Lost Inside My Life

Translated from the original Italian by Lenny Bruce, revised by Talo Segura.

We got off at the Amsterdam train station at seven o’clock on a July morning. It was very cold, but I was happy to be where I was. No, never happy, but at least content. Because this was my first trip without anyone deciding for me. I had often been abroad, but this time it was different.

I was not happy. That was never how I was.

There must have been six or seven of us, and then there were only three. With me there were Valerio and a boy in his twenties we met during the trip. We didn’t even know his name since he introduced himself to everyone only by his nickname, Cochise, like the Apache chief.

Cochise would be our guide, but only for the first few days.

We looked for the tourist office, where according to Cochise’s own experience, we could find directions to our accommodation. Maybe in a hostel, as I wanted to sleep in a real bed. Those who had already been to this city told us that in Amsterdam it was possible to sleep in the parks or even on the streets.

We went to a hostel. I paid for a week’s accommodation for myself and the other two. My mother had given me a lot of money. Travelers’ cheques, which I carried hidden in a bag I always kept around my neck, together with my passport and the weed we bought as soon as we arrived.

It was true. In Amsterdam there was everything a junkie could dream of, and more. If you had the money to buy it.

We started walking around the city and for a few days did nothing but wander here and there. We chatted with other guys who, like us, were in Amsterdam to spend the summer getting stoned and doing whatever else they wanted. We lost Cochise as easily as we had met him and did not regret it. Valerio and I pursued our life of drinking and getting high. As always, he drank and smoked much more than me.

I met René at the Milky Way or Melkweg, as it is called in Dutch.

It was housed in a former diary and is still there today, a cultural center and more, in the heart of Amsterdam, behind Leidseplein. Every night there were rock bands performing, groups at the beginning of their careers, all of them of dubious fame. Everybody used to go there, staying inside until nightfall, because it often rained and was always cold. There was no shortage of people to share a bottle and a few tokes with. The place was always crowded, with up to a thousand people in there. Usually, they were guys like us who came to Amsterdam looking for experiences, or just some place you could smoke joints and drink in peace.

The music was not always very good, and that night it wasn’t exceptional! So much so that I wasn’t listening. Instead, my eyes roamed over the crowd, looking for a face, a body, nothing special. I was seeking any pretext to let go to my fantasies, to build a dream in which I could take refuge and live it for a few hours. In those days it was my preferred way to spend my time, as good as any other. I let everything wash over me.

There were groups sitting cross-legged. People leaning against the walls. Guys standing up who blocked the view of the stage. Unfortunately, they did not reduce the volume of the music that reached me, ramping everything up until I was stunned. I was sitting next to Valerio, now drunk and almost asleep, like the other guys around us. I hadn’t drunk at all, nor smoked, and I can’t recall why. I have often tried recalling that evening, the moments that preceded that important moment in my life, but I never succeeded. I would like to know if it was chance or premonition that made me stay absolutely sober that night.

I was lost in my own thoughts when I felt something cold and wet against my ear. I turned around and saw a dog was sniffing me. A reddish colored mongrel, as far as I could tell in the semi-darkness. When I stared at him, he looked back at me, then yawned. I yawned back loudly too and so did his owner who was standing behind him. He was holding the dog on a leash made from a piece of rope. We broke out laughing together. Even the dog perhaps!

He was a guy in his twenties who looked like Jesus. That was my first thought. Those figures of Christ that you can see on the holy cards. He was beautiful, with long blond hair and a silky beard, smooth, cut close to the cheeks. He was also thin and lanky, slouching, but charming.

“Don’t you like this music?” He cried out so as to be heard and nodded towards the stage.

I shook my head, while carefully scrutinizing him. He was certainly attractive.

Beautiful!

“I’m bored,” he said. “And Brick,” he looked at the dog, “is hungry and thirsty. I need a drink too!”

At that point, my English wavered. I held up my hand, signaling to wait.

“Sorry, please! I’m Italian. I don’t understand well! Speak slowly, please!”

“Tu sei italiano?” he said, and his face opened up in a broad smile.

“Yes!”

“My father is Italian.” He switched to Italian “He wants me to learn the language. But my mother is American, and she is blonde like me!”

“My father, on the other hand, forces me to learn English.” I told him in English “He invested a lot of money, but I never wanted to study. My mother is Austrian, so I speak German very well. Can you understand me if I speak Italian or German?”

“No! No! Not in German!” He bobbed his head, swaying all that hair which I wanted to caress. “It’s better Italian, but speak slowly and don’t say difficult words? OK?”

“OK, but if you want, you can speak English too. I understand something too.”

So, we agreed on the languages to adopt to understand each other.

“Are you tired of being here?” he asked, always shouting to overcome the noise produced on stage.

“Yes!”

“Come on! Let’s go! Shall we go? Yes? Do you want to come with me? I told you, Brick is hungry and must drink, and so must I!”

He laughed, and I saw he had a beautiful mouth with perfect teeth. Mine had no faults either, but I hadn’t cleaned them since we’d arrived in Amsterdam.

We went outside and escaped the noise. The air was invigorating, it would soon get cold. The Milky Way was on one of the canals that crisscrossed the center of Amsterdam. It was on the outermost one. I looked out over the parapet on the bridge and watched the dark water flowing lazily below.

“Are you hungry too?”

I nodded, even though I wasn’t hungry. In those days I never thought about food. But I would have said yes to anything he asked.

We got hot dogs. I bought three, one for the dog. We drank beer while walking to the Dam, the square that all the young people from every part of the world had practically taken over during those years.

“Shall we let Brick decide where to go?” René said suddenly. “He is from Amsterdam and knows it better than we do.”

For me one place was the same as another if I were spending time with him. We followed the dog along several canals until we ended up in a narrow alley. It was dark and a bit sinister. It divided two tall buildings, deserted at that time of the day. In part it was floored by grates with water flowing underneath and closed at the end by a parapet beyond which another canal passed.

The water was the only discernible noise in the otherwise silent night. The Dutch went to sleep early, and the only solitary souls wandering around at night, were us. Inept tourists, looking for a place to sleep, smoke, or get drunk.

Whilst we were strolling around René began telling me about himself. He came from New York. His parents had given him an untranslatable name, Salvatore. He had decided to call himself René, French-style. But only outside his home and secretly, when away from his father, who was very proud to be Italian. He told me he liked his chosen name, and I should use it, even though I was Italian, and I could easily call him by his real name. I reassured him that that would be the only way I would address him.

“I’m gay!” He said, after a while when we were talking, but I didn’t understand him.

“Gay? Are you happy? What does it mean?” I asked.

“Oh, sorry! I am homosexual! Do you understand?” He asked me without hesitation or seeming to care, just as we were going into the alleyway. “I’m a faggot, do you know what that is?”

“I think…” I said slowly, I was scared. “Yes…I think so!” and I started trembling.

Of all the guys who were going around Amsterdam that summer, did I really need to meet someone like me? I was terrified and fascinated. Why had he chosen me?

“Now in America we homosexuals are called gay… Like cheerfully, happy… Gay!” He explained. “But it means so many other things that I can’t explain. Does it bother you? Me being gay?”

“No, no. It doesn’t matter. But you are the first homosexual…gay that I know!”

“Right! So… Want to kiss me? Only if you wish!”

Kiss him if I wanted to? I was amazed, and my mouth was still open. He really wanted me to kiss him, but why me?

He was proposing something ridiculous, but it was in the logic of that time, of that summer. There we were all the same, all brothers. But why me?

Before answering myself, I accosted him and kissed him. Lightly, I set my lips on his, then I stepped back and asked him why he had chosen me of all people.

“Why me, René?”

“You seemed miserable and I like you. You are a charming boy. But it was Brick who chose you, while you were there being sad at the Milky Way! And so, I asked if you wanted to kiss me. We could have gone out and had another beer.”

“I could have punched you in the face. I am not homosexual,” I lied pathetically.

“It doesn’t matter. You kissed me.”

I went to lean against the railings that barred the alley. I had my back to the canal and kept my eyes fixed in him.

The water flowed all around us, generating its dull and continuous noise. It was the real sound of Amsterdam, and we all knew it. When the clamor of the day, talking, cars, boats, faded away, the murmur of the water arose and it was night, and everything was allowed. René approached me.

“You’re gay too…aren’t you?” he whispered to me, softly.

He did not wait for my answer. He came up again and hugged me, blocking me against the metal railings. He grazed my neck with his lips and then looked for my lips. Our mouths joined and we kissed again. He ran his tongue into my mouth and waited for me to do the same.

We exchanged our tastes. I stupidly thought about my breath, the fact that I hadn’t brushed my teeth for who knew how long. Then I realized that our bodies had come together. I felt his erection against mine. His weight pushing me against the metal bars. If I wanted to escape, I could have. He wasn’t forcing me in any way, but I definitely didn’t want to escape him. I was granting myself a respite, from my ruin, from my self-destruction. I would not let it pass me by. Not that night.

Our arms intertwined, his soft beard tickling under my nose. His smell was indefinable, but cleaner than mine. That was certain, even if it still smelled of sweat and smoke. That scent excited me more than anything else. I squeezed him until I heard him sigh. At that point I loosened my grip. His hand slipped between us until he felt my hardness. His fingers traced the bulge and stopped to stimulate the tip through the fabric of my jeans. A long sigh escaped me.

I’ll come, wait, I wanted to shout at him. At that moment I realized I did not know the English word to describe how I felt. To tell him to stop immediately. None of the expensive schools paid for by my father had ever taught me that. And he certainly didn’t know the Italian words that I could have told him.

“One moment! Please…wait…René!”

I babbled in perfect private school English, trying to escape from his hug. We stopped just in time.

“You’re not worried, are you?” he promptly asked, fearing he might have frightened me in some way with his boldness.

I shook my head.

“Do… do you want to make love?”

Make love? How? With you, René? And how would we do it?

That question surprised me. I felt an enormous shame for not being prepared for what he was asking me. The excitement of that moment, however, was stronger. Even fiercer was the instinct that pushed me to cling to that boy. He had chosen me among a thousand others, because in his eyes or because of his dog, I was the one, the one who would say yes to the question he would ask me.

My instinct told me that this might be a unique moment, the one place, the only opportunity of my whole miserable life. The last opportunity offered before I died, killed by the hardships with which I filled the void of my ugly existence.

Make love to René? I was ashamed.

No one had ever seen me naked. My hard cock had only been seen by my eyes. It was only ever touched by my lover who was now far away and whom I would never see again. Only my hands had caressed it. I was ashamed, René. I was ashamed!

In that infinitely short time, which for me was long enough to feel embarrassment and then desire, virgin modesty and uncontrolled sensuality, and have all those thoughts, address those silent prayers to him, René waited. He miraculously understood how difficult it was for me to decide.

“Yes…René! Make love to me!”

I told him yes, but in my head I felt like I had smoked ten really strong joints. My brain was exploding! My body had become extremely sensitive. My perceptions were intensified. I felt his body against mine, and felt him, every movement was amplified.

Of course, René, of course I want to do it, but how? How do two men make love?

I looked with apprehension toward the street that crossed the alleyway.

“Brick will be our lookout and will inform us if someone arrives!”

He reassured me and I believed him, because the dog, after glancing at us with a certain curiosity, walked away, really going to stand guard at the entrance to the alley.

“This is the first time for you, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I whispered, I was ashamed.

Yes, René, my love. This is the first time. And I will do it because I have fallen madly in love with you. I didn’t tell him any of this, but he had understood it. I never told him that I loved him, but he knew it. Even if it weren’t true because he wasn’t the one whom I could love.

René caressed me. I felt him fiddling with my pants and lowering them. Immediately I shivered. I got goosebumps on my legs and all over my body. The nights in Amsterdam can be cold. I was wearing a sweater, but he had slipped his frosty hands under my cotton shirt, onto my bare skin and I shivered, he uncovered me. He kept kissing me and I felt so passionate. I blushed, hoping the darkness concealed the state of my filthy underwear.

He kissed my nipples, moving from one to the other, several times. Then he detached himself from me just enough to make me turn around and I was looking at the canal, the water flowing in front of me. I saw how it turned immediately to the right, crossing one of the major canals. I could hear the filtered noise of a river boat moving beyond the corner. René caressed my chest and gradually lowered my underwear. He took my cock in his hand and while he was kissing me on the neck, rubbed it against my belly. He realized that I was getting close again and stopped. I could feel his erection against my ass. He had also undressed. He had hair on his chest that I felt on my bare skin. His long hair was flopping onto my neck.

“Can I make love to you?” he murmured.

Make love to me, René. It was what I wanted. And I hoped he would do it, not even really knowing what it was.

I had never in my life even imagined how two men could unite by making love. I never had the opportunity to do so. René was the first homosexual that I met and how it happened, I owed to the particular atmosphere of the times, of those days, in that fantastic city. Otherwise, I would have had to wait a long time before meeting someone who would satisfy my curiosity. At that moment it was absolutely unknown to me that two men could go beyond touching, rubbing, and enjoying each other. My knowledge was still limited to what my instinct had suggested to me on those two occasions I had experienced.

I had also, perhaps, participated in an intimate act with a woman. It had happened to me although I didn’t know for sure.

I had seen it being done in the sleeping bag next to mine during the occupation of the school and a few other times at the Movement Headquarters. Once, in particular, while I was pretending to be too stoned to notice, a boy and girl had made love right in front of me. These were vivid images, sharpened in their intensity by the drug I had just smoked.

Needless to say, I couldn’t remember anything about her, only the boy. I could draw him in every detail, describing and mimicking his every movement. From how easily he had stripped himself naked because it was almost summer. To how he had tried to find his way inside her. To how and with how much sweetness he had penetrated her and then his movements making love.

Slow, rhythmic, faster, slower still. Then he had suddenly arched over and fell back, while the indignant girl pushed him off, as she would have done with a blanket full of fleas. I was already wet, and was just trying to calm my breathing, having to pretend sleep. My memories, my knowledge of mating, stopped there.

So, when I felt René’s dick pressing on my ass and I heard him whisper those words in English that I almost did not understand. I only imagined he wanted to make me his and that the way he was going to follow was that way.

I wished he would do it. That was one way, maybe it wasn’t salvation. It would not have driven out one love with another. It couldn’t, but at least it would offer me some relief from my pain.

I felt him wet his hand with saliva and moisten between my legs, then I felt a strange, stimulating feeling. He had penetrated me with a finger. I felt his finger inside me, moving, as if to open me for him. He wet his cock and placed it where his finger had been. He pushed slowly, but I refused him, tightening myself. He caressed me. He had never stopped kissing me, licking me behind the ears. I tried to move away from him. I leaned forward towards the canal, as if I wanted to throw myself into the water. He was holding me tightly now. It was I who had wanted it, accepted it.

And I still wanted him, so I straightened up and let myself be hugged again. He wet his cock with more spital and lubricated my asshole with his saliva. Then he did it. Very slowly he pressed into me and penetrated me with infinite delicacy. I felt him inside me, and I was overtaken by the excitement. For a few minutes I had forgotten about my cock, but when René entered me the sensation of having him inside reached my brain, waves of pleasure started and overwhelmed me, making me enjoy it.

I spurted against the railing while he was rubbing my belly and trying to grab my cock which seemed to have a life of its own as it moved and jumped. When I calmed down, I felt that René was filling me. It was as if he was rasping inside me and burning my flesh. He moved, he tormented my nipples, he squeezed my cock, he caressed my belly, he kissed me on the neck.

He wasn’t fucking me. We were making love. Before he had said, ‘let’s make love’ and that’s what we were doing.

I was moved, because that’s what I wanted, and it had never happened before, now I was doing it. I hadn’t had the courage or even the notion, the knowledge of that act. I would not have been able to do it. I couldn’t have done it. And now it was too late.

It is possible René loved me, I thought, though I was suffering because I felt sore. It was out of love I wanted to let him do it. In the moment it happened there was a substitution of people, in my head I became René and Paoletto was me. Did I want my devoted lover to suffer as I did? I definitely wanted to be inside him, to sink my sword into his flesh. I desired it. It was exactly what I wanted with my whole being because I knew that suffering would be a proof of our love.

René kept kissing me, but I was several thousand miles away. In a garden that smelled of flowers and the sea, overlooking the Mediterranean. There was jasmine and the scent of Paoletto, that mixture of talcum powder and soap I loved to remember, and which kept terrorizing me.

René had almost collapsed on top of me, covering me, and murmuring in my ear.

“Oh baby, it was great! How for you?”

“Absolutely, René, it was tremendous!”

But not because of you, I should have told him. But I didn’t. The credit is all yours and I love you. I love you so much even if I don’t really love you.

I love him and not really you. I thought.

We became inseparable. I used to sleep at the youth hostel, but I abandoned the hostel and followed René to Voldel Park. We slept in sleeping bags, in a corner where there was no danger of being disturbed. There were about a hundred of us. There were also more older people. Everyone minded their own business. I caught sight of some other couples like us.

At night we waited for the others to fall asleep and then I slipped into René’s sleeping bag which was bigger than mine. We would undress and make love. We fell asleep naked and hugged and were never cold.

One night, one of the last we would spend together, René wanted me to penetrate him. I didn’t want to, but he was adamant.

“If I only wanted an ass to fuck,” I had learned many new words in English, “I would have found myself a girl,” he said to me. “I want to be loved and by you! It’s what I need! It’s what I want from you!”

He directed my hands and my cock and moved with me. I possessed him with all the strength and love that I could give him. He came in my hand as I held his cock.

“Can you fall asleep like that now?” he asked me, as my breath calmed. “Leave it inside me. Let’s sleep like this. I want this memory to carry with me.”

We fell asleep, almost crystallizing our coupling. In the sleeping bag it was impossible to move except together, but we did fine. I kept my cock inside him all night long and at the first light of dawn which usually woke me up, I was hard again.

“Love me again, pretty thing, as you did last night…” René whispered. “I felt you inside me for hours. You always have it hard…” he chuckled.

“They can see us…”

“Don’t think about it…”

We made love as he wanted. With the sweetness and cruelty, he had taught me.

Then he was about to leave and after a few days, I too would return to Italy. René would have already flown to New York.

In Italy, I would start masturbating again, thinking about my usual ghosts. From then on, I would have one more to add to my private gallery.

He left one morning, leaving me Brick who I would in turn leave to someone else. After a few more days I went home. I wept as Amsterdam bade me goodbye with a downpour that washed my hair and clothes, but not my soul. Amsterdam cried and I cried with her because I loved her as a person. I left her my love and the shadow of what had been.

Only a game of mirrors and maybe René had never really existed. It was an illusion in which I transformed myself into Paoletto. Like double mirrors facing each other, we had loved our reflections, the echo of my experience. But had I really loved René? Certainly, for his nonchalance, and because he listened to me and consoled me. When I confessed to him that I loved him, almost as if he were an intercessor, a go-between, he had not chased me away. I certainly would have, but he had accepted the kind of love I wanted to give him and perhaps he too had loved me for that short season.

 

***

 

What I believed were my sex problems began at a time which seemed remote although only a few years had passed. After those first discoveries, my doubts had begun. The first one was when I noticed my cock didn’t want to get hard like those of my schoolmates.

In the eighth grade we all went to see a bit of a naughty film. We managed to get in because the usher paid us no attention. We sat in the back row and carefully followed the movie. The scenes were not exceptional. A few kisses, numerous hugs, a couple of boobs, and the shadow of a woman’s ass, which together with the breast, practically made a nude.

When we left, my companions were literally on fire. There had been enough in the film to make them lose any inhibitions and immediately start an animated discussion, there on the street. Talking excitedly about some of the scenes from the movie, of course the most enticing. Then shouting at each other and bragging about what they would have done if they were in the place of the male actors. Watching that film was like throwing a match on a bale of straw. The others had all caught fire, but my straw was damp, and there was no flame at all. What I said, my ramshackle laughter, my gestures were my imitation of what the others were doing. If I had stayed indifferent, they would have noticed it, and without knowing why, I didn’t want to be different.

I didn’t think about it again until a few days later when we received a mail order catalog at home. It had been years since we had been sent one, my mother refused to buy that kind of merchandise. And it was years since I took possession of it and leafed through it carefully. I had enjoyed the pages dedicated to toys, then bicycles and more recently men’s underwear. And there, I would stop and allow my eyes to consume that parade of groins wrapped in all the different underwear. For me, all young and desirable. I knew for sure, because we had talked about it, that my companions were looking at the pages of women’s underwear for similar reasons.

That was the second doubt about myself, a new crack that opened the rift between my friends interests and my own.

The third reason for disappointment about myself was more noble in its origins and came from the world of art which I frequented through my mother’s work. It was not the Impressionists with whom I was very familiar who struck me. Not their women with the strongly erotic details of their paintings. It was some other French painters of the nineteenth century, with scenes full of naked sensual men and boys, often in very ambiguous poses. When I discovered them, I went looking for a book that collected their most important works and got to know every work of those painters, Ingres, Delacroix, David.

I was most impressed by the painting that portrayed a naked young man, sitting on a rock, in a pose that seemed to be centered on himself. It was a ‘Studio’ painted by a certain Flandrin in 1836. Aesthetically the boy looked similar to me, with my own curly black hair and complexion, with smooth skin. He was seated on a green cloth and from his pose I imagined, I fantasized, that he regretted something. I transfigured myself into that attitude after masturbating. My repentance, the remorse for having done it, the regret of having sinned. That painting haunted me in many ways. At night I dreamed of the boy. His head bent over, his forehead resting on his gathered knees, his left hand on his right arm clutching his legs. I fantasized about caressing him, consoling him, clinging to him, he to me. I am certain I desired him, that I came to worship him. It was the idea of his supposed repentance that urged me to attempt to feel regret. But I was incapable of achieving that.

There was a lot more I remember about that year. Other stimulating events, but above all it was my interest, more and more marked, for my classmates. Sometimes these were real infatuations which fortunately didn’t last more than a few days. When usually the object of my attention turned out to be rude, insensitive, and ignorant, like almost all my classmates were. School for me had always been a place to spend the morning in the company of people of little interest. It was the place I had to go to study and nothing more. My real life and my friends were among the scouts, at the Section, and there especially was Marco.

I never understood how or why, but between us scouts there was a kind of unstated agreement which made us leave sex outside the door when we met each night. This still seems incomprehensible to me, so much so, that if I hadn’t experienced it for myself, I would not find it believable. More or less, everyone was at the age when curiosity for one’s own body and the bodies of others was at its strongest. At school and elsewhere you would be confronted by stimuli that left things almost uncontrollable. Yet at the Scouts, I never thought about looking for something exciting in my friends and I don’t think they did either. When I was in the Section, I completely forgot I had a dick, maybe we all forgot.

The explanation for this perhaps lay in the undertone of our lives. It may have been that we were participating in wonderful adventures and stimulating projects, but there was also another reason. How strongly it affected us individually depended on how each of us dealt with it. For everyone there was this absolute certainty, you could call it a blind faith, that God was watching and judging our actions. We all knew and recognized his omniscience, but we were equally certain that outside the Section his judgement was much less severe.

I had turned to Marco when what I was feeling had become too strong. I asked him to enlighten me on masturbation, but only because I was desperate and needed to know, and then we never mentioned it again. He had always offered me friendship, solidarity, and affection. That satisfied me and I didn’t look for anything more. I never understood the sensual and subtly erotic aspect of his relationship with me. Only when I encountered Paoletto did I begin to understand, but then it was too late, and my remorse made me want to die.

Discovering and being almost certain that Marco had seduced me, as I had done with Paoletto, did not help me. Knowing his affection, his interest, and his behavior with me, had been those of a boy in love, had a shocking effect on my conscience. Knowing that with the attention he had dedicated to me he had drawn me into his arms. Understanding he had been blocked only by his hypocrisy. It made me think even worse of myself for what I had done.

Only now, after so many years, could I recognize a lesser awareness in Marco than I had with Paoletto. But could that justify how he had acted? Unquestionably, it did not justify my own actions, not in my eyes.

I think, however, that my choice, my destiny, were in a certain sense favored by Marco’s coldness, by his apparent disinterest. I never knew this from him because I could not have asked such questions. If I could, I would now ask him if he had ever loved or desired me in that particular and forbidden way, because I am certain I had loved him, without knowing or thinking it.

 

***

 

The last time I sold myself was on Sunday. As always, on Saturday, we had gone to the station, but the next day we decided to go to a suburban avenue, another well-known hook up place.

I needed more money. Much more because I had decided to take another step towards my ending. My friends, or companions in misfortune, unluckier or just stupider than me, had convinced me to try heroin. I, who now felt I had not much more to lose, decided to go for it. To inject myself with heroin. I would have done it despite being terrified, that fear was simply the last glimmer of consciousness. If you are scared, it is because you have something you are afraid of losing. I was still afraid, although I was completely certain I had nothing to lose.

I already knew I was dead. What happened next was in a way a confirmation of those thoughts because I had my life back at the price of another.

For months I had been clinging to that fear. The others kept on at me to try heroin, to pierce myself with a needle, but I resisted. That Saturday, after school, even the fear was gone. I had seen Paoletto from afar entering a store. Seeing him, feeling how I had felt, had erased every fear and uncertainty, everything. I decided to try it. I was left with only the urgency to put an end to my pain.

It had been several months since I had seen him last. Perhaps over a year. I had almost banished his image from memory. I often tried to recall his face, staring into my soul, pretending not to recall his features. Then adorned with some magic halo his face appeared as he was the last time. Lined with tears and frightened. It was my nightmare.

But nothing comparable to really seeing him again. Grown, changed, distant, unreachable, beautiful in his youthful grace.

To shoot up with heroin seemed to me the only possibility left in my life. A kind of redemption, an act of courage. Very grotesque!

So that Sunday I went to sell myself in order to get enough money. I was soon approached by a man who was still young and good looking. He was driving a large car, quite new, and seemed relaxed, at ease.

He approached me and immediately came to the point.

“How much do you want, to get fucked?”

I suddenly found his demand impudent, and went to leave, annoyed. No one had ever approached me like that before. Then I tried to imagine how I looked, dirty and dressed in rags. I was certainly ill-mannered myself, and what I was doing was dirtier still.

I turned to stare at him with indifference. I didn’t care about myself, but that was a performance for which I was not available. Part of me was not for sale and I didn’t want to start that afternoon. It really had nothing to do with my bodily integrity, more that I didn’t want people to know I was taking it up the ass for money.

In my group, among those wretched people, everyone knew that every Saturday Valerio and I went to jerk off the old men. Sometimes, to obtain some more money, we let them do it to us. This was well known and since everyone benefited from our earnings, the thing was, if not praised, tolerated. To tell the truth, I did a few other things, always in order to get more money of course. I let them give me blowjobs and for a supplement lick the cum off me. Nobody knew this, however. But I never took another man’s cock in my mouth or in the ass.

This guy was not at all discouraged by my disdain and followed after me.

“Hey! Listen, I could pay you well if you let me fuck your ass! I like you, kiddo!” he shouted after me.

And I got a hard-on. Suddenly, as if with those words he had opened a door that had been closed for a long time. I had not expected this. What he had just said excited me.

I looked at him once more, carefully. Why not, I asked myself. Nobody would have to know, Valerio was already with another client, and I suddenly felt like getting fucked. My cock pressed painful against the fabric of my jeans. I wanted to be taken, even brutalized. For the umpteenth time I had that thought, you couldn’t lose what you didn’t have anymore. My integrity, for example.

My erotic impulses had fallen asleep when I decided to let myself die. My desires had been frozen more from the way I lived than from the use of drugs. Any feelings came to me muffled and I hardly ever got off. If a client grabbed my cock in his hand and stroked it, I got hard. To ejaculate I had to really concentrate, and I only ever bothered if it was part of our agreement and the client was paying extra. Which meant more weed for me and my friends.

Feeling it harden just because this guy was telling me he wanted me, excited me even more. I shot him a price that seemed exorbitant to me. But he accepted immediately, even though he demanded we first agreed on what I would let him do to me and what I would do in exchange for all that money. It wasn’t difficult to understand, I was seeking money and someone to fuck me. He had the money and was more than willing to fuck me. He made me promise that I would not resist him, and he promised not to hurt me too much. I didn’t believe him, but that last promise made everything more exciting.

What was really ‘hurt too much’ for me?

“So? Get in the car?”

“Right, but don’t go too far.”

The fear had returned. What if he murdered me? My parents would have mourned me. I thought I no longer cared about them, nor about myself. But I was nervous.

He drove quickly away from the suburbs and slipped into a lane that descended until we were hidden between two hillocks at the bottom of a rubbish dump. It was Sunday and there was no one around. If something bad happened, if he had killed me, no one would know for a long time. He knew the place, I reflected, a little worried.

Then I thought I would cry out in pain, because I was sure he would hurt me. And at that idea I felt a wave of pleasure running through my whole body. Was this what I really desired? Was I waiting, knowing I deserved it, chasing suffering? I tried concentrating on something else, because if I weren’t careful I would come in my underpants before we started.

“Take your jacket off,” he said abruptly, “and recline the seat. Turnover on your stomach. I’ll do everything myself.”

I carried out his orders. I usually was not docile with customers. I tried never to lose control, but that day, everything was different.

“You don’t talk,” he instructed me. “Let me do what I want, and you won’t regret it.”

It was an ambiguous phrase that contained a threat and a promise. I could only rely on it, but by then the fear had gone. My excitement was total and any thoughts about what I was doing had disappeared, leaving me defenseless, at the mercy of my instincts. The desire to destroy myself and the desire for carnal pleasure and pain blinded my consciousness. I was no longer a human being.

He lay on top of me and I felt his erection against my ass. Mine pressed into the car seat. He fiddled with my belt, opened my pants, and hauled them down to my ankles. When I went to work the streets, I didn’t wear any underwear. He didn’t seem to notice. He put his hands under my shirt and lifted it up to my armpits. My now exposed body was under his. I felt him touch me, handle me, grab me everywhere. At no moment did his hands, which were smooth and warm, caress me.

With his left hand he grabbed my cock and squeezed it hard, then he started to jerk me slowly. The thumb of the other hand slid along my back bone and between my buttocks to my hole. I was already a little sweaty and he tried forcing the opening. First, he tried with his thumb, then he just penetrated me with his finger. He roughly pushed it in. I felt pain, but I tried not to moan. Then I felt that, while he tried pushing his finger deeper, with the rest of his hand he pressed under my scrotum, almost trying to put his fingers together, squeezing me between my legs. The pain was intense, it shocked me.

“No, wait!…” I cried.

I tried struggling, but he was much stronger than me, and he immobilized me, crushing me with his weight. He gave me another terrible squeeze between my legs that made me scream.

It was like torture. He squeezed and pushed. He forced my hole open, and then he crushed the skin, the flesh between my legs, under my balls. With his other hand, he squeezed my cock hard. The pain made me scream again. Then everything changed, I felt waves of pleasure coming from afar, coming closer, while that finger fucked me mercilessly. His hand rubbed the skin between my legs viciously.

I came, getting cum all over the car seat. He only stopped for a moment, then he jerked me furiously again. My member was softening, but he kept squeezing and jerking it with malice. Even though he had pulled his finger out of my ass.

“Enough, wait… please…” I whimpered.

I tried to stop him, to move, to slide out from underneath, hoping it was over.

“Stay still!” he shouted and locked me under him with his weight.

Then he put one leg between mine and with his knee he spread my legs apart.

“Stay still,” he hissed, “don’t move. Do you understand? If you move, I’ll kill you! Do you understand?”

I blocked my fear, frightened not because of what he had said to me. I was somewhat aware, and I was prepared for the violence. I had looked for it. What terrified me was his accent which revealed his origin in his excitement. Probably we lived in the same city, I was almost sure of it. He could have recognized me. It was possible I knew him too. Perhaps I had already seen him.

We were both in another city for the same reason. Perhaps, he also moved around when he wanted to look for forbidden merchandise. We were not so different.

His face was one of those you think you have already seen. Something surfaced in my memory. He could have been a colleague of my father’s at the University, in the clinic. He certainly could have been a doctor. Finally, I seemed to remember.

“Will you stay still?” he hissed.

I was afraid. Shaking, I nodded and sank my face into the back of the seat, hoping he would not recognize me, if I did that. Although I had my beard, and long dirty hair covering my face.

He left my arms free for a moment and lifted himself on to his knees which were planted between my legs. I heard him undoing with his pants, taking off his shirt. I no longer dared move or turn around to look at him.

I was afraid of what he was going to do to me. Of the idea that maybe I knew who he was. Of the possibility of being recognized, but my cock was hard again. I had become hard even though I was terrified. I felt disgusted with myself and already imagining the terrible pain I was going to feel. I was disgracefully hard again.

He was on top of me. He took my cock with one hand. He hesitated. Perhaps he was surprised it was already so hard. With the other hand he guided his cock to my hole. He tried penetrating me, but he couldn’t make it. He couldn’t get in. Perhaps fear had dried up my hole. He got up and spat on his hand and rubbed it on me. Then on his cock.

He pushed hard and I felt it. Then he was inside me.

I was out of breath from the pain and screamed, but I let myself get fucked. I heard him huff and puff and swear. Then, too quickly, he came inside me with a series of sighs. The pain had subsided. What I now felt was my hard cock, finally caressed by that bastard’s hand. I moved on my own in his hand and came, moistening it with a few drops left over. It was then he kissed me on the neck and continued to rub his watery lips until he touched my mouth. I would have reacted angrily, but he was blocking me. He was still inside me.

I’m sure he sensed my disgust, but luckily he didn’t get angry, just stopped kissing me. I wanted to cry.

We stayed like that, lying on the seat, for a couple more minutes, until he went flaccid and only then did he pull out. He returned to his seat, panting.

He looked at me, and I stared at him to imprint his face on my memory, to calmly try to give him a name. Even though I had planned to die that same night. I thought I wanted to keep for myself the memory of the last man who had kissed me. Then I was no longer so certain I had seen him before. After the excitement he returned to speaking without dialectal inflections. Nor did he show any sign of having recognized me in any way. Not that it was easy, seeing what I looked like.

He paid me without a word. Gave me the arranged amount that would be enough to buy as much stuff as I would have needed to die. When he left me on the street he made me promise that I would be there the following Sunday.

By then I will be dead, I thought, with a sense of relief.

I looked for Valerio. My ass hurt. I was suddenly in a hurry to leave. All I had to do was tell him that I had enough money for both of us to do whatever we wanted. On the way back by train I stood up for a little while. Then I felt the pain increase and it got worse. My belly felt swollen. I went to the train toilet and tried to get rid of that pig’s cum. I felt a terrible burning, all the times I had done it with René I had not suffered so much. I cried, sitting on that shaky toilet with the stench of piss while the cum ran out of my ass.

Before long, the pain would disappear, lost in a fog of dizziness. My pupils would dilate, and I would see things that no one could have imagined. Above all, I would have forgotten myself. Someone would have left me on the floor, among the garbage, hidden under a pile of trash.

It was what I desired. I wanted it and I was going to get it, but there was still a step I could go down. There was another ladder descending deeper from the bottom of hell that I wanted to try to get down. I would try it before I left for my last trip. Before I died.

I would try seeing Paoletto again, as if it were the dying wish of a condemned man.

It was quite late when I arrived at the front entrance. I was walking, crawling along by the wall. I was thinking about what I was going to do, but also about my ass that was burning. Because as I walked, the pain was only getting worse. I had all the money I needed to purchase a lot of drugs. Which was why Valerio followed me like a puppy. I kept my hands in my pocket and caressed the bills, almost with love.

I was distracted by my thoughts and when I saw him it was too late to prevent him from recognizing me. When he called after me and then screamed my name, I turned around and started running. His cries filled the silence of the street. He tried reaching me. I heard him shouting for a long time. Even when I was too far away for him to have followed me.

Ours, mine, and Valerio’s, was a lengthy and desperate run which ended in the unloving arms of those who would sell us the drugs.

I paid for what we needed. And we ran again to look for help to inject it into us.

It was ugly. The worst experience of my miserable life. I was already sick before the drug took effect, but when that effect ceased, I knew hell.

Someone, I don’t recall who, either because I erased him from my memory or because I didn’t really know who he was, prepared the syringe for me while Valerio was working on his own.

“Are you ready? Clench your fist…” the guy said, while someone gripped my arm. “It’s painless for you, just finding a vein. You’ll see later!”

There will be no later. Never. I will die. Before long I would be gone. I still wonder why I was so sure I was going to die that very night. Why I had the illusion of having so much credit with my fortune. Perhaps it was because I just wanted to. Or maybe it was because I was used to having everything I wanted. And I pretended to be able to have death when I went looking for it.

But the dealer who supplied us was trustworthy. Perhaps because we always had enough money for him. He would never sell us dangerous stuff. I knew that too, but I wanted to die anyway. I deluded myself that that extreme experience, preceded by the violence I had suffered, would lead to the collapse of my existence. That life, finally, would escape me.

It was a skillfully prepared performance, but one from which the final act would end in failure.

I closed my eyes. I saw Paoletto. I could still hear him running after me, shouting. Then I felt the tip of the needle on my skin, pricking me, entering me. The liquid flowed, mixing with the blood and a feeling of well-being and oblivion enveloped me. Slowly every pain slipped out of my mind. The fears dissolved. In those hours or minutes, I forgot everything and especially him. But before anything else, the pain ended. Even that intimate burning that had not yet left me.

I was seeking a pitiful death, one which would soften all sensation before final extinction. It was a lethal embrace that would suffocate me, but obviously it wasn’t what I thought, because, although I wanted to die, I was careful they didn’t inject me with an excessive dose. So, I woke up. Hours later, trembling with cold and fear, fearing that where I was, was in hell.

Hell really existed, it was an icy wind that was blowing in my face and it smelled of garbage and piss. But it wasn’t hell, it was the dark depths of an alleyway in which we had hidden ourselves so that we could take care of our business undisturbed. My companions had abandoned me there when I had fallen asleep. They had placed me in a sheltered corner and screened me with a cardboard box. There was a kind of affection in those gestures. Or it had been the gratitude of Valerio who had almost tucked me in that precarious blanket to sleep. Although they were dirty cartons, and my sleep was induced by the drug that I wanted to kill myself with.

I woke up. It was still night, but when I was able to get up the sky was already clearing. I heard a bell chime discreetly and I went home to sleep until it was time to go to school.

I was sincerely and hypocritically disappointed not to be dead. Fate had betrayed me again, although I was a little relieved not to have ended up in hell. Even though I did not believe it existed. I started off with murmuring warnings to myself. Almost as if I could force myself to do something, make a commitment and be able to keep it.

“I will die another time. I will collect enough money for an overdose. I will do it next Saturday! I will make myself do anything, but I will get the money!”

It didn’t happen because I didn’t prostitute myself anymore. Because what happened that day in my house, changed my life once again. For better and for worse!

 

***

 

Twelve months after Amsterdam, another summer. Three months after I injected myself with heroin, I undertook one more journey, this time to London.

Even though memories coexist in my brain, it was as if the two journeys were made by different people. Two separate souls, in distinct bodies.

Looking at me, three months after I came back to life. It turned out that physically the drug hadn’t hurt much. Only my eyes had not returned to those of before. I had dark circles under them, like two recesses beneath my cheekbones. Two bruised undertones that refused to disappear, perhaps because of the effort made to study in those last three months. For the rest, my appearance had stayed the same. I was back to being a healthy-looking boy. On the outside I was intact, except for the hole in my left earlobe, which had been made a year earlier to put a silver earring in it. One night when I was terribly sad, the need to feel part of a group, not to be alone with myself, was stronger than anything. Almost all my companions wore a silver earring and I wanted one too. My father was furious when he saw it and my mother cried. I tried in vain to explain the reason. That hole was and still is, the permanent sign of what I was. Although now, after so many years, it has almost disappeared.

I was seventeen, I had a figure still adolescent, with only a hint of a dark beard on my chin and lip. The rest was almost invisible hair on my face.

My eyes betrayed me. Their tiredness, you could tell by looking at them, that it was not only physical.

My father, in the days when I was still at school, was in the hospital for surgery. He was on his second surgery. He would have five in all. Each time they would remove a piece of his throat. For the first two surgeries, the doctors, his friends, and colleagues, had aesthetic concerns, but the scars were almost unnoticeable. His voice changed a little and he had a constant hoarseness. Frequently, he was aphonic. The third surgery in September was devastating and afterwards he expressed himself merely with murmurs. The last two surgeries were a joke in comparison. It was mainly a matter of evaluating the progress of the disease that affected his other organs.

And my eyes told all this.

At the end of school, having achieved promotion, I soon discovered the pain of loneliness and boredom. I had obviously broken up with my drug and prostitution buddies and I could not, I would never, reconnect with the friendships of my former life. I was alone, desperately lonely, so I spent a good part of June dividing myself between home and the hospital, to be close to my father. I read a lot of novels and always imagined myself the champion, identifying with any character I could. I tried, without success, to escape from reality, but my fantasy, always vivid, had been suffocated by my experiences. Every flight of my imagination ended in me crying without shedding tears. My eyes scanning the ceiling looking for something in the plaster that did not exist.

My father, understanding my pain, tried to convince me to leave. He suggested I went to my grandparents in Austria, but the idea of going alone distressed me. I had spent part of my life in Vienna, and in that house I had always been happy. But with me I had always had my mother or father. When I was there with my grandparents or uncles, it was because they both had commitments in Italy, but I knew I could reach them at any time, or that if I called them they would come. A summer in Vienna without them would have been an unbearable punishment for me. I implored him with tears in my eyes not to force me.

Then my father decided to send me to London. I tried opposing it, I didn’t want to go anywhere, I told him, because I just wanted to stay with him. With my mother who was dying with him. But he imposed it on me with an atrocious and indisputable argument.

“Go. It’s not time yet. There is still time.”

How much longer, Daddy? I didn’t dare to ask him. I never asked him, not even afterwards, when I knew there was much less time.

I set off to improve my English at a college in London. I took a two-month full immersion course that I intended to follow with the same fury with which I had just earned my promotion.

Upon my arrival I was picked up at the airport and taken to the school. The course would start the next day.

They told me that there would be ten per class, and we would sleep in twin bedrooms. I would have a French roommate. I encountered him and that evening we exchanged a few words with each other. We could not establish any kind of dialogue, because he did not speak Italian and I spoke ridiculous French. As for English, if mine was sufficient, his was barely more than elementary. Talking German was impossible because it was unknown to him.

I was furious with my father for forcing me to come to London. I was angry with myself for letting it happen and I was annoyed at my mother for not keeping me home to keep her company. Then there was this boy who followed me like a puppy in the corridors of the college while we were trying to find something to eat.

I was incredibly mature at the age of seventeen. With that maturity I was gloomy, sad, and unbearably serious. I couldn’t stand being too close with people and especially with my peers. I knew my intolerance had a precise origin. It was the terror I could desire them and fall in love with them. George or Jean, I hadn’t even understood his name, he was sixteen and was there invading my territory. The next day I thought I might try getting a room of my own. Of course, he had no idea what danger I represented to his virtue, having to sleep in the same bedroom with me. I felt like a vampire, ready to jump on him and bite his neck. As we slid through the corridors, having managed a couple of sandwiches to calm our appetite, I discovered myself imagining what I could, and wanted to do to him that night while he slept. Assuming he was asleep.

I devoured my sandwich, then I muttered something to him and went to the restroom down the hall.

More than scared or embarrassed, I was bewildered. My erotic desire was presenting itself in front of me, without mediation, distressing me. The drug had attenuated it, made it go into the background. With René, it had been a parenthesis lived in a remote and extraordinary world in which people were constantly using dope. All the rest of the time had passed without me having any genuine desires. My body had adapted to abstinence, periodically producing wet dreams which I never remembered, I had dreamless nights. My mind was now accustomed to withdrawing from excitement.

George-Jean, on the other hand, by running after me, had aroused my first genuine sexual desire in an awfully long time.

Sitting on the toilet, English and therefore not exceptionally clean, I was clutching my head in my hands, wondering what to do with my life. Whether to indulge my instincts and rape the guy that very night, if I could do it, or resist him and wallow in my pain. Put him alongside all the others, so many, who crowded my sad past.

The impulse to run away came and went. At least it didn’t frighten me anymore. I knew I was in a prison from which I would not escape, so I had to face that suffering too.

George-Jean did not need to suspect anything. I could have stayed away from him. At least, I could have tried.

I was uneasy that evening when he left to take a shower. I watched his return to our room, as he took off his robe, displaying for me all his charming qualities. I looked at him and feared he wanted to make fun of me. Maybe, he had sensed my weakness and wanted to provoke me? But the absolute ease with which he moved and the blissful smile with which he greeted my gaze, told me without ambiguity that he was far from imagining he was in danger of being raped. I found myself wondering how heavy the sleep of a French boy could be. Mine was shallow, I could hardly fall asleep, and woke up disturbed by even the faintest noises. But what about him?

He slipped naked between the sheets, muttering to me, “Bonne nuit!” with a loving whisper.

And my heart leapt. I was falling in love with him! Already? After not even three hours of knowing him, but I had already seen him naked.

While I was trying to calm myself down and fall asleep, I thought how leaving home had been good for me. If I had stayed there, I would have remained locked in my room, moving like an automaton, not feeling any emotion other than the guilt of seeing my father die and myself return to life. Here instead I started to feel emotions again which confirmed I was alive, even if those emotions were shocking.

When I did finally fall asleep, I dreamt of my roommate. I am sure of it, because in the morning the front of my pajamas were damp and encrusted. A clear sign that my dreams had been erotic, and they were a faithful mirror of my thoughts. Those thoughts I didn’t want to admit to.

I woke up at dawn, which in summer in that part of the world is about four in the morning. There were no shutters at the window, and my disturbed night was not enough to send me back to sleep. I spent a couple of hours watching the boy in the next bed. Alternating between sleep, wakefulness, and dreaming, even with my eyes open, about him becoming my friend and lover, perhaps.

At seven o’clock, when I decided to get up, I saw he was smiling, still half asleep and he made a very childish gesture, with the open palms of his hands he wrinkled his eyes. Paoletto used to do it too and I remembered that immediately. Tears came to my eyes.

“Ciao!” he said cheerfully.

“Ciao,” I answered, pretending to be as happy as he was.

We had only a few words between us.

He stretched himself out a bit, then he moved the blankets to get up and I saw his nice straight cock that seemed to be mocking me. Naturally, I was excited too. He noticed I was devouring him with my eyes and gave me another one of his disarming smiles. Then with his incredible carelessness, or rather ‘nonchalance’, he jumped out of bed. He gathered a robe, covered himself, chirped cheerfully to me a ‘pardon’. He flew to the bathroom, leaving me in bed to tame my erection. With my head in my hands and tears that had fallen from my eyes onto my cheeks. A few hiccups and a lot of self-pity.

George ended up in another class, at a lower level than mine. It seemed that my English was already good. My father with his extra-school classes and my dear René, between kisses, had taught me enough. George, on the other hand, was absolutely desperate and had to start from scratch.

For a few evenings I only saw him again in my room. And, as he progressed in his knowledge of English, we began to exchange more than a few phrases. One afternoon he looked for me to ask me if I wanted to go and visit London with him. I had not made friends with any of my classmates. They were all too cheerful for me, it would be easier getting drunk or smoking joints. I couldn’t even get close to them. George seemed different to me, and I accepted his invitation.

So, we started walking around after the end of the lessons. We both had enough money on us to have fun, and we did. As if we were really two lifelong friends. In the evening we would go back to our room, and he would give me the show of his body. But he liked girls and all I could do was watch him, smile at his smile, and wait for him to fall asleep. When I could feel his breath getting regular, I would hug the pillow and love him as if he were my lover. I murmured sweet words to him, I gave him my affection. I covered him with kisses. Then I caressed him and undressed him. I felt his hardness in my hands, and we loved each other. In an ever-changing way. Night after night. Dream after dream.

I had discovered that he was certainly heterosexual the first time we went out together. He had turned to look at a group of young girls that I would have gladly deprived of the air they breathed. George asked me what I thought about them. I gave him a look of interest and approval, but I would have easily thrown myself into the Thames from my disappointment.

I cherish you, George, I thought. And I pretended to be heterosexual for his sake.

It was like that for many days. He didn’t try speaking with any girl, perhaps because I had convinced him that he wouldn’t be capable of explaining himself in English. Fortunately for me he didn’t encounter any French girls he liked. Maybe he discovered my companionship interesting. Because I, surprising myself, even frightening myself, had become a remarkably cheerful and even witty playmate. We visited bridges and museums. We saw treasures and castles, we went to cinemas and theaters. George had fun and I, too, devoted weeks to forgetting myself and my sorrows. My mother and father, sensing my state of mind, competed to be calm when they called me and informed me that the cancer was regressing. And I tried to believe what they told me.

I also lived for George’s evening show and for the fun I could have afterwards when I was alone with myself and my body.

Then we started talking to each other even after the lights were turned off.

Apparently, it was a ritual in that college. They turned off the lights centrally, like in a penitentiary. It would have made me furious had it not been that this regulated darkness, at exactly eleven o’clock at night, allowed me to have George asleep within a couple of minutes. And usable for my dreams, or willing to tell me about himself to talk and listen to me.

One evening, after we had slipped into bed, and the lights had been off for a while, he told me he had something serious to tell me.

“It’s an important thing. Do you want to? Can I?”

I told him yes, that I wanted to, very much.

“You look at me often,” he said next, frowning. He seemed almost resentful.

“George…”

“You look at me, even when I’m asleep,” he continued “and then…I know that you…” and he took his hand forward, performing an emphatic gesture of jerking off, “I heard you. Is it true?”

End of fun, I thought, end of friendship, end of serenity. He had noticed it. More than frightening me, those words shocked me. Embarrassed me. I was still willing to take the beating that he might have given me, because I would not have been able to defend myself against him.

And tomorrow he would have gone to the management to ask to change rooms, perhaps without giving any explanations, perhaps telling them. But at that point I really didn’t care about anything anymore.

Instead, he looked at me very sweetly. He was turned on his side, with his hand holding his head and staring at me, but with a serene gaze. I thought that, after all, he wasn’t angry with me.

“And you like me, don’t you? I have known that for some time now. I have observed it from the way you look at me and how you blush when you see me naked. But I don’t care if you look at me. You know, I am happy, that you like me. No! I am proud to please someone like you! I like you too, but…not in that sense. I would really like you if you were a girl, but you are not. If I were a girl…What I could do for you!”

He left me with my mouth ajar. That little boy. He was younger than me and could state things that I barely imagined. He had understood who I was and how I was. I who, not understanding myself, had almost killed myself.

“You really don’t mind, if I look at you?” I stammered.

“Really! You are the sweetest person I have ever met. You are my friend and I love you! Do you believe me if I tell you? I wish I could love you. Hey! I am sure of one thing. The person who will fall in love with you will be lucky. You will make him happy, because he will be a boy, won’t he?”

He was speaking, but I wasn’t listening to him anymore.

I was crying.

I took my head in my hands and started sobbing. Those words were really too much.

He jumped out of bed and came and hugged me. He took my hands away from my eyes and kissed them. He held me tight until I calmed down. His skin was soft and smooth. The touch of his hands was firm and delicate. George was naked. I thought that was perverse even in a moment like that.

“Is it better now? What did I say that made you cry?”

To him, who already knew about the drugs and my father’s illness, I told everything else. Almost everything. I couldn’t tell him anything about prostitution. I was too ashamed of it. But I told him about Marco, Paoletto, my escape, and my cowardice. Of all of the whys and wherefores.

“Do you want to come to my bed?” he said at the end of my storytelling.

Outside it was practically dawn. It must have been at least three in the morning. We had been talking all night long. We were tired and couldn’t keep our eyes open, but it was the night between Saturday and Sunday, the next day we didn’t have to get up early.

“Why in your bed? To do what?” I asked, more alarmed than suspicious.

“I am cold. And so are you. Come, will you?” he said, in a melodious voice.

Was this merely a personal sacrifice on the altar of an odd friendship? Did he want to experience an emotion, exploiting the aroused homosexual that he had in the room?

But we were really cold and trembling. I shook more, because of the emotion that overcame me, and the excitement that assailed me.

“Do you really want to? Can I do it?”

“Come, please.”

He slipped under the covers and made room for me. I went and put myself next to him. We were a little squashed. He hugged me, making his body adhere to mine. He placed his head in the hollow of my neck. His sincerity was perhaps proved by the fact that he was not at all excited. I was so excited it hurt.

“George…sorry, I don’t…”

He didn’t let me talk. He kissed me on the mouth, then spoke, murmuring in my ear.

“It was I who desired you next to me. Because we are friends, because I wanted to hug you, because you cried, because I didn’t want to leave you alone. And then because we were cold and to warm ourselves, there must be two of us!”

I didn’t think about anything anymore, and I kissed him. I looked for his tongue, and ours was a real kiss, not as friends anymore. But I understood that he didn’t get excited. My caresses became more sensual, and my erection rubbed against his limp cock.

“Continue…” he whispered to me, surprising me, “you continue… I’ll follow you… later!”

I hugged him tightly and came almost immediately, messing yet another pair of pajamas. It was then I was frightened that he would withdraw from me, drive me away, eager to dry himself, to clean up my traces. And then he would become cold, unsettled, even denying me the memory of his friendship.

I was underestimating him. He didn’t stop caressing me. He didn’t stop kissing me, he put his hand on his cock and started beating off. He also came and we wet ourselves together. We hugged. I was incredulous, shocked by what had happened.

“Will you remember me?” he said to me after a while, “Tell him about me one day.”

“To whom?”

“To your friend!”

“I have no friends, George! Beyond you…”

“No, you have another one. You just revealed it to me!”

“Not after what I have done to him, or with what I could do to him!”

“You have done nothing wrong to me. And it was not a sacrifice to hold you.”

I was breathless with emotion.

“Why don’t you go and look for him?”

“I will!”

“Will you promise me?”

“Yes…”

“You promised me!” he said triumphantly.

But I already knew I would not do it.

I curled up against him and closed my eyes. We were exhausted and fell into a deep sleep. We slept in each other’s arms and a few hours later I woke up to his movement. I was dreaming that I was right there, where I was at that moment, close to him. And it was true. George also opened his eyes but staring at him I realized the magic of the night was over.

We smiled at each other, and it seemed like a farewell to me.

That day he went out with other boys and girls. After breakfast, he came to me all excited by the idea and insisted that I joined them. I didn’t want to disappoint him, but I already knew I would get bored and I did. That evening when he took his clothes off it seemed to me that he did not have the usual ease, and I could not look at him anymore. When he was in bed, he glanced at me as if he were sorry and, whispering a ‘good night’, he pulled up the blankets he had shared with me the night before.

The courses ended a week later, during which I continued to go out with him and other friends. I must confess that I was not bored, although I would have preferred to have George all to myself.

At the moment of saying goodbye, when the cabs were waiting, ready to take us to the airport, he held me in a hug that hurt and that I did not expect. He kissed me on the lips in front of everyone, which made me blush. Only a hypocrite like me could be ashamed, and I was.

“You promised me that you would go and look for him,” he reminded me, “When you think he is old enough not to hurt him, find him and tell him everything, everything!”

“Thank you, George.”

“You are welcome. I love you, but you must go and look for him. You promised me! And when you have done that, you will tell me!”

And he ran off to his car, while I was moved and regretting that I was not a girl, one of those that George would have loved, in every sense and every possible way.

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