Photos from the crime scene were leaked to the press the next morning. All the networks judged them too gruesome to be shown on air, even heavily pixeled, but they were widely commented and apparently a weekly tabloid magazine was speed-printing a special edition with them. The comments were cautious as most of the details couldn´t even be mentioned on television, let alone shown, but obviously the photos were all over the internet and the networks didn´t hesitate to show the shocked expressions of people accessing the pages. There was no talk of other suspects; at least publicly, the police was focusing their efforts entirely on making a tight case against me, and the military branch of law enforcement, the carabinieri, had been called to set up checkpoints at various crucial spots of the transport system. I wondered if the Czech truck driver had already left the country, and if not, would he report to the police someone he´d tried to fuck in a lavatory. Due to luck and Angelo´s cautiousness, the couple on the beach had never been close enough to be able to identify me.
At eleven in the morning, after the sleepless night, I mercifully began feeling drowsy and almost fell asleep in front of the television. I went upstairs, had a hot shower to make sure I was as relaxed and sluggish as possible, and lay down on the bed. I´d closed the shutters, leaving the windows open, and gusts of the temperate morning wind carried soft, muted sounds of the countryside into the room. There were the crickets, and some birds; every now and then, a dog barked in the distance; and occasionally a car or the low rumble of a tractor could be heard. Bees hummed outside the shutters, as if curious of the shadows beyond the slats. With little creaks and snaps the house settled into the sundrenched day, and for the first time after the out call I felt something akin to calm. For a few hours at least I´d be asleep, unaware of what was happening in the outside world.
This time it wasn´t a nightmare that woke me up, but thunder. The room was dim, due to the storm, and faint tapping noises came from the shutters like fingers trying to pry their way in. Rain was falling. Another crack of thunder rolled over the countryside, this one closer, reminding me that the house was near the top of a hill, surrounded by trees, and thus an excellent target for a lightning strike. Perhaps it would be better to move downstairs. The corridor and the stairs had only those small deep-set windows, leaving the way downstairs in the dark, and I clicked the old-fashioned switch. Nothing happened. The storm had taken out the lights. The television wouldn´t work. I was partly aggravated, partly relieved as I entered the kitchen for my late breakfast which I now would eat without the company of gloating newscasters. Back home, the media would be all over the story by now, digging up each and every even halfway newsworthy item from my past. Thinking back, I decided there weren´t all that many, but the Houston trailer park would certainly be one of the highlights if someone found the right angle and interviewed my old neighbors.
The small window let in just enough light to allow me to prepare a cold sandwich, in a colorless gloom that was occasionally spiked by a lightning. The thunderstorm remained at safe distance, however, and I felt rather calm until a loud snap from the next room made me spring to my feet. I backed away from the door, heart thumping. Someone must have gotten into the odd, small living room of the ground floor through the shed. I stood still, my spine and hands tingling, listening. A minute passed, then two. Only the tap of the raindrops on the window could be heard, and the faint rustling of the rose bushes as wind buffeted them against the wall. The evening was turning into night, and light was fading. In a matter of minutes I could hardly see my way to the door. I couldn´t just stand and wait.
I picked up a knife from the table. The mere thought of using it made me nauseous, but the amount of adrenaline coursing in my veins would get me through if I had to defend myself. Very slowly, listening carefully for more noises, I stepped to the kitchen door, closer to the darkness and the night terrors, some of them no longer irrational. I could see nothing, and realized I was framed by the doorway of the slightly brighter kitchen. I lost my nerve. Suddenly I was running up the stairs, panicky, and upon reaching the second floor I slammed my hand on the light switch as I ran by. Instantly, unflickering, the lights came on. I spun around, to face whatever was chasing me, the knife ready, but rather unsurprisingly – now with the lights on – there was nothing and no one. For a few heartbeats I stood still, gathering my wits, then returned to the ground floor, somewhat wobbly on my feet. The kitchen and the living room were still in the dark, but this time it had little effect on me. I flicked on the rest of the lights, and saw that the room with the fireplace was empty. The alarming snap had come from the main fuse box, next to the door, when the electricity had come back on. Half disgusted, half amused with myself, and not yet fully recovered, I stared at the battered grey box. Running away in panic seemed to have become my new modus operandi.
Now the television would be working, too. Leaving all the lights on I went back to the kitchen, turned on the cranky old thing, and sat down to finish my sandwich while waiting for the tube to warm up. Most of the channels had returned to normal programming, limiting the coverage to newscasts, but RaiUno happened to be running its daily tabloid show, obviously focused on the case. A breathless female presenter was moderating discussion with a psychologist and a district prosecutor.
