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 nether regions.

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

Since I posted the Table of Contents, I switched things around just a bit in chapters 40 and 41. The "watching the NFL championship game" is now in Chapter 40. I was at that game, did sit in the second row box seats, (and have no idea where that ticket stub and splinter from the goal post got to). I just hadn't remembered it being the day after Christmas.


PART II -- Discoveries

Chapter 39a -- Some Complications (part a)

I was thinking about what happened at school today while waiting for Rocco in the park across from his school. As usual. I mean waiting as usual. Of course today he said he had to go to some Student Council meeting instead of going to gym, so he might be a bit later if it drags on like it usually did.

What happened at school surely wasn't usual. I mean what happened at my school. At least I hoped it wasn't. Or won't be. It happened in English class. There was a substitute teacher in the class since our regular teacher, Mr. Baxter, wasn`t there -- someone said he was having a baby. Now he usually lets me finish papers at home since I have trouble writing very fast in class. Well not the substitute. We were given an assignment to write a story where we had to describe some scene in lots of detail. Well, when papers were being collected I was about half done and I can still remember the substitute's exact words when I said I needed more time: "Sorry, we can't keep making exceptions all the time. You will have to live in the real world sometime."

I was really surprised. And pretty angry. But my usual reticence of making a thing about my hooks stopped me from saying something. But I was upset.

And later, as I was waiting for Rocco, I started wondering about how I could actually fit into the real world as I got older and even later when I got a job. And this caused me more concern then the original episode. Rocco's sudden appearance got me out of my reverie.

"Hurry, we got to get the 66 on Frankford." And he pulled me to my feet and started for the gate.

"Now exactly why do we have to take the trolley today?" I asked Rocco as he started practically running down the hill on Solly Avenue. He had just gotten his cast off a few days ago and was limping just a bit but that didn't seem to matter.

"You've got to be kidding!" Rocco had this incredulous look as if I had just turned white or something.

"OK. I will assume you're joking. Let's hurry. We can probably get to see the last few innings."

Things clicked. I was so much thinking about what that teacher said I forgot about the game.

I didn't get to say much about my day as Rocco couldn't stop talking about the Pirates' chances to win the World Series today. It was all tied up 3 - 3.

"They have Law pitching today. Hope he's doing as well as the earlier games." Rocco wouldn't stop talking.

Before we got to the stop we started talking about Maris' home run record.

"How about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle? Babe Ruth's record is still intact." Rocco seemed too smug. He couldn't let anyone be better than Babe Ruth.

"How can you say that? Maris hit 61! The last time I checked, number 61 was bigger than 60." Seemed pretty obvious I thought.

"You want to make Satchel Page seem better than Ruth in your mind. So you WANT Ruth's record beat. That's what's making you deliberately ignore the facts. Maris did it in 6 more games than Ruth. In the same number of games, he was still at 59. Bingo NO new record! At the pace Ruth hit home runs that year, if HE had the same number of games he would have hit at least 62! End of lesson in logic!"

I accused Rocco of being selectively logical. He could sure throw logic to the wind if it served his purpose. But I finally conceded. "OK, I guess I'll have to admit that it technically doesn't beat Ruth, but you have to admit 61 homers is awesome. Too bad Mantle got that bad infection in his hip going to that quack doctor. He probably WOULD have beaten the record otherwise."

We both agreed with that assessment. We got to Rocco's house and he moaned when we saw that his little sister was watching a show I thoroughly detested. It was one of the old Amos 'n' Andy reruns. Fortunately it only took a fifty cent bribe. When we finally got the game on it was in the 8th inning already and the Pirates were behind 7 to 4.

Rocco moaned. "Well, I guess it was too much to hope that they could beat the Yankees this year."

But the Pirates and Rocco went wild as they scored 5 runs to go up by 2. I mean they both went wild but only the Pirates scored the runs. On second thought, watching Rocco, you might have thought he had a hand in the scoring too. Then Rocco couldn't stop groaning when the Yankees tied it in the ninth. Then Rocco went totally bonkers when Mazaroski hit a homer to win the game. For the Pirates. His Mom came into the living room to see as she put it "what's all the ruckus about." I was almost as entertained watching Rocco as I was the game.

After the game we zoomed -- I mean Rocco zoomed up to his room -- and I followed quickly behind. It was something seeing Rocco this excited. It sort of was catching. Rocco grabbed my books and dumped them out on the desk. "OK. We need to get everything done quick. The debate's at 7:30 and we need to get everything done by then. Mom already knows you're eating here."

I moaned -- loudly. My feelings seemed to be more at the surface right now. I just couldn't get as excited as Rocco about seeing the debate on the TV tonight. But I didn't complain too much -- well, my definition of "too much," and we actually did get a lot done before going down for dinner.

About 40 minutes later, we were back finishing up my paper from English. I was hoping that Mr. Baxter would accept it tomorrow. (Assuming he was back). And he never complained when he saw that someone else even wrote it out for me. Not like Doom last year. Rocco didn't want to take the time to type it. The last was my Geometry. We were doing SAS triangle proofs. I was trying to figure out Rocco's "draw and look" method.

"Jade, all you have to do is find the angle they want you to use and then show how the sides on each side are congruent."

I finally caught on but I wish he would stop using words like "easy" or "just" or "obvious." I don't think I could keep the annoyance out of my voice at times. In fact I seemed to be grousing a lot and that wasn't usually me.

The debate was almost ready to start when Rocco threw my coat to me and told his Mom and Dad we were going outside for a minute. It was unusually cold today and I had my winter coat.

"Jade, you seemed pretty gloomy all day and you usually don't complain that much even during your math homework. And I know that you don't really want to watch that debate. So how about telling me what's all wrong."

And I told Rocco about what happened in class. "But what got me most wasn't what happened with the teacher in school. I started thinking about how can I really do something to live on after High School."

"But I thought we had that all figured out. You get a scholarship to college." He must have seen my expression and continued. "Or get you through college somehow and you can then surely find some kind of job. I thought you said you said you maybe would like to teach."

"Sure. But I just get worried at times about if I can really do it."

"And you're always the one telling me not to think too much. And besides, I always assumed it would be us really doing it."

By this time we were a few blocks from Rocco's house already. So we both I guess decided to forget about the Kennedy-Nixon debate. He finally talked me out of my mood and we started talking about Consuelo wanting to see that new movie that should hit our neighborhood theater in a week or so. It was a comedy that I don't think either Rocco or I was especially interested in, The Apartment. I wanted to see John Wayne in The Alamo, but Rocco wasn't interested in that one either. I guess we would find out what the girls wanted. It felt weird talking about dating girls. I liked Consuelo but that was all. But I was starting to wonder about Rocco. He seemed to really get along with Carlotta. He kept saying how really nice she was.

We got back to his house to catch the last few minutes of Kennedy and Nixon. It was weird. They were in different cities so each candidate was on just one half of the screen.

Chapter 39b -- Some More Complications (part b)

I finally talked Jade into watching the last Kennedy-Nixon debate. Mariann left the room pouting, when she realized her precious show, The Flintstones, wasn't on. My brother also was watching, and was even reasonably polite. I think he was much more interested in the debate itself, than even I was. In fact only my youngest sister wasn't in the room. I thought that Kennedy clearly was the better debater. Nixon looked like he was going to puke.

While waiting for the debate to start, I was telling Jade about the really funny political satire show that was produced in England and was on TV this year. It was called The Week That Was. I tried to explain this skit that was shown this week that involved a tennis match between Kennedy and Nixon that actually mimicked what was happening in their campaign. When Nixon started loosing, suddenly Eisenhower ran out onto the court to help Nixon. Jade didn't seem impressed.

"I guess you had to see it yourself. It was really funny." I said.

"I'll take your word. But if they keep ridiculing all these people in the news as you say, I suspect the show won't last long."

I looked at Jade like he just went nuts. I thought: "And money will grow scarce because it gets spent too fast." What I did say was: "How does that make sense?"

"Well, if they actually keep pointing out the truth about these people, the show will probably be sued off the air." At that exact moment Nixon was being introduced by the moderator. Jade added: "I wonder how much truth we will hear from these guys."

After the debate was over Jade asked: "OK, now what?"

"That's it? No comment on the debate? I don't believe you!" Actually I could. Jade just wasn't that interested in politics.

"Well, I think Kennedy clearly won the debate, but will clearly lose the election. The polls show Nixon still ahead. And he and Kennedy really disagreed on how to deal with Cuba. But for myself, I can't see how Kennedy thinks we can somehow get the country back from the communists."

I couldn't let that pass. "But what he was trying to say was that we can't just sit back and let the communists take over the rest of the world. They're starting revolutions all over the place and we got to stop them. Look what`s happening in Louse and Vietnam!"

Jade snickered. I hated when he did that. "Rocco, for someone who claims to be more up on current affairs, you can't even get the names right. It's Laos, l - a - o - s. And it looks like Kennedy wants to send more Americans over there. I'm not sure I like that."

I was getting so frustrated. How can Jade be so unpatriotic? But I didn't say that. I just repeated that we had to stop the spread of Communism. I decided to change the subject to stuff in our own country. "How can you be so unconcerned who wins! Kennedy clearly wants to help the low income people and unless you haven't reported all your income, that included you. Also how can you be comfortable having a president who helped McCarthy with his witch hunt? You know it wasn't just supposed communist either. They got hundreds of people they claimed were homosexuals fired from government jobs. I remember it made the headlines a number of times. (My parents wouldn't answer me when I asked then what homosexuals were, but I still remember). And they tried to do away with the Bill of Rights. And Nixon also was completely opposed to the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. The Board of Education." (That was a really big deal in the news. My parents talked about it a lot).

"Who's Brown?" Jade asked.

I was literally speechless for almost an entire two seconds. "Oh my god, a colored person who doesn't know the significance of Brown vs. The Board of Education. That decision helped end that stupid `separate but equal' bullshit." I looked around to make sure nobody heard me use that word.

We then discussed it -- well I made Jade listen to what I wanted to say. I was still surprised with Jade's ignorance about it. I considered it my duty to remedy the situation.

"But Kennedy's still going to lose. He's way down in the polls." Jade kept saying that.

"Not any more, he's getting closer." I couldn't concede. I hated Nixon's record against civil rights so much. I was also thinking how come so many kids at school say they are for one of these candidates and when I ask why, they really couldn't say? At least with any actual facts.

Our conversation eventually got to how the "shower thing" was doing. That brought to mind my thoughts as I entered the faculty house for the first time by myself. I was thinking how weird it felt going into that place. I was a bit anxious when I met Father Brand there.

"Hello there Mr. Papariello." I turned. It was Father Brand. He even smiled. A very small one, but still!

"Hello Father." Wow was I the conversationalist.

"It's been a lot quieter around school since you and Nestor haven't been teaming up." He was making a joke about it?!

I don't know where the nerve came from, maybe it was him joking. "Thanks for the compliment. I'll try to liven things up again."

He even chuckled out loud! A few other teachers passing by were looking at us. I suddenly reverted to my usual coward self and eased away.

And the whole situation kept me thinking about exactly who I was and how I could resolve everything with my religion. It was starting to really bother me. Up to a few weeks ago I was easily able to bury these thoughts when I chose. But now. . . But I didn't talk about those particular thoughts with Jade. I was still trying to figure things out for myself.

Instead I just remarked: "And Jade, this you got to hear." I went on to mention about how weird it felt and a few funny things that happened. "And Father Brand actually chuckled today -- out loud. Who knows, maybe someone will even catch him laughing soon." I laughed at my own joke.

Apparently Jade didn't think it so funny. I guess you had to know Father Brand.

Journal of Rocco P

October 22, 1960
Yesterday, Jade and I listened to the last debate. I think the election is a toss-up right now. I can't understand how come Jade don't seem that interested in who wins.

Today, Jade and I just had fun exploring the park down near the prison. We rarely went that way, but I felt like going somewhere new. We saw a lot of small ponds and we talked about getting a microscope again. Still don't have enough money.

Tomorrow, Jade and I have another date with the girls. And I can't stop thinking how unreal this all seems. Like we're playing parts in some play where both Jade and I are pretending to be two boys that don't really exist. I'm starting to wonder if I will eventually have to play this role my whole life.

It was the day after the elections and I was really tired. Even though it was a weekday, I stayed up late last night trying to see if Kennedy won but it was still not known by the time I went to bed. That morning I was all excited about the results and couldn't wait to tease Jade. And of course collect my 50 cent bet. But it wasn't until right before dinner before I could collect. Jade was late since they had last minute stuff to finish on their school paper; they wanted to add something about the elections. I was watching The Loretta Young Show with nothing better to do. And one of actresses reminded me of the one Shirley-something in that terrible move we had seen.

Jade and I had gone on our third date with the girls a couple weeks ago and in spite of the movie we had fun. They lived so far away, we just met at the theater. And even though we had a "discussion" about what movie we would see, Jade and I knew that our two votes wouldn't really count. So we wound up seeing The Apartment, which a lot of people were saying would probably win the Academy Award for Best Picture. I not only didn't like the movie, I tried to find a word in my Thesaurus that was stronger than loathe. They made the idea of people cheating on their wives a virtue. I hated it. And I decided that Jack Lemmon was no longer on my if-they-play-in-it-I-want to-see-it movie list. (That list still included Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Sidney Poitier, among others). I used up an entire year of will power not to say what I was really thinking when the girls started rehashing the movie afterwards. Jade I was pretty sure knew something was amiss when I barely made a comment -- that was definitely not the real me. Later, after the girls got picked up by Consuelo's mother, Jade couldn't stop laughing at my reaction. (I told him that it was sure lucky he was handicapped, or I would have really hurt him).

Fortunately, by the time we drifted onto the Mayfair Diner for milkshakes we were onto other topics. I had my usual black and white. Consuelo remarked: "I can't believe it. Even when you order a shake you are still race conscious."

I was a bit taken aback for a second. I didn't think about it that way. I ALWAYS ordered chocolate syrup with vanilla ice cream, and said so. Then she laughed. "Rocco, you take everything too literally." I was starting to realize that that was a typical Consuelo-type joke.

But her remark got us onto a topic about mixed-marriages. Someone mentioned Sammy Davis who was supposed to be marrying some Swedish actress in a couple weeks and Consuelo added that his marriage would be illegal in the majority of our states. I couldn't figure how to answer. If I had been just with Jade that would have been different. And Carlotta seemed embarrassed by the remark. I think. She was hard for me to read.

Later I was wondering if this was what made Carlotta leery about dating? At the dance I overheard her mentioning to Consuelo that she had been a bit worried about what a boy might say when they found out her Dad wasn't white. Consuelo then remarked to her cousin that she was so good looking, nobody would even care. That was what I wanted to say too but I was too much of a coward to say something like that myself. Maybe it was my friendship with Jade that put her as ease with me.

Then this very topic was brought up by Consuelo when she mentioned that there was suppose to be a movie just about that same idea. She and her cousin had been talking about it. According to the Sunday Magazine in the paper a while back, there was a real popular play that was supposed to be made into a movie soon. It was called West Side Story. I guess because it was supposed to take place on the west side of New York City or Manhattan or something like that. I was thinking I'd like to see it when it came out even though it was going to be a musical. And I even got this stray thought about maybe seeing it with Carlotta. I wanted to say something about this but I was a coward again and never said a word. Especially since Carlotta barely said a word. (I didn't seem to have any trouble mentioning these things to Jade).

After we were at the Diner a while I noticed Consuelo getting really annoyed and couldn't figure why at first. Then I saw the dirty looks we were getting from one of the customers. Damn. She had no compunction about getting us talking about this. Then I finally opened my mouth. (Did I really finally get the nerve to say something)? "I just got a neat idea. How about when we leave, we go to the cash register, but with me holding Consuelo's hand, and Jade, you with Carlotta. That will rub it in good."

But both the girls seemed uncomfortable with that suggestion, and Jade quickly said: "I'm exercising my power of veto. Why invite trouble?"

"I know, you're right, I just hate it though." We left without any real problems.

We went to my house, and my Dad then took the girls home. I was a bit surprised when he had volunteered last week to do this. Later I found out Carlotta's Dad had arranged it with a phone call to my Dad.

Jade finally got here; I got my 50 cents; and we got most of our assignments done. Jade and I were just leaving my bedroom when my brother entered. His greeting was: "I hope you weren't fingering my things."

He got me pissed as usual. I couldn't resist a parting jibe: "I was just showing Jade how you fixed all the coils in the VFR, to bring it down to the six meter band. I hope you can readjust them again." I gave him my best gotcha smile and we left. He had literally spent hours doing that.

Jade remarked: "I'm glad to see you and your brother getting on better." And he smiled at the little joke.

"Actually, I think he seems to have mellowed a bit this year. Perhaps he's been so preoccupied trying to get a scholarship to some college." And I stopped and turned with Jade bumping into me. "Hay Carl, excited about Kennedy being elected?"

That got Carl talking about some of the things he hoped would now get done. Like the new Peace Corps idea and so on. It was a while before we could escape. But I was a little surprised; I actually had to admit that I agreed with a lot of the stuff my brother said.

We went to see how Critter was doing. We now had him in the basement. It was getting too cold at night. I guess my mind was thinking about some things that I was worried about and didn`t hear Jade saying something. I felt a nudge from one of his hooks. "Earth to Rocco, come in. What you look so sad about all of a sudden. And I don't think you even heard me talking."

I looked up and my emotions "emotioned" on me again. I had to use up a weeks supply of will power to stop the tears I felt welling up. "I'm starting to get worried."

Jade I think knew what I meant. Or at least in part. Part was about Consuelo and Carlotta. And it was about Nestor and even Carlotta's brother. And it was about Jade himself. And it was about my religion. And it was about the stuff Father Hearn finally got to me last week that I hadn't even shown Jade yet. And I always show him everything. But I didn't know how to feel about most of this stuff myself. How can I then explain about it?"

Jade was holding Critter, who was busy eating, and looked up at me again. I mean Jade looked up; Critter kept on eating. "Is this about the girls? Lately when we talk about dates and stuff I notice that you seem worried about things. How about we talk about it?"

"Jade," I thought to myself, "That's only a minor part of what I'm worried about. I was also thinking that it was the least worrisome part. But I didn't say that. "Jade, I'm scared about what could happen. This seemed so simple at first. But what happens if either Consuelo or Carlotta decides they merely want a good night kiss? I don't know about you but I couldn't do it after my eighth grade graduation dance, and I don't think I could do it now. Or at least not without her thinking that something wasn't quite right."

"How can you know? You claim you've NEVER kissed ANYONE."

"Actually that's not true!" I deliberately kept Jade in suspense. "I kissed someone right on the lips once!" I enjoyed Jade's look.

"And you never told me? When and who?"

"Last week when I got you up that morning. I saw you there and just got the urge. You didn't even wake up."

"Well, White-boy, I suspect you need not wait `till puberty. And that brings up another question. What's up with that?"

"My penis is getting a bit bigger, some more hair is growing, and I keep getting boners at the most embarrassing moments, but that's it so far. How do you know when you're well underway?"

"That's a no-brainer. You keep thinking about sex stuff. You will have some remarkably strong urges to jerk-off, and when you do a lot of white stuff spurts out, and you'll start having wet dreams. We've talked about this before."

I was still embarrassed talking about this stuff, even with Jade. "My religion claims that masturbation is a mortal sin -- you go straight to hell!"

"In that case not a single boy alive could make it to heaven. Well maybe some poor eunuch somewhere. I thought you had Kinsey memorized."

Jade gave me back the book a while back. He said he had read the part on homosexuals a couple times, and he had been frustrated that even after reading it, it was still difficult to figure out exactly how many people were actually like him. I remembered him saying: "I just don't have any attraction to any girl at all." Then what's all this about Consuelo all of a sudden I thought. He continued: "But Kinsey seems to say that although a small percent don't ever have sex with girls, there were a lot of in-between people. Are these people homosexuals or what?"

I pulled my thoughts back to the question at hand. "From what I remember reading, he claims that 99% of boys that matured by 15 had masturbated at least some time while only 93% of those that matured after 15."

Jade remarked: "I wonder about that last 7%. They didn't masturbate because they were having sex with other people?"

"Don't know. I thought you said you read the book? Kinsey has pages and pages of statistics but it's hard sometimes to figure out some of it. In fact I couldn't find out at all about that last 7% from what I read. But in another place, depending on the study, the total percent of those that had masturbated were between 94% and 98%. As I said he made it quite complicated. And I was also wondering about those so-called "devout Catholics" he interviewed. I suspect many of them would never have admitted a lot of stuff."

"Well, I just concentrated on the homosexual chapter. And I'm still not happy that he made no different statistics for colored people. In fact almost all the charts are on the white male as if the black male made no never mind. But what you said still shows almost all boys masturbate."

"Well just because the whole world does it, don't make it right."

"And why's it wrong? Please explain WHY your religion says it's wrong? Who exactly is getting hurt? It's the most natural thing there is. Is it also wrong to enjoy eating a bowl of ice cream?"

"According to what my church teaches any sex at all outside marriage and not for having kids is immoral and a mortal sin. They say that masturbation and so on is a grave moral disorder. And I thought Baptists believed that too."

"Well, that's what I believe. And if what you said is so, then you better stop yourself from having all those wet dreams too. Think of all those wasted sperms. And even if you get married you had better then only do it if your wife can get pregnant, or you're still wasting them again. You might barely be able to build a case if you said it was a selfish act. Barely. But damn -- is it so evil God sends you to hell? That's dumb."

"Well, that's what they teach."

"My Mama did mention that sex should be used as an act of love. That just using it as a selfish recreation can be bad. But you, or your Religion, are taking it to absurd extremes. I think you're missing the broad picture."

I just couldn't get myself to talk about what was most bothering me, and so couldn't talk about that stuff that Father Hearn finally got to me as he said he would. It was written by another priest about how the Church should deal with homosexuals and getting married. And some of what I read had me really upset.

Instead I answered: "Actually, I guess I don't have to worry about it yet. I still haven't . . ."

Jade jumped in: "I know; you haven't gone through puberty yet." And Jade hugged me tight for a moment.

But it was a lie what I just said. And I think Jade realized it. I was worrying about it a lot lately.

I was saved by the bell, in the guise of my Mom. She was calling down to us that dinner was ready. Jade went home for dinner and it was understood he'd call if necessary.

It felt good at dinner when nothing was said to get anyone upset. Even Carl went the whole meal without a single nasty remark. The topic eventually got onto the football season and how well the Eagles were doing.

I remarked: "How about the Eagles Sunday?" I was becoming a rabid Eagles fan now that they were winning. "Two touchdowns behind going into the fourth quarter and Van Brocklin threw a couple bombs and they won. If they can only beat the Giants now they can get sole possession of first place."

We talked about Van Brocklin and the Eagles actually winning for a change. And Van Brocklin and McDonald being a great pass combination, and Van Brocklin being one of the best long ball passers there is. One of his passes went almost 80 yards in the air! Dad claimed that Unitas was still the best.

"Who you think they'll face if they get there?" My sister asked. For a girl she got pretty interested herself.

"Probably Green Bay," I replied. "They're getting awfully good. Their quarterback, Bart Star is pretty good, even if he don't throw a pass more than 5 yards." (Only a slight exaggeration).

Dinner ended and I was even smiling again.

Journal of Rocco P

November 10, 1960
I'm so mixed up and so worried about all this stuff about homosexuality I don't know what to do. Yesterday, Jade tried to get me to tell him what had me so worried lately but I couldn't tell him what all I was really thinking. Afterwards it suddenly struck me that here I'm complaining so much to Jade, yet Jade not only has all his problems with no real family and no hands, but he has to be struggling with being a homosexual too. Yet even though he complains about his uncle all the time, and even occasionally about something to do with his hooks, I've never heard him make a single complaint about being homosexual. And another thing I just realized -- Jade holding me tight felt as good as when my Mom does it.

Chapter 40 -- The First Crisis and a Championship Football Game

Over the past few months, I hadn't been able to get Rocco to talk much about his problems let alone make any decisions. Of course, as he keeps saying, although curious, he had no urgency. But I'm not so sure anymore. There definitely is something wrong. I know him too well. He's no longer his usual cheerful self, and he keeps changing the subject every time I even hint anything about sex. Sure, he can get really upset about things, but he always bounces back fast. `Til now. Something is going on and I was pretty sure I knew what. He's finally sexually maturing. But since we had that talk early last November, I can't get him to talk about it at all.

I became certain a couple weeks after Christmas, that something had to be done. For the past year, Rocco had always been fairly nonchalant about seeing me naked. In fact he had frequently stared as I changed clothes or whatever. But for the past weeks, he had made sure we were not together when either of us was close to being naked. And last night it became obvious. He came over to help with my straps. Now I've always gotten my clothes off, and usually put on a clean pair of boxers before taking off the hooks. And so when Rocco needs to come over because my uncle isn't available, I'm almost always naked some time while he's there. But last night was different.

I was just starting to pull down my boxers when he stood up. I started kidding about him wiping my butt.

"Damn it Jade, stop it." He quickly moved away saying: "I have to go to the bathroom, be right back."

I was sitting there with just my clean boxers. I was also sitting there stunned. White-boy had NEVER talked to me that way. I was starting to feel hurt, but realizing that something more was going on, I started wondering if he was having some serious worries about what his Religion taught about sex.

He eventually came back and started with the straps. The boxers I had put on had been ripped in front and when I stood up everything hung out. And I was getting pretty big down there, I'm proud to say. He took one look, finished with the straps, and rocketed out of there.

He was already out in the hallway when he said: "See you tomorrow."

I had to figure out how to make him talk about things. It hurt. This is the first time we haven't been able to share our problems. And I was worried.

Some things from the past couple months kept coming to mind. On the surface all was well. Thanksgiving was really good. Well until I was alone that night. I ate at Rocco's house and it was pleasant. The turkey was great and I now know where he got his ideas of walnuts, and celery tops, and olives, and eggs, and the kitchen sink in the stuffing. It was how his father made it. And it was good. But I couldn't stop feeling sorry about the first time I didn't have my Mama with me on Thanksgiving. I cried myself to sleep that night.

And for Christmas, we splurged. Not only on a microscope, but a couple tickets to the championship NFL game which we went to the next day. We decided that this would be our Christmas presents to each other.

Everybody listen up!   This is Rocco.   I rewrote this next part about the game since Jade didn't report it right.

He doesn't know it yet but I snuck this in when he wasn't looking.

"How much!?" Jade was just a tad excited when I told him how much the tickets would cost.

"It's all your fault. If you hadn't been so I'm-not-sure-I-really-want-to-go for the past week we would have a better choice of seats."

"How would a better choice of seats be less expensive?"

"About all they had left were box seats."

"And while you're at it, explain to me again how much I will enjoy watching this game from a hard bench, in freezing weather, while we could be warm and comfortable watching it on TV."

This statement was near heresy to a TRUE Eagle's fan. "But this is the Championship Game. The Eagles have NEVER been there before. (Actually I wasn't so sure of this). Probably NEVER be there again. And the box seats are real seats."

"OK White-boy. It's just I nearly had heart failure when you told me the cost of those tickets. Do we even have enough? Especially if we want to get the microscope?"

"You said you would still have 30 dollars, and I would have about 50 left. That's way more than enough. Remember, you can tell your grandkids about personally being at the Eagles first NFL Championship."

Jade gave me one of his only-YOU-could-say-something-like-that look. "Grandkids? Me?"

"So you adopt. Many people do."

"Right." Then in falsetto: "Now Mr. Brown, let's see. You're a homosexual, single, Negro, with a major handicap. Just what else qualifies you for being an adoptive parent?"

"No need to be sarcastic. It's only a saying. And you're only trying to change the subject." I new that we would both be at the game next week, Jade was just being Jade.

"OK, but you really couldn't get cheaper seats?"

"No, and if we delay another day, we won't get any."

So we finally found ourselves in the second row box seats near the fifty yard line at Franklin Field on a surprisingly not so cold and partly cloudy Monday afternoon. (Jade erringly said it was super freezing). Sure, there had been a few snow flurries earlier but now the sun was out. I was so excited I never felt the cold. I was still surprised, however, when Jade chose not to wear his hooks.

"On a day like today they'd act like a heat sink. I'll be too cold to eat anything anyway, and I have my straw for hot chocolate. And yes, for dragging me to the game, you will have to hold the drinks."

I tried to say something about how thrilling it was to be here but Jade never let me get very far.

"OK, tell me again why we're here a half hour early?" Jade was making sure I was punished for making him come.

"It's only 25 minutes, and how can you NOT be excited to actually see Van Brocklin, and McDonald, and Bednarik in person. Besides, you're enjoying yourself. You just might not realize it quite yet."

"You mean they will be coming up to us in the stands and introduce themselves?" Jade answered. He thought he was good at sarcasm.

I pretended I didn't hear that. In fact, we were soon both shouting and yelling along with everyone else. The game proved to be exciting and went down to the last play. The Eagles, of course, made it exciting like they did all season. And they were playing the Packers. They were down a few points late in the second half when another of their drives ran out of gas. Punting again. Well, the punter went in to punt -- but didn't.

I yelled: "Holy smoke, I just don't believe it! He actually got a first down! I can't believe the coach had them take such a gamble." Jade was as ecstatic as I was. The punter faked the kick and ran for a first down just past mid-field. They even scored a touchdown this drive going up 17-13. Finally Green Bay got the ball late in the fourth quarter. Play after play they ground down the field. We all were holding our breath and looking at the clock's slowly turning secondhand. 40 - 30 - 20. They needed a touchdown, down by 4 points.

Amazingly time ran out as Green Gay got to the 10 yard line. Time halted. We won! Pandemonium. Many of us ran out onto the field.

Hay everybody!   Rocco thinks he snuck in that part about the football game without me knowing.   He's not as sneaky as he thinks he is.

I think I'll not say anything until I need something to blackmail him about.   -- Jade

Later, when Rocco and I were on the bus on the way home, I looked at him pretending to be angry: "OK, White-boy. Explain just why you're still alive!" We were finally getting warm. I looked at the thermos he was carrying and added: "Anything left in there?"


"No, you won't answer how come you're still alive, or no, there's no more hot chocolate?"

"No more chocolate."

"Typical. I almost had to sacrifice my own life to save you, and you won't answer a simple question."

"No, there's no hot chocolate left. It's been empty since half time."

Rocco was in one of his contrary moods.


"OK, thanks for pulling me from the pile. But it was hardly saving my life. Besides, it was well worth it. I was even able to get a splinter from the goalpost."

Rocco liked baiting me like this. I reacted like he expected because Rocco liked the attention. And we actually both knew this.

We went through the game almost play by play as we returned home. Rocco thought it was 70 dollars well spent. But that was more than our microscope! I let Rocco talk me into it. I decided it would give me at least a couple free weeks of being able to grump about it.

Rocco was still bubbling when we got to his house; OK I was pretty happy too. Rocco's enthusiasm was very catching. I was even invited for dinner again. (Rocco said he had already arranged this but never mentioned it `til now. And what I would like to know, how the heck did he get my hooks there without me knowing about it)? He walked me home afterwards, discussing a lot of stuff including our plans for rest of the week. But nothing definite was decided except for trying out our new microscope. It had four objectives, four eye pieces, and went up to 1000 power.

The very next day we had it set up on his kitchen table. Along with all the accessories we bought, like regular slides, well slides, cover slips, stains, even some prepared slides. The first thing we started doing was poking fingers for blood.

We had everything set up, with the Wright's Stain ready. "OK, White-boy, give me your finger." I had the wooden handled needle ready. I had just finished sterilizing it.

He looked at me and so un-innocently asked: "Why does it have to be MY finger?" He thought that REALLY funny. He couldn't keep his expression blank and started laughing.

I said: "OK then, let's get Dolores in here. Maybe she'll volunteer." Needless to say we used his finger.

"Ouch!" But he still put the drop on the slide and smeared it flat with a second slide. We eventually were looking at it through the microscope. We had fun locating all the different types of white blood cells.

Rocco was in a good mood. Christmas had been great. We even brought gifts to the girls, in spite of the fact that Carlotta was now dating someone else. That's one of the reasons why Rocco was in a good mood I thought. I told him it was one less complication in his life and he agreed.

Then Rocco got this sick smile which he mistakenly claimed was his sly smile. "OK, but we need to see if black blood is the same. Where can we poke?"

My smile on the other hand WAS sly. "How about my dick? Lots of blood there!"

He quickly looked around: "You trying to get me into trouble? If anyone had heard that we'd both be in SERIOUS trouble. I can't believe you said that." But he was still smiling.

Eventually we decided to look at the water we got from Pennypack Park a while back.

"Where are the specimen jars?" I asked.

"Basement. I'll get them."

A couple minutes later Dolores and Mariann came into the kitchen where we were set up. "What are you looking at?" Dolores asked.

I answered, and she looked through the eye piece. "We just did this in Biology lab," she remarked. "I hated poking my finger. How can you do it?" And she looked at me and suddenly turned red.

I was laughing. I held up one of my hooks and said: "It was really tough but Rocco finally poked through."

Finally Dolores smiled. "Thanks for being so nice about it. I just forgot for a second."

We eventually used a well slide and looked at water from some rinsed out moss. Rocco went manic when we found a water-bear. A very weird creature with six limbs. We lost all sense of time as we went from drop to drop. All kinds of neat things. We even found some amoebas, and vorticellas on their stalks that looked like springs. And some amazing things called hypotrichs. We had to add some methylcellulose to slow them down. They were really intriguing.

"OK, next time we should be more methodical and start recording things and where we got them." I said. Rocco agreed. And I added: "And next time you can poke ME," and I held up a hook and laughed.

Right before I went home, the evening paper came and Rocco had to grab the sports section to read about the game. It had a recap of the whole championship game. Rocco tuned every thing else out as he read. Then he grabbed my hook. "Jade look at this. It says that the punter running for the first down that lead to the winning score did it entirely on his own. The coach even fined him for not punting as directed, but then gave him an equal bonus for making the first down."

It took me an extra 10 minutes to leave. Rocco kept grabbing me and showing me something he was reading.

That entire Christmas holiday time was so great. We even took the girls to a concert at Dolores' school. Carlotta's younger brother also came with. (Since Carlotta was now dating someone else, we claimed it wasn't an actual date with her and Rocco). Dolores played the oboe and had threatened us with bodily harm if we didn't buy some tickets. We had a good time. I was a little surprised when Carlotta talked to Rocco about her new boyfriend. He told me later he had been given her advice on how to "capture him." I thought they were both weird. Rocco giving advice on dating? More than weird.

But now, I started thinking how Rocco seemed lately not to share what was so apparently bothering him. Didn't he trust me anymore? I was as unhappy now as I was happy two weeks ago. I had to do something. So this Saturday morning (well almost afternoon) I was headed to Rocco's house. My thoughts were all over the place. I started to think about how we met, how we got so close, and how we had always shared our secrets with each other.

Imagine, merely walking through his neighborhood to his house would have been so difficult for me just a year and a half ago. And now I walked to his house without the slightest concern, and was prepared to drag him to our rock. I didn't care about how cold it was.

"Come right in. He's just finished cleaning his room." His Mom was holding a dust cloth. "Why don't you go up to his room?" To think last year I was so self conscious being here. Now it seemed so natural.

I walked into his room and said: "Let's go to our rock. We need to talk."

"It's way too cold." He turned and we looked at each other. White-boy's ESP was still in working condition. He realized this was serious instantly. "How about going bowling instead?"

This was a private joke. We headed out a bit later -- to the library -- which was next door to the bowling alley. It turned out to be a good choice. We had our own private corner there. Rocco also brought some books with him he was returning.

I didn't say much on our way. "Are we really going to talk now?"

He knew exactly what I was asking. He was equally as cryptic but perfectly understandable. "I guess right now is finally `later'."

I tried to read his tone but it seemed calm. He returned the books and we found a corner among the stacks.

"Really sorry Jade but I've been upset. Too much to talk. Actually not so much upset as sort of set adrift. I can't deny it any longer. I've had a number of wet dreams these last couple weeks and they all totally revolved around boys."

"I thought it was something like that. How do you feel about it?"

"Let me back up first. A couple weeks ago I accidentally masturbated." He saw my look. "Don't give me your that's-absolutely-impossible look. It's true. OK, I admit I'm naive sometimes. And if you ever repeat this story even to God I'll . . . well, assume it will be too terrible to even describe." In counter point to his words though, Rocco was smiling. I smiled back.

"I'll pretend we're watching Twilight Zone together and suspend belief."

"Thanks. I was just rubbing my body up and down in bed and suddenly I got this amazing feeling. So I kept going. Suddenly I erupted. It was utterly amazing. Of course I realized what had happened but only afterwards. And before you say anything, all right I'm an idiot for not knowing what was happening, but listen. I'm Catholic. I still believe that it's wrong. So I never actually thought either about doing it or even how to do it. It's all I can say."

"OK. It really doesn't matter. But congratulations. You're growing up, so to speak."

"Jade, I know what your `so to speak' means. But I've actually grown an inch this year just since school started. I'm five two. Well, just about. And stop smirking. For me that's great!"

"Great, but what's been getting to you?"

"It's not just the dreams. Although I guess that was the final piece of evidence. And even though I can get hard just seeing a cute guy walk by, I can't seem to get the slightest interest in girls that way. You know what I mean. When we were at that concert I kept looking at Carlotta. I mean she would grab any boy's attention. Sort of reminds me of what Sophia Loren may have looked like as a teen. I even kept looking at her breast. Nothing. I even tried to imagine her naked. Unfortunately I kept being distracted by her brother next to her. I guess I was still hoping. But after thinking about everything, I had to finally admit that probably I'm homosexual. You don't know how traumatic it can be finally looking into a mirror and saying `I'm a homosexual.' "

His last sentence definitely proved how upset he was. I decided to let that one go. But I did ask: "Probably?"

"OK. So I'm still holding out. I'm only 99.8% sure. But for me this has been traumatic. I feel like my whole life has become unglued. I don't WANT to be homosexual. And I've really tried to get myself even the slightest bit attracted by girls physically, or sexually, but it's a lost cause. And I can't explain it, but it even more than physical. I just feel I want to be with a boy instead of a girl. I think I may be a seven."

"Some of that came out awfully garbled but I know what you mean. I think. But what the hell you mean a seven?"

"Well, you know in the Kinsey book, a six is extreme homosexual? Well I'm even passed that. They need a new number for me." Rocco smiled. "And don't ask me why I'm smiling, I don't know."

"So now what? I always assumed you probably were homosexual. OK I confess; I was hoping we could eventually be boyfriends. What do you think about it? And by the way, how can you say you're ONLY 99.8% sure, and then say you're a `seven'?"

Rocco ignored my question. "And that's only part of the problem. There are two things. One, I've actually masturbated a number of times this week. But to me this is also traumatic. I tried not to but I sort of gave in. And then just gave in again. And again. And when I hold out more than a day I get this amazing wet dream and wake up so aroused -- well, it's hard." He must have seen my expression. "And I didn't mean that as a pun! You know what I mean."

"Well, join the human race of teenage boys."

"But we talked about this before. It's wrong, but I suspect many other Catholic boys wind up with the same problem. We keep giving in, but hope that eventually, when we get married we no longer have to worry about masturbation and mortal sin. We have some vague idea that no matter how many times we give in and masturbate, we eventually will get back in good with God by getting married and so on. But what the hell am I supposed to do?"

"Damn. Why do you have to make such a big deal about jerking-off? I asked you this before. Do you honestly, deep down inside, believe it's so wrong?" (Rocco seemed to even wince at my use of the phrase "jerking-off." Like somehow, using that jargon, even made it worse).

"I'm not sure. Last year I would have answered without the slightest hesitation. Definitely. But now? I'm honestly not sure. But the bigger problem, what do I do now? According to the Church I must remain celibate forever! I really don't think I can do that. Not unless someone invents a pill that makes a person a hell of a lot less horny."

(Did Rocco actually use that word, 'horny')? "Shit. You really are hurting. I can only say one thing. Many people don't believe that masturbation is that big a deal. And I personally don't believe that it's wrong for any two people who are committed to each other, when they use sex to make love. Even two men."

"I know. But I still have to work that out. You know I even gave some thought to the idea that God must now want me to be a priest. But there are three problems with that. What does He expect all the other homosexuals to do? Surely few of them can ever become priests, or are even Catholic. Also, how can I become a priest when I'm not even sure enough about my own religion anymore to counsel others? And lastly, I don't think I really even WANT to be a priest."

"Good. I mean that I'm glad you were able to think that out."

"How can you say `good'? What can possibly be `good' about any of this?"

I was trying to understand but Rocco didn`t seem able to hear what I was really trying to say. "I meant that it was good that you were trying to think things out for yourself."

"Actually the masturbation thing really don't give me that much a problem. I can't really believe it's a mortal sin just by itself. That's something I can actually not get really worried about right now. But the big problem is this. Now that I'm a homosexual, what should I do?"

"I don't understand. You can't actually DO anything. God just made you that way!"

"And that reminds me. Father Hearn gave me something to read a couple months ago."

I couldn't hardly believe this. At least I didn't want to. How could Rocco NOT mention anything about this 'til now? I made sure he saw two accusing black eyes boring into him. All I asked was: "How come?"

"Well, I just couldn't talk about it yet since I was still hoping. It was the article he said he was going to copy off for me. He said he used the school's new Thermofax machine. It makes ditto masters."

I "convinced" Rocco to take me back to his house and show me that artical. Rocco said that I was being unfair. That he was so depressed after he first read the stuff he just didn't want to think about it again. "Sorry Jade, but how could I talk about it until I had some answers myself?"

I was wondering how Rocco could think so illogically.

Thankfully Carl was nowhere around so we went right up to his room. Rocco went into what he called his everything-else drawer, lifted out a Mad Magazine, and pulled out some pages with blue printing on them. Rocco started saying: "This gets pretty bogged down on some things; I'll point out the stuff that . . ."

But I pulled the pages from his hand and started reading. "What the heck does this mean: `Homosexuality should be made an impediment to matrimony. . .'"

Rocco tried to explain. "That whole first part is trying to decide if a homosexual can even enter into a valid marriage. An `impediment' means something that makes the marriage invalid. That means no marriage. One thing that always bothers me that our church keeps saying that without having regular sex or wanting to have kids means there isn't even a real marriage. What he says next gets me even more depressed.

I read it out loud: " `the homosexual cannot give proper matrimonial consent, . . . cannot develop a selfless love necessary in marriage . . . is psychologically impotent in a heterosexual relationship.' "

Rocco jumped in as he is prone to do: "See what I mean, this guy assumes that just because you're a homosexual, you can't be married, and what's even worse, you're incapable of loving anyone selflessly. In other words you can't possibly be a good Christian. It's implied all through that thing."

I could see that Rocco was more than a little upset. I continued reading but I realized that the first few pages just kept rehashing these same ideas.

Rocco tried to pull the pages back. When I held on he just pointed. "Here, skip down to here."

I again read it aloud: " 'Efforts should be made to persuade genuine homosexuals and persons of confirmed bisexual tendencies to give up the idea of marriage and to practice perfect chastity in the world. However, it is known that some homosexuals marry for social propriety, business reputation, or as protection for continuation of clandestine homosexual practices.' "

He exclaimed: "How come they keep assuming that homosexuals can't have good motives? Maybe two people can get married knowing they will never have sex. But according to this guy that's not a marriage. Using that logic then Mary and Joseph were never married! And this homosexual, who's so selfish he can`t be a good Christian, is now expected to be `perfectly chaste'. That even means no masturbation and no sex thoughts that get you aroused. That's what's expected of priests and now I'm wondering if even THEY can do that."

I said: "Just because this guy says these things don't mean you have to believe them. If it don't make sense than just don't worry about it."

"That's maybe easy for you. But I can't stop worrying about this stuff. One thing near the end, he claims that a lot of people now don't believe that a homosexual can be `fixed.' But it also keeps saying that we're inverts, that we're deviants, that we're not normal. And we probably can't be cured. Jade, I'm just scared! I don`t want to be like this! But I don't know what I can do." Rocco started crying and didn't even try to stop it or even hide it. He didn't seem capable of hearing what I was trying to say.

I started getting a bit agitated myself. I wish I could explain. "White-boy, I think you're trying to make things too complicated. You need to look at it from the opposite direction. Sex is something great when it's used to express love and bring two people together. If it does the opposite, then it's wrong. And if finally you realize that you can't `fix' yourself, then you decide where you can go from there. As my Mama said, you change the dream."

"I'm sorry, but to put it bluntly. In order to even accept the way I am I have to come to one of two conclusions. Either my Church is wrong and I am able to live as a homosexual in good conscience, or my Church is correct and I must believe that I am committing serious sin if I live that way. This for me is a horribly difficult decision to make and right now I can't decide."

"OK. I know of only one thing you can do. Even if you decide that your Church is correct, according to my Mama to really be a mature Christian, YOU must make this choice, and not just abdicate your choice to your church. And. . ."

"STOP! STOP! Please stop Jade. Just a moment. I need to think."

I started to reply but when he got into this type of thinking he was almost impervious to outside stimuli. He got up, and started walking around. About three or four minutes later he sat down. And said: "OK, you started to say `and . . .'?"

I gave Rocco a REALLY dirty look. "OH NO YOU DON'T! What caused you to tell me to stop? What suddenly came to you?"

"I'm sorry. What you just said suddenly gave me . . . I don't know how to say it. It was like a revelation. You said it's ME that has to decide. And damn that's JUST WHAT I AM DETERMINED TO DO. Sure, I listen to my Church, but it is my life and I have to make the final decision and I'm not going to let anyone make it for me. And that's what you were trying to say. And I will be forever grateful to you. Thanks."

Rocco even smiled. I was thinking that his face had forgotten how.

Before I could think of how to reply he added: "I'm actually feeling pretty good. Just making this decision to make a decision has well, . . . it seems to be sort of freeing. It's hard to explain exactly."

I looked at my White-boy and almost started crying myself. I think at that moment I was as happy as he was just because he was happy. "I am really glad for you."

"Thanks. But you were going to add something else."

"Oh yeah. What I was going to say was merely you thus need to not just do your usual investigation, but do the best one possible. And I will help you!"

"Thanks Jade, and thanks for going bowling earlier."

I asked: "OK where do we start?"

"Well, I was just thinking about that. I think I will be talking to Father Hearn again. And it will be almost as difficult as the last time. I can't figure out how to actually say to him about being pretty darn sure I am a homosexual. I need to work up my courage."

"So we have a plan. And please remember it's WE have a plan. And I suddenly got an idea. What if I went with you?"

Rocco's expression said this was something he'd not given the slightest previous thought to. "I don't know. I'll have to think about it. Wow, I just never thought about you talking to him. We'll have to talk about this some more. But why?"

Jade said: "As I said. This is OUR plan."

Journal of Rocco P

January 10, 1961
The whole Christmas Holidays time was great. I've always loved the holidays and I guess was able to distract myself from my problem. Jade and I even went to the NFL Championship game. I have my half of the ticket plus a splinter from the goalpost sealed and put into a frame. (I was going to try to get the ticket signed but I couldn't get anywhere near any of the players after the game. But I told Jade it was his fault for dragging me off the field). But somehow, right after school restarted, I got into this terrible mood. I started worrying all over again about how I could possible resolve my being a homosexual. I was sure glad when Jade made me talk about it.

I surprise myself sometimes to realize that there are things I just stop myself from thinking about. And I don't entirely know why. Like I know a lot of boys masturbated but I never gave it too much thought -- except to have some vague idea that it was wrong and that I'd wait till I was married to have sex. But now what? My getting married is probably a forlorn hope. And I get so aroused I keep eventually giving in. But Jade seems to think it was no big deal. And except for some vague idea that it was possibly selfish to engage in having an orgasm without being married, I started to actually wonder how come the Church says it`s so wrong. And I`m sure even two married people have all kinds of sex just for the pleasure of it. I feel so mixed up that I can't seem to think a way out of my problem. And I've always prided myself in my ability to do just that. I sure hope that Jade and I can succeed at our plan.

And I had another thought while we were talking. I wonder if I could ever get the nerve to ask him. I suddenly wondered just how Jade managed to masturbate without hands. And then I got another thought. Even thinking masturbating was so bad for myself, I just couldn't think Jade was such a bad person for doing it.

Well, I guess I will just have to worry about this later. After we get more information.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello