This is the final Part IV of a four part story. (See Part I for Index). It is a story 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? Find a different story. Or perhaps read on; you may be persuaded to think differently.
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 six. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our butts.
Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it, please e-mail me and also give proper attribution.
Note that an author welcomes any feedback. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and all e-mails will be answered.
PLEASE READ THIS: For those of you who have been following this story as it started being posted, I'd like to mention that chapters will be posted first to Cracker's Den [http://crackerwriter.us] and the Story Lover [http://storylover.us], before here. These sites are also hosting a few of my other stories. Check these sites out. There are quite a few good stories in both.
I would like to thank the many readers of this story who have been patiently awaiting this final PART IV. For those who had been following the version from 2006, there have been a number of editing changes and several minor revisions in the chapters of Part III which you may find at either of the above sites. Though usually not of great significance, the additions to Chapter 84a are material. Thank-you for your enthused support. Rocco Paperiello
Chapter 90a -- Explosion
(Still Rocco's point of view)
Who could have ever envisioned the consequences of a few innocent remarks? Well maybe not quite so innocent. We were in religion class and we were talking about the morality (or rather the immorality) of using birth control. I looked at Jade and couldn't understand how come none of this really bothered him. And unfortunately I was sort of board, and a little bit angry. And don't ask why. Perhaps I just don't really see any value in learning about a so-called natural law that seemed anything but natural and definitely not so self-evident. Or maybe I just didn't trust the Catholic Church to be the sole arbiter of right and wrong. Or maybe, I just didn't like the fact that the teacher would use these same natural laws he was teaching to condemn my relationship with Jade. I guess I was not really sure why, but lately, I start to get angry every time I get to this class. Not a real deep anger, but just a simmering resentment. And just enough that I get the urge to throw an idea out now and then to help stir the waters. I suddenly perked up when I heard something about sex.
The teacher was `monologue-ing.' "And so we see that any act of using the sexual faculty either outside marriage or that is not open to the act of procreation is immoral. For example masturbation, or using artificial birth control."
I raised my hand, maintaining my innocent facial expression: "I was just wondering then Father Irons, how would you comment on the following description of marriage written by a famous leader. It seems to contradict what you just said. He wrote that `the chief reason and purpose of matrimony can in a very real sense [be said to be] the mutual inward molding of the partners, this determined effort to perfect each other . . ., provided matrimony be looked at not in the restrictive sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of children, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof.' I've always felt that quote to be inspirational." In fact I had it on my wall at home, and knew it by heart. I was happy to see that most the kids were interested in what I just said.
But as expected, the teacher didn't approve. "I'm not sure what specific leader you are talking about, but obviously it's not the proper view held by Catholicism."
I deliberately led him on. It was fun. "So having sex with your wife knowing she can't conceive, or your having a premature ejaculation are both immoral since they can't realize the end of the sexual faculty in procreation." Now everyone was intently listening. To just hear the word "masturbation" in class in that context was unusual. And there were a number of snickers. Nobody talked about sex this way in school, at least in front of a teacher. This was probably the closest we ever got to talk about such a forbidden subject in class. And I could see the teacher getting a bit aggravated.
"You are obviously getting these things mixed up. And your conclusions are wrong. This is why the Church is there to guide its parishioners in matters of faith and morals."
"But Father, I can't see how that's such a good idea either?"
"And why not?"
"Well, how much faith can we put into the Church's moral teaching when for centuries the Church taught that charging interest, and even democracy were immoral, while slavery was OK?"
A sudden buzz enveloped the classroom. They were enjoying this as much as the teacher wasn't. The teacher started getting very defensive. "Now you're getting far afield, and obviously don't have a proper understanding of the Church's role in instructing society."
Now he was insinuating I hadn't any idea what I was talking about, and I got a little peeved. "Well, how come you don't tell everybody here the truth? That what you're teaching isn't infallible, and in fact may be wrong? That the Church, using this exact same Natural Law, has been very wrong in the past, and could still be very wrong today? In fact, on the issue of having sex they've changed their teachings all kinds of times. The Church used to teach that to have sex at all, you had to intend to have kids. That having sex during menstruation or during pregnancy were mortal sins."
There was almost an explosion in the class. That got all kinds of reactions. But unfortunately not a good one from the Father Irons.
"That will be enough, Mr. Papariello. I won't have you using this class for your own soap box."
I had to take a parting shot: "And by the way, that quote about marriage was from an encyclical by Pope Pius XI."
There was actually a bit of quiet after I said this. Most the class were looking to see "Iron Pants'" reaction. One person even remarked aloud: "Wow, and Irons disagreed with a pope." The voice came from behind him and as he whirled around, there were not a few chuckles. He turned back to me. He was almost apoplectic.
"Mr. Papariello, for the time being, I expect you not to voice your uneducated opinions like this again. It is very disruptive. And perhaps we need to talk further after school today."
He just used the catchword. `Disruptive.' Anytime you disagree, you're conveniently labeled disruptive. I guess I should have just kept my mouth shut. After all, just over 2 more months to go.
And he had to say I was uneducated, another way of saying I didn't know what I was talking about. But I did. But months of this stuff was finally getting to me.
It's all your fault God. If You hadn't made me gay, I wouldn't have worried so much about what I had come to believe. Because I'm gay, I started researching things, and decided I had to come to my own moral decisions -- and now I can't stop. Thanks a lot God!
Just kidding God. I hope You have a sense of humor. Fr. Irons sure hasn't. I looked at Jade. He was shaking his head. Uh-oh! I'm in real trouble now.
Class ended a few minutes later. While I was leaving Father Irons called me to the front of the class. "Mr. Papariello, I don't quite understand why you chose to disrupt my class today, but I certainly don't appreciate it. I want you to see Father Brand in his office at the end of seventh period. Don't be late."
I knew it wouldn't do any good to argue so I just left. And was bombarded outside of class.
"Holy shit Rocco, I didn't think old `Iron Pants' could be taken down like that."
"You're in for it now."
"Where'd you get all that stuff?"
Some of the remarks, however, were more crude. I saw Jerry Price across the hall. I thought he seemed to be waiting for me. Then Jade came up and tried to pull me away. "Damn, Rocco, I thought you were smarter than that. You know you can never win, even if you're right. Just remember, if you get into serious trouble, you take me with you."
And I knew he was right. And I started to feel guilty. Just because I got a little angry, and a lot arrogant.
"Sorry Jade, I'll try not to make things worse. I promise."
He started walking in front and Jerry Price came up from behind. We were on our way to our lockers and then lunch, so I had time to squander. "Hi Jerry. Please don't say I'm an idiot. I already know that."
"I was just wondering about some of the things you mentioned there today, but I was smart enough to keep my mouth closed. It can't do any good."
"You're right there."
"And I was wondering where you got some of that stuff. It sure isn't in out text book."
"Well, last year, when I was doing some research in St. Joes' library, I came across that encyclical and a commentary on it. It engaged my interest, I mean the part on sexual morality and marriage."
"You mean they have that in the Prep's library?"
"No, not the high school, the college."
Jerry looked at me a moment and remarked: "You know Rocco, you sure are a bit weird."
I smiled as I thought of Jade's favorite taunt. "I've been told that before."
"Well, good luck."
I actually felt a little better after talking to Jerry. It's one of the few times he had come out of his shell and talked to me about anything other than math. And I really respected his intelligence.
Jade and I made our way to lunch and when we got to the table, not only were Twain, and John Edell, and Jim Jabloski there, but a few other people from the class as well. So I never did get to eat my entire lunch. I was instead busy answering all their questions. And to think 99 % of the rest of the students in the school wouldn't have really cared what we were talking about. They were more interested in when the Beatles might be coming to America.
Before Ringo Starr -- The Beatles with Pete Best
Or more concerned that it now cost 5 cents to mail a letter than Britain being barred from the European Common Market because of De Gaul's objection. Or more thrilled about the new pull tabs on beer cans than about the first really competitive commercial nuclear reactor starting up in New Jersey. Or . . . whatever. Oh well. Of course, I was now more concerned about how Jade was reacting than almost anything else.
Jade just kept giving me this really dirty look, and I guess I deserved it. That's what made it worse. I really WAS guilty. Not of being wrong about having my opinion, but using that class that way to express them, and more importantly possibly causing Jade trouble he didn't need. Because if I got into trouble, he suffered at least indirectly.
On the way out of lunch I tried to apologies again. "Jade, I really am sorry. And I solemnly promise to try to fix things up."
He finally stopped and even smiled: "I guess that's just what makes you who you are. I have to take the Rocco I got today in order to get the White-boy I have most the other time."
I smiled. "Thanks Jade. And who knows, maybe I'm not in too much trouble after all. I mean what did I really do? Just disagreed with a teacher."
I really believed that, but I've been wrong before.
Later that day, I was standing in front of Father Brand as he read a little slip of paper that had my so-called transgressions written on it. I wondered what it actually said.
"Rocco, I see that you couldn't stay away from my office after all. Although you did pretty well for about a year. And here I thought you were maturing a bit."
"I admit I was incautious, and even naive, but I really don't believe I was in the wrong."
"It says here `deliberately disruptive by challenging the teacher's authority in class'. Care to explain?"
"I guess like beauty, disruption is in the eye of the beholder. Father Irons was talking about why birth control was wrong and his ideas on marriage were so narrow I just tried to sort of widen them a bit. He even said a quote I gave from Pope Pius XI about marriage was against what the Church taught. So I did challenge what he was saying, but I'm convinced I didn't challenge his authority."
Father Brand sat up in his chair and just looked at me for a moment. Finally he said to sit down. That was a first. I started wondering if I had a chance after all. I sat, while he got up and closed the door. "OK, how about explaining in a bit more detail."
And so I did and I tried to be as accurate as I could. "So I guess I did challenge what he was saying, but what's wrong with that? And besides, some of the things he said to me weren't very respectful. He just didn't like someone disagreeing with him. How come every time you disagree, you're called disruptive? I think it's the kids that just accept everything he says at face value that you should be concerned about."
Father Brand was mostly silent during the whole time I was explaining. Finally he said: "Where'd you get that quote?"
"This book in the library commenting on Casti Canubii."
"And you read this book? And what library?"
"Well, only the parts that got my interest. And at St. Joe's College Library."
"And what project was this for?"
"I don't know what you mean. There wasn't any project; I just went there to look some things up since I couldn't find the books elsewhere."
And for the first time in three and a half years I heard Father Brand laugh. Not just a chuckle but a real laugh. A couple of frightened students, waiting in the outer office looked in the door's window wondering what was going on. "A true wonder, a high school student that actually thinks for himself. But I really do have one concern and it doesn't have anything to do with this slip." I was a bit thrilled to see him drop it into the trash basket. I felt relieved but just wished he'd let me get out of there. "Is that your true feelings about the Church?"
Now I really started sweating. Do I just tell a convenient lie? But maybe Jade had been getting to me too much. "I guess it is."
"I would wish you'd take some real time and thought before making any hasty decisions. And there's so much you don't really understand. And remember, the Church is made up of people. And we all make mistakes."
I wasn't sure how to reply, and even IF I should reply. I finally said what was convenient. "Well, I definitely agree with you. And indeed I do give these things a lot of thought. And I will give them a lot more thought in the future. And I know I've got a lot to learn."
That seemed to satisfy him. "Well, I don't want to see you in here again. And don't aggravate Father Irons again." He started leafing through something on his big desk.
I was a little surprised. "That's it?"
"Yes. I'm busy. That's it."