St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
It was Monday six in the morning in the Sunset district when Foxie came to a
screeching stop in front of Kenny’s house, and left his signature of five feet of Goodyear
rubber. “Be out in minute, Foxie,” said Kenny from the second floor bathroom window.
Five minutes later Kenny greeted Foxie and said, “Good Morning, Foxie.”
“Good morning. You ain’t gonna say nothing about me laying rubber?” asked
“Hell no. C.J. said it wouldn’t do any good. He said you’re as crazy as a shithouse
mouse, so what the hell. Ya gotta be fucking crazy to be a cop in the Tenderloin.”
“You and I are going to do Okay. You still banging Sugar?”
“Her name is Jasmine. Fuckin’ A. I can pound that black ass all night. She’s got
a great body, the best fuck I ever had.”
“Yeah. She’s pretty good,” said Foxie.
“She’s mine now. Get your own piece of ass.”
Foxie had been banging Jasmine when Kenny was at home with his loving wife and
two year old son. Jasmine had dropped out of high school and didn’t care whose cock it
was as long as the prick paid in cash. She was sending money home to her mother,
brothers, and sisters living in Mississippi by supporting them the best way she knew.
Foxie and Kenny drove to the Tenderloin. Kenny would see Foxie hold court at the
Rainbow Room and collect the bribes for the first time. He had heard about the King of the
Loin and now he was riding shotgun with the King.
It was Monday, June 9th , and Jim arrived early to return the imported dress to Mr.
Crenshaw. It was their secret. Jim waited for six o’clock to meet Lupe at the entrance
and she greeted him with her I love you hug. “Wow, Angel, you’re getting stronger.”
“I’ve had a lot of practice. Did you return the dress?”
“Yes. Are you in the mood for a double chili cheese dog?”
“You bet, Dude.”
Lupe had gradually changed from her simple ways to accepting some of his ways.
They agreed to occasionally enjoy the good things in life. The last dance was one of those
times. She would have felt guilty spending money on an extravagance like the dress, but
no one had to know it was borrowed. She enjoyed being with Jim spending lazy days at
the Marina, or Playland, or Ocean Beach, eating bull pups, frozen bananas, and cotton
candy. She liked watching him play sports and they would go for long walks at Golden
Gate Park or along the Embarcadero. Sometimes they went to Marina Green to watch the
ships sail under the Golden Gate Bridge to all the ports of call.
They went to Doggie Diner and Jim showed her the proper technique when eating a
double chili cheese dog so that all of the good stuff stayed in the bottom of the wrapper, so
that the residual chili and cheese could be scoped up with a spoon. She had good style
her first time and liked the onion rings with a splash of chili sauce. They shared a
chocolate milkshake. When she finished her tray of onion rings she looked at Jim with sad
eyes and asked for one.
“You mean one more tray of onion rings, Angel?”
“Yes, you could,” said Jim. Lupe had a healthy appetite.
“I can make chili dogs at home sometime, Cookie.”
“Do you have the secret ingredient? There’s a secret ingredient that makes Doggie
Diner’s chili better that anyone else’s.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a secret.”
“Well how do you know that it has a secret ingredient?”
“I’ve been coming here for four years and every time the chili is perfect. Do you
“The secret ingredient?”
“That’s right, Angel.”
“What is it?”
“When we leave I’ll take you back and show you.”
“I can’t wait. What is it?”
Jim took Lupe to the back and he reached into the garbage bin and displayed the
secret ingredient. “It’s a can of Hormell chili,” said Lupe.
“That right, Angel. Now you can make chili cheese dogs at home.”
“You’re too much”
“I hope so, Angel.”
Lupe enjoyed the way Jim teased her and brought fun into each day. She finished
her tray of onion rings while they waited for the bus. He told her that she was becoming
a gringo. She corrected him and said, “Una gringa, senor.”
“Gracias, bonita. Su sonrista es muy lindo.”
“How did you learn to say I have a beautiful smile?”
Each day Lupe learned something new about Jim. He was not the average guy.
He was intelligent, funny, thoughtful, and she respected his opinions. As he became
more comfortable with her he revealed the many facets of his personality. She saw him
as a loving husband and a good father for their children.
Jim and Lupe got on the 47 Van Ness bus. She sat close to him and said, “I won’t
be working the rest of the week because I have to study for my finals. Saturday will be a
crazy day for us.”
“Yeah. My graduation is in the morning at ten at the Jack Tarr Hotel and yours is
at three o’clock in the afternoon at Mission Dolores Church. This is going to be a busy
week for both of us.”
“We get our caps and gowns tomorrow and have graduation practice on Thursday
and Friday afternoon,” said Lupe.
“I never like sitting for a picture and forcing a smile. We got our yearbooks
yesterday and most of the guys signed it.”
“I don’t like my graduation picture in the yearbook.”
“I didn’t know what to say, so I signed and said good luck. I haven’t spent that much
time with my girl friends the last year because of work and being with you.”
“When your graduation is finished all of us will go to Sabella’s on Fisherman’s Wharf
for dinner. Have you ever eaten crab ciopino, Angel?”
“It’s crab legs with other shellfish cooked in a tomato sauce. They give you a bib
and a nutcracker to crack open the crab legs.”
“That sounds like too much work, Cookie.”
“They have lazy man’s ciopino with crab meat and the shrimp removed from the
shells. The best part is dipping the French bread into the tomato sauce.”
“I’ve always wanted to eat swordfish. I’ve seen them on television. They’re a fighting
fish that dance on the water when hooked.”
“Do you think that you would like to go fishing some day, Angel?”
“Sure, but not on a boat.”
They arrived at Lupe’s apartment. “In one week all of this will over. No school.
No sports. I don’t have a summer job, said Jim.”
“Mr. Crenshaw asked me if you would be interested working at City of Paris for the
summer, the we could go to work, and come home together.”
“My Uncle Vic called last Sunday….” Jim saw the disappointed look on her face.
“….. I told him that I wouldn't be going.” Lupe smiled.
“Do you really want to go?”
“No. Once was enough. Papas might get me a summer job at United Parcel. It pays
more and …..”
Lupe interrupted, “I understand. You’d rather work with him….”
“Angel, we spent a summer in Alaska and became good friends. United Parcel is
more of a guy’s job and pays more. We’ll see what happens.”
Rosa came home from buying a few things from the corner grocery store and Jim
helped her with the bag. “Are you guys excited about graduation? It’s going to be a crazy
week with finals and two Saturday graduations to attend,” said Rosa.
“I’ll be glad when it’s over.” Jim paused. “I never thought that I’d say that.”
“You’ll be going to Santa Clara. I’m so proud of you, Cookie.”
Jim thought about what he said. The four-year grind would soon be over. The next
chapter of his life was beginning.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday would be finals and Friday would be comp
testing. After comp testing the seniors would go to the Gold Room of the Jack Tar Hotel
for graduation rehearsal. Tuesday would be Religion and Calculus, Wednesday would be
Physics and Literature, and Thursday would be English and Current Affairs, then the meat
grinder on Friday. Jim had paid Casmir for the final test sheets and comp testing and he
gave a copy to Augie and Duke. Each paid Azzoni $10 for the Physics lab final. The
exams were tedious. Jim knew the emphasis of the exams, but he still had to study for the
test. It was like running a twenty-six mile marathon. It was a matter of maintaining a pace
lap after lap, and saving energy for the final kick at the finish line.
It was Thursday, June 12. Jim, Augie, and Duke were eating lunch in the cafeteria.
“Man, I’m glad it’s over. The Calculus and Physics exams were difficult, “said Jim.
“Can you imagine what it would be like without the copies of the exams?” said
“Azzoni saved my ass in Physics,” said Duke.
“You’ve had the questions all this time,” said Augie.
I couldn’t take a chance. Casmir said it was only for me. I hope you understand,
guys,” said Jim.
“We understand. Thanks for helping us now,” said Augie.
“I never thought that I would be a Jezie some day. I am going to Santa Clara and I’ll
be sitting with some of those cherries from Jesuit Hill,” said Jim.
“I’ve heard that the Jesuits are pretty tough. You’re going to be in the library all of
the time,” said Duke.
“You’re going to Southern Cal, Duke. The southern California babes and surfing at
Malibu, you’re not going to have much time for studying,” said Augie.
“I can hardly wait for September. I use to watch the Rose Bowl on TV and now I
can go to the game and watch them kick ass on Michigan or Ohio State,” said Duke.
“You’re going to University of Washington, Augie. It rains a lot up there,” said Jim.
“Yeah. It’s going to take some time to get use to throwing a wet ball,” said Augie.
“I’m happy that you guys got a four year scholarship,” said Jim.
“What’s the status of yours, Jim? “asked Augie.
“I have a one-year ticket: tuition, books, and lab fees. If I maintain a B average,
they will renew my scholarship. When I am a sophomore I will go out for the baseball
team, and if I make the team and maintain a B average, then Santa Clara’s Bronco Bench
will supplement the Son’s of Italy scholarship. Santa Clara offers full scholarships in the
junior and senior year,” said Jim
“What’s the Bronco Bench?” asked Augie.
“It’s a group of alumni who donate money to the athletic scholarship fund,” said Jim.
“We’ll be playing against each other, Jim. Southern Cal and Santa Clara have been
baseball powers for the last ten years. They call it the battle of who’s the real SC, ” said
“I don’t understand, Duke. Santa Clara has been a university since 1851, long
before Southern Cal,” said Jim.
“Yeah, but Southern Cal is more famous. They won the Rose Bowl last year.”
“Hey, guys, we’re still Irish,” said Augie.
“Do you realize that in two days it’s over? You’re going to Washington and Duke is
going to Southern Cal,” said Jim.
“I’ll always remember May 30. That will always be a special day,” said Duke.
“That was special. We should try to stay in touch. Maybe meet somewhere and
celebrate the championship and being undefeated,” said Jim.
“That must of been righteous,” said Augie.
“Truly righteous,” said Duke.
Garcia joined the group. “What college are you going to?” asked Augie.
“I’m going to Fresno State with Gil, ” said Garcia.
“Damn. That is the fastest forty-five minutes. I think they speed up the clock during
lunch and slow it down during class,” said Duke.
The guys left the cafeteria and went to take their last final with the Mole in Room
402. It was an essay about the Cold War between Russia and the United States. The
Mole was late as usual. He peeked into the classroom, and then entered. He looked
around and smiled. “This is our last meeting. I wish all of you good luck today and in the
future. Now, let’s begin,” he said.
Augie sat at Jim’s left and Duke at his right. They wished each other good luck and
began writing their essays. Friday would be comp testing. That was like the two minute
drill in football, a sense of urgency and finality. They sat down, opened the test, and
answered fifty questions in forty-five minutes. It was a race against the clock, like wind
sprints. It would be the last time that they would have to go through the meat grinder.
Jim thought that if this was difficult, then how much harder would it be at Santa
Clara? The SC booklet said that each class required two hours of study per day. That
would be eight hours a day in the library. Classes in the morning, study until six each
night, and then drive home. Eat dinner and read some more before going to bed. There
was no class on Wednesday, so that would be a good day to spend in the library and catch
up on reading assignments. Wednesdays and weekends would be consumed with
studying. Jim hoped that Lupe would be understanding. She should because she would
be going to City College. They would spend Sundays going to church and going to the
Crystal Palace grocery shopping. Jim wanted to work with Papas at United Parcel. Tony
Pull was still god there, and they would bring brown bags with goodies. He enjoyed
Papas’ friendship. Papas had filled the void after Steinway had dropped out and Bob's
death. Papas was a special friend, like Augie, Duke, Bob, and Steinway.
Jim finished tying his blue and red striped tie, centered it, and buttoning the two
buttons on the collar of his white shirt. He opened the gray plastic bag and admired the
medium gray three button suit with a vest that he had bought at Bonds Men Store on
Kearney and Market. His father had shopped there for several years. He wore black
wingtip shoes. His graduation gown hung on a hanger in a plastic bag and his cap was in
a bag. “Are you ready?” asked Mary.
“Yeah, mom,” said Jim and strapped on his whist watch. It was 9:30 AM.
His parents and he would pick up Rosa and Lupe, then drive to the Jack Tarr Hotel.
The ceremony would be shorter than last year because there would be no mass.
One hundred and sixty seniors sat twenty in a row, eight rows deep and sat in
front of a stage with a stairway on each side. Their parents sat behind them. A podium
was in the middle of the stage and behind the podium was two rows of chairs for the
brothers. Each brother wore a sash that hung on his right shoulder and went under the left
arm representing each discipline by different colors. English was blue and red, Math was
green and blue, Science was yellow and red, Religion was green and red, and the
Humanities were purple and white. The Brothers entered and sat. Brother Justin
welcomed all and gave a short speech, then he introduced the guest speaker, the Mayor
of San Francisco, Jack Kelly. The Mayor spoke about the responsibility the seniors had to
continue the progress to improve society. He finished his speech and received minimal
applause. Boros was the class valedictorian and he was very nervous. He gave a short
speech about the new technology and quickly left the stage to return to his seat..
It was graduation time and Brother Raymond walked to the podium and in
alphabetical order called each senior. The first row stood and walked up the stairs to the
stage. Brother Justin gave each senior his diploma as Brother Raymond announced his
name, and paused while family and friends applauded their son’s accomplishment.
“James Paul Ciaffi.” Jim heard Lupe cheer and his parents applaud. He accepted the
diploma with his left hand and shook hands with Brother Justin with his right. He walked
away and placed the tassel from the right side to the left right and he looked at Lupe and
smiled. He wanted to yell from the emotion bottled up inside of him. When his row
returned to their seats, Coli shock hands with Jim and said, “We did it, man,” trying to
contain his joy.
“Hell yes. We made it,” said Jim with equal emotion.
Jim turned and looked at his dad. Joe was smiling, and waved at Jim. Jim waved
back. When they called Augie and Duke's names the seniors all cheered.
“Anthony Zamora,” said Brother Raymond. The last senior had received his
diploma. Brother Raymond gave a farewell speech to the seniors and the seniors
applauded Brother Raymond when he finished.
Then Brother Justin approached the podium and looked at the audience for a
moment. Then he said, ”I have been the president of Saint Nicholas for three years and it
has been a learning experience for me. I started out wanting to replace the legacy of
Brother James, but it was more difficult than I imagined. What I’m about to say is also
difficult, and I have given it a lot of thought.” He paused. The words seemed stuck in his
“I am announcing today that I will resign from the Christian Brothers effectively
tomorrow.” He paused. A shock wave traveled through the audience.
He looked at Brother Raymond. “I have recommended Brother Raymond as my
replacement. I have learned that when we fight the path that God has chosen for us, we
fall out of grace. I don’t believe that I have fallen, but I believe that I stumbled. It has been
very difficult for me for the past year. I have come to accept the fact that I am
homosexual.” He paused because of the audience’s reaction of shock and disdain.
“I apologize. Today is your day and I don’t mean to steal the happiness of today,
but I feel that I owed the faculty and students an apology for the last three years. For a
while it was a battle. I must commend you for the fight, especially the seniors. I chose
today because all of you are here so that I may say I’m sorry.” He paused. “I have found
my station in life now and I will be working with other men who are homosexual to attain
equality and justice. I believe all men and women regardless of sexual preference are
equal and protected in the Constitution. I wish all of the seniors good luck. I wish Brother
Raymond good luck and hope he becomes the next president of St. Nicholas.” He turned
to the Brothers who were in disbelief. “I hope you remember me in your prayers. God
bless all of you.” He walked off the stage and walked out the back door, into the alley.
There was a moment of silence, then Brother Raymond said, “Let us pray. May God
bless all of you today and Brother Justin. Remember the friendships you have developed.
Remember the lessons you have learned here. Nothing in life that is easy has any value.
It has been difficult here for a reason, to prepare you for the real world. I have said this
many times. Life is not fair. You do the best you can. The Brothers and I have pushed
you to be the best you can be. Some day you will understand why we begin with two-
hundred and forty and graduate one hundred and sixty.”
He paused. “I had no knowledge of Brother Justin’s speech. I’m sorry if it has
stolen some of the joy of accomplishment achieved today. The graduation ceremony has
ended. Go with God. Try to be the best you can be.”
Brother Raymond applauded the seniors and the faculty joined. The seniors sang
the school song for the last time and when they finished they threw their caps in the air and
cheered. The mood had changed from somber to joyous. The seniors when back to the
staging area, and returned their caps and gowns. Jim looked for Lupe. She was easy to
spot, the most beautiful lady there. He saw her and began walking to her and she saw him
and ran to him. “I love you, Cookie.” She gave him a loving hug and crushed his tie.
“Can you believe the nerve of Brother Justin? He could have waited until Monday.
Most of us don’t give a damn about him.”
“Wow, what a shock. The president of your school is homosexual.”
Jim said good-bye to the Outlaws for the last time. They had exchanged addresses
and would keep in touch. Jim and Lupe joined Rosa and his parents, who still looked
surprised. Later in the afternoon Lupe’s graduation was mild compared to Jim’s.
“Let’s go to dinner and have a drink,” said Joe.
They drove to Sabella’s. Lupe had swordfish and Jim and Joe had crab ciopino.
Mary had lobster and Rosa had baked salmon. After dinner Jim asked Joe if he didn’t
mind if Lupe and he went for a walk. They would take the bus home.
“Sure. It’s your day, son.”
“I’ll drive Rosa home. Don't be too late. I have to go to work tomorrow while you
stay in bed all summer,” said Joe.
“I wish,” said Jim.
Jim and Lupe walked from Fisherman’s Wharf to Pier Two and it took about forty
minutes. It was a comfortable night along the docks of San Francisco Bay with the gentle
night air. Jim had removed his tie. They sat on a green bench and watched people fishing
for smelt and king fish at dusk. The beacon light from Alcatraz flash by every seven
seconds and the lights from Oakland and Berkeley shimmered on the waves. A few sea
gulls begged for food. Jim held Lupe and they sat for a while. “My grandfather used to
take me here to fish and go crabbing when I was a boy,” said Jim.
“It has a great view of the Bay,” said Lupe.
An hour raced by and it was time to go home, so they walked to the bus stop and
got on the J trolley. The Ferry Building clock chimed ten times and the city was covered
with the blanket of night and slept quietly. Steam escaped from vents from underground
boilers and furnaces. Newspapers and hotdog wrappers blew in circles on the windy side
of the street. Lupe was comfortably resting against Jim. He had his arm around her as
they went home on the J trolley. The trolley turned from Market to Church and passed
Mission Dolores Park. Then along the wooden fences with clothes hanging on clothes
lines in the backyards. They got off at Liberty Street and walked to Lupe’s apartment and
up the stairs. Jim stopped at the door and kissed Lupe good night. “I love you, Cookie.”
“Me too, you too,”: said Jim.
Lupe watched Jim walk down the stairs and start walking home. When Jim arrived
he greeted his parents, then went to his bedroom. Joe had bought a shelf for Jim’s
trophies and all of his awards and memories from St. Nick’s were arranged from the
beginning to his last trophy, the baseball championship. Jim went to bed a watched his
four years at St. Nick’s pass by like a movie on the ceiling. He eventually fell asleep to
awaken to a new chapter in his life.
More next week...