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

This is the end of Part III. There may be a short delay before this story is resumed. Part IV needs some revision and there are a few portions not yet written. But it will definitely be continued.

PART III -- Confrontation and Resolve

Chapter 84a -- School, Work, and Plans (and Tears)

The next day Rocco wasn't at school. And he hadn't called. I was worried. Did his family or parents somehow find out about us? I had all these horrible thoughts running unchecked through my brain. School work was a total loss. At lunch time I called his house, and his Mom answered.

I tried not to sound too upset. "Mrs. Papariello, I was just concerned since Rocco wasn't in school. Is he alright?"

"He's much better. He said he was feeling bad this morning and he sure looked like he didn't sleep most the night. He's here now. Want to talk to him?"

I did. And I did. Talk to Rocco that is. I was really relieved to find that the world hadn't left its orbit. But I was afraid to ask him anything his Mom might overhear. I said I'd be over after school for a short time.

How can we be so happy one moment and so miserable the next? OK, I do know why. I guess the real question should be how come it has to be this way? By the time I got to his house, he was up and dressed, and apparently OK. Physically. But not doing so great emotionally. He related the gist of his conversation with his sister from the previous night.

Rocco was pretty disconsolate. "I thought my sister could be an ally, but she couldn't accept us getting married, or even being together. And she won't be at our wedding. The only reason she isn't telling my parents is that she believes it would totally destroy our family. She's not too happy being in that situation either. I really misjudged her."

By the time he was done he was crying. What could I say? I just held him tight. I said something about at least us having each other.

"Well, at least it wasn't a disaster. I'm really not too disposed to find out about my Mom now. But I was thinking of maybe a middle of the road test."

I almost started to laugh. Now this was definitely my White-boy. He was thinking of something. "OK I'll bite. What's this middle of the road test?"

"Well, maybe I could somehow finagle my Mom into meeting Dan and Allen and introduce them as being married. And see what her reaction is. Or if that's not possible, maybe just somehow making it known to her that these two people I know are actually married."

I tried to find some flaw but couldn't. "But have you figured a possible way they could meet your Mom?"

Rocco had stopped crying and put his brain to work. "Actually yes, but it would require the help of Consuelo, Allan, and Dan. But I probably won't even try it for a good while yet. I'd like to get myself back to some degree of equanimity before I even think of trying it."

"Equanimity hah? How about repose or composure?" But Rocco wasn't able to respond to my feeble attempt at humor. I was wondering if Rocco had any idea of the possible outcome. And I asked him.

He replied: "I really suspect her reaction won't be very good. But I can't think of anything else. And as much as I'd like her at my wedding, I will not put ourselves into jeopardy if I think that is what will happen."

I then started reiterating what we had talked about at dinner yesterday at my house.

"Well, as suspected, Mr. Webster expressed the opinion that he couldn't see how our marriage could be real. But he wouldn't interfere. And I suspect he will even come if Mrs. W asked him to. He'd do anything for her."

Rocco said that was about what he expected. "But how about BJ?"

"Well, he still thought there was something really wrong with us since we are homosexuals. He did stop using the word queer with Mrs. W staring him down. But he was willing to try to get along with us. That was a far as he was willing to go."

"Well, at least that's something."

"I only think he's doing that because of Mrs. W."

We rehashed the reactions of some people to our wedding plans a little bit more, and then we even got some assignments done. We hoped to finish them in school tomorrow.

I made sure I left before Rocco's Dad got home from work. When I got home, Tim and Billy were in his room playing the record player at ear splitting levels again. After getting them to turn down the volume I realized that they were playing the new Connie Francis album that Billy gave Tim at his birthday party. The song now playing was Where the Boys Are. I thought it was pretty good. And I was remembering that Rocco didn't care for Connie Francis that much, even if she had a pretty good voice. I told Tim he had to make sure his homework get finished. As I got to my room I was thinking about the song they were playing, and I was trying to remember if Rocco had ever cared much for ANY female singer. His taste in music was pretty restricted. Maybe I will ask him about it. He kept trying to get me to listen to classical, but I was still generally resisting.

Although I did listen to the classical station, WFLN, the other night to see why Rocco liked it so much. I guess it was listen-to-able. One thing I hadn't previously paid much attention to was that some of the theme music for movies and shows is taken from classical. And I liked some of that. Rocco would say there was hope for me yet.

Well, I went to my desk and started on a paper we had to write for Civics and Political History. A few days ago Rocco suggested I write about John Brown. I was smiling, remembering how Rocco got me to write on this topic.

"John Brown? Wasn't there a song written about that guy?" I asked.

"Song?" Rocco was geniunely puzzled.

"Yeah. It recently made number one for couple weeks." And I started singing the refrain from Big Bad John.

Of course I got the expected reaction from Rocco. "NO! How can a colored boy NOT know about John Brown? You know, Harper's Ferry, slave uprising, etc?"

Well, I did, but I had to admit that I knew very few of the details. I started to reply: "I's jus' a dum' nigger. I ain't know. . ." That's all I finished before Rocco plowed into me. And then he howled. He hit his funny bone pretty hard on the edge of my hook. "Damn Jade, those things should be declared lethal weapons. And I told you I hate your `dumb nigger' act."

But the result was what I wanted -- Rocco and I rolling around on my bed. And for once it was he that was the aggressor. He pulled my shirt off and then got off my hooks. He then pulled my undershirt off. And started licking a few places that really turns me on. Eventually the exposed portions weren't enough. He pulled the rest of my clothes off and literally attacked. Rocco must have been paying good attention in the past. He unerringly went to those areas that drove me wild. When he was finished (actually I should say when I was finished), he looked at me smiling. "How was that?"

I was still recovering so my answer was not especially coherent. But I showed him in actions just how happy I was with his effort. Now I attacked. He really likes it when I deliberately pin him down so he couldn't move much. And since I outweigh him now by almost a hundred pounds, it wasn't too difficult.

After we were finally finished, we took a bath together and that started things all over again, but a bit slower. All in all, a great afternoon. I was really thankful we had the house to ourselves.

Oh yeah, I never did get much of a start on my paper that night. But I hope to get a lot done on it today. I was still taking notes from a couple books I had from the library when Tim, and his friend Billy, invaded my room.

Tim said: "Hey Jade, Mrs. W said since she won't be here `til dinner time, you can check my homework."

It had taken quite a few months, but Tim was now doing his homework without strenuous effort on our parts. It really helped that Billy was a reasonably serious student. How they hooked up is beyond me. Billy was raised in the typical Baptist tradition, and was a well behaved kid. Tim was the classroom terror, and until recently, had no discipline at home. One thing that they both reveled in was "exploring." And I guess that was one thing that Rocco and I had (and still have) in common.

Another thing I wondered about was Mrs. Webster's reaction to Billy. Mrs. Webster doted on Billy like he was her long lost son. I wondered if Billy reminded her of her own Bobby. But I never had the nerve to ask her. I remembered the picture in the hallway that showed Bobby when he was more Billy's age and gave it a good look. They looked somewhat similar but not THAT close. Maybe it was more his manner or personality.

