For the next half an hour, I stood at the window of my bedroom, lights off, enjoying the scent of the night breeze and the view of the hill country, revealed by stars and the lights of the distant town. If Ivan called the police, I would never again see a wide open space like this; it would be close, grey walls, dirty windows with iron bars covered with old chipped paint, and perhaps a patch of blue sky if I was lucky. But no one came along the road, no black cars with flashing blue lights, and after a while more mundane needs took over. I was ravenous, and prepared the last of the fresh pasta Angelo had brought a few days earlier, with pesto siciliano, and ate it upstairs with the plate set, somewhat precariously, on the window sill.
Should I be proud of myself, I wondered, having been able to defuse an emergency that by all counts should have landed me in jail? But then, I wasn´t the one paying the price: it was Ivan, alone in the big house, going through his own personal hell. And what did that make me? A self-centered opportunist, or something worse? My victim of circumstance spiel was starting to wear awfully thin.
This was going nowhere, I decided. This was not the time for existential resolutions, they weren´t something I could afford. Day-to-day crisis management would have to do, for now, and I needed to take my mind off the night´s events. On the floor, by the bed, lay two books I was reading contemporaneously, both by Italian authors, as in charge of my entertainment Angelo kept showering me with Italian productions whether it be Fellini or Rossellini movies or books by Oriana Fallaci and Pierpaolo Pasolini. After some deliberation I settled on watching once again my favorite comedy, Mario Monicelli´s Parenti serpenti, a love-and-hate story about close Italian family ties.
When I woke up the next afternoon and opened the shutters of my window, Ivan´s house had come to life. A gardener was at work in the garden, large green canvas sunshades had been set in the terrace to protect sets of rattan chairs and tables, and there were two people lounging by the swimming pool. Ivan was sitting on the edge of the pool, his feet in the water, and his girlfriend was lying in a deck chair sunbathing. I took a step back into the room, not wanting Ivan to see me watching over them after the havoc I´d brought him the previous night, but he had already noticed and stood up, turning his back. A moment later he had disappeared into the house. His girlfriend took off what no doubt was the latest in Italian sunglass design and turned her head, perhaps calling for him, but when he didn´t return she seemed to shrug, and then lay back and put her glasses on. The little soap opera was a welcome change to the excruciating monotony of my days, but when nothing more happened I gave up and went down to the kitchen for breakfast.
A few hours later, when the sun had already set, I heard the sound of a car approaching. Heart thumping, sure that the girl had figured something was wrong and extracted a confession out of Ivan, I sprung to the window. However, it was Angelo´s army jeep, with him looking as good as ever with his massive legs stretching a pair of military shorts, perfectly matched with a black t-shirt and a baseball cap, a two-day stubble, and a grin. I hadn´t been expecting him for another two days, and anxiously descended to let him in, afraid there was trouble. However, he gave me his usual bear hug, asked if everything was all right, and began hauling bags into the kitchen.
“How come you´re here so early this week?” I asked, a little suspiciously. “Is everything fine in
“Just peachy,” he answered, pulling three baguettes from a bag and setting them on the counter.
“I see… Luca is doing his battered housewife routine?”
Angelo rolled his eyes. “He´s been home from work for two days and I thought I needed a break.”
“Why has he been home?”
“He can´t sit down.”
I stared at Angelo. “What did you do this time?”
“There was a fight-“
“I figured that,” I said dryly.
“-and I whipped his ass,” he finished. “With a belt. Hard.”
“And he let you do it, I mean just like that?” Getting clobbered without a warning was one thing, but belt… that was time-consuming.
“He was tied up.”
“And he didn´t shout? The neighbors?”
“I stuffed a sports sock in his mouth,” Angelo explained, and added, “Secured with a jockstrap.”
“That sounds, well, rather organized,” I said disapprovingly. “Are you taking him to the next level?”
“There´s no need to be sarcastic.”
“I´m not sarcastic, I´m worried. It´s one thing to embrace the SM lifestyle-“
“Not sarcastic, huh?”
“-and another being delusional like him. I mean, he truly believes the women´s magazines he reads at his hair salon! He thinks that he´s getting beaten up only because he´s got such capacity for love but you´ve taken away his self-esteem-“ I paused, trying not to laugh.
“You don´t much like battered housewives, do you?” Angelo said, unable to stay serious himself.
“Not his type.” I made a face. “He´ll land you in jail to feel himself empowered. Then he finds a new boyfriend who makes him cower in the corners, just like before.”
“He´s rather good at the cowering part,” Angelo said pensively. “He gives the best head like that.”
I sighed. “I rest my case. That´s not saying that I approve of the evil things you do.”
We went on like that, half serious and half childish, while putting away the groceries and sorting out the movies he´d brought.
“And Jan? What´s he up to?”
“He´s working in
“How convenient,” I commented. “Doing what?”
“Construction, like in
“I bet he´s worked hard for those papers...”
“He has.” Angelo gave me a wink. “And now it´s time for you to earn your upkeep.”
Later, still in bed, I told him about Ivan. He listened, and nodded, but didn´t comment.
“I know I shouldn´t have used their pool, but you don´t know how hard it gets-“
“It´s OK,” he answered, his thumb caressing my cheek.
“But the longer this whole thing goes on, the bigger risk it is for you, too-” I started.
His thumb moved on my lips to shut me up. “What else can we do?”
“I could give myself up.”
“For something you didn´t do?” Angelo looked at me with a frown. “We´ve discussed this already. I don´t let my friends down, so let´s drop the subject.”
“Angelo. I can´t stay here forever.”
“I´ll find you another place.” He pulled me on my feet, and dragged me to the bathroom and the shower. “Jan knows some people who might be able to help.”
The human traffickers.
“But it takes time to organize everything.” He poured liquid soap all over me, and began spreading it all over my back with slow, sensuous strokes. “Which suits me just fine.”
I could tell it did. His thick cock, rubbing against my slippery ass, was definitely growing tumescent.
Then, out of the blue, he asked, “So when can I see this kid?”
There was a new undertone to his question. He was curious, no doubt about it, but also a little annoyed, or even jealous.
“I don´t think that´s a good idea,” I said, instantly preoccupied, knowing Angelo´s wiles in matters involving sex. “Not at all.”
“Hmm… I could lose my way, and go ask directions.”
“After he´s seen your car parked here?”
“So you think he´s been watching?” Again, the touch of resentment. I was starting to enjoy myself.
“You bet. And so far I haven´t seen him touch his girlfriend once.”
“So you´ve been watching, too?” He swirled me around, to face him.
“Just a few peeks.”
“Right.” His curtness took me by surprise, but then his soapy hands wandered at my backside, cupping my buttocks.
“Just don´t see him again,” Angelo said firmly. “Better not take any chances.”
“Look who´s talking,” I countered, and licked at his muscular neck as fingers probed between my asscheeks. “Ouch. Take it easy.”
“Yeah?” His tongue slipped into my mouth, and his finger moved in deeper. I was held in place by his big arms, unable to slip away, as he ruthlessly probed my ass until my hard-on was leaking helplessly against his thighs. Then he turned me around, my face squashed against the trasparent wall of the shower cubicle as he grabbed me by the wrists and held my arms above my head, and I felt his hard cock poke at my glutes. The blunt smooth head slipped in between the cheeks, found the opening, and gradually forced its way deeper into my ass. I shivered as the muscle gave in, stretching tight around Angelo´s thick shaft, and he groaned into my ear with raw pleasure.
A couple of hours later, when he was gone, I wondered what the media would make of him if the whole thing blew up on our faces. Carrying on with a sixteen-year-old illegal alien from
The only breaks from my weekend routine were the sightings of Ivan and the girl by the pool, or dining at the terrace in candlelight. Even from the distance, I could tell things were not quite right between them. There was no horseplay in the pool, no laughter carried over across the depression between the houses, and there was no sight of relentless teenaged holding of hands. There was public kissing, though, and somehow always facing Carlo´s house, but the couple rarely disappeared out of sight after one of these bouts despite what seemed an evident arousal packing Ivan´s blue speedos. More than once I caught her staring after him, arms slightly raised, as if puzzled or hurt by something he´d said. The kid needed a lesson in good manners, apparently. While watching them I was careful to stay in the shadows of my room, mostly because I didn´t want Ivan to know I had nothing better to do than to spy on a messed-up straight kid making out with his girlfriend.
On Monday he was alone again. The girlfriend had returned to
Evenings were already falling noticeably earlier than in June, an observation that only added to my anxieties, and now that the pool was off limits I had to go for awkward walks in the fields to avoid car headlights. The walks were demoralizing affairs with my shoes usually sloshing wet from copious night dew or from landing my feet into ditches, and I wondered if I should trust Angelo´s claims that there were few poisonous snakes in
Tuesday seemed to have a detrimental effect on Ivan´s studies. He only stayed in place for a few minutes at a time, either by the poolside or the terrace, and then disappeared into the house for about ten minutes with his books before reappearing outside. Interestingly, the books no longer covered his speedos while he lay back in the deck chair, contemplating the sky, and the way he positioned himself in the chair suggested that he believed – not inaccurately – that he was being a discreet cocktease. Furthermore, the trip from his chair to the edge of the pool took considerably longer than previously and when I awarded his efforts by appearing at the window, leaning on the sill, shirtless, his small but noticeable start while standing at the edge of the pool made it more than clear that he´d been keeping an eye on Carlo´s house. He gracefully dived into the water, stayed in quite a while, presumably to keep me hanging on the edge of my sill, and when he finally got out he couldn´t help a quick glance at my direction. Obviously, I was nowhere to be seen; I´d been playing the game far longer than him. However, when the night fell I felt as little in control as he probably did, roaming the house as I waited for the safety of darkness for my time outdoors, trying not to remember his expression of pain and awe as I slowly forced my way into his smooth tight body, and the wonder in his eyes when the pleasure finally set in. That night I had the longest walk so far, almost to the edge of the town where, like an exile or a wraith circling a gathering of people and not quite audacious or substantial enough to become part of it, I was scared away by the lights and sounds of ordinary life. I heard two sisters argue vehemently who should clean their room; dogs barking as they sensed my presence and warned their pack; televisions tuned into the same channel, sending out their canned voices slightly out of step with each other while the blue flicker faithfully increased and diminished in unison. I stood at the edge of darkness, my craving for Angelo and Ivan like a slow burn within, a vicious unrelenting need, and I wished humans could howl at the moon the way canines do to unburden themselves. I couldn´t help smiling at the thought; being caught howling would certainly give my defense some good material to work with.
Ivan´s house was all quiet and dark when I returned. There was a sudden glimpse of white light in the garden as I walked by, and after a brief flash of alarm I realized it was the reflection of the crescent new moon over the swimming pool. I calculated the approximate odds for the angles having been just right for me to see the reflection, and came to the quick conclusion that they were vanishingly small; yet it had happened. Perhaps something similar would happen with the mess I found myself in, and for a moment I felt my spirits lift – there was only one way for them to go – but it didn´t last for long. Counting on improbabilities certainly wasn´t the most practical way to handle one´s affairs. I reached Carlo´s house, and the lit upstairs window casting a warm yellow glow over the front yard and the surrounding cypresses gave me an unexpected sense of coming home. I stood outside in the dark for a while, with the moon and the night breeze, enjoying the durable, efficient esthetics of the house, and wishing it was mine.
The next day there was no sight of Ivan. A couple of books lay abandoned on the garden table next to his deck chair by the pool, their pages randomly turned by the wind, and a large towel of deep, intense blue had been thrown carelessly down on the tiles as if he´d left in a hurry. A gardener was mowing the lawns with a miniature tractor and someone wearing black was cleaning the windows, now wiping the last two ones dry. By the time I had prepared and finished my breakfast of fried eggs and thick crusty slices of Sicilian bread, with ice-cold orange juice, both the gardener and the maid were gone and the books and the towel had vanished. However, shortly after sunset a few of the rooms lit up, including Ivan´s, and through the tall, arched living room windows the blue flicker of his huge TV set grew visible as the night fell. The radical change of habits seemed odd and I naturally wondered what had prompted it, as mere tediousness of his books didn´t explain the sudden aversion to swimming and to the frequent public adjustings of his speedos. In any case, it made for a boring day for me, having to do without the minor soap opera of his faltering heterosexuality, and I was getting ready unusually early for my nightly walk when there was a knock on the door. I hadn´t heard the arrival of Angelo´s car which could only mean that whoever was behind the door was someone local, or a plainclothes policeman pretending to be one. Besides, Angelo never visited this late. My heart was suddenly racing as I walked to the living room, despite having decided long ago what to do in a situation like this.
“Who is it?” I called through the heavy door.
The answer was almost inaudible mumble, and I repeated my question, more severely. There was a pause that did nothing good for my pulse, and then one word made it through the thick wood.
My plan hadn´t contemplated opening the door, but after a moment I decided it would be the best course of action, or at least the most interesting. As soon as I unlocked the door Ivan slipped in, clearly petrified with the thought of someone seeing him. I closed the door, keeping an eye on him as I made sure the lock made its usual loud grating noise as I turned the key. He started a little with the noise, and his eyes darted around the room.
“Are- are you alone?” he asked, eyes settling on the dark doorway to the shed as if a pack of howling devils might ride out from there any moment.
“Yes. And you?”
He looked at me, wide-eyed and uncomprehending at first, and then attempted a smile. “I haven´t called the police, if that´s what you mean.”
Fighting the impulse to pick him up and carry him upstairs, better if kicking and screaming, I let some friendliness creep into my voice. “Good.”
“I´m sorry about what I said,” Ivan blurted out. “I didn´t mean it, I was… confused.”
“It´s OK,” I said after a moment of suspense, as if there had been an actual possibility of me asking him to go. Then I added, “Your weekend didn´t seem to go too well.”
His shoulders slumped, and he was about to say something but then held back and only said, “No.”
I could do the day-time TV psychologist act, smile comprehendingly and give bland supporting advice until he gently fell into my bed. How boring, though.
Instead, I said off-handedly, “Tonight, you´re not going to run away as soon as I´ve finished fucking that gorgeous ass of yours?”
He let out a little gasp, hearing it said out loud, but there was a fleeting look of relief in his eyes as well.
“Eh, well, I might,” he stuttered awkwardly. “It´s so – new to me.”
“Maybe I should tie you up first, so you can´t.”
It took him half a second to realize I was joking, probably because I wasn´t, and he cocked his head, smiling. His slightly protruding ears turned the smile impish and enormously appealing, and I gave up the games and pulled him into a tight embrace. He was shaking, and as I lead him upstairs he held tight on to my arm as if the stairs were cascades and any moment the current might tear us apart and carry him away, downstream.