IThey meet several times, always in that bar downtown. Renzo tells him about himself, shares his thoughts, his dreams... For his part, Raffaele recounts a thousand things about his life, things that no newspaper or magazine ever told, very private things... They are getting to know each other, little by little. They are getting along well with one another.
Until Raffaele says to him: "Renzo, come to my place, please."
"I need you..."
"Renzo, I want you to become my boyfriend."
"But why? I know you like me."
"I told you... I... It was wrong to see you again, but couldn't say no."
"Wrong? Why was it wrong?"
"Because... I fell in love with you." Renzo answers with a cracked voice, fighting back his tears - he doesn't want to be seen crying.
Raffaele is moved, overtaken with emotion, and finally he says: "I too, Renzo, feel like I'm falling in love with you. I tried it, with other boys, with other girls, with Barbara... But I want you... only you. Be my boyfriend, I beg you."
"To be the spare wheel? Seeing each other behind Barbara's back, until finally... For married men, it's natural, family comes before everything else, especially when a child is born. No, please, I don't feel like living this way."
"Renzo, I need you... Really I do..."
"We barely know each other..."
"Then let me get to know you better. Alright, even though I want you so badly, I won't ask you to sleep with me, for the moment. Let's meet again, until you know my love is true... Because I really feel I want to love you..."
"It's just a crush, but it will pass. Try to forget me." Renzo answers in a sweet and sad voice.
Raffaele tries to insist more, but Renzo is unyielding, even though it's hard for him to say no.
He bids farewell to the actor and tells him: "Don't look for me any more, I beg you. I shouldn't meet you anymore. It's better, for both of us."
"But you love me, you said."
"That's why." Renzo answers and leaves the bar. Raffaele is about to follow him, but realizes that he shouldn't.
Days pass. Raffaele can't get Renzo out of his mind, or rather, he can't get him out of his heart. He makes love with Barbara, and even with other girls, to see if the problem isn't just Barbara, but his interest continues to decline. She feels it, feels that she is losing him, and tries to win his love again... but he feels more distant, more estranged than ever. She is interested in him because he's beautiful, famous, rich... this is now clear to him. But, above all, he knows that he loves Renzo, this is now clearer than ever.
He tries to call him again, but Renzo pretends he is not in. He writes him, but doesn't receive a reply. And yet he knows that Renzo loves him. He couldn't have forgotten him yet. Renzo doesn't want him because he is engaged. This is the problem. So, Raffaele meets his agent. He tells him that he's not sure that he wants to marry Barbara, and wants to stop everything. His agent is astounded, begs him, becomes angry, begs him again, threatens him. But at the end decides that with the pretext Raffaele has health problems, the marriage can be postponed, but nothing more than that. To make the story believable, Raffaele has to disappear for a while, he'll go to the villa of a friend in Switzerland. Officially they will say he is exhausted and that he went to a clinic. It's not so bad after all, the agent says, because Raffaele will be in the papers again.
So it happens. From Switzerland, Raffaele writes to Renzo again. He tells him that he did this for him. For now he's postponed the marriage, but he will soon cancel it. He begs Renzo to answer him, to accept his love. Renzo responds, but it is again a refusal. Notwithstanding the rebuff, Raffaele feels it is a letter filled with love. And then, he prepares his final plan.
He goes back to Rome sooner than expected. He tells his agent that there is no sense in continuing to pretend he is ill. He tells him that he intends communicate to the media that he will not marry Barbara. He is determined and his agent cannot stop him. First of all Raffaele tells Barbara. She expected that this was coming, she doesn't make a scene, she doesn't complain, she understand that it would be to no avail. She prefers a strategic retreat. She knows she will be interviewed, so she and the agent prepare an answer that save face - after all we weren't really made for each other, I told Raffaele that it was better to reconsider.
Press conference. At first Raffaele's answers are those agreed with his agent, following the script. "Barbara is a splendid girl, but we understood that we can't fit together."
A reporter asks him: "What made you change your mind? Anything in particular?" The answer should have been a 'no'...
Instead, Raffaele answers: "Yes, there is something." The agent looks worried.
The reporter asks: "Would you mind telling us?"
"Certainly. It dates back to the last Carnival night. On that night I met a boy wearing a masque of a Pierrot, I made love with him, and I fell in love with him."
The reporters are in an uproar.
The agent becomes pale and says: "No, no! It's only a joke..."
The reporters harass Raffaele with questions.
Raffaele answers some of them: "Yes, a boy, a male... No, first I made love with him then I fell in love... No comment... No, no comment... Gay or not, doesn't matter, I'm just in love with him... No comment... I will certainly not tell you his name... Well, excuse me, I have nothing more to add. Thank you for coming."
The agent is furious. Raffaele, on the other hand, suddenly feels light and happy - now Renzo will read his interview, now he will believe him, now he will come back to him, he will finally agree to be his boy, his lover, there are no more obstacles.
His agent yells at him: "... you have to retract everything, you have to say it was just a joke, perhaps the damage can be repaired..."
"But, don't you understand? It's the end of your career! We made you the hero of today's youth - a very good hero indeed, one that publicly declares to be a faggot! If you feel like fucking that boy, couldn't you do it in secret? You wouldn't be the first, and wouldn't be the last!"
Raffaele lets him have his say. The only thing he wants now is for Renzo to show up again. Well, if his coming out will end his career, he will find another job. He has enough money, thanks to the movies he starred in. He will do something different, sure... provided that Renzo turns up.
Raffaele's interview causes a sensation, everyone is talking about it. Many youths admire his courage, but the majority shuns, reproves, critiques, judges, condemns... Raffaele's career is struck down, irremediably. A hero has fallen, turning out to be a fake. An openly gay man absolutely cannot be shown as the ideal of today's youths, right? When the agent take this into account, he deserts Raffaele.
He's still in the dark about all that. He's on his way to school when he sees a pink poster at a newsstand printed in black box letters: "Raffaele Di Capri Gay! In Love With A Boy! The Wild Carnival Night!" His heart stops. He buys two newspapers and three magazines with Raffaele's picture on their covers. His legs tremble. He sits on a bench and reads. His head spins - Raffaele came out to declare he is in love with him, without revealing his name. No more marriage with Barbara. He goes to a phone box and dials his number. Raffaele answers.
"Oh, Renzo... I was afraid it was another reporter. You're lucky to find the line free..."
"I just read, just now..."
"Yes - I love you. Do you believe me, now?"
"How could I not... I feel like dying..."
"Where are you now?"
"I was going to school."
"Do you really have to go?"
"No... for once I can play hooky..."
"Are you coming, then?"
Renzo takes a taxi - he's in a hurry now.
Raffaele welcomes him with a radiant smile. They are in each others arms and kiss for a long while, holding each other tightly, drunk with happiness.
"So then, now do you believe I love you?"
"God, Raffaele... but you still know me so little..."
"You too... but now, we will have time to really get to know each other."
"And if you don't like me then? If I were to disappoint you?"
"And if it's you who doesn't like me, if I disappoint you?"
"No, that's impossible." Renzo says looking at him with luminous eyes, overflowing love. Raffaele caresses his cheek, tenderly.
"Are you sure you won't regret this one day?" Renzo asks him.
"Certainly, I am sure."
"Newspapers are hard on you. They say you killed your career..."
"I don't mind, since I got what I wanted - you are here..."
"But, did you plan that?"
"Sure. I understood that I didn't have any other way to convince you that I really love you. I found myself with a choice, and I did it, and I am happy. Nothing tragic, after all it's not like I live just for making movies. Besides I have enough money. I will find another job. We are young, we have our entire lives ahead of us."
"Aren't you going to take me there... to your bed?" Renzo asked slightly blushing.
"Yes... I was just waiting for you to ask..."
"Because I didn't want you to think that all I want from you is a fuck."
"No... how could I possibly think such a thing? After what you did. God, how beautiful you are! I feel like I'm dreaming... being here with you..."
The bed welcomes them. They are so full of joy that they don't hurry - they enjoy the sight of one another, the closeness of each other. They ride a wave of senses and feelings. The morning is over without them noticing the passage of time. In paradise, time doesn't exist.
"At this time I would have been leaving school..." Renzo lightly says, curling against his lover's wonderful and sexy body.
"Do you have to go?" Raffaele asks him with a sad voice.
"I should, but... I can call home and tell them I'll be back later. I can tell them I'm having lunch at a school mate's home..."
Raffaele hands him the telephone. Renzo calls, tells his lie, hangs up.
"Don't you feel hungry?" Raffaele asks him.
"Yes, for you. It's too beautiful being here with you, knowing I belong to you, at last."
"And I belong to you, Renzo... forever. Do you know that I never felt so fine? That I never felt so happy?"
"Really?" the boy asks, grateful for these words.
They kiss. Later they go to the kitchen, take out something from the fridge, eat. But they soon are back in the bed, desiring to be together again. Renzo again welcomes Raffaele in himself, they look in each other eyes in bliss, they kiss, while Raffaele, slow and strong, rocks deep inside the love channel of his boy. They feel intoxicated with each other, they're in heaven. They both want to fully savour that intimate union, to become one.
Later, Raffaele asks him: "That night, when I believed you were her and called you, why did you flee away?"
"Well... I thought you were a drunk..."
"And when we were in that store room?"
"I couldn't escape... and then you told me you wanted to make love to me... And you were so incredibly beautiful, and I noticed you were aroused, and I too become incredibly excited. With that costume it was almost as if you were naked, everything was visible... At that point I was desperate for you to take me."
"Didn't you recognize me?"
"No, I just thought you incredibly resembled my favourite actor, a certain Raffaele di Capri... If you knew how many times I was turned on just looking at your pictures, dreamed of making love with you... And that night I find in before me a beautiful, aroused male who tells me he wants me, and who resembles you so much... How could I resist you?"
"But then, afterwards, why did you run away?"
"Because I realized you didn't really want me, that you mistook me for another, for her... I was afraid you would get mad at me, maybe even beat me up... so I ran away..."
"But I found you again... how lucky I have been! I couldn't stop thinking of you, you know?"
"Me neither... Take me again, please..." Renzo asks with a shy but eager smile.
Raffaele happily complies. They can't get enough of each other. Raffaele feels like all of the sex he had had until now with others, be they girls or boys, had no meaning at all. Only now does he feel fulfilled, uniting with his manly, young lover. While filling his newfound lover with strong yet gentle strokes, he is in adoration of Renzo's body, and feels like the luckiest man in the world. He teases the boy's nipples, kisses him, caresses him all over, he makes love to him in a complete, wonderful abandon.
At the end, Renzo has to go back home. A school mate had called his home to find out why he didn't go to school, if he was ill. Therefore his parents now wanted to know where he was all day, what he did.
"I went to Tivoli with some friends, to Villa D'Este..." Renzo lies.
They scold him. But not too much - after all it is the first time that Renzo skipped school.
Renzo goes to Raffaele's place almost every day, and they make love just about every time. Raffaele is worried that Renzo doesn't study enough - this year his lover has his final test and he doesn't want the boy to fail on his account. But Renzo, because of his happiness, seems to do even better in school. His school mates notice he has changed, he is different, more self-assured. His parents forgot his "Tivoli" escapade. They see that he is happy, they see that he is better than ever at school. They guess that he is in love, in fact he goes out more frequently than ever, he dresses with more care than usual, all clear symptoms of a boy in love. But if Renzo isn't yet ready to talk about it, his parents think it would be better not to ask him anything yet.
Renzo spends his weekends away from home as well. His mother doesn't resist - in a discrete way, she tries to find out who the "girl" is that her son has been dating for a while. Renzo, understanding what she's after, answers in an evasive way. On one hand, he's sick of hiding the truth, but on the other, he doesn't feel ready to face his family.
He passes his final exams with good marks. His parents offer him a trip as a reward - they know that he always dreamed of going to Holland, so they send him there, for a month. Renzo asks Raffaele to go with him. Raffaele doesn't have any more contracts, and is free. They go. They spend an enchanting month, a real honeymoon. During that month they start to talk about their life together. Raffaele wants Renzo to live with him. Renzo would like to as well. But if they were to live in Rome, he would have to tell his parents , and he doesn't yet feel ready.
It is then that Raffaele says to Renzo: "You know, before I become an actor, I dreamed of having my own coffee-bar. Wouldn't you like it if we opened a bar together somewhere? I have enough money. What do you think?"
"Great idea! I think I'd love it."
"Well, then, where? Where would you like to live?"
"As a child I went to Bologna with my parents, on vacation. I loved that city. What do you think about Bologna?"
At the beginning of November Raffaele tells Renzo that he found a shop, with a nice little apartment on the upper floor. So, during a weekend, they go to see it. Renzo likes it right away. Raffaele signs the contract and wants Renzo to sign it as well. They decide to move as soon as possible. While Raffaele closes and sells his beautiful house in Rome and sends all his belongings to Bologna, Renzo tells his family that he found a job in Bologna.
"Ah, good. Doing what?" his father asks.
"I will be the manager of a coffee-bar together with a friend."
"A coffee-bar? Why a coffee-bar? Did you graduate in classical studies, to go to do the bartender?" his father asks frowning.
"And who is this friend? Somebody we know?" his mother asks.
"No, you don't know him. And I really like the idea of becoming a bartender..."
They talk it over. His parents aren't too happy, but the son is now of age, and they see that he's made up his mind, and that it is useless to oppose.
"But... and what about your girlfriend?" his mother then asks.
"I never had a girl." Renzo answers somewhat tense, fearing more questions on that subject.
But his mother contents herself with saying with a stupefied expression: "Ah no? I thought..." but she doesn't try to go deeper on that subject.
So, at mid November, they both move to Bologna. They refurbish their apartment and the coffee-bar and they open it. Little by little they get good customers, business is going well. They're both likeable, cheerful, friendly people, and their bar soon becomes the meeting point of the local youths. Someone notices the resemblance of Raffaele with the once famous actor, but Renzo and Raffaele laugh, joking about that "resemblance".
For Christmas Renzo's parents, knowing that he can't close the bar, think of making a surprise visit. They book a hotel in Bologna for one week. When they arrive, they look for the bar and find it. They enter with their arms full of Christmas presents.
Renzo is in the back room when they arrive. Raffaele doesn't know them.
The couple looks around, then asks: "Excuse me, is Renzo in?"
"Yes, he's in the back room. Shall I call him?"
"No, we want to surprise him. We'll wait for him to come out. May we sit down?"
"Certainly, make yourselves comfortable. May I offer you something, meanwhile?" Raffaele asks studying them. And suddenly he understands: "Are you... are you Renzo's parents?"
"Yes." the mother answers delighted and looks around. Then she says: "It's nice in here. And you are the friend who opened this bar with Renzo, I presume. But... do you know that you resemble an actor..." the mother says but suddenly becomes silent - she now remembers the scandal articles in the magazines, and she recalls a detail that at that time didn't mean anything to her... that one said he was in love with 'a boy wearing a Pierrot costume' and Renzo... The woman becomes pale and looks with wide eyes to Raffaele.
The young man understands. With a low voice he says: "I'll go call Renzo... it's better..." and disappears in the back room.
Meanwhile the woman murmurs: "Yes, it's better..."