The road to Messina, by foot, was a long way. It was the first time that Enzo went so far from the place where he lived. When they passed the various villages, they were always welcomed warmly. Reaching the sea at Giarre, the picciotti went along the seacoast and stopped for the night in Mazzarò. Enzo, after that first time when he had sex with Alduzzo, told him about Ruggiero and himself, and explained to Alduzzo that they couldn't do it any more. Alduzzo insisted for a while, but Enzo was determined, therefore in the end, Alduzzo accepted his friend's decision. Enzo was determined to confess to his lover about his moment of weakness, hoping that his man could forgive him, and would not get mad or suffer too much because of that.
He was asking himself why he could have yielded so easily. He was judging himself rather harshly. On that night, Enzo and Alduzzo lay side by side to sleep, and Alduzzo saw that Enzo was deep in thought.
"What's up, Enzo?" he asked him in a whisper.
"I'm asking myself how Ruggiero would react."
"Just don't tell him!"
"I can't. It wouldn't be fair to him. I simply could not do it."
"If he really loves you, he will forgive you, right? And then, you can tell him it was my fault... After all, it is true, isn't it?"
"No, it is your fault, but it is also my fault... I can't hide behind excuses. I did it, but I shouldn't have done it."
"But it was great, right?"
"It doesn't matter!" the boy answered.
Yes, he liked it. It was true, even though he liked it best when Alduzzo penetrated him. He also liked it best when it was Ruggiero who took him. But it was not a problem of whether he liked it or not. The problem was that he belonged to Ruggiero and the young man belonged to him, and that he had spoiled their relationship by allowing himself to yield in that way. Ruggiero and him... it was like they were married, wasn't it so? And can a man forgive his wife who cheated on him, or vice versa? Possibly yes, but certainly it was not a good thing. It should not happen.
And he was so ashamed, and even more so as he recalled how jealous he had been because of the gallantries his Ruggiero had had for the girls. Well, it was in part because of the separation, in part because of the tension from the battle, in part because of his friendship with Alduzzo... many things contributed to his infidelity, but still, the main cause had been his weakness. Despite the fact he was now eighteen, he was still immature, Enzo concluded bitterly.
"But you, beside Ruggiero, have never done it with any other man?" Alduzzo asked him, interrupting his train of thoughts.
"No, never, with anybody. He is my first and only man."
"Oh, I see. For me, it's different. Do you know who was my first?"
"Well, with him too... But my first man... it happened six years ago, you know him too, but I bet you can't guess who he is."
"A man? Not one of us boys?"
"But who? Do I know him? In our village?"
Alduzzo giggled, "You'll never be able to guess it."
"Do I know him? Know him well?"
"Well, you know who he is..."
"And who is he?"
"Your mother's brother?" Enzo asked, amazed.
"Yep. We were working at don Sebastiano's chestnut grove. We went to take a leak and he noticed I looked at his prick so he asked me if I liked it. Well, he has a beautiful one, and it was almost hard. I told him I did and he said I could touch it, and when I took it in my hand, it became even harder. So he took me behind the bushes, lowered my breeches and slipped it all inside me. He has a rather fat prick, so he hurt me, and he had to shut my mouth to stop my scream. But then, I loved it a lot. And he was telling me he liked me too much, that I was the best boy he ever fucked, that I was even better than his wife. And made me swear I would do it with him again."
"Your uncle Giovanni..." Enzo said thoughtfully.
"Amazing, isn't it?"
"Yes. He is known as a womanizer."
"True. But on the contrary, he is a... boy-izer, I can assure you! Before me, he also took Tano..."
"Yes, him. And after me, he also took Pino, and many more. He likes fourteen, sixteen-year-old boys. And he also fucked all his sons."
"His sons? My god, I'll die if it my father asked me to do such things! How is it possible, a father with his son?"
"Why, what's wrong with that? A daughter, you would risk making her pregnant, so it would really be a problem, but with a son, there is no risk."
"But a father and a son!"
"When one is horny... everybody gets horny, right? Also a father and a son are two males, and so are two brothers. And it happens rather often between brothers, as they often sleep on the same pallet. For instance, Tano did it with Rosario, and Federico with Martino."
"And how do you know that?"
"I did it with Tano and also with Federico -- they told me."
"And it was exactly Rosario and Martino who started rumors about Cesare and Ranuccio! What bastards!" Enzo said, shaking his head.
"Well, you know how it is, these are things one does but not tell. Also because to me, to you, and a few others, it's something we like, but for the others, it is just an outlet until they have a woman. But having a woman before getting married is not easy, you know it. Therefore... Also, many picciotti are far from their women, so the younger ones often become substitutes for women. It's enough if the others don't know about it, and everything is all right, isn't it?"
"But if many are doing it, some will eventually find out, won't they?"
"They just pretend not to know."
"But why does somebody, like you or I, like males better than females?"
"And why one can even boast among his friends if he does it with a female, but when he does it with a male, he has to pretend that such things don't even exist, and such things are wrong?"
"Mainly if he takes it in his ass. Who knows why? But this is not the only thing that one does but doesn't tell. It has always been this way."
"But it's not fair!" Enzo concluded.
The day after, they resumed their journey to the north, towards Messina. Enzo felt excited for the perspective of meeting Ruggiero again after so many days. They would go back to the villa together, Ruggiero would take care of everything and he would be at his side again. He would beg him never to leave him again. He needed Ruggiero, and Ruggiero needed him, they told that so many times to each other. Ruggiero would forgive him, would understand...
He had the address of his man in his pocket -- he would ask the people in town where that place was, he would knock on his door, Ruggiero would be stupefied to see him, would be happy. And they could at last make love again. When should he tell Ruggiero? Immediately? While they were making love? Afterwards? Maybe it's better to wait until afterwards, in the languor that followed the joy of union, when one was so full of sweetness that a bitter morsel could also become acceptable... How would his man react? Well, he could just wait for now, and hope for the best.
They entered Messina and were at once infected by the festive air of the town. Federico Cangemi with his men wanted to meet general Garibaldi to put themselves at his service.
Alduzzo was excited at this prospect. "I'll ask him to give me a red shirt, and I'll follow him to the end of world," he said with luminous eyes.
Enzo smiled, "I won't go with you. I will go look for my Ruggiero. Good luck, Alduzzo. We probably will never meet again..."
"Why don't you come with us, instead?"
"No, you know I'm bound to Ruggiero, don't you?"
"Ah, love, love!" his friend amiably jested.
They said farewell and Enzo started to ask the town's people where Ruggiero's place was.
It was not difficult to find -- it was a big building that still showed its ancient beauty, even though the passing of time had taken its tolls.
At the gate, he asked a woman, "Excuse me, do you know don Ruggiero Vizzini? Can tell me where he lives?"
"Ah, don Vizzini? The foreigner from near Catania? Yes, take that stairway, to the fourth floor, but I saw him leaving just a while ago, he is not home now."
"I see. When will he be back?"
"I don't nose in others' business. How can I know?"
"Can I wait for him here?""
"Sure you can, you won't bother anybody," the woman briskly answered.
Enzo smiled. The way Messina people spoke was somewhat different from that of his village, but could be understood. The way they behave was more brisk, he noticed. At first, they seemed almost rude to him, offensive, but then became aware it was just a different way to behave.
He asked himself whether to wait there at the gate, or to climb the stairs the woman showed him and wait for him on the fourth floor. From there, looking down at the street, he could see him coming. But upstairs the surprise would be bigger, as Ruggiero would see him just at the last moment... And there, he could possibly also hug and kiss him, for sure not on the street. "It's probably better to go upstairs", he decided.
There were three doors on the fourth floor, and on one, there was a small piece of cardboard glued to it, where the name "Vizzini" was written in elegant letters. Enzo felt his heart beating strongly inside his chest. If he could just enter the room, he would undress and make his man find him on the bed, ready for him... But the door was shut. He sat on the first step of the flight going upstairs, and waited. All was silent, just Enzo's heart was drumming. How long would he have to wait? Maybe Ruggiero was out on business, and would be back in the evening, he thought. Well, never mind, he would wait for him, and sooner or later he would come back home. Enzo had a piece of bread and cheese in his small bundle, so he nibbled at them while he waited.
It hadn't been for too long when he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. It could be his Ruggiero, he thought, feeling stirred up. He put away the bread and cheese and stood up, looking towards the flight coming from downstairs, holding his breath. The footsteps were coming up rapidly. He waited and finally saw him -- yes, it was really him, he had a small parcel in one hand and was pulling out a key from his pocket with the other hand. He went to his door, slipped the key in the keyhole and started to open the door.
Then Enzo, with a low and sweet voice, said, "Ruggiero!"
The young man turned and looked at him -- surprise, joy, perplexity rapidly alternated in his eyes. "Enzo... why are you here?" at last he asked.
The boy was somewhat puzzled for his man's reaction -- he expected a joy explosion, he expected being embraced tightly... Was it possibly because they were on the stairs?
He went near the half open door and pushed it open, "Let's go inside, I have a thousand things to tell you," he said, looking at him in his eyes, hoping to find a light of pleasure and desire in them.
But instead, he read a worried expression in them, and Ruggiero, taking his arm, lightly pulled him back, saying, "Come, let's go downstairs..."
"Downstairs? Don't you want to take me inside?"
At that moment, a manly, clear voice come from the inside, "Ruggiero, did you bring me the sweets?"
Enzo felt his heart had stopped and looked at the young man in his eyes -- his light blushing and his embarrassed expression depicted on his lover's face made him understand that what he had just guessed was right -- Ruggiero had another boy waiting for him!
"Enzo... I... let me explain..." the young man, embarrassed, started to say in a low voice.
"Ruggiero, aren't you coming?" the voice from inside said.
"Who is he?" Enzo asked, feeling like a hand was twisting his intestines.
"I..." the young man started.
From the entrance door, Enzo saw the door in the front opened and there appeared a boy barely older than him, completely naked.
Their eyes met and the unknown boy smiled at him. "Hi," the boy said without getting agitated, completely uncaring for his complete nudity.
"Who is he?" Enzo asked again, looking at Ruggiero and determinedly entered the small kitchen.
The young man entered and closed the door behind his back. "Enzo..."
"Oh, so you are Enzo? You are his boyfriend then. Ruggiero told me about you several times," the naked boy said quietly.
"But he hasn't told me a word about you..." Enzo answered with hoarse voice, continuing to stare in the young man's eyes.
Ruggiero put the small parcel on the table and said, "Go get dressed, Manfredo, I have to talk with Enzo."
"No, remain here. As I see, you are at home here, the intruder is me."
"I have only been his guest for eight days... It's probably better if I go get dressed now."
"It doesn't matter," Enzo insisted with a perverse pleasure, feeling a deaf rage grow inside him.
Forcing that boy to remain there, naked, was a kind of revenge -- he knew he was putting Ruggiero in a terribly embarrassing situation by doing that. But the boy on the contrary seemed to be completely at ease.
"Enzo... he... he is just my guest... A Garibaldian. In two days, he will leave with the others, they'll go to the Continent..."
"A full hospitality, as I can see. Of course, we Sicilians are well known for our hospitality, aren't we?" Enzo asked with bitter sarcasm.
It's true that he surrendered to Alduzzo's caresses, but then he cut everything at once. That stranger on the contrary was at home there, so much at home as to go around stark naked. Moreover, the affair had already lasted for more than a week.
"Forgive me, Enzo, but your Ruggiero is yours -- between us it was just a story without importance. He told me he is in love with you, believe me. I wanted him to go away with me, but he said he could not, because of you. Don't judge him, don't think evil of him," Manfred intervened.
"In love with me? I bet that every night... and possibly also in day time... Ruggiero is not a guy who can content himself with just once in a day, is he?"
"Your man has fire in his veins, that's true. I envy you," the Piedmontese said with a smile.
"My man? He is not my man, I leave him to you," the boy answered with a crude, rancorous tone.
"Enzo, please... try to understand... I didn't want you to know it in this way... I love you, really! It is just that... I had been weak, I admit it..."
"Weak? Who is not weak? I too, Ruggiero, I too cheated on you. But just once and I repented at once. And I was coming here, to you, filled with fear and shame, repenting, ready to beg you for forgiveness. But instead... I find you here with him settled on your bed, in your home. He is a beautiful boy, yes, I understand you prefer him to me..."
"No, Enzo, really. I don't prefer him to you..."
"And then he is a stranger, he is interesting. He talks like a gentleman. How can I compete with him? I understand you, Ruggiero. You want to be free. You don't want bounds. It had cost you too much giving up your adventures for me. I let you free, Ruggiero. Have your fun."
"Enzo... I really..." the young man started to say, crestfallen.
"Enzo, you should not react in this way. If you want, I'll leave at once. Ruggiero is yours, not mine," Manfredo said, trying to resolve that unpleasant confrontation.
"Mine? No, Ruggiero doesn't belong to anybody. At our village, he had me, now he has you. Than he will have somebody else -- it is not his fault, he has to follow his instinct. If he sees an available boy within hand's reach, he will take him, it's as simply as that."
"But I..." the young man tried to say.
"Have you fun. I'll leave you in peace," Enzo said, standing up to go out of the apartment.
Ruggiero seized his arm and pulled him to himself, "Wait, it can't end in this way. I don't want it."
"You don't want it? But I want it."
"But we belong to each other, we love each other."
"I believed this, Ruggiero, I believed this once, but I was wrong. Now, leave me alone!" he said with some harshness. The harshness that came from his pain made him almost unable to breath, made him feel like dying.
"Enzo, I didn't want you to know, to discover it in this way..."
"Leave me alone. Leave me alone!" the boy almost shouted, and wriggled away. He reached the door, opened it and ran down the stairs, trying to chase back the tears that prevented him to see his way clearly.
He ran for several blocks, until he stopped, panting. He felt like a scabbard was twisting inside his heart, sharp, cold, implacable. He leaned against a wall, trying to catch his breath. "What to do, what to do, what to do?" he asked himself in an unceasing rigmarole. And he was feeling so dirty and guilty for having yielded just once, while Ruggiero was carelessly amusing himself with that foreigner, that boy, who was waiting for him, all naked, without even feeling any shame, ready for a fuck.
He saw the anticipatory little smile with which Ruggiero was opening the door -- he had to be already aroused at the thought that that boy was waiting for him, and ready, like he would have liked to be found by Ruggiero, like only two lovers can do, two who already experienced a long time of intimacy. And he said he loved him! He hoped Enzo didn't discover him; he was so far away. So then, with how many others would he do it, as long as he wouldn't find out?
He started to walk again, mechanically, immersed in these bitter thoughts. It is not that he had been perfect, that's true, but at least he would never hide it from his lover. But if secrets start to exist between two lovers, it means that there is no trust, there is no love. Mistakes... who doesn't make mistakes! But in that way... it was not just making a mistake. Ruggiero had made his choice, he had had all the time he needed to think about it. It had been eight days he lived with that boy. It was evident. And he had made love with him without problems, this was also evident.
The anticipatory little smile with which he was opening his door... This was what wounded him more. And Ruggiero tried not to let him in, of course. He wanted to go downstairs, to tell him some story... "No, I'll never ever go with a woman," he told him... but he never promised he would not go with another man. He knew how to play with words. Ruggiero was a learned man, unlike him, who was just a simpleton of a boy, a country boy. How could he disappoint himself thinking that he had Ruggiero all for himself? He had really been stupid...
He wandered aimlessly around the town for hours. Then he heard someone calling him. It was Alduzzo -- he was proudly wearing a red shirt.
"Look Enzo! I am a Garibaldian now! I met Giuseppe Garibaldi, you know? But... what happened to you... didn't you find Ruggiero?"
"Yes, I found him."
"So then? What happened?" his friend worriedly asked him, "you told him about us... and he broke up with you?"
"No, a lot worse..." Enzo said, and with a broken voice told him what happened.
"Ha! We are all the same, we men -- we care only to have our fun, and where and how we can have some fun. Like dogs -- when they are in heat they even try to fuck the posts. Don't deceive yourself, my poor Enzo. Love is a beautiful tale, but it only exists in songs. And between two males it is even more difficult than between a man and a woman. Love is like looking for Aladdin's lamp -- you rub it and rub it, and instead of having a Genie pop out, you just have the lamp polished." Enzo made a forced smile at his friend's words. Alduzzo asked him, "And now, what do you plan to do?"
"What do I know? I'll not go back to the village, anyway."
"So then, why not come with us? If you like, I'll take you to the recruiter officer, I'm sure that if I or Federico introduce you, they will give you a red shirt. The day after tomorrow, we will leave for the Continent..."
"That boy will be there too..."
"What do you care? Come on, come..."
"I have never handled a gun."
"You'll learn, as I did. Come on, Enzo! We will go to the Continent, aren't you excited?"
The boy let his friend convince him -- anyway, he didn't want to go back to his village, and he wanted to have the widest possible distance between himself and Ruggiero. And although not in a conscious way, one of the reasons that pushed him to accept the invitation was the hope to die in battle.
He was recruited -- they asked him to swear, and he was assigned Corporal Cangemi's group, with Alduzzo and some other ex-picciotti. They gave him a gun and taught him how to keep it in order, and how to load it and fire it. The discipline was simple. It was based on a few efficient rules. The ambience was cheerful, excited. Enzo felt it was doing him good, even though inside him there was still a mix of sadness and disappointment.
On the evening before their departure, when everybody went to the taverns to celebrate, Enzo said he didn't feel like going and remained in the room he was sharing with Alduzzo, in the home of a doctor of Messina.
Alduzzo came back late. He undressed to go to bed and slipped under the covers. He leaned against his friend and woke him up.
"Tomorrow we will sail."
"The first time we will be in a ship."
"And to the Continent."
"Aren't you excited?"
"A little," the boy answered, half asleep.
Alduzzo ran his hand on Enzo's chest, then lowered it on his friend's belly, "Now you have no more reason to say no... I want it..." the boy whispered, reaching Enzo's genitals and caressing them through his underpants' fabric.
Enzo didn't answer but let him do it, and in a while he lowered his hand also to rummage in his friend's breeches. Feeling his imperious erection, he became aroused, "Fuck me, Alduzzo," he sighed.
"But then, you will fuck me too, won't you?"
"As you want, but now put it all inside me. I need it," the boy whispered, freeing his friend from his breeches.
When they were completely naked, Enzo offered himself to his friend, guiding him inside himself with greedy craving.
While his friend penetrated him excitedly, Enzo thought he would do it with everybody. Yes, also with that Piedmontese boy, if he met him. What was his name? Manfredi? No, Manfredo. He was a beautiful boy... Ruggiero had his fun with him, now he would have his fun with him too! They could possibly also have a threesome, Alduzzo, him and the Piedmontese. And there were possibly also others with which he could have his fun. Cesare was right, each occasion that you didn't seize was an opportunity lost.
Alduzzo was tossing on top of him with a kind of festive passion -- it was not as beautiful as it had been with Ruggiero, but Enzo enjoyed it. He lightly squeezed his friend's nipples, happy to feel him quiver. Alduzzo was not really handsome, but was well shaped and likeable. His eyes shone, reflecting the flame of the candle that was slowly burning on the night table. He smiled at Enzo while he hammered inside him, keeping him by his waist. "I like you. Enzo!" he murmured, increasing the vigor and the rhythm of his thrusts.
Enzo closed his eyes, enjoying those strong thrusts. There was no languor, no tenderness -- they were just two young bodies bound by the desire to enjoy each other, to spend the exuberance of their energies in that pleasurable way. Two males in heat, enjoying the union to a young, strong, vigorous companion, two friends who sated themselves with each other.
Enzo felt Alduzzo stiffening, pushing with strength, unloading in himself with a subdued and long pleasure moan, holding him at his waist even more strongly. Then he withdrew, made him shift aside and lay down, ready to be fucked by his friend. Enzo, still fully aroused, prepared to satisfy the silent request of his friend. He wedged between his legs, pushing them against his chest, and pushed his erect member between the offered buttocks.
Alduzzo, his eyes shining with anticipation, took Enzo's genitals with his hands and guided him inside himself, "Oh, Enzo, fuck me... fuck me!" he excitedly begged, pushing himself against him while his friend was sinking inside him.
Enzo liked it the best to be penetrated, that's true, but he didn't dislike at all to please his friend.
He started to pump inside his friend with a will. They were friends since their childhood, Enzo thought, but they had never imagined this about each other -- what a shame! That young male, somewhat a screwball, attractive, even though not really handsome, thirsty for enjoying him in all the possible ways, excited him. And above all, he allowed him not to think about Ruggiero.