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 NOTE: This story is finally coming to a conclusion. The entire story, including the last Chapter 104, plus the Epilogue, is now hosted at http://crackerwriter.us and at http://storylover.us . I hope you enjoy it.
Chapter 99 -- Jerry Price
We only had a three full days left before we were to go back to Cheney, Washington. As much as I had looked forward to seeing home again, and talking to my friends and family, I realized that `home' for me had subtly changed. Home now was sort of where Jade and I were -- but not quite. I couldn't even define it to myself. But it had to do with EWSC but not because that place we felt anymore at home than did anywhere else. I supposed it had to do with the fact that that was where Jade and I could be ourselves, and also start fulfilling our dreams. I talked about this to Jade when we got together again that evening. Jade and I decided we needed a night "away from all tension." We decided to go to one of the new movies that were recently released for the holidays. I suggested one that was supposed to be a really funny comedy.
"How about Tom Jones. It's supposed to be pretty good." Jade wasn't very enthusiastic: "It's all about him jumping into bed with every girl he sees. And it takes place several hundred years ago. Now if it were him jumping into a whole lot of BOY'S beds, maybe you could convince me to see it."
We eventually settled on From Russia With Love which had come back to some theaters for the holidays. I thought it was great. But I pointed out to Jade that it still showed the main actor jumping into bed with all the girls. I just pretended that all those girls that James Bond had in bed with him were guys. Even Jade liked the movie though he thought the plot was pretty forced.
Jade remarked: "And how come whenever someone tries to kill James Bond they have to do is in some exotic way? Why not just shoot him?"
But it was a great movie just to enjoy.
For now, Mom had asked me to spend at least one full day `home' with my `family.' I couldn't deny her. Even if it was a strain. I just wish `family' could include Jade in her thinking. Dad and I essentially avoided each other. Carl, though usually civil, was more distant than ever. Dolores on the other hand was a lot more friendly and we were starting to get our usual report back. She even asked about Jade. In one recent conversation she told me: "I'm sorry you can't bring Jade here, but I'm sure you can understand how Dad feels."
At that I got immediately hot. I tried not to lose my temper. But I couldn't just let it go. "Actually Dolores, maybe I can understand how Dad feels. But that doesn't make him right. But more importantly, how come Dad can't understand how I feel? How would you feel if you got married and Dad refused to allow your husband in the house?"
"But that's totally different."
"And this is exactly the problem Dolores. Until you can understand exactly why it is NOT different, then you don't really understand about Jade and me."
Dolores didn't seem to know how to answer. "Look, Rocco, if it were up to me, you two would always be welcome. That's all I can say."
I was wondering if anybody in my family could ever get to the point where they were happy for Jade and me. But Dolores' reply did make me feel better.
Surprisingly It was my youngest sister that seemed to seek out my company. We played a sophisticated board game for a good part of the afternoon -- she had resurrected my old Tactics II. And she was precociously intelligent enough to stalemate me at a game I had assumed hegemony over a couple of years before. I was thinking again that she was by far the smartest one in the family. Then toward the end of the game, she asked me about being gay: "Rocco, I know what Mom and Carl keep hinting at about you, and Dolores and I talked a couple of times, but I still don't understand. Why are you gay?"
I thought: "Answer that question and win a Nobel Prize." I was also taken aback by her directness, and total lack of embarrassment in talking about this subject. Unlike everyone else in my family. Like it was more an intellectual exercise. Just to say the word "sex" in our house was almost unthinkable.
"Mariann, I'm not entirely sure myself. Jade and I have talked about this a lot, and also with a couple of others who are also gay. I believe the following. We are mostly born this way, but there's maybe some other things. Perhaps the way we related to people growing up also contributed. I'm not sure. I do know one thing for sure. Lot's of people claim that it is a mental illness but I definitely don't -- we're not sick at all. Only sick about how other people treat us. You understand all this?"
"Yes, dummy. I'm eleven. I just wonder how come Mom just can't accept what you tell her. That you and Jade love each other and belong together. It seems simple to me."
Wow, I wish it COULD be that simple. I tried to explain that people and society were complicated, but how could I explain something to an 11 year old that I couldn't completely understand myself. But this was the first time that Mariann and I related to each other in nearly equal par. It made me feel pretty good.
And then there came the phone call out of the blue.
Mom called to me from the living room: "Rocco, there's someone calling for you. He said his name is Jerry Price. Isn't that the boy who graduated top in your class?"
Now I was more puzzled than my sister was a moment ago. Jerry and I never really did much together at school. Now a phone call? I told her I'd get it, and answered.
"My god Jerry, of the first 100 guesses of who would be calling me, you still wouldn't have made the list."
He chuckled. "I know. And I hope I'm not out of line here, and I don't want to get you upset, but we decided to take a chance we're right. You can always just hang up."
Now I was even more puzzled. And suddenly an errant thought passed through my mind. I replied: "You're sounding pretty mysterious, but might this have anything to do with me and Jade?" But just as I said this I was suddenly thinking that maybe I should have talked with Jade first.
Before I could get anymore anxious Jerry answered. "You're as intuitive as I had always judged. The answer is yes. Do you mind talking about this?"
Still being vague.
I replied: "Jerry, how about giving me your number and I'll get back to you in an hour or so. Would that be OK?"
And that's what we agreed on. I called Jade and explained the situation.
"But Rocco, did you ask him who the `we' were?"
"No, my primary thought was to talk to you before I said anything else. What do you think?"
"Damn, I guess your parents are expecting you to stay there this evening? We really need to talk about this and I don't want to do it on the phone. How about I come over and we can talk outside. Just make sure your father don't see us."
Fifteen minutes later Jade and I were walking toward the library a block away. It was warmer than outside. We both agreed that most likely Jerry was going to bring up the subject of our sexuality. What else could it be. We talked about the possibility he was one of us so to speak.
Jade remarked: "He never did date in High School, and I always felt he was aloof because he was hiding something rather than being a natural introvert."
I tended to agree. "But there has to be at least one other person. Any ideas?"
"Maybe." Jade said. "How about John Edell? But we can easily find out for sure by one phone call."
"I'm not too sure about Edell. Do you think he's hooked up with Ted Szamborski?"
Jade said very possible. The opportunity to talk to a few other people like ourselves, especially people we already knew, was a powerful lure. Jade and I called Jerry back.
Jerry said: "I won a bet. I was sure you'd call back. You're even more curious than you are intuitive. I assume you then know why I'm calling seemingly out of the blue?"
"I can guess." We were still parrying without either of us asking the direct question. "Jerry, let's stop fencing. How about I put it like this. I was the person who wrote that article that was in the school paper several years ago."
Jerry was quiet for a moment. It sounded like he was talking to someone else. A few moments later he said: "Now you did surprise me. Ted Szamborski told me it was he who put that in the paper."
Now I was equally surprised. "Jerry, is Ted with you now?"
"Yeah. He wants to speak with you."
I quickly filled in Jade.
Then Ted came on the line. "Hi, Rocco, I told Jerry it was me who put that thing in the paper. I respected your confidence and didn't say anything about you writing it. I thought that was your decision to make. But how about coming over here? And can you get a hold of Jade, and ask him too?"
"Just a moment. Hold on." I then talked with Jade about what was going on.
Jade replied: "Go for it. I'm as interested as you are."
"Ted, you still there?" He was. "Jade's with me now. But I can't come this evening, as much as I'd like to. How about we come tomorrow after church. Say near noon? And I guess you should tell us where."
Ted then talked with someone else in the background, and Jerry got back on the phone:. "Great Rocco. Jade's coming with?"
He gave me an address. "It's Ted's house. He'll be here too. And I'm hoping maybe a couple of other guys. And don't worry. You both will be welcomed here. See you tomorrow."
Jade and I couldn't talk about anything else while we went back to my house. Dinner was soon, and I didn't want my father have anything to be irritated about. I was strangely elated all through dinner, so much so, my Mom asked what was up.
"Just that call from Jerry Price. He and another guy in my class at Father Judge, Ted Szamborski, asked me to come over to see them tomorrow. I was just looking forward to seeing a few guys I graduated with."
Dad asked a question I didn't want to hear: "How come he called? I don't remember him ever calling here before."
"Just a few of the guys home from college wanting to get together for old times sake. Jerry's home from MIT. He got a scholarship there. He was top in our class. Szamborski is back from Boston College."
Fortunately Dad didn't inquire further. Dinner even went pleasantly. And my father actually asked me a question?
The next day, Jade and I were in a cab headed towards a rich neighborhood out past Willow Grove. Szamborski said he and his Dad had just moved to the suburbs. I was both anxious and excited as Jade knocked on the door. And we were both totally surprised when the door was opened. A huge smile was plastered all over Twain's face. Right behind him was John Edell. Jade said something about him being right after all. As we found out very soon, he was only half right.
But to Twain he asked with some force: "Holy smoke, what are YOU doing here?"
"Well, John called me last night and explained about what was going on. And I couldn't resist seeing you guys' expressions when you showed up."
Then I just remembered. "You're supposed to be out west with your father."
"Just flew back yesterday."
Soon we were sitting around a big table in what Ted called the family room. (Even bigger than Twain's family room). We were at some kind of huge card table. In the room were Jerry Price, Ted Szamborski, John Edell, Twain, and another surprise, Jim Jabloski.
After a few of the usual pleasantries, Jerry got right down to business. "You know why I called you. All of us here are in the same boat. We're all gay."
But before he could continue I heard Twain yell. "All but one! I'm very happy to say I LIKE GIRLS."
Jerry relented: "OK, all but one of us. But we've adopted Twain nonetheless."
Jade smiled: "How's your girlfriend Marla doing? Still seeing her?"
Well, and he was. But I was anxious to talk to Jim: "Jim, I never suspected. You dated a lot."
"You dated too occasionally. A smoke screen. We were all as paranoid as the other."
Jerry then said: "Rocco and Jade, I suspected you two for quite a while, but was afraid to say anything. Strangely it was that letter in the school paper a few years ago that got Ted and myself together. I realized pretty quickly it had to be one of you three that put the article in the paper. I was amazed someone had the guts to do that. I was equally amazed that the school didn't pursue it any further. So last summer I called Ted, and just asked him right out. And he admitted that he did it. He didn't explain `til last night that you had actually written it."
Ted smiled: "I told you Rocco and Jade, I'd never let anyone know. I kept my word."
I started liking Ted a bit more. "Thanks Ted."
Each one of them made some remark about how great it was to find someone to talk to. Jerry said that he finally got the courage this past summer to try to get people together for just this purpose.He said: "It was really strange, Rocco. I tried to call you last June but your father answered and said you didn't live there anymore and just hung up. And I got caught up with all kinds of other things, so it was only Ted and I who first got together. He never even hinted what he knew about you guys. And since he was attending Boston College, it was just natural we hooked up from time to time." And jokingly he added: "Even if he's an insufferable prig at times."
Ted smiled and replied: "So says someone courting the death of civilization -- the dedicated liberal."
That got us off on a tangent until Jade butted in: "Hey John, I still don't know how you hooked up with either Jerry or Ted."
John answered: "Simple, it was Jerry again. He just called me several days ago. And being away to college gives you a better perspective on things. I had already been around Allen and Dan, and Twain already knew, so when Jerry called I admitted it right away."
I was then curious. "Jerry, you mean you, the guy who all through high school rarely mixed in with anyone else, suddenly started calling people to ask if they were gay?"
Jerry replied: "Actually, it was Ted and me. We got together a week ago and we put together a short list of who we suspected from our class. I thought I was right about Bless but he vehemently denied it. And he wasn't too pleasent about it. And it was Twain who insisted that in spite of what your father said last June, Rocco, you were home for the Christmas break. The other people we called were Tom Finnegan, who was pretty shocked we even asked about such a thing, and Ben Morelli, who admitted being attracted to boys but said he had a girlfriend he was also fond of and attracted to and said he didn't want anyone else to find out. Melvin Ballard just about consigned us all to hell. So I guess we were wrong about him too, and most likely Finnegan."
It was Jade that saw something weird going on. "Wait a minute. So we have Jerry, John, Ted, Jim, Rocco, and myself, who are gay. Don't you find something unusual about this?" It was Jerry who understood what he was getting at. "I wondered about that myself. Even if I'm wrong about Bless, at least six of the top 20 kids in our graduating class are gay. What are the odds?"
I looked at Twain who graduated tenth. "OK, Twain `fess up." He ignored my accusation and said instead: "But maybe I have an explanation. It was all the guys that had time to study, since they weren't out with girls all the time, that would get top grades."
Jerry said: "Maybe, but maybe not. I don't think it's just time to study. I've been toying about another theory. About with the great need to be accepted many of us are over-achievers. Of course we all seem to have our good share of brains too."
I thought Jerry had a larger share than most. A scholarship to MIT isn't given to just anybody. I was suspecting he had me beat in the brain department by even a greater factor than my pride was wanting to admit.
I then realized John said something I hadn't caught the significance of `til now. "Wait a minute John. A while back you said you already knew about Dan and Allen. I think most of the guys here don't even know about them. For you guys that don't know, this Dan is Twain's uncle, even though they're almost the same age, and Allen is his partner. Now how did you hook up with them as you mentioned?"
John answered: "It was when I was over Twain's house right after we graduated. I could never resist his big pool. Well, anyways, his uncle Dan, and his friend Allen came while I was there, and I knew them from the previous February. But this time was quite different. And I couldn't believe it. They never tried to be circumspect about their relationship. It took me a few hours but I finally got up my nerve to ask Twain about them, and he right out said they were a couple -- married even. Who would of ever thought two guys could be married. But Twain was so OK with it all, so I called him the next day and invited myself over again. It had taken me all night to get up the courage but I talked about myself to him the next day. And it sure felt great to talk to someone."
Jim said then: "Damn it John, you never said anything before about Dan and Allen being married. How can that be? That just don't figure. How can two guys get married?"
It was Jerry who added: "How can two guys figure they even CAN get married? And John, who the heck would perform the ceremony?"
John and Twain detailed the whole story. By the time they finished, everyone was looking at Jade and me. Jade smiled and said: "Rocco and I were married at the same church a year and a half ago. We even got rings." And he showed his. Our being married, or at least claiming to be married, created quite a stir.
It was John who then remarked: "Imagine if that had come out. The `preacher' married to another boy. No one would have believed it. Wow, half our class had you pegged for the priesthood."
I couldn't resist: "Even Father McNeil." And I told them the story about seeing him last September.
That brought a lot of comment and reminiscing.
But it was Jade who started the conversation about parents and family. There the picture was somewhat bleak. Both Jim Jabloski and Jerry Price admitted that not only did their parents not know, but they would not be telling them any time soon. It was Ted Szamborski who was in a better situation.
Ted spoke up: "I was quite surprised. To tell you the truth I had more difficulty with being gay than my Dad did. I told him last summer the day before I left for Boston College. At first he kept blaming himself saying it was his fault by not being there for me when I needed him when Mom died. I used to think that way myself for a while but later read enough to dispel that stupid theory. That book Jade gave me helped a lot."
Jade told everyone what book and that it took Ted four months to return it. Then we all had fun picking on Ted when both Jade and I took turns explaining the circumstances under which he was given the book. That brought a lot of laughs. Being Ted he took everything very seriously and kept trying to explain things away. The more serious he got, the more we all thought it was funny.
Then Ted talked more about his father. "He was more concerned about who I could leave all our business interests to more than anything else."
Ted was an only child of an only child. His mother had died quite a few years before. "That's what got Dad totally swallowed up with his work. I was too young to understand, but my Dad told me on many occasions that for many years he was married to his work. I don't want to do that."
Then Jim joked about marrying Ted for his money.
Eventually John spoke up. "My Mom knows. We are still sort of keeping it from my father for now. Or maybe forever. To explain how conservative he is, he thinks selling insurance is exciting." He then looked at Ted and added: "It was your fault that she found out though. I was so scared when it happened."
Ted was a bit annoyed by what John just said. He always took things very personally.
"Look Ted. Only indirectly. And I was making a joke. It was quite some time ago. She found that article you put into the school paper. That night when I took it home, I read it word by word and almost memorized it. It was the first time I realized that I wasn't the only one in the school. It was quite an emotional time for me. Rocco's not the only one who cried a lot. But I usually was able to save it for when no one else was around."
But Ted then asked a question I was wondering about. "Why didn't you just say it was something in the school paper?"
"Fifty copies of it?" He smiled at our reactions. "I had about 50 copies of that paper in my room and I had just finished cutting out the article in each one."
We all looked at John in amazement. The kid who NEVER was in trouble his entire life? It was Jim Jabloski who asked the obvious question. "It was YOU who kept putting up those articles all around the school?"
John smiled: "Yeah." He seemed almost embarrassed to admit it. "My Mom was actually amazing. Of course she still is. It was she who was able to convince me that nothing was wrong with me. She worked as a counselor for Juvenile Hall. She said that she wished she had known sooner so she could have filled me in on what she knew. I knew what I WANTED to do with those papers but it was my Mom who inspired me to actually get the courage to do it."
John seemed quite proud not only of his Mom but of his own role in keeping the article in circulation.
Soon questions were directed toward both Jade and myself. Except for Twain and John, the guys there were quite surprised when Jade talked not just about the Webster's but also Dr. Krazenski.
As briefly as possible I delineated my situation. Jade could see I was getting pretty emotional the more I said. I abruptly stopped when I felt close to breaking out in tears. I still had trouble controlling myself that way.
Jerry noticed: "Damn Rocco. You still cry so darn easily."
It was not an accusation. In fact it was said more in compassion. I tried to hide my embarrassment in a joking reply: "Heck. What do you expect? As Jade will no doubt tell you. I've barely gone through puberty. I don't even shave yet."
The latter was true.
Jade added: "Rocco's exaggerating. He looks exactly his age. Sixteen!"Jade and I suddenly gravitated into each other's arms and were kissing before we realized that we were not exactly in private. But I guess both of us just continued for a moment realizing that if not in front of this group then where? But there were comments.
Jerry exclaimed: "Holy shit!" And after a few other remarks by a couple of the other's there Jerry added: "I guess you guys do realize that you two have something special going."
Jade said: "Not special so much. Just amazingly fortunate!" And after a slight pause amended: "I guess it IS special."
And the way Jade looked at me just then made my universe perfect if only for that moment. Jerry got to see a few more of my tears.
We eventually talked all this stuff to death before everyone discovered it was late and we were all starving. Later that night, while watching Jade sleep, I marveled at just how fortunate I was. I looked down at my Jade and a wave of almost overwhelming emotion took hold of me. I shuddered at the thought of where I'd be right then if he hadn't become a part of my life.
Twain and John left for home but the rest of us wanted to keep at it. It was Szamborski who then mentioned how about we all go to a restaurant for dinner, and that there was a good one just up the road. He said he had a real car. "I have my Dad's second car. Mine's in the shop. The five of us can easily fit, and it's only a half mile. And the food's great."
I don't think any of us wanted to stop the conversation. Though we frequently got into topics like colleges, classes, majors, and such, we seemed to always get back to the topic at hand -- about being gay and how we were coping with it. So we went. And for once I agreed with Ted on something. The food WAS good. And we were sat while other people ahead of us were still waiting. I didn't understand `til later; I just figured he lived nearby and must have come there often enough that they knew him there. The host surely did.
Just as we were getting served our desserts, I was feeling so up that I didn't care. I kissed Jade right in front of the waiter who dropped my Lemon Meringue pie. The glass plate shattered. It was pretty loud. I think a hundred eyes glommed onto Jade and me kissing. A few gasps, lots of murmurs, and at least one obscene remark assailed us.
And I realized my gaff. A few minutes later, a harried assistant manager -- who we found out later was pretty new -- came to our table and asked us quietly, and politely, but also insistently, that we had to leave. And that we weren't welcome back. And then the host came over and tried to say something to the guy, but he wouldn't listen.
It was then that Ted asked the assistant manager if they could talk privately in his office. The guy obviously didn't want to make a big scene so he acquiesced. Five minutes later, they came back and the guy was white. He then apologized and said we were welcome any time, and that the meal was free. Ted had his usual superior smile in place.
"What the hell was that all about?" Jerry asked.
Ted's smile spread wider. "He just found out that I'm the son of the owner. My father owns this place." He then looked toward Jade and myself. "But I did assure him that you guys would refrain from kissing in front of his other customers. I can't believe you guys did that."
Jade laughed: "My White-boy is impulsive like that. It's one of the things I love about him."
It was Jim who then asked: "That's the second time I heard you call Rocco a white boy. Don't you think that's a bit racist?" Jim, we could tell wasn't serious, but he WAS curious.
Jade then explained how I got that name.
The next day we were on our way back to Eastern Washington State College which was starting to feel more like home than anywhere else.