Half an hour passed, and there was no sign of Angelo. One by one, the waiting cabs received a call and left, or perhaps they grew tired and went home to sleep. Hiding in the shadows of a portico, I warily kept scanning the empty piazza and almost bolted when a street-sweeper appeared behind a corner with an age-old broom that the city had not seen fit to update to something more modern and efficient. He barely glanced at my direction, probably judging me a drunk blond northern tourist, and disappeared into the direction of the Duomo. Every now and then I heard a car approach, but none of them was the large German sedan Angelo used for work -he could hardly present himself with a convertible army jeep at a law firm- and I promptly retreated back into the shadows, heart thumping. When forty minutes had passed a police car rumbled by, causing my legs to tremble so badly I almost stumbled as I stepped back into my hiding place, and as soon as it had vanished a BMW Roadster slowed down and stopped at the cab rank, with no one getting off. The roof of the convertible was up, hiding the driver, and as I watched the reflection of the car on a shop window I could feel the trembling of my legs get worse and worse. Then the headlights flared quickly, and I hesitantly emerged in sight, trying to see inside the car. The dark shape of the driver leaned over the passenger seat, and the door opened. It was Angelo. I jumped in.
“Did - did you see the police car?” I stuttered.
“Yes,” he answered coolly, but his expression was worried as he observed me. “Are you OK?”
I nodded. “Whose car is this?”
He switched gears. “Luca´s. I´ll explain you later.”
After an acceleration of only a hundred meters he slammed down the brakes and parked between two vans in one heart-stopping swerve, as only Italians can. He grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me into a tight bear hug, his chin resting on top of my head. For a while, neither one moved. It wasn´t the most comfortable position imaginable, with the rather ostentatious chrome and leather gear stick digging into my hip, but I wasn’t going to complain.
“You almost got yourself killed tonight,” he said accusingly, never having been too happy about my career choice.
He let go of me, after a final crushing squeeze, and I slid back to my seat as he steered the car back into the late night traffic.
“Gabriele Zaigler did.”
Angelo winced. “I met him a couple of times. He seemed like a nice guy, and I´m really sorry for him.” He glanced at me. “But, you know, I´m not that surprised.”
“What do you mean?”
“It´s an open secret that when he started his business he was backed by the mafia,” Angelo said. “Then during the recession everyone else had to cut back their production except him, and afterwards there was a Guardia di Finanza probe into money laundering.” His tone turned caustic. “Nothing came out of it, naturally.”
“I see.” And I did. Mafia collusion was a rather widely used term in Italian. “Do you think it was a coincidence that the police fingerprinted me just a month ago? And that I have worked for Gabriele?”
Angelo thought about it for a moment. “I think it´s just a coincidence. I mean, you´re very special and everything- “ he flashed me one of his wicked smiles “- and you made quite a splash when you first came to Milan, but there was hardly enough time for you to become famous before that-“
“I get the picture,” I interrupted.
“Of course, there may be a closeted mafioso who reads L´Uomo Vogue.”
He almost managed to make me smile this time, but not quite, and seeing that he´d failed Angelo reached out with one hand and grabbed me by the neck, the way I liked, and after pulling me a little closer kneaded lightly the tender spot under my ear with his thumb. A warm reassuring feeling spread into my chest. There was someone in this world who liked me.
We were in the outer circonvallazione, and I noticed the Autostrada sign. “So, where are we going?”
“You´re going to have a long holiday in
The drive would take us three or four hours. There would be plenty of time to talk. I sat back in my seat, with my muscles slowly relaxing as I soaked up the feeling of temporary safety Angelo´s presence gave me. I would ask questions later. About fifteen minutes later we were out of the city, and passed into the autostrada proper through a toll booth. I had spent the time doing my best to calm down, but I still started to shake every few minutes when the memory of Gabriele´s face crashed back into my mind.
I finally felt calm enough to try some coherent conversation. “So tell me about this holiday in
“It´s an old farm house not far from
“Carlo doesn´t know that I´ll be staying in his place?”
“It´s safer that way. And don´t worry, we´re good friends. If anything should happen, like someone else should show up, just mention my name and it´ll be OK.”
“I don´t like that ´if someone should show up´ part.”
“It won´t happen, trust me. I wouldn´t take you to a place where strangers suddenly pop up. I only told you as a precaution.” He looked at me, anxiously. “Now, calm down. Stop shaking. I promise, no one will come.”
I drew a few deep breaths. “I´m fine.”
He reached out and rubbed my neck again with his thumb, and I started feeling better.
“What am I going to do about money?” I asked after a while. “My bank card is in my apartment-“
“Don´t worry about it,” Angelo interrupted, emphatically. “I´ll take care of that part, and besides, you won´t be needing any. I´ll come down once a week with a load of groceries.” He shifted in his seat, uncomfortably. “Another reason why you don´t need any money is because you can´t leave the house. By tomorrow evening everyone in the whole country will recognize you.”
“My fifteen minutes.”
“I´m afraid it´ll last longer than that.”
The silhouette of the towering mountains ahead had turned visible against sky that was paling into a cool, crisp summer morning. Soon the road began the ascent, and the lush greenery, glistening with dew, almost spilled onto the road from the steep mountain walls. The view had a sharp-edged reality, different from the plain of the river
As we emerged from one of the tunnels, ever closer to the topmost pass we´d have to traverse, the sun had risen high enough to slip into view from between mountain peaks. Its rays were slanting across the valley, and at the bottom, far below us, a river that was meandering lazily within its course of white rocks and sand glittered like black mercury. Here and there a lonely farmhouse clung to the slopes, barely visible, deeply embedded into the lush forest. Then the road curved around a mountain, and an odd construction with a vague resemblance to the top of the
“There it is,” Angelo said, contented. “An Autogrill.”
“We´re stopping? I´m - hungry,” I realized.
“You can´t come in,” Angelo announced. “With your looks, people remember you. I´ll bring you something.”
“Well…” I hesitated. “I should use the bathroom.”
“There´s a rest area ahead, we can stop there.”
“It´s not one of those, is it?” Certain rest areas, all over the country, were famous for gay cruising.
“How would I know?” Angelo said archly, implying the presence of someone better acquinted with subject.
He parked the car as far from the building as possible without being conspicuous about it, and while he was inside the shop I tried to look as invisible as possible when passers-by stared at the fancy roadster. When Angelo returned he handed me a chicken sandwich and a soft drink.
“And now let´s take you to the toilets.”
He made it sound like a cruising expedition to the Grand Central Station, and I gave him a weak smile, but a smile nonetheless.
Some ten minutes later he slowed down the car. “There it is.”
The rest area had been built in a rare level spot which hadn´t required extensive landscaping. There was a long, narrow parking lot separated from the road by a line of trees, a small park with a few tables and benches, and the white utilities building. Angelo came to a halt with a flourish expected from a BMW Roadster, and I got off. The only other vehicle present was a semi with foreign logos plastered on the sides, and as I walked by I saw
The toilet was quite filthy, as I had expected, and I decided not to use the stalls but one of the two urinals crammed into a narrow corridor-like space. I had just started when a shadow fell into the room. Someone entering the toilet had blocked the doorway and, nervous as I was, my flow instantly dried up. I was left standing with my dick in my hand, staring at a spot on the wall in front of my eyes and trying to relax as the figure stepped next to me and unzipped his pants. I waited a few moments, but there was no sound, and my heart started beating faster. As the silence stretched uncomfortably I tried to form a picture of the man at the edge of my vision, all the while struggling to let go. He was probably a little shorter than me, but clearly heavier, with a strongly built body that was going to seed. He was wearing a white t-shirt, tight over his belly, the sleeves barely able to accommodate the burly arms, and his jeans were spectacularly ill-fitting, or so I thought, unwilling to glance at him even fleetingly. His face was a dark blur, with a thick stubble and black hair cut very short, almost military-style. A flicker of movement caught my eye, and I looked down, reflexively. The man was holding a wide-backed, veined dick in his fist, squeezing it slowly to make the long, drooping foreskin slide upwards to expose the dark red glans. My face went hot, and I focused my eyes back on the spot on the wall.
Nothing happened for a moment. There was no way I could urinate with a Czech truck driver masturbating next to me. I started tucking myself back into my underwear, a task made somewhat difficult due to the infuriating hold the steroids were having over me, and the man nudged me with his massive shoulder.
“I see you like,” he said in heavily accented Italian, and gave another squeeze to his bloated cock. “Touch it.”
“No,” I said quietly but resolutely.
However, having to palm down the bulge in my underwear, to be able to zip up my pants, rather undermined my credibility.
He took half a step back, to better show himself, and to make it more difficult to pass by him in the cramped space. His eyes were blue, and narrowed. This was no friendly come-on, but something the man seemed to expect as his due.
He was fully erect now, the sloppy excess of foreskin slipping back and forth over the swollen head with each stroke of his hand. A vein throbbing at the back of his hard-on snaked all the way down to the foreskin, puffing it up, and his breathing was getting distinctly deep and fast. I´d have to push him aside to be able to leave the urinal, and there was no telling how he´d react. I had pegged him straight, with a wife waiting back home, and being shoved by someone he considered an Italian tearoom cocksucker would not be taken lightly.
I almost said, “Jealous boyfriend in the car. Big one,” but held back the last moment.
There was still a chance he hadn´t noticed Angelo, and wouldn´t even remember me if I didn´t make a scene. I laid my hand on his shoulder, and feigning a friendly smile, shook my head ruefully.
“Big cock. But can´t now,” I said, to satisfy his ego while gently exerting pressure to move him aside.
He didn´t budge, and now both of us were clearly starting to lose patience. I considered slugging the man, as I was no weakling myself, but I knew I couldn´t match him in meanness and I´d be in the losing end if a fight broke out. Besides, to put it mildly, I had already had more than my share of violence for one day. Slowly but firmly I pushed my way past him, ignoring the thick pressure of his erection against my leg, but when he grabbed my hand and placed it on his dick I snarled at him and yanked my hand back. Suddenly furious, I refused to run to Angelo for cover and entered a cubicle, slamming the door hard behind me, uncaring if a hand or a leg was crushed in the process. Fortunately, the man had held back, impressed by my snarl, and no fisticuffs ensued. I heard him scuffle outside the stall while I forced myself to calm down, but I managed to finish my business only after he had left the building.
There was no sign of him when I came out of the toilet, walked to the car and slumped down on my seat.
“That was quick,” Angelo quipped, throwing a leer at the direction of the truck, but I could tell he was worried and seeing my expression his frown deepened. “Did you get into trouble with the trucker? I saw him follow you.”
“Let´s just go,” I answered. “I´ll tell you on the way.”
He shook his head, unbelievingly. “Can´t leave you alone for a second.” He started the car. “He´s going to remember you, no doubt about it.”
“The truck is from
“But he saw the car.”
“Luca won´t like that one bit.”
“He sure won´t,” Angelo answered, maneuvering the car back to the autostrada and towards