“… always a surprise to neighbors and co-workers,” she was saying. “Is there really no way to distinguish the monsters among us?”
A slideshow of new pictures was running in the background, from my one and only photo shoot in
“Of course, his childhood experiences have been a major influence,” the psychologist was saying, crossing his legs. “Being repeatedly placed in temporary foster homes and institutions can´t but leave a mark on a young person.”
“Yet most of them don´t turn into brutal killers,” the prosecutor doggedly repeated, following his script.
They went at it for a while, partly serious and partly for showmanship. I watched them dissect what they had learned of my childhood, getting a few basic facts right but with no connection to the reality I knew.
Yes, it had been a chequered childhood; yet I couldn´t recall any specific traumas that might have led me into a life of squalor, or homicidal frenzy. Of course, there was the last foster home, Carlton´s, but by the time I´d already been a teenager and more or less aware of what was happening. More pictures came on, but surely none satisfying to the photo editors as I was mostly wearing a smile suggestive of other things than violence, or at least not me as the perpetrator. Promptly, the presenter asked the psychologist to analyze the photos.
Well aware of the exicengies of showbusiness, and the danger of going against the producer´s rendering of facts lest he not be re-invited, the psychologist remained stumped for a moment before recovering.
“At first sight, this person doesn´t seem to fit the profile of a dangerously aggressive person,” he started, stating the obvious. “He´s been portrayed as an object, a focus, instead of an active participant, and even in the fetish series there is an attitude of rather complying to the needs of others than to his own. Never does he convey a sense of power, or self-determination. Logically, this type of dehumanization is taken to its extreme form in the act of paid sex, and an unusual and degrading request by the client, especially if brusquely repeated, may have caused a sudden violent retaliation.”
“Unusual and degrading request?” the presenter asked, innocently.
The psychologist deftly sidestepped the question. “It´s also known that a certain type of client likes to call the prostitute with debasing names during the act.”
“Oh,” the presenter said, appearing genuinely shocked. “And this sudden retaliation can take the form of the atrocities Gabriele Zaigler was subjected to?”
Again, the psychologist hesitated. ”It´s quite possible, although I would presume that´s not the case here, given the … set-up, and type and degree of anger exhibited.”
“The set-up does seem quite elaborate,” the presenter noted.
A new person appeared in the screens behind them. Mrs. Renshaw, the trailer park manager, speaking in Italian. I couldn´t believe the channel had gone through the trouble of dubbing her.
“Un bravo ragazzo, a well-behaved kid,” she said, filling the screen and touching the ample front of her green viscose jacket. “Ma non molto simpatico. Always made it clear he was too good for us hard-working decent people living here. Goes to show you, doesn´t it.”
She didn´t mention Helman´s with their mullets and bibles, or the Ponzi´s whose children sported new, mysterious bruises every week, or how she´d closed her eyes to the fact that a sixteen-year-old had been living there on his own.
“And those friends,” she said disapprovingly. “They were both much older than him, over thirty, them big weightlifters or something, visiting a high-school kid.” She shook her head in dramatic regret. “If I´d known then what I know now, I would have put a stop to it. Yes Ma´m.”
“Did you know their names?” the invisible reporter asked.
“No Ma´m,” Mrs Renshaw added disdainfully. “Kept to themselves, those two, and for a good reason too.”
Scott and Jake. I´d met them at the YMCA where I´d started working out after moving away from Carlton´s. One day, leaving the gym, I found that my bike had a flat tyre and I was still standing in front of the building, trying to decide what to do, when two huge bodybuilders I´d seen a few times but never talked to stopped on their way to the parking lot. They were both wearing shorts and tank tops, and I tried not to stare at their arms.
The blond jarhead I´d nicknamed Bouncer glanced at the tyre, then ran his eyes over me.
“Need a ride, kid?” he asked.
I barely had time to nod before he lifted up the bike and carried it over to the back of his pick-up truck, setting it down none too gently. His friend looked after Bouncer, amused.
“Let´s go, blondie,” he said to me. “I´m Jake. He´s Scott.”
I climbed into the truck, and found myself squeezed between the two of them. They asked me where I lived and when I told them Scott took a quick sideways look at me.
“The trailer park?” he asked.
“I live on my own,” I defended myself.
“You?” Jake said. “How old are you?”
I could hardly explain him the situation with Carlton´s, and decided to add a couple of years. Scott looked at me skeptically.
