Eugenio was very busy for some days. But he got the time to go to the newspapers section of the National Library, in order to look for English newspapers. What he found confirmed part of what the voice in the telephone had told him. A certain Nick O'Neil, member of IRA, had been killed in a clash with the police, and a certain John Brax died on November 12th 1994...
"Are you there?"
"Sure, I'm here."
"I found something on the newspapers. But maybe you are just an archivist who, before building your story, had consulted newspapers, no?"
"There is no worse unbeliever than one who doesn't want to believe"
"Bah, let's pretend all is true. Of the three hundred and more persons you have been, which one did you love most, or liked most?"
"Everyone. It's always me, even if always different. Nobody is more valuable than anybody else, it is just society that makes stupid comparisons and arbitrarily puts a high or low value on a man."
"But, who had the most interesting life?"
"Everyone, from my point of view, in fact each time I've learned a lot of new things. Plus and minus, plus and minus... it doesn't exist, can't you understand? We are all equals, even if in extreme diversity."
"Come on! If we were all equal, we will fall in love for anybody and on the contrary there are some who attract us and others who leave us cold, or even annoy us."
"Don't change the tune! We are all equals concerning dignity, but just because we are so different about character, expression or culture, we feel OK with some and we do not with some others. Is it possible that you can't understand that?"
"OK, OK! Do you, by chance, have some more tales for me?"
"Yes, sure, three hundred and fifty nine more."
"Ah, and something adventurous?"
"Adventurous? All right. It is 1611 and I come to life in Kassel, my name is Ludwig, I'm the fifth son of a little beer merchant. A quite comfortable childhood, even if not in luxury, also because my father is rather stingy. I start to work really early, with my brothers, and I don't have much free time. But on Sundays all commercial activities have to stop, so it is a real day of rest. In the morning I go with my family to the church, then lunch at home, finally I'm free: I run about with my friends, boys of my age. Just outside town there is a small wood, which is the centre of our adventures: we play at the war, or who finds more nests, or hide and seek.
I am thirteen. We are just playing hide and seek. My friend Bertrand shows me a silver coin. I ask him how he did get it. He asks me if I would like to have one, too. Sure, I tell him, sure I would like. So, he tells me that there is a guy, downtown, who is generous with boys who are kind to him. I don't understand: it's enough being kind to him? Sure, he says, it's enough doing some games with him. And so he explains to me that the man likes to do the secret games that sometimes we do amongst boys: to open our breeches, touching what's inside, and that the man likes making the boy come, and then he gives him some coins. This story makes me curious.
After all, to have coins in exchange for things we do amongst friends and for free, is everything but bad, I think. So I ask him if he can introduce me to that man. He proposes me going back to town, without being seen by our other friends. We slip away, amused at the idea that they will seek us in vain. Downtown he makes me enter a gate; we cross a courtyard and climb a staircase. He stops in front of a door and knocks. A servant comes to open the door. Bertrand tells him that he brought a friend for the master. The servant makes us enter in a kind of small lounge. After a while a man, dressed with a certain elegance, comes in. He is around thirty-five, and he makes me feel uneasy. My friend tells him that I'm interested in doing those things. The man seems pleased, looks at me from hair to toe, then says to Bertrand to come back later. I don't want my friend to go away, I feel ill at ease.
As soon as we are alone, the man, always looking at me with his piercing eyes, touches me between my legs, fingers me. Even if I feel terribly ashamed, I'm aroused and he seems happy with that. Having locked the door with a bolt, the man pulls out his brocade jerkin, slips out of his black leotard and breeches, opens his white underpants and... I look with my eyes wide open what he has between his legs. He smiles at my expression, and invites me to touch it. I like the feeling, it is warm, strong. He starts undressing me and I let him do so, while I continue to caress his rod, fascinated. Soon both of us are completely naked. He has a strong body, a little hairy, manly. He spreads some cushions on the carpet and brings me down with him. He touches me everywhere and in a way that excites me terribly. I feel ashamed and yet I like all that, and my heart beats fast. We just touch, caress, finger each other until we both reach the maximum pleasure, and I like looking at his jerking body, prey to a strong orgasm. I confusedly think that it is a lot better than what we do amongst friends. He smiles at me. We dress again. He asks me my name, gives me a copper coin and asks me if I will come again to his place, next Sunday afternoon: if I come he will give me two copper coins. I say yes. Then he makes me swear that I will tell absolutely nobody about our meetings, without his authorization. I swear.
And go back home. I hide my coin, and I feel rich. The thought of earning more coins, and in a such a pleasurable way, is alluring.
The following Sunday, as soon as I'm allowed to leave home, I go to that house instead of going to the woods to meet my friends. My heart beats like a drum. While I climb the stairs, I feel excited. When I'm in front of that door I'm about to knock, but, I don't know why, I lose the courage. I hesitate for a long while then go back downstairs and go to the woods. Bertrand seems astounded to see me. He asks me why I didn't go to my meeting. I tell him how I didn't have the courage. He tells me I was stupid, that Mister Krueger, that's the man's name, was really happy to have met me, that he likes me a lot and that he is waiting for me, and that it is not kind to keep him waiting...
At the end he persuades me. He accompanies me to that door and knocks, and when the servant comes to open, he disappears at once. The servant accompanies me in another room: it is a bed room. Rather elegant. I remain there, standing, alone. The door opens again and the man appears. He says nothing, he smiles, comes close to me, undresses me completely, undresses himself, takes me on the bed. We are excited, we touch each other. He convinces me to drink half a glass of sweet wine.
I feel light, in an agreeable state. I giggle like a dumb kid. And when he asks me to suck at his rod, I just lean between his legs and do it, light heartedly, with pleasure: yes, really with pleasure. The following Sunday I'm again at his place. Two more coins and guaranteed pleasure, I think with excitation. This time I don't need the wine, I do what he asks me without any problem. Afterwards, to make up my mouth, he gives me a little spoon of honey. And the two coins. But the taste is not bad, after all, just a little strange and unusual. Krueger knows who I am, so he orders a keg of beer from my father and asks for home delivery by the boy, that is me. My father doesn't find anything strange in that: I almost always do the small deliveries. The keg is just an excuse to see me again. I have not much time, so he just opens his breeches and I satisfy him in hurry. This time he gives me just one coin, but he promises me three coins when I go to see him next Sunday.
At this point I go to meet him without any problem, willingly. That Sunday he makes me drink a full glass of his sweet wine. Then he spreads something between my buttocks, on my little hole, and it gives me a fresh and pleasurable sensation. When he feels I'm fully excited, completely relaxed, suddenly he takes me. It is a shock, I feel pain, I didn't expect something like that, but I don't have the force to oppose him except by words, and he quietly continues, moving inside me, up and down. Little by little I feel the initial pain soothing and a strange pleasure growing, inside me. He caresses me, for the first time he kisses me in the mouth, he skilfully arouses me and enjoys me. And finally he rejoices inside me, making me come at the same time. And after that, he tells me sweet and winning words that give me pleasure. And when I leave, he gives me a silver coin!
I'm back to see him. He can do with me as it pleases him best, and I promptly accept it, with pleasure. Also because the pain is disappearing as rapidly as the pleasure is growing. At this point I trust him completely. He tells me that I'm one of the best boys he ever met, he flatters me... and each time he takes me for a long time, it is highly pleasant and makes me rejoice. Until one day, while I'm in his bed, naked and fully aroused, he sweetly tells me that there is one of his friends, his guest, who has heard so many good things about me that he wanted to meet me. And he adds that he would be very grateful to me if I would be kind to his friend also. I tell him that I'm ashamed, that I don't want, but he insists so nicely... and another man is in the bed, and Krueger leaves us alone and the man takes me with evident pleasure. And one Sunday there is another friend, then another one, sometimes even two, one after the other, and some friends come back... Until I realize that his "friends" are really paying him to come into my bed, and that in other rooms of that apartment there are other boys and other paying "friends"... We boys enter from the back gate, the clients from the front one. A perfectly organized commerce. At this point the servant is welcoming me and brings me in the bedroom where I have to wait for the new, or old, client. Krueger, I guess, must be busy initiating a new boy that Bertrand brought to him. To me, it is ok that way."
"Hey, but this is just a dreary story of prostitution, it isn't an adventure." Eugenio protested, but he was amused.
"Wait, this is just the beginning. The adventure has yet to start. So, for half a year now I go to that house every Sunday afternoon, and I have put aside a little hoard, steadily growing, but of no use to me, in fact I don't dare to use it. Anyway I rather like going to Krueger's place, the clients are respectable people, gentle and in average quite young. I made them enjoy, and I enjoy myself. Meanwhile the war that will be later known as the Thirty Years' War, has burst out, and Kassel is also affected. So, amongst the clients, some army officers start to show up. Amongst those one takes a fancy to me; I'm a quite handsome kid, and in bed I am more than available. Each time he comes, he wants me. He himself is not bad at all, he is twenty-four years old and his name is Wilhelm. As his company is moved, he says he wants me with him... I'm fascinated, so I decide to flee from home and follow him. He will leave in the evening, with his horse, just before the town gates are closed. So I wait for him at the Frankfurter Gate with a bundle and all my coins. He takes me on his saddle and we leave at full gallop.
When we are at his new assigned place, he accommodates me in an inn, paying the expenses. He comes almost every day to see me and to make love with me. I like him very much, but during the long periods of absence I am bored. Our allies, in this period, are the Danes. I meet a young Dane soldier, a nineteen-year-old boy, we meet several times, until one day Christian makes me understand that he desires me. I ask him if he has a place. He takes me to the ruins of a burned church, we climb the remains of the bell tower, and there I give myself to the youth. Christian is very different from Wilhelm; he is simple, gentle and strong. Christian is a farmer, Wilhelm an aristocrat. Christian is joyful, Wilhelm romantic...
For a while I continue to make love with both of them, each not knowing about the other, but little by little I feel more and more attracted by the handsome Dane. So, when the Danish King, who has the same name as my boyfriend, decides to move his army, I abandon Wilhelm and follow Christian. He succeeds in having me enrolled as a sutler. I'm now sixteen. I follow Christian for two years, till the Danes, having been defeated, abandon the war. I want to follow my young soldier to Denmark, but he tells me that he will live with his family and that he will not be able to justify my presence... so we have to part."
"Were you in love with him?" Eugenio asked.
"No, but I feel really great with him. I ask myself what can I do. I have some coins aside, the uniform of a Dane sutler, and I am without any means to earn my living. I rather like the military life. At first I follow a ballad singer who is northward-bound. He sees me sitting next to the road, eating a piece of bread, so he stops, he buttonholes me and proposes me to travel with him. I understand at once the reason of his proposal, in fact at night he tries to sleep with me. I don't repel him, even if he is some forty years old and a little too thin, I don't repent: he is skilled in bed. We arrive in Pomerania as the Swedish army lands to help the northern rebels against the Emperor. I assist the landing and think that several of those soldiers are rather handsome. So I decide to ask them if they want a sutler speaking German. I'm lucky, they accept, they give me their uniform and I follow them. I don't have to wait long till happens what I wish for. One night, camped near a river, one of the soldiers who never diverted his eyes form me all day long, slips behind the supplies wagon, close to where I was sleeping and, without needing a single word, we just start making love. He had just entered my back, when somebody arrives. I tense, scared, but he makes me understand that I have nothing to worry about, it is just his friend. He lies near us and for the first time I participate in a threesome.
It is said that Northerners are cold people, but I assure you that those two are all but cold. We spend a good part of the night making passionate love. Well, you know, if the Danish soldiers sometimes had sex between themselves, as probably all soldiers of the world do, it seems that Swedish soldiers would rather renounce their pay than not to make love. The great majority form steady couples. And I am, like, adopted by that couple, so that we always make love all three together. But my impression is that even if in bed they are able to make long and valiant battles, they have very little skill as soldiers. In fact they are gathering defeat upon defeat, until at Lützen their king is killed on the battlefield. So also the Swede retire.
But the French army succeeds. I'm now twenty, and I enrol with them.
And for the first time I really fall in love. He is a boy of my age, his name is Maurice. He doesn't have a family and enrolled just to try his luck. One day, when we are all taking a bath in the river, nude as the day we were born, I meet him. He comes near me, swimming then he greets me with a wide smile. He has a body that at once arouses me, I look at him with my mouth agape, I caress him with my eyes. He asks me if I like him. I say yes. He tells me that he likes me, and he bluntly asks me if I want to make love with him.
I say yes. Then he, with a happy smile, tells me to follow him. We summarily get dressed and he takes me to the tents. He asks another soldier if there is somebody inside the tent. The fellow says that it is empty, that we can use it without worry, because he will keep a good watch. We feverishly undress again, lie on the blankets and intertwine full of desire. I like him a lot, he is really well built and he is skilled. We unite in a wonderful sixty-nine and I am so excited and I'm thinking to ask him to take me, when, on the contrary, he offers himself to me. It is my first time. Until now, possibly because they were all older than me, this has never happened.
And so I try and enter him, and I like it a lot, especially because I feel he likes having me in him. Then Maurice takes me, and this also is really good. We are kissing, sated, happy, when the soldier outside tells us that two other soldiers are waiting for their turn... We dress and go out, leaving the place to the two French soldiers. I smile, seeing the lust in their eyes, and the swelling in their trousers, while they enter the tent. Maurice and I have long talks, and long sex meetings as well. I like him a lot, and when he tells me he wants us to be steady lovers, I gladly accept. French soldiers are really wonderful combatants, successful both on battle field and even more in bed. They are collecting victories after victories.
Maurice is a beautiful young man, and very likeable. In our free time he helps me to improve my French and I teach him German. During various battles we are always side by side and each of us protects the other.
During one of the battles, suddenly we realize we are separated from the others: this is very dangerous. We hide in a thicket waiting for the right occasion to reunite with the others. We are there, in silence, holding our breaths, spying the battle line shifts. At a certain moment an officer with several soldiers arrives; they are Imperials, enemies. They are transporting some small wooden boxes. They pass not so far from us, and stop amidst some bushes. We cannot see what they are doing, but when they run back towards the battle field, the wooden boxes are no longer in their hands.
When they disappear, we go to look where they stopped. At first we can't notice anything, just the homogeneous blanket of dry leaves that covers all the under wood. But then Maurice sees something, he shifts the leaves at one point and there is freshly moved earth. I keep guard while he digs, and soon the boxes appear. He takes his bayonet and forces one open; it is full, filled to the brim, of golden Imperial coins, new, shining, with Ferdinand II portray. I think that this is the pay for the soldiers, and that the Imperials, seeing that it was going worst for them, did bury the coins so that the they did not risk to fall in the hands of the French. We consult each other and rapidly take our decision: we empty our cartridge pouches and small packs, and put the coins in, then continue to dig and to take other coins, until our pouches and packs are full and heavy. Maurice says that if we go back to the camp, we cannot possibly hide our treasure in the long run, so, on the spot, we decide to desert, so we can enjoy that unexpected wealth. We rapidly go away from the battlefield.
At night we are near a great farm, there's light shining from the windows. We decide to ask for a place to spend the night. With the excuse we have to join rapidly our army, we will ask them to sell us two horses and to give us some civil clothes, because, we will explain, we are afraid we can run into the Imperials before reaching our army. So we do, ready to defend ourselves and to run away if they don't believe us or if they are pro-Imperials. But there is no problem. We don't pay them with the gold coins, but with our personal ones, which we even in battle always have with us. They seem glad to help two "French allies" and offer us some food. They are a Calvinist family of Dutch descent. The following morning, our uniforms hidden in a sac with some food on top of it, dressed like farmers, we mount our horses, thank them and leave. But as soon as we are out of sight, instead of going towards the battlefields, we turn our horses and gallop towards France. I'm not so steady on the saddle, but luckily I don't fall down, even if I'm close to several times. We gallop for three days, the horses are tired, but now we feel almost safe. We get rid of our uniforms.
We reach Metz and decide to buy two more horses. As the man who sells them to us asks if we come from Luxembourg, we say yes. And after that we tell always that story. And finally we enter France, a little beyond Verdun. We stop at an inn and think about what we can do with all that gold. We don't really have the faintest idea. So we decide to get in contact with the townsfolk and buttonhole some merchants. We hear them say that the future is in manufacturing, that King Louis' government, that is the Cardinal, encourages investors. The laces are very requested... So we decide to look for some lace maker girls. Our idea is to gather enough people to start a production, then to present ourselves to ask for the easy terms we have heard about. Our gold allows us to pay the women without selling yet and to accumulate good precious merchandise.
It takes us one year, but at the end we obtain the patent from the royal officials and we can widen our manufacture. Only few women work at homes, most of them work on the first floor of the house we bought. And to the woman making the most beautiful laces, besides the agreed price, we give a prize, so that the production increases and finally we start to sell to the Paris merchants and our capital, that is now exiguous, starts to increase..."
"Listen, I'm not really interested in your commercial exploits. I would like a little more... spicy story..." Eugenio interrupted him.
"I see. Well, what do you want, a pornographic story?"
"No, not necessarily, but... you and him, how were you together?"
"Maurice and I? Great. We were two middle class youths, admired and respected, and we continued to make love without the slightest problem."
"Nobody did mind the cohabitation of two men?"
"No, because for everybody we are cousins, we also choose the same family name. And the fact we have so many woman workers, several young and pretty, gives origin to gossip that we carefully avoid to belie. Moreover, some of these girls, in order to make themselves important in their companions' eyes, let understand that they are liked by me or Maurice, and these we also don't belie at all: this allows us to live in peace. No, everything goes smoothly. We pass a long quiet period, we are a real middle class couple.
We are both thirty six years old, when Maurice suddenly falls ill: very high temperatures, vomit, incredible migraines: in four days he is dead, notwithstanding I pay the best doctors. Today, with the notions I have, I think it is meningitis, even if I'm not sure.
I make the business proceed, but I feel lost. For the first time, without him at my side, I feel a stranger in that land. The following year, at last, the Thirty Years' War ends. There is a new Louis on the throne of France, and the Fronde starts. I am rich, but I feel lonely. I'm restless. At that point a young Italian comes to town, a twenty-one year old boy, whose name is Stefano. I notice him in the square. He is begging, somebody maltreats him, calls him a ragamuffin, and chases him. I look at him carefully: under rags and dirt, there is a handsome boy. Our eyes meet. I approach him and he, in a French with accent, begs me for the charity of a piece of bread. On impulse, I tell him to come to my place. I offer him to have a bath, I give him some good clothes, I have him seated at my table and I eat with him. It must have been a long time since he last ate, because he devours everything in the twinkling of an eye. I like him a lot, clean and properly dressed he is beautiful. I ask him who he is, what brought him here, where he is from. He tells me that he is the youngest son of a lute maker in Pavia. Three years before, after his father's death, his older brother, in reality a stepbrother who had always hated him, chased him away from home. For two years he made a living wandering and playing his lute, and had a fair life, but one year ago he was attacked, beaten, and robbed of everything, also his lute. After that he succeeded in barely surviving, begging for alms. I offer him to stop to sleep at my place and I tell him that, if he is a little patient, I will manage to get him a new lute, so he could start again to earn a fair living. He thanks me, moved..."
"You wanted to have him in your bed, right? You wanted a good fuck!"
"Eugenio, do you think always and just of that? Yes, I like him, but I don't want to profit from him, for sure, not I, Ludwig. I'm just glad to give a hand to a boy that I like, and that's all. In fact that night, as much as I like him, I let him sleep quietly..."
"Just that night, eh?" Eugenio maliciously asked.
"That night and the following as well. And it's him who, on the third night, comes to knock at my room. He wears the nightshirt I gave him, and has a candle in his hands. He asks me if he can talk to me. I say yes. I put away the accounting book I was revising and he sits on the edge of my bed. He tells me that he noticed the way I look at him and that he thinks I like him. I say yes. He tells me that he likes me also and that he would like to be able to do something for me. I notice that between his legs the nightshirt is moving, rising... Anyway I pretend not to understand, I want him to do the first move. He tells me that he noticed how lonely I always am and he asks me if I don't miss somebody giving me some warmth, some affection. I tell him that I do... Then he caresses my arm, slips his hand inside the wide sleeve of my nightshirt and goes up, until he can caress my chest, tease my nipple.
I'm aroused; I close my eyes and quiver. He leans on me and brushes my lips with a kiss. I take him and pull him to me, kiss him with vigour. He pulls the blanket from my body, comes on the bed, on my body and holds on tight to me. I slip my hands under his nightshirt, put them on his small and firm buttocks and squeeze them. He sighs and kisses me again. I undress him, he undresses me and bends to me and starts to give pleasure to my whole body. We make love with passion. The boy is very sweet, he goes out of his way to give me pleasure and makes me feel that he really likes me. He gives himself to me and I take him with joy. I feel him, under me, excited and happy, he looks at me smiling, he encourages me. I feel once again living, happy. It is beautiful making love to him... But then I want also to feel him inside me, and I feel an extraordinary pleasure. He takes me and smiles in happiness, we kiss while he continues to move inside me with youthful vigour and virile joy. I like being in his strong arms, between his firm legs. Afterwards, I hold him tight to me and ask him to remain with me in my bed. I cover our bodies with the blanket and blow off the candles. I ask him: this is for sure not your first time. He tells me that I'm right. He ever since liked men, and his father was aware of that but always protected him. But for that reason, after his father's death, his older brother chased him away from home.
The next night, he is back with me, we make love again with renewed passion and intense pleasure. I love feeling so strongly desired by such a beautiful young man. I love making him mine and being his... Then the lute I had ordered for him is delivered. I think he will go away now.
I feel a little sad, but I don't want to hold him back. But he, having thanked me for the lute, hesitantly asks me if he can stay a little longer with me. I tell him that, for my part, he can stay as long as he wants to. Then he says that, if it was for him, he would like to remain with me a lot more... I feel happy. So he remains with me. We both feel to be in love and we tell each other, and we are happy. He tells me that he wants to remain with me forever, I tell him yes. Well, he really remains with me forever, at least until I die."
"How did Ludwig die?" Eugenio asked.
"I am fifty-eight and he is close to forty. I die while sleeping. He cries, when he becomes aware. Happily I had made him my peer partner, so I don't leave him on the street, on the contrary he is a rich man..."
"How can you know that he cried at your death, if you were dead? Didn't you say that the soul out of its body doesn't have conscience of the external world?"
"The soul doesn't part immediately from the body, but little by little and in that short period I am conscious both of myself, of my body and all that surrounds it, as if I was seeing all from above. That's how I see him crying. But I cannot communicate with him, I cannot tell him not to worry, that I am well. Then the complete parting takes place and with it the unawareness of the external world..."
"But, what is death, how does it happens? When the heart stops or when the brain activity ceases?"
"I cannot tell you more than what I know thanks to the lives I live, I'm not omniscient. The soul enters the fertilized ovum before its first division, and when the soul parts from the body, the body is dead. I just know that at a certain point I start to part from the body, and not at my will, and that when the parting is complete, it is irreversible. But at times, when the parting is nearly complete, I feel absorbed again in the body and then... it is what normally is called resurrection. But how and why this happens... don't ask me: it happens and that's all I can say."
"Then, there is somebody who decides it?"
"If you want, you can thin..."
At that moment the telephone rang and the voice interrupted. Eugenio answered. He was urgently called by his office because there was a break down in the terminal and he had to rebuilt some data. Unwillingly having not bid farewell to the voice, he went to work.