nudity and sex
nudity and sex
The kitchen bell was Carlo's delicate way of interrupting our intimacy without being invasive. I was so engrossed in Fabrizio's narration that I had completely forgotten my father would be cooking lunch, and I hadn't offered to help him. So inconsiderate, I know, as to remind me I could often take after Catherine, no matter how I disliked that.
Unlike our habit of eating at the kitchen table -- and in everyday, the family had been doing so since immemorial times --, Carlo had set lunch at the pergola next to his studio, under grapevines he had started cultivating. We enjoyed stunning views of the mountains enveloping us and the valley spreading below, with the lake of my childhood gleaming at our feet, and a delicious vegetarian meal full of fresh ingredients from our garden, that I had harvested together with my father that morning.
"Guys, you can talk in Italian, please!" I remarked, and got smiles of relief from both Carlo and Fabrizio. They had been polite enough to stick to French because of me, though all could speak perfect English at the table, including Carlo, who had lived in London for almost a decade. But of course their native language, in their native country, would have been the natural option. "I shall understand it enough!" Even if I wouldn't, feeling foreigner was a constant in my life, just another feature like having white hair and being short-sighted.
And then, it was as if two gates had opened.
A few days prior to Fabrizio's visit, I had been feeling almost sick from worrying. Carlo manifested no particular annoyance about it, however, and seemed pleased to receive my guest, especially after having noticed the romantic bond between Fabrizio and I. Showing me a remarkably antique trunk where the equally old and beautiful linens were, he asked me to tend to all preparations concerning hosting Fabrizio, letting me choose whether I would offer a guestroom or invite him into mine. Carlo had been constantly demonstrating he cared only about my happiness and not about my sexuality, and I was thankful.
But I feared some uneasiness between them. The ten years difference -- confirmed on the internet -- between Fabrizio and I could almost be considered a generations gap already, and Carlo's insistence in keeping his place silent and free from electronic devices was so old fashioned. I hoped he would raise an exception for Fabrizio, instead of retreating into his insulted, long silences that were hard to break. I expected awkward moments between them.
But what I did not foresee is that the two would have so much in common. I did not know yet that Fabrizio enjoyed cooking, and as soon as we started eating, he had sincerely praised Carlo's tasty food. I was astounded that he could identify the ingredients at length -- while I was unable to differentiate between parsley and coriander --, and Carlo's interest in Fabrizio had thus been aroused. Next, the two men were exchanging family recipes and culinary secrets.
At the beginning, I still participated in their conversation -- just as a listener, for I had inherited from Catherine her total ineptitude in the kitchen, improved to not much more than a practical simplicity -- the "survival food" I have already mentioned.
When I returned from washing the dishes, they were still talking -- it was about sports cars, from what I guessed. I knew it was not writers nor movie makers -- Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, those were just names to me, because I wouldn't recognize any of those vehicles if I saw them. The Italian Carlo spoke and that of Fabrizio's sounded very different to me, probably the distinction between the nobleman and a peasant, but apart from that, they already shared two interests in common -- cooking and cars -- besides the same language, which helped to bring them closer and speed up their empathy.
I did not share any of that -- but I was nevertheless elated. Right before my eyes, under the dancing shadows of the mountainous sun, evolved the scene of my father and the man I was in love with engaged in a lively conversation. It was the very first time that my father met a boyfriend of mine. And Fabrizio, although technically we were not yet in a relationship, was my first boyfriend to have the chance to meet my father. And no, I'm not forgetting Gabriel, just skipping him, for he was more like a one night stand that had been extended for too long.
And all this happening right there on the ancestral D'Allegro lands, which made it all even more emotional to me. Suddenly, I saw myself thinking about Tarso with gratitude for having taken care and maintained the farm, just like Carlo was doing now -- and I clearly saw myself in that line of succession, and happily belonging. Though I was saddened that, being the only child, and gay, I was the end of the line -- and I couldn't feel so gay about that.
"My son told me that you are interested in art..." It was Carlo who carefully introduced the subject, after having realized that Fabrizio politely allowed him to bring all the topics of conversation in his own time and pace. It was a wonderful generosity from Fabrizio's part, which allowed Carlo to feel at ease and willing to trust him. My father's atelier was our next stop for the afternoon, where he made delicious coffee, that we savored in a peaceful silence.
Probably Fabrizio had done his homework and studied a little bit before coming to the Apennines, but the admiration he had for my father's work was sincere, and not just market speculation. His integrity prevented him from ever mentioning wanting to buy a painting from my father, and he never considered applying for a discount.
Just like I had had almost noumenic experiences with the works of Morandi, Rothko and Richter, Fabrizio had repeatedly visited the retrospective of Carlo's work in London, and he had been touched in a very special way by my father's paintings.
It had been an equally remarkable exhibition for Carlo, the first full retrospective of his work still during his life. Especially meaningful was the fact that it took place in the city that had so generously hosted him, and served as fertile and firm ground for his career.
Fabrizio wisely avoided speaking about Carlo's work through the critics' comments, and instead related it to the poets he loved best. Poetry and business? Listening to his remarks about my father's paintings, I wondered how they coexisted in his very busy and stressed life. I didn't know it yet, but Fabrizio had the habit of reading a poem every night, before bed. Like he said it himself, "as an antidote to the stress of my workdays, as a bridge into dreams, and to keep my heart nourished and pacified." Because Fabrizio was not only a businessman at heart but a businessman with a heart. Though he never used his heart on his businesses.
In the studio, Carlo spoke about his own work like I had never heard before, and secretly I reaffirmed my will and intention of writing my father's biography.
I had never imagined, for example, that he could have been influenced by Catherine's preference for Russian art, and especially for the writings of Russian mystics, and even that country's contemporary classic music composers -- there was so much of Catherine in Carlo's paintings, and I hadn't known it. I had realized my father was now often listening to music before painting, and he had explained that it was a way of finding the right mindset sometimes. But having been more interested in the ringtone of my mobile phone, that would bring Fabrizio to me, I hadn't inquired further about the music. I listened in astonishment while Carlo explained to Fabrizio how Martynov's 'Come in!' was inextricably present in his latest painting -- the one I had seen my father working at, and that I would request to take to Samsara Heights, as a personal recollection of so many wonderful things about my two stays in the Apennines, Carlo at the core of them.
Fabrizio listened with dedicated attention, and spoke only when Carlo prolonged his silence, thus indicating that he had finished speaking. I admired the care and reverence with which Fabrizio handled my father, and I also admired the candor and loquacity which Carlo dedicated to my future partner and the love of my life. I remained silently observing their interactions, but truth is my heart was singing loud!
That's why that first day, Fabrizio and I stayed less time together than we would have expected to.
Between Carlo and Fabrizio a touching friendship was born -- the young man who recently came from a family rejection saw himself welcomed by another parent, without any prejudice or reserve. Except for his sister -- and me, of course -- Fabrizio hadn't yet seen his new persona plus the 'gay detail' accepted by many people. My father's warm welcome was like a soothing balm to him.
Carlo had demonstrated an unreserved affection for Fabrizio during that weekend. It was also a demonstration of my father's affection for me, since it was directed towards my new boyfriend. But also directly to Fabrizio himself.
"Does he have a family? I mean, are his parents still alive?" Carlo had asked me later. He had intuited that Fabrizio was an orphan, which in part was true at that time, and thus he had identified with my boyfriend, in his own prolonged orphanage.
While Carlo and Fabrizio talked after dinner, again having washed the dishes, I felt a sudden desire to paint as I hadn't felt in a long time. The last canvas I had painted was months ago.
My father granted me permission to use his atelier, and there I lost track of time brushing away. When I returned home, to my dismay my father was expecting me alone.
"Fabrizio went to the studio to say good night to you." Carlo explained. "But when he saw you so concentrated, he preferred not to interrupt..." Carlo smiled, as if to a personal joke. It was the kind of courtesy and respect that he had never received from Catherine. "He has gone upstairs to his room, and he said he would be happy if you woke him up to say good night... He is a very lovely man, Laurent, very special indeed, and I'm happy for you. And I wish a great night for you both, son!" Carlo smiled and hugged me, like an accomplice, before heading to the atelier for another night of work.
Fabrizio hadn't slept yet, since he had talked at length with his sister on the phone. "Patrizia can't believe I haven't taken any picture of you to send her... She's so eager to meet 'the man who has made her brother gay', according to her own words..."
I had met him coming out the shower. Seeing him naked for the first time stoked my lust and on an impulse I jumped on him.
Fabrizio, contrary to what I had expected, was embarrassed and even blushed when I tried to kiss him. But hadn't we been through that discouraging scene already at his apartment? Weren't we many kisses ahead?
Unaware of what my plans were, Carlo had shown him into the room with double bed where I was sleeping, but instead Fabrizio had chosen to occupy the small room at the corner where I had slept twenty five years ago, the same room that once had been Carlo's, with its narrow single bed and the magnificent views over the valley.
"Laurent! Your father is in the next room!" Fabrizio blushed, looking as scared as a little boy who had inadvertently broken the rules.
"He is not! Right now, he is in the atelier. And his room is on the other side of the house. The next room is mine... and that's where you should be, right now!" Gloriously naked as you are, but on my bed, I thought and didn't say.
"I would like to respect him, shall we?" A notion of respect that seemed awkward to me. Fabrizio shared he wouldn't feel comfortable if we slept together with my father's presence in the same house.
"He wished us a good... an excellent night!" I whispered in Fabrizio's ear, while I could not resist brushing a finger against his ripped abdomen, tracing up and down the trail of dark hair. "Una bellissima e buonissima notte, I think he said... and I think he wasn't addressing our sleep..." When Fabrizio slowly backed two steps, gently but clearly demonstrating he refused my touch, I tried to reason him that my father was different from his father. Carlo wouldn't be shocked if he overheard the sounds of our love making.
To my surprise and frustration, Fabrizio insisted, contrary to my -- and to his own, he confessed it -- desire.
"And how different they are!" Fabrizio remarked about our respective fathers. "Nevertheless, or precisely because of that fact, I would like to respect Carlo... He has been so immensely kind to me. And actually... I wish we waited until a certain special occasion for both of us."
But my special occasion was precisely that evening -- making love to Fabrizio in the same room where years ago, being just a pubescent boy, I had desired Fabio. In my heart, it was the closing of a beautiful, meaningful circuit. And in fact, just thinking about the possibility of doing to Fabrizio that which I had never done to Fabio, in that same small room where my sexuality had blossomed, made me fell extremely horny.
But Fabrizio's temperance won, and it was with a chaste kiss that we parted that evening.
Worse, with the sad news that Fabrizio would have to leave the next morning.
"Please forgive me, Laurent. I should have let you know beforehand... I know, I should have told you over the phone... There are so many commitments and problems which I have to handle to finally take my time to be just with you. I know, my life is rather messy, and even more than usual, at the moment... Will you still like me?"
I was saddened by the news that we would be together for a little over twenty four hours only. But it also impressed me that Fabrizio had flown from Vice City to Italy only to be with me, even for such a short time. He would be en route longer than he would have time to spend with me. Still, he had come.
And it was the first time he had returned to Italy since being rejected by his family.
"I gave up my family to stay with you. Now I have to give up some of my businesses, too." His statement scared me, but he smiled as if he were happy with that perspective. "My dad's heart attack was a lesson for the whole family which, however, no one seemed to realize... When I found myself having difficulties about leaving work and finding the time to come be with you, Laurent, I finally realized how my business was a compensation..." He stared at me, inquiringly, wondering if he should add, "And an excuse, for not making myself available to Andara and to the relationship I had with her..." I shivered at the mention of her name, but his next promise was reassuring. "I don't want to ever do that to you, Laurent!"
It seemed a waste that we wouldn't even sleep together, chastely cuddling, since we had so little time together -- but yes, I could respect Fabrizio's decision, understanding he wanted to respect my father, and respect his own limits.
Like the boy entering puberty I had been in that house, that night I had a wet dream -- but instead of Fabio, like it had been almost twenty five years ago, it was with Fabrizio.
I woke up with my underwear all sticky, and I laughed at it. It seemed like ages ago when I was rushing to the bathroom to wash my semen away, all ashamed about my nocturnal emissions, be it in Tarso's home or back in France. Still, I changed my stained underwear before going into Fabrizio's room, who had already woke up, and I told him about my wet dream.
"Babe, I promise it!" Fabrizio seemed worried. "Our first time is going to be special. Do you trust me? Can you wait?"
In his voice, contemplating the ma-eater he knew perfectly well I had been, the possibility that he would do it right there and then was implied, if it was to make me happy and have me satisfied. He wouldn't want to rusk as much as loosing me again because of some awkward chastity.
But since I had had sex with so many men before, sometimes just a few minutes after having met some of them, I actually began to see Fabrizio's nagging insistence that we shouldn't have any sexual contact as something pretty special and unique.
He was not being prudish. He had in mind already a very special occasion that I hadn't been able to foresee yet.
But I confess that I did feel insecure, thinking that Fabrizio might not be attracted to me. I was aware that my glasses made me look seriously old fashioned, that my white, scruffy hair wasn't really attractive, and the discreet clothes that I wore more like camouflage. I had been gradually and purposefully becoming older and uglier since the end of my relationship with Angelo. My ex-boyfriend had insisted that I looked better without glasses on? He had probably been right, and that's why I used them now, having abandoned the contact lenses. Angelo had preferred my hair long and freely undulating, so that's why I had adopted a shorter, classic haircut. No matter how many guys I had had since then, I only felt worse, and the scar was still in my heart.