Jason woke the two of us up before daybreak.
“Come on, get up, let’s get in the shower. I can’t wait to go clean out my dorm room.”
Dan rolled on top of him and hissed at him to go back to sleep.
“Oh, come on, Dan, get up, get off a me.”
Jason stared at his closed eyes, then looked at me with a devilish grin. I shrugged my shoulders. Jason wrapped his legs around Dan’s waist. Dan couldn’t resist the invitation and soon was slowly pumping inside of him. As Dan awakened he began to thrust into Jason until he was gasping for air as he came. Dan rolled over onto his back. Jason wanted more so I obliged.
When I was done Jason said, “Well I’m not done yet,” and climbed on top of Dan and lifted those long legs over his shoulders and entered him.
With no other stimuli but Jason fucking him Dan came again, all over his stomach as Jason came inside of him. Jason then lay down on Dan’s chest listening to his heartbeat as he softened inside of him.
“Are you awake now, love?” he asked impishly.
“I love you, Tiger.”
“I love you two,” he said looking at the both of us, “Now let’s get in the shower. I want to get there, pack, get back and be moved in before you both get home from work. I’ll have dinner on the table by seven. OK!”
“Wow,” Dan and I said simultaneously.
“Yes, sir, yes, sir,” I continued, “Will you have a job by then so you can support us and Dan and I can sit at home and eat Bon Bons all day.”
“Cheeky bastard,” he yelled and dove on top of me. The three of us wrestled till we all fell to the floor. KA-BOOM!
“BOYS!” Katie screamed from down the hall.
We giggled and ran into the bath.
Dan and I walked out to the car with Jason. The two of us were dressed only in our boxers. We kissed our lover good-bye and he took off, the tires spitting shells. He was true to his word. By the time we both arrived home from work his things were put away and dinner for five was on the table at seven. Checkout had taken longer than he thought so dinner was from a deli ten blocks away. Dan remembered that Jason had never said anything about cooking that dinner.
“Wise ass,” he whispered into his ear before kissing it.
It was our summer of work and play. Jason had a job before the end of the week at the office of a large construction company. One thing we had learned about Jason was that he knew how to talk, to anyone. He had an ability to hone in on the right level and with the right attitude to say the right things. That’s why he had three job offers by the end of the week and was able to choose the best one. Yet Jason was absolutely humble about what he did and what his abilities were.
Dan and I were sitting on the front steps in the waning orange sunshine one evening. We were waiting for the big bleached yellow boat to come floating down Upperline. Dan completely freaked when I reminded him that he had yet to turn nineteen.
“How do you think it’s going to go over having two First Men in President Godcheaux’s White House,” he stated calmly to me.
“Oh shit, don’t even make a joke about it Dan. You know how he won us over; the rest of the country would be a frickin’ pushover!"
I thought for a minute.
“What are we going to do for his birthday? It’s only a couple of weeks away.”
“Want to marry him?” Dan asked seriously.
“Yes, I do,” I said softly.
“So do I,” he replied.
“Do you mean Fitz gets to be a bridesmaid type ceremony or just between us, we buy him a platinum ring ceremony?”
“I don’t know…well, actually, now that you said it, a ring. You gave us our rings on my birthday, we had our engagement on your birthday and we could solidify it on his.”
“Oh man, is that jeweler gonna get a kick outta this!”
“Will this mean another anniversary or change ours again…oh shit, this three way stuff sure is wacky.”
“Every day is an anniversary, darlin’.”
“Oh, Pete! Go dig in the garden, will ya!”
We were saved from our silliness by the whoosh of the big Buick’s arrival into port.
He got out of the car, sunglasses on, in a blue and white striped oxford cloth button down shirt and khaki pants. His bright red hair flowed over the tops of his ears. He looked like a kid from a northeast prep school instead of the Delta of Mississippi. He was blossoming before our eyes into the man he always knew he could be.
“Hi, Lovers of mine,” he boasted in front of Mrs. Robinson.
She shook her head slowly and took another swig of beer from a can.
We both got up and hugged him and began to hop up the steps when we heard, “Hey! Dammit, don’t I get a hug and a kiss?”
Steve was coming down the block from the streetcar. The three of us walked over to him and hugged and kissed him all at the same time.
Mrs. Robinson drained the can of Dixie and yelled, “I thought he was the straight one.”
“I AM, Mrs. Robinson,” Steve said.
“Yeah, right,” I said under my breath.
Steve whacked me on the back of the head.
“Hey! Cut that out, or I’ll tell her what you did for my birthday.”
“I DON’T WANT TA KNOW! Y’all are good neighbors, but ya weird. I toll ya landlord not to rent to yankees!”
“Sorry, Mrs. Robinson,” Jason said, “Dan and I will straighten ‘em out, we’re southerners.”
“Dey were straight till y’all showed up!”
Steve and I burst out laughing.
“Good goin’, Tiger, you must have had a long day.”
Jason just smiled at Mrs. Robinson till she said, “Aawww, y’all the cutest things on the block and you keep me entertained. I wouldn’t want anyone else to live next door than y’all.”
Now it was our turn to shake our heads in disbelief.
Katie came to the front door, “Am I serving dinner out here or what?”
“Nope, we’re comin’ in before we cause a riot. Bye, Mrs. Robinson,” I said as I waved to her and waved everyone else in.
“Bye, Petey,” Steve and Dan mocked as soon as the door closed.
“Go screw, Stevie and Danny,” I said in an equally obnoxious voice.
Jason and Fitz laughed.
“Play nice now, boys…and NO flinging the spaghetti I worked hard at cookin’.”
“Yes, Mom,” all four of us mocked.
Fitz was one of us. She was our best friend. She just happened to be a woman with very strong mothering instincts and it caused her to be the brunt of some of our bad jokes. She unconditionally forgave us for it too and that made us love her even more. Besides, even in our early twenties…and late teens, we still needed mothering now and again.
The days kept getting longer, hotter and steamier. The windows didn’t open again till late fall and the air conditioner ran on endless cycles, day and night. The banana trees along the side fence and around Ben and Janet’s pool made their incredible yearly climb of at least half a foot each day till they towered over the backyard and changed it into the lush shady subtropical jungle it became each summer. It wouldn’t be long till I would start to buy a couple of 25 pound bags of ice to throw in the pool on a regular basis to keep it from turning into bath water. I would spend at least a half an hour each night digging through the garden, weeding, trimming, and untangling plants that had intertwined since the day before. There were some days I just sat at the Garden’s edge enjoying the aroma and coolness that emanated effortlessly. It was incredible how little you actually had to do to have luscious vegetation that produced an amazing array of color and form. It was the one place Dan and I would talk alone each day. He would sit on the grass and hand me tools or pull trash away as we both would sweat and talk about us and the world. Sometimes it was an hour, other days it was just ten minutes if he had promised that he would cook, but we basically planned our day around this time; the same way that the three of us planned our day during our shower. Jason let us be during this time. He understood that this was our moment to be with the other. He had absolute confidence in our relationship. Jason and I had our time too; it was the fifteen minutes or so before we fell asleep, even though Dan was only inches away. Dan liked to meditate into sleep. Jason and I liked to get our feelings out and let them go. I think Dan listened to us to be reassured we were OK so he could fall asleep. No matter, this was the way things happened. None of us could ever have planned this out or it would have been forced. Nothing in this relationship could be forced or it would have failed. Dan and Jason spread their time out all over the place; there was never a set time or situation. They had conversations here and there in which the whole world was the bond between them.
Many evenings that summer were spent typing and retyping our resumes, going to get copies, typing cover letters and stuffing envelopes. Our plan was still to move to New York by year’s end. Jason made phone calls and wrote letters about transferring to schools up north. It was a hell of a long shot for the three of us to make a smooth transition into the insanity of Manhattan but we made a pact to do it knowing that compromise and sacrifice were near necessities for all of us. We also decided to use some of the savings account to fly up there, hopefully for interviews and apartment hunting, but if anything it would be an adventure for the Three Musketeers.
It was the last day of May. It felt as if my birthday had been yesterday. Jason’s was on June 3rd. Fitz asked me what we were doing to celebrate it. She couldn’t believe we hadn’t brought it up with them yet.
“Mmmmmm, well we are all going to dinner,” I said in a clipped manner.
“Pete, what’s up?”
“Fitz, I love you, so please let it go.”
“But…but…oh shit, I’ll leave you be.”
I took her by the shoulders and kissed her on the lips.
Really kissed her.
“Wow,” she stared me in the eyes.
“Will you teach that to Steve,” she said seriously.
Ten minutes later Steve came bounding down the hall from a walk to the corner store. He placed the bag onto the kitchen table. I stood up, grabbed Steve and kissed him as passionately as I had kissed Fitz. She watched with bemusement as he struggled at first and then got into it.
I let go and said, “Now, do that to Fitz on a regular basis.”
“Wha…” I walked off down the hall and into the bedroom where Dan was folding and putting away clothes. I kissed him that way too and then stripped him naked and fucked him, with the door wide open. I don’t know what had gotten into me.
Jason walked into the room as I was lying on top of Dan lightly kissing him. Closing the door, Jason noticed I was still inside of Dan.
“Gettin’ informal, huh, with the door wide open.”
“He’s an animal, Jason,” Dan said with a smile.
“I don’t know what’s got into him, but man!”
“Are you man enough for me?” Jason asked as he stripped down.
I kissed Dan one last time and stood up. I pulled Dan to the edge of the bed so his legs hung down to the floor. I stood Jason between Dan’s legs and bent him over so his face was against Dan’s chest. I was as hard as I had ever been when I entered Jason from behind. I entered him slowly then began to thrust into him as forcefully as I could. I was getting out pent-up aggression, from where I don’t know. Jason moaned loudly. I know Fitz and Steve could hear it. I outright yelled when I came, then bent over and kissed Jason as gently and as passionately as I could.
He whispered, “Yes, you are man enough for me.”
Jason turned to face Dan, “Wow, I don’t know what has got into him, but man!”
I laughed softly and said, “I hope you didn’t mind. Please, do it to me tonight. Now let’s go shower.”
As Dan got off the bed he wrapped his long arms around me.
“I love you Pete…and we’ll both fuck you like that tonight…at the same time, OK!”
My eyes widened at the thought, but I had asked for it, and I wanted it. I felt soooo much better afterward.
Three days later the five of us got dressed casually in jeans for Jason’s birthday. He wanted to go to Frankie and Johnny’s, a fried seafood place just off of Annunciation Street uptown from us. It was a big, boisterous bar and restaurant that was full of families and college kids. Steve, Dan and I tried to convince him otherwise but he wouldn’t budge, and Fitz supported him. We all shook our heads and caved into them. We got there, waited for a table, ate too much fried fish and french fries, drank too much and talked and laughed too much. We had a hell of a good time. The waitresses came over with a cake with nineteen candles and by the time we finished singing “Happy Birthday” most of the restaurant was singing along with us. Jason got up bowed and kissed all the waitresses and then us, saving the biggest kisses for Dan and me. That freaked out the family at the table next to ours.
“Let’s go back to the house and do prezzies,” Dan said all of a sudden.
“Yeah, that sounds good to me too. How about by the pool?” I added.
Fitz and Steve agreed. Jason sat there with his head bobbing like one of those dog dolls in the back window of a car.
As soon as we pulled up to the house I rang Janet’s doorbell. She answered smoking a joint.
I took a short drag then coughed uncontrollably for a minute or two, then with a red face asked hoarsely, “Can the five of us have a little private party by the pool for a couple of hours?”
“Sure, no prob, just be quiet or clear out by one, OK? I gotta get my beauty sleep!”
She bellowed a laugh. “Tell the ‘Little One’ Happy Birthday for us. He’s such a cutie!”
“Yes he is, oh, yes, he is!”
Fitz got a bottle of Merlot out of the pantry as the rest of us all changed into shorts. I got some towels because I figured on swimming and I knew the others probably would too. Dan brought the presents and Steve brought Jason. Fitz filled the glasses and I proposed a toast.
“To Jason, the love in all of our lives, when on finishing nineteen years and beginning his twentieth we wish all the happiness and good fortune he especially deserves. All our love, Jason.”
“To Jason,” they all echoed. We clinked our glasses and drank up.
“OK, prezzies! Bring ‘em on,” Jason cried.
They started with a half a dozen pairs of boxer shorts in a range of bright colors from Fitz and me. He had only one pair that he had “borrowed” from Dan and they had begun to get quite ratty. Fitz and I had quietly agreed that we would rather have him run around naked than wear them, which he occasionally did, but we decided to go for decorum. Jason loved them but insisted that Dan had to “test drive” them first before he would wear them.
Dan nodded his head and laughed, “I think I’ll rip ‘em to shreds but I’ll try, Tiger,” then he handed another gift to Jason.
Dan and I gave him a series of packages to continue the wardrobe theme. Shirts and slacks, denim shorts, and a pair of bright blue Speedo’s.
“OK, enough with the clothes already; I feel like I’m back home with Mom. I don’t see a box big enough for a chiffarobe for all of these clothes!”
Dan stood up, picked Jason up under his knees and arms and held him over the pool.
“Are you going to continue bein’ a cheeky pain in the ass? ‘Cuz I’ll dunk ya!”
“He will, trust me…of course that made me fall in love with him, so it’s not such a bad thing.”
Jason leaned up and kissed Dan on the cheek, “I’m sorry, I’ll behave.”
Dan put him down with a smile and a kiss. Steve gave him a plastic model kit of a ’72 Buick Electra 225.
“Oh, my God, I didn’t think that they’d make one of those,” I laughed.
“This is so cool,” Jason screamed in a high strained voice.
“Uh, oh, he’s reverting to being twelve,” Dan sighed.
“Steven, you’ve been cruisin’ the toy store again,” Katie chastised in a good-natured way.
“Just practicing,” Steve said.
“What for?” Katie said confused.
I handed Jason a present from me. Working at the construction company he was constantly confronted with terms, phrases and procedures that he had no idea of what they meant; he had called me at work and quizzed me at home constantly for the last few weeks. He bluffed his way as much as possible until he could get the info from me. He couldn’t stop giggling one afternoon when he got home because he got a call from a woman at Erection, Inc. I had to explain that they erected steel frames for large buildings. He still thought it was hilarious, and so did I. Therefore, I had bought a couple of construction terminology and reference books for him.
“You expect me to read these, but I’d rather discuss concrete vibrators with my honey.”
“Yes, they really do call them ‘dicks’,” I said to everyone.
They had caught the tail end of that conversation a few days ago and didn’t believe us.
Katie gave him a framed photo of the five of us on the front porch just before my graduation. I started to get weepy when I looked at us from afar.
“We really do make a handsome family,” I said.
I looked at Jason; he winked at me.
“Last present,” Dan said, “saving the best for last. This is from Pete and me. Open it.”
He took the basketball sized box and unwrapped it.
“I can’t believe you guys, that you are giving me this so soon.”
He knew the story of me giving the rings to Dan on his birthday.
“I am so happy, I love you guys so much!”
He took the top off and pulled the tissue paper aside and stopped cold.
“Hey, no swearin’,” Dan said softly with a smirk.
Jason pulled out a basketball. The four of us keeled over with laughter. Jason swore again and then threw the ball over his head into the pool.
“Thanks…for…” Dan took Jason’s arm and put it back into the box so his hand searched the bottom. Jason’s eyes lit up. He produced a green leather bound jeweler’s box. Dan and I reached over and grabbed the box with Jason’s hands still wrapped around it.
We looked at each other and said simultaneously, “Jason Christian Godcheaux will you marry us?”
“Yes,” he squeaked almost inaudibly as the tears flowed down his face. We let him open the box and Dan replaced the green ring on his finger with a platinum one. The three of us kissed simultaneously. Dan and I were crying too.
“OK, time for us,” Steve said.
The three of us turned to Steve and Katie and kissed them too. Then Steve took the basketball box into his lap.
“Hey, what’s this?” he questioned himself. He pulled a furry maroon jeweler’s box from the bottom of the big white box.
“This must be for you,” he said to Katie as he opened the box toward her.
He paused a second, sat up straight and said in a clear deep voice, “Katie Fitzmorris, will you marry me?”
For the first time since we met her she was speechless. Steve pulled the diamond ring from the box and slid it on her finger.
Katie’s jaw dropped open and then she erupted, “Yes! Oh, Steve, yes!” She lunged to kiss him and kiss him again. And again. I was afraid that they were going to roll into the pool.
Then we all looked and stared at each other without a word spoken. Our eyes and faces told all that need be said.
I then leaned over and kissed Fitz lightly on the lips, “Congratulations.”
“Same to you all.” I kissed Steve.
“Thanks, Pete.” I smiled.
Katie refilled the glasses and we toasted us all and drank up.
“Come on, pool time,” I said, picking up Jason in my arms and jumping into the pool. Dan jumped in on top of us. Katie and Steve walked slowly down the steps into the pool. After the initial splashing and thrashing by the three of us we calmed down and the five of us floated for an hour talking softly about our intertwined lives. Dan and I sat tight together on the steps with Jason floating atop our legs.
“Time for bed?” Jason asked us all. We nodded and smiled.
The next day everyone including Jason called their parents to tell them the news. Katie and Steve’s parents were ecstatic and they made plans to all get together. Dan and my parents had the joy of the expected. Actually they were quite excited. Jason’s parents told their “little faggot son” that he was going to Hell if he didn’t come home and get to church for salvation. He wished them well, told them he loved them and that he would never come home to Mississippi unless they accepted him for who he always had been and always will be. They hung up on him. All five of us were in the kitchen during this conversation. He turned to us with a pained smile, knowing he was right with himself but sad for his parents and the fact that he had to go elsewhere for the love they constantly but falsely preached. Katie put out her arms and he sat in her lap. She rocked him gently in her embrace.
“I have more love from y’all then they have ever or would have ever given me,” Jason said, his eyes cast toward the ceiling.
“I guess I’ll keep tryin’ to reach them, maybe someday, maybe not; I know in my heart that I’m right.”
Dan walked over from the stove and kissed him on the forehead, “Yes you are…This is why we love you so dearly.”
Dan offered him the spoon he had used to stir the spaghetti sauce. Jason licked the spoon with a little too much passion for Katie.
She said, “Oh…Please Jason….Dan wash that spoon off!” Dan laughed and did as Katie asked. Jason giggled and jumped off of Katie’s lap and into mine, putting his arms around my neck.
“Pete appreciates my humor.”
“And that tongue of yours,” I responded.
“Y’all are too much for TV,” Katie squealed.
“Hey, I’m too much for my parents,” Jason yelled with a broad proud smile.
The days blurred by during the hot steamy months of June and July. Work, play, Garden, pool, food, resumes, sex and laughter mixed with a few beers, some friends and just enough sleep to give us the energy to do it all over again. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
August began with our lives settled into the routine we had built but in complete flux due to our quest to move to New York City. Dan or I had yet to receive a serious response from our resumes and Jason was having difficulty transferring to another school without having to lose his year of school. We were finding the reality far more difficult than the fantasy. We were discouraged but we persevered and constantly encouraged one another. I would become redundant at my job by the middle of September when the contract expired on the project I was working on. Dan was getting tired of the world of restaurants. Jason kept getting promotions and raises. He was the assistant office manager now. They didn’t want him to go back to school at all. We sent out more resumes. We needed some luck.
During the second week of August both Dan and I received letters requesting interviews. We called to schedule them and booked a flight for the three of us. I called home to Mom and Dad to tell them that we were on our way in two days and when the flight came into Newark airport.
“Peoples Express, Flight 5813, 9:15 am…so why am I writing this down,” Dad joked.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I work in the mornings.”
“Dad, cut it out, this is important… and if you send Jamie to come pick us up I’ll get on the next flight back here.”
“OK, OK, no more jokes I’ll be there. So, who’s the interview with?”
We had a long, fun conversation. He truly cared about the three of us more than I had realized. I was glad to go home for the week.
I normally am rabid about making sure I sit in the window seat in airplanes, but when Jason told us he had never been on an airplane besides never having been to New York I was gracious and let him sit there. I thought that from the middle seat I would be able to glance out here and there. Dan and I saw only the back of his head the entire flight ringed by the halo of light from the window. I took a picture of him staring out the window.
“What do you see, Jason,” I asked him an hour into the flight.
“The tops of clouds. It’s so cool! You can actually see them grow. All that shit they talked about in science class, well, they ain’t lyin’. To see the moving map goin’ on in between the clouds - it’s fabulous. You guys know how I love maps; well, this is great! To see them for real, full size, well except without the lines and notes and things…”
“Tiger, I love you.”
“Love you too, Dan…See that river there…”
“No, but that’s OK.”
He hardly shut up the whole trip and we didn’t mind at all. The only time we actually saw Jason’s face was when they served us a “Nosh” as breakfast. Seeing Jason’s cute mug as he stared blankly at a bagel, wondering what the hell it was, was priceless.
We flew right up the Jersey Shore as we neared the City and our final approach was straight into Newark. The skyline of New York City with all of the sights floated just past the wingtip.
“OH…MY…GOD! That is fuckin’ incredible. That is where you want us to live? Right THERE!” Jason stabbed at the window with index finger.
“Well, we were hoping somewhere in Manhattan, yes, Jason,” I said calmly.
“Oh…my…God, I can’t wait. Let’s go now!”
“Jason, Pete’s family lives in New Jersey. Remember, an hour away by train. We’ll go tomorrow. Don’t you want to see Mom and Dad?” Dan said slowly, trying to calm Jason down.
“Oh, cool, Mom and Dad, yeah, wow!”
Jason got quiet as the plane neared the ground. It made a hard landing and as I looked over at him he was ashen.
“I didn’t like the landing…at all!”
“Any good landing is one you walk away from,” I joked.
“Not funny,” Jason said. He was dead serious.
We grabbed our duffels from the overhead and headed for the door. Jason kept looking for my parents. It’s a long walk up the ramp, through the outer terminal and down the incredibly long passageway to the main terminal where everyone waits.
“We walkin’ home or what?” Dan asked me.
“Some damn architect’s fault,” I responded.
I saw Dad smiling and the waving arm of Mom. I pointed over Jason’s shoulder so he could follow my finger and Jason took off in a run. He jumped to a halt in front of my Mom, tossed his bag down and picked her up in a hug. Dad walked to us and shook our hands. Mom followed and pulled us down for our kisses.
“Peter, how come you don’t ever greet me like Jason did?”
“He’s makin’ up for lost time!”
Dan smacked me on the butt.
“Don’t be cheeky,” Dan said softly.
“I’m glad you all are here. With Jamie and Jack moved out it’s getting quiet at home,” Mom said, longingly.
“Thank god those jerks won’t be a constant pain in the ass,” I said, “Do they know about Jason?”
“No,” Dad said bluntly, “I tried to have a conversation and lead into it but…like you said, they’re jerks sometimes.”
“Marge, yes, I love them, they’re my sons, but anybody can act like an ass sometimes and those two have it down to an art.”
Dan, Jason and my eyes shot back and forth between us. We understood the support but knew that it wouldn’t be easy street either.
“Do we need to go to baggage?” Dad asked.
“Nope, never doin’ that again.” My first camera vanished with my luggage when I was a teen on my first airplane trip.
“Doggies,” Jason screamed as they bounded to the car.
“Jason, never seen one before, or what?” Dad asked tongue in cheek.
“I love dogs,” Jason yelled as he disappeared into a heap of fur and tongues on the ground. Dan got out, looked around and sighed at being home again. He kissed me on the cheek. I looked at him with a smile and winked. The five of us and two bouncing dogs filed into the house; my sisters were at the kitchen table. They both jumped up to kiss Dan and hug me.
“Julia, Emily, this is Jason, the Third Musketeer. Jason, my sisters Emily and Julia.”
Jason raised his left hand and wiggled his fingers in a wave. As they caught sight of his ring the gears clicked and the lights went on. Their mouths dropped open.
“Always a surprise, isn’t he, girls?” Dad asked rhetorically.
We settled into our room. Dad left to go to his current jobsite. Dan and I were almost curious enough to tag along but we knew we would end up working. I know Jason would have been eager to see what we did last summer. My sisters disappeared to get ready for their shifts at the mall. Mom started fixing lunch for us even though it was only 11am. She can’t help it; she has to feed us. I sat on our bed; Dan and Jason sat to either side of me.
“Wow, I can’t believe this. I’m sitting in the room you grew up in Pete. Wow!”
“What’s so amazin’ about that, Jase?”
“I can feel you here. This whole house, it just tells me so much. I feel ‘family’ here.”
“You are family, Jase,” Dan injected.
“No, I mean that there is the essence of family here that I don’t get anywhere else…well, except on Upperline.”
I leaned over and kissed him. The door blew open on the noses of the dogs and they leapt up onto the bed for a round of kisses too. Mom called up for us and the dogs led the way downstairs.
“Let’s eat and then wander around town for a bit. We can show Jason the sights,” Dan said.
“OK, that will take about five minutes. Then what?”
Dan pinched my ass, “Smartass.”
Jason couldn’t believe that my great-grandfather had our house built and that my grandfather grew up in my room, and that he used to go hunting out in the back yard. We live in the middle of town, just two blocks from Main Street. Jason had lived in nine different houses by the time he moved in with us.
“Wow, no wonder I got the feeling of family.”
“Are you getting psychic on us here, Tiger?”
“I’ve always gotten these ‘feelings’ at times in my life. Like when I met you guys…actually when I saw you guys fillin’ up your car that day. I knew I would meet you. I had to meet you.”
I looked Jason squarely in the eye; “I got a feeling that our lives were about to change that day too.”
“You boys scare me when you talk like that,” Mom said.
“Just tellin’ the truth, Mom.”
“Well, keep it to yourselves,” she said seriously. Dan, Jason and I just traded glances and went back to eating our tuna sandwiches and drinking ice tea.
“Come on, let’s go,” I said ten minutes later.
“Walking tour of the birthplace of Pete is about to begin.”
There really wasn’t much to point out as we wandered around the town: my elementary school, my grandfather’s old dentist’s office and Main Street with its typical array of shops and stores.
“There’s the train station,” I said, pointing down one of the side streets, “You’ll see that wonderful sight tomorrow morning.”
Dan had his interview the next day and I had two the following day. I had wheedled another one with a company that had expressed an iota of interest. I had spent the last two nights before we left at the all night copy place reworking my portfolio.
“I’ll have to sell myself to get a job,” I told Dan. He said I could learn to be a whore if I wanted to. I smacked his ass hard over that statement. He just giggled at me.
Both of my brothers showed up for dinner that night. Jack brought his fiancée. I got the show started by explaining the situation of Jason right up front, before we all sat down to dinner.
“You’re fuckin’ nuts, Pete, fuckin’ nuts,” Jamie said in an angry voice.
“What the hell do you think you’re doin’?” Jack continued, “Do you think…”
“Hey! Stop right there,” I said, “I’m just tellin’ you what’s goin’ on. If you don’t like it, I don’t care. You have the right to know what’s goin’ on but I have the right to do with my life what I want. I know how I feel and didn’t come to this thing by accident…well, we all thought it through, very seriously. So just deal with it, OK? Look, you all know Dan and like him and you’ll like Jason too, he’s really cool.”
“You’re fuckin’ nuts, Pete!”
“OK, Jamie, I’m off the deep end. So what!”
“You can’t just go around and do this, it’s just not done.”
“Jamie, polygamy has been around for thousands of years. It wasn’t on my list of ‘To-Do’ things in my life. IT JUST HAPPENED. OK! Let it go.”
“You’re fuckin’ nuts, Pete,” he said almost inaudibly.
Jack’s fiancée turned to him, “You said to be ready for a ‘Langer Adventure.’ Wow! I didn’t know you really meant it.”
Dan and I burst out laughing. I don’t know if my brothers ever accepted our relationship but they let us be with a minimum of sarcastic comments and I was grateful.
Dan was dressed in his suit by 7am. Damn, he’s handsome, I thought to myself as he walked toward me from checking his hair in the bath. Jason was speechless, for a moment.
“You make me hard just lookin’ at you in that suit,” Jason said.
“I’m gonna get hard and embarrass myself if you don’t stop talkin’ like that,” Dan replied.
“I’ll behave until after the interview,” I said.
“Oh no, not you too,” Dan asked as he looked at my crotch and smiled, “Amazin’ Pete!”
Dad dropped us off at the station. Dan looked like the rest of the commuters but Jason and I looked like the tourists. We boarded the train and pushed the seats so that two padded benches faced one another. Jason again had his face plastered to the window, at least this time the windows are big enough for the rest of us to see out too. Dan and I sat next to each other. We held hands and talked quietly. I could tell he was nervous, and so was I. This was such an important step in what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. I kept waiting for Jason to ask, “Are we there yet?” He was way ahead of me. He had asked Dad for maps of New Jersey and Manhattan last night and had studied them intensely. After we got off in Newark we switched to the Path train, which took us under the river, into the city and up Sixth Avenue to 33rd Street. We climbed out of a hole in the ground at Herald Square. Macy’s loomed up in front of us.
“Wow,” Jason said seriously. He spun around and caught sight of the spire of the Empire State Building.
“WOW,” he exploded and walked off into the street.
I grabbed him by the hand; “Come on little boy before you step out in front of a bus.”
“Pete, sorry,” he said, a little embarrassed.
“Jason, I’m kidding. I still gawk every time I come into the city too, but ya gotta stay aware, seriously, OK?”
I put my arm around his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek.
“Let’s walk the 15 blocks up Sixth, OK? It’s a cool day by our standards.”
We donned our sunglasses and marched up the avenue. We had over an hour till the interview.
Up past Radio City and through the plaza at Rockefeller Center, I took a picture of Dan standing on the spot of the Christmas tree with his long arms out like a pine tree. We stared down on the swirled head of Prometheus and then I took a picture of Jason where it looked like he was caressing the golden boy’s butt. We wandered over to St. Patrick’s and waltzed into the sanctuary. We all felt very out of place, though awed by the majesty of the space. We strolled back to Sixth and up to the Time-Life Building where Dan had his interview.
“They said it would be an hour at the most,” Dan remarked, “I don’t believe it, but that’s what we have to go on.”
“I’m going to walk Jason up to Tiffany’s, show him Sherman’s gold balls and well, what ever else catches our fancy.”
“Balls catch both of your fancy, that’s for sure.”
“How about we meet up the street in front of the ugly green ‘Venus de Milos’. You know, so then I can look at the CBS building.”
“The black one.”
“Your getting’ good, darlin’. Who’s it by?”
“Mmmmm, the guy who did the ‘Arch’ in St. Louis. Hmmmmm….”
“Good enough, Eero Saarinen.” I gave him a kiss. I paused and gave him another one “For good luck.”
Jason hugged him and said, “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”
“Hey, you’re Tiger.”
“You need the luck of the Tiger today, Love.” Dan hugged him and kissed his forehead.
“See you later. Don’t buy too much in Tiffany’s.”
“Oooh, I’ll be Audrey and you be George Peppard,” Jason said as he walked off doing a perfect imitation of Audrey Hepburn walking down 57th Street in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
“If only he had that Givenchy dress to wear,” I said to Dan. “He continues to awe me with the depth of his soul.”
Dan slowly nodded his head as he stared at Jason walking off.
“Bye, Dan, good luck, I love you and so does Strawberry.”
“I love you both. See you soon.”
He turned and walked through the revolving door and disappeared into the darkness of the lobby. I sighed, ran my hand through my hair and then ran to catch up with the red headed wonder.
Jason put his arm around my waist as thousands of workers and tourists swirled about us. He hadn’t a care in the world. He was so happy and proud to be walking through New York City hugging a man he loved so much. His face shone with the excitement. We crossed the street and stared up at “Black Rock” together, wandered down past MOMA, rounded the corner and on to Tiffany’s. We studied each window carefully, admiring the sparkling wonders, then moved on to the next. Once we finished, we went inside to do a couple of laps around the floor to absorb all that we saw in the cases and vitrines. Most of our comments were smiles and raised eyebrows to one another with an occasional whispered “Wow.” We held hands most of the time.
The sunglasses swung down onto our noses as the door spun round and we appeared in the sunshine and glare of the sidewalk. I walked him over to the statue of Sherman. Jason looked up at the huge gold statue of the General riding a horse being led by a winged angel.
He studied it for a few moments and then stated, “Just like a Damnyankee to make the woman walk!”
I doubled over in laughter. When I regained my composure I looked at him and his smirk.
“You know you’re in love with a Damnyankee.”
“We all have our crosses to bear,” his smirk getting bigger, “and they are a nice set of gold balls on that horse.” He then burst out into laughter.
“Let’s get a Mr. Softee,” I said.
“Mr. Softee’s ain’t much fun.”
“An ice cream cone, silly,” I said as I playfully whacked his ass. I ordered two chocolate cones, one with sprinkles for Jason, and we licked our way into Central Park. I waited patiently for the rude use of his tongue on that cone, but he licked respectfully…for the first half of the cone. Once he got down to the lip of the sugar cone he began to practice his rimming techniques, accompanied with a rolling commentary. I was in stitches. I got hard. I took some pictures of him doing it. I couldn’t wait to tell Dan. By the time we finished our cones and after licking my camera of chocolate drips I looked at my watch.
“Oh shit, we’ve got to hustle. Dan’ll be waiting.”
Jason caught up to me, “I don’t think he’ll leave us.”
“Oh I know, but I want to find out what went on. This is important, don’cha think.”
“Yes, hey, slow down, your legs are longer than mine…well two out of three.”
“Cheeky bastard, mines a lot thicker though.”
“ I know, a big fat German Bratwurst. Mmmmm.”
“And I love that Cajun Boudin of yours.”
“Oh God it’s getting’ tough to walk so fast.”
“OK, OK got the message. Let’s get Dan and find someplace to fool around,” I said.
“Don’t you remember what we told you about last summer!”
“I thought you were pullin’ my leg.”
“We’ll be pullin’ a leg, that’s for sure.”
“Oh man, slow…Dan will wait. Oww.”
I turned to him as we slowed, looked down and started to laugh.
“Man, Jason.” I could see the outline of his hard cock in the fabric of his cutoff denim shorts. We giggled the five blocks to the “Cruddy Mayonnaise” building as Jason called it. Dan was walking up the other way. We turned around and each put an arm around Dan’s waist and marched toward the park.
“So,” I asked.
“So…what?” Dan came back, as a big grin slowly crossed his face.
“Tell me, tell us, come on,” I said excitedly as I walked sideways looking at that great face.
“I don’t have the job for sure, it’s a month away at the soonest. They’ll tell me the week after Labor Day, but they want me! I talked to the interviewer, the division vice president and an executive vice-president. They want me to come back tomorrow! They thought it was perfect that I needed the time to move up here and get settled. They want to work with me and will give me moving expenses!”
“So what’s the job?” Jason asked.
“Well, I’m not…exactly…sure. A lot of reading…and editing…they train me is what they said. Fuck, I don’t care at this point and the salary range is…well, the low end is $10,000 more than what the three of us make now…combined!”
“Oh shit, oh shit…that’s fantastic!” I began to shake, my knees weakened. I couldn’t believe that this whole idea might actually work out.
“Pete, Pete, earth to Pete. You OK,” Dan said in my ear as his arm supported me around my waist as I became lost in thought.
He spun me around and sat me down on the side of the “Green Venus de Milo” fountain, the north one.
“Sit for a minute, Pete.” I looked up at that towering man and leaned back to see his face.
“OH SHIT!!!” I stood straight up. Jason and Dan both doubled over in laughter and staggered around. The “back” to the bench that surrounds those ugly statues is a black wall of water, the “fountain.” My back and the ass of my pants were completely soaked.
“Oh fuckin’ shit, dammit…shut up you assholes,” I screamed as they continued to laugh.
Dan came over and hugged me as hard as he could, in his suit, soaking his sleeves.
“Calm down, we love you, but Peter…that was great, that was a classic! I can’t wait to tell Dad.”
“Oh no…Oh no you don’t! He will razz me about it forever!”
Jason came up behind me and said, “I think someone needs a release.”
Dan’s eyes lit up, “Ooooh, the Doctor has the perfect prescription! Where?”
“Into the park,” I said with a smile returning to my face. I picked at my shirt and the back of my pants as we crossed the street, muttering swear words and laughing at myself.
We entered at the end of Sixth Avenue and slowly wound our way into the park. Each of us kept on the lookout for an exciting place for a Three Musketeer’s Adventure. We came across the Mall and down the Literary Walk, a straight avenue in the winding world of the park lined with statues of great writers. Dan paid homage to them all. We passed the band shell and raced down the stairs and out to the plaza of the Bethesda Fountain. From there we went to the left and along the lake full of rowboats, crossed over the Bow Bridge and into an area called the Ramble.
The Ramble was an overgrown natural area of many tightly turning trails that roll up, down and around and was full of hidden places.
“Jason, choose a spot,” Dan said. He looked so out of place wandering through there in his suit.
“Here,” we heard Jason say. We turned around and he was gone.
“Marco,” I called out.
“Polo,” he responded as his face appeared in a space in the bushes.
Dan and I zigzagged through the bushes to a small clearing surrounded by thick underbrush.
“Perrrrfect, Doktor,” Dan proclaimed with a roll of his tongue.
He immediately hung his jacket neatly on a branch, kicked off his shoes and hung up his pants and boxers too. There was Dan dressed in a white shirt and bright red patterned tie with a hard-on sticking out between the shirttails. Jason and I were on our knees in less than a second. Fifteen minutes later we were talking quietly as we walked down the paths looking as innocent as could be. We were all quite satiated for the moment. I didn’t notice that I had a blob of cum in my hair.
“Vaselka for lunch,” I asked as we made it onto 59th Street.
“Anywhere to get away from the smell of horseshit,” Jason said wincing. “Man, what is it with all those damn carriages anyway?” he continued, “Geez, are the smells here intense, or what? From the ladies with too much perfume, the nut carts, the pretzel carts, the who-knows-what-kind-of-food cart, the smell of the steam that leaks out of the street, the bums, the sour piss and dog shit. Whoa…then add the heat of the sun…this is going to take some gettin’ used to…or the wind has got to blow all the time.”
Dan and I smiled at him. We were awed at how he immediately got the anger and resentment out of his system and made the decision to deal with what was required a necessity to live in New York…or anywhere for that matter.
“Come on, the N/R will get us there,” Dan said pointing at yellow circles above a door to a hole in the ground. We ran down the stairs in a flurry of feet only to wait at the token booth as the train pulled away. Jason looked at me with wide eyes.
“Don’t worry, there will be another one,” I said to him.
A greasy fat man behind us in line said in a gravelly cigar smelling voice, “The Never & Rarely, yeah, HA, maybe.”
We spun through the turnstiles and wandered down the platform. Jason and I pointed at and studied the subway map on the wall, or at least what we could decipher through the graffiti. Dan came up to join us and started laughing. Then Jason looked up and joined him.
“What? What?” I wanted to know, looking back and forth at them. “Come on, guys. Fine, I’ll be the butt of your jokes!”
Dan tapped the dried blob in my hair.
“What?” I felt my hair and remembered.
“Well,” I said looking at the two of them, “Lick it out!”
Dan promptly started doing that.
“Eewww, Dan, I didn’t mean it! Stop!” I tried to push him away but his strong hands were locked around my head.
“Oh, let me,” Jason pleaded.
“It’s yours, you want to? I’m almost done, though.”
The others on the platform began to move away from us. Dan finished and then took his comb out of his inside breast pocket and combed my hair as the train pulled into the station. I was completely embarrassed yet totally turned on.
Our heads appeared above ground at Broadway and 8th. I circled around to gain my bearings, finally using the sun to get us headed east. Jason loved it when Dan and I spun the black cube sculpture at Astor Place around and also the fact that we told him I sucked Dan off on the #6 subway platform directly below it.
The punks and the druggies oozed around us as we wandered down St. Mark’s Place, past the tattoo parlors, bars, junk stores and the like.
“I’m not in Mississippi anymore, that’s for sure. This is like when the carnival comes ta town. Are you guys sure this is where you want to be?”
“Somewhere between here and Tiffany’s,” I said. Jason caught my drift to the dichotomy of NYC.
We rounded the corner onto 2nd Avenue, crossed the street and into Velselka. We found a table in the back room under the plants at the window, ordered lunch, actually breakfast, then watched the sky darken. When Dan was at the register paying the bill the sky decided to dump. I asked for another refill of coffee for the three of us. A second refill and a trip to the men’s room filled the time till the rain quit and the sun shone. Retracing our steps we went back to the cube and then down to the 6 train at Astor only to reappeared at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.
We struck out for Brooklyn, picture taking all the way until we got half way across and got mugged. Jason, enraged by their audacity, kicked the knife that one of them had into the traffic below and then knocked him on his ass with three quick jabs to the face. Dan landed one punch that put the other flat on his back. They slowly got up, swore at us and then ran back to Brooklyn.
“Let’s go home,” I said quietly as the three of us hugged each other.
“Jason, where did that come from? You are the gentlest man I know...well except for this one,” Dan said as he pointed at me with his chin.
“I got beat up when I was a kid for bein’ a ‘sissy boy.’ My Dad spent more than a year teachin’ me how ta fight back, boxing, karate, wrestling, fightin’ dirty, he taught it all to me. Three, four times a week. He didn’t want me to become a ‘lil faggot.’ Well I became a ‘lil faggot’ who can kick the shit outta people if I want.”
I turned to Dan, “Remind me never to piss him off, OK?” I smiled at Jason. He had a dead serious look in the eyes.
“I would never harm a hair on your body, not for any reason, no matter how angry I ever got. I love you more than anything, Pete. I hate what I just did. I HATE what I just HAD to do! I shouldn’t have to defend my right to do as I please, but I know that the world’s fucked up, so I will do what I have to. Doesn’t mean I have ta like it.” Dan hugged Jason and I hugged them both.
“Let’s go home,” Jason said quietly; he was emotionally spent.
By the time we were rocking along the rails in New Jersey our spirits had lifted and we were laughing about the Rambles and Dan licking my head. The family was all excited about Dan’s interview and his second go round set for the next day. Mom had to know every last detail of the interview. Now Dan knew what it was like for me growing up. I was glad that Dan told Mom and Dad about me leaning back against the fountain and that we didn’t talk about getting mugged. It was good to be home. We had dinner, Dan pressed his suit and we went to bed before ten, although we didn’t get to sleep till almost midnight, especially after Dad came in to give us a talkin’-to about pulling down the shades. He had gone out to get a gallon of milk and seen Jason’s ass in the window as he came up the drive.
“Ooops. Sorry, Dad,” Jason said to him with an impish grin. Dad shook his head and left.
We were up again at daybreak. Two of us were in suits today. Jason wanted to wear one too, not minding the fact that he didn’t own one anymore.
“I don’t think Dad will have one you can fit into, Straw.”
“I know, I just feel a little left out.”
“Tiger, why would you want to wear a monkey suit anyway?”
“So I don’t feel left out, DUH!”
“OK, OK, gotcha.” Jason lightly pinched Dan’s butt.
“How do ya want to work this? Dan, you’re at nine, I’m at ten and then again at one. Jason, I don’t mean to be a mother hen but I worry about you alone in the city. There are three times as many people in New York City as there are in all of Mississippi, with ten times as many nuts. Especially after yesterday…but you more than took care of yourself. Oh god, I am being a mother hen, don’t mind me.”
“It’s cool that you care…and yes, I’m a bit scared and nervous about it too. I was just afraid of sayin’ something.”
“OK,” Dan said, “You guys drop me off at nine and head down to yours, Pete. We’ll think of a spot for Jason to meet me by eleven, wait for you and then get some lunch and then wait for you again…OK?”
“Mine’s at 5th around 19th,” I said. Jason was looking at the map of Manhattan he bought yesterday.
“How about at Union Square?” Dan and I looked at each other.
“Well, not the greatest of places. It’s a keep your wits about you kind of place, but where on the square,” I asked.
“There’s that statue of George Washington,” Dan said remembering last year’s jaunt through there. “How about it, by 11:00, Jason?”
“Good, I’ll be cool.”
We followed the same routine as the day before except no camera today; I was scared of losing it to muggers. We dropped Dan off with a kiss and a hug. Back down underground, we sat across from a boy a year or two younger than Jason. He smiled at the two of us. Jason turned and winked at me. Uh-oh, I thought. Jason hiked up the legs of his shorts a bit and spread his legs apart. I knew he wasn’t wearing any underwear. The kid’s eyes lit up. He licked his lips unconsciously and got a hard-on.
“You evil little boy,” I whispered to Jason. Now I had the same problem as the kid. I used my portfolio so that only our new friend could see my predicament. He smiled and began to get red with embarrassment.
“Oh shit, this is our stop,” I said and leapt for the door. I had to keep it from closing on Jason. The kid turned around and stared out the window as the train jerked forward. He knew he should have gotten off with us.
“Are you trying to make this a four-way relationship!”
“I was just havin’ fun,” he giggled.
“I know, I’m not chastising you, but that is exactly what our feeling was when we fooled around with you and see….” I said as I smacked him on the ass. He ran up the stairs faster, and onto the street.
“Hey, wrong way, Charlie.”
“Man, it’s easy to get twisted around down there,” he said to me.
“I think that kid feels the same way.”
“Yeah, I was just thinkin’ about that. Ya know, I woulda been yanked if you hadn’t written your phone number in my hand. I was so pumped when you did, man! So I feel a bit weirded out by just teasin’ him.”
“See, now you get it…and that’s why I wrote our number in your hand, although, it scared the shit outta me that I had once you drove away. By the way, what would we do…what would you have done with the kid if he had gotten off the train with us?”
We walked silently for almost half a block.
“I don’t know, because I couldn’t do anything without both of you here…I mean I could, but I wouldn’t. You know that’s not what we’re about.”
We walked in silence the rest of the way to my appointment, except for the giggle when I had to adjust myself once I finally softened. I knew exactly what Jason meant. I would have struggled with the problem too. That kid was damn cute.
I kissed Jason and gave him a sideways glance, an ‘I love you and behave yourself’ look.
“I will, Love,” he said, knowing.
“And kiss that big lug for me when you see him,” I said.
“I will and good luck,…Tiger.” I gave him a surprised look and smiled. He watched me get on the elevator.
I hope all of the interviews in my life can never be as ridiculous as that one was. The person whom I was supposed to meet with screwed up her own schedule and thought it was more important to interview a guy who lived down the street than me whom she had requested to fly 1200 miles. She wouldn’t even reschedule me for tomorrow or any of the next three days that I would be in New York. They made me wait for over an hour and a half before she had her assistant interview me for fifteen minutes. This girl and I do mean that literally, was a summer intern from college. I was fit to be tied. I was as cordial as I could be, but she could tell I was about to explode. She didn’t know the difference between an architect and an engineer. I kicked a dent, a significant dent, in the stainless steel panel on the inside of the elevator cab in that building. I was ashamed of what I did, but I didn’t care. I had never been treated like that before and never thought anyone could ever be so callous.
I came out of the building and onto the street like a bulldozer and ran smack into Dan. He busted his lip on my forehead.
“What the…Sorry! Dan… Dan! What, oh sorry!”
He had as crazed a look in his eyes as I must have. I began to dab the blood that began to run from his lip.
“Dan, what’s the matter? What’s wrong?”
“I…I… can’t find Jason!”
“I got to the statue at 10:35…it’s almost noon! I’ve looked everywhere. I’ve asked anybody who looked like they were in touch with reality.”
I grabbed his hand and took off for the park. I gave him my handkerchief to put on his lip. I was running as fast as I could. We skidded around the corner onto Broadway and dodged anything that got in our way. We got to the top of the park at 17th and slid to a halt to avoid a bus. Once the bus cleared I was about to take off again when I spotted him. I grabbed Dan just as he was about to run.
“What?” he yelled breathlessly. I couldn’t regain my breath fast enough and pointed across the street. There was our Jason, smiling nervously, shifting his weight back and forth, upset yet calm, talking to a man of his same build wearing a silver white mop of a wig and big round glasses.
“What, Pete, what?” I grabbed Dan’s hand, looked for traffic and crossed the street. We approached on Jason’s blind side.
“Hello,” I said, as normally as I could.
“Hello,” said Andy Warhol. Jason spun around.
“My husbands!” Jason yelled, “Oh God, I’m so glad to see you,” Jason said as he hugged us.
“What happened, Dan?” Jason picked up the handkerchief from his lip.
Jason then calmed himself and stood up straight. “Andy, I would like you to meet the men I love. Andy Warhol, Pete Langer and Dan Elliot. Dan, Pete, meet Andy Warhol.”
“Nice to meet you,” Andy said quietly, “Jason has told me so much about you two. He’s quite a remarkable young man.”
“Don’t we know it,” I understated.
“I’m…so…glad to meet you, sir,” Dan said.
“Oh, please, no ‘sir’ needed, and you are one tall drink of water, just like Jason said.”
“Well, thanks…I guess.”
“Jason, we’ve been a little worried about you.”
“My fault completely,” Andy said. “I sent someone out to find you, Dan, but…well…I guess I should have sent someone else.”
Jason looked at us with sad eyes. He could see the worry in ours.
“That is why we both came out to find you,” Jason said meekly, “Y’all were really worried, huh.”
We both nodded our head firmly. Andy looked all three of us up and down, “Will you all come by before you go back to New Orleans…please, any afternoon? I’ll tell the desk…although they’ll remember Jason. Take care, I must go. I’ll call in the troops now that everything is OK. Bye.” He ran his fingers through Jason’s hair and caressed his cheek. “Please, come by.”
“Bye,” we all said.
He disappeared into 860 Broadway.
Jason turned to us with an ear to ear grin. He hugged us together.
“I’m really sorry. I must have scared you to death.” He held onto us, his grip getting tighter.
“OK,” Dan said, stroking his head, “It’s all right. Yes, you scared the piss out of us. Tiger, we love you more than anything. I wouldn’t be able to deal with life very well if I were to lose you.”
“You, man, I couldn’t believe how upset I got. But then, then, there you are standing with Andy Warhol! Only you, darlin’, only you could do that…Anyway, how did you do that?”
“Wait!” Jason said, as he held up his hands, “More importantly, You, and you, what happened to you two? Pete?”
“Yeah, Pete,” exclaimed Dan.
“Oh my fuckin’ god, don’t get me started!” I did get started and went off all over again. I ranted and raved as we walked across the street and did a couple of laps around Union Square. My arms flew around like a gospel preacher’s at an all night revival. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of my watch.
“Oh, my god….dammit! It’s ten to one, we gotta fuckin’ fly!” I ran out into the street and hailed a cab.
“Get in!” I tossed Jason across the back seat and then jumped in.
“HEY,” he screamed.
“Thirty-forth and Park South. Come on, Dan! Sorry, Straw!” I gave him a kiss.
“OK, your turn, you got twenty blocks,” I said to Dan.
“Well, mine’s nearly not as exciting as yours…I have to show up on my birthday…I got the job,” he said in as subdued a manner as he could. Jason and I smothered him in hugs and kisses.
“Stop it, you’re getting all a mess, Pete!”
Dan took out his comb and started on my hair, then got out his handkerchief.
“If you lick on that thing and wipe my face I’ll smack you like I always wanted to do to my mom, but…. You’re a man, I can, you know.”
“You won’t.” He licked it and rubbed a smudge off my face. He straightened my tie and adjusted my collar.
“Tuck your shirt in when you get out, and check your shoes.”
“Oh, what’s the use if it’s going to be like this morning?”
“Nothing is going to be like this morning,” Jason said in no uncertain terms. I looked out of the corners of my eyes at him.
“Go get the job. Be Pete and you will get the job. Why do you think I love you so much! You’re so much more than that pretty dick of yours. Trust me!”
“Left side, left side,” I yelled at the driver.
“I got it,” Jason said as he handed the man three dollars.
We walked up to the building. I tucked in my shirt. Dan gave me the once over again for the final adjustment. Then he cupped my face in his hands and kissed me. I turned and kissed Jason. A man walked by and shook his head. I made a snotty face at him behind his back.
“Pete, attitude, the proper attitude, come on.”
“OK, Dan.” I stood up straight, put my shoulders back and down and then I smiled.
“You have two minutes to get to the 27th floor.” I nodded my head calmly.
“Meet me out here in 75 minutes.”
“Yessir,” the two of them replied.
Ninety-nine minutes later I walked out the door.
“October 7th,” Jason said to me as I strode up. I cocked my head and stared at him.
“How the fuck did you know! Wait!”
They both burst out laughing and continued to laugh. I kept pestering them. They both grabbed me and hugged me. It wasn’t until I was about to tell them that the man who shook his head at us kissing was the man who interviewed me that it all clicked into place. He had left on the elevator previous to mine to go to another appointment.
“He told you. The man I made the face at told you, didn’t he?” They both nodded like five-year-olds.
We found a little Indian restaurant to have lunch in and then went to the top of the Empire State Building. Suit jackets can hide a multitude of, well, I certainly wouldn’t call them sins!
The next two days were spent running up and down the island of Manhattan, popping out of the ground wherever our hearts, minds and desires wanted. It was the happiest time of our lives. All was new, all was an adventure, and it all was at the tips of our fingers. We stopped by twice at Andy Warhol’s Factory. He was out both times. The second time there was a cardboard tube waiting for us with a note attached. In it he had apologized profusely, told us to come by anytime in the future because at some point we would meet up again and to accept this gift. It was a print of one of his yellow and pink cow heads inscribed at the bottom, “To Jason, Dan & Pete, With Love, Andy.”
“Wow,” we said in unison.
The woman at the desk offered, “You three made an impression on him. Really. He would be here if he could, but sometimes being Andy is a lot of work.”
Jason asked for some paper and wrote a thank you note. He told him that we would be moving to the city in September and would definitely come by to see him again.
Once we were out on the street Dan asked, “Jason, we never did find out how you two met up. Would you care to share?”
He looked at the two of us, sighed, and put his mouth in gear.
“Well, after watching Pete get on the elevator, I stood there staring into the lobby. I got very scared for some reason. I had thought before, ‘No big deal’ but in reality I didn’t like being left alone…at all! I turned and walked blindly to the corner. And Andy comes walking right at me from across the street. He had another person with him, but he stared at me and smiled, then stopped. He asked me if I was OK, because I looked upset. I guess I looked a little freaked. It made me smile and I said that I was OK. Well, motor mouth me took off. I think I told our whole life story by the time we walked that long block to Broadway. He just kept saying, ‘Uh-huh’ and ‘Go on.’ When I finally took a breath he said, ‘You really love these boys, don’t you?’ I couldn’t nod my head fast enough. Then he stopped in front of his building. I thought he wanted me to scurry away, like I had taken too much of his time, but he asked me if I’d like to come up to his studio and the office where they do ‘Interview’ magazine. I almost pissed in my pants, really! Well we went up and he showed me all around and he introduced me to all these people. Everybody wanted a bit of his time to ask something or show him something, but most he just put off till later. He said, ‘I have somebody important here.’ He has this incredibly mischievous grin. In his studio there were all these paintings all over the place, in all different states of completion and stuff, and crap too. Then he said ‘If you close your mouth I’ll take your picture…if I could.’ I said sure. He took a couple and then asked if I would take my shirt off. I said OK and he took a few more, but then I could see where he might want to go with this. So I told him, ‘Pete and Dan have to be here before you ask the next question.’ He laughed out loud. The two assistants in the studio stared at him… and me. ‘Good,’ he said, ‘because I would like to ask that question…maybe of all three of you. It could be quite interesting.’ That’s when I looked at my watch and freaked. It was almost 11:30. I tried to leave, but he said that he would send somebody to get you, Dan. I also made the mistake of tellin’ him that you’d be by the statue of the president. I didn’t realize that there was a statue of Lincoln in the square too. I still feel really bad about makin’ you two so upset. So I relaxed for a second and he got me a Coke. I figured how could anybody miss a six foot four, extremely handsome man in a dark gray suit and orange tie with short brown hair, especially in Union Square! Well, when the guy came back fifteen minutes later without you I started to cry. Andy calmed me down and we headed down together to look for you. He sent the guy back to search around the Washington statue this time. We were waiting for a couple more people to show up to help look when you arrived.” Jason looked as us with the slightest of smiles. “Do you forgive me?”
Dan bopped him lightly on the head with the hard cardboard tube that contained the Warhol print.
“Forever, for anything you ever do. We love you.”
His smile broadened and he put his arms around us. We walked down to Veselka for our final lunch in the city, and then made our way home. We spent the night at Egil’s listening to music and drinking beer. Jason was enthralled by Egil’s vast collection and knowledge of music. Egil introduced him to the perfection of Ella Fitzgerald’s voice.
The next morning we left early, too early for me, to go down to the Jersey Shore where my grandparents had a house a block from the beach. We spent the day lounging on the hot white sand and swimming in the beautiful curls of the deep green surf. Both Dan and Jason were not used to the ocean serving up a constant barrage of waves. The Gulf, especially along Mississippi with its barrier islands, does not offer waves this large except during severe storms. In Waveland, where Jason’s family lives, the waves are typically less than six inches high. The real waves in Waveland come from a large pool with a wave-making machine that sits across the highway from the Gulf. As students at Tulane we used to go to Waveland at least once a year. The first time I went to Waveland I was astounded since I couldn’t understand the concept of having a wave pool. Then, after I walked a quarter of a mile from shore into the Gulf to finally reach the depth of nature’s thermometer, my crotch, with waves that were negligible ripples and of piss warm water, the wave pool made absolute sense to me.
The three of us spent most of the day body surfing, teaching Jason how was a true joy. He was an eager student who would work hard and could laugh at himself. Even when I grabbed his suit off as he caught a wave he rode it all the way to shore. He sat and got pounded by a wave or two before he slithered his way back out to me.
“Cheeky bastard,” he said as he snatched the suit out of my hand, giving me a broad smile.
“Why didn’t you stand up? I know you’re not that shy.”
“And embarrass Mom?” he laughed. He took a huge gulp of air and dove down. I felt my suit drop and lips surround me. Dan laughed, moved behind me and nonchalantly shoved his finger up my butt. The three of us got blindsided by a huge wave. We were all slammed to the bottom and tossed like rag dolls through the surf. I finally came up coughing and gasping for air. I searched wildly with my eyes for Dan and Jason. One, then the other appeared, each hacking up salt water. I heard them start to laugh. Then I noticed I was standing naked knee deep in the surf. Jason, still bent over coughing and laughing, held up my suit on the end of his finger. I covered myself with as much dignity as I could and sloshed over to him. I turned away from the crowd on the beach so that I could moon them all as I returned my suit to its proper location. Dad’s face was red from laughing so hard. Mom’s was red with embarrassment.
Spent from a day of sun and surf we enjoyed the evening eating a quiet dinner, sitting on the back porch talking and drinking beer. We were ten as one family. Mom and Dad drove us to the airport at noon the next day. All of us had a tough time saying good-bye. It was the first time I ever saw tears in my dad’s eyes.
Spent from our week of travel we enjoyed the evening eating a quiet dinner, sitting around the pool talking with Katie and Steve and drinking beer. We were five as our family.