The carrier came and gave them the parcel. The two boys immediately opened it and at once turned to look for the page missing in the other copy. It was a page of ads. One was for sexy clothes for him and her with an address of Bologna. Then there was the ad of "artistic and erotic" photographs in Florence. Two were from sex-shops, one in Rome and one in Milan. An ad of prophylactics and condoms, scented and with various flavours, fluorescent and so on had three addresses, in Brescia, Genoa and Naples. Then there was an ad for aspiring actors and actresses in Rome, another for special escort services, both male and female, in Milan, another for aspiring writers of erotic novels in Milan and the last one for a course for "erotic massage" in Rome. And that was all.
"If she cut this page out, she must have been interested in one of these ads, but which one?" Giulio said, perplexed, looking at them again and again.
"There are eleven addresses. But if she went to Rome for one of them, only three remain - the sex-shop, the one for actors and actresses, and this about the erotic massages..." Osvaldo pointed out.
"Perhaps she just wanted to visit the sex-shop on the occasion of one of her trips to Rome... perhaps only out of curiosity..." Giulio said, "... and it has nothing to do with her recent departure."
"Do you think so, or do you hope so?" Osvaldo asked, looking into his eyes.
"I... hope so."
"And what do you really think?"
"This one for actors?"
"Yes. But as it is in this kind of magazine, it surely it's not for... normal actors."
"No, but could Letizia be interested in doing spicy movies... it doesn't seem possible." Giulio said with a hesitant smile.
"We can try to ask them for information." Osvaldo said.
"If it's what we fear, I'm afraid they wouldn't tell us if she contacted them or not. And anyway, she possibly didn't think at all about it."
"But so we are back in the dark again." Osvaldo said pensively.
"She could just have found this magazine at the hospital, and that page was already missing, and we are elaborating on it." Giulio said, trying to seem unworried, but Osvaldo felt he was really tense.
"Anyway, we have nothing else to cling to."
"That's true, but this could also lead us totally astray."
The two boys were silent for some time, with the two copies of the magazine open before them. Then Osvaldo picked up the copy with the missing page again, lifted it up it and looked at the page, against the light, rather carefully.
"What are you doing?" Giulio asked, made curious by these manoeuvres.
"Look here. There is the trace of a cross marked with a pen or a pencil... which ad does it correspond to?"
"Let me see... if the trace is here... the cross has to have been traced... here!"
It was the ad for actors and actresses.
"Can it have been she who marked it?" Giulio asked, hoping to get a no for an answer.
"I don't know. Fifty-fifty. We would have to check it, but how?"
"The address is a post office box... We can write there to ask who they are... what one has to do to become an actor for them..."
"Yes, but if she really was there... and if she saw your or my name... because she went away like this she evidently doesn't want anybody know about it, and mainly us."
"But it would just be a clerk who would get our letter ..."
"Yes, but he can possibly say - oh, look, Letizia, another letter from Florence, do you know them? That place couldn't be a big enterprise like Cinecittà, I imagine..."
"Yes, you're right. But we could write just giving a poste-restante address, just with our ID number."
"Assuming they would reply to such an address... And anyway, several days would pass even if they replied."
"So, then, what do you think we can do?" Osvaldo asked.
"Listen, we don't have any other clues. It could turn out to be a flop, but... it's worth a try. I'll ask for some more days leave from my job and go to Rome. I'll get a hotel room. Then I'll write from there giving them the hotel address so that they can contact me soon..." Giulio said.
"Do you intend to tell them you're an aspiring actor?"
"Yes, something like that."
"And... would you really do something... a movie?"
"If this is the only way for me to know if she's there... Do you think it's a totally crazy idea?"
"I don't know... Possibly not, but... Just think if you have to perform in a porno movie, then you possibly discover that she never went there!"
"Yes, it's true... But do you have a better idea?"
"No. But... what if we discover that she really is there?"
"Well... I would talk with her... ask her to come away with me... I'd try to understand what pushed her to take such a step... I don't know."
"Would you have her with you even if you discovered she's become a porno-star?"
"If she wanted to continue... my god, I don't know. I love her, don't you see? But if she wanted to go on... I think I would feel too bad. I mean... if she did it at some time... I don't care so much, but that she goes on while being my woman..."
"How much do you love her?"
"So very much! But possibly not enough to go on sharing her with other men... even if just on a physical level."
"If you have to perform in one of those movies... and then she's not there... somebody who knows you could see you later..."
"I'm ready to run that risk, if I don't have any other system to find her."
"I think we should consider it some more..." Osvaldo said.
He then called his parents to tell them he couldn't find her yet, and had difficulty dissuading them from calling the police to report her disappearance. He then called the human resources office of the hospital asking if by chance his sister did contact them to get her severance pay, but got a negative answer.
Giulio had a dejected, gloomy air.
"Come on, Giulio, we are possibly just building a house of cards. We have not to cross our bridges before we come to them." Osvaldo said sitting at his side and girding his shoulders with his arm.
"Let's hope, Osvaldo, let's hope. But this would explain why she left without saying a word to you or to me."
"Yes, true... but it could possibly be just brainwave, a... an escapade. Possibly after giving it a try she will be the first to want to stop, to give it up and come back..."
"God grant. But it is now almost a month since she went away."
"Well, after all that's not so long. It seems a long time to us who are looking for her, but for her it possibly even went too fast..."
"Okay. I'm going to Rome, Osvaldo."
"To be a... porno-star?"
"Yes, as it seems to be the only thing I can do. I can't just sit here and wait..."
"Well, then... then I am going too."
"I didn't dare ask you. I'll need a friend near me... especially if she really is there."
"I will go along and I'll tell them I also want to be an actor."
"Very good. With two it could possibly be easier to check if she really is there."
"I'll call my work in Milan to tell them I need to lengthen my absence."
"It's decided, then?"
"It's decided, yes."
"Let me have just a couple of days to settle my business, then we'll go."
Giulio left him and went straightaway to his office. Osvaldo remained at home for a while, to rethink the matter over... then decided to call Leo and went to see him.
When Osvaldo was with him, Leo asked, "You have a tense expression, what's happening?"
"Nothing... but I'm tense, yes."
"Yes... huge..." and he told him the whole story of the disappearance of his sister.
Leo listened to him in silence, to the end, "So, now you're going to Rome?"
"Yes, we don't know what else we can do."
"Christ, going to be porno-stars just for... but he, your sister's boyfriend, he knows you are gay?"
"No, he doesn't."
"And... if they ask you to do screen-test or a movie with a woman, you..."
"I'll hope not to misfire."
"And if, on the contrary, it was with a man?"
"I don't know... I'll have to see..."
"And possibly with your sister's boyfriend?"
"Ohmygod! I didn't think of it!"
"Wouldn't you like to?"
"Yes, far too much, he's so beautiful! But of course he would refuse. No, but I would refuse anyway because we'll do it only to see the actresses, and..."
"But what a huge mess!" Leo said, then asked him, "But now, do you feel like making love with me, or do you just need to talk?"
"No, I really need to make love with you, Leo. I need to not think about this affair for a while. You have to forgive me, if so it seems that I am using you for my..."
Leo smiled, "But I'm glad being... used by you. Being able to make you relax, to forget for a while."
"You're a dear."
"Well, I simply like you a lot. And I can understand you are passing through a really bad time. Come here, come on, and Leo will make you forget everything, at least for a while." the boy said embracing him and starting to caress him through his clothes.
Leo had to go on for some time before starting to arouse him, but he felt he was gradually answering to his caresses, relaxing so he could finally light his desire.
For a couple of hours Osvaldo was able to forget everything and everybody and fully devoted himself to making love with that boy, enjoying his sweet availability. He thought he could even fall in love with Leo, if he just had more time to spend with him. He liked the calm and assured way with which the boy was taking care of him, and the joyous and sweet way he was accepting his attentions. He enjoyed the long preliminaries, the long union, the time they spent after their orgasm just to cuddle and relax. He liked the simple cheerfulness, the spontaneity with which Leo gave and received pleasure. At moments he was a delightful boy, a times a passionate man, in a well balanced and agreeable mix.
Afterwards Leo, while almost rocking him, asked, "Do you feel better, now, Osvaldo?"
"Yes, Leo, thank you. I'm feeling much better."
"I always feel very good too, after I've made love with you. I even study more willingly, with more energy."
"Well, at least I don't need to have pangs of conscience for stealing from you the time to prepare your exams... Tell me, Leo, for how long have you known you are gay?"
"How long? From my birth, of course." the boy gaily answered.
Osvaldo smiled, "Yes, but when did you clearly became aware of it? When did you have your first experience?"
"I became aware quite early. I very soon felt I was different from most of my friends and mates. And that made me feel I was special, and I liked it. I thought that everybody believed I was just one of the many boys, but that instead I was different. Yes, I liked that sensation. Then, well, you know, the usual kids secret games when I was twelve, thirteen... Then, when I was fifteen, a cousin who works as a sailor came to visit us. At that time he was nineteen. My parent had him sleeping in my room with me, on a folding bed they had put there for that occasion. Before falling asleep, we chatted, and I asked him if it was true that on board, sailors do it with each other. In the dark, he giggled, and told me that yes, it was true.
"I then asked him what they did. He asked me if I wanted just to know or to try with him. I at once said I wanted to try. He got up, slipped into my bed, pulled off my pyjamas and started doing it with me. I felt immediately that it was really good, great... He tried to fuck me, but I was too tight. He said that the next day he would buy some special cream... And the following evening he tried again... We made love every night, for that dozen days he stopped at our place. He was strong and yet also gentle. No, he wasn't really handsome, but he was really super-skilled. I can say he taught me all there was to know, so that after him I had nothing more to learn. A kind of intensive course. He told me that while several of his mates, although on board didn't refuse doing it with a mate, when they were in a port, went to look for a woman, but he and a few others, were instead looking for men. And he also explained to me how to look for a date, how to find a companion."
"Did you ever had a steady boyfriend?"
"No, and I don't want one, not for the moment. I want to have more experiences, to amuse myself. After I graduate and I get a job, I'll look for one. I would really like one like you, for instance, but after I graduate, not now. I will be more mature, I will be able to understand better who my Mister Right can be."
"Did you meet that cousin again?"
"Oh yes, we meet once every year. His parents are dead, so he considers us like his family, therefore once a year he comes to spend a couple of weeks with us. And now, each time he comes, he stops here at my place and we make love again."
"Wouldn't you have him as a steady boyfriend?"
"No. He has his boyfriend on the ship, a steady boyfriend. They've been together for four years now. I would prefer his boyfriend because he's handsome and very likeable. But they are in love with each other."
"Well why, if they're in love, does he cheat with you?"
"I'm the only boy he has sex with. His boyfriend knows about us, and he's not jealous of me. It's not really cheating - my cousin always goes back to his sweetheart. With me it's something different. With me... it's not just a fuck, but it's not love either. It's like a friendship expressing itself very physically."
"I understand. But would you accept a boyfriend of your's having a friendship... also physical?"
"If he really loves me, and if I really come before anything else for him, why not? Of course, if he went continually to look for other adventures I think I would be worried. It would mean I'm not enough for him, I'm not what he really needs. But I really think that if my cousin stopped having sex with me, he would not look for a replacement. No, he's really in love with his man."
"And I... I'm falling in love with the boyfriend of my sister!"
"Oh, shit! But he's not aware, he doesn't know, you told me."
"Of course not. He's in love with her. Between us is just taking shape a very strong friendship... at least from his point of view."
"Is he handsome?"
"He's wonderful, both inside and outside."
"That has to mean suffering, for you..."
"Yes, it does. But it's a... sweet suffering. What would one not do for love!"
"I don't know if I would be able to love without a return. Knowing that it's a hopeless love."
"Unhappily a love is not a light."
"You can't just switch it on and off, pushing on a button."
Leo smiled. "Yes, you could possibly be right. I like your image of a light. But the day you really fall in love with another boy you will also probably be able to switch off the love for your handsome brother-in-law..."
"I hope so."
"Well, Osvaldo, Now I want show you the picture of my cousin with his man." Leo said and got off the bed.
Osvaldo looked at his beautiful naked body going to the desk, saw him rummage in a drawer and come back with a small album in his hand. Back on the bed, he sat near him, opened the album and showed him a photograph.
"Here they're in Spain," he explained, "and this is my cousin."
Osvaldo looked at the photograph. The two sailors were seated on a low wall, with some bushes behind them. His cousin was sitting between his lover's legs, his back leaning against his chest, and his lover had an arm on his shoulder and a hand on his chest. The lover was really handsome and had a wide and sweet smile. The cousin was nice, and had a light smile on his lips. Both had an arm on the low wall. The lover had his legs hanging down. They were beautiful in their merchant navy uniforms.
"They are so sweet, both of them. It's obvious they fit well together..."
"Yes, don't they? They are saving their money to buy a flat and a shop in some years, when they will leave their job aboard the ship."
"What kind of shop?"
"Of exotic objects."
They chatted some more. Osvaldo was grateful to the boy who, by talking in this way, was helpfully distracting Osvaldo from his worries. When Osvaldo said it was surely time he got dressed and went away, to let him resume his studies, Leo refused.
"No, Osvaldo. Tomorrow, if I've understood correctly, we will meet for the last time, won't we? Therefore today and tomorrow I can devote more of my time to you."
"I could possibly come to see you... once a year." Osvaldo said, jokingly.
"Why not. You will always be welcome."
"You are so sweet, Leo."
"Careful not to get diabetes, then!" the boy jested, to ease the tension, and kissed him.
And they started making love again.
That evening Osvaldo went back home, feeling much more relaxed. He called Giulio, who told him he had asked for one month's leave, which was granted.
Then Giulio asked him, "Where have you been all day long?"
"Wandering in Florence." Osvaldo lied, and felt sorry he had to lie.
He thought he could have told him the truth, and that possibly Giulio would have accepted him all the same, but he didn't find the courage. It was not out of lack of trust towards Giulio, but really because he was in love with him. He felt it would have been uncouth telling the man he had fallen in love with that he went to make love with another. Even though of course Giulio didn't even suspect that Osvaldo was in love with him.
Giulio had to spend the following day at his workplace, so they made an appointment for mid afternoon. Osvaldo would have liked to meet him that same evening, but it was already late. He watched TV for a while, then went to sleep.
He woke up in the dead of the night. A sudden thought made him sit up like a spring - what effect would it have on him if he had to be naked in font of his naked sister? Of course he would do nothing with her, but... what about looking at her fucking with a man? He never thought about that before. It would surely be terribly embarrassing... He then thought that almost surely the actors would meet before performing... therefore still dressed. Therefore his eventual meeting with his sister would happen off the set... both dressed... But they, seeing he had the same family name of his sister, could possibly guess... suspect. If he could just have a fake ID card... But how, and where, to get one? And how much would a fake document cost? And how long would it take to get one?
He laid down again, telling himself not to indulge in too much fantasy. Anyway he would talk about that with Giulio, the next day... And possibly also with Leo... It could be absolutely useless, but...
The following morning he called Leo and went to his place again. The boy welcomed him with the usual warmth. Osvaldo then told him what he had been thinking during the night.
"Yes, you're right. If she comes to know that you applied to be an actor there... Seeing the same family name, they would surely tell her... A fake document would be ideal, of course, but... Listen, I got an idea - you could tell them you've lost or don't have your papers with you ..."
"I'm afraid they will smell a rat and become suspicious."
"And what if... if you made a colour photocopy of my ID card, as well as yours, then you cut the photo from your copy and glue it on the copy of mine..."
"If they just looked it from far, yes, but if they take it in their hands to make a photocopy, for instance, they would immediately see it's fake."
Leo really wanted to help him, but it seemed that there was no solution. But at one point Leo went to get his own ID card and started to look at it carefully.
"Look, the photograph is fixed with just two rivets. We can detach it very carefully without spoiling the card at all, then put your picture at its place with two holes exactly in the same position for the rivets, then fix everything with glue... They would not examine it very carefully, will they? And after all you could be three years younger."
"But if the fraud is discovered, you could find yourself in deep trouble."
"I can just report to the police I lost it. We can try, and if we are able to do a nice job..."
"You really will do that?"
"Yes, sure. It's for a good cause, after all. Listen, we will go out now and you make your picture at the automatic booth. There is one just three blocks from here. Let's go."
"Are you really sure you want to do it, Leo?"
"Yes, sure. But if you really have to do porno movies, don't use my name, please, use a pseudonym."
"Of course I will!"
They went to get the snapshots. Back home, they cut one away from the band, superposed it on the photo on the Leo's ID document and marked the exact points for the two holes. Then Leo took a small lancet and, from the back, carefully cut the ID paper following the contour of the metal rivets perfectly. So Leo's photo was freed from his document together with the rivets. Then the boy freed the rivets from his photo and applied them to the two holes he had prepared on Osvaldo's picture, until he forced them through. He checked them with his ID paper's holes and everything matched perfectly. He took some special glue for photographs, spread a little of it all around the rivets edges and on the back of Osvaldo's picture, then he matched the rivets again with the holes.
Osvaldo was following the whole operation holding Leo's detached photograph in his hand.
He then said, "But here there is also an embossed stamp, that is missing on my photo."
"Yes, I've thought of that too. You'll see that I will solve also this detail. Now we have to just wait for the glue to dry. Just half an hour will be enough... Meanwhile we can have a fresh coffee, alright?
After they drank the coffee, Leo resumed his work. He searched among his tools, took a small steel nail with a round head, a hammer, a small wooden board, a newspaper and a sheet of white paper. He fixed the newspaper on the wooden board, covered it with the white paper, and then placed the ID paper face down on the white paper.
"Hold it dead still in this position. You see that on the reverse side there is the trace of the embossed stamp, that is more pronounced where the picture was? I will now go over it again..."
He put the small round head of the nail where the embossing was deeper and started to give small strokes with the hammer on its point, moving for fractions of millimetre the round head, inside the paper's furrow. He proceeded so for a long time, going over and over all the trace again. He finally put down his tools and turned the ID paper over.
"Good. Look. Do you see that now the stamp is in relief also on your picture? It isn't perfect, but if you compare it with the one on my picture, it's almost the same... you see, this also somewhat imperfect. Et voilà, monsieur. Les jeux sont faits!"
"Wow! But you are a licensed counterfeiter!" Osvaldo said, full of admiration.
"Eh, I've discovered I've got a talent I didn't know I had. It means that if I'm not able to find a job after I graduate from university I will have an alternative way to earn my living!" the boy said, laughing. Then, girding Osvaldo's waist, added, "But now, isn't it true that I deserve a prize?"