So, let me tell you about this young American. You could always tell the Americans. I’d met quite a few. They were so clean looking and had such great teeth. This one was older than the average Saxon Club clientele, probably in his late 20s, early 30s, so he wasn’t actually all that young. But he was nevertheless extremely handsome. I noticed him straight away because he burst into the club in haste, appearing to be looking for something. He descended the stairs, clattering down the wooden staircase in his big clodhopper boots, and quickly looked around. He had a rucksack slung over one shoulder. On his hip, there was a holstered pistol. But he looked innocuous enough and, unusually, he was on his own. He had tight black pants on and a camouflage tunic that was undone, so that you could see the tanned skin of his bare chest underneath, his trim, tightly ridged abs disappearing under the webbed belt that was holding up his pants. He was tall and lean, and around his head was a large, brightly colored bandana, expertly tied at the back, half covering his ears. Beneath that he had a thick head of black hair, a bushy halo of loose curls, which was spilling out of his bandana and flopped about as he turned his head to survey the room. He was almost baby-faced, with big round eyes that were bright and friendly, and quite thick black eyebrows that framed his eyes nicely. In one ear he had an earring, a thick hoop of gold, which lent him something of the look of a buccaneer. At the same time, he was chewing away suavely, his firm, handsome jaw masticating on a rather large blob of gum. Pausing at the bottom of the stairs, he took a cursory look around, looking this way and that, and spotted me standing at the corner of the bar. He focused on me straight away, I suppose because I was nearest the door, and meandered through the crowd towards me. I expected some kind of perfunctory greeting, or at least a customary corny chat-up line by way of introduction, but he didn’t say anything. He threw his rucksack down onto the floor and sat down on the stool next to me. Then, without any formality whatsoever, reached over and pulled me towards him, lifting me rather unceremoniously onto his lap in one smooth maneuver. I found myself suddenly raised up in his strong arms, sailing briefly into the air, and effortlessly plonked astride him, so that I was sitting on him face to face. It was so brazen and unexpected that I barely had time to open my mouth in protest.
“Hey, what’s the big idea?” I complained.
“Shut up and kiss me,” he demanded.
But I didn’t get a chance to finish the sentence. He pulled me towards him and kissed me hard on the mouth, blob of gum and all. I grabbed a fistful of his tunic to balance myself as I was perched there precariously on his lap, my feet dangling off the floor on that high stool. I broke the kiss quickly, if only to catch my breath.
“I charge for that y’ know,” I grumbled.
“Trust me,” he countered, “Just play along.”
And he kissed me again, this time longer and rather more meaningfully. I relaxed into it, now somewhat less combative after his appeal for my cooperation. What I remember most about that kiss was that his mouth tasted very distinctly of cinnamon. I guessed it was from his gum. I kinda detected straight away that there was something untoward going on, because even as our lips were locked together, he was looking around. His eyes were fixed on the stairs, watching who came through the door. Gently, I broke our kiss, and twisted around to look behind me. Sure enough, a few moments later, two police officers walked into the club, descending the stairs in their soft caps and with their sub-machineguns pointed at the floor. They were studiously looking around as though they were searching for somebody. I could tell straight away they were chasing him. Tell the truth, it wasn’t unusual for the police to be sniffing about the place. They came in from time to time, but largely turned a blind eye to the club and its activities. They were too corrupt to care. They knew very well what went on, but it was of no interest to them, except when one of them actually came in as a punter. They thought they were incognito when they were not in uniform, but I knew who they were. A few had even been clients of mine. Yeah, apparently even the law enforcers weren’t exempt from enjoying a bit of boy ass from time to time. In fact, when it came to boyfucking they were among the most prolific consumers, superseded only by the priests and the magistrates.
The police officers split up and strolled around warily, looking quite out of place in their white shirts and stab vests, their little silver rank badges glinting away on their epaulets. They appeared slightly out of breath and were querying each other as to which direction they should go. Clearly the trail had gone cold and neither of them had a clue where to look. I knew there was a good chance they wouldn’t see us in the semi-darkness, and the place was so busy it was easy to get lost and become anonymous in the crowd.
The American held me there on his lap for a while. I stayed quite still, my face close to his to shield him from view, propped up with my small palms flat against his bare chest. The police officers tentatively made inquiries of a few of the club guests, but none of them really wanted to talk. Most just shook their heads or ignored them. This place was a den of vice. Of course, they didn’t want to be seen talking to the police. It wasn’t long before Guus’s goons – ostensibly the club’s security – approached the police officers and escorted them back up the stairs. When the goons returned to their posts, we knew the police were gone.
“Thanks, lil man,” said the American, his relief tangible, and finally let me go.
He lifted me up off his lap, and I hopped back onto the floor. He in turn stood up, and it was only then that I got the measure of just how tall he was. I could see his bright, sparkling eyes roving all over me in curiosity. He seemed to be sizing me up, perhaps only just realizing how naked I was.
“You gonna tell me what’s going on now?” I asked.
“I didn’t want them to see me,” he offered.
“Why, what did you do?” I inquired impertinently.
He shook his head.
“Long story,” he replied, brushing off my question.
Clearly, he wasn’t prepared to go into it. I didn’t pursue it. As a shota boy, you knew instinctively not to ask too many questions.
He leaned over the bar and looked around for the bartender, evidently having decided to stay.
“So lil man, what’s good to drink around here?” he asked, quickly changing the subject.
“Try this,” I said, proffering my glass.
My unfinished drink was sitting on the bar, so I let him taste it. He smiled as though I had said something quaint, and I could see a flash of white. I was right – he had great teeth.
He took my glass and was about to lift it to his lips, but hesitated, the glass hovering just below his chin. He raised his other hand and took the big blob of gum out of his mouth, then drained what was left of my drink, pausing to wipe his lips with the back of his hand. Then he looked back at me and nodded approvingly.
“You sold it to me lil man,” he said, depositing his used gum into the empty glass.
I sat down on my stool and the American moved over and stood directly in front of me. He stood really close, so that he was towering over me as I sat there, his thighs pressed against my bare knees, and he looked down at me benevolently.
“So, what’s your name lil man?”
“Cloud,” I said shyly.
“What, like in the sky?” he asked, jerking his thumb up at the ceiling.
I nodded. Everyone asked me that.
“Well Cloud,” he went on, assimilating my unusual name, “Will ya have a drink with me?”
“Sure. Whatever you want,” I said.
He stooped down and righted his abandoned rucksack, pushing it further under the bar, by his feet. It looked heavy. He straightened up and stood there in silence for a while, studying my face closely, still smiling benignly. He had quite a friendly face. I liked the neat, thin stubble on his jaw, which had not yet acquired the fullness of a proper beard and was still soft and sparse. It had tickled a little when he kissed me. For me it just added to his mystique. Despite his initially over-assertive approach, he appeared very unthreatening. I looked up into his warm brown eyes and I knew straight away that he was okay.
“Hmm, Cloud…” he said, savoring the sound of it, and looking wondrously up towards the ceiling, “That’s a real cute name.”
He was certainly full of compliments, and already taking a liking to me, so I obliged him.
“Thanks,” I replied, jauntily.
At that point Ten arrived and leaned over the bar to take his order.
“What’s your pleasure sir?”
The American rested his hands on my shoulders, to indicate that I was now his for the evening, and he settled on a glass of Black Death, the specialty of the house.
“And one for my buddy here,” he added, slapping his palm down affectionately on my shoulder.
Ten pushed two glasses of the dark liquid across the counter and the American threw down a pile of crinkled dollar bills that he fished out of the hip pocket of his tunic.
“Keep ‘em comin’ until that’s all used up,” he said to Ten, pushing the little stack of greenbacks across the bar.
The American looked at his glass and raised it to his lips, then drained the whole glass in one, slamming it back down on the bar. He looked like he really needed it.
Ten immediately fixed him another one. Then, with a fresh drink in his hand, the American turned his attention back to me.
“So, Cloud, what do you do?” he asked inquiringly, and in such a natural, easygoing manner that you would have thought he had just struck up an acquaintance at a cocktail party.
“Anything you want,” I said, “I’m here to please you.”
“You’re already pleasing me lil man,” he said, strategically looking me up and down, and took another swig of his drink.
“Thanks,” I said again, chuffed by his compliments.
“Do you have a last name, Cloud?” he went on.
“Nine,” I said, laconically.
He hesitated a moment, not immediately grasping the joke. Then he broke into a sly smile.
“Oh, I like that,” he chuckled.
I knew he would. The Americans always did.
“What’s your name?” I asked, reciprocating.
“Cigarette,” he said, curtly.
I couldn’t help letting out a little giggle at his unconventional name. But I quite liked the way he said it. He said it the American way, with the emphasis on the first syllable.
“But my friends call me Ciggy,” he went on.
I smiled, amused by his curious nickname.
“Why?” I asked, crinkling my nose in bemusement.
“I used to smoke a lot,” he said resignedly, “but now I just chew gum instead.”
I liked that. It was a good story, I decided.
“So where are you from Cloud?” he asked, no doubt having noted that I wasn’t a native.
“Around,” I said vaguely.
I wasn’t really in the mood to go into convoluted details about how I had suffered a head injury and lost my memory and all. It would have killed the conversation before it had even started.
“You’re not from around here are you?” he went on.
I shook my head in confirmation. He had already detected that I was not Verolene in origin. My dirty-blond hair, light skin and gray-green eyes usually gave it away. It was a complete contrast to most Verolenes who were generally dark, with raven-black hair, dark skin and very angular features. Typically, Verolenes were also quite short and squat in stature, where I was very slender and quite tall for my age.
“Where are you from?” I asked him.
“I’m from a place far, far away from here,” he said, mystically, “A place called Topeka. Y’ know where that is?”
“Kansas,” I said, emphatically.
He was genuinely taken aback, visibly blinking in surprise.
“You know it?” he said, astounded.
“Of course,” I said, suavely.
“I read a lot,” I replied cryptically.
“Well, I’ll be….” he exclaimed, “Y’ know, I’ve traveled all over Europe and goddamn, if you ain't the only charlie I’ve spoken to that’s heard o’ Topeka, Kansas.”
I smiled to myself. I wasn’t just a pretty face. I may have been blond, but I was no bimboy, and I may have been a fuckboy, but I was certainly no doof. I spent a lot of time in my room, and when I wasn’t entertaining tricks, I was reading. I had read all about America. America was one of my favorite subjects. On top of that, the atlas was one of my favorite books. I had spent many hours studying it, so I knew all the state capitals of the USA.
“So, what brings you to this hellhole?” I asked him.
He cocked his head, pursing his lips in thought.
“Where there’s war, there’s money,” he said cryptically, raising his eyebrows.
Great. Just what I need, I thought, another mercenary. Europe was chock full of them.
So that was how we got talking. Ciggy seemed like a great guy. We spent ages just shooting the breeze about what it was like growing up in Kansas, and how he came to be trapped in Europe when the war broke out. He couldn’t get home, so he just had to make the best of it.
After talking for a good long time, it became pretty apparent that Ciggy was intending to stay the night. He happily paid the going rate and readily threaded his greenbacks into my arm-strap. Great, I thought. Here was a pretty decent guy who seemed quite down to earth and might actually be a pleasure to spend the night with. He wasn’t shady or threatening and wasn’t likely to be overly demanding nor give me a hard time.
Ciggy managed to down several glasses of Black Death, which was unusual for someone who had just tasted the drink for the first time. Of course, it wasn’t really black. If you looked at it closely, when you held it up to the light, you could see that it was actually a very dark green in color. It tasted very strongly of aniseed. For many it was an acquired taste, but Ciggy seemed to take to it almost instantly. I just had the one, and even that was heavily diluted. I knew my limits, and I knew it didn’t pay to drink too much. I was still quite small in stature, and too much alcohol deadened my senses. I liked to keep my senses sharp. Some tricks didn’t like it if you were slurring and incoherent. Although, even then, there were those who wouldn’t have minded even if you were slightly unresponsive. Hell, you could even be unconscious and they wouldn’t object. They were quite happy to go ahead and fuck you anyway, probably all the more relieved that they wouldn’t have to make the effort of interacting with you on any intellectual level.
With an air of jubilation, I slipped out of the club with Ciggy in tow. We meandered out of the back, brushing past a couple of comatose UNHCR workers, who were slumped on the stairs probably stoned shitless. Maybe they were the very same ones that were always there trading sherm sticks with the militiamen, who knows?
When we got to the top of the stairs, I led Ciggy along the musty passageway to my dingy room, and let him in. I switched on the light, making sure I locked the door behind us. Conveniently, I had one of the very few rooms in the hotel that had once been two interconnecting bedrooms. The adjoining room was the bedroom, and I had turned the first room into a little sitting room and study where I kept my music and my books. There was a big oak writing desk, and a quite ornate chess set which I had almost permanently set up. I showed Ciggy into the sitting room and invited him to go and make himself comfortable in the next room. Ciggy carefully put down his rucksack on the chair by the chessboard and went into the bedroom. Meanwhile, I put away my evening’s spoils. Next to the desk was a bookcase crammed with all my favorite books. It also had a secret hiding place where I stashed all my dough, just behind ‘The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde’. I stuffed my greenbacks into the little tin, replaced the lid, and put it back on the shelf, making sure I slotted the thick tome back in its rightful place.
I quickly stripped off, shedding my clothes rather efficiently, and went into the bedroom. I expected to find Ciggy already in bed, or at least undressed, but he wasn’t. He was sitting up on the bed, above the covers, and hadn’t taken his clothes off. He was just propped up against the headboard as though he had other things on his mind. I stopped, concerned that maybe he had changed his mind. Sometimes clients did that, especially the first-timers. They were fairly compliant and amenable until they were actually confronted with the reality of what they were about to do. Somehow, that prospect seemed to frighten some of them.
“Aren’t you getting undressed?” I asked, almost disappointed.
“No,” he replied, folding his arms across his chest as if in protest.
“You don’t want to fuck me?”
He closed his eyes momentarily, as if he found my plain speaking somehow distasteful, and shook his head regretfully.
“No,” he said, in a very quiet voice.
I hesitated a moment, standing there feeling a little redundant in my nakedness, and I stared at him incredulously.
“Is it the alcohol?” I queried, thinking that maybe he had just drunk too much.
He shook his head.
I suddenly became very suspicious, urgently searching for some justification for his strange behavior.
“You’re not going to tie me up and beat me, are you?”
He let out a little laugh at that.
“No, certainly not,” he said.
“What is it then? Don’t you like me?”
“No,” he explained, “It’s not that.”
“They say I’m the best,” I asserted, a little blasé, thinking that maybe he just needed a little encouragement, especially if this was his first time with a shota boy.
“I can believe that,” he replied, vaguely amused, but still unmoved.
“I can show you what to do, if you want,” I went on, “I’ll lead the way, you won’t have to do anything. Just tell me what you like and I’ll do it for you.”
He was shaking his head, about to tell me I had got it all wrong.
“No, no, I don’t want to do anything like that,” he said.
“What then?” I asked, by now totally out of ideas, and becoming somewhat defensive, “I’ve got no time for wise guys, y’ know!”
I could see that my sudden hostility took him by surprise, and he raised his hands in a calming gesture.
“Hey, take it easy kid. I paid for your time, didn’t I?”
“I just can’t stand timewasters,” I replied, still riled, “And don’t call me kid!”
He laughed, once again letting out a good-natured guffaw at my rebuff.
“Okay, okay,” he said, in a slightly quieter tone, “Just calm down.”
“I am calm!” I insisted, slightly resentful of him telling me what to do.
Ciggy took a deep breath and looked at me with an earnest stare.
“Look, couldn’t we just talk?” he asked, quite plainly and innocently.
I stared at him, open mouthed, not sure if this was some kind of joke.
“Talk?” I exclaimed, “What about?”
Again, he laughed, this time more of a belly laugh, like I’d just said something quaint.
“You’re really somethin’ else kid,” he said, with a big grin.
I was confused, not knowing what to think. He saw my confusion and just flashed me that same benevolent smile.
At this point, he removed his bandana, releasing his thick head of floppy black curls, and I quite liked the way he shook his head to loosen his hair up. Clearly, he was intending to stay, and made himself more comfortable by laying back down on the bed. I looked at him. He was very handsome, in his own way, with those neat, baby-faced features, that mussed-up hair and that gold earring and that immature stubble on his jaw.
“C’ mere,” he said, beckoning me closer with a jerk of his head, and patted the bed beside him.
Tentatively, I went over and sat on the edge of the bed, still a little wary of his intentions, but more curious and by now somewhat more passive. He just looked over at me and smiled.
“I do like you Cloud,” he said, as though to reassure me, “You seem like a real good kid.”
“Thanks,” I said, “I like me too.”
He chuckled at my arrogance.
“Heh, you sure are somethin’ else,” he said again.
Reassured by his endorsement, I smiled back at him, by now feeling more at ease. Ciggy patted the bed next to him once more, and I felt confident enough to scoot over and lie down beside him. He diplomatically threw one of the pillows across my lap to cover my crotch, thus indicating that my nakedness was not the focus of this endeavor.
“Can I level with you?” he asked, earnestly.
“Sure,” I said, looking around and up at him.
“I’m not really into boys,” he said, with a hint of apology.
“Oh, okay,” I replied, accepting his candidness with good grace and amity, “So what are you doing here then?”
“I just want to stay out of sight until morning. Will you help me?”
I shrugged, not really concerned.
“Like you said, you paid for my time,” I reasoned.
“Thanks,” he said, “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather we just keep things platonic. You okay with that?”
I nodded, happy to acquiesce. Platonic was not a word I heard very often. It was unusual, but I had no problem with it. Tell the truth I was a bit disarmed by his frankness, and the fact that he was actually taking the trouble to check that it was okay with me, which was not something I was used to. Clients rarely sought my opinion on anything, let alone asked for permission.
“Pity,” I said, “You’re a good kisser.”
“Gee, you’re full of compliments, aren’t you?” he replied, humbled by my flattery.
“Yeah, and bullshit,” I joked, “but then, aren’t we all?”
He laughed at that, and I had to join in with him. Ciggy seemed to have that effect. You just had to laugh with him because his natural charm was infectious and his down-to-earth demeanor put you totally at ease. We both laughed good-naturedly for a few moments, then paused, finding ourselves caught in a slightly awkward silence. Then he started talking, quietly and reassuringly at first, and within a few minutes, he was able to draw me into a relaxed and easygoing conversation which required no effort at all. He started asking me about myself and seemed to take a genuine interest in me and all the things that I liked. He made me feel safe enough to open up to him. He was on the same level as me intellectually, talking about highbrow stuff like chess and literature, about Shakespeare, Dickens and Wilde, and all the things that I usually would never have talked about with my tricks. But I soon discovered that Ciggy wasn’t like any other trick. He was engaging, intelligent and interesting, and he made me feel special and listened to what I had to say. No one had ever done that with me before. It was amazing, and I found myself talking away without reservation for a good long time. We carried on talking like that late into the night.
And, believe it or not, talk was all we did.
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