Two Boys

Rocco Paperiello


This is the final Part IV of a four part story. (See Part I for Index). It is a story 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? Find a different story. Or perhaps read on; you may be persuaded to think differently.

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 six. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our butts.

Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it, please e-mail me and also give proper attribution.

Note that an author welcomes any feedback. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and all e-mails will be answered.

Rocco Paperiello

PART IV -- Graduation and College

Chapter 91b-- Surprises (part b)

It was in early May and most of the top students in our class had their immediate futures already planned. I was pretty disappointed that I was one of the few students in about the top twenty in our graduating class that had no scholarship. I kept trying to hide my disappointment from Rocco, but I suppose he must suspect. He's sometimes oblivious, but lately not where my feelings were concerned.

Last month, in fact the week after I got those new straps for my hooks, we celebrated Tim's 12th birthday. Tim was awfully disappointed that his best friend, Billy couldn't be there for it. Billy was at home with the mumps. For some strange reason he apparently missed having them when he was younger. Rocco said that he'd never had them either. He thought he might be immune. I remember a week of misery back when I was six. I rarely though of things that went back that far. That was before I lost my hands and I had made a definite effort since then to simply not think of events before I was ten. But for some reason I started thinking about a number of things lately that happened back then. I didn't seem to have the same melancholy associated with these thoughts any more. Rocco said it's because I'm just getting so used to my situation that I'm starting to just accept it. But I don't think that's it. Or, if it is, only a small part. I think it's more because in so many ways I'm actually happy, with or without hands. I'm starting to feel confident that not only do I have a future, but with Rocco, I also have a good future. I'm smiling as I think about it.

So that's why, when Rocco volunteered us all to help with the Crispin's Kindergarten Zoo Trip in mid-April, I was not as reluctant as I might have been a year ago. I don't know how he comes up with these ideas, but I thought that's part of what made my White-boy so special.

Rocco made some remark about now he could finally make his class trip to the zoo that he'd been forced to miss 12 years ago. That suddenly got my attention. "OK, White-boy, I got a few questions." Rocco was smiling. He new that he'd got me. I had to find out the whys and the wherefores. "First of all, care to explain about this missed trip?"

"Well, I know I must have told you before, but my twin sister and I went to Kindergarten at Crispin School when we were five. There was no Kindergarten class at St. Bernard's Elementary School, where we went for the next eight years, so my parents sent us to Crispin School. And the day they had the zoo trip, which by the way I was so greatly looking forward to, my Mom kept us home from school. She didn't want me to go. She was afraid that because of my many allergies, I'd get asthma being near all those animals. And I was heart broken when I realized that I'd missed the trip. So I'm going now."

"Rocco, I'd hate to burst your bubble, but your not five years old anymore. Only your kind of crazy `Rocco-logic' can claim this will make up for that missed trip."

Rocco didn't seem to care. In his mental world, three can equal seven, and a trip now with Kindergarteners equals a trip with his Kindergarten Class when he was five. For him that kind of equation was simple. I decided to just go on to the next question. And of course this was exactly what he wanted.

"OK, how did you even KNOW that the Kindergarten Class was going to the zoo this weekend?" I asked.

"Because Cher told me." You could tell, it was only with great effort, was he able to keep his face from bursting out in a smile. He was in one of THOSE moods again. He deliberately did this at times. Making sure his answer, instead of being informative, begged even more questions.

I usually had to devise the perfect question or he would squirm out of a reply that gave me the information I was after. But this time it was simple. "OK, how did Cher know and why would she suddenly decide to tell you?"

He paused. I HAD him. He had to give me REAL information. "Cher knew because her mother told her, and Cher told me because I had called her to see if she wanted to go to Tim's birthday party. They're about the same age."

He deliberately threw that last about Tim's birthday to obfuscate the issue. But this was intriguing. I knew things were so convoluted I was almost ready to give in and ask for a complete explanation. That's what he really wanted. Surrender. Why the heck would he ever think that Cher would want to go to Tim's party? They only met once. Rocco was smiling. He believed he had me.

But he didn't. I decided to change the rules of the game. I simply phoned Cher. I hadn't seen her forever and this was as good a reason as any to talk with her again.

As I walked into the hall and picked up the phone Rocco started to realize the rules had changed: "Not fair. Who're you calling? No outside information is allowed!"

I simply smiled as I dialed. Mrs. Krazenski answered. "Hello Mrs. Krazenski, this is Jade. I was. . ." That's all the further I got. I had to fill her in on how I was doing and all kinds of other things. (I hadn't seen or spoken to her for some time either, just the doctor for our sporadic "how are you and Rocco doing" type of talks). Rocco smiled as my conversation hit the five-minute mark with me being no closer to speaking with Cher.

Well, I finally did find out all kinds of things. One, the Krazenski's had another foster kid. This time it was a young kindergarten-aged girl going to Crispin School. She happened to be not only going to the Zoo on her class's field trip this weekend, but one of her friends from school just happened to be Billy's youngest sister. (Things were starting to connect up). Cher's Mom had volunteered to help out. And Cher decided she also wanted to help.

I was finally talking to Cher. I eventually asked her: "But I still don't understand how come YOU called ROCCO about all this?" I was starting to suspect that some types of high intelligence carried with it a sort of total illogic.

Cher began here explanation: "OK, I hadn't seen you in over forever, and when you came up in our dinner conversation the other night because of Marge -- Marge is the the new foster kid staying with us -- Mom simply said I should call you. But I needed an excuse. So I called Rocco to get one. And Rocco just happened to mention Tim's birthday coming up this Saturday, so I naturally told him about our field trip on the same day, and I was surprised to learn that Marge knew Billy's sister who was Tim's friend, I mean Billy was Tim's friend, so when I mentioned that both Mom and I were going also to the Zoo, Rocco said I had just inspired him into getting this stupendous idea, since he asked me how come Mom and I were going and I said since the school needed all the extra help they could get to keep track of a bunch of five and six year old kids, and he said maybe he and you and Tim could also go and it'd be a grand trip and reunion all rolled up in one."

I needed another five hours (OK, five minutes anyway) to translate her big sentence into a recognizable sequence of causality. I could now see how come Rocco knew about the Zoo trip, and knew that Cher was going, but how did he go from there to US ALSO going?

I talked some more to catch up on things, and when I hung up Rocco was smiling. He knew I was almost as puzzled now as I was 15 minutes ago.

"OK, Rocco, explain!"

Rocco said that he wanted to do something with both me and Tim for his birthday. The trip to the Zoo sounded good. And he then thought it would be nice to use the trip to also get me and Cher and even Tim together. He called up Mrs. Krazenski and got the name of the teachers involved and eventually convinced the teacher, by way of Mrs. Krazenski, that we'd be responsible enough to actually help out.

"Wow, White-boy. I always thought your thought processes were weird, but this goes all the way to bizarre."

"Actually there were a few other ideas involved. I just wondered how Tim and Cher might react together. They're almost the same age and Tim seemed a bit taken by her when they met more than a year ago. And the other idea was I wondered if we could see if we could get Tim to take on just a bit of responsibility. I talked to Mrs. Webster about this."


Philadelphia Zoo

So the upshot of it all was that I was with a bunch of these Kindergarten kids, and surprisingly I was enjoying myself. Even if they asked a million questions about my hooks. And Tim and Cher DID actually seem to like each other. And I didn't seem to mind at all memories from my own Kindergarten days. Maybe Rocco was a genius after all. Or maybe just lucky. But Tim had a great birthday in spite of no Billy. (We DID have Billy's sister).

Rocco and I talked a lot about the trip and all this other stuff the next couple of days. He seemed so thankful that I seemed to be able to think and talk about my earlier years. I hadn't talked to even Rocco about myself before I lost my hands very much. And Rocco and I started reminiscing about a lot of things lately. I got a bit sad about thinking of my Mama now and then but that was just normal.

And that brought us to my 19th birthday. Rocco lied right to my face. I had made him promise. "I promise. Absolutely NOT." He said. "I will NOT squander ANY of our money on any expensive gift for you." He SAID that only a week before giving me a beautifully restored and enlarged photo of me and Mama from when I was about 9 years old. He found it in my old photo album and had remembered that I liked that photo the best of all the early ones. It was in a simple but beautiful frame.

"You LIED!" I accused him. We were at Consuela's house where everyone conspired to give me a surprise birthday party. Rocco and I had an earlier sort of family party at my house. Consuela said her Mom was away at some conference all weekend. That's why I was so surprised, I never expected they could have done this at Consuela's house. And Consuela LOVES conspiracies. (Rocco actually HATES surprises especially like this, yet he has no conscious when it comes to doing it to others).

Rocco answered: "No I didn't lie. You're fuzzy thinking again. I said the exact truth. I DIDN'T squander any of our money. It was all WELL SPENT."

We hugged and then he kissed me right in front of everyone. Even Twain was there. Along with Dan and Allen. Twain grimaced as we kissed. It was mostly an act. He sure saw Dan and Allen do things like that enough.

We told everyone there all about our college plans and so on. Consuela mentioned that she had gotten a full scholarship to Temple. And that's when I started feeling so disappointed about not getting any scholarship myself. I could still accept one of those other grants I talked about. But it wasn't somehow the same. I was even starting to wonder if it was because I was colored. But then remembered Consuela got one.

Well, it was now early May as I mentioned. Rocco and I were talking about college plans again. And about things we might do after we got there. And about us working again this summer. We already had everything arranged with his uncle again. Same jobs even, with small raises. And so it was in the midst of all these fantastic things that I suddenly felt a bit down. Maybe it was partly pride too. That's when the world suddenly brightened. I got a note in homeroom that the principal wanted to see me after school that day. "Now what," I wondered. "It was Rocco always skirting trouble. I was probably one of the most `law abiding' kids in the school."

"Maybe they finally discovered you're not Catholic." Rocco said with a laughing smile. At lunch we talked about it with Twain and John Edell. But the subject quickly got shoved aside when Twain announced he had an actual date for the coming weekend. It was a girl from the Synagogue they sometimes went to. So "a nice Jewish girl." We pumped him for information but didn't get much. She was also graduating and was bound for college at U of P. Just where Twain was going. He was even probably going to ask her to our Senior Prom that was coming up soon. And that got us onto the topic of the prom and who was going. It turned out Twain and Jim Jabloski were the only ones. John Edell wasn't going either. A couple of other kids from our class mentioned girls they were taking.

Frank Sariego was sitting with us strangely enough. He usually ate with a few other kids. He said that he was even going to the prom. That was a surprise. Since he was signed, sealed, and not quite delivered to go into a seminary in Italy of all places. "It's a friend of the family. She's really nice." Etc. And afterwards, I wondered all over again about John Edell. Never once did we ever even hear him talk about a girl, let alone date one.

I was hoping that the message was about some scholarship or so on. I was really anxious as I went to the office after our last class. I came out five minutes later and grabbed my White-boy.

"Help! I'm being crushed by a berserker!" Rocco gasped as I grabbed me.

I told Rocco that the school put my name in for the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Scholarship. When we got outside school, we saw Frank Moore walking to his car.

"Hey, Frank. Can we get a lift?" Rocco asked.

"Sure, sorry no Caddy this time." He now had a Ford. But it was new. He said his father-in-law got a good deal on it. "What are you guys so excited about?"

We explained about the scholarship. And we also filled him in on our college plans. "So we're going to Eastern Washington State College, near Spokane Washington." I said.

"How come way out there?"

Rocco answered: "For a lot of reasons. But so we can be together is the main one, without having to worry if someone finds out about us."

I always wondered just how Frank felt about us. We never discussed it at all since that day last year.

He seemed to not answer right away, but finally said: "That's great. I'm happy for you two. Even if it does seem so strange."

I was still curious: "Frank, how come you are so undisturbed by Rocco and me? Most people would freak out."

Frank was again silent for quite a while. In fact almost all the way to my house. Then he laid a bombshell. "My Dad's gay. We talked a lot about it. He and my Mom got divorced a long time ago, and I could never understand why since they still saw each other and seemed to get along so good, yet still be divorced. I guess they eventually got the marriage annulled. That's why my Mom could marry again. But I never knew why they got divorced in the first place, and I was always too scared to ask. So finally my Dad told me everything a few years ago. It was when I was in so much trouble after I found out Cindy was pregnant and all hell was busting lose. I really needed my Dad then. He said he got married because that what was expected of him. Mom knew something wasn't right pretty quickly. After a few months he said that having sex with her was so . . . , well he said he just couldn't do it anymore. They were divorced a year later. But Mom had me, and Dad always helped with me growing up. I was always closer to him than my step-dad."

"Wow." Was all I said.

"So I know a lot about what you guys must have gone through. And I really am glad that you have each other. Dad said that it took him years before he finally started believing that it wouldn't have been wrong if he hooked up with a partner. But he never did."

"Holy smoke!" Again, I was not very articulate.

Then Rocco said: "Well, your parents must have done you well. I've been thinking that you were one of the nicer guys in our class."

Frank blushed but did say thanks for thinking that.

Later Rocco remarked about the seeming conspiracy of silence concerning homosexuality. "It's really a shame that most kids today can't get the truth about themselves. And it's even worse if they're religious. They feel God has been taken from them also."

Rocco has made a number of comments like that recently. I was starting to wonder about how he was thinking about his religion again. And we did talk about it a few weeks later. Nothing that caused him grief. He sighed a lot when we discussed it. He just said he wished he could do something about it.

Another thing that was so great about this scholarship, was it was good anywhere. And it was 5000 dollars this year. When Rocco and I added up all our finances and looked at what we needed to go to school there and room and board expenses, we realized that we would probably not even have to work during the summers. Except if we wanted money for grad school.

"And there could be either Fellowships or Teaching Assistantships for grad school too." Rocco added. Everything now was going so well we couldn't believe it. But our disbelief didn't stop us from celebrating. Both in public and in private. Especially in private.

After I got home I had to call Krazenski's and Cher and give them the good news. The Webster's celebrated by Mrs. Webster making me my favorite dinner the next day -- her special meat loaf using pork, beef, and turkey. Along with some apple cobbler. Rocco said he was being pressured by his father into eating at home and couldn't make it. But that evening, he came over and brought a quarter pan of both butter cake and cheese cake from Breadenbecks. Tim ate three person's worth. BJ was there and also helped. The cake did not see another day.

Copyright 2007 by Rocco Paperiello