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 rear ends.

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


PART II -- Discoveries

Chapter 60 -- Life as Usual (or "OK, Unusual for Most People, but Life as Usual for Me")

Things have gone pretty easy over the past week. I even got up my nerve again and had another talk with Father Hearn. This time I was trying to figure out how all this Natural Law stuff worked. There were a couple things I just couldn't figure out no matter how many examples I tried to think through. And there I was again in Father Hearn's room with me sitting in a chair next to his desk, still shaking a little because no matter how often I did this with him, I was still a little scared. And there was Father Hearn out of his cassock which still seemed strange to me, and with three glasses of beer lined up in front of him. I even had a stray thought about wondering how he would react if I asked for a glass myself. But I had a huge glass of Coke instead. (I tried tasting a beer once, and yuck! How can they drink that stuff)?

We talked about just normal stuff for a few minutes and I finally got the nerve to get to my questions. I had that pamphlet in my hand and I had some things underlined.

"Father, I been reading this thing a lot and still can't figure out some things."

"Well, don't be too concerned. A lot of smart people have put a lot of thought into that field of study for quite a number of years to eventually reach these conclusions. You can't expect to understand it in just a few weeks."

"But listen to this," I said. And I read a small quote:

According to natural law, those actions are good which accord with one's nature and with the natural order of other things. . . . And to live in accord with natural law is to live in accord with God's will.

I continued: "OK, so that sounds good, but how do we know?"

"Well, the assumption here is that God is responsible for creation and therefore what is a normal part of our nature, it would follow would be His will for us."

"No. That's not what I mean. I mean how do we know what's part of the natural order for us?" I was thinking that for me and Jade it seemed so "natural" for us to be together.

"Well, a lot of people have spent years reasoning out not only what is good for individuals but for humanity as whole."

"But so what? How if someone disagrees? Especially look what is written here." And again I found the next place.

The official teaching rests on the view that the innate purpose of the sexual faculty is twofold: procreation and love union. Every sexual act must be open to procreation, and must be expressive of love. This is the church's basis for condemning masturbation, contraception, sterilization and homosexual acts.

"And a little later it has:

Since sexual intercourse has this two-fold natural purpose that must be respected — the purpose of bringing forth new lives and the purpose of uniting men and women together, whoever participates in sexual activity must do so in a way so as to protect these natural goods of sexual intercourse.

And then I continued: "But Father, most of that don't make any sense to me. First of all, how do we know that this 'sexual faculty' has to be used to make babies all the time? Why can't we just use it in some cases for just this love union thing? Or as it put it later, to 'unite men and women together'?" What I was really thinking was to "unite" me and Jade.

Father Hearn tried to interrupt a couple times there but I didn't let him. It was hard enough to say what I wanted I had to get it all out. But now he answered. "First of all, sex is for both of those things. Not just one. What they are saying is that all sex acts must allow for both eventualities. To deliberately thwart the purpose of the sex act is wrong."

"But that's exactly what I am saying don't make sense. WHY does it ALWAYS have to be for BOTH purposes? I kept applying that to every kind of example I could think of and it simply makes no sense sometimes. Just because sex has two purposes why does it mean that every sex act has to have BOTH purposes all the time? In fact, there's a lot of times when it CAN'T have both purposes. How about when two people know that they can't have a baby? Their sex act CAN'T THEN have both purposes!"

"But in those cases the people involved are not deliberately barring the possibility of procreation."

"But that's exactly where I'm having trouble. First you say that sex has as its purpose that of having babies. However, saying that a person can't bar its possibility, this isn't even close to the same thing. What is being concluded here is this. As long as I pretend to be having a baby then my sex act is OK."

"Rocco, this is exactly why so many people have spent their entire lives thinking about these things. You can't expect to understand in just a few weeks. And perhaps when you are so immature."

There's those "few weeks" again. "Well, as far as I can see, two things simply don't make logical sense. Going from procreation is A reason for having sex, don't mean it HAS to be a reason for having sex. Especially when they already admitted it is NOT the ONLY legitimate reason for having sex. The second thing is just because you don't stop procreation from happening when you have sex, is not the same thing as making sure it's one of your purposes in having sex."

"Look, Rocco. What they are saying is that you can't sever the act of having sex from the possibility of having babies."

"Why not? That surely does not logically follow from their premise. That's entirely different from saying the purpose of sex is two fold -- having babies, and uniting two people."

"Well, the best minds of the church disagree with you."

"OK how about looking at a specific case. How about my aunt and uncle? They can't have kids. So no matter what they do, they can NEVER have procreation as a purpose of their sex act. Therefore if you can say their having sex is OK, then you have to say that at least in their case, you don't have to have procreation as a purpose when you have sex."

"Only so long as they are validly married, and it is an act that enriches the love they have for each other."

"But what I can't see then, how is their act of love any different from that of Jade and me? If our having sex is just as fulfilling, just as much as act of love as theirs, then what's wrong with it?"

I could see that Father Hearn was getting a bit annoyed. But I was being deadly serious. I really believed what I was saying.

He answered after another gulp of beer. "But your sex act cannot have as its finality any possibility of procreation."

"Neither can theirs."

"But their sex act does not bar its possibility. Yours does."

"Not at all. In either case having a baby would take a miracle. I am being completely serious Father. I see no difference in Jade and I expressing our love with sex, as any other couple who can't possibly have kids. And I don't know if this really means anything, but for Jade and I to love each other, that is what is natural to us."

"But you're still forgetting the impediment of not being in a valid marriage."

"Definitely not. Jade and I intend to get married. And its validity is up to God, not the Catholic Church."

Father Hearn couldn't accept the fact, from any point of view, that two boys could get married. It wouldn't be a marriage. I decided not to argue the point.

But this time both of us were excited or bothered enough that we could use a break. My Coke was empty, and so were Father Hearn's three beers. For me, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed so right.

One nice thing that did happen was that Father Hearn was gracious enough to at least tell me that he believed I was trying to be sincere in the conclusions I was coming to. Just I was possibly misguided, and definitely wrong. He tried to tell me that was why all Catholics had a serious obligation to listen to the teachings of our Church. But by this time there was no way I was going to simply abdicate. I was thinking on this as we went to the kitchen to get new refreshments. I kept thinking about what I had said to him and I realized with amazement how this was so different from me just a half year ago.

We got back to his room and immediately Father Hearn launched a new attack. He also must have been thinking. One thing that made me not mind was that I truly believed that he was only trying to convince me what he truly believed himself. And he was at least willing to let me think for myself too. Well, it was even more than that. I really felt that he cared.

"Rocco, arguments barring homosexual acts do not derive in their entirety from Natural Law methodology." (He had to explain that a little before I was sure what he just said). "There is also Scripture. From its condemnation in Genesis with the story of Sodom, to Leviticus, which clearly states that it is against the law of God, to the Epistles of Paul and Timothy."

"Father I realize this. That is why Jade and I have been trying to understand exactly what is being said there and also why. But there are a lot of problems. Or actually two main problems. And I admit I really can't figure this all out yet. But one, how certain are we that we are interpreting scripture correctly? For example, Jade and I found a book by a guy named Bailey that said that the story of Lot in Genesis in fact was NOT condemning homosexuality. And it showed that every reference in the bible to the story of Sodom in fact proved this. That it was them being so selfish and hateful to the visitors that was wrong. And if any sex was part of this it was rape."

Father Hearn then got up and took a book from his book shelf, and started reading. He showed me that this biblical scholar disagreed. And that many others also disagreed. Then he wanted me to give him the name of the book by Bailey but I couldn't remember it exactly except that it was about homosexuality and Christianity. I admitted we only read about ten pages. We had run out of time.

"But Father, that got me interested in reading the whole story of Lot in the Bible." I admitted I had never done this before. "And it made me think of Paul Harvey."

"Paul Harvey?" He was truly mystified.

I smiled a little. "Yeah. He's that radio news guy that has these interesting stories. He tells the first half. Then there is a big surprise when he tells what he says is `the rest of the story.' I thought the same thing when I read the rest of the story about Lot and his family. I can't see how Lot's family can be used as a role model for sexual morality. As Paul Harvey would say, now for the rest of the story. Lot himself offered his own daughters to the mob trying to appease them. And later both daughters got him drunk and both got pregnant by him."

Father Hearn tried to argue that that doesn't make the original conclusion invalid, but I wondered what we were really supposed to learn from anything connected to the story of Lot.

"And Father, I admit I don't know about any of the other passages in the bible. Jade and I are still investigating. But this brings me to the second problem. How come since nobody writing any of this stuff even realized there were homosexuals, how could we expect whatever they said to be about us?"

Father Hearn kept reiterating that the bible WAS condemning homosexual acts and that that applied to us. I couldn't seem to make him understand the distinction I was trying to make. That this condemnation concerned only what the author understood about it at that time. Then Father Hearn suggested I confide in my parents. That got me really scared.

"I surely wish I could Father. But I want to be able to finish High School. And go to college. And have some kind of career. And if I tell my parents, I am sure that none of these things would happen."

And then I got even more scared thinking about anybody else finding out. I needed some reassurance. "Father, you told me once that whatever we talked about is totally in confidence. You won't be telling anyone will you?"

Father Hearn seemed to give a big sigh. "Definitely not. I consider whatever we talk about to be under the seal of confession. I suppose strictly speaking it is not confession, but I consider anyone baring their very soul as you have been doing in the same category, and I don't intend to quibble over any legalistic distinction. You have my word."

I was greatly relieved. "Thank you Father. I really am trying to figure out what I believe is right."

"Rocco, I definitely believe you. I just wish I was better equipped to help you."

I believed him.

That was almost a week ago. Now it was the day of the space mission and Jade and I were glued to the TV set. OK I'm lying. The shot was yesterday, but we were in school and couldn't see it. They were rebroadcasting it this morning though and I was pretending it was happening now. Some guy by the name of Alan Shepherd "was going to" ride in a Mercury capsule and get dropped into the ocean.

"Finally. No monkey this time," I remarked. I was excited even if it wasn't an orbital trip yet. I had been hoping that President Kennedy was going to go on TV and say something but he didn't. At least he hasn't yet.

"The other channels have this?" Jade asked.

"No, just this one. All three had it yesterday when it actually happened. I'm just glad it's the one with Walter Cronkite. Ever see a newsman that excited about something right on TV? He's almost as excited as me."

I couldn't believe it. History was being made and Dolores or Carl weren't even watching. (OK, history was made yesterday, but it was still exciting). My Mom came into the living room to watch just as the rocket was ignited. They camera stayed on the rocket until it was barely a bright speck in the sky. Then they cut back to the demonstration with the models. Showing how the first stage was separating from the top of the rocket. And how Shepard would be weightless for about 5 minutes.

"Not quite like Jules Verne or Flash Gordon is it?" Jade asked.

"Well, they never thought about rockets with different stages."

Gees, it was all over in about 15 minutes. Sort of anticlimactic. It was quite some time until they finally got to his capsule though.

Finally Jade remarked: "I can't believe it. A billion dollars and Shepherd doesn't even get to see the ground during the trip. Just through some periscope gizmo."

I told Jade that if I were in that rocket I would have killed the designer if I couldn't see the earth through some window somewhere. I was also disappointed it wasn't even broadcast in color.

We finally got up and got lunch. Just as we finished eating Jade asked: "How about your poor washing machine?"

I pulled Jade away from the table. (OK, I tugged hard and he came). "Come on, we have to get downstairs. I promised Mom we'd get it back together today. If not she's gonna get a repairman in. And then it would be all for nothing. Dad picked up the new transmission from Sears last night. Along with the new belts." We went downstairs and surveyed the back end of the basement floor. I commented to Jade: "You labeled everything in the order we took it apart. I have the pieces all laid out. Should be easy." We had the entire wash machine apart on the basement floor.

Jade started walking around all the parts of the washing machine as they lay out on the floor. "I see you put all the small pieces in boxes so they can't get lost. You sure you can get it back together again?"

"No sweat. It's simple. Not like a radio or anything. It's almost all mechanical. And I have a pretty good memory for this kind of thing. And besides, it`s we who will put it together."

"Just how loudly did your Mom scream Thursday when you showed her all this?"

"Actually she was pretty good about it. She knows that I'm good at this sort of thing. And I prepared her to see it all laid out. I have a bet with Carl though -- a whole dollar. He said we'd still have to get the Sears repairman in to put it together."

"What's that big red box?" Jade saw something we didn't have on Thursday.

"Oh. Jimmy's Dad brought that over last night too. They're his good tools. It will be a lot easier with having socket wrenches and stuff."

So we got to it. Just as we were starting, Mom came down the stairs. "I still can't believe I let you talk me into this. You just better get it put together and running before your father gets home. He was pretty hot and wouldn't calm down until I told him it couldn't cost any more even if we had to get the repairman."

"Hay, and that brings up MY services." I was getting bold. Yes, this is definitely a new me. "Did you find out how much they would have charged for labor?"

"Almost as much as the new transmission itself. But we really can't afford a new wash machine right now. Not with the new car." My Mom still thought we paid too much for the car we just got. It was two years old but new for us. Prices on cars keep going up all the time. Jade was right; I bet soon some of the fancier new cars were going to cost over 3000 dollars. If it keeps going like that no one will have cars anymore.

I replied: "Great. How about we only charge you half price?" I knew I was not likely to see it but it was worth the try. We still hadn't gotten our multimeter yet. We only needed a few more dollars though.

Mom laughed and said. "You had just better get it put together first, then we'll see." Mom went back upstairs.

I started taking the transmission out of the box. Jade watched and said: "How come the thing that breaks, is the very last thing that comes off?"

"They're designed so it's so hard you just buy a new machine. Keep more people employed that way. Besides, hear what my Mom said? Just maybe she'll give us something. She said `we'll see,' remember? A few more dollars and we can buy that Heathkit. I called yesterday. They have it in stock."

"And Formica's Market said that he'd have our circulars printed up with his. We can then deliver ours with theirs and then finish up your neighborhood with the extras."

We had gotten several ditto masters from Bob Formica and had already written up a couple advertisements. We also wanted to get us put into the next Phone Book Yellow Pages, but it was too expensive. Several hours, three bruised knuckles, (one hook mark on the tub), and a hundred SILENT curses later (Mom was right upstairs), we had it together.

Jade got the wiring drawings and sat with me behind the machine. It was just a skeleton without the sides or top on yet. He said: "OK, let's make sure the wires are all correct. I can't understand how there has to be so many."

"All right. Let's try to be methodical."

We started in one corner and worked around. "See anything Jade?"

"No, but let's make sure. How about we swap positions and check one last time."

Twenty minutes later Jade, my Mom, and I were all standing in front of the machine. I plugged it in. I put in a load of clothes and soap. (OK, so I'm an optimist now too). Mom started the machine.

A minute later Jade and I jumped up and shouted. "We DID IT!" That is after Jade yelled ouch! (Or a similar word. He hit his head on the low ceiling). It worked!

My Mom then said: "Well, Rocco, you just made a believer out of me. We just saved a 40 dollar repairman's fee. That's well more than the grocery bill for the week." And then she embarrassed me in front of Jade. She hugged me.

We were cleaning up all the mess and putting tools away when Mom came back down again. The load was just finishing. She went to the machine when it stopped and took out the clothes. "It's a nice day outside. I'll just hang these on the line. Save using electricity in the dryer." She looked at the clothes as she put them in the basket. Then looked all around the machine. "Any leaks?"

"No, we kept checking the whole time it was going." I was smiling like I won a big raffle. Jade was happy with me.

"Good. I'm sure you can use this." And Mom handed me a ten dollar bill. We were now ecstatic.

"Thanks, Mom. But you don't have to."

"That's OK. Just don't tell your father. And make sure you get those tools back to Mr. Alexander. That was really nice of him to bring them over. They all there and cleaned up?"

"Sure. We'll bring them back in the old wagon. That box weighs a ton." And as an afterthought. "We'll bring Critter with us too." His harness barely fit him. He's sure grown a lot. Critter was now almost two feet long. And so fast, he only gets caught when he lets us catch him. And forget it if you don't have some food in your hand.

We finally got on our way. Jimmy greeted us as we got to his back yard. We all talked about the space flight. It wasn't in color even on the color set. And Jimmy went inside and came out with a pear. Critter's favorite.

Just as we started to feed him, Jimmy's Dad came out. "I see my tool chest is back. How did the project go? You put all the parts in order and labeled all the wires?"

"Sure thing Mr. Alexander. And the machine is working great."

He kept going on and I started tuning him out. Very nice, but talked too much about things like this. I really hadn't followed his plan. It was overkill. But I tried to be polite. We used his tools after all.

"That's quite some reptile you got there. Do you know just how big they can get?"

"Actually it's only a young one yet. But in the wild this species only gets about a half foot longer. Who knows, now that he's the best fed lizard in the whole U S A?"

He came up to Mr. Alexander as he picked up one of the pieces of pear. Actually he came up to the food.

"Watch out; his teeth are quite sharp. I got nipped the other day and hardly felt it. Mom made me wash it out for 5 hours." (Slight exaggeration).

Then Mr. Alexander had to go into all the possible infections I could have gotten. Eventually we thanked him again for the set of tools and went back home. I brought Jade back up to my room and closed the door. I had just fixed it so that it shut all the way now.

"How come you just locked the door?"

"I'm going to be getting into Carl's stuff again and I don't want him popping in unexpected. I can do without his blackmailing me again. I'm tired of doing his dishes for him or all of the lawn."

Jade smiled. And then frowned as he saw what I was doing. I had gone into our closet and gotten a whole bunch of clothes that were stacked on the floor. "Let's see if any of these fit. They're clothes my brother doesn't wear any more. They should probably fit you. There's even a couple long sleeved shirts in there."

"Look Rocco. I'm all right. I don't need charity."

"No, but you DO need clothes. You said it was a disaster when you asked your uncle about clothes last week, and this isn't charity. This is pure selfishness on my part."

"I know your weird, but even you can't come up with logic twisted enough to make that remark true."

"If I can, will you take some of this stuff home?"

Jade sat and thought for a moment. "OK, but it has to make sense."

"Good! Your clothes will be falling off of you by the end of the summer. If that happens you will have to walk around naked. If that happens there will be a whole bunch of other boys (and girls) out there trying to take my boyfriend away from me. That I can't countenance!" I smiled. A double whammy! The logic and a new word.

Jade smiled with me. "OK, I guess I will have to give you that one. Although I'm way too ugly to attract anyone, I'll accept your terribly flawed logic this once." But I didn't get the point. Jade knew the word.

Jade started taking off his own shirt and pants. He finally ended up with two long sleeved shirts, a pair of pants, and several undershirts. Even though he preferred the long sleeve type, he took the short sleeved ones anyway. But I was not happy about what he had said and I was going to let him have it. I was glad the door was locked.

This time it was me that took the offensive. I wanted to make a point. I pushed him onto my bed and jumped on top. I started kissing him. I loved the feel of his hair as I held his head. (OK, I loved the feel of a lot of his other things too). As we came up for air I asked: "Now what's this about you saying I have an ugly boyfriend? Take it back!"

"OK, White-boy. I take it back. For you."

Jade got up and showed he was serious. He took off his hooks. And we proceeded to practice our kissing technique for a while. We went from regular kissing, to French kissing, and then ran through a half dozen other countries. I now let Jade take the offensive. But my Mom was right downstairs and my brother could actually show up at any time. We stopped short of me creaming my pants.

Sunday Jade and I went to the park and explored. We also brought home some water from the small canal down near the tracks and used our microscope to find some different Protozoa. We got a couple books from Leary's Bookstore a while back so we could identify some of the Protozoa, and other "denizens of the deep," as I called them. (I heard that phrase during an episode of Sea Hunt). Jade said that "denizens of the shallows" might be more accurate. He's right but "denizens of the deep" sounds better. Jade went home early saying that he was already late since he was supposed to get dinner ready again. His uncle kept expecting him to do more and more around the house. Jade said that it was good practice using his hooks for more difficult stuff. I would have gladly helped but the few times his uncle has seen me there weren't usually pleasant experiences. Later that night Jade called and said he didn't need help with his hooks and also that he wasn't feeling well and would probably miss school the next day. And not to wait if I didn't see him outside school. He sure didn't sound too good. I wanted to come over anyway to see how he really was but he reminded me that his uncle was home.

On Monday, I met Twain at lunch as usual. But another classmate I don't usually eat with came over and started talking to Twain also. His name was John Edell. He was in Soph One with me and also worked on the school newspaper, but in spite of this I really didn't know him very well. This year I did most of my work for the paper during my study hall, while he was there mostly at the end of the school day. He seemed to be a pretty nice guy, and pretty smart. I was busy talking to someone else about an upcoming History test when I just happen to pick up a few stray words from Twain and John -- "badminton game." I suddenly got interested, and started tuning in.

John asked: "OK, so next Sunday after church, say about 11 AM? You'll be home from church by then?"

John was looking at Twain as I watched them both from across the table. It just struck me how alike they looked, at least in a general way. Both had curly black hair, rounded face and about the same build, both about four to five inches taller than me (which just puts them at maybe average). John's face was probably a little more compact and his nose smaller. Pretty good looking actually. (Jade, I promise -- just looking).

Twain laughed. "I hope so, since we go to the Temple on Saturday! I don't think Mom would want me to stay over."

John looked over embarrassed. "Gees, I forgot you were Jewish. Sorry!" He then smiled again. "I don't think I'd want to stay overnight in a synagogue either. Someone might think I was trying to steal the Arc of the Covenant or something."

This time, Twain burst out laughing. "I wish you could steal it. Myself and a few million other Jews would be grateful. It's been missing for centuries. Millennia even. Ever since Hadrian and the Roman's destroyed Judea and sacked Jerusalem. They killed over a half million Jews, and, up to that time, it was one of the worst pogroms in history."

I was more interested in badminton. (And wondered what pogrom meant). I decided to but in. "Hay. What's this about badminton? You guys play a lot?"

They both started answering, but finally Twain said: "Actually no. We were just talking about it forever and finally decided to try it. I have plenty of room in my back yard for it. Thought I'd buy a badminton set and give it a whack."

Edell looked at me and smiled. "I was trying to find a game everyone was as a beginner at as I am. I'm not a lot into sports. But we thought we'd give this a try."

"Would you guys mind if I came out and played? And brought a friend?" And I smiled my most innocent smile. "I promise neither of us has played very much. We started last year for a little while but for some reason got involved in other things and never got back to it."

Twain looked at me and said: "Sure, why not. Of course if you're sandbagging on us, you're toast." We all smiled at that.

"Just one thing, John. Twain knows my friend but you haven't met him. His name is Jade, and he has no hands. We made up a special racket which is fit onto one of his prosthesis. He actually has gotten good at swinging a stick ball bat too."

"Darn. You're kidding? No hands?"

"Yeah. He lost them several years ago."

"Well, it's Twain's yard and his food. But it's OK by me. Bring him with you. We're just trying to have fun."

Then Twain added to me: "You've talked about him enough, but I've never actually met him. My Mom said you two visited her office a little while back. And by the way, what the heck did you guys say to my Mom? I have never seen her so impressed by a mere teenager. She usually calls us `the untested, the unruly, and the unabashed'."

I thought I was going to have to look up "unabashed" and use it on Jade.

"I'm not too sure myself. I got the impression that she liked me for some reason, but why, I don't know. Gees, we don't really know each other." I turned to John: "My friend goes to Lincoln. Same year as us, though a year older."

"How'd he lose his hands?"

"If he wants to tell you, that would be up to him. But he is pretty touchy on that subject. He calls them his hooks. He can do amazing things with them."

That started another round of questions and answers. I talked about all the things he could do pretty well considering.

"We are also going to be busy putting together a Heathkit multimeter this weekend, but I bet he'll be up for this too."

We finally agreed on 11 AM the following Sunday. Jade and I would have to take the K bus out. Twain lived out near the hospital.

Just as I got home from school, I found my brother at the kitchen table doing his math homework. He had calculus this year. He also had Charlie the duck on his lap on a paper towel. It was supposed to be my sister's but I think he adopted it. Mom said to call Jade. I did.

Jade said he was still not feeling too well and not to come over since he was just going back to bed. We talked about all the stuff we wanted to get done including getting the multimeter and starting the TV repair business, getting back to one of the college libraries, either St. Joe's again, or maybe Temple, and wondering where the old badminton rackets were that we had used last year. I filled him in on the badminton challenge next Sunday.

Tomorrow was the scout meeting and we had missed so many we wanted to get to this one. The Camporee this year was to be on Treasure Island, and we were excited about that. "Jade, I have a race tomorrow at an away meet. Two guys are sick so I need to fill in. Wish me luck. We'll be picking you up after dinner tomorrow in our new car. I told you we just got a 1959 Ford, only 2 years old. It also gets much better gas mileage than our last one -- over 20 miles per gallon. And with gas prices all the way up to 26 cents a gallon now, that will really make a difference." I wasn't sure if I was excited about my first Cross Country Meet or frightened. I wish Jade could be there. And I hoped he'd be feeling better soon.

Jade than wished me well in the race and also predicted gas prices would come back down again. "The price has been up that high before, it'll come down again."

"I'm not too sure. It hasn't been below 20 cents for a few years now and I think it's there to stay. And the days of the gas wars I think are over. Remember, it got down to 15 cents a gallon there for a while."

We didn't talk much more. Jade said he'd see me tomorrow evening.

I went to Jimmy's house and he called Stan. The weather was great and we couldn't pass it up. We also talked Jackie Robinson into being a forth. She didn't play half-ball with us much but she was a natural. She even played baseball in the Little League and she was so good nobody complained she was a girl. (Except maybe the other team when she helped beat them). If she were a guy I bet she'd make it in the big leagues in something. Well for once, I did pretty good and wished Jade was there to see. I won all the games I played. On the way home I was trying to listen for what had to be ice forming in the nether regions.

But the next day, Jade called right before dinner. "Sorry, Rocco, but I still don't feel well at all. In fact I've been home again all day."

I did wind going over to help with his hooks. I thought something more was the matter but Jade assured me he was getting better. We talked about him missing the scout meeting.

"What about the Camporee coming up?" I asked. "We have to give in the money tonight to get out tent assignments."

"Do you have enough to do it for me, and I'll give it to you tomorrow?"

"How about your assignments?" I asked.

"Consuelo said she'd get them for me and we can catch up later this week. And how come you didn't say how the Cross Country Meet went?"

"Because it went. And I didn't. Well I went but I sure didn't 'went' too well. I found out that sure I can run, but wow, some of those guys make me look like I'm barely moving."

"How'd you do?"

"Let's say that there were maybe five or six boys still behind me when I finished. But there were a lot more in front. I just ran out of gas. The coach said I need to pace myself better. He was pretty nice about it."

"Well see you tomorrow after school. If I`m there. I hope so."

"OK, I do too."

My father was waiting outside with the car running, and I could tell by his expression he was getting pretty impatient. And I was still worried. This was the first time I can remember Jade being out of school sick all year. And something more still seemed wrong but I couldn't figure out what.

Wednesday, Jade was better. We went over Jimmy's house for half-ball again. Stan was already there.

"Get your multimeter yet?" That was Jimmy. I always wondered how he seemed to always remember that kind of thing.

Jade jumped in before I had a chance: "Probably this weekend. Then we have to put it together. But that should be pretty easy. Not much to it. We also will have all our circulars to hand out this week too."

"My Dad wanted you to know that you can have that old set of ours in the basement. And if you can fix it you can just keep it."

"You mean the one that knocked Rocco on his butt?" Jade HAD to mention that.

Stan piped in: "What happened?"

And that lead to a long explanation. I didn't come off too favorably in this current rendition, and complained about it.

"Watch it, Rocco, or we'll start calling you Pebbles again!" Stan was always threatening me with that.

"I'll have you know that I've grown almost two inches this year."

"Yeah. And now you're up to the size of an eighth grader!" replied Stan.

"Well, that's good. I'm going to be a jockey anyway, so that's a good size!" That got their attention. "Yeah. In fact, Jade and I intend to go out to the horse training places this summer!"

Now Jade looked over at me and his expression said: "I dare you to get yourself out of this one, and don't expect any help from me." What he did say, with a devilish smile, was: "In fact Rocco already has been told that he would get riding lessons if he does enough work mucking out the horse barns!"

Now it was my turn to look at him. So that's how he was going to play it. "And Jade said he'd help with the wheel-barrow."

Jimmy and Stan were both just looking at us, not knowing what to think. I finally managed to extricate myself out of my tangle of lies, no thanks to Jade, who by now had a Cheshire-cat sized grin on his face.

When Jade and I were finally alone, I looked at him and simple said: "Thanks." And he darned well knew what I meant.

"Your welcome. I just thought if you wanted to dig yourself into a hole, I'd just provide a bigger shovel. It looks like in either case, you'll be shoveling a lot of manure!" And he started laughing.

We went back to my house and started on all the stuff Jade had missed. Consuelo had rounded up all his missed assignments from his teachers. We opened up his books and we could hardly believe it. Many of the completed assignments were already there -- apparently done by Consuelo. Later, during our school work, I suddenly had a marvelous thought: "Jade! I was just thinking. Why not?!"

"Why not what?" (A very slight pause). "Oh, no you don't. No way! They're BIG. I saw them at the race track last year, remember? I don't want to have to tell your Mom how come I let you get trampled to death!"

"But I love horses! Or I think I do. Of course I've never been really close except to the ones that used to pull the trash wagons. And the rare policeman that used to go bye on one years ago."

"You told me all about them. That's different. These horses won't be strapped to a big wagon."

"OK. I'll let that one go for now."

"I know what you're thinking. That just means you'll try to talk me into it a couple weeks from now. The answer will still be no."

Jade said he needed to get home for dinner. His uncle expected him there. But later that night Jade called and said his uncle went out again. When I got there Jade didn't seem too happy. There was a big mess in the kitchen and I insisted in helping. When I helped with the straps later, he winced a bit.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Oh, just a sore spot. I hurt myself there last night."

"Let me see."

"Nah, it's all right. No big deal. You better be going. It's getting late."

"OK. See you tomorrow after school. We got a whole lot of circulars counting ours. I am hoping to get a lot of ours handed out."

Journal of Rocco P

May 10, 1961
I can't believe the year -- school year that is -- is almost over. Another month. Thank you God for all the great things. I hope to talk to Dan again soon. When he started talking about the stuff in Leviticus, what was called the Holiness Codes, I realized that Jade and I haven't progressed very far with our investigations. Maybe Dan can show us what's at the Temple U. Library. When I read the passages from Leviticus about homosexuality, they sound so forbidding. It's the only time you seem to see the word abomination.

School's going great. Should get all A's again. Jade is doing well too. I think I learn stuff better when I help Jade with his assignments. I am getting worried about him and I can't exactly figure why. He's my life line. My inspiration. My motivation derives its energy from him. I admire how he can be so strong. How he continues on despite the life crushing events he has gone through. How can I ever even come close to his strength? Without his ever cheerful charge into a frightening world, how could I ever get the strength to face my own demons? I know he is forever there with me.

We have enough money now for the multimeter. Jade and I will get it and put it together this weekend. Then we can start getting rich. Well maybe get enough to earn back the money we spent on the equipment in the first place.

And God what is your plan for us? How can we do any good in the world if we can't be ourselves in it? Why do we have to hide the rest of our lives? Well, at least please help Jade. He deserves it. And that gets me thinking about how Jade's been acting lately. He seemed moody at times and that is NOT the normal Jade. I asked him if anything was the matter and he said no. Can he actually be lying to me? I would be hurt if he is. (Of course I know I've lied to him, but not about anything important. And I usually confess later).

Chapter 61 -- Trouble in Paradise

I felt miserable. And not all because of what my uncle did to me. Sure that hurt. And hurt bad. But I lied to Rocco. And that hurt much worse. I haven't cried for quite a while, but I cried that night.

I get on Rocco for lying. And here I'm doing much worse. But how can I tell him about this? He would come unglued. What the hell am I going to do? Just hope it doesn't happen again? My uncle came home drunk again last Sunday. It was only in the afternoon but he came home near drunk anyway. This was getting more common lately. And then I didn't get dinner made in time. Well he forgot to get things ready. And then blamed me. I finally yelled back at him and that was not the right thing to do. He's simply too big. And I just froze anyway. He pushed me down to the floor and then started swinging that heavy belt of his. I was able to fend off a lot of the swings with my hooks, but a lot got through. And damn does that hurt. I never would have believed how much. And it would have been much worse if the straps hadn't been in the way. I got onto my bed afterwards and just laid there for a while. I could barely move.

My uncle I could hear yelling up to me. A lot of garbage I'm used to. But he eventually went out again. Probably to find something to eat. In a while I went down stairs and at least made myself a couple hotdogs. That will tide me over I figured. But wow, I couldn't hardly move without wincing. I called Rocco and lied to him. I told him I wasn't feeling well, (that was true), but he need not come over, that my uncle helped with the hooks. I slept with the hooks on all night. I couldn't let Rocco see what happened. And I cried that night. More because of lying to my White-boy than about me and my uncle.

The lies continued Monday and Tuesday too. Thank goodness my uncle helped me with the hooks those days or I would have gone crazy. Early Tuesday evening the phone rang. "Hello?"

"Jade, how you doing?" It was Rocco.

"What's up?" I tried my best to sound like nothing was wrong.

"How you doing? You still gonna stay home? We're just getting ready to leave."

"Yeah. I'm still not feeling too well." I simply couldn't handle any scout meeting right now. "Oh Rocco I just realized. My uncle just left. Could you come over on your way and undo the straps?"

"Sure. Need anything else? Any TLC?"

"Just smile a lot when you get here. I'm not feeling great but hope to be in school tomorrow."

Rocco stopped in a bit later. I was in bed and he came up and undid the straps. He mentioned he didn't do too well in his first ever Cross Country Meet. I don't think he'd have even mentioned it if I hadn't asked. I think he expected to outdo all the upper classmen on the team. I though he put up a good showing. Then he asked: "Need any other help?"

"Nah." Rocco knew that I liked to be as self sufficient as possible.

Then he asked: "How about a quick kiss to make everything better?"

If was fairly quick, but I had all I could do not to wince when he put his arms on my back. Damn! This better not happen again. I couldn't take it. And I had two more years of high school yet. Rocco left running. He said his Dad was outside waiting.

Mama! Why did you have to die? Right now I miss you so much. I cried myself to sleep again. Rocco said he'd be there in the morning just in case. Good thing he came. My back felt much better fortunately. At least I could now fake it. Damn. Now I'm getting things WAY too complicated. God, do I notice you starting to hate me again? Now I was the one telling lies. But the worst thing they were to my White-boy. And that made it hurt so much worse.

Wednesday we even got in some half-ball. Later I discovered Consuelo had not only picked my assignments for me, but half of them were also done! I tried to be my usual self but I'm not sure I succeeded.

By Thursday things were starting to feel back to near normal. At least I don't think I had to put on any act anymore. Damn I hated that. That night we delivered all the usual circulars along with a lot of our own. And then we covered about 20 more blocks with our own, mostly getting into Rocco's neighborhood. We had his phone number on the circular since his Mom was home most of the time and could take the calls. We advertised that we could fix any TV set and charged less than half the going rate for labor. We guaranteed the work for 60 days. Hoped we'd get some takers!

"Gees, White-boy, I'm totally destroyed. I can't fold one more circular. How about we finish the rest tomorrow?"

"Darn, Jade. About time you decided to quit. I'm exhausted myself. I was just being too proud to quit first!" We got to my house and it was dark. Rocco helped with the straps. Then he gave me his worst lame smile. He thought it was his innocent smile. But you could definitely see the small horns on his forehead. "Hay Jade, you think you'll need help with more than just the straps tonight?"

I still had to hide my back from him so I had to put him off. He was disappointed but fortunately didn't suspect anything. Hopefully by the weekend I should be OK. I hoped.

We had a busy weekend. Coins on Saturday morning. It was getting so difficult now to find any good coins in the rolls of pennies from the bank, we had even discussed the possibility of visiting one of the coin stores downtown sometime.

We bought the Heathkit in the afternoon, and had it mostly put together by dinner time. My uncle, (thank God), was away for the weekend. I wound up eating dinner at Rocco's house. It seems that every time I do it, his father glares at me at least a couple times during the meal. Or am I getting paranoid like my White-boy? And when I eat there, it seems Rocco keeps volunteering us to do the dishes.

We finished and calibrated the meter after dinner. Now we needed work. No sooner the thought and the phone rang! Carl answered it.

"Rocco, it's for you. What are you up to now? She said something about repairing her TV set."

Rocco broke all land speed records getting to the phone. I was weighted down too much by my hooks. "WE GOT A JOB. And only a few block away." It was in my own neighborhood. It turned out to be someone that knew my Mama, but I didn't know her that well. She was alone in a house full of about a half dozen cats. We never were sure how many. And they kept trying to get electrocuted.

"Hello, I'm Jade and this is my friend Rocco. We're here about the TV."

When she saw us I think she was having second thoughts. We were pretty young. "But I thought I remembered you as Noel."

"Yes, Ma'am. That is my middle name. I go by Jade now."

"Well, are you sure you can fix my TV? This one's pretty old. And it's been broke for a few weeks. I didn't have the money yet to get it fixed."

I did the talking since it was an old Negro lady; I thought I remembered her from somewhere but I just couldn't place her. Or remember her name. We finally got to the set. An old table model Philco. Rocco groaned when he saw it.

The lady went back into her kitchen. I asked Rocco: "What's the matter?"

"If it's so old, there's probably more wrong than just a tube. Sometimes by this time, some of the other components are degraded too much to properly fix. Leaking or shorted out capacitors, resistors, any number of things. Well, let's hope."

We had the small filament tester with us for the tubes, but not a big one like in the stores which could run the correct voltage through and test the output at the same time. We could do it with our meter but it took a lot of time and we had to keep looking up the specs in a book we brought. The set lit up but no picture and no sound.

"OK, probably the main power source. Let's open up the high voltage cage and start there first."

We did. And got very lucky. One of the main power tubes was bad. But we didn't have one with us. Too expensive. We tested many of the other tubes just in case, but all the rest were OK.

"Look here," Rocco pointed out. "Someone replaced this tube with one not quite with the same output. Much cheaper. The old one isn't used much anymore."

We finally put the cover back on the back of the set, and I went into the kitchen to find the nice lady.

"Well, hello Noel. You able to fix it?"

"We think so. The main power tube is gone. The store should still be open tonight so we should be back soon."

"That's good. I miss the Jack Parr show every night. Is that tube very expensive?"

"Well, that tube usually cost about three dollars, and we will charge three dollars to fix the set. A little more if we have to readjust a lot of stuff. And our work is guaranteed for 60 days."

"The other fellow I called wanted eight dollars just to come to my house. If you can fix it, that would be wonderful. I don't have a lot of my check left this month." She looked over my shoulder. "And where is that nice white boy who came with you?"

"Just putting the back of the set on."

"I was worried about him. Does he know what he's doin'? He seems so young."

Rocco just then came into the kitchen; I was barely able to stop from laughing. Wait `til I tell him what she said. Rocco spoke right up: "Hello, Mrs. Matthews. Did Jade, er . . . Noel give you the good news?"

"Why thank you, and yes he did."

It took us an eternity to get out of there. She didn't want to stop talking. We left all the equipment at her house, picked my bike up at my house, less than a block away, and got Rocco's bike next. "How did you know her name? I couldn't remember it."

"She had a few pieces of mail on the coffee table."

"Mystery solved. Think this tube will do it?"

"Probably. But then we may have a lot of adjusting on our hands." And Rocco explained why. "And that's where I'll need you. Most repairman set up a mirror to see the screen while working on the back. You will have to be my mirror."

"Wait `til I tell you what Mrs. Matthews asked me. Let's see now." And in a terrible falsetto tried to mimic the lady: `I was worried about him. Does he know what he's doin'? He seems so young.'" I laughed.

Rocco wasn't even fazed. "Well, I guess I do look pretty young. Jimmy says though I'm now up to eighth grade size." And Rocco laughed himself.

I liked that about him. He was able to laugh about most things. I wished I could. I added: "Actually what she didn't say but implied was: `He seems so young and white.'"

And Rocco laughed again. "Well, we'll just have to make sure Mrs. Matthews realizes that white is almost as good as black." And he kept laughing.

`Well, White-boy. I think maybe some of me is rubbing off on you after all. Last year you would have got all upset over that."

He ignored what I said last, but as to the rubbing off part, Rocco made a big production of looking at his skin and said: "Do you really think I'm getting darker?" He tried to sound innocent but failed miserably.

The tube cost $2.95. One of the more expensive ones. And while there, Rocco bought a set of schematics for the set. Another 75 cents. At this rate we'll be bankrupt by next week. But leaving the store it was me this time laughing and Rocco annoyed. Well, he was annoyed earlier. Rocco just pulled one of his big stunts.

I said: "That was inspired. I still can't get over the expression on his face when he finally believed you."

"Well it just pissed me off when we went up to the counter and he just dismissed you out of hand, like you didn't even exist. So I just couldn't help it." And Rocco started smiling remembering.

The guy at the counter asked Rocco what he needed, while determinedly ignoring me even standing there. Rocco got that expression on his face. "Oh hell," I thought, "Something bad is coming."

Rocco looked over at me and affected this real sappy expression. "Jade, you're so much better than I am at these things, you better do the talking. All I know about tubes is they're made of glass. That IS what covers them, isn't it?"

I tried to keep a straight face. By this time the clerk was annoyed himself. Good thing I figured what Rocco was doing. "Give him the paper I wrote the number down on, Rocco. Gees, can't you do anything right?" I was smiling on the inside as I laid it on thick. If this is how he wanted to play it, I was sure going to cooperate. The clerk picked up the paper, sort of snorted and went back for the tube.

Soon as he left I got a punch on my arm. "You didn't have to take it that far." But Rocco was smiling. "Also. When he comes back, ask him for the schematics for the Philco table models series 49T through 58T. Got that?"

"Models series 49T through 58T," I repeated. "Got it." When the clerk returned he handed the tube to Rocco. I then asked for the schematics. He still looked at Rocco when he asked, "Anything past 1958? Rocco just looked at me with this dumb look on his face. So I answered: "No, that's all for now."

He was gone again. I turned to Rocco, "That OK?"

"Great. If any of the newer models go on the fritz, probably just a tube anyway. Hay, when he comes back, just play along. He still insists on not talking to you. We got to teach him a lesson."

Uh, oh, now what? He returned and dropped a large white envelope on the counter. "That will be 2.95 for the tube and 75 cents for the schematics. Anything else?" He was still talking to Rocco.

I answered. "No. That's it." And then I got inspired. I turned to Rocco, "Well, dumb-dumb, pay the man. Geesch!" I looked back to the man at the counter. "He flunked 6th grade -- twice."

Rocco was getting out the money from his pocket. And just dropped it all on the counter. He looked to me. "What's that add up to Jade?"

Now I almost laughed. "Come on stupid, that's $3.75. Any idiot can add that!"

He then started fake crying. "I'm gonna tell Mama on you. She said not to call me bad names!"

The counter guy looked at Rocco. "You OK? I would definitely tell your mother about this and have her call and tell his mother about it. This is disgraceful."

Then Rocco got this real confused look on his face. "I don' unnerstan' how can my Mama call his Mama? She can call herself?"

The guy started getting a weird look. "What do YOU mean?"

"Well Jade's my brother! And Dad always favors him because he's always smart and I ain't. An' `cause I made Jade lose his hands." He started crying again. "I keep saying I'm sorry Jade. I didn't mean to push you when that car came. Honest!"

"You have the SAME mother?" The clerk seemed incredulous.

"And Dad." I added.

"You mean to say your Dad's a Negro?"

"NO! Mom's a Negro. Dad's white. An' I hate him. He always likes Jade better!" And Rocco ran out of the store, but not before seeing the look on the guy's face. We would have paid all our profits to see that look again. Well, maybe half the profits.

We were eventually laughing so hard outside, we couldn't get on our bikes yet. "That was priceless. I think he actually believed you! I thought you were laying it on too think. But he believed you! And when you said your Mom was a Negro, too much. His eyes bugged out. And the final touch was truly great. `He likes Jade better!' Inspired!"

"I thought that was good. And how was my acting? Think I'm ready for the stage?"

"Gees, that dumb look you got when he said you mother should call mine!" But then I had a sudden twinge of pain thinking about Mama. I shrugged it off but White-boy noticed.

"Sorry, didn't mean to remind you."

"No big deal. I'm OK. But I got to tell Consuelo on Monday. And Marx. They'll both get a charge out of it. It's so good they might not even believe it."

We made great time zooming back. Both of us were feeling great about our first job and the prospects were good. And the tube brought the set to life. But the horizontal and vertical holds were not doing just that. They weren't holding. I sat in front while Rocco set a screw driver to some coils in the back. About 5 minutes later, the picture looked great and held in place. We adjusted the rabbit ears on top of the set and then watched Perry Mason just as he was delivering the coup-de-grâce.

"There you go Mrs. Matthews. As good as new." I said.

She thanked us profusely. And offered us some cake. We walked out $3.00 richer since we charged her the 75 cents for the schematics, and our two stomachs, two slices of cake fuller.

"Thanks again! I have to confess, when I saw how young you two looked, I had my worries. But I'll now be sure to tell my neighbors. Thanks again."

We left. I turned to Rocco. "How come you bought those schematics?"

"Just in case I needed them to adjust the set. And there's actually a number of them in there. Except for the new series, they're good for all the table models Philco made. You know they made the first table model TV set. Back in about 1949 I think, it cost about $250 dollars. That was more than my Dad made then in a whole month. Quite expensive."

We zoomed to Rocco's house after putting all the equipment in my bedroom. We were on the top of the world.

"We did it!" Rocco yelled just as we got into his house."

His Dad looked over. "Quiet. We're trying to hear this." The TV was on and it was capturing everyone's attention. We went out into the kitchen where his Mom was.

"Mom! Guess what! We fixed our first TV. We made three dollars. We're going to get rich! That adds up to a dollar an hour since we were working only one and a half hours! We did it!" He was so excited in front of his Mom.

"Well I'm really glad for you. That's really an accomplishment. I never did think you could start repairing TV sets that easily. Those repairmen go to school quite a while to do that."

"Actually not really I don't think. I bet they maybe get a weeks instruction at most. It really isn't that hard. Just wish we could afford a regular tube tester."

"How much do they cost?"

"For a good portable one, probably about $100."

"Well, I guess that's not in the works right now."

It was getting late so Rocco and I went to my house on our bikes.

"Need help tonight?" Rocco asked.

"If you would. My uncle and I aren't doing too good together right now."

Rocco looked a bit anxious but didn't ask any awkward questions. And just a short kiss later he was on his way home. I did feel a lot better, but the bruises still showed a bit. Thank goodness Uncle Mike has just been ignoring me lately. I haven't even fixed his dinner these past few nights. I was wondering what he was thinking. But on the other hand, he hasn't even prepared stuff ahead of time. I'm living mostly on canned foods. Thank for electric can openers. But I'm getting desperate for something else. Maybe I can talk White-boy into a Sheff's pizza tomorrow after the badminton. Now that we were rich. I've never seen these two kids we were supposed to be playing with, though Rocco`s talked a lot about Twain. I hope they already know about my hands and stuff.

I was also wondering about that Unitarian pastor. I found the paper I wrote that down on last year. I just never followed up on it. I'm so hurting now about things maybe he can help. At least maybe I could talk to him. Well, just wait and see. Maybe things will smooth over. Thank goodness White-boy doesn't suspect a thing.

On Sunday, Rocco and I went to his friend's house. We took the bus and walked down a few blocks right near the hospital. There were all twin houses in this area. Then on past the hospital, where the houses were all single homes and much bigger. Real rich neighborhood. I felt a bit out of place. We finally got to the right number.

Rocco remarked: "Wow. It's the biggest house in the area. Do we have the number right?"

We went up the drive and then heard a lot of noise coming from around the back. We went around.

"Holy smoke. They have a swimming pool! Lawyers must make a LOT of money. Maybe I'll be a lawyer instead of a teacher." Rocco said but I was also thinking it.

As we approached the pool we could see both the other boys having lots of fun diving off the board. Damn, I hope they don't ask us to join them. I can't let anyone see my bruises. They were faint, but still noticeable. They both got out of the pool and headed toward us. Damn, this yard was bigger than some ball fields. OK, maybe some playgrounds. After a few "hi's" and "hello's" and so on, Rocco sort of took charge. After the introductions, I could see this John fellow staring at my hooks. Nobody had shaken hands.

"I can see the net all set up." That was Rocco. He said to Twain: "Wow you sure got quite a place here. If I'd realized you were this rich I would have made friends with you instead of Jade! He's even poorer than I am!"

Both Rocco and I smiled at the joke but Twain didn't know how to handle it. "Well it's just me and Mom, and she makes pretty good money." But he still seemed half embarrassed.

I finally joined in: "You should know Rocco has a weird sense of humor. And actually we will be rich soon ourselves. We just started our own TV repair business and we fixed out first TV yesterday."

That really got John's interest. "My god, you know that much about TV's? All those tubes and wires and coils and stuff?"

"It's not too bad after you start learning about it all. Rocco's been teaching me some and I now have a few books. And mostly what goes wrong is just a tube."

John looked down at my hooks and I knew what he was thinking. But he was too polite to say it. "Well, that's great. If our set ever goes ka-blewy, I'll give you guys a call." He then saw the small cloth bag I set down. "What's in there?"

"Just a clean shirt and my special badminton racket." I took it out but it was Twain who reached for it. "See, there's a small hole in through the handle. That's where my hook fits through. It not only lets me hold it, but more importantly, it keeps it from twisting as I swing it. That was the main problem I had before. Then there is a groove cut into the bottom part of the handle to fit it to my hook. Here, let me show you."

He had all eyes. "See, it's like a regular attachment." Rocco then put the band around the bottom of the racket that held into place.

"There's only one problem." I said.

John bit: "And what's that?"

"It's hard to eat with it." Damn, only a few chuckles. I thought it was funnier than that.

Rocco and I didn't do too bad. We even won a few games. It helped that I was left handed while Rocco was right. The important thing to me, however, was that it was one of the few times in my life that I just let myself loose, and just enjoyed what I was doing. I mean few times when playing some competitive sport. What really helped was that everybody else just forgot about my handicap and thus I was almost able to forget about it myself. It was amazingly freeing. Rocco and I went to the back porch were some drinks were put out. Even some soda, which we didn't get to drink very often.

"How you doing?" Rocco asked. "You're looking happy."

"I am. You can't believe how great this has been. Nobody worrying or hardly even thinking about my hooks. Even more important, I actually forgot about them myself for a while! That is almost miraculous." I felt so good about things, and was so hot that I was even coaxed into the pool. But I kept my undershirt and boxers on.

Both John and Twain were a bit curious when I took off my hooks. And most importantly, I was glad Rocco didn't suspect anything. A few more days and my being hurt will be a thing of the past.

We were offered dinner later that afternoon also. I couldn't resist. My diet lately was really suffering. Rocco called his parents to get permission to stay. Mrs. Goldstein had left for a bit during the day but was back and made dinner. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Easy to eat. John kept watching as I ate. I guess he was really curious about how I managed. I was used to it but I wished he'd stop. But I was feeling so good, I wasn't going to let something so small really bother me. All the usual pleasantries were bandied about at dinner. Then school became a big topic. Then the newspaper. It seemed that besides Rocco and myself, John was also on the newspaper staff at his school. Rocco had never said anything. I found out why later.

We were on the bus home, when I asked Rocco about why he didn't know John very well in spite of being on the newspaper staff with him.

"Actually we just don't see each other there too often. And we usually mix with different crowds. Well that's not entirely accurate. Neither of us mixes a whole lot with anybody."

I was uncomfortable with my wet under shorts, so I was glad to get home to change. Rocco said he had an important assignment to finish so we parted for the day. I had him release my straps just in case. My uncle has been quite erratic lately.

Through the next week we got two more TV's to fix. We started charging five dollars since we found out most of the repairmen start at ten. One took us quite a while to adjust and we had to buy a whole bunch more schematics. It still took us forever to find just one stupid resistor that had gone bad because it was pushed up against the metal chassis. That in turn probably caused the small capacitor next to it to go bad. These small parts were pretty cheap. So we replaced all the items at the same juncture and prayed. Either our prayers were answered or we were getting pretty good at this. The other place had a newer model RCA and a simple tube for the horizontal hold had gone bad. I got that figured out on my own and felt great about it. I was learning. Ten minutes and five more dollars. In no time our equipment would be paid for.

We also finally got the set from Mr. Alexander's basement. We replaced the obviously shorting high voltage capacitor, but there was something else broken. Still no picture. Probably the shorting capacitor caused something else to go. It's now in Rocco's basement. We ran out of time to work on it.

As for everything else we were kept amazingly busy. Scouts on Tuesday, a couple English papers on Wednesday, circulars on Thursday, and I was even back to getting dinner ready for my uncle. He had asked me Monday how come I wasn't doing it anymore. He even (well sort of) apologized for hitting me the other day. (But he said he was so drunk it really wasn't his fault). But at least things were really looking up. And I was certainly looking forward to the Camporee at Treasure Island coming up right before Memorial Day.

Friday Rocco and I were in his room finishing up school work. Right in the middle of it he suddenly got excited and said: "Just remembered; look at this. Typical." His brain jumps the track every once in a while. He showed me an article in a magazine he had on his dresser. He said: "Our trying to finish that English paper reminded me about our word wars and that reminded me about this. He showed me a magazine.

As I began reading where he pointed I started laughing. It was about Senator Al Gore apologizing to Everett Dirksen for his accusing him of "pompous verbosity." He then referred to Dirksen as "one of the most ariose, mellifluous, dulcifluent orators in the upper house." Gore added that "he hoped the argument would make no more than an inconsequential ripple in the flowing tide of rhetoric which I have enjoyed exchanging with the inimitable and euphonious socdolager from Illinois. Temporarily silenced, Dirksen promised to reply once he has refurbished his vocabulary."

"Holy smoke. There's at least five or six words here I've never seen before. Talk about word wars!" Rocco handed me the dictionary. It took me almost ten minutes to just figure out what Al Gore said. "You don't happen to know what `ariose' means? I can't even find it in the dictionary." We both had a good laugh.

Just then his sister called up the stairs in a voice indicating that someone special was calling on the phone: "Hay Rocco, your girlfriend's on the phone."

He rushed downstairs and answered wondering what was up. "Hello. (Pause) "Great Consuelo. What's up?" (Pause) "Hay that's great! Let me ask my Mom." He put down the receiver, pulled the phone off the radiator cover when his hand became tangled in the cord, and finally rushed into the kitchen. "Mom, that's Consuelo. She wants to know if I can go with her tomorrow. She and her brother can take us out to the library at Temple University."

I stood in the entryway of the kitchen as his Mom made him suffer an Inquisition. "I don't know her brother. I'm not sure I like the idea of you riding in a car driven by a teenager for such a distance."

"But Mom, I need to let Consuelo know. She's waiting on the phone. We've been wanting to do some research out there." Rocco pleaded.

I know Rocco meant him and me, but his Mom automatically thought he meant himself and Consuelo.

Dolores came into the kitchen at just that time and entered the fray. "Let the poor boy go on his date. This research project is probably them researching each other."

Rocco actually blushed at this. His Mom saw it and took this for further proof that all this was an excuse for a date. After a bit more wrangling and not a few promises, he got permission to go. Dan would actually drive all the way out here and pick us up. He was anxious to see both us and his sister.

The visit to the library was a success in so far as we enjoyed ourselves, and we had another good talk with Dan. Dan still had trouble figuring out how to find someone he could eventually hook up with.

Dan remarked: "The more I see you guys, the more envious I get. I got so desperate the other day that I mentioned to someone I was gay, since I suspected he also was. Wrong! Now I wonder if the rumor is spreading. He was pretty cold to me afterwards, but not especially hostile. I tried to talk to him later but he kept making excuses about needing to be elsewhere. And mostly pretty obvious ones."

"Do you really think he will spread this among the other students?" I asked.

"Well, I've seen several students give me strange looks and then whisper things to each other, but maybe that's just my normal paranoia at work. I guess I just don't know for sure."

Rocco interjected: "I wonder how people here would react if someone was very open about his sexual preferences. Do you think it possible on a college campus that you could survive it?"

"I just don't know. But I'm just not ready to try it. I am just too frightened of what might happen. I really want to finish college."

We talked a bit more about this. We then discussed a few of the things that Rocco and I discovered. We didn't find much. But there were a lot of commentaries on the Old Testament.

Rocco started talking about the stuff he looked up about Leviticus. "There are two verses in Leviticus that seem to forbid homosexual acts. Like Chapter 18, verse 22. `Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.' And Chapter 20, verse 13 is similar: `If a man also lieth with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. . .' That sounds pretty harsh."

But I asked about all the other things they were talking about in the same book. "And how come we keep hearing about small snippets of the Old Testament and nobody seems interested in the rest?"

Rocco was anxious to keep going: "Actually I found a number of different commentaries on all these abominations in Leviticus. They are pretty hard for me to understand, but a few things I did get was this. One, there were LOTS of abominations, and that generally the word abomination was NOT an accurate translation. In fact a couple books specifically stated that the Hebrew word should be translated as `it is against Jewish law,' another has "to become unclean," and yet another commentator said it should be translated as "it is idolatry."

We talked about this some more but we could see that Rocco was anxious to add some more. "As I was trying to say there was another thing. Many places it says to keep the entire law to be a good Jew, but look at all these things. A man can't marry a widow or a divorced woman. [21:14] Or you can't let cattle interbreed with other kinds of cattle. Or wear a garment of both linen and wool. Or sow a field with more than one kind of seed. [19:19] And you can't have sex with your wife during her period. [15:19-24, 19:19, 20:18] And there's all kinds of other things that nobody worries about today. Like eating pork, or making animal sacrifice, or not sowing any field on the seventh year. Or eating seafood without fins. [11:10] Or not shaving the hair around your ears. [19:27] Or getting a tattoo. And look here: they call for the death penalty for children who talk back to their parents. And there's even a place where it says slavery is OK as long as the people bought and sold are heathens or their children. [25:44-46] And lots of other stuff."

I interrupted Rocco at that point. "I have to read that." Anything about slavery got my attention. "Holy smoke, look at this: `Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall you buy, and of their children that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possessions. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondsmen forever.' So if you weren't a Jew you could be bought and sold as a slave!"

Then Dan, who was pretty quiet up to now, said: "Actually, a man could even sell his own daughters into slavery. But we're not Jews, and that was a few thousand years ago. How about finding out what the New Testament has to say about these things?"

I chimed in: "Also my Mama said that the New Testament is pretty clear that the new church was no longer bound by Jewish law."

Rocco, as usual in discussions like this just had to be heard, and butted right in before I had a chance to finish: "Well one thing I did learn in Religion class was that almost the entire Epistle to the Galatians speaks all about how Christians were no longer bound by Jewish law."

We then grabbed the bible we had and started looking up Galatians. Rocco leafed through it quickly and started reading a couple places: "Here, listen to this. `For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' And a bit later: `But if ye be lead of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.'" [5:14 & 18]

Our discussion actually didn't seem to get us much further. The general consensus was that NOBODY today actually followed all of Levitical law. And why should we even try to pick and choose? The other thing was what Mama said. Christians were no longer bound by Jewish law anyway. We never did find anything that commented about stuff in the New Testament. But Rocco and I agreed that we'd go back to St. Joe's as soon as possible. I had found at least three places in the New Testament that specifically talked about homosexual stuff. Or so I believed. I had them marked in Mama's bible. Or actually she was the one that marked them. Rocco wanted to see how all the different bible translations treated these three places.

Later in the day, we all went to the student common area and just talked about everything and anything. I think Dan was happy just to BE with someone that he could feel free with. And who could understand what is was like to be homosexual. Dan was saying: "It's impossible to make anyone else really understand how alienated we feel from the rest of society because of what we are. We are the universally hated people. Far worse than being colored. At least growing up colored, you have your family`s support." Then suddenly he looked at Jade. "Sorry Jade, but you know what I mean."

"Actually I do. And just think, I'm both gay AND black. It's usual that we keep to ourselves as a sort of emotional and social protection. But if most of the people I live around ever found out I'm gay, well I'd not even have that."

Dan looked a bit sheepish. He finally said: "Well, I'm just feeling sorry for myself. I just have bad spots like this. But sometimes it feels that I'm some alien from outer space and I don't fit anywhere. I'm a person who just wants to fall in love just like everybody else. Damn it. How come we have no place in today's society?"

I don't think Dan actually expected any answer. It's was just the same frustrations that we all felt. But I did answer: "Dan, it just comes down to this. Life is just NOT fair. We just have to do the best we can. The one thing we can do is to help one another as much as possible."

Consuelo, who usually has more to say about things than anyone, was mostly quiet throughout our discussions. Barely making a comment here and there. But she finally said she had to say something. "Look you guys. I guess I can't understand completely how you feel. But I can give you an idea of how the people on the outside see things. First of all, most people hardly give homosexuality much thought. It's just some vague thing out there that sick or bad people do. There just happens to be a small group of THOSE people that are just self indulgent perverts, and we don't want them spreading their sickness around."

We were all glaring at her. Rocco actually stopped trying to interrupt what everyone else was saying. But I said: "I thought you were on our side? I hope you don't think that."

"Of course not. But I didn't really understand the real problems here, or see that you guys are no different from the rest of us. Probably most people don't understand how much you guys anguish over all this. But there's a paradox here. I never realized that until I learned about you guys, and what you are going through, and how you would really like to live. And most other people will never know better until you show yourselves. Until you show everyone that you just want the same things we all have."

"But that's the problem," Rocco interjected. "How can we do this when the repercussions are so severe?"

Consuelo said: "That's why I said it was a paradox. I'm sorry. I just don't have any answers."

We got back to Rocco's house just before dinner. He managed to get permission to come over to my house later that evening. I told him I'd call if my uncle were there. My uncle was still out so we were pretty free to do what we wanted. But I was still wound up by the things we talked about today. And I thought Rocco was forgetting the basics. Rocco seemed to be getting all worked up again about the stuff we found in the Bible. Eventually I broached the subject.

"Look, White-boy, I think there is one really important thing we have been forgetting today."

I had his instant interest. "OK, what forest am I not seeing because of all the interesting trees we've found?"

"Well, it goes back to the one thing that Mama kept preaching to me. `Love can't be wrong.' I love you a whole lot. And the more I realize this, the more I realize that all this stuff about homosexuality in the bible can't be talking about us. And the more I realize how Mama was right. The bible stuff is talking about horrible things like rape, and prostitution, and people just using other people for sex. But this can't be describing what I feel for you and I believe you feel for me."

"You mean you think all this research I'm doing is pointless?"

"No, I'm not saying that at all. It never hurts to keep learning things. It's just don't let that blind you to what is really between us."

"Don't worry Jade. I can't believe that can ever happen. I feel happy about us, and I don't feel guilty about it. I guess I mean that I can't believe that God can condemn us for loving each other."

We just sat there in my room in companionable silence for a while. I eventually took off my shirt and pants and White-boy undid the straps. I took off the hooks and put them on the dresser. I turned back toward White-boy and he seemed intent on staring holes through me. We were both getting hard.

"Jade, need any more help with anything?" His tone of voice was very suggestive.

"I'm starting to suspect that like Consuelo said, you are just looking for self indulgent fun!" Of course neither of us took me seriously. As it turned out I didn't really need much help. I quickly undressed and then turned my attention to White-boy, who was just lying there watching. I had him undo his belt and zipper. I did the rest. With a little struggle I had him naked too. He just let me do whatever I wanted. He didn't speak at all. He just smiled a lot. And made these little moaning sounds.

I don't know why, but my White-boy always much preferred me to take charge so to speak. And that was fine by me. I lay down on top of him and enjoyed the feeling of him struggling beneath me.

White-boy suddenly yelped. I suddenly stopped. "You OK?"

"I was doing great until you stopped. What's the matter?"

"But you yelled, and then were moaning. I thought I hurt you."

"They were pleasure moans. Just keep it up. And let me know just what you want me to do."

"I didn't hurt you when I kneeled on your arms and pinned them down?"

"Only my feelings when you stopped."

So I continued. I probably outweighed him now by at least 80 or more pounds, and drove all my weight on top of him. He couldn't move much and I enjoyed the control. As I was grinding into him, and moving up and down a bit, I could feel his sudden spasms. He always seemed to orgasm before I did. After he was done, I kept stroking my penis between his legs. I was soon on the verge myself. I began bouncing up and down even faster. Finally I came. And came. Damn, this was the best ever. I collapsed on top of my White-boy. And he was still himself. We must have just lay there for several minutes before he finally said something.

"That was good for you Jade?"

"Couldn't have been better. How are you doing?" I rolled off the side and looked into his eyes.

He started rubbing my lower arm lightly, up and down. I never allowed anyone to touch my lower arms. I didn't know why either. But when White-boy was doing it, it was so soothing. I could have fallen to sleep that way. But finally I said: "Can you see the time from where you are?"

"I don't want to look. I might then have to go home. I just want to stay here with you. Like this. Forever. You know, Dan has sort of made me see a few things differently. For one thing, we ARE fortunate. What are the odds of two homo boys not only finding each other, but also finding they want to be with each other forever?"

We just lay there holding onto each other. We unfortunately fell to sleep. The next thing we realized was my uncle was walking down the hallway. I flew off the bed and slammed shut the door. Rocco was like a one legged kangaroo, putting on his underpants. We dressed in record time. But when we locked eyes I could see he was worried about us having being seen.

"Don't worry White-boy. Uncle Mike had just one thing in mind -- getting to bed and sleeping off his liquor. He didn't see us."

He still got dressed in record time. A quick kiss, and Rocco left for home. Damn, it was almost 10 PM. I hope he don't get into trouble. But I should have been more worried about myself. My uncle suddenly barged into my room yelling obscenities. "I just goddamned knew it! You're just like him. That son-of-a-bitch brother of mine! A fucking chip off the old queer block!"

I was so shocked I just froze. All I had on were my boxers, and when he came in my boner had to have been very evident. He came toward me, and kept up the profanities. "Both of you -- a god-damned pair of fucking faggots. Right here in my house. I should have known. Like father like son. Is the whole world now gone faggot?"

I finally got out of my funk and realized I had better get out. But he was still mostly blocking the way to the door. I had to time my try better. I didn't say a word. What was there to say? He must have seen us after all, but I will never admit it to him. Maybe he's so drunk he will forget everything by morning. It was my only hope.

He yelled: "You son-of-a-bitch. I'll show you how goddamned fairy faggot shits should be treated."

As he came closer I jumped past him. His movements were slowed by being so drunk. But I slipped on the clothes I'd dropped on the floor earlier. Weirdly, the first thought that came to mind was this was how they always let the evil monster catch the helpless maiden in all those B movies. I was more angry than scared. Though I was plenty scared too. Well, my uncle wasn't very fast just then but he definitely was strong. I quickly got to my feet and just as I made a couple steps toward the door, he clasped onto one of my ankles with a vice grip hold. I want down again. I bashed my forearms onto the floor trying to break my fall. Two spasms of ridiculous pain speared up my arms.

I rolled and stood again. I barely turned to the door and something the size and force of a sledge hit me across my face. I went down again. I guess I was partly in shock by then, but it seemed like a slow-motion slapstick comedy. I was sent down twice more. This time I was crawling toward the door. I almost made it before he literally picked me up and hurled me into the wall next to my bed. I didn't bounce too well. All this time he was hurling accusations and obscenities at me. Kept saying we were faggots like his brother.

"And just like my brother, I'm going to teach you just what should happen to all faggots. Just like I showed my brother."

What the hell was he talking about? I hurt too much to move fast. But at least this was better than the whipping from the belt. If I could only get away. I was no match, however, for my uncle. Even drunk. I was half picked up and half dragged onto my bed. He pushed me down hard, and grabbed the back of my boxers. They were literally ripped from me. I went into panic mode. Maybe I was too naive, but not `til then did I have any inkling of what he intended.

"Noooooo!" I screamed, as I dove out of the bed. Adrenalin from my newest fear was able to propel me away. But suddenly a roundhouse kick in the stomach sent me down again. He wrenched me up by my arm. At this I quaked. I was forever terrified whenever my arms were threatened. I didn't know exactly why. And then I started to black out. He hit me so hard I just lay there on my stomach dazed.

"Now you son-of-a-bitch faggot. I got something for ya."

A moment later, I felt an amazing burning pain up my rectum. I was still quite dizzy and it seemed I couldn't get my limbs to work. "Stop! Please stop! Noooooo!" I screamed as the pain even got worse. Then it seemed as though it was happening to someone else. I was sort of just there for the ride. The pain was still there, but somehow disconnected. An eternity later it stopped. My uncle pulled away, still mouthing imprecations, but they didn't seem to register. I just lay there numb. It was mostly my soul that was numb. And then I started to cry as the full implication of what happen struck home. And it was not for the physical pain.

That bastard stole something from me that I can never get back. That was supposed to be for my White-boy. Now it was forever lost. For a while that's all I could think about. Finally I was barely able to get upright. I looked down and there was blood dripping down my leg. For a while I could not understand why. I was in some kind of shock. Then I realized my crying was now down to a few whimpers. I felt so weak. I stumbled into the bathroom, barely managing to get into the tub. I turned on the water. It took ages for me to get the stopper into the drain but finally it filled. I turned on the hot water as hot as I could stand it.

"I'm sorry White-boy. I'm so sorry. That was supposed to be for you." And the word finally came to me. I had been raped! But what could I do? For now I just needed to wash up and to make the pain go away. The physical pain wasn't too great anymore. But my heart was broken. My White-boy! I felt so guilty. I didn't keep myself for my White-boy. I started sobbing uncontrollably again. All I could think of was that I no longer deserved to have my White-boy. He deserved better. And it now gradually seeped into my consciousness that I could do nothing. The relationship between me and him was somehow forever spoiled. It could never be good again. And it was my fault. I had failed him. I should have seen this coming and somehow avoided it. If I had loved my White-boy enough, that's what I would have done.

But I was too scared. I was too much of a coward. I only thought of myself. I kept ignoring what my uncle was capable of because I couldn't contemplate how I could survive without my uncle providing for me. Providing for the next two years. I was so scared. What could I do alone?

Sorry White-boy. Maybe you deserve someone better. You're so earnest. So unspoiled. So energetic. I started looking back on the last couple years and realized it was all my White-boy. He was the energy that ran everything. The inspiration for what was good between us. The one that organized everything, pursued everything, believed in what was possible and brought it about. Without him I had done nothing.

I was wallowing in self pity and could not stop it. I had no hands. What really could I do? And that was what truly frightened me. I had no alternative. There was nothing else. Without my uncle, there were no other possibilities. I realized that I would just have to live with it. And pray it doesn't happen again.

A good while later, I emptied the tub and stood up. I almost collapsed right on the spot. I had to lean up against the wall. I knelt under the hose attachment and washed my self off. I dried myself as best as I could. It took several minutes just to navigate back to my room. I wondered where my uncle had gone. I wondered what now? Things just got infinitely complicated.

I must have passed out naked on my bed. In the morning I awoke tangled in the sheets. There were blood stains all over the place. Strangely I did not feel too bad. Physically that is. My anus was quite sore but it only bled a little when on the toilet. I washed it the best I could.

But I felt my world had come apart at the seams. I tried to figure out what to do now. I went back and lay down. I must have gone back to sleep. When I awoke again I looked over at the clock and it was near noon. I was absolutely stunned. Was I that exhausted? I took another bath and loaded the sheets and other things in the washing machine. Suddenly I felt famished. I found a couple cans of corn beef hash in the pantry and polished them off. Along with two quarts of milk. We always had milk since it was delivered to the door every other morning. Same with the bread.

I could actually think again. Perhaps I was not in as bad a situation as my thoughts took me last night. I still felt immensely guilty about betraying my White-boy. But I decided I had to do some damage control. I had to live here two more years. I decided that White-boy can never know. He would be too hurt. He deserved better. I just had to suck it up and carry on. I had to become that much more determined to succeed. To make things work.

I finally called both my school and Rocco's. To mine I gave an excuse for being absent today. To Rocco's I asked the office to get him a note to meet me after dinner tonight at his house. They said that they usually didn't deliver notes like that, but I finally was able to persuade some secretary that it was vitally important. I wondered what Rocco would think when he got it. He probably would call. Well I would be prepared for him. I just hoped I could pull myself together by the time we met tonight. I just needed him. I needed even just his presence to help give me some meaning back into my life.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello