I had no time to make a decision. Instincts took over, and I tore after him, gaining fast on the panicked kid. The house was too close, though, and I saw that he would make it in time. I picked up speed and veered off the path, onto the lawn, where my bare feet found better purchase, and then the kid was already at the door, pulling it open, but his momentum was too high and he didn´t get the door open quickly enough. Trying to slip through, he hit the edge of the half-open door with his shoulder instead and was thrown sideways, crashing into the frame, and then I was upon him. I wrapped my arms around him from behind and picked him up, letting my own speed and weight push us through the door and into the unilluminated house before he had time to cry for help. The door slammed close behind us.
“Hel-“ he started, but I tightened my hold, squeezing air out of his lungs, and the cry turned into a toneless, prolonged whimper.
Then he was kicking and thrashing with all his might, gasping for breath to cry out again, and even with my superior size and strength I was having trouble keeping him under control. Something that looked like a coffee table went crashing against a lamp, turning it over with shattering of glass, and his next kick landed so painfully on my shin that my grip partially loosened. Instantly, like an eel, the kid almost slipped free, and I let him go, surprising him, but before he had time to recover and slip away I gave him a quick powerful shove at his back and sent him stumbling over a large, deeply padded leather couch. For a brief moment he remained sprawled on the back of the couch, trying to get a grip on the smooth material, but then I was on top of him and had my arms around him again, and as we slid down on the seat, locked together, he managed a sideways twist and landed under me, face to face. I had his upper body pinned under my weight, his arms useless within my hold, but he kept kicking and trying to push us down from the couch, and it took me a while to wrap my legs efficiently around his and completely immobilize him. The kid bucked and strained under me, but he was already out of breath and slowly I tightened my hold, like a constrictor, until he lay still, mouth agape, desperately laboring for each short intake of breath, his body taut like a spring. He let out a few whimpers, like a frightened puppy, and then even the little sounds died out. He was mine.
The sudden awareness that I could do whatever I wanted to him sunk like molten lead into the pit of my stomach, and my groin. There was no instinct to hurt the kid – pain had never really been my thing – but I was telling myself that he, like every kid of his age, secretly wondered what it would be like to be taken by another man. The way I had wondered about Scott and Jake, and Greg. And in any case, you´ll be in jail tomorrow, and for good, my mind reasoned. This is your last chance. Do it. The kid let out a moan, little more than another scared whimper, but instead of stalling me it only made the animal urge grow more intense. I was completely unable to focus on anything but the way his small muscular body felt under my weight, helpless in the hands of a stronger and bigger man.
I held back for an instant, to prolong the moment, but the pause was just long enough to allow my brain to start reasserting itself, and make comparisons between what I was doing and what had happened with Gabriele. It wasn´t the same thing, I tried to tell myself, but I knew it was, in a way. I´d damage the kid if I went ahead. I had to stop and let him go. I had to.
Slowly, carefully, I loosened my hold, enough for him to breath easily but not to fight me.
“Calm down,” I whispered hoarsely, in Italian. “I won´t hurt you. I promise. Just calm down.”
A shiver ran through his body, but he said nothing.
“A friend brought me here to be safe,” I said, my eyes fixed on his, hoping there was enough light in the room for him to see I was telling the truth. “To that farmhouse next to yours. He knows I didn´t do it.”
“C-Carlo´s house?” he stuttered, but I could hear his voice was smooth, and matched his looks perfectly.
“Carlo is in
He clearly held Carlo in high esteem, as I felt him relax for a brief moment before he tensed up again. His eyes roamed the dark room to find something to help him. “But all the things they say about you-“
“Most of them are lies,” I said firmly. “Not all, but most. Do you believe everything you see on Channel 5?”
“No,” he said, even a little upset that I could imagine him so naïve.
“Look me in the eyes,” I ordered, and emphasizing every word repeated, “I – did – not – kill – Gabriele. It was a setup. And I won´t hurt you either.”
But I wasn´t letting go of him yet, either. We lay still, in mockery of lovers´ embrace. There was a trace of mint in his breath. I saw him coming down from his room, sleepy-eyed, for Mint Oreos and cold milk. A mischievous smile as he realized some local boy was taking advantage of his swimming pool, believing there was no one home.
I could feel his pulse slow down. He was starting to trust me. He let out a few long sighs, as if dissipating fear through his breath. I loosened my grip on him a little more.
“What´s your name?”
Suddenly he tensed up again, and his eyes flew wide open. Now that the first rush of panic was gone he had remembered that the man holding him down was completely naked, and realized that the hardness pressing against his thigh was something more than just my leg. Instantly he was fighting me again, squirming madly to free himself, and all I could do was to tighten my arms around him.
“I won´t-“ I started, then stopped.
The kid wasn´t fighting because he was afraid of me. His body had reacted at once. An unmistakable, swelling bulge in his baggy shorts was giving him away, and this time apprehension almost brought tears into his eyes; I could see tiny glints of reflected light in them as he blinked rapidly, straining his neck to get away from me.
“Let go of me,” he cried, his voice rising. “Now, I want to go now.”
“Stay calm,” I murmured. “I won´t hurt you.”
“D-on´t,” he begged, his breath catching, and for a moment he stopped moving, eyes closed, trying to collect himself, but then he shivered violently and he was fighting me again.
His struggle had lost its focus, though, with the recognition of what was happening to him, and gradually he grew still. We lay together, my arms around him, saying nothing. A minute passed, then two. Slowly, very slowly, his taut body was giving in, the hard muscles melting together with mine, one by one, in a silent war that he was powerless to fight. I watched him, in the quiet, shadowy room. I waited. Inevitably, in the end, his eyes were drawn to mine. One of my hands slid downwards underneath him and pressed against the small of his back, pushing his abs against mine, and I felt him inhale sharply. The fingers of my other hand slipped into his silky, jet black hair, and gently gripped a fistful. I lowered my face closer to his, letting our breaths come together, and as my lips brushed the side of his mouth he turned his face to a kiss, surprising me.
Some time later I discovered that his mouth and tongue knew their way around a man – like most Italian teenagers, I suspected – but to go through the ultimate, brutal part was something he´d never done before. It took place upstairs, in his room, surrounded by familiar things: there was a poster for an old video game on the wall, an amateur telescope, and a shelf with several model cars he still hadn´t had the heart to get rid of. From the window, the lights of Carlo´s house could be seen.
Later, he rolled on to his side, facing a wall, his back turned to me. I lay next to him, watching the back of his head, trying to gauge his mood, and when I touched his shoulder, playfully, he shrunk away from my touch.
“Go. Now,” he said, his voice strained, but his education won out and he added, “Please.”
“I will,” I said, and sat up on the edge of his bed. “It´ll be ok-“
“No it won´t,” he almost yelled, suddenly losing it. “You bastard. My girlfriend is coming over tomorrow for the weekend.”
I stood up, staring at the immobile figure huddled under a sheet he had pulled over himself. There are extremely few situations when a touch or a kind word won´t help and only make things worse, and this was one of them. The only way to help him was to go.
I was on my way out when he added, “I should call the police. There´s a reward for you.”
I stood still, and turned back to him. The kid was so upset he was becoming irrational – or rational, depending on the point of view – and I wondered if I should stay to make sure he did nothing rash either to himself, or to me. Did he believe that doing the law-abiding thing now would cleanse him, in his mind, of what had happened? And return him among ordinary people, where he now felt expelled from? I decided that during the next ten minutes, he might think so.
Hating myself, I told him, “Go ahead, call the police. The whole country will know that you´re so hungry for dick that even someone you think a killer and a whore gets your ass up in the air. Now what would your girlfriend say?”
“Get the fuck out,” he yelled. “Get out! And don´t you ever come back to my house!”
I left the room and descended to the ground floor, not particularly proud of myself, and came to a halt at the foot of the staircase. Quietly, I stood in the shadows, listening. After what I´d said I doubted he´d call the police, and if he did – well, there was nothing I could do about it. But I couldn´t leave him all alone, not just yet. Everything was quiet for a while. Then I heard steps and the shower went on, and I couldn´t shake the image of him rummaging for his dad´s razors in the bathroom cabinet, face devoid of expression. Slowly, I walked back upstairs. The bathroom door was ajar, and carefully I moved close enough to look into the room. I saw his profile on the mirror, his generous lips now pursed into a tight line, eyes staring blankly at the tiled wall of the shower stall as he lathered himself with handfuls of liquid soap. After only few seconds, instinct warned him that someone was watching and he jerked his head around. As he saw me his jaw dropped, and he started violently, backing into the corner of the stall.
Gesturing him to stay calm I stepped into the doorway, and raising my voice, to make sure he heard me over the running water, I said, “I just wanted to make sure you weren´t going to harm yourself." I paused. "I´ll be going now.” Then, unable to stop myself, I added, “I´m sorry about what I said. You´ve done nothing wrong. Remember that.”
I didn´t wait for an answer. I walked out of the house, still in the nude, and picked up my clothes from the poolside. Away from the brightly lit water, in the safety of darkness, I got dressed. The light had attracted insects, and there were bats darting around the glittering pool in their inscrutable, startling ways, perhaps the very same ones that spent their days sleeping in my shed. I finished tying up my shoelaces, and after a last glance at Ivan´s room upstairs started down the road.