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St. Nick's Outlaws

By Jim Colombo


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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo


 Chapter 46


            Six weeks had passed since Brother Justin and Bill had dinner the weekend before


Thanksgiving at Scoma’s on Fisherman’s Wharf.  The food was good, the atmosphere was


great, and it was a quiet place for conversation.  Bill was happy as a technical writer and


comfortable with his place in life.  He knew who he was and accepted the fact that he was


a man who preferred loving men.   When they were juniors at Mount La Salle Bill


understood his feelings, but Frank-- Brother Justin-- could not accept the fact that a man


called by God could be homosexual.  It was the devil tempting him, and he suppressed the


demon every day.  Brother Justin was glad to see Bill again, but feared what he might


discover about himself.  Bill had challenged him at Mount La Salle to look inside himself to


see who he really was.  Then Brother Justin had dismissed it as temptation by the devil, 


but now with Rusty, the blonde young man who helped him in the reference department at


the library, those feelings had rekindled again, and they were coming often with passion.  


Bill invited Brother Justin to visit and meet his roommates at Boulder Creek in the Santa


Cruz Mountains.  Bill had told Brother Justin that if he couldn’t talk about his feelings, he


really had a problem that prayer couldn’t cure.  Bill and his roommates would discuss their


attitudes and feelings, and acknowledge that they were homosexual men, not evil freaks. 


Brother Justin enjoyed Bill’s friendship at Mount La Salle and hoped that they could be


friends again.  He missed their intellectual conversations, the games of chess, and their


appreciation of art and classical music.  No one had filled the void of companionship he


had experienced with Bill. 


Boulder Creek is a small town nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Highway 17


links the town of Santa Cruz on the Pacific coast to Los Gatos on the other side of the


Santa Cruz mountains.  Los Gatos is on the fringe of the Santa Clara Valley, the prune


capital of California.  Santa Cruz is a fishing town seventy miles south of San  Francisco. 


Highway 9 intersects Highway 17 and winds through the mountains, and neighboring


towns like Ben Lomond, Big Basin, and Brookdale on Highway 9.  These are sleepy little


towns that fifty years ago were thriving lumber towns.  The abandoned lumber mill in Ben


Lomond and rusted train tracks in Big Basin are reminders of the past.  The redwoods are


monuments to the dawn of time and make the Santa Cruz Mountains a special place to


live.   The locals are mountain people who have escaped city life, and privacy is cherished.  


Outsiders are called “pit people” or “flatlanders.” The tall trees hide the marijuana they


grow and harvest.  The locals don’t see Bill and his friends as different, because they grow


weed like the others, and are accepted by the locals.  They keep each other’s secrets, and


look the other way at harvest time.


It was Sunday December 9th and Brother Justin exited Highway 9 and turned left on


Black Mountain Road that winds up towards the summit and crosses Bear Creek Road, 


then trails down to Scott’s Valley.  Brother Justin turned right on Pine Valley Road and two


houses down the road on the left side facing Black Mountain was a large cabin-style home


made of pine and redwood.  Bill and a large black dog greeted Brother Justin.  "The dog's


name is Buster. Let him smell you, and he’ll go away,” said Bill.  Brother Justin walked in,


and squinted when he smelled the pungent fragrance of marijuana that permeated the


rooms.  Bill introduced his roommates, “Fred Tyler and Paul Johnson, this is my old


roommate from Mount La Salle, Brother Justin.”


“You can call me Frank.  Brother Justin is my ordained name.”


Fred was six foot four with short blonde hair, blue eyes, a tan, a strong body


from weightlifting, and he was about thirty-five years old.  Paul was six feet tall, had long


brown hair kept neat in a ponytail, brown eyes, slender, in his early thirties, and very


graceful when he walked.  Paul introduced himself first, “Hello, nice to meet one of Bill’s


friends.”  Paul extended his left hand and gave Brother Justin a delicate handshake. 


“You must be thirsty from the trip.  Would you like some tea or juice?” asked Paul.


“Orange juice will be fine,” says Brother Justin


“Hi.  I’m Fred,” and he gave a strong, firm handshake.


“Hello, Fred,” said Brother Justin noticing Fred’s grip.


Fred sat down on the lazy-boy reclining chair by the stone fireplace.  Buster plopped


down between Fred and the fireplace.  Bill showed Brother Justin the cabin-style home


with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen and living room.  They had a large


backyard with a vegetable garden, and tall plants that grew in the far corner of the yard. 


Brother Justin had not seen plants that looked like large weeds with umbrella tops.  When


Brother Justin entered the kitchen Paul was waiting for him and offered a large glass of


orange juice.  “It’s fresh squeezed.  Can I get you anything else?” asked Paul.


“This is fine, thank you,” said Brother Justin. 


Bill and Brother Justin walked back into the living room and joined Fred and Buster. 


Fred began the conversation: “I work outdoors as an electrician for Pacific Gas and


Electric Company. Climbing telephone poles keeps my in good shape.  I like jogging


and prefer a vegetarian diet.  Good health is important.  We enjoy the peacefulness of


Boulder Creek.  There is less stress here and with a healthy diet we’ll have a long life.” 


Paul flopped onto the sofa, leaned against Fred, and said softly, “I was a claims


adjuster for Allstate Insurance Company for six years, but now I tend the garden and the


plants.  Life is too short for the stress and the rat race in the city.  Life is so much better


now.”  Paul’s eyes rolled around and he had a blushing smile. “  I also cook and take care


of the place.”  He pauses then said, “…and Fred.”  They smiled like newlyweds. 


The income Paul earned from selling marijuana to friends was sufficient to pay his


share of the house expenses.  Two years ago Fred and Paul exchanged vows of love for


each other in a simple ceremony at San Gregorio beach.  They wore gold rings and Paul


was Fred's significant other.  Bill commuted to Los Gatos and worked as a technical writer


for a company that made radar systems.  He enjoyed his freedom and experienced the


variety of pleasures offered to curious men who met discreetly at certain bars.  Brother


Justin felt uncomfortable with Fred and Paul while they held hands describing their


lifestyles.  Paul surprised Fred with a quick kiss on the check, then sprung from the sofa,


and glided to check the lasagna he was baking for dinner.  Fred blushed.  It caught Brother


Justin by surprise. No one knew what to say, and there was an uncomfortable silence for a




“When was the last time you had a challenging game of chess?” asked Bill. 


“It’s been quite a while,” said Brother Justin.


Brother Justin missed Bill’s companionship, their mutual interests, and the


intellectual simulation.  Fred was concerned with Brother Justin’s expression of surprise. 


“Bill said that you knew.  Why does it bother you?  Do you think we live in sin,” asked Fred.


“Ah, no, it really doesn’t.  I’m sorry,” said Brother Justin unconvincingly.   


Paul returned from the kitchen and said, “He’s just uptight.  What you need is a hit.” 


Paul filled his clay pipe with roasted marijuana, then opened a tiny glass bottle, and


watched two thick brown drops of hash-shish oil slowly fall on the marijuana.  He lit the


pipe and inhaled deeply, holding the smoke in his lungs for as long as he could, then


exhaled with relief and gasping for breath.  He sunk deep into the couch and drifted into a


limp state of euphoria.  Paul passed the clay pipe to Brother Justin.


“I think not,” said Brother Justin.


“Not even one hit?  It’s not a sin.  Try it,” offered Paul.


“No thanks,” said Brother Justin.


“I thought you would be receptive to the times.  It’s like alcohol or cigarettes, ” said Bill.


“I don’t smoke or drink…”


“Not even Christian Brothers wine?” asks Fred.


“Well…, a small glass at dinner…, but that’s different,” said Brother Justin  “I came


to visit Bill and meet his friends, not explore drugs or sex,  Fred.”


“You don’t have to be so up tight,” said Fred.


“I’m not.  Sorry.  I’m your guest,” replied Brother Justin, like a whore in church.


“You don’t have any curiosity or feelings?  You still have not experienced the


pleasures of life, Frank?  Is that the sacrifice that your faith requires of you?” asked Bill.


“Bill.  I am a Christian Brother.  I have the pleasure of faith and prayer.  It's the path


I have chosen and accept.  If I make you feel uncomfortable I am sorry.  I will leave.”


“No.  Please stay.   I invited you in the hope that we could resume what we


experienced at La Salle.  We were close.  We shared intellectual experiences, ” said Bill.


“That was my hope as well.  Could we have a game of chess, and reminisce?”


asked Brother Justin.    


Paul called Fred from the kitchen, “Fred, can you help. I need you,” and giggled. 


Fred got up and smiled at Bill and Brother Justin.  Buster got up then decided to


stay in his warm, comfortable spot and plopped down.  Fred walked into the kitchen and


Paul started to giggle again.  Then there was silence for a while.  “How about some


music?” asked Bill.   He placed the vinyl disc on the turntable and set the stylus on the


third track.  It was the aria from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.  The soft voice of a heartbroken


lady began singing her lament.  “That is one of my favorite selections of opera,” said Bill. 


He got to the chessboard and box with wooden chess pieces.  Bill extended both hands


and Brother Justin chose the right hand.  “I knew it.  You never choose the left hand.” 


Bill opened his right hand and showed the black pawn.


“The left hand is the hand of the devil,” said Brother Justin.


“ Do you really believe everything they taught you in theology?”


“I have to accept all or none of it.  Faith is total, not just an hour on Sunday.”


“Do you recognize that the Church has bias?” Bill moved pawn to king four.


“Are you saying that the Church discriminates?” Brother Justin moved knight to


queen bishop three.  Bill began his attack and Brother Justin prepared to defend.


“Look around you.  How many Black and Chicano priests or nuns do you see?  How


many have attained your position? ”


“Are you saying that I am a token, Bill?”


“No, Frank.  You are a role model.  You’re proof that it can be done.”  


“Are you saying that Blacks and Chicanos are not equal to whites?”


“Yes.  In the eyes of society today Blacks, homosexuals, Chicanos and even


women are not equal.  The Church will not accept a black Pope, a woman priest or give


communion to me.  Why is that, Frank?”


“The Church is almost two thousand years old in tradition.  It took a great deal of


dialogue to make the changes in Vatican II.”  Bill moved bishop to rook six.


“Why do you believe I live in sin?”


“God created man and woman to procreate.  Marriage is a man and a woman in a


union to raise a family.”


“So anything that deviates from Church law is wrong.  If a Catholic man and woman


wed, but use contraception that is sinful, Frank?”


“Any type of contraception violates Church doctrine, Bill.”  Brother Justin moved the


other knight to bishop three.


“Even the rhythm method?  Catholics can’t enjoy sex.”


“Sex is reproduction, it’s…..”


“You’re wrong Frank.  Do you think I choose to be who I am?”


“I think that if you know right from wrong, and chose wrong, there’s the


consequence of sin.”


“Did God create sex only for reproduction?  I believe sex is an expression of love


between two loving individuals.  I also believe that sex is pleasure that can be enjoyed


by any couple, whether they are two men, two women, or a man and a woman.”  Bill


moved his bishop to rook five.


 “There are rules given by God for us to follow and I have chosen to follow these


rules.”  Brother Justin moved his pawn to king three.


“Honestly, Frank, you never have had feelings like what I experienced at La Salle?”


“You had the experience.  I did not continue to have an orgasm as you.”


“You have never experienced intimacy with another.  How can you or your Church


dictate rules about something they have no knowledge or experience of?  How can you


help a married couple with their relationship, if you have never lay naked with another?”


“The laws of God dictate, Bill.”


“The laws of God dictate that I will go to hell when I die because sexually I was


creation different by your God.  I did not choose to be this way. My hormones and mental


characteristics are such that big tits don’t turn me on, young men with lean bodies excite


me.  It is who I am, and it's what your God made of me, Frank.”


“He is our God, Bill.”


“If he is our God, then why can’t he be my God?  Why can’t he be more


benevolent?  Why does God allow earthquakes, floods and war.  Why does….?”


   Paul entered the room and interrupted, “Wow, is that how you guys play chess?  I


thought this was a visit.  Loosen up, guys.”


“Sorry, Frank, but it bothers me that the Church that we both embraced once can be


so cold and distant.”


The aria ends, Madam Butterfly has taken her life, and the game of chess continues


in silence.  Seven moves latter Bill has Brother Justin in checkmate. 


"You weren't concentrating on the game, Frank."


“Can we go for a walk Bill?”




The two men started walking down the road towards the creek with Buster, who


noticed a squirrel and started to chase it, but gave up when the squirrel ran up the tree. 


“Bill, you are the only one I can talk to about my feelings.”  Brother Justin now spoke as


Frank.  “I have those feelings again that we spoke of at La Salle.  Recently I saw a young


man at the library, and he has haunted me since.  I occasionally dream of being with him. I


never think of women or notice them. Occasionally a man with a good physique catches


my eye and I dismiss it as admiring art, but since meeting Rusty, I look at young men with




“When you dream about Rusty, what happens?”


“We touch, then undress, and I begin to fondle him.  He is passive and allows me to


explore his body.  I become erect and wake up and I am scared that I have fallen into sin.  


I feel dirty. I fast and pray to atone for my sins.  I go to retreats and escape into prayer.”


“Are these dreams coming often and you find that you are not in control of your




“Yes, Bill.  I’m out of control.”


 “What are you going to do, Frank?”


“I don’t want to leave the Christian Brothers or my faith.  I have to deal with it, and


control  it.  I have to admit that I am like you, and sign up for help.  The Church


understands that some of us are just men and they have programs for those who drink, or


like me, have a sexual problem.”


“Frank, you do not have a problem.  Millions of men and women do not have a


problem.  Society has the problem.  Your Church has the problem, not you.”


“I didn’t want to admit that I’m a homosexual, but I can no longer fight it.  I am


obsessed with Rusty.  Visions of him naked enter my mind as I pray and I can’t


concentrate on prayer as I did once.”


“Frank, when you get these feelings, call me and we will talk.”


“Thanks for the offer, but it is too late for me to change my ways or faith.  I will have


to leave St. Nick’s and go somewhere and sequester myself in a retreat.  They have


homes for brothers like me in the Imperial Valley near Death Valley, far from temptation.”


“Can you leave the Christian Brothers and continue with your life?”


“Not very well, Bill.  The Christian Brothers is my life.”


“The essence of Madam Butterfly is a misunderstanding that becomes tragic.  Don’t


fall to tragedy like Madam Butterfly.  Don’t be so devout. You will only find hurt.  Life is too


short to recklessly squander.  There is no life without love, Frank.”


“I need to pray, Bill.  I need to find inner peace.”


“I hope you find the young man I once knew, Frank.”


“So do I.  So do I.”


It was dusk and the nocturnal animals began to awake.  Buster drank from the


creek and followed the two men back to the cabin.  They entered and Paul greeted them,


“Well, come now. Dinner is ready and I am starving.”  Fred laughed and said,  “He’s


always starving and so damn skinny.”


Paul giggled.


“Thank you for your hospitality,” said Frank.


“You’re welcome anytime,” said Bill.  Fred and Paul smiled.  Paul stood and took


Fred’s plate.  He placed two slices of baked lasagna with goat cheese and tomato sauce,


then a large spoonful of a salad made with chopped eggplant, tomatoes, and onions,


marinated in olive oil and spices, and an ear of corn.  Paul proceeded to serve Bill, Frank,


and then himself.  The others waited for Paul, who raised a glass of rose' wine and said, 


"Bon appetite.”


Dinner conversation consisted of the death of President Kennedy, the new Black


leader Martin Luther King, and the American involvement in Indo-China.  Frank seemed


more comfortable with Bill, Fred, and Paul, and no longer noticed the sent of marijuana.


Frank realized that soon he would leave the tranquility of Boulder Creek and become


Brother Justin again.  At the end of dinner Frank sat alone for an hour on the kitchen


steps facing the yard.  Fred and Bill continued to enjoy the bottle of wine, while Paul


washed the dishes.  Frank entered the kitchen and complimented Paul again for a great





Brother Justin again.  At the end of dinner Frank sat alone for an hour on the kitchen


steps facing the yard.  Fred and Bill continued to enjoy the bottle of wine, while Paul


washed the dishes.  Frank entered the kitchen and complimented Paul again for a great




“I must leave now.  It’s about two hours back to St. Nick’s.  I enjoyed meeting you


and thank you for dinner.”


“Please come again, Frank, and stay longer, maybe the weekend,” said Paul.


“Sure, Frank. You have time between semesters,” said Bill.


“Yes, I do.  Well, thank you,” said Frank.


Frank left and pet Buster on the back and Buster wagged his tail in appreciation. 


The three men waved as Brother Justin’s car turned onto Bear Creek Road.   He drove


the winding mountain roads to Los Gatos, exited to Highway 17, then to Highway 101, and


home to San Francisco.  Frank realized that it was difficult being Brother Justin all of the


time.  Brother Justin was a noble attempt to hide the true identity of Frank Ortiz,  a


homosexual man who was a Christian Brother.  Frank Ortiz will have to choose one life


style.  The demons were the conflicts between Frank Ortiz and Brother Justin, between the


flesh and the soul, between what he thought he was as a man and what he believed he


was as a Christian Brother.  Brother Justin turned onto Ellis Street and into the garage at


St. Nick’s.  It was night and the city slept in a blanket of fog.  



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