The following story is fiction. Although some of the events depicted are based on actual happenings they are only incidental to the story and do not constitute a basis in reality.
The story is copyright, the reader may download a copy for his/her own use, but republishing or archiving on other websites or newsgroups without the author's permission is strictly prohibited. All rights are reserved.
The following story contains references to two men having strong emotional and physical feelings for each other. You shouldn't read it if you're below the age of consent in your community or if said community doesn't allow you to access such material.
The author would like to once again thank Drew Hunt for his encouragement in the writing of this story. His love and friendship are a constant source of inspiration. His contributions to the writing of this story have been invaluable. Tim Mead, as well for his contributions and encouragement.
Finally I would like to dedicate this story to my new friend, Tony and thank him for his help with the Italian translations.
Terry O'Reilly, 6/25/08. (email@example.com)
Karl's Italian Adventure
By Terry O'Reilly
Karl sat on the tour bus as it rattled its way through the streets of Florence. It was the first day of his "Italy in Seven Days" vacation. He'd never been to Europe before. Never traveled much at all. But, he figured that a middle school geography/history teacher ought to have a bit of practical experience to share with his students. So, at fifty-one years old he set out on his first trip outside the United States.
Beside him, talking non-stop, as she had ever since she had attached herself to him at breakfast, when she'd discovered he was single, was Myrna. Myrna was a dumpy, forty-something woman from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She had won this trip in some sort of contest that the state had held for school staff. It was evident to Karl, from the very first moments of their acquaintance, that this woman was not the type one would usually find on an academically oriented tour. Her knowledge of Italy and the European continent was not even at a basic level. She complained that all they were going to do was go to a bunch of dumb ass museums and art galleries. The only thing she seemed to look forward too was a good, authentic, Italian pizza. That was when she revealed to him she was a school lunch supervisor. The contest was open to all school staff, so she entered...and won. Much to the dismay of the administration, Karl was sure.
The tour guide, a young, handsome Italian by the name of Giorgio, was pointing out the sites of interest. The bus rolled along to its destination of The Galleria dell Accademia, where the high point of the tour would be a viewing of the famous David statue by Michelangelo.
"Don't ya just love his accent?" purred Myrna, although her heavy southern drawl rivaled any accent Karl had heard recently. "And, he is so cute, don't ya think so? Why, I'd just love to give that sweet little butt a pinch."
Ever since Myrna had discovered that butt pinching was the alleged Italian national pastime. She made a similar comment about every attractive young man she'd seen. It wasn't that Karl didn't agree that a good grope of Giorgio's shapely backside would be too hard to take. But he certainly wasn't going to let that piece of private information about himself out for publication, especially to Myrna.
When the bus arrived at The Galleria, Giorgio stood up from his seat behind the driver and addressed the fifty or so tourists over the loudspeaker.
"We have arrived at The Galleria dell Accademia. You will have two hours to tour the museum. If you will check your tour packets you will find there are two tickets. One is for the Galleria itself, the second is for the special viewing of Michelangelo's David. We will meet back here then in two hours when we will travel to Café Caracol for lunch. Does anyone have any questions?
There were a few perfunctory questions regarding the afternoon's activities. As they walked to the entrance, Myrna checked her guidebook and said, "I'd like to ask why we's goin' to a Mexican restaurant instead of an Eyetalian one?" She pronounced the word Italian with a long i sound.
Karl responded with, "Well gohlly", imitating Gomer Pile, "you'd hardly knowed we was in Eyetally." But his sarcasm was lost on Myrna. "That's right," she responded and never cracked a smile. Karl was more concerned that they only had two hours to view the exhibits in the Galleria, than pizza. But, then, he reminded himself, this is 'Italy in seven days.'
Once inside the Galleria, Karl hoped he would lose Myrna, but she stuck to him like glue.
"These Eyetalians musta been a buncha perverts. All these statues and pictures look like porn to me," Myrna complained as they walked among the sculptures and paintings of nudes.
Karl rolled his eyes and tried to ignore her. Was the whole of the trip to be like this? But, then why should he be surprised? He'd always had poor luck with things in his life. For instance: The only time he'd flown home to Detroit to visit his parents, his luggage had gone to Denver. Ordering a cheeseburger at Burger King; he often got the cheese but no burger.
They walked along the main hall of the Galleria, stopping occasionally to view a painting or sculpture. He could see a lighted area ahead. There was a large crowd of people gathering there. Over the heads of the crowd, Karl got his first glimpse of Michelangelo's David. A thrill shot through him. Having seen only pictures of the famous statue, he, now, was to see it in person. He'd always had a thing for the nude. He wondered how many people came to see it for its artistic beauty, and how many were there to lust after the perfect human male form the artist had captured in stone.
"Attenzione," came an amplified voice, "Il giro del David del Michelangelo comincerŕ in cinque minuti."
"What'd he say?" Myrna asked. "Why cain't these feriners speak American?"
"I don't know," said Karl with a grimace at her ignorance, "I don't speak Italian."
"Scusa," said a pretty young woman standing next to them. "He said, 'the tour of the David statue starts in five minutes.'"
"Thank you, ah... Grazie." Karl said with a smile.
She smiled and walked away.
As he approached a domed area, he was asked to present his second ticket. He did and, along with a large number of his fellow tourists, entered the room.
"Good morning, welcome to the Tribuna of David," the docent began. "You will excuse if I am not as good with your English." Everyone murmured that he was doing just fine.
"Grazie," he acknowledged the acceptance of his attempts to speak to a largely American crowd.
"Please, take your time and view this great work of art by Michelangelo. I give you few minutes to view and then to begin to tell you about this masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture."
Karl, along with the rest of the group, began to slowly walk around the towering figure of David, second King of Israel. People spoke in hushed voices if at all. All except Myrna, who commented loudly and frequently on different aspects of the statue's body parts, especially that 'pinchable butt.' Karl was able to tune her out as he took in the beauty of the magnificent work. He took in the contours of its muscular chest and back, the round full buttocks, long strong arms. Coming around to the front of the statue, his eyes fell on the beautifully sculpted genitals. He felt himself plump in his boxers.
"If I can have your attention please," the docent said. The crowd slowly stopped moving and turned to hear what the handsome young man had to say. Karl stopped to the left side of the statue and looked up into the youthful, handsome face.
"Michelangelo's David was commissioned in 1501 and was completed in 1504. It was unveiled in the Palazzo della Signoria. In 1873 it was moved here to The Galleria del Accademia in order to protect it from the effects of weather."
As the docent continued, Karl moved slowly to the front of the statue.
"It is sculpted of Tuscan marble..." The docent continued, but Karl was barely listening. He was staring at the eyes of the statue as he slowly moved from the side to the front.
'The eyes are following me,' he thought. 'No, that can't be.'
He moved a bit more. 'They are following me. How is that possible?"
"Now do we have any questions? I will do my best to answer, if I can." The docent flashed his brilliant smile.
A man raised his hand.
"I am a Jewish rabbi," a short balding man wearing a yarmulke began. "King David was a Jew. He would have been circumcised as prescribed by our religion. Why is this statue uncircumcised?"
There were a few flutters of embarrassed laughter.
The young docent cleared his throat. "That is a frequently asked question. No one knows the answer for certain, but it is speculated that Michelangelo's model may have been uncircumcised and therefore the Master was true to the reality he saw before him."
Myrna appeared beside Karl. "That Michelangelo fella, well he was one of them there homasexshals, that's what and that there statue here is his model who he had in his bed."
She nodded her head at the end of her statement for emphasis.
Karl turned and looked at her. "Where'd you hear rubbish like that?"
"Them guys over there. And they would know. They's teachers!
"Well, I'm a teacher, too," Karl retorted. "And I say that's a bunch of rubbish!"
Myrna shrugged her shoulders and walked away.
Karl looked up at the face of the statue. The eyes were still staring into his.
'Why am I defending you? After all it would be great to think you were getting it on with old Michel.'
Karl laughed softly.
'Did you just smile at me?' Karl thought almost aloud, addressing the statue. 'Man you are losing it!' He admonished himself.
The crowd began to thin out and left the Tribuna. Karl was reluctant to leave. He turned at the entrance and looked back one last time.
'Well, good-bye, David. I wish you were real. I've never had a boyfriend or a friend of any kind I could love. I'd love to meet a guy like you.'
The eyes still held his. Karl shook his head and left.
After lunch at Caf Caracol, during which Myrna complained at length about traveling all the way to Italy and having to eat at Taco Bell when she wanted some good old Eyetalian pizza, Karl couldn't get the image of the statue out of his mind. He knew what his right hand, fantasy relief would be as soon as he was in his hotel room that night. He felt himself responding to the thought.
The bus rolled to a stop under the canopy of the Hotel Londra, returning from a tour of Florence's Historical Center. As Karl's group left the bus, he could hear a buzz of conversation from almost everyone they encountered on their way into the lobby.
Since Karl could not understand much, if any, Italian, he didn't pay particular attention to what was being said, merely noting that everyone seemed extremely excited. As he entered the elevator, he stepped aside to let a man and woman exit. As they passed, he caught a few words he understood.
"Si, La Galleria Accademia, si."
'That's odd,' he thought. 'We were just there this morning. Wonder what went on?'
Karl shook his head and shrugged his shoulders as he pushed the button for his floor. The doors closed. He took the elevator to the fourteenth floor. He got off and walked to his room. After inserting the key, the green light flashed and he let himself in. Walking into the room, he stood by the dresser where he took out his wallet and loose change. Karl looked up into the mirror and nearly passed out.
He wheeled around to face the bed.
"Hello," came a deep, rich voice.
There, lying naked on the bed, smiling broadly at him was the most beautiful young man he'd ever seen.
Karl, struggling to keep his balance, leaning back against the dresser, was finally able to squeak out, "Who are you?"
"I am Antonio," the youth responded in a lilting Italian accent. "Who are you?"
"Me? Ah ... I'm Karl, Karl Simons."
Antonio rose from his reclining position and sat on the edge of the bed.
"It is nice to meet you Karl Simons. But, I am a little confused. Where exactly am I?'
"You are ... um..." Karl stammered being distracted by the closeness of the gorgeous, naked young man. He had never in his life been this close to another disrobed human being. "Ah... in my room at the Londra Hotel." He swallowed hard.
Coming to his senses a bit, it occurred to him to ask, "What are you doing in my room?"
"This is very curious. Your dress ... this room, they are strange to me. And I do not know how I arrived here." Antonio continued conversationally as he looked around the room.
"You don't?" Karl asked, swallowing again.
Antonio casually scratched his balls and said, "No, I just opened my eyes and I was here."
Karl gulped. Again, struggling to overcome his confusion, he asked, "So, you don't remember how you got into my room?" Karl was beginning to think that perhaps the young man had been drinking and had passed out in his bed by mistake.
The youth shook his head and smiled into Karl's eyes. Something was strangely familiar about those eyes. In fact, now that he thought about it, Karl felt like he had seen this man somewhere... recently.
"Do you remember where you were before you got here?"
"Yes, I was...That is strange I don't remember that either. But, it does seem like I was standing in a large room of some kind, with many people looking at me."
Antonio then looked down at his nakedness and said matter of factly. "I don't have any clothes on, do I?" With that he stood up and held his hands out at his sides, smiling once more.
Karl immediately and involuntarily let his eyes sweep from the youth's head to his toes, pausing briefly when they reached his midsection.
"No you don't." Karl Blushed.
The phone rang. Karl jumped. Antonio walked to the device and stared at it. As he did he turned his back to Karl who was holding his breath at the site of the shapely backside.
"Why is this ringing?" Antonio asked innocently.
"Someone is calling," Karl offered in way of explanation and walked toward the phone that was on the bedside stand between the two beds, surprised at the youth's ignorance.
In order to reach it, he had to pass Antonio, who obligingly turned sideways. As Karl sidled past him, he brushed against his flaccid penis. Karl felt a jolt of electricity course through his body. He froze and looked up into the face that smiled down on him.
"It is still ringing," Antonio said.
"Oh, oh yeah." Picking up the receiver he said. "Hello."
Antonio bent forward until his face was only centimeters from where Karl held the phone to his lips. He had a look of amazement on his face.
"Karl, Karl, are y'all there?" The voice on the other end of the line demanded.
"Yes, who is this?"
"Its Myrna, ya dummy," came the laughing reply. "Hey, ya'll got the TV on?"
Antonio looked even more astounded as the ivory object in Karl's hand spoke.
"No, I just got in." Karl's voice was strained. Antonio was still within inches of him.
"Well, turn it on and find that station that they talk American. Ya ain't gonna believe it."
The line went dead. Karl replaced the receiver.
"What did the device say to you?" Antonio asked picking up the handset and staring curiously as it buzzed at him.
Karl swallowed once more and brushed past the naked youth again, this time lightly touching his side with his hand.
"It... uh.. she said to turn on the TV?"
"The what?' Antonio turned and followed him across the room.
"The TV? You don't know what a TV is?"
"No, I am afraid I don't. Should I?"
"Well," said Karl, wondering what was going on, "it's an appliance that let's you... Oh come here, you'll see."
As Karl turned on the television and waited for it to warm up, he tried to comprehend what was happening. This beautiful young man was either trying to scam him or was in serious trouble of some kind.
The picture came up on the screen. Antonio jumped backward a step and gasped, "Dio Mio!"
Karl looked over his shoulder at him and then back to the screen. This time it was his turn to cry "My God!"
"The David has disappeared from The Galleria Accademia." A TV camera was scanning the Tribuna of David showing an empty plinth. "At closing, security guards were checking to make sure all visitors had left, and the plinth on which the fourteen foot, six-ton statue had stood, was empty. Michelangelo's masterpiece has been on display since..." the report continued.
Karl stood, frozen to the spot, astounded. The statue was mammoth. The docent said it had taken weeks to move it to The Galleria. How could anyone even conceive of trying to steal it? At that point an image of the statue came on the screen, focusing mainly on the upper body. As the face came into view, Karl looked from the screen to the young man that stood in his room.
"This is impossible. It can't be... You can't be!"
But, the resemblance was undeniable. Michelangelo's David was standing in his room, in the flesh!
Antonio was looking at the screen, a curious look on his face.
"That looks like the statue that Micho made of me for the Operia," the young man said.
Karl looked at him. "You're saying that you were the model for the David? But, that was over five hundred years ago! How can you be that person?"
"Five hundred years ago?" Antonio responded casually, "I cannot understand that either. But, that is the statue he made from the clay models he had me pose for him. I remember how proud he was when it was presented at the Palazzo della Signoria. I remember as well how we celebrated that night." He paused and a sad look came across his face. "That was our last night together as lovers. The next day he told me I would have to leave, that the work was done and he was returning to Roma. I could not go with him."
Karl, despite the unreality of what was happening, felt he should comfort the youth in some way, but he had no clue as to what to do. He had never been in a situation like this before. "What'd you do?" was the best he could offer.
"For a few days I stayed with him, but we never were lovers again."
"Myrna was right! Michelangelo's model was his lover as well," said Karl, thinking out loud.
"Yes, I was," Antonio said simply, then continued with his tale. "I left his dwelling and went to the palazzo. I walked around the statue. I stopped in front of it and made a wish. I wished that I would find a man who would love me as I had loved my Micho. That man I would love in return with all my heart."
Antonio's words echoed in Karl's mind as his own came back to him. 'Well, good-bye David. I wish you were real. I've never had a boyfriend or a friend of any kind I could love. I'd love to meet a guy like you.'
The absolute absurdity of the situation descended on him. Here he was, calmly talking to a naked young man, who claimed to be the lover of Michelangelo, the model for the David. The young man, in the meantime, seemed to be taken more by the electronic device before him, than in the fact that he was now a living being five hundred years removed from his former life.
"How does this work? How do the pictures get inside? They look to be alive."
Speaking as if he were in a trance, Karl began to explain about cameras and satellites, when the phone rang. Before he could answer it, Antonio leapt gracefully over the bed, picked up the receiver and said, "Hello?" in imitation of what Karl had done earlier.
Karl held his breath.
"Yes, it is Antonio?"
"Excuse me a minute."
Antonio held the phone out to the man.
"There is someone in the...the... phone?" Karl nodded. "I cannot understand the language she is speaking. But, she knows my name."
Karl, more puzzled now than ever, took the handset.
Myrna's voice came through loud and clear.
"That Antonio. I just love it when he talks Eyetalian. Ya'll have to teach him American while we're here."
Now, completely befuddled, Karl asked, "How'd you know Antonio was here?"
"Well, he's yer roommate ain't he?"
"Yeah, ya dummy, yer roommate. Yer're the one who said ya wouldn't mind sharin' a room with 'im when the tour guys said they'd booked one too many. Doncha remember?"
Karl was trying to process this astounding piece of information. Antonio now stood with his back to him, watching the TV. The sight of his gorgeous ass, once again, adding to Karl's confusion.
"Err... yeah... I remember," he lied.
"Well, good fer you. Ya ain't senile after all. Now, I called to invite ya two to have dinner with me. My treat." Myrna laughed heartily. She knew very well that dinner was included in the tour fee. For her, of course, it was free, as she had won the trip.
His mind still reeling, Karl tried to think of an excuse for not accepting her invitation. He started to say that Antonio had no clothes, but then realized he couldn't say that.
"I'll meet ya in the restaurant at 7:00. I sure hope they got pizza here. See y'all"
She hung up.
Stunned, Karl hung up the phone. Antonio turned to him from the TV.
"Who was that?" he asked.
"Myrna, she ah, she wants us to go to dinner with her."
"That is wonderful. I am starving."
"Antonio?" Karl asked.
"When Myrna called, what language were you speaking?"
"Italian, of course."
"But, I heard you. You were speaking English."
"No," replied Antonio. "I do not speak English."
"Are you speaking Italian now?"
"Yes," Antonio said looking puzzled.
"What language am I speaking?" Karl pressed on.
"Italian. Why are you asking me these silly questions?"
"I don't speak Italian, Antonio."
They stared at each other.
"Well, that wraps up the six o'clock report. Stay tuned for our 7:00 PM world financial summary in just a few minutes." The TV reporter's words brought an end to the conversation.
"Dinner!" Karl realized that if he didn't meet Myrna in the hotel dining room, she would come up to the room. But, Antonio was naked.
"Antonio, we need to get you some clothes so we can go to dinner."
He went to the dresser and pulled out some boxers and socks. He handed them to the young man, who looked at them curiously. Karl then went to the closet. He pulled out a shirt and pants.
He held the pants out in front of him. Antonio was a good five inches taller than Karl. He threw the pants on the bed, gave the shirt to Antonio and opened another drawer. Taking out a pair of shorts and a belt, he turned and said, "Get dressed."
The shorts had to be cinched tight and the shirt was too big, but it would have to do. Now for shoes.
Karl went back to the closet and pulled out a pair of tennis shoes. Too small.
"Take off the socks."
Back to the closet and out came some sandals. With a bit of jimmying of the straps, they would make do.
"We'll see about getting you some clothes tomorrow...if you are still here..." Karl's voice trailed off. The two men looked at each other.
"I hope I will be here tomorrow," said Antonio. "I want to get to know you better."
"I hope so, too. I still don't know what's going on, but I don't want it to end just yet."
There was a loud knocking on the door. Both men jumped. Karl went to the door and opened it. It was Myrna with hands on hips.
"Y'all gonna keep a lady waiting all night?"
Karl stepped back and Myrna entered the room.
"Myrna, this is Antonio."
"What's wrong with ya?" she scowled. "I was with 'im all afternoon."
Karl looked at Antonio, who looked puzzled and shrugged.
"Come on," Myrna said, "Let's get that pizza! Youngster, y'all really need some clothes that fit. I sure will be glad when this here baggy fad's over with. Them kids back at school come through that lunch line and ya kin just about see their ass crack." She laughed.
"What did she say?" Antonio asked.
Karl just rolled his eyes and sighed.
While they stood in the carpeted hallway, waiting for the elevator, Karl tried to put things together.
Myrna prattled on, while Antonio smiled and nodded. He looked at Karl from time to time; clearly indicating he didn't have a clue as to what she was saying.
Antonio was, apparently, the David statue come to life. He spoke Italian. Karl, who spoke no Italian, could understand him. He spoke back to Antonio in English and the young man could understand him although he spoke no English. On top of this Myrna had the impression that Antonio had been on the tour from the beginning. Karl shook his head. It was too much to comprehend.
The elevator door opened.
"What is this?" Antonio said peering into the carpeted, mirror lined box.
"It's an Elevator," Karl said.
"When'd ya learn to speak Eyetalian?" Myrna queried, looking at Karl suspiciously. Evidently when Karl spoke to Antonio, others heard him in Italian.
"I pick up things quickly," he said with a shrug, trying to cover his amazement.
They walked inside. Antonio looked around apprehensively.
Before Karl could answer the young man's question about the elevator, Myrna pressed the lobby button, the door closed and the elevator started its descent. Antonio let out a small gasp and threw his arms around Karl.
"Hey, ain't cha never been on an elevator?" Myrna threw out.
Karl felt Antonio's body against his: Antonio's thigh against his penis. He felt a flush of warmth course through his body and he immediately began to harden. Recovering from the shock of his first ever, full body hug, he said, "It's okay. The elevator takes you up and down between floors. It's okay."
Antonio relaxed his hold on Karl, much to the older man's disappointment, and said, with a shy smile. "Sorry."
"Ain't polite for ya two to carry on in Eyetalian when y'all know I cain't understand a word of it."
The door opened and the trio walked out into the lobby. Antonio gazed around looking amazed. He looked from the scene around him to Karl and back again. Karl smiled at him reassuringly and led the way to the restaurant. He couldn't help but notice how many heads turned and appraised Antonio admiringly. The man was stunning, even in his oversized clothes. Karl smiled. As they approached the doorway to the restaurant, Karl realized that more formal attire was required.
"I don't think we can be seated here," he said.
"Why the hell not?" came Myrna's reply.
"I think we have to be wearing a tie."
"Well, that's purty stupid," the woman continued. "Come on."
With that she led the way to the maitre d's podium.
"Y'all gonna let us eat here?" she demanded.
The tuxedoed gentleman behind the stand looked them up and down.
"Signora," he began. "I am sorry but in the formal dining room, more appropriate dress is required."
"Well, ain't that just too bad," Myrna returned. "I'm an American and ya kin just kiss my patutie."
"Myrna," Karl stepped in with a stern whisper, "there's a coffee shop across the lobby. We can eat there."
Myrna was about to protest.
Just then, Antonio stepped up to the man and began speaking. Karl heard the Italian but he couldn't understand what the young man was saying. It seemed that when Karl wasn't being directly addressed, a language barrier was raised.
The two men spoke and laughed. The maitre' de nodded his head in a fatherly way and said. "Your nephew has explained the situation and I understand how difficult it is when your belongings have been stolen. Please, excuse me and enjoy your meal."
"My nephew! What da ya mean my nephew?" Myrna began.
"Shut up," Karl whispered through gritted teeth, as he steered her forward behind the gentleman as he led them to a table in the back of the restaurant.
Once seated, Karl looked at Antonio in amazement and said, "How'd you do that?"
"When I was with my Micho, we sometimes went out for meals. He did not like to wash or change clothing. I always had to convince the barman he was not a vagrant. I learned all manner of tricks." He smiled his brilliant smile and Karl felt a twitch in his groin area.
"Y'all gonna let me in on yer little secret?"
Karl explained to Myrna as best he could without letting on that Antonio's kind old Uncle was Michelangelo.
After dinner, which went very well, except for Myrna complaining that 'there weren't no pizza' on the menu, they made their way back to the elevators. Several of the folks on the tour passed and hailed Karl, Myrna and Antonio as well. Karl was still bewildered, but was beginning to accept the fact that something extraordinary had taken place.
They bade Myrna good night as they left the elevator and made their way back to their room. As he opened the door, Karl began wondering what lay ahead that night.
***** He didn't have long to ponder. Karl closed the door and turned to find the statue come to life standing in front of him with a wonderful, broad smile on his handsome face. He opened his arms to Karl and said, "Muoio dalla voglia di stare con te, mio amore."
Karl heard the Italian, understood it in English but, couldn't believe what he was hearing. This beautiful young man had just told him he was dying to be with him. He even called him his love. He wanted with all that was in him to walk into those waiting arms and fulfill the desire of a lifetime. But, he hesitated.
Antonio's smile faded. "Have I done something wrong? Have I made a mistake? Do you not desire to be with me?" His arms dropped to his sides.
"Oh no, no I do, I..." Karl fumbled with words. "I ... I've never been with a man...or a woman...I."
The smile returned to the young man's face. "You are a virgin?"
"Yes," said Karl in embarrassment.
"But, this is wonderful. Come let me show you?" Antonio opened his arms again and this time he did not wait for Karl to close the gap between them. He walked forward and took the older man in his arms and held him close.
Karl closed his eyes. He could feel his heart pounding wildly in his chest, he responded immediately to the pressure of Antonio's penis throbbing against his stomach. Karl's head was tucked under Antonio's chin and the young Adonis stroked his hair with his hand whispering, "amore mio, amore mio, my love, my love." Karl felt he was going to cry from the sheer joy of the moment.
Antonio tipped Karl's chin up to his. He smiled into Karl's eyes and lowered his face. Karl realized he was going to be kissed for the first time by someone other than his mother. He shuddered. Soft lips brushed his. He was momentarily alarmed. 'What if he wasn't any good at this?' But, he had no time to worry; Antonio's warm kiss pushed aside his anxiety. And when he asked for entry into Karl's mouth with his tongue, it was readily granted.
The kiss lasted for a long time. When they finally broke apart, Karl was breathless. He could feel warm, moist pre cum running down his leg. He looked up into the eyes of his would-be lover, who smiled down on him.
"Come," he said. He led Karl to the bed, where they stretched out face to face. Antonio stroked his face, touched his nose and lips, traced his eyebrows. More kisses followed with bodies pressed hard together. A slow undulation began. Karl could feel his hardness against the firm, flat abdomen. He could feel Antonio's erection against his legs, the end pressing into his scrotum as the young man pressed forward.
"Do you love me?" Antonio asked.
Karl responded by increasing the pressure of his embrace and saying, "With all my heart."
Antonio rose from the bed. He removed the over large shirt. The light from the nightstand highlighted the contours of his muscular chest and stomach. He loosened the belt and let the baggy shorts fall to the floor. His erect penis strained against the fabric of the boxers. Karl held his breath.
With agonizing slowness, Antonio hooked his thumbs in the waistband and lowered the underwear. His manhood, freed from its constraints, leapt up and slapped his rock hard abs. The foreskin pulled back, a whip of glistening pre-cum flew from its tip. Antonio stood for a moment, allowing Karl to feast on the sight of the man who was going to initiate him into loving sex. Then Antonio lowered himself back to the bed and embraced Karl once more.
Karl needed no encouragement to begin to stroke and explore the magnificent body now offered so willingly to him: the smooth firm skin, the hard erect nipples, the muscles that stood in high relief, the firm, round ass, the dense, soft pubic hair and finally the thick, rigid phallus. New and thoroughly delightful sensations assaulted his body. He felt as if his genitals were going to explode. He longed to climax, but at the same time didn't want the delicious anticipation to end.
After many minutes had passed, Antonio began to reach for the buttons on Karl's shirt.
"No, please I...no. Turn out the light."
How could Karl explain that he was ashamed of his body? Even the thought of admitting that to Antonio was more embarrassment than he could stand. He was fifty-one years old. He had never worked out a day in his life... well, not since that college course, Health and Fitness, in which he was forced too do so. He was not exactly over weight but he had a distinct pear shape. His chest was soft, and his arms and legs thin. He had very little body hair and his equipment was average at best. How could he think that his perfect human specimen wanted him, or could enjoy him in anyway? He felt the joy of the previous hour fade to nothingness.
When Karl did not respond to Antonio's question, Antonio took matters into his own hands. He lay down next to the man and enfolded him in his arms.
"You wished for me, and I am here. Is that not what you understand has happened?"
"Yes," Karl replied feeling desolate.
"And I wished I could find a man who would love me as I loved Micho. One I could love in return. I did not wish that he be anything but a man with the capacity to love. Do you understand what I am saying?"
"Yes, I think so." Karl said again, this time feeling something changing inside him, his hesitancy abating.
"I believe both our wishes were granted."
Karl smiled. "Thank you Antonio."
"Call me Tonio. That is what I want you to call me. Micko never would, even though I asked him many times. To me, when I am called by that name, it means, I love you. My momma call me that and I know she loved me."
"Tonio," said Karl tenderly. Antonio leaned forward and kissed him. "Tonio," he said again.
Antonio began to unbutton Karl's shirt once more. This time Karl didn't protest. He allowed his lover to remove the garment and caress his body with his hands and lips. As the luxurious sensations of his nipples being kissed and suckled thrilled him, he realized his belt was being undone. With only a moment of hesitancy, he raised his hips and allowed his dream lover to complete his disrobing. Lying naked with another man for the first time in his life, he let himself go completely. Positioning themselves so that their erections were pressed against one another, they brought each other to an orgasm that caused Karl to believe he had truly transcended the bounds of earth. Coated in each other's seed, they kissed their way to sleep.
***** As the early morning light pierced the sheer curtains, Karl sat propped with pillows against the headboard. Antonio lay with an arm and leg draped over Karl's body, his head snuggled against his chest. Karl played with the soft, black curls of his head with one hand and with his other he gently stroked his lover's forearm. He closed his eyes and let happiness fill his being.
'Too good to be true, too impossible to believe,' he thought. But the reality of touching the man's body and the soft sensation of his breath on his chest testified to the fact that what was happening was indeed true, and needed to be believed.
The phone rang. Antonio stirred and raised his face to look at Karl. "Good morning," he said in a husky, sleep filled voice that made Karl's penis twitch and balls contract.
Karl smiled his greeting as he reached for the phone. "Hello?"
"Buon giorno," said the deep male voice at the other end of the conversation. "This is your wake-up call and your reminder that your tour leaves for the Tuscan wine country and Pisa at ten o'clock."
"Thank you," said Karl and hung up the phone.
"What did the ... phone?" Karl nodded, "phone, say to you?" asked Antonio.
"Our tour leaves at ten o'clock."
"Good, then we have time to say good morning properly."
Antonio raised himself up and pulled Karl into his arms. The morning kiss caused sensations of pleasure to surge through Karl's body like nothing he had ever felt before. Locked in a firm but gentle embrace the two men pressed against one another. Karl wished he could be totally absorbed by the man holding him in his arms.
Breaking the kiss, Antonio looked into Karl's eyes. He smiled a crooked smile and said, "I need a little breakfast."
Karl had no idea what Antonio meant. He merely smiled back and said, "Okay."
What happened next completely caught the older man by surprise. Antonio slowly made his way down Karl's body, kissing, licking, sucking as he did. Karl made involuntary mewing sounds as each new erogenous zone was explored. When his partner reached his hips, Karl fairly bucked off the bed. Antonio looked up and smiled, took Karl's throbbing penis in his hand and with one swift movement swallowed him to the base. Karl screamed and grabbed the sides of Antonio's head.
"Oh God! Oh God!" he cried over and over. In less than ten seconds, he exploded into his lover's mouth, coming more strongly than he could ever remember.
"Tonio, my Tonio," he sighed. "I love you, I love you."
Antonio raised himself up from between Karl's legs and came forward on all fours. He kissed Karl gently, allowing some of Karl's semen to pass into his mouth. The taste was familiar. Karl had often licked his cum from his fingers after masturbating. But, this was different. Knowing it had been in Antonio's mouth increased his pleasure.
The young man then rose up and straddled Karl's chest, his erect, pre-cum dripping phallus inches from his face. Before Karl could lean forward to take the offering into his mouth, Antonio began stroking it. The foreskin slid back and forth over the glistening head. Karl was mesmerized. He felt his own cock rise to full erection. He took hold and began to stroke in rhythm to that of the Adonis who knelt over him.
In a matter of minutes, Antonio shuddered, stiffened and whispered, "Amore mio!"
His ejaculation coated Karl's face and chest. Karl began to climax seconds later. When both men had completed their orgasm, Antonio lay down on Karl's chest. Karl could feel the deep breathing, the pounding heart and the slippery issue between them. If this wasn't heaven, he couldn't imagine what was.
He didn't want the moment to end. But, it did. There was a soft knock on the door.
"Room service," came a voice with a strong Italian accent.
"Oh God!" Panicking, Karl jumped out of bed, tripped on the pile of discarded garments as he went to the bath, and pulled the hotel provided white terry robe off the hook inside the bathroom door. He ran for the door, struggling to cover himself with the garment.
The knock came again. "Room service."
Karl threw the door open, smiled at the porter and then froze. 'Antonio!'
He wheeled around. Antonio was lying on the bed, covers around his waist, looking both innocent and sensual at the same time.
"Sorry," he said turning back to the server. "I...uh... we didn't order room service."
"Scusa," returned the handsome young man. "The breakfast, she part of your tour... it is ...omaggio...gratis..."
"Complimentary?" Karl offered.
"Ah... okay... come in."
The server entered the room, pushing the cart before him. There, not to Karl's surprise after the events of the last twelve hours, was a breakfast for two.
"Buon Giorno," Antonio called with a wave to the young man.
"Buon Giorno," came the reply with, what Karl interpreted as, a knowing smile and a raised eyebrow. He blushed.
The waiter stopped at the door and smiled at Karl.
"Oh, oh yes, sorry..." Karl fumbled with the clothing on the floor and pulled out his wallet and offered a tip to the young man, who nodded.
"Graziee," he said and left with another nod to Antonio and, Karl was sure, a wink.
"Let's eat, I am starving," said Antonio leaping up from the bed.
Karl laughed softly and pulled the desk chair up to the cart. Antonio sat on the edge of the bed.
They were quiet during their meal. The food was excellent, and Karl, realizing how hungry he was, enjoyed the breakfast and the company.
'One should always make love before breakfast, and then eat naked with your lover,' he mused smiling at the beautiful young man across from him.
After they finished eating, Karl switched on the television: the morning news on CNN English.
"The apparent abduction of the famous statue of David by Michelangelo remains a mystery. Authorities have no leads and no idea how a work of art of that size, so well guarded, could have disappeared in what seems to be a twinkling of an eye. It is as if David Copperfield, the master magician, had pulled off one of his amazing vanishing acts. The whereabouts of the world famous sculpture is still unknown."
"Well, we know where 'he' is, do we not, mio amore?" Antonio said as he rose and pulled Karl into his arms.
"Yes, I guess we do." Karl initiated a kiss for the first time. His heart warmed, he hardened.
"I guess we better get ready to join the tour." Karl hesitated. "That is if you want to?"
"But, of course, it will be fun. I am learning so much of your way of life, now my way of life." Antonio bent and started to dress.
"No, we need to shower."
"Yes, bathe, clean up. We ... uh ... kind of smell."
"If you say so," Antonio said with a shrug. "How do you... uh... shower?"
"In here," said Karl and led the way into the bathroom. Once inside, the faucets, mirrors and fixtures fascinated Antonio. He laughed heartily as the two men used the toilet and Karl showed him how to flush it. He did so three more times.
Karl shed his robe and turned to the glass-enclosed shower. He reached inside and turned on the water. Antonio stood leaning over his shoulder, watching the process, his semi-hard cock pressed against the crack of Karl's ass. Karl breathed deeply and pushed back against him. He relished every new experience, every new sensation.
They stepped into the warm needle spray. Antonio expressed his enjoyment with oh's and ah's. Karl showed him how to unwrap the scented soap, proceeding to lather him up and wash his magnificent body. The effect, of course, was to bring both men to full erection. Antonio took the soap and soon Karl was covered with lather. They took each other in hand, and as they kissed under the cascading showerhead, they brought each other to another climax.
Climbing out of the shower, they rubbed each other dry. Antonio sat on the closed toilet and watched, fascinated as Karl shaved. Finally they walked into the other room.
Karl checked the clock.
"We have time, if we hurry a bit, to get to the hotel store and get you some clothes to wear."
"I am happy to wear these. I have only worn them once."
"Well, in this world people usually change everyday."
"Strange," said the neophyte twenty-first century man. "But, fine, if you say so. Let's get some new clothes."
They emerged from the hotel's men's couturier a half hour later. Just outside they ran into Myrna.
"Well, looky here," she said with her strong southern drawl. "Don't ya look purty now?"
Antonio looked to Karl.
"She thinks you look very nice in your new clothes," Karl said to his protégé.
Karl had to agree. Antonio was wearing safari shorts and sandals. A tight royal blue tank top set off his eyes and showed off his muscular arms and chest. A gold chain and sunglasses finished off the ensemble. He looked like something from an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. Karl smiled with pride.
"Graziee," the stud replied, giving Myrna a smile that would melt iron.
"Ye'r one lucky son of a gun," she said to Karl, poking him in the ribs. He reacted with shock.
"What do you mean by that?" he demanded.
"Oh don't act all surprised and goody-goody. Any fool can see you two is a couple. Come on, the bus is about to leave."
Karl stood, open-mouthed, feeling his cheeks turn red.
"What did she say?" asked Antonio.
"Ah... nothing... never mind. Come on."
Karl took Antonio by the elbow and steered him toward the front entrance and the waiting tour bus. He had to persuade the young man to leave the revolving door after three revolutions. As they climbed the steps and entered the bus, Myrna called out to them.
"Hey you two, over here."
She was savings seats on the three abreast side of the vehicle. They let Antonio in first to sit by the window. Karl tried to explain to Myrna that his excitement and astonishment at the vehicle was due to his having little travel experience. She bought it.
"Well, ya tell 'im he can sit by the winder and enjoy hisself. Y'all sit next to 'im so ya won't get too lonely."
Karl rolled his eyes, but took his seat without further comment.
In a few minutes, the bus rolled out from under the portico, and onto the narrow, crowded street. Antonio was glued to the window as the city rolled by. Karl could only imagine the impact of being thrust five hundred years into the future was having on the young man, as he craned his neck to watch the cars, bicycles and motor scooters whiz by.
As they went along, Antonio would recognize certain buildings and offered a comment or two about things that he remembered happening there. At one point, he said 'there, there' indicating a stone structure.
"There is where I lived with Micho." He looked sad after seeing the lodging of his former lover, which, to him, was only days in his past. Karl squeezed his hand reassuringly. Antonio smiled.
Myrna hardly paid any attention, as she jabbered on about the trip, cute butts, and her search for real pizza. Karl's attention was totally focused on Antonio and his childlike enthusiasm for the experience he was having.
"Karl, I'm talkin' to ya!" Myrna jabbed him in the ribs.
"What?" he said in irritation, turning to her just as Giorgio, the sexy tour guide, announced that they were leaving Florence.
"I aksed ya if they let you climb up in that there leanin' tower." She was looking at the tour guidebook and a picture of the famous tower in Pisa. "Looks like the fool thing'll fall over."
"I don't know," he said. 'And I don't care,' he thought as he turned back to the window.
Antonio's seat was empty.
Karl looked around frantically. Where had he gone? How could he have slipped by him and Myrna without notice? The seat behind them was empty. Maybe he'd climbed over the seat.
"Myrna, where's Antonio? Did he get up while we were talking?"
"What're ya talkin' about? Who's Antonio?"
"Antonio, Antonio, the young man that was sitting right here," Karl said in exasperation. "You offered him the window seat. We had dinner with him last night,"
Myrna looked at Karl suspiciously.
"What'cho been drinkin'? I don't know what the hell ye'r talkin' about. I don't know no Antonio."
Karl felt prickles all up and down his spine. He was light headed.
"Excuse me, I need to use the bathroom."
"Yeah, ya better get yerself some water. Ya look like y'all see'd a ghost." Myrna turned in her seat to let Karl out. He staggered down the aisle and found the men's toilet.
The sign on the latch said, "Occupato." 'He's got to be in here,' he thought frantically.
"Hold your horses. I'll be done when I'm done," came the gruff voice from the other side of the door.
Karl leaned against the opposite wall. He pressed his fingers to his temples. That wasn't Antonio's voice.
The door opened. A huge man, (Karl wondered how he fit in the miniscule lavatory,) emerged.
"Patience is a virtue, Bud!"
"Sorry," Karl mumbled.
The man squeezed passed him in the narrow corridor. Karl entered the bathroom, latched the door and sat down on the closed toilet. Antonio had disappeared. Or had he ever appeared? Karl took several steadying breaths. He went over the events of the past day: his wish, Antonio's appearance in his room, their lovemaking. Could it all have been in his head: A figment of his imagination brought on by his loneliness and longing for someone to be in his life? He felt as heavy as lead.
Slowly he rose from the toilet, opened the door and started making his way back to Myrna and his seat.
'That has to be it,' he thought. 'Just a dream: a beautiful, wonderful dream.'
'But, it seemed so real,' he continued to himself. 'Like this morning when we shopped for clothes...
"When we shopped for clothes!" he said out loud.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" asked an elderly woman sitting in the aisle seat where he had stopped.
"Nothing... ah... nothing," Karl murmured. The woman went back to her knitting.
'We shopped for clothes!' Karl said again to himself. 'I put them on my charge card.'
Swaying in the aisle of the bus as it sped along the narrow highway, he pulled out his wallet. Fumbling through the folds, he pulled out what he was looking for: a charge slip. There in Italian it read: camicia blu, pantaloncini safari, sandalo: blue shirt, safari shorts and sandals!
'Antonio was here! But, where was he now? Had he gone back? If he had gone back the statue would have returned! How could he find out?"
"Signore Simons?" Giorgio was standing next to him in the swaying bus. "Is something wrong? Are you alright?"
"Ah...yes...I'm fine. Ah... tell me, when does the bus stop for a break?"
"When we reach Chianti Classico for our winery tour, in about a half hour."
"Thank you, thank you." Karl patted Giorgio on the shoulder and moved past him. He sat down next to Myrna, who had moved to the window seat.
"You still look a little pale," she observed. "You better have a good snort of sumthin' when we get to that there wine factory."
"Yes," said Karl. "I sure will."
Before the bus had even come to a complete stop, Karl was up out of his seat and headed for the door. As he got to the front seats, he collided with Giorgio as the tour guide rose to give instructions for the stop at the winery.
"Whoa, Signore Simons, you are one big hurry."
"Ah... yes... Sorry. I...um... need to..." Karl couldn't think of an excuse for his rush to get off the vehicle, so he just repeated, "Sorry."
Once on the ground in the parking area, Karl cast about, trying to figure out where he might go to gain the information he so desperately wanted. To the left he saw a small house that looked like an office or welcome booth. He trotted toward it.
Inside, a pretty young woman stood behind a counter looking through a stack of papers. She looked up as he came in. "Posso aiutarlo?"
"Do you speak English?" he blurted out.
Smiling and laughing softly she replied, "Yes, Signore'."
Realizing he was looking like a rude American tourist he backtracked.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so rude."
"It is alright. What can I do for you?" she replied, still smiling.
"Is there a television or radio here anywhere? I need to try to find out about...ah about...
"Yes?" she said leaning forward as if to help him finish his sentence.
Karl took a deep breath, "About the David statue."
"What about the statue?"
"If it's been returned."
"Returned? I am sorry I do not understand."
"The David was stolen yesterday and I was just wondering ..."
"The David stolen? How can that be! It is too big to steal!"
"I guess that means you haven't heard about it?"
"No," said the young woman shaking her pretty head. "We do not watch much television here. Our bed and breakfast is noted for its restful seclusion. But, we do have a television. It is in the back office. I can turn it on for you."
"Yes, please," Karl said, eagerly.
"This way." She said, leading him behind the counter to the office. She switched on the small television, smiled and said, "What would you like to see?"
"A news station?"
"I am sorry we don't have very good reception here. We have only the antenna, not the cable or satellite. You can try to find what you are looking for."
She smiled and left him alone in the small office.
'Probably thinks I'm crazy. Hell, I think I'm crazy,' Karl mused as he turned the old-fashioned channel selector on the black and white television.
After a few minutes, it became apparent that the few stations that he could tune in were not going to give him any news he wanted. He turned off the set and walked back to the reception area.
"Thank you," he said flatly.
"I am sorry. You did not find out what you wanted?"
"No, but I appreciate your concern."
Karl walked out into the sunshine. He wasn't sure where the tour had gone. He wandered around the garden area; his hands shoved into his pockets, his shoulders slumped. He ambled by a sign: 'Winery Tours," it read in English, Spanish, French and Italian. An arrow showed the way.
He followed the arrow and came to the building it indicated, just as the tour group was coming out.
"Where the Hell ya run off too?" came Myrna's abrasive voice. Before he could answer, she went on. "Ya missed the grape juice. No big deal. Stuff weren't that good. They tried to pass off some stuff on us that was five years old. Come on, we're gonna go on a hayride out where they grow the grapes. Huh, they expect ya to pay good money for five-year old wine. Probably stale," she added as she walked away.
Following mechanically, Karl walked with the crowd to the tractor-pulled wagon and a tour of the vineyards.
The bus rumbled its way along the darkened two-lane highway. Karl stared vacantly out the tinted window. Myrna snoozed beside him, her head wobbling back and forth against the headrest. The second day of the tour was over. Somehow Karl had gotten through the tour of Pisa and the famous tower. They had eaten at a lovely outdoor restaurant. Myrna finally got her long awaited authentic "Eyetalian" pizza. She was thrilled. Karl was tempted to point out that the menu said "American style" but decided against it.
They were approaching Florence. The sixty-mile trip from Pisa seemed to have taken forever. Karl was anxious to get back to the hotel... hopefully to find Antonio there...or at least hear that the statue had returned. The thought of the latter made him feel sad and empty. He'd fought sleep for the entire trip so far, but the rhythmic sway of the bus and the lateness of the hour finally took their toll and he succumbed.
"Wake up you two!"
Karl felt himself being shaken awake.
"Save it for the hotel room," Myrna's strident laugh punctuated her words.
Karl opened his eyes to find Antonio curled up in his arms, his head resting on his shoulder.
"Tonio, you're here!" Karl said in a startled voice.
"Well, a course he's here. Where'd ya s'pect 'im ta be?" Myrna said sarcastically. Looking at Antonio, she added, "Ya shore had a good ole time at that leanin' tower but we sure weren't gonna leave ya there." She focused on Karl, "That boy would have climbed that thing a hunerd times if they'd let him."
Antonio sat up. The two men turned and looked at each other bewildered.
Myrna turned and left.
"Do you remember climbing the tower?"
"Not since I was a boy... not today."
Karl closed the door of his room behind him. He turned and looked at Antonio, who stood a few feet away. Then, as if on signal, they crossed the space between them, clinging to each other and covering each other with kisses.
"Tonio, what happened to you? Where'd you go? You were next to me one minute and gone the next." Karl had had to hold on to these questions until they were alone. Now they broke loose, like a damn bursting.
"I do not know. I was looking out the window, the man in the front..."
"Si, Giorgio. He was saying something about leaving the city. The next thing I remember is it was dark and Myrna was waking us up."
"That's the way I remember it, too," said Karl as he broke their embrace and walked to the bed and sat down. "Only I went through the whole day not knowing where you were."
Antonio joined him. The two sat for a long time, pondering the mystery of the previous 24 hours.
Karl turned to the young man, "I thought I had lost you."
Antonio raised his hand and stroked Karl's cheek, which had a lone tear trickling down one side.
He leaned toward him and kissed him long, and hard. "I am here now," he said. "Let us not worry about this any more tonight. Let us just be happy we are now here, together."
He stood in front of Karl and slowly disrobed. When he was completely naked, he stepped close to him and pressed Karl's head against the firm, flat abdomen. Karl kissed Antonio's flesh. Antonio took Karl's head in both hands. He directed his fully erect, dripping penis toward Karl's mouth. Karl looked up into his lover's face, smiled and kissed the tip. He then slowly took more and more of the magnificent organ into his mouth, until his nose pushed into the lush tangle of pubic hair. Antonio moaned his pleasure. A slow undulation was begun. Karl couldn't get enough of the taste, smell and feel of his first oral contact with a man. Antonio moaned more deeply, increased the speed of his thrusts and then froze, clutching the sides of Karl's head and forcing himself deep into his throat. Karl could feel the warm fluid coursing into him. He swallowed over and over. He wanted more and more. Antonio crumpled on top of him, forcing him to lie back on the bed. Then slowly he crawled up Karl's body, until their faces were even. He kissed him.
"We never know what might happen tomorrow," he said tenderly. "Li voglio fare l'amore me. I want you to make love to me."
"But, I never..."
"Shhh, I will show you.
Using his saliva, remnants of his semen and Karl's pre-cum, he reached back and lubricated Karl's raging erection. Karl almost climaxed from the contact. Then slowly, straddling Karl's hips, Antonio lowered himself onto the rigid organ. Karl closed his eyes. He took hold of Antonio's muscular thighs. He arched himself off the bed and completed the coupling. Even in his wildest fantasies he hadn't ever dreamed uniting with another man would feel like this. Opening his eyes, he looked up into the face of his lover. "I love you," he whispered. Antonio nodded. He began a rocking motion. Karl didn't last long. The intensity of emotion, the sensation of the velvet smoothness of Antonio's interior and his need, were too great. He felt his testicles contract, his penis swell. He held his breath and was carried away with the physical and emotional waves of pleasure that swept his body. Spent, he pulled Antonio down on him. They kissed. That is where the morning wake up call found them: still united, very much in love.
Antonio reached for the phone.
"Buon Giorno... Buon Giorno," Antonio repeated
"Antonio, turn the phone around. You have it upside down." Karl laughed.
"Oh, sorry, Buon Giorno," he said again after righting the receiver.
"Buon Giorno," Karl could just hear the voice on the other end of the call. "Ciň č voi sveglia la chiamata. Il vostro giro va per Venezia a dieci in punto."
As usual, unless it was Antonio speaking to him, he could not understand the Italian.
Karl saw him nod. "Grazie, arrivederci."
Antonio hung up the phone, and stretched out again on top of the older man. The action caused Karl to slip from the confines of his lover's body. He sighed at the feeling of loss. "Who was that?"
"The man that wakes us up. He says to be ready to go to Venice by ten o'clock."
Karl looked at the bedside clock: 7:01 A.M. He wrapped his arms around his lover. "I don't want to go to Venice. I'm afraid that if we do, you'll disappear again. We're not coming back this time. The tour goes from Venice to Rome." He buried his face in Antonio's luxurious black curls.
He rose up, kissed Karl, and rolled to one side, lying with to face him. He stroked Karl's chest lightly. "What will we do?" the young man asked.
"I'm not sure, but we have to figure out what happens when you try to leave Florence."
The men got out of bed and proceeded to the bathroom, where they showered, making sure they communicated their pleasure to one another. Once more, Antonio watched fascinated as Karl shaved.
Since the tour was checking out of the hotel, Karl called the front desk to see if they could remain behind. He was told there were no rooms, they would have to check out. With that news, they proceeded to get their things ready to leave.
Room service arrived with their breakfast as the day before. As they ate, Karl began to plan out loud.
"We'll catch a cab and take a trip out of the city to see what happens. If you don't disappear, maybe we could join the tour in Venice and plan from there."
In his mind, he hoped that if all went well, Antonio would be able to complete the tour and, since the tour people thought he was part of the group, return home with him at the end of the week. This, of course, seemed highly implausible, but, in light of what had transpired thus far, not impossible.
"If you can't leave the city, we'll find out where we can stay for a few days. Then we can decide what to do."
Down in the lobby, the tour group was assembling at the front doors. Myrna was waiting for them.
"They tell me this Venice place has canals for streets and ya get around in boats," she said with a degree of skepticism.
"That's true," said Karl. Before she could comment further, he continued. "Look Myrna, Antonio and I have decided we...uh want to see a little more of Florence. So, we're gonna stay behind and ... uh catch up with the tour tomorrow."
"Whad'ya wanna do that fer? This place's just a buncha old buildin's and museums. That there Venice sounds like it'd be more fun with boats and all."
"Yes, well, I'm sure you'd like that a lot, but, well, we'd rather see more of the art work and ... and ...stuff." He finished lamely.
"Suit yerself," she replied shrugging her shoulders. "See ya when ya get there." She left for the bus.
Just then, the bellmen began to load the travel bags on the trolleys to be taken to the bus. Karl held on to his. He began to search for Giorgio and the tour director. He found them near the front desk as they were completing check out arrangements. He and Antonio walked up to them.
"Excuse me," Karl began.
The men turned and smiled at him.
"Boun Giorno," they said together.
"Boun Giorno," Karl responded. "Antonio and I have decided we'd like to spend more time here in Florence. Ah... we'll catch up with you tomorrow... if that's alright?"
The tour director looked surprised. He made sure Karl understood that they were on their own once the tour left and that there would be no refund for the unused room in Venice. When Karl assured him he was clear on those points, they said good-bye and parted company.
"Now to find a cab," said Karl with a weak smile at his friend. Antonio took a deep breath and nodded.
They made their way to the taxi stand outside the hotel under the portico. The first two cabbies they tried did not speak English. Antonio could have spoken with them, of course, but Karl needed to be able to communicate as well...just in case. If Antonio was not addressing him, he couldn't understand Italian.
"Excuse me. Do you speak English?" Karl inquired of the third driver.
"Si Signore, yes I do," said the smiling older man. "Where can I take you?"
Karl explained that they wanted to drive outside the city limits of Florence, and that they would like to be informed when they approached the boundary. After they left the city Karl would give more instructions. The driver looked a bit puzzled but agreed. Then Karl asked, "How many of us are here in the cab?"
"How many are in the cab?" the driver asked back.
"Yes, beside you, how many are here?"
Karl felt silly asking this question, but he needed to be clear on this point.
"Ah...two?" the man answered as if he thought this was a trick question. "You and your young friend." He smiled at Antonio.
"Good" said Karl, "Graziee. Now we can go."
The cab pulled out into the busy morning traffic. As they made their way through the city, the driver looked into his rear view mirror and said to Antonio, "Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"
"That is possible," Antonio said, with a wink at Karl, who smiled nervously. "I have been in Florence a long time."
The driver nodded and his eyes returned to the road.
Karl held Antonio's hand on the seat between them. He could feel his heart beating faster as the ride continued. After fifteen minutes, the driver said, "Scuza, we are almost out of the city. Two more streets and we will reach... ah...i limiti di cittŕ."
"The city limits," Karl offered.
"Si, the city limits."
"Could you slow down as we leave the city, please?"
"Si," the driver responded.
The cab slowed in the next block. Karl turned to Antonio. He took both hands in his. The two men stared intently at each other.
"This is where Florence ends," came the driver's voice.
As the cab crossed a busy street, Karl stifled a gasp as Antonio faded from his view, rather like a movie scene fading to black.
"Stop!" he said in a low whisper.
"Signore?" the driver asked.
"Stop, stop here."
The cabbie pulled the cab to the curb, turned and looked questioningly at Karl.
Alone in the back seat, Karl asked the driver, "Who do you see here?"
"Who do you see here on the seat? How many are here?" Karl asked forcing himself to stay calm.
"Just you, Signore," said the man, looking at Karl quizzically.
"Was anyone with me when you picked me up at the hotel?"
"No, signore, just you." The driver gave Karl a questioning look, raising an eyebrow.
Karl sighed. "Thank you. Please, take us ... ah... me back into the city."
The driver turned the cab around and proceeded to cross the road once more. Karl held his breath. As they passed back into Florence, Antonio materialized again. Karl let out a sigh.
"Tonio," he said aloud and threw his arms around the young man. "Tonio, you're back."
Karl caught the driver looking at them in the rear view mirror. He was smiling.
Karl broke the embrace and turned to the driver. "Can you see him now?"
"Of course," said the cabbie. He looked puzzled again.
Karl and Antonio stood outside the building where the cabbie had dropped them. Requesting he take them to a cheap hotel, the Colorado was the suggestion given.
"I hope he is right about not judging this place by the entry," Karl sighed. Antonio shrugged and looked at the shabby narrow entryway. They picked up the luggage and proceeded to enter the building. The driver had been correct. Once inside they found the simple, but pleasant lobby. The friendly attendant, after informing them that breakfast was included and served in the adjoining breakfast room, gave them their key.
As there was no elevator, they walked up to the second floor. They entered the room and placed the luggage on the rack. The room was pleasant and bright. There was a large queen sized bed sporting a lively floral print spread and an ornate scrolled headboard. A small wardrobe stood next to a writing desk upon which was a vase of fresh flowers.
Karl took Antonio by the hand and led him to the window. They stood with arms around each other staring out at the city.
"You can't leave Florence." Karl said with a deep sadness.
Antonio shook his head. "What are we to do?" he asked.
Karl didn't answer. He took the man he loved in his arms and, laying his head on his chest, shed a tear.
That afternoon, they left the hotel and walked around the area. The Colorado was located in the heart of the museum district. Karl held his breath as they rounded a corner and stood in front of the Galleria De Academia, the home of The David. A sign outside read: Aprir oggi, To Open Today. Apparently the Galleria had been closed for several days following the disappearance of the statue. Now it was open again. Karl looked at Antonio who managed a wan smile.
They ate lunch at a sidewalk bistro.
"Do you have any ideas?" Antonio inquired hopefully.
Taking a deep breath, Karl smiled and said, "Well, I've been thinking ever since this morning when we returned to the city."
"And," Antonio urged.
"Well," Karl began. "First we know that you can't leave."
The young man nodded.
"So, I could stay here." Antonio brightened. Karl continued, "The brochure on our tour said there was The International School of Florence. I could call to see if there is a chance of my getting on the faculty."
"You would do that for me?"
Reaching across the table and taking his lover's hands in his, he replied, "I've waited all my life for you. I would do anything not to lose you now."
Having voiced a plan that could keep them together, the men strolled the streets of Florence arm in arm. Karl was happier than he had ever been in his life. He was with a man of his dreams and openly proclaiming his love for him.
They returned to the hotel mid afternoon. Karl stopped at the desk and asked for a telephone directory to look up the phone number of the school. Having procured that much needed piece of information, they proceeded to climb the stairs to their room.
Once inside, Karl sat on the bed. He looked at the phone and took a deep breath. Antonio lay on his stomach, his chin propped in his hands, his legs flexed, crossed at the ankles. He nodded encouragingly. Karl picked up the phone and dialed the number. The phone rang three times. A recorded message began: "Ciao, avete raggiunto la Scuola Internazionale di Firenze." This greeting was followed by a list of options: Per la pressa italiana una, Para la prensa dos del espańol, For English press three. Karl pressed three and was greeted by another recorded message. "Thank you for calling The International School of Florence. Please listen carefully and choose from our option list. For general information press 1. For enrollment information press 2. For employment information press 3." Karl pressed three, again. After two rings he got an answer.
"Thank you for calling. How may I help you?"
Karl indicated he was interested in teaching at the school and was told that at present there were no openings, that there was a waiting list for teachers in the English school, but, they would be happy to send him an application which, when completed, would be kept on file.
Karl thanked the person and hung up. He turned to Antonio.
"No luck. They aren't hiring teachers right now."
Karl sat with his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands.
Antonio sat up, swung his legs off the side of the bed and sat next to Karl. He gently put one arm around his shoulders, the other on his thigh. He gave him a squeeze.
"If we were only meant to have this week, then let us make the most of it. We should not let the next four days pass regretting we have so little time. We will get to the end and feel worse than we do now for wasting the time that we had," the young man said in tender earnestness.
Karl looked into his eyes. "You're right. We have four days." Karl nodded his head in agreement. "They're ours to enjoy."
And they did, starting at that moment. They spent the afternoon making gentle, tender love: enjoying each other to the fullest. They took a luxurious shower. That evening, they left the hotel, walking hand in hand to explore the nightlife of Florence. They discovered the Piccolo Café where they joined the crowd of like-minded men and women. There they celebrated their love with dancing, wine and a candlelight dinner on the terrace. Returning to The Colorado, they slept wrapped in each other's arms, following another time of precious intimacy.
The next morning and those following, they woke to make love and eat a leisurely breakfast in the hotel. Then they would tour the city. The lovers found parks in which to walk, stores in which to window shop, places to eat and in general lived as if this were the pattern for the rest of their lives. Returning to the hotel each day, they shared their love totally. Never once did they mention that the day of Karl's departure drew nearer with each hour. They were true to their pledge to one another: to enjoy each other and each day to the fullest.
But, that day of departure could not be pushed back: it came. That morning Karl lay awake looking at the sleeping face of his lover. He bent and kissed his forehead, brushing the dark curls away with his hand. Antonio opened his eyes and smiled.
"Make love to me," Karl said. "I want to feel you inside me, as I have been in you, once before I..." He could not finish the sentence.
"Of course," came the reply.
Antonio pulled Karl down beside him. Gentle kisses, warm caresses, whispered endearments brought both men to full arousal. They prolonged their foreplay. Finally, Karl rolled on his back. Having been tenderly prepared for his union with Antonio, Karl had no fear of pain, only longing to consummate their love. He raised his legs to Antonio's shoulders.
"I love you, Tonio, now and for always."
"I love you, Karl, now and for always," Antonio repeated as he eased his manhood forward, seeking entry to Karl's waiting body.
Karl ignored the slight pain. He knew only the fulfillment of being one with the man he loved, the rhythm of their bodies carrying him to a realm of emotion he had never even imagined. Their climax was simultaneous: the afterglow ethereal. Karl held his Tonio for the last time.
Inside The Galleria Dell Academia the two men stood outside the cordoned off Tribuna of David. Hand in hand they looked at the empty plinth.
"What do you think will happen to you when I leave?" Karl asked hesitantly.
"I don't know," came the reply.
"Are you frightened?"
"Yes," Antonio turned to him, "but what we have shared gives me the courage I need.
Karl took his hands in his. "I wish I could take you with me."
"I wish it too." Antonio smiled and looked at Karl intently. "We have wished before, who knows maybe we are allowed more than one wish."
They embraced and left The Galleria. They took a cab to the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, where Karl would take the 4:25 Alitalia flight to rejoin the tour group in Naples for the trip back to New York. Standing outside the final security checkpoint, they held each other one more time.
"Arrivederci il mio amore," they said in unison.
Karl turned and walked through the security arch. On the other side he turned and waved. Antonio waved back. Karl walked away to the concourse.
Sitting next to the window, Karl watched as the city dropped away below him. The afternoon sun glinted off the domes of the ancient buildings. He wondered which one was the Academia. He wondered where his 'Tonio' was now, if the plinth was still empty?
The man sitting next to him pulled out his laptop and flipped it open. Karl looked back out of the window. The city was behind them now.
"Holy shit!" the man exclaimed. Karl turned and looked at the screen. There in the center was a picture of The David. The banner read, 'Michelangelo's Masterpiece Mysteriously Returned.'
Karl read the first lines of the article.
'Today at 4:25 P.M., tourists and staff at the famed Galleria Dell Academia were startled by the sudden reappearance of the missing statue of David, King of Israel by sculptor, Michelangelo. Authorities have no explanation of how the immense work of art could have suddenly...'
"Can you believe that," the man sitting next to him went on.
Karl nodded, smiling, and said, "Oh, I think I can."
The man looked at him strangely, but didn't continue the conversation. Karl turned back to the window to watch the sun shining on the ripples of the Mediterranean far below. He smiled.
"Arrivederci il mio amore."
"So, whatcha do with yer time back there in Florence?" Myrna questioned Karl. "Musta been borin' there all by yerself."
Karl stretched out in the seat next to her as the plane lifted off from Naples' Capodichino Airport.
"Actually I had a great time," he replied with a wistful smile.
"Well, ya probably had a better time than I did," moaned Myrna and she launched into a long tale of how bad the buses were, how all the museums looked alike and how they made ya pay through the nose to visit some old ruin where God fearing Christians were eaten by lions.
"And the pizza weren't fit to eat."
Karl smiled. His Italian adventure ended where it had started, with Myrna prattling on and on with every conceivable complaint under the sun about the trip.
But, it wasn't really the same. He had changed. He no longer thought of himself as an over the hill, has been of a schoolteacher whom no one would ever want to love. Italy had changed that. Tonio had changed that. So, as he bade Myrna good-bye so she could connect with her flight to Alabama, he could honestly respond positively to her request that he stay in touch, and maybe they could travel together again sometime.
As he made his way to the baggage claim, there was a spring in his step. He whistled and nodded at passers-by. He even unabashedly turned to take a quick look at an extraordinary set of buns that passed him on the concourse, sucking air through his teeth. 'I know what Myrna would be saying about now,' he thought with a soft laugh. He waited for his luggage, and when it came in sight, he deftly lifted it off the carousel and began to make his way out of the building.
"Hey, sir, Mr. Excuse me," came a deep, melodic male voice. "I think you picked up my bag by mistake?"
Karl turned and looked into the eyes of an extraordinarily handsome young man with deep blue eyes and black curly hair. He smiled. "I'm sorry," he said and looked down at the tag on the bag. 'Anthony Liberatore,' it read.
"Why am I not surprised," Karl said out loud.
"Sorry?" the young man said.
"Oh nothing, just thinking out loud," Karl responded.
"You look very familiar," said the young man. "Do I know you?"
Karl smiled again. "Yes, Tonio, I think maybe you do. You don't mind if I call you Tonio, do you?"
"Tonio? How did you know my nickname? Only my mom calls me that."
"Interesting," said Karl. "Let me buy you dinner and maybe we can recall just how it is we know each other."
The young man smiled, "Hey, that would be very nice"
"Yes, it would," Karl agreed, "Yes, it would."
"Tell me, Tonio, where are you from?"
"Italy. Florence, actually, but now I'm going to live in New York."
"How nice," said Karl. "You speak English very well."
"English? I don't speak English. Not yet, anyway. You speak Italian fluently," he said to Karl. "Maybe you could help me learn?"
"I'm sure I could," Karl agreed, with a grin, "I'm sure I could."
Karl and Tonio turned and walked off down the concourse. As they walked away Karl put his arm around the young man's shoulders. The young man smiled at him. Karl's next great adventure had begun.
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