So anyway I was dragged back to Tim's room. He had the model of the Mercury capsule in prominent display right next to the "Wilt the Stilt" basketball. And now covering half the walls were photos Tim had rescued from old calendars and magazines of the spectacular scenery of nature's best. Rocco and I have frequently talked about visiting many of these places especially Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. And I thought it strange, there was almost no one else in my neighborhood I'd ever seen very interested in these far off places. Maybe because of economics, their dreams were more modest. Come to think of it, my interest in these places were fueled by Rocco's dreams and apparent wanderlust.

Well, as I said, I was dragged into Tim's room, and looked through his completed assignments. All the while I felt two holes being bored through me. Billy was unabashedly looking at me as if I were some new form of life. After glancing at Billy several times, Tim started laughing. What is that all about? I finally asked: "What's going on here?"

Tim and Billy looked at each other and it was Tim who answered: "Billy wants to know how come you want to like boys since everyone says that's so bad and the preacher in his church says you'll go ta hell?"

I was a bit surprised. I took a moment trying to figure how to answer him. "Billy, when did you decide to write left handed instead of with your right hand?"

Billy answered without hesitation: "That's a stupid question. I'm just left handed, that's all."

"But why not decide to be right handed?"

He looked a bit puzzled. "But I can't because I'm left handed."

"Well, it's the same thing for me and my boyfriend. We never decided to be the way we are. We just found out we like boys and not girls. It's just the way we're made."

"But it's wrong! Everybody says so."

"Not everybody believes it wrong. And Rocco and I love each other. And we believe we are NOT doing anything wrong. Do you think we're allowed to have our own beliefs?"

Billy now seemed to be thinking. "Well, my parents say that some people don't know any better. But God tells us what to believe in the Bible. An' the Bible says it's bad."

"Billy, the Bible seems to say a lot of things. Rocco and I believe that what the Bible condemns is any sex where people hurt other people or just use sex in a bad way. Rocco and I are a couple just like your Mom and Dad are a couple, and we believe that when we have sex we are just showing how much we love each other."

Billy thought a bit and then looked at Tim. Finally he said: "Yuk! Tim and I think that's gross."

"But you wouldn't if you were gay like Rocco or me."

Billy mumbled something I couldn't make out. Then I had a thought. "How come you still play and hang around me and Rocco?"

"Well, that's different. We think you guys are cool. And you help us a lot, especially Tim. And Tim likes you guys a lot."

"Well thanks. I'd like you just to do one thing. As you grow up, please don't be so fast to judge other people until you really understand about them."

Billy looked a bit unsure but answered: "Well, OK."

"I was wondering also about another thing. Do you talk to other people about Rocco and me?"

"No, Tim asked me not to. And I want to keep being friends with Tim, and if my Mom or Dad finds out about you they'd not let me come here no more."

Well, I thought, nothing like a bit of healthy self interest. But his answer got me thinking about something else. "And why wouldn't they let you come here anymore?"

Billy looked embarrassed and didn't answer. Tim looked at him and then me. "Jade, Billy's Mom thinks gay men want to do sex stuff with boys. Billy's too scared to say it."

Unfortunately too many people think that we were sick and therefore we have to be kept from being around other boys. Rocco said that that counseling thing Fr. Hearn gave him also said we shouldn't be allowed to be around boys. Or be teachers or coaches. I was getting angry all over again thinking about it. "Well Billy, your Mom's wrong. You think your Dad wants to do sex stuff with all the girls he sees?"

Billy shouted: "Hell no. Dad's a great guy. That's sick!" He was a bit angry now.

"Well, the same with Rocco and me. We only want to be with each other. Besides, you don't seem to believe it either. You don't appear too worried being near me or Rocco."

Billy now seemed to be confused. He whispered something to Tim who smiled. "Billy said . . ."

That's all the further he got. Billy attacked Tim and screamed that he can't tell what he said to him. Tim started yelling it again, and Billy renewed the attack. "I give, I give!" Tim finally yelled. Billy stopped and Tim finally said: "I wasn't really goin' to say it anyway. I promise!"

The next day, Rocco and I talked about the conversation Billy, Tim and I had. Rocco eventually remarked: "You know Consuelo said it a while ago. It's a paradox. People won't start thinking about us differently until they get to know people like us and that we're just regular people like they are. But we can't afford the way most people react to us by letting everyone know we're gay."

Rocco and I started then talking about all the great pictures on Tim's walls. Rocco said: "I really love all the traveling we've done during our vacations. We're supposed to go to Canada this summer. Mom and Dad were talking about going to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec and to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The National Parks up there only charge 50 cents a night to camp. And their campgrounds are usually a lot nicer than those in our National Parks. We're going to the Bay of Fundy where there are the highest tides in the world." Rocco explained all about the Tidal Bore up the Monkton River and the reversing falls in St. Johns.

I was fascinated. I really wished I could go with him. I then asked what he'd do if we got jobs with his Uncle Bill. I knew how very much Rocco had always looked forward to his summer vacations with his family. Rocco looked sad for a moment and finally said: "You're more important to me than any vacation. If it's for us, I can give up any vacation. Maybe we need to talk with my uncle. We should try to make as much money as we can get."

I felt mixed emotions. I felt so good knowing I meant that much to my White-boy. But on the other hand I didn't want him to have to give up something he valued above almost everything else. He looked at me and must have read my mind.

Rocco added: "Look Jade. When it comes to a choice between you and anything else, there's no contest. You win all the time." Rocco was smiling. "Besides, when we get rich we can go wherever we want."

And there was one other thing I was sure to keep to myself. I didn't want Rocco to realize that I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do any work because of only having hooks instead of hands. But I wanted Rocco to get a job so I went along with his plans.

Chapter 84b -- School, Work, and Plans (and Lots of Tears)

Although Jade and I finally agreed to talk with my uncle about summer jobs, we never actually did that until the next week. (We DID call two previous times but could never get my uncle). And Jade tried to keep me from realizing he was worried about not having hands and this keeping him from getting any job with a construction business. But who knows, maybe lightening will strike. And anyway, if it's only me, it's still money for both of us. I sure didn't care if I did all the work. And Jade knew this. So we finally reached my uncle from Jade's house after school on Friday, and we arranged to see him the next day. They were having a big barbecue that day for some of the people who worked for him. (As for my being there Uncle Bill and Aunt Valley just thought of it as a family visit). The weather was really warm for the beginning of May and we took the opportunity to go to the park along with Tim and Billy. We didn't really do much more than climb around on some boulders, and look for tadpoles in the shallow pools near the tracks, (and get real dirty), but we enjoyed just being around each other.

When I got home Mom was looking at me real funny. Dad was glaring. Now what? My Mom said: "Rocco, we need to talk."

That was Mom-talk for I did something I shouldn't have. Or at least she thought I shouldn't have. I started to get real worried. Especially since my father was there and I knew that it was him that wanted to do the talking. "What's up Mom? I wanted to let you know something important also. I'll be seeing Uncle Bill tomorrow to talk about getting a summer job for college money." The expression on my parents' faces told me I had just stolen their thunder. (I was wondering where that saying came from. Maybe I'll ask Allen. He seemed to know all that weird kind of thing).

"That's what we want to talk about." Mom then looked at my Dad with a worried look.

Oh shit! Now what? How could they not like me getting a job? But my Dad didn't think rationally most the time. I suddenly wondered if I had any genes from him at all, (except maybe some of his short person genes). But he was stocky, muscled, and REALLY good at sports. I wished I'd inherited more of his "super-jock" genes.

I started to get into my usual really defensive thinking mode and almost said something that would make me feel better. But the consequences wouldn't be so good. I used up a couple month's worth of will power and calmed down and made myself try to be more tactful. (Jade said that tact and myself hadn't even a nodding acquaintance).

Mom continued: "Your Dad's brother, Bill, called and said you had talked to him this evening and asked to see him about a possible summer job."

"Well, I'm looking ahead to college. I think it's just prudent to save as much as possible. Don't you think that's a good idea?"

"How come you hadn't talked to us about this first?" She looked at Dad and he sort of just nodded.

"But I talked a lot about this. In fact just the other day at dinner, when Carl talked about knowing the right people helped more than education, and I said that it was real lucky that Uncle Bill now started his own business. And that I was going to see if I could get a job this summer. We all talked about it." I put on my most innocent expression.

But now it was Dad that spoke: "But how come you didn't tell us that you were going to call your Uncle Bill yourself? You went behind our backs?"

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

"But I didn't. I TOLD you I was going to talk to him. In fact I told both of you just two days ago. So I didn't go behind your back. And I don't understand why you're angry about any of this? Don't you WANT me to help pay for college? That doesn't make sense."

Mom looked worried. She finally said: "Of course not. You've shown a lot of maturity saving what you already have."

But Dad butted in. "That's not the point here. Why didn't you tell us you were going to call your uncle?"

I was truly puzzled, but my mind was racing. I finally realized that this couldn't be the real issue. But what was? I tried to think. And suddenly realized what it had to be -- Jade! "OK, but I DID tell you I was going to call. Ask Mom."

She said: "Well, we did in fact talk about it but we said that. . ." She didn't get any further.

Dad butted in again: "We don't want you going there tomorrow alone. Your uncle called us tonight and invited us all up there for the day and you'll be going with your family."

"OK." I answered.

My Dad was surprised. I guess he expected an argument. I realized now he didn't mind ME asking for a job, but it was JADE asking for one that bothered him, but he wouldn't come out and say it. He started saying a couple different things but finally settled for: "Well it's settled then. We'll keep this thing in the family."

In other words, we will exclude Jade.

Mom finally smiled. A disaster diverted. But when she looked at me she got this slightly puzzled look. NOW what was she thinking? My Mom was smart. I knew that. She was probably wondering how come I apparently seemed to just cave in. And I expected she was now thinking what I really had in mind.

My Dad left, and Mom said we still needed to talk. "I know you too well. Your Dad doesn't understand but I do. You have something more in mind. Look, Rocco, we can't afford a big family fight."

I decided to be forthright. Why not? (Maybe Jade was a good influence). "Look Mom, you know as well as I do, this has nothing to do with me calling Uncle Bill and asking for a job. It had to do with Jade ALSO asking for a job. I know Dad doesn't like Jade and me being together so much, but I can't help if he's a bigot. I really. . ." I didn't get to finish.

"Now Rocco, you're being unfair. Your father isn't bigoted."

"I bet if it were me and Jimmy Alexander calling Uncle Bill, he'd never have said a thing. Tell me if I not right."

"Look, I'm not sure why, but your father doesn't like how close you are to Jade. But I'm sure it has nothing to do with him being colored."

"Well, it doesn't really matter. I will agree to whatever Dad says. I agree we don't want a big fight."

My Mom looked at me with "that look" again. "You mean you're giving in just like that?"

"Mom, Jade is legally an adult. He's over 18. Neither I nor Dad can control what either he or Uncle Bill agree to. And I don't think Dad understands that. Uncle Bill hires a number of colored guys. Jade's foster brother is even a foreman on a part time basis. I don't think Dad will have any influence on Uncle Bill's business decisions, no matter WHAT Dad says to him tomorrow. And if he tries to tell his brother who or who not to hire, I think he'll be surprised."

Mom looked at me a while and then said: "When did you grow up? You're not my little boy any more." She smiled and we hugged. I don't think I could ever get too old to not enjoy a hug from Mom. So I started getting a guilty feeling.

"Mom, there's one more thing I need to say." Mom pulled away and asked me what.

"Well, Jade and I were invited to see Uncle Bill tomorrow. Dad may not realize it, but Jade will be there tomorrow as well. It doesn't matter if I don't go with him. In fact BJ is even driving him there in his old truck. Arrangements have already been made, since BJ's also invited. In fact Uncle Bill said Valley and he were doing a big barbecue for a number of his employees. Didn't he tell Dad that?"

"Well he did say that a big barbecue was going on and some of his employees would be there, but who's this BJ?"

"BJ is the foster brother I just mentioned. He fills in as a foreman for Uncle Bill when needed. He's invited too. So whether Dad likes it or not, both BJ AND JADE will be there."

Mom was suddenly not too happy. I think that in some ways I was a bit like her. She was trying to think about how to divert another possible disaster. "Let me talk with your father. And don't do anything to make matters worse."

I was pretty upset after all of this and couldn't quite understand completely just why. After some time I finally realized why. To be fair, my Dad wasn't really that bigoted. But I think he's actually a bit intuitive. I was now wondering if just maybe he had some vague worry about just what was the relationship between Jade and myself. And then I started thinking about what Mom might do, and wondered if we were going to my uncle's house tomorrow after all. I had mixed feeling about that. Probably safer if we didn't.

And then I got real sad. I needed Jade. Why do things have to be like this? And I started fantasizing about a world where a gay son can announce his engagement to his boyfriend and be treated exactly the same as if he announced his engagement to his girlfriend. I was then fantasizing that I was at my own wedding reception and dancing with Jade and all my friends and relatives were coming up to us and congratulating us. Sigh!

God, how come?! I guess I may as well ask Him how come people are born into poverty or born into slavery, or all the other terrible things that happen to innocent people world wide. It was all over the news about a bunch of East Germans escaping via a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. And I was wondering about how it might feel being one of the people in East Germany who didn't make it. And I finally realized just how good I really had it. Thank you God for giving me the happiness I do have. And for giving me Jade!

I smiled thinking about this when I went to bed that night.

The next day, I woke up remembering a wet dream I had. It was pretty incoherent except that Jade figured prominently. I will have to tell him what he did to me. I rinsed out my pajama bottoms again; I was always too embarrassed to let my Mom see them all pasted together.

And Mom woke up with one of her migraines. (At least she claimed). And we weren't going to Uncle Bill's house after all. It was Dad who called and it was Aunt Valley who answered. And I sure relished hearing Dad's side of that conversation.

"So we won't be able to make it after all."

(Pause). And Dad getting this pained expression.

"But I don't think. . .' He apparently didn't get to finish. Aunt Valley was a terror on the phone.


"But I don't think. . ." Again he never finished.

(Pause). Now he was getting frustrated.

"No, he isn't, but I don't think. . ." This was getting awfully repetitive.

(Pause). Now he was getting confused trying to figure out something.

"But that's entirely not necessary. I don't think. . ."

(Pause). Now he was starting to get this determined look.

"No he's not here right now. I don't think. . ."

And I realized that he was probably talking about me. I raced into the living room and yelled "Hi Aunt Valley" into the receiver. My father wasn't going to get away with saying I wasn't there.

Dad was a bit angry and said it was rude to interrupt and so I said goodbye. But I was smiling as I sat down on the sofa.

Dad was not too happy. Finally he looked over to me and said: "Your Aunt wants to talk to you. And after you get off the phone, we have to talk ourselves." Now what?

Eventually Aunt Valley would not allow me to object. She was going to come over and pick me up herself to see my uncle. I pretended in my conversation to let her know that I most definitely needed to do what my father said. That was for my fathers ears. I finally hung up.

"So she's coming for you?" he asked.

"You know how Aunt Valley can get. When she gets determined it don't matter what you say. She said she'll be here in about an hour. What did you need to talk about?" This was almost a first. Dad steadfastly had been ignoring me forever.

"I just what to emphasize to you that this is a family thing and to just keep it that way. Just in the family. There's no need to include anyone else."

"Certainly Dad. It's just me going with Aunt Valley. Don't worry. I don't want to cause any problems. All I want to do is hopefully get a job. I'm just glad that Uncle Bill has a business because this is an opportunity that many kids my age won't get." I gave him my most innocent expression.

Dad looked like he was trying to find something to object to but all he finally said was for me to apologize to his brother about the rest of the family not coming, and to behave.

As I climbed into Aunt Valley's car I heaved a sigh of relief. We greeted each other and were off. It was strange I thought. Until a couple years ago I never was that enthusiastic about seeing my aunt or uncle. They were always nice enough, but given a choice I'd sooner play ball with my friends.

We talked about a lot of things and she hoped my Mom would be feeling better soon. I smiled realizing Mom had probably done something I might have done myself. Maybe I inherited my penchant for finagling from my Mom. Valley was not on the phone, and so she was mostly quiet the rest of the way to her house. Finally I asked about how the business was doing and she got animated again. "It's growing so much we really need help. I don't seem to have enough time anymore to do anything else. I'm working all the time." She then started talking about all the things she was responsible for. I was interested since I wanted a job and wondered just what I might be able to do. Especially since I was so small.

When we got to their house, my Uncle greeted me and introduced me to a couple other guys there who he said were his employees. We all helped getting out all the food and finally sat down and talked. Then we got to the topic so important to me -- a job.

"Look, I don't want you to be concerned. I was your age too you know. And I know how important this is to you. Don't worry. If you want to work, I'll put you to work. There are so many different jobs I have to fill, there will be something." And he must have a bit of ESP himself as he continued. "And don't worry about your size." He smiled. "I wasn't much bigger than you at your age." My uncle was only about an inch taller but he was pretty well built. "But don't expect to be pampered. I will expect you to work as hard as all my other employees." He was interrupted by some comments by the other guys there. There were a few about slave driver, and the like. But they were all laughing. Apparently they were very comfortable with their boss. I was reassured by this.

Then a lot of other people showed up and we were all busy either cooking or watching people do the cooking. Aunt Valley came out with a whole bunch of steaks. Wow. I just hoped they wouldn't over cook them like my Mom always did. But no need to worry. We just pulled off a steak when we got too hungry to let it cook any more.

I was just finishing up my own steak when both Jade and BJ showed up in a truck that I didn't know how it passed the state vehicle inspection ten years ago, let alone last year. Jade and I smiled as we saw each other, and I sure wished we could show our affection like any other young lovers. And I wondered about BJ. He seemed not to be so worried about Jade being gay lately. I was glad but a bit surprised.

BJ and Jade were not the only black people there, I was glad to note. I was also encouraged by the easy way that everybody got along. I introduced Jade to my uncle. What everybody DID react to was not his color but when they saw his hooks. I had to admit that it was pretty rare to see a person with both hands missing.

My uncle was prepared however. Jade and I had mentioned about his hooks to my uncle when we talked the phone the other day.

Uncle Bill addressed Jade: "So my nephew said you and he are good friends, and you need a summer job. I was wondering what kind of grades you get in school. And was wondering about your math and your ability to handle a lot of details."

They started talking about school, grades, and a number of other things. Uncle Bill even questioned Jade about what all he could actually do with his prosthetics. For once Jade didn't use the wood hook. I was at first surprised, but realized this made sense for someone looking for employment. I thought my uncle was paying attention to just how Jade was responding and considering how intelligent and maybe even how mature he was. I was starting to get a good feeling about this. Like he and Valley had already talked about things and maybe they had something in mind.

Was he already conducting a job interview? He then said: "Let me get Valley over here."

I was wondering about this. Jade was looking excited. I could tell he realized the same thing. Valley came over and started talking about all the things she had to do and said she needed help before the summer started with the great increase in the work load. Eventually it was agreed that we'd go to their warehouse after the barbecue.

Four hours later we were inside a monster building that had tons of flooring, nails, machines and all kinds of other construction stuff. My uncle said that he rented a number of things and that soon, all the trucks would be outside in the big lot. There were two guys hired during peak business times just to load up all the truck each morning and to load the other flatbeds all day long bringing all the materials to the job sites. And at the larger sites there were direct deliveries right from their suppliers, but these had to be distributed to different places on site.

Aunt Valley then said she had to make sure not only did everything have to get to where it was needed but that everything had to be ordered in time. "And the hardest part is keeping such a detailed inventory so we don't order more than we need. The more inventory on hand, the more it cost the company." It made sense to me. And then Jade and Valley went off on their own for quite a while as Uncle Bill, myself, and another guy he introduced as his equipment yard foreman, talked about some of the upcoming work. There would be a whole new series of houses in Morrell Park going up soon. They were excited about the prospect of getting the new contract. They were also talking about how hard it was doing construction inside the city with all the problems with organized crime controlling the unions, and he was sure glad he and Valley had decided to move out of the city and start the business there.

At the end of the day Jade and I were on our way back home in BJ's truck. We were both ecstatic. Jade was to go to work as soon as school let out and learn all about the warehouse inventory with my aunt. I would be hired as a general helper moving all the materials on and off the trucks. I had to learn to use a forklift. I wondered if Uncle Bill or Aunt Valley thought about my preference in wanting to be working where Jade was going to work. I said something to that effect.

It was then that BJ surprised me again. "Well I didn't think much about it other than you were friends and just wanted to work together. And I even knew you were more than friends."

BJ kept surprising me. "Hey BJ, I was also wondering. How come you don't seem to be bothered by Jade and me any more?"

He didn't answer right away. "Well, I was just thinking about it some. And I also talked to Mom about it. I guess you guys are still the same two guys I liked before I knew. And for me to say I got to like a white guy is saying something. I like your Uncle by the way too. So it still don't sit well but I'm willing to just live and let live. That's the best I can do right now."

That was still pretty good I was thinking considering how he first reacted. "Thanks BJ. I was pretty upset since I got to really like you myself. And I hope you don't take this wrong, but I was starting to think that we were a lot alike." And I added laughing: "I'm just not quite as dark."

BJ then laughed too. "Jade says you must have some Negro blood in you somewhere." He never commented further. I looked at Jade and jabbed him in the ribs. Or tried to. "Damn! That hurts! You moved your hook in the way."

"Self defense."

We then talked about how we could get to work. There wasn't public transportation to my uncle's warehouse. BJ said if we got to his house in time, we could all ride out together. I moaned. I would have to turn myself into a morning person. A real EARLY morning person. I shuddered a little at the thought of 5 AM wake ups. Jade and I talked also about getting a used car to help bring us to and from work and also in our TV repair business. We decided to wait to see how much money we would be making.

Then BJ said another thing that surprised me, and I think Jade too. He looked at Jade. "That's the other thing. Your hooks as you call them." It was somewhat enigmatic.

Jade said: "Now you're sounding like Rocco. Saying something that invites more questions. What about my hooks?"

BJ didn't answer at first. He finally looked at Jade and said: "That was one thing I really admired about you. How you never seemed to complain much about your disability. How you had the guts to just keep on going and even do well. I admired you fighting to fit in. So how can someone like that be gay? It didn't make sense."

Jade looked at BJ and said: "Now I know you're too much like Rocco. You just said a lot and STILL don't make sense. What else could I do? I HAD to work through everything. And it took more than guts and determination. It took my Mama who never gave up on me, and it took Rocco who has helped me for three years." Then Jade got this expression of intense emotion. "And what does all that have todowith being gay?" BJ stared at me a moment but said nothing more. I wanted to hug Jade but decided not to in front of BJ.

When I got home I let everyone assume that it was Aunt Valley who gave me a ride, dropping me off at Jade's house at my direction "to let him in on the good news." (Yes, I was still finding it necessary to lie). I also told Mom and Dad, and everyone who would listen, that I got a summer job working in Uncle Bill's warehouse for the summer -- starting as soon as school was out. I was so happy even Carl's snide remarks didn't bother me. Something about how could such a shrimp do enough work to warrant getting paid. Dolores congratulated me and even Mariann said something. She usually just goes her own way. "Now you can give me an even bigger birthday present." Her birthday was the fourth of July. We smiled at each other.

My only worry was keeping up our TV repair business while working full time for my uncle. He said if we wanted we could work six days a week.

The month of May whizzed by. School went pretty well. I just got so frustrated that the school newspaper, or rather Fr. Schields, the editor of the school newspaper, didn't let anything in that was the least bit controversial. We had to toe the party line. That meant my comments about our apparent inability to tolerate other people with different ideas and different beliefs. Or our policies on the war in Vietnam, and our efforts to punish Cuba with trade embargos. (This later is Jade's opinion and although he hasn't won me over yet, I am at least thinking that he MAYBE could be right). He keeps asking how hurting the people in these countries was a Christian thing to do. A few people on the paper staff, especially Szamborski, accused him of being unpatriotic. Jade insisted he just wanted to be a humanitarian.

Tim was even passing all his subjects now although his reading skills were still in need of repair. But at least he was reading. (A lot of bribes were involved here). Tim and Billy pounced on Jade and I in late May wanting to know just when we were going to take them to the amusement park. Willow Grove was to open the weekend before Memorial Day. They had a couple new rides there including a miniature car track. Tim and Billy were all excited about that. They also had one of the highest Ferris wheels anywhere. I wasn't too sure about that one.

But that Saturday before Memorial Day found us at Willow Grove Amusement Park. Us included Tim, Billy, Consuelo, Allen, Dan and Allen, and of course Jade and myself. (No, I didn't make a mistake and include Allen twice. There were two Allens). Jade and I didn't have a car, and public transportation would have taken forever. So when both BJ and Mr. Webster had other plans suddenly, we enlisted Dan's help. And that finally led to a regular expedition.

Dan said: "Great! This will give me and Allen an excuse to breath for a whole day. Exams will just be over, and Allen has been working too much overtime. I'll twist his arm."

And when Consuelo heard, she had to come too. "I'll see if Allen wants to come also."

And that got confusing until we found out it was a different Allen.

"Holy smoke, how come we didn't know about your new boyfriend? We should have been the first people to know. Congratulations." That was Jade.

I guess we were all so busy, we hadn't kept up with all our friends too well.

Consuelo said: "Well, we've only just met. But I really like him. He's one of the few boys I've met that can take my bossing around and just boss me back while smiling at the same time. Allen started this last semester at Lincoln. His family moved here from North Carolina. I guess his Dad was talked into moving here by his younger brother who came here looking for work just after High School. There were a lot of good jobs where he worked."

"Well, that's great." I said. "The more the merrier, but how can we fit eight people into one car? The only reason we invited Dan was so he could give us all a ride." I smiled, but Consuelo didn't take the bait.

"Maybe Dan can borrow his friend's station wagon. I'll get back to you."

Well, Dan did borrow the wagon, but it was still barely big enough. Consuelo's boyfriend hardly said a word the whole way. He seemed nice enough, but I guess just very quiet. When Consuelo introduced him to me and Jade at my house that morning he didn't even want to come inside.

"How about everyone calling me Jake. That's what I usually go by. It's my middle name and I never DID like Allen. That's just what the teachers been using in school. Allen, I mean." Jake had a funny accent. Like he was sort of talking uphill and parts of the words were slowed down.

He seemed friendly enough but I felt he was staring a bit at Jade and me. I couldn't figure out just why. Maybe it was because Jade was even darker skinned than he was. Or more likely it was Jade's hooks. But then why was he looking at me? I figured I'd ask Consuelo later when I got a chance. So Dan and Allen were up front. Jade, Tim, Billy and I were in the second seat. Billy and Tim insisted on not being separated and during the ride either Billy or Tim sat half on one of our laps. Consuelo and Jake sat in the smaller third seat.

On the way there Tim, who was sitting on Jade's lap, said he was getting sore and asked Billy to move over onto my lap so he could get a seat for a while. When Billy hesitated Tim said: "Don't worry. It's safe!"

Billy laughed. "I know! I was just wondering if maybe Rocco shouldn't sit on MY lap. I think I'm bigger than he is!" Tim and Billy both laughed. Billy was almost right.

But then I overheard Jake from the back ask Consuelo: "What the hell was that all about? What should be safe?"

Consuelo made some remark that really didn't answer his question. I wasn't too surprised that she hadn't told Jake about Jade and me. And probably not even about her own brother. Things might get interesting I thought. Especially since Dan and Allen made no real attempt to hide their relationship. But the bit of paranoia I still harbored about Jade and I in public, even away from home or school, put me on my guard. I sure wish I could just be the real me sometimes. Actually I mean all the time. I definitely was sometimes. I smiled at the thought.

We had a great time. The park had a brand new Roller Coaster that was actually made of steel. The big Thunderbolt at Woodside Park, where my own family had taken our family a few times, had a wood frame. It was supposed to be the largest roller coaster there was at the time. But that was years ago. I was hoping that this one was as good. Or as bad, depending on your point of view. I needn't have worried. I was green by the time I got to the end. It was bigger, faster, and made sharper turns.

As we got off I remarked: "Holy smoke! Somebody get my heart beating again. I think it stopped at the first 400 degree turn!" (So I exaggerated a little).

Tim and Billy were laughing, and thought it the greatest. "We got enough tickets, let's do it again!" They almost said that in unison. Allen (aka Jake) and Consuelo had separated from the rest of us earlier in the day and I was a bit grateful. I felt more at ease and even let myself show my affection toward Jade now and then, if only holding his hand. I realized I just didn't care about the stares of the few people that paid any attention at all. Allen and Dan sure weren't too self conscious.

We wound up riding the roller coaster three more times. It was Tim and Billy's day after all. The car ride we went to next, however, proved a bit of a disappointment at first. The "traffic" in front kept us from really going fast. When we got off, I noticed that the ride was stopped for a short time to gas up all the cars. I said to Billy and Tim: "Come on let's hurry to the front of the line." I pulled Jade with me without explaining. We ran to get to the front of the line in spite of a sign saying that the ride was not operating for 10 more minutes. Dan and Allen didn't follow but Jade asked what we were doing.

"Look, they're gassing the cars and the ride has stopped. We will get on the first cars since we're in front of the line. There won't be any cars in front of us all the way around the track!"

Jade smiled and Tim quickly realized just what I was getting at. He remarked: "We can go as fast as possible! I bet I can floor it all the way `round."

Billy then started shouting.

And it worked great. I think we made the circuit in record time.

The whole day went so well, it didn't bother Jade or me that we spent a colossal amount of money. We even ate at the food booths. We hadn't packed any lunch. Only drinks. I had brought a gallon jug of lemonade. Jade brought a jug of Kool-Aid.

We planned to reunite with everyone at about 4 PM at a specified location. And here was when the day started to unravel. Fortunately only started. Consuelo stopped most of the unraveling. As she and Jake get near us, Allen and Dan were kissing.

We were pretty much by ourselves under the shade trees in the picnic area but were quite visible to Jake. "What the hell! They're a pair of fucking faggots!"

Everything froze for a split second. Then we all turned just in time to see Consuelo haul off and clobber Jake. "That's my brother you just called a faggot. And I don't care for your language. And if you want to stay my boyfriend you just better get used to it, or goodbye."

Jake now seemed genuinely apologetic. "Sorry Con, it just came as such a surprise! But I find it hard to just accept it like that." And then he realized that nobody else seemed concerned about Allen and Dan. Billy and Tim had been sniggering all day to each other about them. They were so used to Jade and me, they just made fun of them now and then.

He looked at us and then back to Consuelo, and then back to us again. "Damn! I'm the only one not to know?"

And we tried to discuss the whole issue. We even explained that they were even married. This he REALLY couldn't accept, but it didn't matter that much. He seemed real reluctant to accept Dan and Allen, but he clearly liked Consuelo a lot and this persuaded him to at least ignore it -- at least for now. It was all being calmed down when Billy and Tim started sniggering again.

Jake finally asked: "Am I missing something?"

I took this opportunity both to change the subject and to ask him a question I had wanted to that morning. "I have a question Jake, if you want to answer. How come you seemed to keep looking at me and Jade this morning?"

He seemed reluctant to answer until Consuelo said to him: "Well, you told me, how about telling them?"

Jake hugged Consuelo and then sad: "Sorry `bout that, but Consuelo told me before I saw you, that you all were best friends for a few years. And I was ready for seeing Jade's prosthetics. But she never said you was white." And he turned to Consuelo. "And I expect she did it on purpose. From where I come from it jus' don't happen."

I could see Consuelo doing just that. It was her brand of humor, and a way of seeing how Jake would react. On the way home, Jake was glancing at Dan and Allen. As I said he was friendly enough, but most even friendly people, weren't friendly when they found out you were gay. But if nothing else, it seemed he wanted to stay on Consuelo's good side.

We dropped Consuelo and Jake off at a convenient bus stop. They were going to Consuelo's house for the evening and Jake said no need to drive them all the way there since we had plans of our own. I thought if he could just accept the way I was, Jake could be easy to like. He came out of his shell on the way back and was telling some pretty funny stories about living on one of the barrier islands off the North Carolina coast. Interesting too. Especially during the last hurricane to visit the area a few years back.

Dad and Carl were away at another Jamboree for the weekend, so I took the opportunity to invite everyone in to introduce Allen, Tim, and Billy to Mom and Dolores. I needed to tell Mom that we were all going out to eat anyway. (Mom considered this a flagrant waste of money, but it was money Jade and I earned ourselves).

Mom and Dolores were just about to sit down to dinner. Mariann, I discovered was at a girlfriend's house. That was pretty unusual since Mom didn't think she was old enough to be on her own so to speak.

"Mom and Dolores, Dan you know, but this is his friend Allen who just graduated from Temple last year. And these two hellions hiding behind Jade, are Tim, Jade's foster brother, and his friend Billy, both of whom I talked about a lot of times." I wondered if they were ever in a white person's house before. They were uncharacteristically quiet. I turned to Tim and Billy and said. "This is my Mom and my twin sister Dolores." They barely squeaked out a hello.

I asked Mom if I could go out to eat with Jade and the crowd and she said yes, but not without opining that she thought eating out a big waste of money better saved for something more important.

Allen and Dan said a few polite things and I left them in the kitchen as Jade and I went to my room. I wanted to change out of my sweaty shirt. I had also spilled Kool-Aid on it to make matters worse. A few moments later both Tim and Billy, I found, had scampered up behind us.

"See, I told you! His room is just normal like ours." That was Tim to Billy. I wondered what that was all about.

As we all got back downstairs, Dan and Allen were in the living room waiting. I could see my Mom looking out the doorway from the kitchen. I went to her and said I expected not to be too late, definitely not past 8 o'clock. At first she seemed a bit strange and didn't seem to comprehend just what I had said, but then suddenly said OK.

Dan and Allen dropped Jade, Tim, Billy, and myself off at the Mayfair Diner. They had other plans and we planned just to walk back. Not really that far. We had a good feast. Great milkshakes for dessert. Or with dessert I guess, since I also had a big piece of Lemon Meringue Pie. Billy said that he never ate out before. For him the little diner was a fancy restaurant. Tim remarked that they were the only black kids there. I should have thought of that. I hoped they weren't uncomfortable, but I should have known. However, in a few minutes they acted like they owned the place. Fortunately the few glances they got were friendly ones.

I walked them to Jade's house and looked around. I gave Jade a quick kiss as Tim and Billy both chorused "gross!" They ran inside and Jade and I talked a bit more.

It was when I finally got home that the shit hit the fan. Or more properly, the fuse I had thought about lighting a few months ago was lit and there was certainly to be an explosion. However, I was totally unprepared. It started out quietly enough.

I just got in the back door, and my Mom was apparently waiting for me. She got up from the table. "Rocco, we need to talk." Noting her tone of voice I thought: "Crap, now what?" I tried to wrack my brain for what could be the matter but came up blank. But from my Mom's tone and demeanor I could see this was serious.

I anxiously sat down, and thought about Jade's and my contingency plans, hoping this was not it. "What's the matter?"

"What do you know about Dan and Allen?" I was momentarily relieved that it was at least not about Jade. But then got worried again.

"Well, I know Dan a fair amount since he's Consuelo's brother and he's given us rides to a few places. Allen I only know through Dan." I was lying and hated it for some reason, but my mental defenses were going full blast.

"Are you sure? You mean you don't know about them?" She even seemed genuinely angry now and that got me even more scared.

I temporized: "What do you mean? Know what about them?"

Mom stared a bit and then said: "While you were upstairs, they went into the living room to wait, and we started dinner. Dolores suddenly made some sound and was staring into the living room. I asked her what was the matter and she said nothing, but I knew it was something. I got to the door just in time to see those disgusting men kissing. It was so filthy I almost gagged."

I about panicked. So much for wondering about Mom's reaction might be to Jade and me. I almost burst out crying, but a monumental effort, and visions of doom, got my lying portion of my brain working at light speed. It was a little unused lately but it got up to speed fast. I was suddenly inspired. I NEVER cursed in front of my Mom. NEVER!

"Holy damn!" Even at a time like this, stronger language was still too much.

Mom was REALLY angry and upset; she practically ignored my cursing. "They're damned all right. They should be damned straight to hell!"

"Mom, you CAN'T be right! I would have known."

Mom seemed to realize what both of us had just said. "Look, at the least their parents must have done something wrong for them to have gotten like that. But it's still disgusting."

I had all I could do not to start crying again. I repeated myself. But Mom mostly ignored what I had said. "I don't want you to associate with the likes of them. I don't care if one of then is the brother to a friend of yours. And maybe you shouldn't be around her either."

"But Mom, you even said she was a nice girl. She's a good friend."

"Rocco, there's no telling what she's really like inside if her brother was raised that way. I don't want you to have anything to do with her."

I was literally shaking. My mother misinterpreted it. "Look, you're shaking. I'm sorry to shock you like this but you had to know."

For some reason, I almost had a perverse notion to tell her about me and Jade. "Damn, am I that self destructive?" I thought to myself.

I assured my mother I'd do exactly as she asked. I got out of there as soon as possible. Mariann was watching some new show on TV and tried to tell me about it, but it barely registered as I went through the living room and went to my room. I was grateful Carl wasn't there tonight. I barely made it up the stairs I was shaking so badly. The full impact of just what transpired was still sinking in.

Twenty minutes later I was still laying on my bed crying softly. A sort of mini-despair had set in. Not only did some of my wedding dreams turn to ashes, but even part of my future. I was thinking of life without the support or the love of my family. I needed to see Jade. But somehow I was paralyzed.

That was how Dolores found me when she came into my room almost an hour later. She must have known how Mom had reacted. I wondered just what they had discussed after I had left with Jade. She was relentless. She kept saying that I had to stop seeing Jade. "For the sake of our family you have to break it off with Jade. You saw what it will do."

I suddenly was broken out of my paralysis. "For the good of my soul I can not! And for Jade's sake I will not!" I was so vehement I must have scared her.

Dolores was a bit less severe but still tried to dissuade me: "But Rocco, don't you see? You have to. . ."

I didn't let her finish. "How come you refuse to even try to understand? I love Jade with my whole being. And he loves me the same. He's part of my soul. Not even the Pope himself could convince me that our love is wrong!"

Dolores said something and then left, but I never really registered what she said. I wondered if my sister and I could ever be close again. I thought when we talked before, she said she'd think about what I'd said. But I felt I was losing her too. I thought about my father, my brother, and then my Mom. I felt I had just lost my entire family. And for the first time in my life I started doubting whether God really cared at all. For the first time in my life I couldn't pray.

I started sobbing uncontrollably. The pain was almost unbearable. I could only cling to the love I had for Jade, and his for me. That was the only thing that saved my soul from disintegrating.

I woke very early the next morning still in my clothes, and I was for a moment disoriented. And then my memory came back and nearly struck a death blow. And then I thought about Jade and his amazing strength. His amazing will to live. His amazing love for me. I felt suddenly unworthy. And I used sheer power of will to fight back from the brink of despair. I was suddenly determined that for Jade I would do anything.

I sought out my journal that I hadn't written in for so long. I finally found it at the bottom of my old rucksack I'd used in the scouts. How the heck did it get there? I couldn't remember. It didn't matter. I spent the next hour or more writing.

Journal of Rocco P

May 26, 1962
. . . .

I spelled out all my fears, all my anguish, all my hopes, and all my dreams.

I wrote about my pain. And about the pain I must necessarily cause. I wrote about my deep abiding love for Jade, and that it was all that kept me sane.

And I finally got the courage again to pray. And I wrote down my prayer. I asked God why he made me gay. I asked what was His plan. I asked Him why it had to be this way. I asked Him why fate was so cruel. I asked Him to strengthen me. I asked Him more questions than I ever knew I had.

And then I thanked Him for the love Jade and I shared. The love I now realized we must share with others. Or what was the point of anything.

I must have fallen asleep again at my desk. My Mom had poked her head in and asked when I was going to Church. I looked up a bit confused and then at the clock -- after 9:30. Damn! I so wanted to go to Church with Jade. Of all the times to be late.

I made a monumental effort to speak normally. "I was writing and I must have dozed off." Perfectly true. And I realized I had resolved not to lie again. (If at all possible).

"Well, you better hurry."

I definitely better.

I didn't bother to take a bath even though I felt the need. I changed clothes and raced out of the house. I made it to Jade's place with two seconds to spare. My heart was racing for a whole lot of reasons.

And Jade, when he saw me, realized that something grave had happened. The message at the service seemed directed at me. Me and Jade. I thought how ironic and apropos at the same time.

Pastor Barrowes started reading from Matthew, Chapter 19: "And Jesus said to them `Have you not read, that He Who made them at the beginning made them male and female. . . For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall be one flesh.'"

And the pastor finally reached the passage: "`For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb. . .'"

Were we these eunuchs?

At that point I had tears streaming down my face. Jade saw and held my hand tight.

Chapter 85 -- Significant Purpose

As soon as I saw Rocco that Sunday morning I knew something had happened. Something important. Something that concerned both of us. Something I needed to give my White-boy strength for. But I decided to wait `til after Sunday services to ask him what. I think Mrs. W also could see it even though Rocco tried to present a cheerful front.

And I saw his tears during the reading in Matthew by Pastor Barrowes. It was the traditional reading about marriage and about "eunuchs from birth" that Dan said was about homosexuals, although I had difficulty understanding the passage myself.

My White-boy needed me. I didn't care what anyone else thought as I held his hand. He eventually stopped crying and even gave me a weak smile before we left the church.

We went to my home as usual and Mrs. W made us all a big breakfast. Rocco seemed to be in much better spirits but I knew all was not right. But I didn't want to interfere with our traditional Sunday morning especially since Rocco seemed to take comfort in it himself. After we ate he asked me to come outside with him to talk. The first words out of his mouth numbed me to my soul. I never would have believed it except I heard it from his own mouth.

"I started doubting God last night. It was awful."

And he described what happened and what was said to bring him to these straits in detail. He said he felt that he has lost his family. We talked for quite a while.

By that time we were at his house and he insisted that I come up to his room and read something he had written. He handed me a copy book opened at the last several written pages. Before I had gotten to the bottom of the first page I was crying. By the end of the second, I was desolate for him. But he refused to be comforted.

By the time I had finished I had a new realization of the depths to which my White-boy thought, and the strength of emotion he felt. Sometimes it read like pure expression of anguish. At other times it was almost poetry. And I smiled inwardly at his love for me. I will never, for as long as I live, ever be able to doubt it. And somehow the sharing of ideas and feelings this morning brought so much closer together than I had ever felt. And I wondered about what he meant about our sharing of our love with others. We talked about it.

Rocco had said: "Somehow we have to share the love we have for each other with others. I don't know exactly how yet, but nothing else seems quite so important."

An hour later, we were still sitting on his bed holding each other. Finally we seemed reborn in some sense. We were even smiling. Eventually we were able to talk about other more mundane things. Like the finals in school coming up. The last papers we had to write.

"Remember last month when I said you'd never make a great writer? Well after what I just read, I have to say I was wrong."

Then he jumped up and said: "Let's get our stuff."

"What stuff?"

"I just remembered we have to fix Mr. Robinson's TV. I promised him yesterday morning."

That was my White-boy.

As we entered Mr. Robinson's house 15 minutes later I remarked to Rocco: "Mr. Robinson is apparently one of the 13%." There was a color TV on in the living room, although the present telecast was in black and white. Most programs were still in black and white. Only NBC had many of its evening shows in color.

Rocco smiled but didn't understand what I meant. "Remember it was either Dan or Allen who remarked that 13% of the households in this country had two TV sets?"

The other set was upstairs in the main bedroom. I remembered my once upon a time color TV in my room at Dr. K's. I realized that we were so busy, it would hardly have gotten any use. This set here was pretty old but was easy to fix. We even had the correct tube with us. After a bit of readjusting the coils in the back it was up and running. An easy 6 dollars. (Yeah, we upped our charge).

A while back I had asked Rocco that if gas prices could go up to 28 cents a gallon, then why can't we raise our prices. He smiled and said: "I decree that we will now charge 6 dollars per set."

I was glad we didn't have a board of directors that had to vote on everything.

We talked about mostly school and our upcoming exams as we went back to my house. But I could tell, Rocco had his mind on something else again.

I was to remember a short time later what the significance of that passage from the Bible had for Rocco. We got to my room and Rocco went directly to my dresser. He took my Mama's bible off my dresser and kept reading aloud the first part of Chapter 19 in Matthew. Finally he said: "I wonder just what that one passage means. Are we those eunuchs, which are so born from our mother's womb? And if so, what is the significance for us?"

I had no way of answering him, but he kept gnawing at other things. He became obsessed with the idea that marriage had to mean more than what he had learned in his religion classes.

Rocco persisted: "Our Catechism states that the primary aim of marriage is the procreation and education of children. All well and good, but what about all those people getting married who can never have children? What about mutual love? What about fulfillment? What about the idea of a life union which has as its goal the giving of oneself to the other in order to grow in our love of Christ."

I did not see exactly why he was upset. To me it was obvious. Why get so upset if the leaders in your Church are just a bit blind? And I said so.

Rocco leaned into me and smiled as he said: "I think the leaders of our church need to get married and see what it's REALLY all about."

A bit later he went off on another tack. "And our Catechism then says that a secondary end of marriage is for `mutual aid and the quieting of concupiscence.' As if, well OK, by the way, you better get married so you can have sex without sinning. How pathetically bereft of significant purpose!"

I couldn't believe his last remark. "`Pathetically bereft of significant purpose?' Where the heck did you get that phrase?"

Rocco got his you-caught-me-again look. "Before my Dad made me turn it off, I heard Gore Vidal use that phrase on Meet the Press last Sunday. It just seemed to fit. Of course I think he was talking about some politicians."

The upshot of this evening of musing and near obsession was another visit to our favorite library about a week later. Rocco got a hold of a million books (OK about eight or nine) on his Church's teaching on marriage. After reading passages here and there he was getting more and more frustrated. "My God, what a mishmash of ambiguous doubletalk. And not a single thing about spouses actually loving one another."

But then he latched onto one book that he suddenly got quite with for more than an hour. I lifted the book to see what had so engrossed him. It was entitled The Church and the Reconstruction of the Modern World, The Social Encyclicals of Pius XI. What a mouthful. I wondered what an encyclical was.

I used my time looking up something that hadn't even occurred to me until Allan and Dan started talking about it when we were in the amusement park the other day. I tried to find something on homosexuality and what the laws on it were. But I couldn't seem to find anything specific. When I got back to our table Rocco was writing something out of that same book he had been reading for the past hour. I waited until he finished. When he looked up he was smiling. "Jade, I finally found something that makes sense. It's a paragraph in an encyclical Castii Connubii, written by Pope Pius XI in 1930."

I asked: "First of all, what's an encyclical, and next, what does Casti Con-whatever mean?"

"An encyclical is just a letter written by the pope but it has special meaning since it's a major form of Church teaching. And it's Casti Connubii, which is Latin for Christian marriage. But listen to this:

This mutual inward molding of husband and wife, this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Catechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, provided matrimony be looked at not in the restricted sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of the child, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof."

I had him read it couple more times. It was a bit convoluted. I guess perfect then for the type of reasoning my White-boy was notorious for. As I made a comment saying as much I had to withstand some more physical abuse.

When I finally seemed to understand what the passage was saying I said: "OK, that sounds pretty good."

Rocco seemed real proud of his find. "Yeah, but it says as taught in our Catechism, but I never saw anything like this. Finally, something that makes some sense. I sort of like it. It could very well be written for two boys who love each other just as easily as a husband and wife."

Then I told him about not being able to find anything specific on what type of homosexual sex stuff was illegal.

Rocco remarked: "I'm pretty sure sodomy is illegal most places. I'm not sure what else; probably a lot of other sex stuff. Not too many lawmakers like gay people. I hope nobody peeks into our bedroom." Then he got one of his evil smiles. "I have a great idea. How about we go to your house and engage in some illegal activity?"

We did.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello