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 backsides.

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

I would like to thank all of the readers who responded to my questions about horse training farms south of Philadelphia. I finally decided to just pick one even if my memory will probably never remember the farm I did happen to visit. Those who read the previous version of Chapter 70 will note that instead of using the Red Arrow Line the "Two Boys" now have commuted via Penn-Central. Thank-you. Rocco.


PART III -- Confrontation and Resolve

Chapter 69a -- A Little Rain Must Fall (part a)

Every morning I get up, I now look into the mirror to make sure that the person living here was me. Never again will I ever believe that I am not a very fortunate boy. Mama said that sometimes God works in mysterious ways. And she also told Rocco that he was God's gift to me. And I am finally realizing Mama was right. I'm even wondering if she realized it could have worked out the way it has. I have the best boyfriend there is, and I'm living in a nice home with nice people, and I may even get some foster parents soon. And to think that most of what I right now have is because of a strange and weird white boy that insisted on us being friends. If only Mama could be here now.

And now this hearing; and meeting with the lawyer. I'm not really too worried, as much as I'm just sick. I don't really want to ever face my uncle again. I think I'm just starting to fully realize how terrible he really was. Or is. I wonder if he did anything to my own father. He seemed to imply it.

Rocco called all worried last night. "Did you get any letter about seeing the assistant district attorney?"

I replied: "Actually it was hand delivered by someone according to Mrs. Krazenski. Didn't you see yours? I assume that's why you're calling."

"Yes. Aren't you worried?"

"Actually no, and neither should you. It's automatic."

"But how come your uncle isn't pleading guilty? Does he think he can get off?"

"He's just grasping at straws. They have him 100%. Please don't worry."

That was last night, and if I know my White-boy, he will be fretting over this whole thing even more this morning. I'm going to have to reassure him.

And right before Dr. Krazenski left for the hospital to see some patients this morning he said he needed to talk to me about school sometime soon. He had office hours this afternoon. I guess it won't be until at least dinner time. And it's Mrs. Krazenski taking me to the district attorney's office on Monday. I wonder if I should call Mrs. Goldstein to ask her about it. Probably just a routine thing to figure out what we will say in the hearing.

I was on my way downstairs when the phone rang. Probably for the doctor; it always is.

"Jade, it's your friend on the phone again." Cher was at the bottom of the stairs and was shouting until she saw me start down.

"Thanks." And Cher followed me to the phone. I think she is the most inquisitive person I knew -- next to my White-boy that is. "Hello, Rocco. What's up?"

We talked a lot about the hearing and needing to see the attorney sometime soon. I mentioned that Mrs. Krazenski was taking me there on Monday. I told him for the tenth time not to worry so much.

"I'll try not. Also my Mom wants to talk to Dr. Krazenski, if he's there."

"Actually no, but his wife is."

So the two Moms talked and the upshot is that we all are going together. Rocco's Mom called the district attorney's office earlier this morning and they even got a message to the attorney handling the case and it was decided to hit two birds with one questioning.

So on Monday morning there were four of us in Mrs. Krazenski's fancy new Chrysler on our way to our meeting with some assistant district attorney. I have to admit that I was getting almost as anxious as Rocco so obviously was. Yesterday I was able to divert much of his attention by challenging him to a game of Tactics II. But we incorporated the Atom Bomb Option which considerably shortened the game. It also changed the whole strategy. Rocco must have still been distracted and I won for only the second time. Later we took our bikes over to the miniature golf course up on Roosevelt Boulevard and Rocco was back to his normal self in that he so immersed himself into the challenge of the game he didn't mention the upcoming meeting for the entire 27 holes. He also won by 15 strokes.

But now I knew he was really getting upset again. He hadn't said a word for an entire 10 minutes. We got there just on time but we had to wait another hour because the guy was held up at court. So Mrs. Krazenski treated us to lunch at the Horn & Hardart's just a few blocks away. Rocco said they have the best fish cakes and Harvard Beets.

"They're great, you'll love them." Rocco assured me.

"What are Harvard Beets?" I asked. "Beets that went to law school?" We both laughed, but the adults didn't. (But nobody could answer why they were called Harvard Beets). When he said pickled beets in this purple sauce I almost gagged. But I guess I'd try them. I normally just tolerate red beets.

I was never there before and it was cafeteria style. Also they had a whole wall of these little glass covered doors where you put in some coins and opened the door to get the item you wanted. The meal for me was a dollar ten. I thought that was expansive until I found Mrs. Krazenski's was over two dollars. Boy, for a small woman, could she eat. She even went to one of those little windows after, and got a piece of apple pie. My eyes lit on it so she got me one too. It was really good, but for 30 cents it had better be. And those beets I really liked. A nice surprise.

We got back and found out the attorney just got back. A few minutes later, we were sent in. He told us all about my uncle pleading not guilty, and so there was going to be a preliminary hearing. That wasn't even the actual trial. He said he would only ask each of us a few questions just to indicate that my uncle committed the crimes he did. He wanted to see us separately, so I went in first with Mrs. Krazenski. She showed her temporary foster license and we got down to business. It was not too bad at first. But when he started asking me questions that he said would be like my uncle's own lawyer would ask, it was much worse. I didn't like remembering all that had happened. This was the first time I let myself think about some of the stuff since it happened. And he kept trying to trip me up. Which was impossible. I could never forget what happened. I suspect that Dr. Krazenski doesn't tell his wife everything, because Mrs. Krazenski seemed genuinely shocked at some of the things I started to talk about. I was grateful when she made a tactful retreat to the lady's room when we got to the sexrelated happenings. But the attorney waited until she got back before he continued so I left out most the detail. I wasn't so sure I could have talked about some of that with her right there.

Next was Rocco's turn. They guy wouldn't let me even talk to him. He went in with his Mom. I could tell he was really worried.

Chapter 69b -- A Little Rain Must Fall (part b)

"OK, Mrs. Papariello, there are some preliminary items and then we'll get down to business. He had some paperwork for her to sign. I wondered why not me? I was getting more and more nervous. He asked me a question about how I was doing and I answered: "OK, Mr. ADA, I'm all right."

My Mom went stiff, but he just laughed. "Actually, Mrs. Papariello, that's what I'm called around here. It's a lot easier. Now, according to law, a parent must be present. I hope that's all right." He was talking to me I finally realized.

"Actually no. I can't talk about any of this stuff with my Mom here. Some of it's too embarrassing."

"But I think it very important that your mother stay."

"OK." I got up and went to the door. Just as I started opening it, I heard from behind. "What are you doing?" He sounded genuinely surprised. I turned and I looked at Mom.

She then said: "What's the matter? It's OK."

I started to shake and finally said: "No it's not." And to the man. "I'm leaving. You said she had to listen in and I said it wasn't all right. So since you insisted, I'm leaving." I started to go again.

The ADA got up and came over to me. He must have been well over six feet. He bent down, put his hand on my shoulder, and said: "You are a surprising little boy with a lot of gumption. But how about we talk about this?" He surprised me by seeming pretty nice. I just wished he hadn't used the word "little."

So I sat down again, and he talked about how important it was for me to testify at the hearing about being kidnapped, and why. I listened and said OK. I would hear him out I mean. He started asking me questions that he said would be asked at the hearing. Soon it got into the sex stuff, and I said I wouldn't answer with my Mom there. He phoned someone. Finally he said he'd question me alone if my Mom signed a paper saying it was OK. She did, and she left, telling me to behave.

"Now. I can see why you would be somewhat embarrassed. Let's start again. First of all it seems there`s been an error. It says here that you are 15 years old."

"That's no error. I'll be 16 in a couple months."

"Oh! I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed anything. I promise I`m a better lawyer than that."

I wasn't worried about how young I looked. I had much more important things to be worried about. "Mr. ADA, I'm sorry but can I ask you a question?"

"Sure. Shoot."

"If there are some things I tell you that I can NEVER let anybody else know, especially my parents, will you promise NEVER to tell anyone?"

He looked at me strangely a while and then got up and paced around. Finally, he sat down and said: "Look. This is a very important case. And I assure you we will win. But I need you to testify in court, and so I need to know everything. And this is why. I need to know where the other attorney can try to trip you up. I can only promise I will keep everything confidential if I can."

Now I was really scared. I was realizing that if anyone asked me questions about my sexual orientation or even hinted at it, I was in trouble. I genuinely didn't know what to do. "I don't know what to do. There's something that NOBODY can know. And I mean NOBODY."

He looked at me and sighed loudly. "And I thought this was going to be my easy day." He thought some more. "Does this have anything to do with this case? Or what Mr. Mike Brown did to you?"

"Only sort of. I can't tell you why I was trying to help my friend, and what I was thinking when I was being hurt. And I can`t tell you why he probably started on his rampage against Jade."

He looked at me and sighed again. "I tell you what, why don't you go out and talk with your friend and then come back in."

"But you said I couldn't talk to him."

"I promise I won't tell anyone if you don't." And he smiled.

So I went out and found out Jade went outside. My Mom looked worried. "Is everything OK? You weren't in there long."

"Everything's fine. I just need to talk to Jade a minute." I quickly found him. He was on his way back. Good thing I went the same way. "Jade, we need to talk." When Mrs. Krazenski stayed put I said. "Sorry, but I need to talk in private." She smiled and said she'd be in the waiting area. Jade and I went downstairs and found a quiet spot.

"Jade, I can't talk to that guy. I'm afraid he will find out about us being homosexual. What should I do?"

"Look, he knows already about me. I told him. He promised he would keep it from getting out. He didn't even get that disgusted look when I told him. He seems like a nice guy. And he promised that no one would know from him. He also said it was good I said something because now he can keep the other lawyer from asking those kinds of questions. I'm sure that my uncle told his own lawyer that we were gay."

Damn, this was worse than I thought. I was starting to panic. "I'm really scared. My Mom CAN'T find out!"

"Look. I think you have to tell him. Otherwise, he can't know to help when we are in court. And don't worry so much. Who's going to believe anything my uncle says?"

I was not very mollified. But I realized that I had to at least tell the ADA. So I went back after thanking Jade. And I was really shaking. I think my Mom noticed, but I went into the office before she could say anything. "I'm sorry, but thanks for letting us talk."

"Good. Are you OK now?"

"Not really. But I know I have to tell you. Jade told me that the thing that finally triggered his uncle into sexually abusing him was he saw Jade and I on Jade's bed hugging and kissing." I don't know how I got it out. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it. I was staring at him to see his reaction.

He got up and paced some. He then turned and asked me a question that surprised me. Or more accurately what surprised me was what he DIDN'T ask. "Are you absolutely certain that Mr. Brown saw that you and your friend were kissing? This is very important. Just the kissing part."

"Actually, I didn't even know he saw us until Jade told me later. So I really can't say."

"All right then. I will make sure than that you will not have to answer any question about this. Also I could possibly arrange to have spectators cleared from the courtroom. But I am sure that I can stop any questioning along that line before that would become a necessity. You will have to trust me."

I was still very worried but I felt a little better. "Sorry, but this whole thing really scares me. Not the hearing that much. But my parents finding out about Jade and me."

"Look, I've seen and heard so many things that nothing you're worried about can even come close. So please don't be worried on my account. And also, if I say so myself, I'm a damn good lawyer. I promise things will be OK."

Even though I was starting to feel a little better I didn't know where I got the gumption but I asked: "Do you know any other gay people?"

"Actually yes. But that's getting far afield, and we don't have much time left. I want to say this. The other lawyer can only ask questions about topics I've already covered. I will simply not ask you questions about how the kidnapping started and why you were there. I don't need that in a preliminary hearing. I will start with Mr. Brown grabbing you, and if the other lawyer asks why, only mention about you and Jade trying to coerce him not to hurt Jade any more. That's true as far as it goes. Just stop there. Any other questions about his or your motives is irrelevant and I will stop the questioning. Fair enough?"

We talked about another half hour about questions we might get asked and I was feeling better when I left. As Jade would say, life was getting too complicated.

When I got out, the ADA asked to see my Mom for a few minutes, but she got back pretty soon, and we all left. As I've said before, sometimes my Mom knows when NOT to ask me stuff. And this was one of those times. I was very relieved. We talked about everything BUT the upcoming hearing. Jade and I were in the back talking about our plans for the next few days, while Mom and Mrs. Krazenski were talking in the front.

Jade mentioned that he had to go to the hospital down town again to get his the cup on one of his hooks changed. It was the arm he broke and the one he had now didn't quite fit right anymore. "I thought it was going to be OK but there's that one spot that keeps getting sore. It's a real pain in the butt."

"Then stop sitting on it." I said. Jade didn't find that very funny. So I tried again. "I wonder how Captain Hook never had any problems with his hook."

"Funny. He probably used Tinker Bell dust." We were both smiling. I was glad we were getting back to our normally abnormal. I started to say something more when Jade said: "Aurghrgh." I'm not exactly sure about the spelling, but I am sure that's what he said. I looked a question mark at him.

"I was going to tell you something important, but your dumb jokes made me lose my train of thought.

I replied: "I don't know where it went, but I just saw the caboose turn down that street." And I started laughing. Now that was funny.

Jade started groaning and holding his stomach. "Please, Rocco, whatever you finally do in life, DON'T try to become a comedian."

"Well, that just reminds me. Have you decided yet if you want to go with me to any horse training farm?"

"Probably; it could be fun. But promise me you won't try to sneak a ride on some horse when someone isn't looking."

"Don't worry. I just found out where one of the training areas is, and thought we'd just go there to watch." We decided on sometime next week.

We got home pretty late, and I told Mom that I'd help her with dinner. I also asked if Jade could eat with us, but she gave me "that" look and said we would have to wait a good while before even thinking about it. I understood why. Jade then asked if I wanted to eat over his place sometime and I said certainly. My Mom and Jade's foster Mom talked about it and Mrs. Krazenski said fine as long as she had a bit of warning. So not tonight. We were dropped at our door.

Chapter 69c -- A Little Rain Must Fall (part c)

I had to call Rocco. I was so excited this couldn't keep. I could scarcely believe the news myself. Dr. Krazenski had called me into his upstairs office after I cleaned up after dinner. (I cleaned while Cher took care of the plates. Mrs. Krazenski said they were expensive stoneware, so I didn't want to chance chipping them). The doctor was reading one of his many medical journals when I finally got there. He put it down, and smiled. How different from my uncle. "Please have a seat. I need to ask you some questions. It's about school."

I was very interested. I couldn't figure out though, why he had to ask some questions. "Thanks. What do you need to know?"

"I was just wondering, with your prostheses, how you managed at school and all your school work. I was amazed when I saw your grades from last year."

"Well Rocco and I worked together on my school work most the time. He did a whole lot of the writing. He even typed some of my English and Science papers."

"I though that might have been the case. He seems like that sort of person. How did he get his own work done? He must have had a lot of different work going to a different school."

"Well, he seemed never to have as much as me. And I think he did a lot of it while still at school. He said also that his math teacher never required the assignments done except for extra credit, so he never did them. And I didn't see him studying that much."

"I hope his own grades didn't suffer from his helping with your assignments. Do you know how good a student he is?"

I laughed. "Well he did say that I was responsible for his only B."

"That's strange. I would have thought he'd be a better student than that."

Now I was really puzzled. "How could he be much better?"

"Well, to get only one B."

I laughed even louder as I realized what Dr. Krazenski must have thought. "All the rest were A's. They have number grades and a 94 is an A. And his English teacher and he didn't get along. He only got a 93. It was the only B he's ever gotten. He said I was responsible because I didn't catch enough of his mistakes on his papers. He thought he was about second or third in his class of almost 700 students!"

Dr. Krazenski sighed a bit and looked at some of the papers he had in his hand, and then back at me. "All right then, that makes more sense."

"My . . . I mean Rocco is one smart guy. And he seems to do it so effortlessly. I get jealous sometimes. He said once that Math was always so obvious he never needed to study it. He said there was this Jerry somebody who was smarter than him and they always compete for the highest grade. Rocco said that unfortunately Jerry won most the time. I told him maybe he should start studying it, but he said that would be a mortal sin. I think Catholics can be really weird. How come everything is a mortal sin? And also Rocco doesn't like languages and said he only got barely A's in it because he was too stubborn not to. I told you he was weird."

Dr. Krazenski chuckled. His chuckle was pretty loud. "Well, I am certainly glad to hear this. I was thinking that it would certainly be a lot easier for you two if you went to the same school. What would you say if I said you could go to Father Judge next year?"

I was dumbfounded. It never occurred to me that I might go there. "But I'm not Catholic!"

"That wouldn't necessarily matter. I am; we're even in the same parish that Rocco's family is in. That would be pretty easy to arrange. And you know, there are a few other kids there that are not Catholic. Do you have any objections? Any classmates you would miss at Lincoln?"

I was thinking. I really would miss Consuelo, and maybe a couple others, but to go to the same school. . . Then suddenly I had a thought. "Would I be able to have the same courses as Rocco? That would be really important. If I can't then there wouldn't be the great advantage of going to the same school after all." I was really excited, but then started having all kinds of second thoughts. How would all the other students react? I would be the only Negro in the school. And my hooks. The students at Lincoln were used to them by now.

"What else were you suddenly thinking about? You seemed far away for a moment?"

I told him. We talked about it some.

He finally said: "Well, with the grades you already have, I think it very likely I can get you in the same classes, especially if I explain to the principal why. I wouldn't worry about that. As for these other things, I think that it would be good for the students there to be exposed to a bit of the real world. And there are black people in the real world. You seem to be a very strong person. I am sure you could do it if you had the motivation."

"Well, I really would like to. I just never even thought about the possibility before now. It takes getting used to."

"How about we both sleep on it a night and we can talk tomorrow?"

"Great, and thanks. Thanks a lot for everything."

"You have to thank your friend. He practically forced me to take you in. He's quite a boy. And you are too. I wouldn't mind having a son like either of you."

And I wondered if he actually meant it. Considering we were both gay boys. I didn't have the nerve to ask.

I felt so good. I had a hard time thinking of myself as anything special. But I knew Rocco sure was. He just probably said that so I wouldn't feel left out.

"There's another thing we need to talk about if you're up to it. It's about this up coming hearing. How do you feel about it?"

We talked about it for a good while. I motioned my biggest fear. And Rocco's too.

"Yes. I can certainly see that this could be a problem. I suppose for now we have to trust what the Assistant District Attorney said. He called me you know, since I had asked him to. We talked about twenty minutes. He appears to me to be sincere, and very optimistic. If he said he would help you with this problem, I believe him. You know he never even hinted at your problem to me?"

I was a bit surprised. "Thanks. You know, I don't know how you get time for everything. I never knew a doctor was so busy. You seem to be always working." And then a question suddenly came to mind. "I was wondering. Does anyone else know about me and Rocco?" I wondered about his wife especially.

"Of course Mrs. Krazenski knows. I would never have taken you in without her knowing something that important and discussing it with her. She also knew about Nestor. So she's had a couple years to get used to the idea. She was a bit worried at first when Nestor came here, especially with Cher. Nestor, I assured her, was only interested in boys and Cher was only 10 at that time anyway. We laughed a bit over that. She also didn't like it because she had a lot of religious scruples over the issue. She still has trouble with the idea, so I'd ask you just be sensitive to her feelings. But you know she is a very kind woman, and very patient. Especially with me." The doctor laughed a bit at that. "Anything else?"

I wanted to tell him about what Rocco was trying to do about us getting married, but was a bit afraid. But I finally decided he had been so open with me it was only right. "Well, there is one more thing. I know we are really young, but Rocco and I want to get married. We've discussed it, and he is one very determined boy."

Dr. Krazenski seemed to sigh a bit and thought for a moment. "I can't say I approve. Now don't get me wrong. Although the idea of two boys actually marrying is something quite strange to me and will take a lot of getting used to, that is not my objection. But I think you two are entirely too young. Do you have any idea how rare it is for any couple staying together for any length of time when they are married so young? And do you understand why?"

"Well, I realize that we are very young. But I can't believe that any two people were ever more in love. I know you find that so strange. And I know that love isn't enough. I'm not that immature. And neither is Rocco, even though he seems it at times. I guess, in some ways he is immature, but in this he is as committed as I am. But we have one thing going for us that most young people don't. We REALLY know each other. We've been best friends for two years. And we are more determined to make it work. And we mean it to be forever. We are really committed. And I know what you will say. We will change a lot in the next couple of years. We both know that. But neither of us can believe that it will really matter."

Dr. Krazenski looked at me a while without saying anything. Then he chuckled again. I guess that was good. "You know, I am really starting to believe you. About two boys being able to love each other I mean. That is the one thing I find so startling. But I see it when you are both together. Even my wife remarked about it too. The one thing I am starting to wonder about, is Rocco's mother blind? Is Rocco really certain that his mother doesn't suspect?"

"Rocco doesn't really think so. That's all I can say. Also, she's never even looked at me weird. And knowing her attitude about homosexuals, I can't believe that she'd even allow us together any more if she even suspected one little bit. That is one of the things that has Rocco worried about her finding out. He also said he is worried about hurting her."

"I really wonder. But in any case, I only object on the grounds that both of you are too young. Just give it time for you both to mature a bit more. Besides, in this state, the age of consent for the boy is 17. Probably, no one will marry you two before then without your parent's consent, even in purely a religious ceremony."

"Rocco said that being 17 was only needed for a marriage license and a civil wedding. He said that maybe for a religious ceremony, it wouldn't matter."

"I have assumed that it was only a religious ceremony you had in mind since a civil wedding would be impossible of course. Well, anyway, you asked for my opinion, and I gave it to you. Just know, I will support you as much as possible. But let me know what is going on. Remember, I am on your side."

". . . on your side." I said with him as he finished. We both smiled.

I left his office so happy that I floated downstairs to the phone. I called Rocco right away. His father answered so I hung up without saying anything. Damn.

About 15 minutes later the phone rang and I guess Dr. Krazenski answered. He came down the steps and said it was for me. I was a bit surprised. What a coincidence I thought.


"Hi, Jade. What did you need to tell me?"

What the heck? "OK, tell me how you just read my mind?"

"Actually it was too easy. The phone rang and my Dad answered. He grumbled when he put down the receiver saying the person just hung up. I assumed it was you and you didn't say anything. I'm at a phone booth down the block."

"I have great news. Dr. Krazenski told me I could go to your school next year if I wanted. Isn't that great?"

Rocco screamed at the other end. I had to hold the receiver away from my ear. "Holy smoke. That's fantastic. But how?"

"How? He's just sending me there. He said he can; he's a member of your church. You know how I've said you're an honorary Negro; well, I guess I'll just be an honorary Catholic. Isn't that great!?"

"Just think all the fun we can have together!"

I could just imagine his guile-filled grin. I was instantly leery: "I think that can be translated `Just think how much trouble you can get us into'!"

I could almost envision Rocco smiling, realizing I was at least a bit serious. "But how about your friends at Lincoln, and Consuelo especially?"

I filled him in. "The only thing I will miss is not seeing Consuelo and working with her on the school paper. And maybe one or two other guys. But I'm so excited that I had to call you right away."

Rocco paused a second and then asked: "I assume that this also means that he will be able to get you in the same classes as me?"

We talked about that some also. And then I mentioned all the other things Dr. Krazenski and I talked about. That took another half hour to hash out. Rocco had to add nickels every once in a while. The call was getting expensive. We finally agreed to wait 'til the next day to discuss it more.

Then Rocco added: "Before we hang up, I have news of my own. The new circulars are finished and we can hand them out tomorrow. Feel up to it? How IS your arm doing?"

"Not that bad. And the appointment to get it looked at is set for next Tuesday. I assume we are both going."

"Certainly. I'll hold your hand again." He liked saying that. And strange. >From anyone else it would get tiring. But from my White-boy, I liked hearing it.

We agreed to meet the next morning at my house after breakfast. When I got off the phone, Dr. Krazenski said he had something to show me. I was wondering what when we went into my room. "I just had the line activated today." He pointed. There was a phone on my desk and explained. I looked at him a bit puzzled. "Another line?" I didn't know what that meant.

"I had this line put in when Nestor was here. It means that this phone is entirely separate from the other one. It has a different phone number. Give it to Rocco, and your other friends. It lets the other line free, since I need to let patients, the hospital, and even other doctors get to me in case of emergency. I even have a third line that connects with the kitchen for my wife to use. I meant to tell you this earlier but it slipped my mind."

I was a bit stunned; I never heard of a family having more than one phone number. And he now had three. And I had my own number. Amazing. But I could easily understand why. "Sorry I stayed on the phone so long. And thanks for the phone."

"Don't worry. And you can stay on this line all you want. It's unlimited. Not like most lines. And it's not a party line either like most, so you can always use it when you want. But note. It has a Mayfair exchange instead of a Devonshire one. Make sure Rocco knows that."

I wanted to use the phone right then. Holy smoke, my own phone. Nobody had that. Well, no high school boy that is. I started thinking about the new show on TV, Get Smart. Agent 76, the main character, had his own shoe phone that he could make calls on from anywhere. But that was really impossible. How could you make a call without having a wire going somewhere? I finally called Consuelo. I had to call someone. The first thing out of her mouth wasn't even "hello." It was: "What the heck happened to you and Rocco?" Oh my God. I wondered how she found out. Our names weren't in the news were they?

"OK, how did you find out?"

"How come you never give me credit for being smarter that you? An obvious deduction. Two boys. Assault. A Mr. Mike Brown. Come on. My little sister could have figured it out."

"You don't have a little sister."

"Now you're getting literal on me again. Use your imagination for once. Well, I guess you are a boy, and thus limited in that department too."

She could get really insufferable some times. And she probably WAS as smart as she thought she was. I even thought she might be smarter than Rocco. "OK, I bow to your most supreme intelligence. But it takes too long to explain on the phone. How about. . ." I never got to finish.

"Great. In that case I'll meet you wherever you're now living. And just where is that?"

Not "where should I meet you?" like a normal person would have asked. I told her a little about how I came to be living there. "And I had to call someone, since I just got my own phone and phone number." I gave it to her. The number that is.

"So now I'm merely `someone.' Thanks a lot. And how come it's me you're calling and not Rocco?"

"You will never be merely someone. And Rocco's father and I are sort of staying at a good distance. From each other that is. Even phone wise. I'll explain that also when I see you."

"Good. Dan happens to be not working tomorrow, so we'll both see you at your place. I will get him to drive that dangerous car that his roommate owns. When?"

Consuelo has to be the most presumptuous person alive. "One, assuming that you get your brother to drive you, and two, assuming that he is able to, . . ., correction, YOU are able to talk his roommate into lending Dan his car, and three, assuming that your head hasn't swelled so much you can still fit into that small bug of a car, how about 9:30, and here's my new address." And I gave it to her.

"You really need to work on your humor. I can help you with it if you want. And I'll be looking forward to seeing Rocco when I get there."

"I won't ask how you knew he would be here; I would just get another dose of your amazing humility."

"Funny. And thanks. And ditto about my little sister again. And seriously, I know Dan will be really glad to see you guys. He has some great news for you guys himself. And I'm using up an entire year's worth of will power not telling you myself."

Sometimes she's hard to follow, but I finally figured out all she just said. We talked about a few things more and I finally hung up. Things were going so well. Even considering the hearing we had to go to. Into everyone's life, etc. Only for me, it's usually not just a rainstorm but a cloudburst. I also wondered about everyone else. I mean, will I have to explain to EVERYONE about what happened to us? I really hoped not. And I hoped by the time school started, the entire thing will be so completely forgotten.

It was Cher who knocked on my door. "Can I help with your prosthetics?" Yeah, her father was right. Very precocious. And I wondered if all little sisters (or foster sisters) were as nice. Then I thought of Rocco's sister Mariann. Somewhat spoiled he said. I went to bed with a smile on my face. The drumbeats were fading. I just wished my life could be just a little less complicated. And that Mama were here. I pray that Mama and Rocco are right and there is a heaven. Mama deserved to be there.

The next day Consuelo and Dan came over and even wound up helping us deliver the new circulars. And that even needed more explanation. I realized I never told her about our TV repair business. Afterwards, Mrs. Krazenski made lunch for the four of us. Cher asked a million questions and Dan was really taken by her. Consuelo, on the other hand, seemed annoyed by her and I couldn't figure why. Maybe it was a girl thing. I think Dan talked more to Cher, than anyone else at lunch. Of course Cher was mostly the reason for that. Wow, some of her questions!

"How can you be brother and sister?" Cher asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, Consuelo is a Negro like Jade, and you aren't."

Mrs. Krazenski almost had a conniption, but Dan and Consuelo both just laughed. And Dan explained.

A bit later, it was a question about where he went to school. "How come you go to school in a church?" (He went to Temple University).

And a bit later. "How come you don't live with your sister?"

Dan didn't even bat an eye. "I'm almost 20 and I go to college."

"Well, Rocco's brother's starting college this year and he still lives at home."

How the heck did she know that?

"Well, it's just much easier since the college is so far from where Consuelo lives, and the apartment is much closer. And I can study there without being interrupted."

"Are you going to school now?"

"Yeah. I'm on what's called the work-study program. I go to school half a year and then work half a year."

And so it went. We finally emerged with only a few minor battle injuries. As soon as we were outside, Consuelo burst out laughing. She turned to her brother. "You should have seen your face when she said you weren't a Negro. I remember a big fight you got into about that exact thing!"

"That was when I was young and immature."

"And now you're old and immature." Consuelo interjected.

Rocco stepped in: "I declare this neutral ground. No fighting allowed." But we were all smiling.

But boy, when everyone first arrived, did it take a good while to explain everything that happened. It didn't help that Consuelo had to dissect every little nuance. But finally we got to the subject of our meeting at the district attorney's office.

"My God, just the thought of actually being kidnapped." Dan said. "It's hard to even imagine."

Rocco remarked: "Actually, until the cop used that word, I didn't even think of myself as having been kidnapped. I was just so scared; I was only thinking about whether or not Jade and I were going to survive." Rocco actually shuddered as he said it.

I then said: "It's a little strange. I never thought about not surviving. I guess I couldn't believe that my uncle could actually kill anyone. At least not then when it was happening. I was just so scared about what he was going to do to Rocco."

Then Consuelo interjected: "My God, an actual cage. That only happens in third rate fiction. And even then it's never believable." She looked at Rocco. "You never said how you got out."

I answered when Rocco didn't. "Rocco was small enough to squeeze through the spaces in the cage. It was made of bamboo in a sort of lattice work. Rocco said it was the first time he was glad he was so small."

Rocco had to correct me. "Actually, it was the second time. The first was when I was escaping from the cops."

And telling the story that went with that remark got us sidetracked for a while.

Dan eventually asked: "How are you going to withstand all the questions at school?"

"I just hope that either no one there remembers the story, or at least doesn't connect us with it. And that brings up something that has both Rocco and I so elated. I'm going to Father Judge next year. At least, Dr. Krazenski said I could if I wanted. He still has to see the principal about my courses. I want to have the same classes as Rocco. It would make things so much easier."

Consuelo was suddenly not pleased. And she made no attempt to disguise her disappointment. "Damn! And now I have to break in someone new. Maybe Marx." She visibly shuddered.

I interjected: "He isn't that bad. Or how about Rich Barns? He just joined the paper at the end of the year and he's pretty smart."

Consuelo considered: "Well maybe. But he's so white." Even Rocco knew what she meant.

So we were now at loose ends just rehashing about the events leading up to the upcoming hearing. Rocco, I could tell didn't want to talk about it any more. But before I could change the subject, Consuelo then made a suggestion: "How about us getting some milkshakes at the Mayfair Diner -- on me." Then she turned to Dan. "You can invite Cher if you want. Or would your new boyfriend get jealous?" And then her face lit up. "My god, how could I possibly have forgotten to say anything? Dan has a boyfriend! And my god Dan, how come YOU hadn't said anything yet?"

Both myself and Rocco were immediately curious. And the questions poured out. Dan finally shouted: "Enough already. Stop the inquisition. Consuelo was bad enough. I can't believe I even told her. I will tell the story only if everyone promises not to shout out questions."

We agreed. He talked as we walked the short distance to the diner. "OK. I took your advice. I can't actually remember if it was Rocco or Jade. Anyway someone said, the last time we were together, that I needed to let people know about my sexuality to even have a chance. So I did just that. Lost a lot of friends doing that too. But any time someone mentioned something about finding a girl for me or anything like that, I just told them the truth. I sure found who my real friends were fast. I was even threatened a couple times, but fortunately Temple University is not High School.

Consuelo butted in. "Actually neither. You said that yourself."

"Whatever." Dan said. "So finally someone came up to me that I hardly knew, and asked me straight out if I were gay. I said yes. He then asked if I would like to come to a little informal get together a few people put together. It turned out he was also gay. And he was the point guard and captain of the basketball team! I wouldn't have suspected in a million years. Well I went and there were seven others there including two girls. Never met a real live lesbian before. So anyway, we were all the same! You can't believe how freeing it felt. To be able to be your real self right out in the open. So anyway, I think it was the third time I went to a meeting, one of the guys there asked me if I had a boyfriend. His name is Allen, and white. Actually Jewish. We talked quite a lot and finally we went out on a sort of date. Boy it felt weird. And also great. I can't be. . ." He stopped talking as we entered the diner.

We all ordered. Rocco his usual black and white, and me vanilla. Eventually we got Dan to continue.

"Let's see, where was I. Oh yeah. We were on this sort-of-date, and I felt so weird. I felt sure everyone was looking at me. Allen was smiling at me, and finally said he could tell it was my first date with a guy, since I was so self-conscious. He said that almost all people would simply assume that we were just two friends enjoying a get together. So I finally started to relax. But the next time we went to this party. It turned out that half the people there were also gay and the second half couldn't care less. We even kissed right out in the open! My God it was unbelievable."

Dan finally stopped to start on his milkshake which just arrived. I was so happy for him. I found it hard to believe that a group of homosexuals actually had meetings. I wondered if Rocco and I might even go sometime. I looked across the table and was shocked to see tears in my White-boy's eyes. What in the world could have gotten him so upset? I looked around to see if anyone else noticed. I didn't think so. I got up and whispered in his ear, then said to the others. "Say you guys, Rocco and I need to go to the men's room. Be right back."

I really didn't care if they believed me or not. And I didn't care if it sounded more like what a girl would say to her girl friend. I pulled Rocco with me. Once inside I was relieved to see we were alone. "OK, White-boy, what's got you so upset?"

He looked at me and sighed. "Nothing really. I just started thinking about the world we live in as Dan was telling his story. And it all just got to me. I mean, how come we all have to do everything in secret? Or why should everything we are able to do have to be so amazing? It's so hard to explain. I mean, everybody takes finding someone, and dating, and doing everything just so normal and automatic. How come we have to hide everything? How come we have to be so apart from everything? How come we have to worry about who knows about what we are? I mean I know how come, I guess what I want to say how come this is the way it has to be? It's just not fair!" And he was really crying by now. I just hugged him tight.

"Want to go home?" I asked.

"No. Just give me a minute." After a pause he even started crying harder. Finally he said: "And there is the one thing that really has me so sad. When my brother or sisters get married, there will be a big celebration. And my parents and everyone will be so happy. And they'll have a big wedding and go on a honeymoon, and get all these presents. But when we get married, . . ." And he stopped. He started crying even more if that were possible. Damn. White-boy was so emotional at times. He had me almost in tears with him. But I had to be strong for both of us. So I just stopped myself and held him tighter. A few minutes later, someone came in and I was suddenly frightened we would be seen like this. But it was Dan.

He looked at me and then at Rocco. He was a little puzzled: "What's the matter? Anything I can do?"

"Don't worry. He'll be OK. Just give us another few minutes." Rocco hardly registered Dan's presence.

A few minutes later Rocco smiled a bit. "Thanks. I needed that. I'll be OK now. I just let things get to me for a minute."

We returned but Consuelo could tell Rocco had been crying. Fortunately, for once, she didn't ask any questions. (Well, she IS smart). We finished as Dan kept talking about his new boyfriend. I finally noticed a guy at the next table who was constantly looking over at us. He finally got up and as he passed by he said: "You fucking perverts ought to be all sent right to hell where you belong!" He had at least a hundred pounds on Rocco, but I thought Rocco was still going to do or say something. I pulled on his arm and he got the message. The ugly man just walked away. Ugly minded anyway. That sure put a damper on our festivities. We finally left, but our spirits returned soon enough. Rocco was back to his usual ebullient self. And that in turn got my smile back. And Dan seemed so happy about Allen; his smile could be seen a block away.

When we got home, we all went into the kitchen and sat. Consuelo asked to be shown to a bathroom. While she was gone Dan asked what had happened back at the diner. I told him what Rocco told me. Rocco seemed content to let me speak. Which was unusual for him. He usually had to be the one explaining things. But come to think of it, I suddenly realized that lately, Rocco seemed to have changed a bit. I mean I could remember a couple of other times he did the same thing about letting me be the one to speak. I will have to ask him about that.

Finally Dan understood. "I know what Rocco means. That sort of thing does get to you every once in a while. I feel so alienated at times, like I'm not really a member of society at all. Just on the outside looking in."

I looked at Rocco, but he seemed to still be OK, even after hearing Dan. I put my arm around him and gave him a good hug. Just in time to have Cher come in the room. Damn! And just after I assured her Dad I would be careful around her. I abruptly pulled away.

Cher smiled and said: "That's OK. I know about everything. My Dad gets all worried about nothing."

"What do you mean about everything?" I tentatively asked, a little worried.

"Everything. That you're boyfriends and all. Don't worry. Dad thinks I need to be protected from knowing about boys liking each other. He and Mom get all worried about me."

Yes, definitely too smart. "Thanks," was all I could manage.

She started to giggle. She looked at me and even giggled more. Damn! She had that same look Rocco had when he thought of doing or saying something outrageous.

"OK, I'll bite. What are you thinking about?"

"Oh not much. Just wondering what my teacher, Sister Clare, would say if I told her my foster-brother had a cute boyfriend!" And she even giggled louder. My God, she was going to be worse than even Consuelo and Rocco combined when she grew up!

Rocco was laughing so hard I thought he was going to fall out of his chair. Definitely similar evil minds on the same wavelength. Dan was also snickering. The image she drew WAS funny.

"Please Cher, please tell me you really won't."

"Don't worry. I won't, but I will have fun imagining it!" She skipped into the living room still giggling.

Consuelo showed up as Cher was leaving. "OK, what was that all about?"

Dan told her. And she had a good laugh too. "A girl after my own heart."

We talked about things for quite some time. Then Dan suggested some game. Cher must have been listening. She raced back into the room and said: "I have lots of games, which one do you want?" We finally settled on Parcheesi. We took turns playing since we had to let Cher play.

Finally Dan and Consuelo left taking Rocco with them. He had stayed so late that he asked for a ride. He left before I realized his bike was still here. Oh well. There's tomorrow. And that had me smiling. There were a lot of tomorrows.

Chapter 70 -- Things Settle Down

I was amazed about Dan finally finding a boyfriend. I hoped it would work out as good as me and Jade. And that reminded me. With Dan and Consuelo coming, I forgot all about calling that Unitarian Church. Well, there's tomorrow. And I smiled. Tomorrow with Jade.

Dan dropped me off, and I ran inside. I was a tiny bit late. But I just needed to beat my father home. I also talked Consuelo into coming inside for just a moment. We said hello to my Mom and raced upstairs. She whirled on me. "I know why you really asked me in. I can't believe that you're pretending to your family that I'm your girlfriend."

I smiled. It didn't matter if she knew. "Actually, I am not claiming you're my girlfriend. It's just helpful to show that I have a girl even partway in my life." And I smiled even broader. "And there's one more thing. I like having a black girl here! It distracts my father."

"Now that I can appreciate. OK, you're absolved."

We went downstairs just as my Dad came home. He greeted Consuelo as we got to the bottom of the steps. And then Consuelo got even for me trying to use her. She turned and kissed me. Just a quickie but wow. My father was NOT happy. I turned red. Oh well. It at least helped bolster the BIG LIE.

But after dinner I paid the price. I was upstairs for a short time and my Mom sent Carl up to tell me she wanted to see me in the kitchen. "Now what," I thought. I hoped it had nothing to do with Jade. I was so concerned about that, I didn't even think about Consuelo. (So I'm stupid some times).

I walked in the kitchen but just said "Yes?"

Mom told me to sit and that we needed to have a discussion. I translated that to mean, they needed to give me some orders.

It was Dad who began. That meant it was an ultimatum. And also I did something wrong again. I was suddenly scared. "Your Mom and I have been talking and we've decided that you're getting too involved with that girl."

I was instantly relieved. I even smiled inside. "What girl?" Can't he even use her name?

Dad was instantly annoyed. I suddenly realized I'd better not get grounded again. I had to walk a fine line. "That girl we saw you kissing today. Right in front of everybody."

"Oh, Consuelo. And it was her kissing me. She's pretty nice don't you think?"

Mom stepped in. "That's not what we're talking about. We don't want you getting involved with a girl that's not Catholic."


My Dad looked a little perplexed. "Just OK?"

"Well, you just don't want me to get involved with any girl that's not Catholic and I agree with you. I won't." I even smiled just a little.

"So you'll stop seeing this Consuelo?" That was my Dad.

"But she IS Catholic! Why do I have to stop seeing her?" Damn Rocco, do you have to keep tweaking the devil's tail? (But I was having too much fun). If Jade were here he'd be furious with me.

My Mom entered the fray again. "But I thought she went to Lincoln High School? And didn't you say she wasn't Catholic?"

"Well actually I didn't. I think you just assumed she wasn't since I said she went to Lincoln and I wasn't sure at the time. But she told me herself that although her Dad wasn't Catholic, her Mom was and therefore she was raised Catholic." Not even a tiny lie. I just left some stuff out. This was fun. I wondered how long Dad will resist talking about her being colored.

Dad said: "That's not what we understood."

"Sorry Dad. But I guess I wasn't too clear since I really didn't know myself at first. But when I thought I might really like her some, I specifically asked her since I knew it was important to you and Mom." Now that was a whopper. (Sorry Jade. Sorry God).

Now I had him! Stew on that one Dad. I could see it written on his face, he was NOT happy. But he backed himself into a corner. (So what if I had given him some help).

Mom finally asked: "Just how serious is it with you and this girl?" How come they can't use her name?

"Gees, Mom, I not even 16. How serious do you think it can be?" Damn, I need to tweak them a bit more. "Actually I'm not really sure myself. We like each other a lot, so I just thought I'd let things take their natural course. So who knows?"

Dad was definitely unhappy. "I'm still not too sure I like this. We don't know very much about her."

"Well, Consuelo is really smart. She's near the top of her class at Lincoln. She works on the school newspaper. She likes classical music and also 40s and 50s jazz, she makes a lot of her own clothes, we read a lot of the same books, she's a wiz in math, and most of all, and probably why I like her so much, she thinks that the most important thing there is, is for people to love one another. Don't you think this should be the type of girl you want me to marry?"

Holy smoke! My Dad finally lost it. "But she's a Negro! And I will not have you marry one!"

Victory! But then I looked at my Mom. Her look was not good. I think I went too far. I better back off. "Look Dad, I really like her but that's all. We are not serious. And if you don't want me dating Negroes just say so, and I won't."

He didn't say another word. He didn't even look back. Dad just walked out. But it was Mom now who was angry. Damn Rocco, why do you have to do these things? And Jade will be even worse than Mom when I tell him. I guess I will just have to pay for my sins.

I looked at Mom and winced. She was really angry. "Sorry Mom."

"You better be. You deliberately egged him on and you know it. I have half a mind to ground you forever. And I thought you were maturing."

"Look, I said I was sorry. I promise not to do it again."

"All right for now. And what I really need to know, just how serious are you two? And this time the truth."

I never said Mom wasn't intelligent. She saw right through me. "OK. We just like each other a lot. But that's all. I really doubt it will go anywhere. In fact I'm sure it won't. We just have fun together. And when we're together it's mostly with Jade and Consuelo's brother Dan; so were not really dating."

"All right then." And then I was relieved to see Mom smile. "And by the way, I think you're right. I think she IS a nice girl. Just don't tell your father I said that. But one last thing, and I shouldn't have to say it. You have to think of all the consequences of being with a black girl. Many people won't like it and it would be extremely hard on any kids you would have."

We talked a bit more and I was glad to leave with us smiling at each other. I even got a good hug. But now I had to fill in Jade and boy will he give it to me.

I had an amazing idea the other night about Jade getting permanent foster parents. So I had to prepare. I looked through all my throw-in-all-the-other-stuff drawer and finally found the pictures we took at his birthday party last April. I shuffled through them until I found the perfect one. I was glad we didn't take them in color since black and white will be a lot cheaper. I found the negative and put it in an envelope. Next I called Jade on his special number. I even remembered to dial MA instead of DE. He answered right away.

"Hi Rocco, what's up?"

"Since your ESP is working real well, why do you need to ask?"

"OK. I have it right here. And he gave me the name and number of the Unitarian minister. His name was Reverend William Burrowes."

"OK, I give. That was quite a feat. How did you know that was why I was calling?"

"As Consuelo would say: `Elementary my dear Watson.' Your tone of voice indicated it was something a bit serious and that was the only thing I could think of."

"You mean you got lucky?"

"Yeah. But I sure got you for a moment!"

"What're you doing?"

"I am watching one of my favorite TV shows, which is being broadcast in COLOR, right here on my very own COLOR TV set."

"Glad to see you never gloat." Then I decided to help pave the way. "When we see each other tomorrow I did something you wouldn't quite approve. But I will tell you then. Don't worry, nothing serious."

"Damn, White-boy, do I have to watch you all the time? You need to get a conscience. I'll find out if Jiminy Cricket happens to need a job. And you claim to be religious. And I bet it involved a whopper of a lie."

"Right on all counts. But my father was showing his bigotry and I forced him to say he didn't want me dating black girls."

"Wow! And I suppose you dragged poor Consuelo into this."

"You can't drag Consuelo anywhere she don't want to be dragged. And I promise to repent. I will confess all to you tomorrow. And by the way, I will call that pastor tonight."

"Good. And good luck. And how come that number couldn't wait `till tomorrow?"

"That's just the way I am. Sometimes it has to be now."

We talked about some more interesting stuff and finally hung up. My Dad was glaring at me.

The next morning I biked to the photo store and had asked how much 300 copies of this photo would be. Holy smoke. I was going to be broke again. But it was too important. I went to the Holmesburg Times newspaper office where I was having the circulars printed. They said they could include a photo of Jade in the circular itself, but newspaper pictures are poor quality at best. But this circular will be done real fancy with real typed words and everything. I just spent more money on the circulars and on the photos than I had ever spent at any one time in my life. I was now truly broke again. But I didn't care. It was for Jade. I now had 1000 circulars. I had lots extra for when I could afford more pictures. If I had to I would pass out all 1000.

When they brought me the finished product I was amazed. I was glad I had someone on the paper staff help me write it. It was better than I could have hoped. Real professional:

(Place for picture)

This Boy Needs You To Be His

Foster Parents

Name:             Jade Brown
Age:                17
Nationality:     Negro
School:           Junior, Father Judge High

Jade Brown is at present in temporary foster care but he needs someone to be his permanent foster parents.

Jade lost his Dad before he ever got to really know him.
Jade lost his hands in a terrible accident what he was 10 years old.
Jade lost his Mama when she died last year.
Jade lost his last home when his uncle was arrested several weeks ago.

Jade has maintained a B+ average in school and is active on the School Newspaper  He has always been interested in nature and loves the outdoors.  In spite of his handicap, Jade has taught himself to engage in some sports and even helps run his own small TV repair business with his best friend.  Jade's ambition is to eventually graduate from college and have a profession.  Jade is a naturally kind and giving person, and an all around great kid.

But he now needs YOUR help!

You CAN be his Foster Parents!

Please contact Rocco Papariello at DE 8 - 1618 for further information.

Or contact Mrs. Winston at Juvenile Services at GL 5 - 2351

I really hoped that Jade will not kill me for this. Especially for not discussing it with him first. I really hoped I didn't mess up. Maybe we can still discuss it? I guess I will have to think about it.

And now for the next part of my brilliant plan. Just who was I going to distribute this circular to? Well my own church had a complete parishioner list published every quarter. I assumed that this Unitarian Church also did. At least I hoped so. And if I couldn't get such a list, I could always hand out the circular in person at the church on Sunday.

I wanted his new parents to accept Jade for who he is. And since their own pastor was homosexual, well? At least it was better odds than anything else I could come up with. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought I better talk to Jade about it first.

Then I ran to the library where I was meeting Jade.

"Now why the library, Rocco?"

"Well, I wanted to find out about the Unitarian Church before we saw that minister today."

So we finally got a couple books and started reading. A lot of it was the history of the Church, which was sure convoluted. Wow, even Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian.

Jade was reading an encyclopedia on the subject. "Damn this is confusing. Look at all this stuff about transcendentalism, theism, humanism, and what-not. Can't they just say what they believe? And look here, it says some Unitarians weren't even Christian. And damn, these humanists are supposed to be agnostics."

I said: "Let's just concentrate on the Christian Unitarians." A while later I finally found a few things that made sense to me. "I found just two things so far. Listen to this: `they accept the religion of Jesus, holding that practical religion is summed up in love to God and love to man'."

Jade remarked: "Well that sounds normal. Anything else?"

"Yeah. Here it says: `They strive to be interdenominational in personnel and nondenominational in constitution.' The only thing I can get from that is they don't preach any specific Church's theology and try to include all Christians."

Jade seemed more puzzled then ever. "But then just what DO they believe?"

"Don't know exactly except what I said before. They believe in loving God and man. I guess." I wasn't quite sure.

Jade smiled. "Well, maybe they're saying just what Mama said. "Love can't be wrong!"

We smiled at each other. I finally said: "Well, I guess we can find out more when we see this pastor. He said he would be glad to see us at 1 PM. We finally walked to Jade's house so I could pick up my bike.

I was pretty nervous when we got to the pastor's house. And I was having serious second thoughts about this circular. But as we got to the pastor's house, I put the thought aside. The house was next to the church, but it didn't look any too prosperous. I rang the bell and eventually an older man answered. I was momentarily scared enough to not be able to say a single word.

Jade saved me. "We have an appointment to see the pastor."

The guy smiled and brought us inside. "I will tell him you are here."

I wondered if this was the pastor's partner that Jade's Mama said he had. The whole thing was a bunch of if's and maybe's. But very soon another older man entered and smiled. "I'm William Burrowes. I'm always happy to help where I can, but perhaps my memory is slipping. Do I know you from somewhere?"

Jade answered: "Actually no. But we're hoping that you perhaps do remember my Mama. She was the one that gave me your name about a year and a half ago. Her name was Camelia Brown. I am not sure just when she talked to you but it was probably several years ago."

The poor pastor became a bit flustered. "I am very sorry but that name doesn't seem to ring a bell. And since you said was, I presume that your mother has passed away. Perhaps if you could explain just why you are here and perhaps what your mother had come to me about."

I was now starting to worry about this entire adventure. But Jade kept at it. "Well, my Mama gave me the name of this church and your name as a person I could talk to about a certain problem." And now even Jade's strong will faltered a bit. He suddenly stopped.

The pastor was still a bit puzzled. "I am still sorry. What problem was this?"

Jade and I looked at each other and Jade finally said: "Rocco and I want to get married -- to each other. We were wondering if we could discuss this with you."

The pastor brightened with a sudden smile. "You have just jogged an old man's memory. And I do indeed remember your mother. I can now tell you this, she was an amazingly persistent woman. I'm sorry that I had forgotten her name. I would certainly be glad to speak to you." Seeing that we still seemed somewhat uncomfortable, he added. "Please, relax. You certainly came to the right person. Perhaps you would like something to drink? Coffee, tea, or perhaps a soda would be more to your taste?"

We finally were settled in after the pastor's "friend" found Jade a straw.

The pastor said. "Your name is Jade?"

"Yes, and this is Rocco."

"Good, good. Indeed I do remember your mother quite well. And now that I do remember her I feel guilty that I did not recognize you. She said that her son had been struggling to survive since he had two prostheses. I should definitely have remembered. We spoke on a number of occasions. She said that her son was probably a homosexual and she was quite upset when we first started talking. I believe that this was well more than two years ago. We had a number of talks on specifically just how did today's homosexual fit into Christ's church. To tell you the truth, I was never sure just how she had gotten my name herself, although she did say that one of her neighbors was one of our long time parishioners."

Jade and I were both relieved that things were now going so well. Jade spoke up. "Yes, Mama told me that if I had difficulties accepting who I was I could come talk to you. Actually, I resolved things on my own. But we are now here for an entirely different reason. Rocco and I would like to get married."

"Remarkable. I assume that both of you two young men consider yourselves to be homosexual and indeed physically attracted to each other. But you boys are certainly very young. What's the rush?"

Jade and I looked at each other, and we communicated a number of I-told-you-so's between us. Jade spoke: "You are right, we are young. And that's exactly what Dr. Krazenski said to me. But we are as committed to each other as any couple can be."

The pastor smiled. "And who is this doctor you mentioned?"

I jumped in. "Jade's Mama died over a year ago, and he was living with his uncle. But now he can't any more and he is temporarily living with Dr. Krazenski and his family. He's a great guy. And he knows about us."

"Good. Thanks for being so forthcoming. But do you understand just what the position of our Church is?" He looked at us. "I can see from your faces that you do not. Well without going into a long theological discussion, we simply espouse the rule of Christ's love in our lives. And mainly this church is non-dogmatic. That means we espouse no particular dogma of any specific church. Our members come from all over and we do not presume to lecture any one on their specific dogmatic beliefs. And of course one of those is the sacramentality of marriage. So you see, some of our members do indeed express the desire to get married in some structured ceremony, while other's do not. It is the position of this church that people marry each other and that at most, a minister merely witnesses that marriage."

Jade and I looked at each other again. I answered: "So if we asked you, you would then witness our marriage vows in some ceremony?"

"Well, I would definitely not be opposed to this on any religious ground. Although many would argue that two boys, or two women for that matter, can not be married. However, I find your idea refreshing. And you are entitled to your own belief in this matter. But my only concern is your ages." He turned to me and added: "I find it difficult to believe that you can possibly know your own mind in this matter with mature certainty. And Jade must be at least three or four years your senior."

I was faced with this same thing one more time. I was still annoyed by it but, oh well. "Actually Jade was 17 last March, and I will be 16 this September."

"You have surprised me a bit. You look much younger. But I suppose that many people say this and please forgive me for my incorrect presumption. It must get annoying. However, I would like to hear what both of you have to say about this matter. In the mean time, why don't we raid the kitchen and see if we all can find something to snack on."

We sat in the kitchen talking for more than an hour. One topic led to another and so on. He was amazing to listen to. I liked him immediately. Jade did too. But the final conclusion was that he thought us too young yet. He said that if we were still determined to get married this time next year he would consider performing the ceremony.

"And I assume that you both realize that it can not be a civil union. I doubt that that would ever be even considered in this country."

I was disappointed but not surprised. And I had been debating with myself all afternoon about Jade's circular and finally decide to be completely upfront. I looked at Jade and said: "Jade, there is one more thing that I've been thinking about for a while now. Reverend Burrowes, Jade doesn't know about this yet, but I would like to show both of you something."

I pulled out the one folded up copy I kept on myself along with the intended picture. "I was going to ask if I could distribute this among your parishioners." I then looked up at Jade. "Sorry Jade, but I did this on my own. If you don't want me to, I won't do it."

I gave the circular and photo to the pastor. "A copy of that picture was to be attached."

He took it from me and Jade stood up to read over his shoulder. I was looking at Jade because I was now afraid that he would never go for it. Jade's expression went from surprise, to puzzlement, back to surprise, and then to a whole barrage of different emotions. And then he seemed to smolder. Now I was real worried.

The pastor looked from him to me and back again. And then he opted to act as referee I guess: "Before I comment I would like to ask Jade a question or two."

Jade stopped smoldering and gave me a look I could not interpret. He then looked at the pastor and asked: "OK, pastor, what questions?"

"Is everything on this paper accurate?"

"Well, except for making me look like a cross between a saint and a genius, yes. You can sure tell that Rocco wrote this. He's blinded by love."

I was starting to feel a little better after the last remark. I tried to interrupt, but the pastor looked a no to me.

"Just one more thing, do you really need permanent foster parents and how urgently?"

"Actually, Dr. Krazenski has taken me in until they can find permanent foster parents for me. But so far nothing. And I don't think urgently. The doctor will keep me as needed I would assume."

Jade turned to me. "And I REALLY need to talk about this with Rocco in private." And then turned to the pastor. "Sorry, but I am just angry that Rocco would have done this without asking me first. But he always has been very impulsive."

I tried to defend myself: "But that's why I just showed it to you now, and said that I'd do it only if you agreed."

The pastor turned to me and asked: "You did this completely on your own, for Jade?"

"Yes. I made a thousand of them. But I only got three hundred pictures made so far. I ran out of money. I was just trying to help."

"Perhaps I will never doubt your devotion to Jade, but he is correct. A more mature reflection should have guided you to ask Jade about it first. Nevertheless, Jade, I believe, should be thankful that he has a friend that cares so much about him." The pastor I could see was being peacemaker.

"Sorry Jade, but I DID come to my senses in time."

Jade now looked more exasperated than angry. "OK, Rocco, we'll talk about this. And don't worry. I still love you." And he smiled. I was greatly relieved. And especially thankful that I showed it to Jade first before distributing them.

The pastor then said: "I think, perhaps, it might not be a completely unmerited idea. And if you ever decide between you, I would allow you to hand them out to the people as they leave my services on Sunday. However, Rocco, I am still a little mystified. Why did you specifically target my church?"

I took a big breath and let it out. I was trying to release the tension that I had let build up. "I just thought that the best chance that Jade could find any foster parents that could accept him for who he was, would be someone from this Church. And I so much wanted his foster parents to accept him that way." I started to get emotional about this but couldn't stop. And I sure tried but only with great difficulty was I able to stop the tears. I finally said: "I didn't want them to be like my parents, and Jade have to hide who he is."

Jade stood up and hugged me. It felt so good. And damn, I did start to cry. "Don't worry White-boy, we're together in everything."

The pastor looked a bit worried. "That's the second time I heard you use that expression. What do you mean when you are describing him as white boy? I can't believe that this is any slur on your part."

Even I almost smiled. Jade answered: "I called Rocco that when we first met. He liked it. So it's become my special name for him. I usually don't use it in public."

The pastor stood up. "Well, I have enjoyed talking with you two, and I hope I have helped. Please feel free to talk with me anytime. But right now I have another appointment."

After the usual pleasantries we left. I walked along with Jade toward our bikes and neither of us spoke for a while. Then Jade stopped. "White-boy, stop a minute. I need to say this now. At first I was mad that you did this even though I said we must do things together. But I really don't care now. I love you so much it doesn't matter. And you did eventually show it to me before you really did anything important. Thank you. And to tell you the truth, I really don't know if I want you to hand them out or not."

I was so relieved that I jumped him and hugged him tight. "I solemnly promise Jade, that I will ALWAYS talk to you first. I promise. And I am sure glad I came to my senses this time!"

Jade laughed as we disengaged. "I believe you. On both counts. Except for being insufferably mushy, I thought it was pretty good. And I really love the idea behind it. It's just that it's sort of embarrassing. It's almost like I'm for sale."

And I couldn't help smile "I'd buy you in an instant." Jade reciprocated.

But Jade then remarked: "And by the way, Negro is a race, not a nationality."

I couldn't be bothered by trivialities. Jade and I got on our bikes and went to my house. It was surprisingly late. We had been there for quite some time. We got to my house and Jade got off his bike. "I just got an idea. How about we forget everything tomorrow and just have some fun. Maybe do something really different. You were talking about those horse training areas outside the city. Maybe something like that."

I was suddenly thinking all sorts of neat things, but the horse trip sounded great. It was just the planning it needed. "The trip there will take over two hours. Maybe even closer to two and a half. So we need to leave pretty early. Also we need to bring our lunch and maybe another snack. So we need your decrepit pack."

Jade was thoughtful for a moment. "How about we think a bit on this and I'll call you after dinner?"

"Good idea. The place I found is way outside the city. We will have to take the el to Penn-Central Station downtown and then the commuter train. And that will take an extra fair, and I don't know how much. And I have a confession. I'm broke."

Jade realized why. "Don't worry. It feels strange not being the poor one. I'll lend it to you." And he smiled.

"At what interest rate?" I countered.

"Well, since we're good friends, let's say 20%!"

"That's against the law. You can't charge that much. About the only ones that do is the mafia."

Jade than tried (unsuccessfully) to adopt an Italian accent. "And if you don't fork over da dough, I'll get Guido to look ya up. He's an expert on fingers -- as in breakin' dem." We were both breaking up by then.

I was quite happy as I entered my house. I felt that things had turned out pretty well after all. I felt I had learned a good lesson today.

Journal of Rocco P.

July 19, 1961
Thank you God for giving us Reverend Barrowes. I learned a lot from him today. I know he said we were too young to get married, but I ALREADY feel married. And I also learned to be faithful to my soul mate Jade. Sorry for doing all that lying to my Dad but he gets me so angry. I promised Jade I would always talk to him about decisions that affect us both. And I am sure glad I did so today. I am starting to learn that being truthful and forthright about stuff is better than finagling, but how come I can't be that way with who I am?

Please God, let us find a good foster home for Jade, and thanks for Dr. Krazenski and his family. I know that I love Jade, but how come most people say that I shouldn't? And that we have to hide our love? When other people get married everybody is happy. Why can't they be happy for Jade and me? When I die and see You we sure have things to talk about. I don't like how You're running things. (I wonder if God has a sense of humor).

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello