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 five. 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 (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.
Chapter 13 -- Who Am I ?
Mama's in the hospital. I was in the waiting room while the doctor was doing something I didn't really want to think about. And thinking was now my problem. I couldn't stop. Mama had been here since just after the holidays and was not doing well.
I didn't know who I was any more. For so long I was sure who I was. I was this unfortunate person that had the right to hate everyone and everything because God and the universe all hated me. (My Mama was special and was actually separate from the universe). Sometimes I think that she was the only thing keeping my life glued together. Why couldn't I let her know how much I really love her? Maybe that would interfere with my hating. The trouble is I think sometimes I hate myself the most.
And that damned White-boy comes along and starts messing with my head. Why do I like him so much? (I'm afraid to admit that I might even love him). I was sure shocked when Mama asked me if I loved him. He almost has me convinced that God might not hate me after all. He gives me hope, and for the longest time I didn't want to hope, because it could hurt too much when life gave you another big wallop. Why did I have to be so mean to Mama at times? Especially about school? I'm eternally grateful that I changed things around in time for her to see.
And all my friends -- I keep saying that they all left me because I could no longer do all the stuff they wanted to do. But if I were honest, it's only partly true. Sure, many of my friends just drifted away on their own. But how about Joey and a few others? Especially Joey. I deliberately pushed him away. I was too angry. Couldn't stand not being like I was. Why didn't I see it then? I used to keep thanking God for at least giving me my Mama, and now she will be gone soon. I want to hate God too, but then thoughts of White-boy keep intruding. I'm so mixed up. Why can't I just simply allow White-boy completely into my life? To know the real me? I'll have to think on that. It seems then with Mama gone I will need him more than ever but I want him to accept the real me. God what should I do? Wow that sounded too much like a prayer, and I had decided never to pray again.
My Mama asked to see me alone. After I went in she started talking about all kinds of things. She started remembering all about me growing up. We talked on and on remembering together. Then she got this funny look and looked straight at me and asked: "What are you going to do after I'm gone?"
I was afraid to answer since I would then acknowledge she was really dying. I finally said: "I'll live with Uncle Mike of course. He'll take care of me good."
"You know very well that's not what I'm asking. How will you react? How will you decide to live the rest of your life? What type of person will you decide to become? How will you behave? Don't answer me -- just answer to yourself. There are two roads right now in front of you. You can let love into your life or you can keep hating. But you can't do both. Please promise me you will at least give love a chance. Does hating so much actually make you feel better? You only do it to help stop the pain, but I assure you in the long run it will only make the pain and despair worse."
I kept thinking of just one person, White-boy. "I promise Mama. I'll try. I love you Mama. But why does God have to take you?"
"Jade I have to be honest, I simply don't know. But it does NOT matter. I am left with only one more piece of advice. Nothing really matters except real love. And no matter what, real love can't be wrong."
I thought to myself. That's one reason for the locket, Mama. I will wear it remembering your words. I promise. We talked a lot more and I kept assuring Mama I'd do what she asked. And I really will.
And we cried together a bit and then she actually smiled. I'm not sure what about.
"I think I need to rest a bit, but maybe after a while please tell your White-boy to see me." I was at first a little embarrassed, but she smiled and I couldn't help smiling with her. I shouldn't have been surprised she knew the name I called him.
Chapter 14 -- Jade's Mama Dies
I was in the hospital room, alone with Jade's Mama. She said she wanted to talk to me. I had been afraid to go into her room. I couldn't stand seeing her knowing she was dying. Only beause I promised Jade was I able to force my steps forward. It felt like I was at the end of a 20 mile race. Jade's Mama watched me as I entered. There were wires and tubes all over the place. Her voice was so weak I had to strain to make sure I could hear all her words.
"I've been a religious person all my life and even if you don't now agree, I still believe that God put you into my son's life for a reason. I remember a story given to me by a fellow student when I was back in school. She was Jewish." She seemed to pause a bit to get more breath. "The story told of a parent who came to his rabbi and complained: `My son is straying. What should I do?' The rabbi's answer was simply: `Love him more!'"
As she closed her eyes for amoment, I was really puzzled about why she was telling me this strange story.
"My son's been full of pain and grief. And sometimes I could feel his rebellion and even hate. So I decided to `Love him more.' Every time he got really hurt, or started having serious problems I decided to `Love him more'."
And now after listening, I was crying along with her, my emotions were so out of control I wasn't sure who I was most grieving for. "Why are you telling me all this?" I was starting to think I knew, but was too afraid to acknowledge it. But she didn't actually answer that question.
"So I tell you, love him more! And take a chance on God. True love can't be wrong."
I tried to answer but couldn't think how to reply. She repeated herself a few more times. "True love can't be wrong." But then she started dozing again. The medication kept her asleep a good part of the time. I left her room but couldn't find Jade at first. I finally saw him outside at the edge of the woods. He was no longer crying.
He looked at me like the world was ending. "I knew for months that this moment would come, but I still can't accept it. Why is God so hateful?"
I seemed to be able to keep only one idea in mind. I'm normally pretty self-centered. But I think his despair got to me. I could only think of how I wanted to stop some of his pain. "According to what your mother just told me, God gave you me."
He pulled me close and seemed to hang on as if I were the only anchor for his very soul. I could not have pulled away if God Himself had asked me to. We must have sat together like that for over a half hour. When I heard someone calling for Jade it was almost dark. We finally went to the entryway of the hospital and there was a nun who then escorted us into a small side room. Within were two people, Jade's Uncle Mike, and a doctor.
The doctor spoke up. "Jade I have to tell you that your mother just passed away." His Uncle seemed more impatient than caring. I never told Jade, but I didn't really like his uncle very much.
"Let's go boy. We have to get the rest of your things. I'm sure your friend here can find better things to do." If a mere look could kill, my look at his uncle could have been an H-bomb. How insensitive can he really be? Jade looked at me as if he were totally lost, barely able to understand just what his uncle was trying to do. But I understood clearly. And I refused to let him have his way.
"I'm coming with you. Jade needs a friend at a time like this and I'm his best friend. I'm coming with."
I didn't even look back at his Uncle. I grabbed Jade by the shoulder and pulled him along out to his uncle's car. And that was a lot of pulling. Jade outweighed me by at least 60 pounds. And Jade was almost a statue, definitely in shock. I just hoped he could pull himself together enough to fight his Uncle. He couldn't let his Uncle decide how to live his life.
I don't know how we managed. But we eventually got to Jade's house, got all the rest of his things and those of his mother's he wanted to keep and got him set up completely in his Uncle's house. His Uncle had a big picture of Malcolm X on his living room wall. And couple "black power" posters on another. I had a small suspicion that his dislike for me had one origin. I was white. It's amazing how much you can ignore all the prejudice around you until it's directed at yourself. And I HATED it! No wonder so many blacks are so militant these days. I'd think I would be one of the most militant if I were black. So I decided to give his Uncle a little slack, but it was hard.
January 20, 1960
So much has happened today I don't know where to begin. Jade's Mama died today. I think probably the astonishing thing was what Mrs. Brown said to me just before she died. "Love him more!" The more I think about it, the more scared I get. What really are my feelings toward Jade? I know that his is my very best friend, and I love him more than even my own brother or sister, but what does that mean? What the
hell heck was she actually saying? Did she know about my SECRET? My god, how could she, when I wasn't even sure myself. I really keep hoping that when I get through puberty things will all change. And why shouldn't they? How can God make someone a homosexual and then condemn him if he actually lives the way he was made? And did she also imply her own son was like me? I finally decided that it was mostly my paranoia acting out of control. And it was my grief and fatigue that fueled my paranoia.
I'm so confused at times I just need to stop thinking about things and just enjoy life for a while. Who knows, maybe I'm worrying for nothing. But whatever happens NO ONE (except maybe Jade) can know. So the practice of the BIG LIE goes on. (Maybe I'll get so good at this I will become a great actor. Wow, now there's a thought. Did any of the great actors today really get a head start on acting by having to pretend they were heterosexual all the time)?
Finally Jade got all his stuff to his uncle's house, and I helped him put everything away.
My Mom was angry when I said I wasn't going to school today, that Jade's Mama was dying and that he needed me with him. She finally relented and phoned in to the school. I took the bus to Nazareth Hospital and found Jade and his Uncle in the waiting room, outside of the Intensive Care Area.
Every once in a while his Mama would awaken and usually both Jade and I would be called in. The nurses were very nice and never questioned who I was in spite of a big sign saying close relatives only. I wondered if they would believe me if I told them she was my aunt or something? I'd like to see their expressions. But that never happened. Jade cried off and on.
His Mama talked to him in private a long time right after lunch. He didn't tell me what she said. I guess it was too private. And then she asked to see me. I was a bit surprised. I'll be thinking about what she said probably my whole life. How can she be so sure that God gave Jade, me?
This terrible day climaxed a terrible month. Jade's Mama went into the hospital right after the holidays and Jade went to live with his uncle. It was not a happy time. Jade would come over and barely say a word. But at least he had the strength to make himself function. In fact I think he even forced himself to even greater efforts in school almost as an act of defiance. I think I may have cried more than Jade did. The best we can say was that we survived. And I know without any doubt, Jade is ten times stronger and braver than I'd ever be capable of being.
Chapter 15 -- I Was Wrong
I recently told Rocco that I was mostly over the shock of knowing that Mama would die soon. I was wrong. And I needed to be with people. When I'm alone, it hurts too much.
Her funeral is Monday.
Chapter 16 -- Revealing Secrets
Jade at least was able to function yesterday. We talked a lot about "what-ifs" but after a while just walked and held each other at times. Finally I went home. Tomorrow is Sunday, and the funeral is Monday.
And my brother should be glad it's not his funeral. When Mom and I were arguing about my going to the funeral, I thought I was going to kill him. He actually said that I was overreacting as usual and that Jade's family didn't need me there as the token white. If looks could kill the entire earth would have split apart and swallowed him by the one I gave him.
Mom didn't seem to realize just how mean Carl was being. She said: "Look, this is a Baptist service and I forbid you to go." Mom was sure that everything not Catholic would send you to hell. Well, not quite that bad, but close.
"Jade needs me now more than ever. He just lost his Mama and his Uncle really isn't the type of person to give him the help that he needs right now." And thinking of his Mama's last words I had the thought myself: "And caring and helping someone that needs it CAN'T be wrong!"
My Mom remained adamant. "Look, you're too young to understand. But it's a Baptist service and you can't go. And that's final!"
I almost screamed, but instead got totally unemotional. I don't know what just happened, but instead of blowing up as I usually would have, I just started thinking. I didn't even cry. Only one thought remained. I WILL be at that funeral -- period. I suddenly resolved that I would defy my parents if necessary. And I know that I disobeyed before but this was entirely different. I never actually defied them before with no repentance. But now I was determined. Without another word, I went outside to think. I walked for quite a while and eventually found myself outside the rectory of our Church. Perhaps my mind had already devised a plan, but I only now knew what I was going to do. I never knew how I got the courage, but this was suddenly a different me. I boldly went up to the door -- well at least boldly enough to actually get there with only a little shaking, rang the bell, and when some lady answered I said "I need to see a priest."
She must have understood my need and urgency. "Come right in. I'll see if Father Smith has the time."
I knew Father Smith, since I was an alter-boy and took instructions from him. I used to be just a little frightened by him but not now. I had only one goal.
"So Rocco, what seems to be the urgency?" His smile gave me even more courage. Wow he's treating me like a regular person and not just a kid. He even knew my name.
"I need to go to the funeral of my best friend's mother, and my Mom won't let me." I just came to the point.
I could see him thinking almost as he looked at me and then asked me to sit and he also took a seat. I had been led to a sort of small living room by the lady that answered the bell.
"All right. I think I need to know more before I can really give any advice." And so I started the whole story. Boy was Father Smith patient; I wish my parents would listen like this. He seemed the opposite when we were learning to be alter boys.
"And so he really needs me there. And I need you to tell my Mom that it being a Baptist service simply don't matter!"
"All right. I can easily understand both your need and your friend's need for you being there. But remember you still have some obligation to obey your parents. However, an act of charity should take precedence. So before we worry about things that we might not need to, let me first talk with your mother and get her side. And maybe I will be able to persuade her. From what I just heard I think your Mom is really a well meaning person." He started reaching for a phone and asked "Is your Mom home now, and does she know you're here?"
"She's almost always home unless she went shopping or something but probably she's at home. And I didn't even know I was coming here until I realized I was just outside."
I gave him our home number, and he dialed. They talked and talked. I couldn't figure out what my Mom was actually thinking as I could only hear one side of the story. Gees, get on with it. What does next Easter have to do with it? Finally.
Father Smith turned and smiled. "OK, I was finally able to convince her there was nothing wrong with your going to the funeral even though it was at a Baptist Church."
I never registered much of what he said after that. On the way home I thought: "Holy shit, I hugged a priest. One I've always been just a bit scared of." He didn't even seem to mind. It was done and over before I gave it conscious thought. And I was so happy I didn't even cry or get embarrassed. "Thanks so much." And suddenly I had another thought, could I actually ask him about my SECRET? Well I wasn't that courageous yet.
When I got home Mom said that she really thought that my going to a priest for advice was mature and that Father Smith convinced her there was nothing wrong in my going to the funeral. I definitely did not even let out a hint about my determination to disobey her if I had to.
I phoned Jade and his Uncle answered saying that Jade was out. I was at first disappointed, but as I hung up something simply didn't feel right.
"Mom, if I promise to be home for dinner can I go over to Jade's house now?"
"And where is he staying now?"
"I thought I already said; he's living with his Uncle Mike. It's only about five blocks from here near Rawn Ave. I'll write both his address and his phone number down."
I knocked on the door. Every time I went there and his Uncle answered I got a little scared, but this time I wasn't going to be intimidated. But it didn't matter this time -- Jade answered. "Your Uncle said you weren't home when I called just a little while ago."
"That's Uncle Mike. He just went out. He really hates white people. Thanks for coming; I need you right now. Let's walk to the park." That meant a long walk. His house had been almost right at the edge of the park. But his Uncle's house, much closer to mine, was at least 10 blocks away. But we were there before I really noticed. And we hardly talked, we just walked.
"Lets go to the rock." This was a place very concealed where we had some of our best talks.
When we got there this time, however, Jade sat down and when I sat next to him, he grabbed me hard and started crying. And then I started crying with him. After about 10 minutes he finally let up and looked at me and had the most scared look I have ever seen on anybody.
"My God Jade, stop scaring me! What's wrong?"
He was actually shaking and his hooks started digging in. "Remember when you said that there was something you couldn't tell me, and I said nothing could stop me from being your friend? And you made me promise?"
"Sure but the subject never came up again."
"Well I need the same promise."
Jade was so deadly serious. I answered as sincerely as I could: "Of course. You can't ever get rid of me."
He held me even tighter for a moment and then stood up and started pacing around. I knew he was scared to death so I said: "Please Jade, even if you just tried to kill me I'd ask you why first. I'd still want to be your friend. There CAN'T BE ANY SECRET that could tear us apart."
"OK, but this is the hardest thing I've ever done in my whole life. Not even the fighting back after losing my hands. And I never could talk about that. Even to you."
Jade waked away and seemed to be battling something invisible. Then he abruptly turned and suddenly seemed very determined. He held up his hooks in front of him.
"I lost them when a few friends and I were playing near the train tracks and trestle near the prison. I heard a train coming but ran across the tracks anyway to get my jacket so it wouldn't get blown away by the train. But coming back my foot slipped on the slick rail. And my friend, Joey, who probably hates me now, actually saved my life! Even with the train coming, he came back, pulled me up and we both jumped away from the tracks and he held onto me as the train went by so I wouldn't get sucked underneath. But my hands did. Thank God I can't actually remember, but the train's wheels cut them right off."
I felt sick visualizing what he said happened.
After a long pause, Jade added: "This is the very first time I've told anyone. I wouldn't even talk about it with Mama."
"My God that's horrible. I think I will have nightmares just thinking about it."
"I've had many nightmares. And since it's time for confessions, I don't think Joey really hates me. But even though he was my best friend for years, I was so depressed, that the next time I saw him I screamed at him to go away and that I wished he'd let me die. And that it was his fault I lost my hands. I was so horrible to him but at the time I hated the whole world. And that's not all. He tried to talk to me a number of times and I kept refusing until he finally gave up."
"Have you seen Joey lately? I'm not really sure who he is."
"Yes, he lives only a few blocks from here on Cottage Street. He's the kid always wearing the red stocking hat. He's grown a lot and I think he's over 6 feet by now. He's pretty light skinned. I've seen him now and then, but we both pretty much ignore each other. I hurt too much anytime I see him."
"I think I know who he is. I've even played basketball with him a couple times. They were so hard up to even up the sides a couple times, they asked a few of the white kids watching if someone wanted to play. I was the only one who had the nerve. Of course I was used to being with you."
"And you keep saying you're a coward."
"Well, in many ways I still am. I'm really afraid about a lot of things."
"Well it took a lot of guts to defy my Uncle that way."
"Well, that's different. I'm most scared about how people will think of me and feel about me. That's the hardest."
"Well, the hardest thing for me was deciding to like a white boy." And Jade even smiled.
"Well, I think I'm turning black being around you so much. I think it DOES rub off!"
Jade smiled more, as I said that. I then said: "You know the few times I met him I thought that Joey was a real nice kid. He didn't tease me like some of the others when I couldn't play very well. He even tried to teach me a few things."
Jade paced away and then turned and looked at me real scared again. "There's something else. Something even harder to talk about."
I knew he was back thinking about what he was afraid to mention. I started thinking too. I was remembering about what his Mama told me about him being different. And a lot of other things. And my own SECRET. And I suddenly KNEW! And why it took this long to figure out, I don't know. I looked at Jade, smiled and then went over and hugged him. "It really don't matter Jade, I know your secret, and I like you more than ever. And I think your Mama knew also."
Jade jumped back as if I was suddenly molten rock. The look of anguish on his face was almost too much. "Rocco," I thought to myself: "You're a stupid idiot; you did it again. When will you ever learn some things are best left unsaid."
Jade's voice raised an octave. "How could you know? How could you know about Mama? Mama wouldn't have told you." He thought some more. "I don't think we can be talking about the same thing."
"Jade please calm down, and please listen. I do know and it don't matter. And I have had my own SECRET too. I'm not actually sure but I think we're the same. I mean I think I'm homosexual too." I can't believe I said that. That even with knowing it about Jade for absolutely sure, I still can't believe I got the courage.
I started shaking almost uncontrollable. I was suddenly VERY SCARED. What if I was wrong, and that's NOT what he was going to say? Then Jade looked at me and laughed. "My God you should see your face." Then he realized how much pain I was suddenly in. He pulled me close and hugged me. "How did you know? And if you did, why didn't you say anything?"
The relief was immense. My world didn't end after all. "Actually I didn't know until just a minute ago. I just finally put together some of the things you've said and done with my own worries and experiences, along with something your Mama said on two occasions, and suddenly the bulb lit."
"What did my Mama say?" his voice trembled a bit.
"You remember that time she rode me home even though I knew she was so tired, in fact the first time I met her?"
"God, I always wondered what she had thought about catching us. You know she never did bring it up again, and I wasn't about to."
"Well she told me as best as I can remember that you were sensitive and different, and that please not to hurt you that she thought you couldn't handle being hurt again so much since you liked me so much."
Jade just looked at me like I was the Delphic Oracle.
I went on: "And right before she passed away, remember when she asked to talk to me alone? She told me a story about when someone was in trouble or in need that instead of blaming them, you should just love them more. And then she said for me to love you more. That's not exactly what she said but that's what I took her to mean. And I got scared since it seemed she knew or at least suspected my SECRET too."
Jade remarked: "I can't believe that we were afraid of revealing the same secret." And we both hugged each other unabashedly for quite some time without another word.
Jade finally said: "Remember that weekend when I went to the race track?"
"Well the day before was the day I got the shock of my life. Mama and I had a talk and she said she had already figured out I liked boys."
"So that's why you were acting so strange that day."
"And remember that I said I learned a number of things and that I would tell you later. Well now is later." And Jade explained about his father. I was flabbergasted. He said he was just as shocked. It turns out that his Dad and Mama had severe difficulty being intimate. In fact his Mama mentioned that he was pretty lucky he had even been conceived. His Dad had to finally admit to himself that he was homosexual, but he couldn't accept it. He finally just left, he couldn't face his problems. His Mama really loved him but had no way of helping. His brother had also found out about him and despised him for it. It was actually why his Mama not only had been able to accept Jade for what he was, but also made every effort to convince Jade it was not wrong, and for Jade to accept his own sexuality.
"I still have great difficulty, but I'm finally able to agree with Mama." He pulled out the locket he had given to his Mama. "That's why I had this inscription put on it. `Love can't be wrong.' I'm really beginning to believe it."
I didn't know how to answer. My own beliefs were in direct conflict with what his Mama had made every effort to make Jade believe. I asked: "I thought she was very religious. How could she believe that boys loving each other is not immoral?"
"I had the same thoughts myself. But she explained that since she learned out about Dad, she thought about it for a number of years, tried to find out as much as she could, and finally concluded several things. She said that the references in the bible don't apply to two people who are committed to each other and love each other. The bible actually never talks about that kind of relationship. And even if you disagree, that the bible even said that slaves should obey their masters. So the bible has to be considered in its own historical era." Jade seemed to gulp for air and then continued. "Also, real love is real love, and it doesn't matter if it's a man and woman, or two men. Love can't be wrong. That's what Mama said."
My thoughts were in total conflict. Everything that Jade just said was in such direct contradiction to everything I had been taught. In direct contradiction to what I believed. And then I had a thought that startled me. I had never even come close to considering it before. In fact, `till now it would have been impossible. I just had the thought: "Could my own religion's teachings actually be wrong?" To me, this was a total revolution in thinking.
And we cried in each others arms for a long time. Gradually the tears subsided. We talked for a long time, and even now I'm not certain, but I think that's when I first started to fall in love with my best friend. I had a lot of new ideas to think about.
What I said was the only thing I was capable of saying at the time: "Jade, I know at least one thing for certain. And maybe I'm actually not homosexual. But I know I love you."
OK here it is. I TOLD JADE MY SECRET. AND HE HAD THE SAME SECRET. But why God, why does it have to be this way? I never wanted to be this way. And I'm sure Jade didn't. Then why? Especially when it's so bad. Or is it possible that after I go through puberty, everything will be different?
I was most afraid about anyone finding out especially my parents. I will continue to act out THE BIG LIE. And if I'm homosexual, what should I then really do? Well one thing's for sure. According to the Church I must be celibate the rest of my life. Can I really do that? That's what priests are supposed to do. I wonder if they actually succeed. I wonder if God wants me to be a priest. I have actually thought about it now and then. Then it wouldn't matter if I were homosexual. Or could Jade's Mama actually be right? Could my Church's teachings about this be wrong? And if they are, what about a lot of other things? I have a lot of thinking to do.
And I wonder if I'm starting to think of Jade as even more than a friend. I know I love him, but it's not sexual, is it? And I'm now starting to wonder. Was my need to find a "good friend" because of how I am? (I mean how I might be).