the Nazis also rounded up all the gay men in Germany they could find and put them in concentration camps too. And a large portion of them died there. And like the Jews forced to wear a red Star of David, the gay men had to wear a pink triangle."

"Holy smoke, how come nobody mentions any of this?"

"I guess the same reason they don't talk about gay people much at all. And what makes this even worse, after the war the Jews were liberated, the ones that survived, but the surviving gay men were just kept in prison."

We were talking about this as we entered the next store, and didn't pay much attention to the expression on the store clerk's face. We left a moment later.

"Damn asshole!" I was pretty mad. "Just because he thinks we're just kids, and you're black, he has to be so nasty."

Jade smiled. "When's the last time you looked in a mirror White-boy? You DO look like a kid! And in case you hadn't noticed lately, I AM black." And I couldn't help smiling with him.

"OK, now what?"

Well, we never did got to look at any more rings that day. Jade got the idea of just calling first and so they were prepared for two kids when we went into the store. Made sense. But when he called, he surprised me by starting right out saying we were boyfriends and wanted a couple rings. The fifth store we called didn't hang up. But since it was quite a distance we agreed to meet the next day. I guess they were open on Sunday.

But the best laid plans, etc. Jade and I had just come from Church service and walked across the street to catch the trolley on Frankford Ave. I was getting quite used to going to church now twice every Sunday. Early Mass at St. Bernard's and then to the Unitarian Church later with Jade. While waiting for the trolley, we looked at the big car that stopped there for the red light and there was Frank Moore in his father-in-law's Cadillac. A side window opened and a pretty girl called out to us. I hadn't seen Frank's wife for quite some time and forgot how beautiful she was.

I went up to the window and Frank leaned over and asked us what we were doing.

"Just waiting for the trolley. Jade and I need to go down just past the el."

"Not today you aren't. Didn't you know there is a PTC strike? No trolleys or busses today. The mayor is trying to get them going by tomorrow. Some kind of emergency order or something."

"Oh shit." I said before I thought about Cindy being there. By then the light had turned green and horns were being honked. Frank just rounded the corner and parked.

Jade was behind me and also heard. "Now what? It's pretty far to go on bikes. And we were supposed to be there in about 40 minutes."

Fifteen minutes later Frank was driving us down Frankford Ave. He had taken his wife and small daughter home. We didn't want to put him out but he insisted.

"Where exactly is this store?" Frank asked.

"Just a couple blocks past Bridge Street. You can let us out and we can call a cab to go home."

"Oh, that's all right. How long can it take? I'll just wait. Save you guys a couple bucks for cab fair."

Now Jade and I looked at each other suddenly realizing that we really didn't want to let Frank know it was a jewelry store. Or at least we were buying rings.

Finally I said: "Hey look. We're going to a jewelry store to look at a ring for someone and it could take some time. We don't want to put you out any more. It's already costing you an hour of one of your few day's off."

But unfortunately Frank wasn't dissuaded. Quite the opposite. "Hey, that's great. I wanted to look for something special for Cindy. It's getting close to our third wedding anniversary."

I looked at Jade, but he just looked a message at me that said something like: "You're the fast thinking idea guy."

I was getting desperate. How can plans go so wrong? "Hey Frank, we really appreciate you helping us out but we need to do this in private. Please."

Frank really stared at me for a moment, and across at Jade. We were all three on the big front seat. Shit! Wonder what he was thinking now. Finally he said: "OK guys. I'll just drop you off.

I was breathing easier, and smiled at Jade who was also smiling. I wondered what his smile was all about. It was too big for the occasion.

Well, anyway we got to the store and Frank drove away. Jade spoke up with that same big smile: "That was close. And I finally saw Mr. Can-Make-Up-A-Lie-Anytime, finally fail."

"Well, I decided to use your straight forward approach, but I wonder just what Frank is thinking now?"

Jade didn't seem concerned. "Probably that one of us is buying a special girl friend some jewelry. Loosen up."

We went inside and an elderly man greeted us. He turned out to be not only the guy we talked to but also the owner of the store. Then I mentioned what we were looking for. He looked at Jade's hooks completely puzzled, and not a little surprised.

Jade lifted his left hook and asked: "Can you make one to fit the end right here?"

The guy recovered pretty well and said: "Mind if I take a closer look?"

And Jade let him hold on to his hook. "The upper part is stationary, except it can be twisted to what angle I need. Can you make it so the ring can stay there?"

"I can't see why not. But I must say you boys are quite a bundle of surprises. Don't get me wrong. You help make an old man rejoice at your youth and enthusiasm. Anyway, Mr. Peterson will need to make the final decision. He's my expert craftsman. He actually does all the work. I just smile at the customers." Then the owner, Mr. Wurtzman was his name, went back behind some curtain and a second later another older guy was with him. I was a bit surprised. He was almost as black as Jade. He looked at Jade's hook and quickly said it would be no problem. "But since it's not round, I will have to make a small mold of the spot you want the ring and maybe even have to notch the metal there for the ring to snap into place." All the time they were talking I could see dollar bills flying away. The ring had to be special made. But I said nothing. I wasn't going to deny Jade his ring.

The older man then said: "So you want two similar gold bands? Any specific weight or width? And I would suggest 18 karat." He then had to explain what "carrots" meant.

But I finally asked about putting a small pink stone into each ring. I had earlier asked Jade if he wanted some other color, or even a stone at all, and he readily liked my idea.

Everyone was looking at me as if I had spoken in some unknown foreign language. Well, two of them anyway. Jade's had on a smile. "There are pink stones; I saw one the other day."

Finally the owner said there were actually two common gems that had pink varieties. He went over to a case and he pulled out a small tray of rings. There were a couple with pink stones. "These are Kurtzite, the September birth stone. There are also white varieties." Then he started talking about semi-precious stones and color. I hadn't realized that one type of gem can have so many different colors.

Mr. Peterson had momentarily gone into the back and returned with a book about gem stones. He had it opened to a specific page and he showed us another variety of pink stone. They were quite brilliant. "These are pink Tourmaline." He turned to Mr. Wurtzman and said: "We just got a few in, shall I search them out?" And a few minutes later we were looking and several beautiful pink stones. They seemed to be a bit deeper color that the Kunzite.

Mr. Wurtzman then remarked: "The color can vary but these are exceptionally deep. And Tourmaline is a harder stone than the Kurtzite." I was really worried now. How much would all this cost?

Mr. Wurtzman then asked: "If it is not impertinent, could I ask why a pink stone?"

I was a bit embarrassed to answer, but Jade just came right out and explained. A lot more guts than I had. Mr. Peterson didn't seem to be fazed at all, but Mr. Wurtzman started shaking a bit and eventually said: "Yes, I have personal knowledge."

I wondered what exact personal knowledge, but I was not about to ask. But I finally did ask something about cost and that we weren't really rich.

The two gentlemen talked a bit and Mr. Wurtzman said: "Well the stones are not really that expensive. And to have two rings made and these two stones put in place, and since one ring has to be specially made, I would say we would normally charge about 120 dollars."

I saw more bills with wings taking flight.

But he then smiled: "But since you two boys have so brightened my day, and my life, consider the rings as a gift."

I started to say something about we should pay something but Jade gave me quite a jab with his hook. (I complained to Jade last week that I thought I was getting a permanent bruise mark right there). They sized my left ring finger and Mr. Peterson took a small mold of part of his hook. We made arrangements to go back the next Saturday. We left the store smiling. And we both immediately asked each other if we thought Mr. Peterson and Mr. Wurtzman were maybe like us. We couldn't be positive but we both decided that it would really make sense as to why he was so happy meeting us and giving us the rings for free.

"And how come you gave me another big bruise?" I started rubbing the spot to try and make Jade feel more guilty. (Or guilty at all).

"Sometimes White-boy you aren't very perceptive. He wanted to make it a gift more than we needed one."

I realized Jade was right and I was so happy, I grabbed him and pulled him tight. I guess since it was Sunday with no one around, and we were far from our home turf, Jade and I just both melted together and we kissed. I was so happy I was about to bubble over.

And then had heart failure as a nearby parked car honked its horn. Holy shit, someone saw us. Then we turned and I was even more horrified. It was Frank in his Cadillac. "Holy shit!" Did I say that out loud?

Jade just froze. Then Frank emerged and said: "Come on you guys. I've been waiting more than a half hour."

We walked over to the car and I wondered how I was able to actually move. My mind was going light speed but got nowhere. Not a single thing came to me that I could say to Frank.

We both climbed into the spacious car and for some reason the squeaking of the leather seat was awfully loud in my ears.

Frank pulled away from the curb and turned up Bridge Street. "Damn, you guys remind me of Cindy and me a couple years ago. Nobody could understand how really in love we were. So, buying something special?"

Jade just up'd and said it: "Wedding rings." He turned to me and said: "It can't get any worse."

I was momentarily horrified and couldn't figure if I was angry at Jade or not. But then I realized he was right, and then I started wondering about Frank's reaction. "It doesn't bother you? I mean about Jade and me?"

Frank actually laughed. "Shocked definitely, I never seen two boys kiss before. But bothered, no."

I looked over at Frank to see his expression. He was still smiling. "Hey Frank, I . . ." I never got to finish.

Frank interrupted. "And no need to panic. I can see it on your face. I won't tell anyone. I haven't for a couple weeks so you should know I won't now."

Now I was wondering what he was talking about. And so was Jade. He asked: "A couple weeks?"

"Yeah. The time I picked you guys up coming from school. That was quite a hug you were giving each other. That didn't seem like just any guy to guy hug. I was really wondering about you guys after that. And I saw you a couple times at school. You know you need to be more careful. And then I realized that both of you were on the newspaper staff and I added 2 plus 2 and got 10."

Jade said: "Your addition skills need a bit of help. The truth is, neither of us put that article in the paper."

"You're kidding me? I was so sure. I felt so smug knowing something nobody else knew. Damn! You mean there's another ah. . . guy like you on the paper?"

I piped in: "Even if we knew we wouldn't say. But I got a question for you. How come you're so OK with this? Most people would be freaking out."

Frank smiled: "Let's just say I know someone really well who is also gay. And I don't think it's sick like most people do."

We talked a bit more before we got near home and then Frank offered to bring us to his pizza place and celebrate with a free pizza. We took him up on the offer. It was a great day after all.

On our way to my house I remarked to Jade: "Damn! Is the whole world going to know soon? And we really need to be more careful. I'm now starting to wonder if my Mom suspects something and just hasn't said anything. As I said, sometimes she just keeps things to herself. The last date I've been on was the Soph Hop. And that was with a girl who I haven`t seen since." I hadn't been bolstering "The Big Lie" so much lately. It seems I've just been too busy enjoying life as it was.

Of course, just lately a few small things have happened that have made some waves. A little more than two weeks later, I was in bed, and I was thinking about some recent happenings. Lately I've started wondering why people are the way they are. Well maybe not just lately, but definitely it's taken more of my attention recently. I've always felt somewhat different from most people, and as far as I could figure this had nothing to do with being gay. I've always been prone to attack any of my problems or situations that come up by reasoning my way through it. But it seemed like so many other people just reacted without thinking. They don't seem too concerned about making decisions based on reason or logic. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the way it seemed to me.

One specific thing I simply didn't understand, is how a person can want to hurt someone deliberately. I can see if they can gain by it, but for just to hurt someone? Why? How come we just can't get along? Or just care some about people? Or if you don't care, at least just let people alone?

A couple things happened to cause problems recently and it hurt. One involved a new student at school giving Jade grief for no apparent reason. The other involved my brother.

And both things happened last Sunday and Monday. That weekend started out as usual. We had two TV sets to fix that Saturday, the first was pretty easy but the second was a Sylvania color TV. There was nothing obvious. It just didn't work. No picture, no sound. We had found a trouble shooting manual for those kinds of sets but it didn't help. We couldn't find anything wrong other than no current throughout the set. Something major was wrong.

Jade said: "How about just starting where there is voltage and working the circuits forward?"

"But it branches a million times." OK so I'm given to hyperbole.

"Do we admit defeat or try again?" That was all he needed to say. We started again.

We tried again with the main power circuits, and this time it was Jade who found the problem. As we were testing with the volt meter, Jade called out a zero voltage where there were no new components since the last good reading. "That can't be right; that should be an unbroken circuit."

Jade than asked to have the flashlight. "Holy smoke, look at this!"

I looked. "Gees, the circuit board is cracked."

"So now what?" Jade asked.

I wasn't sure. "There has to be a billion things soldered into this board. It'd take us a hundred years to change it. I wonder if someone sells the entire board. Might be cheaper than charging for all the time it'd take to change it, and there's a possibility of damaging one of the diodes or transistors."

Mr. Howard wasn't happy to hear the news. "And of course the warrantee has just run out a few months ago. How much will a whole gizmo you need cost?"

We didn't know. And we'd already spent almost an hour on the set ourselves.

The following Monday we found out the bad news. About 50 dollars worth of bad news. And at least a week to get the board from the factory. It took us almost two hours to change the circuit board. We wound up charging 25 dollars for labor. We were glad to escape Mr. Howard's house.

Jade remarked on the way back to his place: "There's got to be an easier way. How come they make them that way? Everything's so crammed together."

"Of course there is. Buy a whole new set."

Jade didn't think my idea would catch on too well. He then asked: "And how come it's a Sylvania set yet the picture tube said RCA on it?"

I answered: "RCA has the patent on the color tube and the other companies have to buy them from RCA."

The same day we gave Mr. Howard the bad news about his TV, we forgot about everything else when we picked up our rings. We were both ecstatic. They were beautiful. Jade and I decided to use the rings as wedding rings and not to wear them until we got married. I wished I didn't have to hide mine but again, if that's the worst problem I had -- I had better not complain. That Sunday we had another appointment to see Pastor Barrows shortly after the morning service, and it was again about us getting married. It was also Tim's birthday party (even if his actual birthday was several days ago).

That was the biggest problems we had to contend with recently so you can see things were going pretty well. But the next two days would bring new problems that we shouldn't have had. They both occurred because a couple people decided to make trouble. For no apparent logical reason.

On Sunday mornings lately, I usually got up early enough to get to one of the early Masses at our parish church, and then go to Jade's house so we and Mrs. Webster can make the 10 o'clock service at the Holmesburg Unitarian Church. I had been such a habit lately of always going over to Jade's house Sunday morning that it was the normal thing for me not to show up for Sunday morning breakfast. (Or brunch). It was a generally haphazard affair anyway so nobody made a big deal if I wasn't there. Until that Sunday. Of all Sundays. Suddenly, with less than a day's warning, I found out that my Aunt Frances and Uncle Joe were coming to visit on that Sunday. And of course I had plans to be elsewhere. And I intended to BE elsewhere. I had already gotten permission from my parents to be gone for most of that day. And that's when my brother decided to interfere. It was just after dinner on Saturday. I had just gotten home from picking up our rings. My mood couldn't have been better and I suspect my smile could be seen two blocks away. But being pretty tired I just intended to watch one of my favorite shows on TV, (Perry Mason), and that was when my brother made the first big wave.

We had just been talking about my aunt and uncle (Frances and Joe) coming the next day when my brother said: "Rocco wasn't here most of the day the last time they were here and I can't see why he should be allowed to miss their visit this time."

I wasn't too worried since my arrangement had already been made but then I looked at my Dad's expression and got worried. My brother hadn't been there either but I guess that didn't matter.

I was worried with cause. Because my Dad then said: "I seem to remember that." And he looked at me: "I'm wondering just why is it that you are never here any more. I think you need to show more respect to this family. I think you should be here."

I looked at Mom for some support since she had told me I could be at Tim's birthday party tomorrow. But she said nothing. "But Dad, I already had plans to be at Tim's birthday party tomorrow. And Mom already said it was OK. And Tim's really looking forward to me being there." But looking at Dad's expression, I didn't hold out much hope. And Carl was grinning like my problems made him happy.

Dad looked at me and said: "I expect you to be here tomorrow when they arrive, and I'll take no excuses."

I tried to argue but got nowhere. Damn! Missing Tim's party was going to really hurt.

When it was just Mom and me left I tried again to reason with her. "Mom, this isn't fair. That party was planned a couple weeks ago, and it's really important to Tim, and I promised I'd be there. And . . ."

I didn't get to say anymore. My Mom just said that my father wants me here and so I had to be.

"How about just an hour or so? No one will even miss me." That appeal didn't work either. And then I remembered my appointment with Pastor Barrowes right before lunch.

"Well when are they getting here?"

"Probably about 11 o'clock and you father wants you here when they arrive."

Now I started getting desperate. I didn't want to cancel everything, and I figured maybe I could sneak away for at least a few minutes to at least say Happy Birthday to Tim and explain things. "Mom, I have an appointment to see the pastor tomorrow right about that time. I really don't want to miss it."

Now that surprised her. I didn't quite lie; I just didn't mention it wasn't the pastor at our Church. She hesitated a moment and then asked: "What in the world would you need to see the pastor about? And why Sunday morning?"

"You know how I've been having questions concerning religion and everything, and I called him and it was arranged for that time since he said it was convenient for him then. He set the time and date. It never occurred to me that I couldn't go." Sorry Jade, but they weren't complete lies. In fact they were the literal truth. Just not the entire truth.

Now my Mom was in a quandary. She didn't think it would be right to make me conceal the appointment. "I'll have to see what your father says."

We went into the living room and after some words, with my Dad not being too happy, it was eventually agreed that I'd keep the appointment. I was hoping to stretch things to make at least a few minutes of Tim's party as well.

And then my brother tried to make more waves: "How come you have to see a priest? You do something really bad this time?"

Mom tried to be peacemaker and finally told Carl not to pry.

But he added: "This seems awfully convenient. I don't think there's any appointment. Rocco's just making it up."

I looked at him and pulled out a paper from my pocket. "OK, here's the number for the pastor. How about you calling and finding out yourself?" I'm glad he didn't take me up on the bluff.

I finally had permission. It wasn't a total loss. But I was pretty mad at my brother. Why did he have to start all the problem to begin with?

The next morning I left a little earlier than usual. It was pretty icy so I didn't take my bike as I sometimes do. And this time I decided to skip the pretense of going to Mass to have more time with Jade and Tim that morning. When I explained to Tim that I was only able to be at his party for a very short while he was disappointed but finally let me off the hook when Jade and I gave him one of his presents early. It was a card with money inside for tickets and a promise of us taking him and a friend of his to the amusement park some day the coming summer.

Tim said: "Billy will be really jumping up and down over this. We were just talking about some of the new rides going in at Willow Grove last week." Etc. Etc. (It was Tim doing the jumping now). There was one happy boy. And so were Jade and I. I told Tim that after our appointment at the church, we would come straight home, and get the party started. I figured I could stretch maybe another 15 or 20 minutes.

About twenty minutes after the service, Jade and I were alone in the Pastor's house drinking tea. (Well, we had to be polite).

We got to the parsonage and were invited in. The pastor was easy to talk to and we again got to the subject of us getting married.

"I still think you two are entirely too young to be able to understand yourselves enough to make this kind of commitment." The same argument.

Jade answered: "Look, I'm almost 18 and I know I want to spend the rest of my life with Rocco. We love each other, and there's more. We know more is needed than being in love to make a marriage work. We're both mature enough to understand that. We are committed to this."

I finished for him. "What Jade says is true. We are definitely committed. And we believe we will make it together. And he's right, it's more than us just being in love, and it's more than us being just being best friends. We also love each other."

The pastor looked at Jade and me, and finally asked: "Rocco, just what do you mean when you say you love each other?"

"Well, it's hard to put in words, but we both want the best for the other, and we're both determined to do all the hard stuff and what sacrifices we have to make, to do this. That's close to what I mean. And I know Jade will do everything he can just like me."

And I was thinking the sex wasn't too bad either. But I didn't see the need to bring that up.

After a bit more conversation the pastor said: "All right. I can see you two are determined. I will agree to perform the service for you two but only after you are 17, Rocco."

I was elated and disappointed at the same time. He agreed but we would have to wait another 5 months. Jade and I looked at each other. It was Jade who finally said: "Well, we can now make plans."

I just hugged him. A few moments later we heard a sort of throat clearing and we then got back to ironing out some details. The wedding was arranged for the Saturday, September 24th, three days after my 17th birthday. We showed the pastor we already had our rings. He was quite surprised at the one made for Jade and had to examine it. "Well, I would never have thought. And I can see that no matter what I had said, you would have found someway to marry anyway. Well, I'll be happy to officiate. Please let me know who you expect to be there." And then he looked at me. "And Rocco, I know it pains you that you have difficulty with your parents over this, but please remember it's really difficult for someone to overcome what they've been taught their entire lives. And if you wish me to speak with either your mother or father, I'd be happy to do so."

I thought that would be like asking Shang Kai Chek to listen to Mao Tse Tung.

We talked some more about things in general, and about the wedding a bit more and then Jade and I hurried to his house. Tim was given a number of presents from the Websters and also from his friend Billy. The one from Billy was pretty obvious from the shape. It was a record album and I was a bit surprised to see it was the latest album by Connie Francis. I guess she was one of the popular singers today but I never thought it would be one of Tim's choices. I was there for about 20 minutes of the party and then left for home.

The afternoon was boring as these things usually were. My cousins were not very friendly and we never did get along. At least not with me. We just had so little in common in spite of two of them being near my age. All they could talk about was sports and girls and getting away with things at school, and how they were forming some kind of club so they could rule their neighborhood. It sounded more like a gang to me. I spent much of the afternoon upstairs in my room day dreaming about this summer, maybe getting a job with my uncle, and about my upcoming wedding. I was pretty happy in spite of the atmosphere at home. Dinner was a big affair and I helped my Mom with it. She seemed surprised but I couldn't figure out just why. I sort of liked cooking I was finding out, even if I could only do a few special dishes yet. (I had made them for Jade).

It was in my room that evening that Carl did his best to destroy my happiness.

He said as I was getting ready for bed. "You've been up to something I can tell. And when I find out I bet you'll be in trouble again. And I called the rectory. You didn't have any meeting with our pastor. And when you left the house this morning you went the opposite direction of church. I was watching."

I suddenly froze. Shit! And I wondered just why was he watching? I decided to brazen it out and actually hope he was lying. "Bullshit. So I went to Jade's house before church. I do that all the time. Who cares? And I know you didn't call the rectory. I would have known since I was there."

"Well, I don't think you even went to church at all. I went to that Mass and I didn't see you there, nor did I see you come back."

I was about to panic but held on: "I don't care what you think. There's thousands of people there and six exits. I took the one toward the rectory. And I don't care who you tell what. It just doesn't matter. You can't blackmail me anymore. Those days are over. And how come you're trying to get me in trouble anyway? Do you just enjoy hurting people?" I was actually getting more angry now than scared.

"Well, I know you didn't go to church. If you went to Jade's house as you said, you couldn't get back in time. And I think that Mom and Dad should know. You'll probably be grounded for months this time."

"It was easy to be on time since Mr. Webster drove me. And you might go to church, but it doesn't seem to do you any good. You don't know the first thing about being a Christian." By this time I had decided to just call his bluff. "If you're so determined, how about just going downstairs right now and saying something. Mom and Dad are still up. Then tomorrow we can call Father Dalton and just prove you're only trying to cause trouble."

I never did understand why he didn't do just that. Maybe there was no pleasure in it since I didn't seem worried about stopping him. He didn't realize I was shaking so much.

The next day at school, Jade and I talked about the problem my brother was trying to cause, and we decided that the best we could do was just bluff it out.

"I don't see how Carl can really be sure, and he sure can't prove anything."

And the first class that Monday, we discovered we had a new student. His name was Howard Burns, and he was from Arkansas. I wondered if he were a football player. He looked like at least 180 pounds -- even bigger than Jade. Later in Religion class he was put in a seat right behind Jade. The teacher there had everyone sit in alphabetical order. It was the only class Jade and I didn't sit next to each other. Most the teachers let us sit where we wanted, as long as we didn't keep changing seats.

And it was in Religion Class where I almost got myself killed. Or just after class. There is a thin cable that goes from the top part of each of Jade's hooks and back over his arms. It's what helps him open the gripping portion of what he calls his pincers. (And they can really pinch, as he let me know on occasion). Well these cables are pretty obvious under his shirt and even his jacket. All during class, the new kid kept pulling on these cables and I could see Jade getting pretty annoyed. And I was getting furious. He was sneaky enough, the teacher never caught on, even when Jade jumped a couple times. Jade had a lot more patience than me. By this time I would have swung back one of those hooks and clobbered him. I can't really say he didn't like confrontations. That wasn't really the reason he didn't react much to things like this. It's more that he's just reluctant to make something bigger than it needs be, and also he has just got into a habit of suffering through things he don't see as important enough. But I was seething. And I even think a few other kids in class weren't too happy about Howard Burns doing this to Jade either. Maybe I could get their help in stopping it.

But things blew up just outside of class. Jade confronted this kid Howard and told him to either stop or he would report him. The kid laughed and then grabbed Jade's one hook and wrenched his arm downward. Jade yelled. That was one thing that really hurt his arm. I saw red. I was just about to get myself suspended for kicking someone in the balls, and maybe even killed, when Brad Bloxham, a big lineman on the football team who rescued me once before, grabbed the new kid's jacket and shirt in the front, and literally lifted him off the floor and pushed him against the lockers lining the wall. "Jade's my friend. Are you starting to understand just what that means?" Wow, I never realized how strong Brad was. He even pulled the kid away from the wall once and shoved him back again for emphasis. The kid mumbled something. I wondered for a second just why Brad had come to Jade's aid since we really hardly talked to each other and I know he and Jade really never did anything together. Maybe he just hated bullying. And I was grateful.

When he dropped this Howard guy, he turned and told Jade pretty loudly to let him know if the new kid caused him any more trouble. I could have hugged Brad right on the spot. In fact I even had tears in my eyes I was so emotional about his helping us like that. There were a lot of other comments by some of the other kids in class who also stood up for Jade. I was amazed since again we really didn't socialize with them that much. Just then the teacher left the room and asked what the ruckus was all about. Someone said Howard tripped and a few kids laughed. Howard, red faced, just left.

I asked Jade if he was OK, and he said his arm just hurt a bit but would be OK. Brad heard this and came over to us and said: "Damn, that just pisses me off so bad." He turned to Jade. "I also heard him calling you a nigger. And that also pisses me off. I don't understand the thinking that makes someone do those things."

Holy smoke! Don't tell me there's someone else that thinks like me. I thanked our rescuer and for the first time actually got to know a little about him. "How about eating with Jade and me instead of all the football jocks for once. Maybe we can get to know each other a bit more."

Brad laughed. "So that's how you guys see me? You know I have almost a 90 average. Just because I'm built, don't mean I can't think. Now just who is stereotyping?"

I was a bit embarrassed. And how many kids used words like stereotype in a regular conversation? We didn't talk more that day after all, but agreed to do so in some day in the future.

When Jade was gripping his handled mug at lunch I could see something was wrong. "Damn Jade, your arm IS hurt." (God, please. How about me giving him just one of my hands? I even fantasized about that on occasion. So I'm not logical ALL the time).

After lunch I talked Jade into letting me see if his arm was really hurt. It must have been pretty bad because he eventually let me talk him into seeing the school nurse. (I avoided her as much as possible since the ambulance incident).

When we got to the nurse's office all we saw was some guy. Maybe this guy was a doctor. He had on a white coat like they sometimes wore in a hospital.

"Jade needs to see the nurse; do you know when she'll be back?"

"Jade was already taking off his sports coat, when the guy said: "I'm filling in while Mrs. Johnson is gone. My name is Gerald and I'm the nurse." He was smiling and I instantly liked him. But a guy nurse!?

Jade saw my expression and laughed. Later Jade mentioned about us talking about stereotypes.

The guy had on pretty thick glasses and I wondered if he could read the gauge as he took Jade's blood pressure. Jade had since taken off his hooks and was down to his undershirt. The nurse asked how it his arm got hurt and I told him as Jade was hesitant. I could see the guy's muscles in his jaw tighten. He was pretty mad also about the whole thing. Jade's arm hurt enough that he didn't put back on his hooks. I stuffed both of them in my small pack and had to carry my books. Not much more room and I had two hooks sticking out the top. The other kids looked at us strange with me walking down the corridor like that. I think Jade and I were the only ones even with these small back packs, but they were sure handy. Jade and I had made them the year before after the one his Mama had made started falling apart.

Back when we were finishing up I got the nerve to ask the guy nurse about how come he was a nurse.

He smiled. "Well, I was in med-school but I got my eyes hurt and couldn't do all the reading. And I was only in med-school anyway because my father was a doctor. I decided the easiest thing was to just finish up a nursing degree. I like it. Even if I was only one of two guys in the entire nursing curriculum."

"There was someone else!?" I asked. I was just working my foot further into my mouth. We finished the paper work and as we were walking out he said: "Rocco and Jade, try to keep out of trouble."

I was walking down the corridor I realized something: "Hey Jade, he knew my name."

"So? Maybe you're so infamous, everyone around here knows it!" Jade was smirking. (A definite smirk. Or a smile with attitude, as Jade once remarked).

"But he said he was just filling in here. How could he know me?" And then I suddenly remembered. "Oh my God! I know him now! He worked part time in the drugstore up the block from us. I've been in there a million times."

Jade wondered about my excitement: "You all excited because for once in your life you took enough notice to actually remember someone?"

"Funny! No, it's that he was in the news big time a couple years ago. Remember the robbery? It was on TV and all!"

"No, I don't."

"Well, he was in the store when a couple guys with water pistols came in to rob the store."

"Not very scary."

"This time it was. They squirted the guy in the face and there was acid in the pistols. One of the reasons why they're outlawed in the city. Nobody could understand just why they squirted him. He had already given him all the money in the till. How can people just hurt other people for the hell of it?"

Jade realized how serious it was. "Oh shit. No wonder he's wearing those thick glasses. Damn. Thank God he wasn't blinded!"

"Well, looks like he's doing OK now. But just the thought gives me the creeps."

Jade was excused from school the rest of the day. And I told him I'd meet him at home with his hooks. I carried them all the rest of the day and couldn't believe how heavy they got. No wonder Jade's shoulder muscles were so strong. And I smiled as I remembered all the times he hugged me so tight with those same muscles.

That was several days ago. And as I said, I was in bed thinking about recent events. Fortunately it was Jade's love for me that I felt so secure in. And thoughts of Jade, and our future together that put the smile in my heart as I drifted off to sleep.

The next couple weeks went like normal. Well not really normal, but no problems. One thing we did do was get about 20 wedding invitations printed up. Maybe we were getting ahead of ourselves but we couldn't resist.

And I even won a cross country race. (We won't mention the fact that our two best runners were out with the flue that was going around and that we were running against the two weakest schools in the league). I talked about it the next day. Jade said I talked about it constantly for a week but then he exaggerates a lot.

We only had one TV to fix during that time, and in school, a whole slew of tests.

Jade's birthday came and went and we agreed that the rings were both our birthday presents to each other including mine next September. I still got him a couple shirts. He goes thought them fast because the cables and so on rubs holes so fast. I even sewed on patches inside to help out.

Mrs. Webster, when she saw what I had done, was a bit surprised. "Land sakes! (Whatever that meant). Well, I do declare! And what fine sewing. You can never tell from the outside. Who taught you to sew?"

I was a bit embarrassed. "No one. My Mom went to my cousin's wedding last Fall, and she got sick just after she bought the pattern and material for a fancy dress. I looked at the thing and it seemed simple. To make the dress I mean. Just follow directions. I even enjoyed doing it."

"I told you my White-boy was weird!" He was smiling. I hadn't realized `til then that Mrs. Webster knew that he called me that. She didn't even bat an eye. I looked at Jade and smiled. I'm pretty sure he got the message.

Our wedding invitations were done and we picked them up. They were very traditional -- or untraditional depending how you thought about the whole thing.

"So when do we send them out?" I was in Jade's room that night. We still had almost five months.

Jade smiled and answered: "I think I'm almost as impatient as you are. I was thinking of sending them right away to Consuelo, Dan, Allen, Mrs. Goldstein, Twain, Dr. and Mrs. Krazenski, although I'm not sure if Mrs. Krazenski would really come. And of course Mr. and Mrs. Webster, and Tim."

"Well, how about Cher and BJ? Do you think BJ knows about us? I know Tim said he hasn't said anything to even him, but who knows what he's suspected. He's been around here enough while I was here."

"I don't know about BJ. I guess we could always ask Mrs. W. And as for Cher, I think we should just leave that up to the doctor and Mrs. Krazenski. How about your family and friends?"

I was avoiding that subject. "I wish my Mom would come and not make a big blow-up about everything. I'm not sure if I could tell her. I will have to think about it some more. But I bet Dolores will want to come. The only other people I was thinking about was Frank Moore, and just possibly Jimmy. Of course if I told Jimmy, I don't know how he'd react. One thing for sure he'd probably tell his Dad and I don't know what would happen then. It's even possible that Mr. Alexander would tell my parents thinking that was the right thing to do. So now I'm thinking I can't tell Jimmy after all."

Jade hugged me tight knowing I was hurting. I was getting tears in my eyes again. He knew just how I felt. "Look at the bright side White-boy. I'll be there!"

I swatted him and that, in a convoluted way, led to us naked in his bed. I couldn't get enough of his beautiful perfect penis. Though I couldn't get much in my mouth. He said mine was the perfect size for him. And I was really turned on by his smell, and color, and everything. I sometimes tried to hold off to time things better but he was almost always too aggressive. I seemed to eventually just let him direct things. Of course I made sure that he caught up. And by this time I was so turned on again, I frequently came a second time.

We sometimes talked about experimenting even more but we still were a bit worried about just what was really safe to do. I was almost to the point where I would let Jade and I go talk to Dr. Krazenski. He HAD invited us to do this a while back. Or maybe we could ask Allen and Dan. But I always eventually lose my nerve. It seemed too personal.

And while we were just lying there, of course Tim got home and was knocking on our door. (Jade's door). Jade actually laughed. "Tim has his timing down pretty well." He shouted for Tim that we'd see him in his room in a few minutes, and as it turned out Tim was the very first to get an invitation to our wedding. I realized that I felt pretty good about that.

Tim took envelope and asked: "What's this? It looks pretty fancy."

"Well, open it smart-butt." (My sometimes name for him). I was now impatient to see his reaction. He opened the unsealed envelope and pulled out the invitation. He sat on his chair reading it -- a couple times. And then looked up puzzled. "I don't understand. You always said you wanted to be together with each other."

Now it was our turn to be puzzled. "Well that's why we're getting married." Jade said.

Tim still looked a bit confused. "But that's just what I asked about. How come you guys are getting married? I thought you didn't like girls. And it don't even say here, who to!"

We both looked at each other and it was all I could do to not laugh. Jade was better in control. He said: "You misunderstand Tim, Rocco and I are getting married to each other. And we wanted you to come to our wedding."

And it took us quite a few minutes to convince him that yes, two boys CAN marry each other.

"Wow, this is wild! Wait `til I tell Billy!"

Now I got instantly worried. "Whoa, hold on there. We really don't think you should tell Billy. You know how people can be about this stuff. We can't afford other people finding out about us. We talked about this before."

"Oh, that's OK. Billy and I talked all about you guys. He don't mind. And this will blow him away!"

I looked up at Jade. "Jade, is the whole world going to know soon? To use you favorite expression -- this is getting too complicated."

Jade and I talked to Tim some more. We had asked him never to tell anyone and he promised. "But Billy don't count. We tell each other everything. He won't tell. I made him promise."

Tim sat there so innocent that neither Jade or I could rebuke him any further. I looked at Jade and smiled saying: "Well, I guess since Billy promised." What else could we do at this point anyway?

Then we heard Mrs. Webster come in the front door with her shopping. She always walked down to the market with this big wheeled basket. And it was always overflowing when she pulled it home. Mr. Webster said he stopped offering to drive her years ago.

"Lord knows I needs the exercise." She would always say.

We ran down behind Tim and helped put the things away. Tim started to yell about our wedding but I clamped my hand over his mouth and Jade said at the same time WE wanted to do the telling. Mrs. Webster looked at us and knew something was up. "I guess there is some news that I will be hearin' about, so why don't we just hurry with these groceries and I'll get out those cookies I done baked today, and we can sit down proper." Tim's eyes lit up on hearing about the cookies. But before we barely got any further, both BJ and Billy walked in the back door. Or more accurately blew in from the back door. They both seemed to be close to orbit speed when they zoomed by.

I looked at Jade and ESP'd "Now what?"

Five minutes we were all sitting at the table and I didn't stop Jade when he handed Mrs. Webster one of the invitations. I guess we would now find out just what BJ knew.

Mrs. Webster opened the envelope and for once was quiet. She must have read it a couple times. All she said was: "My Lord in heaven! But is this actually possible?"

Jade answered: "As you can see, Pastor Barrowes will officiate. And Rocco and I believe God will bless our wedding."

At this BJ looked up with a big question mark on his face. (Billy was busy eating his third home-made butter cookie). "Holy shit Jade, you getting married? How come you never said anything? And damn that must have been the fastest romance in the world. I never even seen you with a girl, except that Consuelo a couple times. Is she the girl?"

By this time all kinds of things were happening. Mrs. Webster had Jade smothered in a hug and she was saying something I didn't quite catch. Meanwhile Billy finally heard the word wedding and looked up and asked Tim what was going on. Tim was trying to answer but was laughing too much, and also had a mouth full of cookie. A few seconds later I was pulled up and Mrs. Webster was crushing us both. She even started crying by now. (Why couldn't my own Mom react like this)? Tim suddenly got serious and said to Billy: "Jade's marrying Rocco. Ain't that weird!"

Billy looked just as confused as Tim did a while back. "But boys can't marry boys!"

BJ by this time finally realized just what was going on. "Holy fucking shit! You're a pair of god-dammed queers!"

The room came to a stop. I never saw Mrs. Webster react that way before. She whirled around and gave BJ a good swat across his shoulder. And not a light one. BJ was a bit stunned, not by the blow itself, but just because it was given. He even looked a bit frightened. Mrs. Webster said: "I ought to wash out your mouth. You knows I don't hold with that kind of talk. And you apologize to your brother and Rocco this instant."

And he did. But still looked a bit shocked. By this time Mrs. Webster asked Tim and Billy to play in the other room, she needed to have a "talk" with her other boys.

"Sit down boy and let me tell you a few things you seems not to have learned." We sat down again and Mrs. Webster went on. "You knows that my own boy Bobby was just like Jade and Rocco, and I was always sorry I'd caused him to move out. I've never forgiven myself. And nobody is going to call my Bobby a queer. It's just the way he was and mind you I won't have bad talk about him in front of me. You knows that already."

BJ sort of mumbled he was sorry. But he kept staring at me for some reason.

"And further, you know Jade and Rocco here well by now and you're all good friends. Why should it be any different now?"

BJ started to say a few different things, but with Mrs. Webster staring hard at him he stopped. "But I don't understand. How could you just let Jade be that way? It ain't right." And he looked at me as if to say it must have been my fault.

It was Jade that answered. "Look BJ, we all been good friends all this time. And you know Rocco's a good guy. But we ARE this way. There's no changing the way we are. And no matter what you think about us, believe me when I say Rocco and I love each other and we intend to live our lives together. You're just gonna to have to accept that as a fact."

BJ and all of us talked some more. Jade and I tried our best to explain everything. He finally settled down but I wasn't too sure if he would ever like the idea of what we were. Finally Jade said: "BJ, this is just how things are. You will have to decide yourself if we are to be friends anymore. I hope so. . . . And you're invited to our wedding."

I had to get home, and I think BJ still stayed there for dinner. I will have to ask Jade how Mr. Webster reacted to our wedding plans since he wasn't home yet when I left. I was a bit sad that BJ reacted so badly. I really got to like him. In fact I felt he was like me in a lot of ways. And then I got all emotional about thinking of my own Mom. I really wanted her at my wedding so much but I was so scared she wouldn't ever accept Jade and me being together.

And I guess I had not completely realized how difficult it was for others to believe two boys can really get married. I was so used to the idea I forgot just how strange the idea was at first. And Dolores freaked out. I was so disappointed. I even thought she was going to tell Mom and Dad for a while there just to stop it.

"But this is just crazy! First of all boys can't actually get married. You have to realize that. And I was always hoping you would finally get over this thing with Jade. But now you're just making everything worse. It's bad enough . . ." And she stopped.

"Dolores, how can I make you understand? Jade and I love each other. And we ARE getting married."

"But it's WRONG!"

"For us it's NOT wrong! YOU'RE wrong! You have to understand. Jade and I don't believe our living together this way is wrong. In fact just the opposite. I don't care what the Church says. God made us this way and we both believe God then means for us to live this way. I don't care if whole world says different, they can't change our minds. And it don't matter what you or Mom or Dad believe. WE believe that we are doing what is right!"

"But you aren't taking into account what this will do to them! They will never let you do this! You know that."

"I know Dad probably won't ever accept me and Jade being together. He doesn't even accept me now. But I was hoping that eventually Mom would."

"Maybe we should let Mom know so we can help you. See a doctor or something. You're sick and you need to get help."

I started crying in frustration. I really had thought Dolores was used to the idea by now and could actually support us. "Dolores. Please! Being gay can't be cured anymore than being left handed can be cured. It's the way God made us. Why can't you understand?"

She argued a bit more then said: "And anyway, nobody's going to marry you! That's crazy."

I handed her the invitation. After reading it she asked: "Who's this Reverend Barrowes? You mean you're not getting married Catholic?"

I had stopped crying. "Now who's not making sense? You said we can't get married, and now you get all worried we're not doing it with a priest. Haven't you understood a thing I've said? I don't believe a lot of what the Catholic Church teaches. Jade and I have been going to the Holmesburg Unitarian Church for a half year now. They accept us the way we are."

Dolores was a bit shaken by this. And I understood how she was thinking. Being Catholic means being programmed to believe that anything else is wrong. "You mean you haven't been going to Church?"

"I just said I was. But not to St. Bernard's."

Dolores seemed like she couldn't quite believe me. "But that's a sin."

"How can something be a sin if you don't believe it's wrong?"

"But everything you're doing is wrong. How can you do this?"

"How about hearing what I'm saying. How can I NOT do this? Jade and I love each other and we're getting married. And neither of us believes it's wrong."

Dolores took a lot of convincing but finally believed me when I said I was getting married. And it took me a lot more to convince her not to tell Mom or Dad. And she only agreed to that because she didn't want as she put it "for the whole family to explode." By the time we were done talking I was so exhausted I could barely think.

I finally asked her: "Will you be coming to my wedding in September?"

"I can't. It's wrong."

"Will you be inviting me to YOUR wedding? You expect me to be there?" She didn't answer. I started crying again. "I hope someday you can understand." But for the time being I gave up in total frustration.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello