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 ondone (publicly) anyone breaking the law, so either move or read sentence four. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our fundaments.
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. 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 17 - Joey
I always thought my White-boy was weird. But now he's not only gone 'round the bend, but rounded a few city blocks, and entirely escaped the neighborhood. It was -- I looked over at the clock -- not even 6AM when I heard a loud pounding on the front door. I hurried down hoping Uncle Mike didn't wake up. I never more than nodded off now and then all night. I had trouble opening the door without my hooks.
"What the hell you doin' here this early? . . . And what'd your parents say when you came home so late last night?"
Rocco just grabbed me and started to pull me outside. I wouldn't be very pulled. He looked back at me and stopped. "Let's go back and get your hooks on." Looking down he added: "And some shoes . . . And a coat."
He was so insistent I just did like he said. Afterwards I was being pulled down the street and the sun hadn't even come up yet.
"Come on; were getting breakfast. You're a growing boy and need to eat."
We went all the way back to his own house. His parents were already up and were quite surprised when we showed up. His Dad was just leaving for work. I don't think the look his Dad gave me was any too friendly, but he just said something I couldn't make out and left. His Mom though, was a different matter.
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! What in tarnation is going on here Rocco? Where were you and what is Jade doing here?"
He answered: "I went and got him and I'm going to force feed him because he wouldn't have eaten otherwise."
His Mom was quite surprised when he actually started getting things out of the refrigerator. Eggs, butter, bacon, followed by bread, a bowl, and a frying pan all landed on the counter.
"I'll do that," his Mom said, "just sit down. You'd probably burn the kitchen down."
So I had a pretty big breakfast. Ironically, Rocco barely ate anything. He kept talking so much it was a wonder anything got into his mouth; everything was going the other direction. I mentioned something about it eventually.
I almost smiled.
I didn't realize at the time that a weird morning was going to get weirder. It was only a bit after 7 AM. Rocco suddenly looked at the clock and jumped up.
"We have to hurry if we're going to catch him before school." He started pulling me out of the kitchen and handed me my coat.
I wondered now what. And his Mom's expression mirrored my own. "Just what are you doing now Rocco? You have to get dressed for school. I guess I mean church if you're going to that funeral." Then Rocco's Mom looked over at me as if she had just remembered that I lost my Mama. She said something about how sorry she was and I saw that she meant it.
Rocco answered the first part of what she asked: "Please Mom, we really need to go somewhere. And then we'll walk over to the church. It isn't that far. And I'm already dressed good enough."
"All right. Just call if you need anything."
As Rocco was propelling me outside (how can such a small boy exert so much force?) I asked: "Where are we going?"
"I'm not exactly sure yet?" Now I know he flipped. "You're going to tell me."
I think he was actually enjoying speaking in riddles. The Joker had nothing on him.
"Where does Joey live? That's where we're going." I came to an abrupt stop and just stared at him. And with so many thoughts clogging my brain, I couldn't get anything out for a moment.
"Why should we go there? I haven't talked to Joey in over four years!" I was almost in a panic.
"Just call it therapy. I just had a brainstorm last night as I was trying to sleep. This is something that has been tearing you up for years. Just call this a therapy session. And you wouldn't go there unless I made you."
He was right. I wouldn't go there on my own. In fact, I'm not going there. I said so.
"Jade, give me his address."
I did. And he knew I'd eventually do as he asked. As we got to the walkway leading to Joey's house we passed by a couple girls apparantly leaving for school. I recognized them as Joey's sisters. I looked back and they did the same as we passed by. I wondered what they were thinking. If they only knew how strange the situation really was.
Joey answered the door. And his mouth would not close. He just stood there frozen in the open doorway. A woman's voice came from inside somewhere. "Blast it Joey, stop heating the whole outdoors. At least ask them to come in." That was Joey's Mom.
Rocco just whizzed through pulling me with him like he had known Joey and his mother all his life. Joey's Mom took a couple seconds to realize who I was. She was looking right at my hooks. Then she looked at the crazy white kid next to me. She got this puzzled look on her face, and finally asked: "Is there some emergency? Can we help you?" And after a pause added: "Please sit down."
Now I remember where I thought Joey got his personality. His Mom was one of the nicest people I'd ever known.
Before I could answer, it was White-boy who answered. Joey just kept looking anywhere but at me. "I'm sorry Mrs.. . . geesh, I don't even know your last name. But I'm not sure if you know, but Jade's Mama died . . .
Before he could continue, Joey's Mom asked: "Who's Jade?"
Rocco looked blank for a second but finally realized what was what. "Oh, I mean Noel. I forgot he went by his middle name for so long. Well Noel's Mama died a few days ago and he's been a total mess since. While he was crying the other night he mentioned that one of the things he most regretted was what he did to his best friend Joey a number of years ago. He felt so bad about loosing his hands and not being able to do anything any more that he started hating the whole world and couldn't face Joey anymore. And here Joey even saved his life. Well I think it's stupid that he lost his best friend that way and I forced him here to talk to Joey and say he's sorry he treated him that way." All those words were forced out almost like an explosion.
(Did he have to mention me crying?) Everybody just stared. Especially Joey. Especially me.
Joey's Mom was the first to recover: "Oh, Noel, I'm truly sorry about your mother, I wish you had told me. After all these years you suddenly show up. It's hard to know what to think. You know you hurt Joey very badly. I don't think he'd say it, so I will. But I think I can understand why. I just wish things could have been different." Then she looked at this strange white kid, or what she must have thought of as this strange white kid. She said to me: "And maybe you should introduce your friend?"
It was Joey that answered. "That's the little white boy I told you was hangin' with Noel, Mom. His name's Rocco. We played ball a couple times. He's a little strange, even for a white kid."
Joey's Mom stared at Rocco like she couldn't figure out how to classify him. I wondered what she was thinking. I also wondered how many times a strange white boy had suddenly barged into her home. The same number of times a meteor fell through their living room. She eventually smiled.
And so I finally got the nerve, with a little physical prompting from my White-boy, to go over to Joey. "I'm really sorry Joey." I couldn't say any more. It was really awkward after all these years. It was all I could do to stop myself from crying.
"Damn Noel I hated you for so long! I just couldn't understand. But when I got older and could understand more I stopped hating you, but it seemed too late by then. I thought you really never wanted to be with me again."
"Please, Joey, I'm really sorry." I wanted to explain more but couldn't make myself say any more.
We eventually got passed the `I'm sorry' stage and Joey took his coat off. (He must have been ready to leave for school). And he asked me to come up to his room. His Mom reminded him about school and said he was already late. But this was more important, and his Mom didn't say anything when we went upstairs. I suspected that while I was upstairs trying to be friends again with Joey, Rocco was filling her in with his life story, my recent life story, and how to fix everything that's wrong with the world. I can't see how he thinks himself to be a coward when he's the boldest person I know.
Joey and I talked for almost an hour. It was very awkward at first, but soon enough old patterns and old memories paved the way. We both agreed that we wanted the other as a friend again. I don't know if we can be ever as close as we once were, but we found that we still had a lot to rebuild our friendship on.
I had to get going. I needed to get dressed and then to the funeral. My god, I actually forgot about my pain for a few moments. It was only much later that Rocco even told me about all the trouble he had with his Mom about going to Mama's funeral.
Chapter 18 - The Funeral
Joey's Mom's name was Carla Whittenger. I thought the name sounded English but I didn't have the gumption to ask her "how come." I thought I should know her for at least a whole week first. Actually Mrs. Whittenger was very pleasant to talk to, even if she gave me the third degree -- but it was a very POLITE third degree. I kept petting Sheba as we talked. That was their cat. I never saw such a friendly people cat. But when I got to know the whole family better, I realized that the cat fit right in. It was almost entirely black, and liked to rub her head into your hand, or any other portion of you it could get to. The only problem was that the cat sometimes forgot that her claws could actually retract. (Or maybe she didn't forget).
Mrs. Whittenger said: "Well, please try to relax. In spite of the unusual way you introduced yourself, I want you to know I think what you are trying to do is certainly very good-hearted. I wished the tragedy that Noel went through didn't have to happen. It hurt a lot of people's lives. His mother and I really didn't know each other too well even if he and Joey were good friends. She was always working long hours. I'm real sorry to hear about her death. After all that Noel has had to go through. But how did you get involved in all this?"
I felt so strange trying to figure out how to explain everything. "Well Jade, I mean Noel and I met about four months ago. And we just got to be good friends right away."
"But how did you meet. I find it unusual. . . ." She seemed to pause for a second. I thought she was ready to mention it was unusual that a white boy could make friends with a colored boy. But she seemed to see how awkward that could be and changed tack. She continued: ". . . that boys of such diverse ages could become such close friends. Noel must be at least four or five years older than you."
I started laughing. "How young do you think I am? I'm actually in the same grade as Jade. That's the name I use for him. It's actually his first name."
She looked a little startled. I was used to it. Then I started to discuss all the usual things: school, friends, family, even things I liked to do. After a short time Mrs. Whittenger asked about Jade.
"I think considering all the terrible things that have happened, he's doing fairly well. Of course it's going to take a while for the grief of his Mama's death to fade. I think we are actually much closer because he really needs someone right now. And I'm very happy to help. I like him quite a lot. And I know you must be thinking it, I know it's a bit unusual for a white boy and a colored boy to be close friends, but it seems normal to us. We actually stop thinking of our differences. We do have a lot in common. I find it amazing how much knowing Jade has changed me." I guess it was my deeply emotional state that seemed to get personal stuff out of me. My emotions started taking control, so I sort of turned away and concentrated on Sheba.
She could sense that I was getting discomfited. "I didn't mean to get you upset. This must be a very upsetting time."
I tried to compose myself as best I could. "Yeah, the funeral is in a couple hours. I thought I would try to accomplish two things at once. I thought that Jade needed all the support he could get right now. He has almost no one else. I was hoping that he and Joey could actually get to be friends again. Also it helps take away one of the things hurting him. I tend to be very impulsive and I almost literally dragged Jade over here. I hope it works out. I'm sorry to impose on you like this."
"Please impose all you want. I think what you are doing is commendable. And I know my son. He was very hurt when Noel turned his back on him. He couldn't understand. But he's good at heart."
We talked a lot about what was going on in Jade's life recently. Eventually Mrs. Wittenger looked up at the clock on the wall. "They've been upstairs now for over 30 minutes or so. I'd think there's a great chance they can make up, even after all this time. And for both their sakes, I certainly hope so. And I think Noel is fortunate to have a friend like yourself."
Now, not only was I getting emotional, I was also getting embarrassed. "Thanks Mrs. Whittenger. I bet you'd never imagined you could be sitting in your kitchen one morning, talking to a strange white kid." (My gosh, I know I'm impulsive at times, but where did I get the nerve to say that)? I tried to smile but it barely got to my face. I looked at the clock myself and mentioned that Jade and I needed to go. The funeral was only a couple hours away. Where did all the time go? I asked if I could use her phone to call home. I then let my Mom know that everything was fine and I'd be home something late in the day. After a few words back and forth I hung up. Mom was being a mom.
It turned out that Joey and his mother also came to the funeral. Jade was pretty quiet until we got back to his uncle's house (I guess HIS house now) and started changing.
I tried to lighten the mood. "You need your butt cleaned?" He just looked over at me and gave out a big sigh. After getting changed I noticed the straps holding his hooks on weren't fastened right. I guess I was in such a hurry I didn't get them right earlier. I wondered how they were staying on. That's when I noticed a couple raw spots where the harness was rubbing real bad. He got out of the harness and went in to take a shower. I had to look away since I was starting to get really hard.
We talked about a few inconsequentals while he was getting dressed. I fastened the straps and started to worry about how much his uncle was willing to do to help him. But it didn't seem like the right time to bring it up. We then walked to the Church. I looked around and wondered about a few of the fancy new cars there with all their big fins and all, but I later realized they belonged to a few of the doctors that Mrs. Brown worked with. I was also shocked to realize that his uncle didn't even attend.
January 24, 1960
I wonder if I'll ever be as strong as Jade. He has to be the bravest kid there is. All his problems and he keeps fighting. I'd be rolled in a ball and crying forever. I tried to think about how I'd be feeling if my Mom had just died, and even worse, if I had no family anymore. I cried just thinking about it. And for me it wasn't even true.
At the funeral yesterday, it was almost as if Jade were there for my moral support instead of the other way round. How can someone hurt so much and keep on going? I know I cried more than Jade did. And when we left he said that he had to keep on fighting because of his Mama. That's what she'd want him to do.
I stayed with him all day. When I got home that night I couldn't hardly talk about anything and finally all the questions stoped. I barely had the energy to even get my pajamas on. I couldn't believe it when I woke up to realize Mom had let me sleep in and miss another day of school. I felt so guilty. I meant to get to Jade's early. I was relieved when I got there and found he wasn't even up yet. His uncle was no where in sight.
Well, Jade needs me and I intend to help him as much as I can. It didn't even matter about God, and the Church, and what was right or wrong. This just needed doing apart from any other considerations.
God, help me help Jade. I'm usually too selfish so much of the time, but please God, just this once. Every time I've been with Jade recently I kept away from mentioning his Mama because it made me so uncomfortable to talk about her. I kept thinking of myself instead of Jade. I will try real hard to be the type of person that I need to be for Jade's sake.
January 29, 1960 Jade and I took a long walk through the park today after I got back from Church.
Jade didn't say much so I had to keep up both sides of the conversation. Finally I got him
to talk about how he and his uncle were getting along. Apparantly they did finally talk and his
uncle was finally made to realize about Jade's hooks. Jade said that his uncle is actually gone
a lot of the time. I've been thinking off and on about my own worry about how come I can't get interested in
girls. Of course I'm not even close to puberty yet. I was so worried about how come I'm so late
that I even went to our family doctor the other day. I met this real friendly boy there from Argentina.
He had a really neat name -- Nestor Carabahal. I liked him right off. I wondered if he liked me.
I found out that he is living with our doctor's family as an exchange student and even goes to my
school. I hadn't seen him there but it's a big school and he's been here only a couple weeks. I
told him I would try to catch up with him at school. We have the same lunch period. I guess I just sidetracked myself. Dr. Krazenski said that everything was OK but I was just
developing late. I also wondered how come I'd hardly grown the past several years. Again he said
that I was still in the "normal" range. I was afraid to tell him that I felt so completely UNnormal. I was
afraid to mention my problems about not being attracted to girls while it seems like the whole rest
of the world can talk about nothing but. Jade asked me if something was bothering me but I can't
be bothering Jade about my own problems. They seem so important until I think what Jade is going
through. He sure don't need me bugging him about my worries. Besides, maybe there really won't be any
problem when I finally go through puberty. Mom had me go to the dance with Dolores last night and I was thoroughly bored. I can't dance
and have no inclination to learn. Actually a lot of the girls were just dancing with each other. I suddenly
started wondering how come none of the boys dance with each other. Immediately after that thought
I started wondering if Nestor was at the dance. After a half hour or so looking I guessed he wasn't there.
STUFF ABOUT SOME CURRENT AFFAIR.
Jade and I took a long walk through the park today after I got back from Church. Jade didn't say much so I had to keep up both sides of the conversation. Finally I got him to talk about how he and his uncle were getting along. Apparantly they did finally talk and his uncle was finally made to realize about Jade's hooks. Jade said that his uncle is actually gone a lot of the time.
I've been thinking off and on about my own worry about how come I can't get interested in girls. Of course I'm not even close to puberty yet. I was so worried about how come I'm so late that I even went to our family doctor the other day. I met this real friendly boy there from Argentina. He had a really neat name -- Nestor Carabahal. I liked him right off. I wondered if he liked me. I found out that he is living with our doctor's family as an exchange student and even goes to my school. I hadn't seen him there but it's a big school and he's been here only a couple weeks. I told him I would try to catch up with him at school. We have the same lunch period.
I guess I just sidetracked myself. Dr. Krazenski said that everything was OK but I was just developing late. I also wondered how come I'd hardly grown the past several years. Again he said that I was still in the "normal" range. I was afraid to tell him that I felt so completely UNnormal. I was afraid to mention my problems about not being attracted to girls while it seems like the whole rest of the world can talk about nothing but. Jade asked me if something was bothering me but I can't be bothering Jade about my own problems. They seem so important until I think what Jade is going through. He sure don't need me bugging him about my worries. Besides, maybe there really won't be any problem when I finally go through puberty.
Mom had me go to the dance with Dolores last night and I was thoroughly bored. I can't dance and have no inclination to learn. Actually a lot of the girls were just dancing with each other. I suddenly started wondering how come none of the boys dance with each other. Immediately after that thought I started wondering if Nestor was at the dance. After a half hour or so looking I guessed he wasn't there.
Chapter 19 - Getting Back to Near Normal
The funeral was a week ago and I still seem numb. I guess I'm still in shock. I simply do NOT remember any specific thing about the entire thing. Only that my White-boy was there.
The rest of the week I was on auto-pilot. I decided to even go to school on Tuesday. The rest of the week merely passed. Rocco came over every single morning and every single night and believe it or not we didn't talk about anything that needed talking about. Almost without saying something he seemed to realize that my uncle was not going to help me with the little everyday difficulties. I don't know what I will be able to do in the future but I can't expect him to keep coming over every morning and night.
I think he was also almost as emotionally exhausted as I was. I mean we talked about all kinds of things, but not THE THING. I felt he was really scared. But not because I know his "secret," but scared for some different reason. And not entirely because someone could find out. He mentioned that he was living THE BIG LIE as he put it. I never really thought of it like that but since I was pretty much a loner anyway, I just never had the overwhelming fear that someone would find out. My fear was more basic. How could anyone still like me if they knew? It is still one of my greatest fears. At least now I have someone to finally share it with. Having Rocco in my life is the only thing keeping me going. That and trying to make my Mama proud of me.
My Uncle just did not like him at his house. I guess our house now. He came home drunk last night and just went to bed. That was in fact a relief. I watched some TV these nights when I wasn't with Rocco. He got me interested in The Twilght Zone. I also enjoyed watching Candid Camera, and especially Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I can't seem to get Rocco interested in the Hitchcock shows. He seems not to like the suspense and the twisty endings. But that's a lot of what I like about it. There was a wierd one the other night. I think it was a rerun but I didn't care. I hadn't seen it the first time around. It was about a wife who killed her husband and wound up feeding part of him as a roast to the police inspector who was investigating the crime. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I also started going to Rocco's house to do my assignments. His parents seem not to mind at all. Well his mother doesn't. His father mostly ignores us both. His twin sister is really nice. She even introduced me to her girlfriends way back in September, and a couple of times I talked to them for a few minutes. Barbara was really nice. And I couldn't really believe it. The other girl, Melva, actually seemed to try and work me. You know what I mean. My god, I can see the headlines, "Nigger Stoned to Death After Dating a White Girl." (I wish it could read "Black Boy Dates White-Boy and Nobody Really Gives a Damn").
Well something has been definitely bothering Rocco that has nothing to do with Mama dying and everything. And I finally asked him about it but he kept saying that nothing was wrong. I just didn't have the energy to keep after him about it. He also hasn't said a single word about me being a homosexual since that day we first talked about it. I'm still doing better at school. I'm determined that I'm going to make Mama proud of her son. Besides, it helps to keep my mind as busy as possible. And Rocco I'm certain, now spends more time helping me with my assignments than doing his own work. I realized he was smart, but I think I've underestimated. I know he got straight A's, but I didn't realize before now how he seemed to do it so easily.
And as long as I'm not alone too long, I'm doing pretty well. But when I'm alone, well I think I'm starting to take after Rocco -- I cry a lot. But at least the pain is not quite as raw. Mama, I'm trying.
Chapter 20 -- Let's Keep Things Compartmentalized
It's been about six weeks since Jade's Mama died. And it's taken all that time for Jade to even start to get back to his normal self. But I even caught him smiling a couple times last week. We've gotten into a regular routine. We meet after school and go to my house. We work on his assignments. And some of mine. Well usually. I've also been trying to get Jade interested in doing some fun things again. On the weekends, I've been dragging him (figuratively speaking) out of his house. The weather this Winter has at least cooperated. Not even any snow on the ground most the time. A few times we've taken some long bike trips exploring areas further and further from our neighborhoods. Last weekend we even got all the way to the Delaware River near the Tacoma-Palmyra Bridge. Maybe I can get Jade playing some kind of sport. Every once in a while, I do get with Stan and Jimmy for half-ball. And Jade's birthday is coming up soon. I will have to think of something really spectacular.FIND HISTORIC STUFF and get involved. ------------------------------------------
And tomorrow is the day for our little demonstration at school.
We were almost all the way back to the gym when we heard from behind us: "And after you put those pogo sticks back, find your way back to my office." Such innocent sounding words. Yet because they were spoken to us by Father Brand, they instilled fear. The four of us had been practicing for a couple weeks. There were four us now regularly getting together at school. Twain (Abraham), Jabloski (for some reason we never used his first name), myself, and the new exchange student from Argentina, Nestor Carabahal. To give an idea about the makeup of this group just consider. None of us would ever be accused of being a jock, but we all had enough athletic ability to enjoy sports. But on top of that we were part of a somewhat maligned group -- "good students." Fortunately the school was large enough that no matter what your interest, or what type of student you were, there was at least a few others to get together with. And none of us four were shy about gathering attention. (Well, maybe we had to twist Twain's arm a bit). And each of us was a bit crazier than the other. When I suggested that we practice with the pogo sticks with the understanding that we would eventually "showoff our skills," Nestor was the first to second the idea. We had discovered ten of them in a closet off the gym while looking for some volleyball nets. It turns out they had been donated to the school a while back and were gathering dust. We dusted four of them off. After a bit of practice it started being fun. The tension could be adjusted so my light weight was actually an advantage. We all got pretty good but Nestor was totally crazy. He was the first to try the stairs. But I couldn't resist the challenge.
So after a few weeks practice we decided to showoff our skills to the rest of the school. We started on the third floor at the farthest distance from the gym. We went down corridors and stairs. We went down the final corridor, turning heads all the way, when unfortunately one of the heads we turned was that of the school disciplinarian. We all were awaiting our fate outside his office as we were trying to decide if the fun derived from our showing off was worth the trouble we were now apparently in. Again to indicate the character of the group, we all agreed it was definitely worth it.
Nestor was the most recent addition to our group, but easily the craziest. He was from Argentina but his English was excellent, and he was quite fun to be around. Jabloski was the one who introduced Nestor to the group. It turned out that Jabloski lived only a few doors away from Dr. Krazenski, who sponsored Nestor. Dr. Krazenski was also coincidentally our family doctor. The first time I met Nestor was when I visited his office several weeks ago. I met Nestor there and we hit if off right from the start.
"Hello, I'm Nestor," the voice coming from an absolutely beautiful boy. At least that was my first thought. Very black hair, copper brownish complexion, high cheekbones, smiling black eyes, and a cheerful demeanor. He was about 6 inches taller than me, and slender (NOT skinny). And he was immediately friendly and had an amazing smile. His accent was delightful. The smile moved through the doorway that came from the doctor's office. I assumed incorrectly that he was a patient.
"Hello, I'm Rocco." Not imaginative, but that started a lively conversation about everything. His family owned a big ranch. (A while later I was to find out how inadequate the word "big" was in describing it). We talked a lot about that.
"What do you mean that the people in the town pay rent to your father?" I asked. "What does he own there?"
"You misunderstand, our family owns the entire town. Our ranch includes several villages and towns." He was perfectly serious. Amazing. I started wondering if his father's wealth might even put him in the same league as Howard Hughes.
I guess I should have been more impressed by that, but I was more interested in Nestor himself. The office was quite full, and I had to wait quite a while for the doctor to see me, but during that time with Nestor I developed an intense crush on him, although I didn't think of it in those terms as that time. And when he turned up at school with Jabloski, well it seemed fate was lending a hand. For some reason that I never actually dwelled on for very long, nor understood at the time, I simply wanted to be around Nestor whenever possible. And curiously, he was very happy to oblige. Over the next several weeks, I very gladly listened to quite a few of what were for me his amazing stories. Riding over the range for days at a time. Huge celebrations that could include an entire village. Reading the paper every morning to find out who was ruling the country. Possibly what I thought to be one of the most unusual stories was what Nestor amusingly referred to as how the family "paid their taxes." It seemed that every time a new government took over, they sent them a rather large amount of money to be on the good side of the new regime. So what was in fact a huge bribe was euphemistically called taxes. And here's what did not seem that strange to me at the time. I did NOT connect up how I was feeling about Nestor to my worry over my sexual orientation. Nor did I think of it in relation to my relationship to Jade. It's strange how the mind can compartmentalize things. One might wonder where this is going, so I'll tell you. It was when I was describing the pogo stick incident to Jade just a few days ago. I guess I kept mentioning things about Nestor.
"Holy smoke White-boy, you have a crush on this boy! I don't think we have to wait until you go through puberty."
I resisted that notion with all my strength. I simply didn't believe that explanation. I just liked Nestor. OK, so I liked him a lot. And I was most emphatic in explaining this to Jade.
Eventually we were finally called into Father Brand's office. Father Brand withered us with his infamous stare and finally asked: "Is there a spokesman here?" We numbly looked at each other. Finally I looked up and ALMOST admitted that I was the instigator, but just almost. Honest I really wanted to, but couldn't quite find the courage.
"All right, in light of the fact that no one wants to speak I will assume everyone is equally guilty." And he went on castigating us our breaking of school rules, endangering ourselves and others, and our general recklessness. I thought he was laying it on a bit too much. He finished with: "Ten days Jug," (now our ears perked up, that seemed a little unequal to our guilt) ". . . or put on a display of your skill during sports night next month."
No one was quite sure we heard correctly. Of course Jabloski had to imitate a wise guy: "As in no Jug at all?" he asked. We all looked at him, wondering if we really needed four members to our group. We gladly agreed to do the demonstartion. And couldn't believe that Father Brand had imitated a nice guy.
Later that evening Jade and I were on our way to his house after delivering circulars. We would each take opposite sides of the street. We would make it a competition to see who would finish the block first. Jade did very well with his hooks. We were pretty equal at the task.
"Anything today?" I asked him. He knew what I meant. I was worried that his uncle got drunk again. Fortunately it didn't happen often. But once, though nothing physical, he made some awfully ugly remarks. And at least he has grudgingly agreed to help Jade his harness. Although, as a backup Jade gives me a call.
"Thank God, no. Sometimes we even get along well. But mostly he just stares at me. It's so different from living with Mama. I really miss the ongoing camaraderie."
"I'm glad he's been OK for a good while. Oh, I have to tell you about our pogo stick escapade. It was awesome. But we DID get caught."
"That was almost a foregone conclusion. You guys did it for attention; you can't complain when you get it -- even when it's from the wrong person." Jade smiled. No commiseration here. I was sure glad that his smiles were coming more frequently these days. I explained it in detail. Especially Nestor's antics after we got out of Brand's office. He did back flips halfway down the corridor. I went on at some length.
"You really have it bad don't you?" Again with a big smile.
I was afraid to admit that I understood what he was saying. "What do you mean?"
"Haven't you noticed how much you talk about him. Yes, definitely your first big crush!"
"Well I just like him a lot. He's really a great guy. And funny. And besides. . ."
Jade interrupted. "I know." And mimicking me: "I'm not going to worry until I go through puberty."
I guess Jade knew me pretty well by now. I laughed, but conceded nothing. Not even to myself. And then I deliberately changed the subject. "Don't forget this Saturday. I talked Mr. Formica into letting us get the change for his store." This is the store we delivered circulars for. After explaining to Jade, we planned to go through all the coins before bring them back to the store. We decided to start a penny collection, and thought this would be a good way to start finding the different coins. Eventually we got onto the subject of half-ball. "How about Jimmy and Stan? Do we let ourselves get trounced again?" Jimmy had finally devised a way for Jade to hold a stick bat. However, his skill with it was even less than mine. The result -- we've only beaten Jimmy and Stan once in all the games of half-ball we've played so far.
"That's up to you. I enjoy our games, in spite of the outcome." Doing anything with Jade I enjoyed.
"OK, let me know when, as soon as you know."
"What we should really do is then challenge them to something like scrabble, or some board game, or even pinochle."
"Of course. But they have to agree and Jimmy especially is mostly only into sports."
March 7, 1960
Now I claim to be the intellectual type -- especially to myself. I keep telling myself that if I had any pretensions of being a reasoning person, I should apply this to my problem. I usually investigate as much as I can and then make logical decisions. But I think maybe I have a major blind spot -- my religion. How come I'm so afraid to apply this approach to my current dilemma? I really do believe what I was taught. But how can I reconcile my being gay (or anyone else for that matter) with my religion? The effect was that our religion effectively heaped on piles of guilt onto the average teenager. I mean average Catholic teenager. They tell us that even masturbation will send you straight to hell. Unfortunately we didn't talk about these things to each other. We never compared notes. We were all our tiny islands of guilt. Many of us rationalized that eventually we would get married and so solve the raging hormone problem. Of course I have to admit that I really couldn't speak for everyone else. But I BELIEVED all that stuff unreservedly. And that creates SERIOUS problems for someone who eventually discovers he's homosexual. So for now I guess I'm engaged in the usual teenager shield. "I'll worry about it later." With some vague idea of trying to find out what the bible actually said about homosexuality, if possible. Apparently Jade's Mama, after years of thinking about it, concluded that what the bible condemned was deviant homosexual activity and NOT when it complimented the love of a committed couple. If only I could also believe that. Strangely, or maybe not, thinking about my relationship to Jade, and my reaction to Nestor, why do I have to conclude that this is indicative of being homosexual? I still can't actually envision a SEXUAL relation with anyone.
One decision I did make was to discuss my problem with Jade when he was doing better. But I don't want to burden him with this right now. It's been two months. And actually he's finally getting over the worst pain. We are starting to really enjoy things again. He says he just gets real sad moments at times. Well, we'll see.
And Jade asked me what was bothering me. How can I explain to him, when I'm so mixed up myself? And besides, I'm not even sexually mature yet. And he also claim's my "thing" about Nestor confirms things. I'm still holding out. Well, we'll see.