There was something in his voice that suddenly made the pit of my stomach tingle as if I were in a descending speed elevator, and also made me very conscious of how much bigger than me they both were. Jake´s massive thigh graced my knee, making my heart skip a few beats every now and then while I was being told that Scott was divorced, paid alimony for a kid and his high school sweetheart ex-wife in Florida, and Jake, who was Cuban as I´d suspected, had been living together with a girlfriend for two years. They weren´t too impressed by the trailer park, but as Scott stopped the car in front of my trailer they invited themselves in, “to make sure I had everything I needed”.
That turned out to be weed. The men sat down on the worn couch – the only furniture in the living room in addition to the TV - which almost collapsed under their combined weight, and pulled out a joint from Scott´s Marlboro pack. I´d only smoked a couple of times before, to look cool in front of some friends, and I really didn´t much like the effect as pot only seemed to make me sleepy after the quick initial light-headedness. Scott and Jake saw me hesitate, and made a face.
“What are you waiting, come here,” Scott ordered, waving the joint and moving his leg to make the minimum room required for me to cram myself in between them.
I was getting really nervous, and worried that they´d notice the way my crotch was starting to bulge.
“Do you want something to drink?” I asked, turning towards the kitchen area.
“What have you got?” Jake said.
“Figures,” Scott said, shaking his head. “We´ll see about that later.”
Feeling desperately awkward I finally sat down on the couch between them while Jake lighted the joint and took the first toke. Their huge bodies felt hard and warm against mine.
“So what do you say, buddy?” Scott asked Jake over my head. “Let´s get the little cocksucker started?”
He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back on the couch before I could get up.
“You really thought we didn´t notice, the way you´ve been staring at us?” Scott snorted, cupping my chin with his big hand to push my head back against the couch.
Suddenly Jake´s mouth was on mine, and his fingers clamped my nose shut. I couldn´t open my mouth wide enough to breathe, with his thick soft lips sealed around mine, and the image of a lion smothering its prey flittered in my mind as I tried to squirm free, my arms and legs seemingly blocked from every direction by bulging hard muscle. I tried to hold back but soon I had to give in, and with a long forceful breath Jake filled my lungs with the smoke. We exchanged the smoke a few times before he let me go, and passed the joint to Scott who repeated the procedure.
I was already feeling weird, after only two tokes, and when they continued I realized what they were doing. I was being forced to smoke twice the amount they did, in addition to being half their size, and when I rebelled and tried to free myself they easily held me down and continued forcing the smoke into my lungs. Very soon I was lying back in their arms, grinning slowly at the ceiling, happy to have made new friends. My eyelids weighed a ton, and the light was too bright, so I closed my eyes and while their hands stripped off my clothes, piece by piece, studying every detail they found underneath, I felt myself grow totally hard.
A few more tokes, and I was lifted in the air and carried to the bedroom.
“Oh man,” I mumbled as they lay me on the bed, face down.
My legs were spread wide open. Someone said something but I didn´t understand the words, and I heard one of them leave the room for a moment as hands pulled my asscheeks wide open and a slippery warm tongue slithered into the crack. I moaned into the mattress as the slithering muscle invaded my hole, squirming deeper into the tight chute, but all too soon the other man was back and interrupted the rim job. Something cool and oily was poured into my asscrack and rubbed into the hole.
“Now be quiet, kid,” Scott said somewhere above me, and I felt a blunt thick knob pushing against my asshole.
He increased the pressure and apparently I wasn´t quiet enough as a big hand closed over my mouth. There was burning pain as I felt his hard-on stretch my hole wide open, and then the breathtaking sensation of a huge dick sliding all the way in. I closed my eyes and there were colors dancing on the insides of my eyelids, making me feel dizzy, and then the pain went away and a wave after wave of odd, cram-full pleasure started throbbing through my body as Scott settled into the fuck. The hand covering my mouth was removed, but came back right away. Evidently I was still making noises the neighbors might hear.
Then Scott´s weight came down on me and the massive arms closed tightly around my chest, almost crushing me, as his deep, powerful thrusts picked up speed. He groaned loudly and drove his cock to the hilt, pushing his heavy balls against mine, and began shooting his load. I was gasping for breath under his weight, my face turning swollen and blue before he was done, and when he got off me Jake took his place, holding me down by the arms and kicking my legs wide apart. His thick shaft slid almost effortlessly into the dripping, stretched hole, and I heard myself let out a breathless moan.
Jake was a talker, and muttered obscenities into my ear while he pounded my ass. I had hard time focusing on what he was saying but the effect was undeniable. I felt myself being pulled closer and closer to orgasm, and when Jake climbed higher on top of me and his cock began rubbing against my prostate with every long hard thrust, I couldn´t stop myself. He felt my asshole tighten and contract around his hard-on as I started squirting my load, and grabbing me by the shoulders, pushing my face against the mattress, he followed suit.
We were still lying on the bed, breathless, when Scott came back.
“Kid you ain´t got nothing in the fridge,” he complained. “I´ll go and get us some burgers.”
Twenty minutes later he was back, with a huge sack of burgers and fries and shakes and whatnot, and not a moment too soon as Jake and I had already finished what little there had been in the fridge, including a pint of out-of-date yoghurt. After we´d finished eating every last fry Scott and Jake smoked some more, but this time I wasn´t given any.
“If you´re too stoned you can´t suck cock, not the way we like it,” was Scott´s reckoning.
I was hooked on them from the start. A month later, when Jake and his girlfriend got into a real bad, prolonged fight, he told me that the only reason he stayed with her was to make sure people wouldn´t get any ideas if they learned about him and Scott visiting me. He had a good reason to be worried as my neighbors were starting to give them dirty looks, even though the men always took care that I stayed silent no matter what they did to me in the trailer. They´d been coming over for six months, at least twice a week, when they decided I´d grown tall enough, and started shooting me up with steroids. I never gained another inch but it seemed I ballooned twenty pounds of muscle overnight, and the injections made my senior year a hell of totally uncotrollable erections, a fact skillfully exploited by the two in the evenings they came over. I used to covertly stare at my schoolmates, in class, busy doing their calculus, and wonder if they also had an illicit second life behind their bright-eyed chastity pledges and Sunday schools. Well, I never found out; I made few friends at school, wasn´t much interested in video games the others were obsessing about, and I could hardly tell them how I spent my evenings instead.
The people in the Roman studio were frowning over Mrs. Renshaw´s comments.
“There seems to be a constant pattern of sexual exploitation in this person´s life,” the psychologist said gravely. “It doesn´t surprise me, at all.”
I felt like laughing out loud as I remembered the things I´d done with Scott and Jake. A passive victim, indeed. Then the prosecutor re-entered the conversation for the last few minutes of the program, with little to add. On top of the hour I checked out the other channels, but the late news weren´t on yet and I decided I needed the long-awaited walk to calm my nerves. I went upstairs and put on my cammies and the t-shirt, hoping that I had some way to communicate with Angelo to remind him to bring me more clothes the next time he drove down from
Outside the rain had stopped, and the air felt pleasantly cool. The last light of the day was gone. I locked the door carefully, stood still for a moment in front of the house, just breathing the fresh, humid night air, and then walked down the driveway to the narrow country road. I was so full of pent up energy and frustration that I broke into run, enjoying the cool wind on my face, and the strain on my leg muscles. The road wound around the hill of my house, and gradually the valley beyond came into view, showing another small town hugging the side of a gently sloping mountain at some distance. Wary of the lights ahead, I didn´t dare to go very far from the house, and then I noticed the headlights of a car moving towards me. I quickly turned around, looking for a copse of trees where I could dash into, saw none, and wished I had at least a cap to cover my blond hair. When the car drove by I casually looked sideways to make it more difficult for them to see my face. Perhaps the walk hadn´t been such a good idea after all; country folk could be very curious about people moving into their neighborhood, and stopping the car to say hello probably wouldn´t have been considered out of line.
For a moment, the headlights lit up a house on top of the nearest hill, a sumptuous villa that had never been a mere farmhouse and which I had carefully studied from my window. It had a beautifully tended garden complete with several carefully positioned, tall classical statues, a fountain and a large swimming pool, and a separate house for employees. The main building had two storeys, with a wide terrace complete with glossy hardwood furniture, and one wing held a green dome reminiscent of an old church. The swimming pool lights weren´t on, however, and neither were any lights in the buildings. The proprietors clearly belonged to the same class of people as Gabriele´s neighbors, leaving all the houses most worth living in for the impersonal care of hired help.
The residence wasn´t surrounded by a wall, and there was no sign of a security system. Whoever owned the place clearly didn´t keep his art collection there. I jumped over a ditch and crossed a field, getting the legs of my cammies all wet, and slowly made my way into the garden. No alarms sounded, a pack of dobermanns didn´t pound on me, and not even an old crickety janitor appeared to threaten me with a broomstick. Keeping an eye on the black windows, I stripped off and descended into the pleasantly tepid, dark water of the swimming pool. After a few laps, as I turned to float on my back, I saw that the cloud cover was breaking and a ghostly moon appeared intermittently, as though signaling me some hidden message, or a warning. I laughed at myself, exhilarated by the exercise. As if any further warning was necessary, given the situation. But I was alive, and it was summer in