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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

La Bella Vacanza - 4. Tuesday

Tuesday

At breakfast the next day, Mum and Dad hatched a plan for a great long walk around the hillside below town that would take them back down to the coast in time for lunch. With temperatures pushing thirty Celsius, Reza couldn’t see the point in subjecting himself to such a long, uncomfortable trek, so he opted out.

“But what will you do all day, sweetie?” Mum asked, disappointed.

“I’ll hang around town a bit, maybe take some more photos,” Reza replied.

Mum sighed. “All right, Reza. We’ll give you some money for lunch. Have a good day, and we’ll see you this evening.”

“You too,” Reza replied. “Try not to get chased by mad dogs or fall down a land drain or something.”

Mum uttered a puzzled laugh. “I’m sure we’ll be just fine.”

After breakfast, Mum and Dad set off back up towards the Villa Cimbrone, aiming to start their walk at the highest ground in town. Reza turned off past the gift shops and wandered back into the cathedral square, where the bars were already doing a good trade in morning coffees and pastries.

Next to the cathedral, he found a broad stairway lined with oleander bushes like the ones they had seen on the way up to the villa gardens. They had been carefully trained and pruned to create an avenue of little trees, and their sprays of colourful pink and magenta flowers hung riotously out over the warm paving stones. Armed with his camera, Reza climbed the stairway slowly, taking snaps of the shrubs and the striking mountain view that gradually opened up behind him as he climbed.

The stairs turned out to lead up to a grand part of town where several ancient palaces had been converted to luxury hotels. A few smaller houses and shops had been squeezed between the larger buildings, and there were a couple of public gardens where you could either sit in the shade or admire the view back down towards the sea. Out came the camera once again as he began to imagine the impressive Facebook gallery he would create when he got home.

As he made a circuit back round the centre of town, Reza passed an ancient stone fountain and several small churches and shrines. Christian monuments were everywhere, most of them well-tended. The place hadn’t, it seemed, completely forgotten its Catholic roots.

Towards the end of his short exploration, Reza found himself heading back towards the cathedral square via a tight, shady little shopping street buried among the densely packed buildings in the heart of the town. It was little more than an alleyway, really, but it had a bank, gift shops and a cool, gloomy little grocery store piled from floor to ceiling with myriad bottles, cans, packets and jars. There was enough there, he thought, to keep tourists and locals supplied with all the essentials.

At the grocery store, he bought a bottle of chilled mineral water from the proprietor, a tall, thin man with a receding hairline who served him politely in English. Reza managed a muttered “Grazie” as he left, one of the only Italian words he had managed to learn so far.

As he stepped back out into the glare of the sun-drenched square, he heard cheerful voices drifting across the stone-paved space from somewhere near the railings. Glancing over, he recognised the two boys there at once: Gianni and Angelo were playing ball in shade of the pine trees, accompanied by a young girl who looked to be about ten years old. At the sight of the familiar faces, he gravitated automatically towards them.

“Hi, Reza!”

That was Gianni. He picked up the football, pausing the game for a moment as he greeted the new arrival.

“Um, hi,” Reza replied, feeling suddenly awkward again as he glanced from one boy to the other.

Angelo’s mouth quirked in an amused half-smile. “Come stai?” he asked.

“Umm, good, thanks,” Reza replied, taking his best guess at what that had meant. Next, his wandering eyes fell on the young girl.

Ciao,” she put in, staring at him curiously with dark eyes very much like Angelo’s. Judging by her colouring and the similar cut of her features, he reckoned they were probably siblings.

“This is Claudia,” Gianni explained.

La mia sorellina,” Angelo said. “Molto fastidiosa,” he added, sending a teasing look in her direction.

The girl called Claudia folded her arms crossly. “Stai zitto, Angelo!” she huffed, flicking her chin dismissively with her fingernails. Angelo grinned at her shamelessly.

Yeah, Reza thought, they were definitely brother and sister. You didn’t need to understand their language to see that.

Gianni smirked. “Calmati,” he told his friends, before turning back to Reza. “So, what have you been up to?”

“Um, I’ve just been… you know… taking a few photos,” Reza replied, waving the camera in a rather obvious fashion.

Ugh, why am I being so LAME?

“No kidding,” Gianni said drily. To either side of him, Angelo and Claudia snickered slightly. There was a pause, during which Gianni nibbled a thumbnail thoughtfully. “So, who was that guy we saw you chatting to by the pool yesterday, Reza? You seemed to be getting pretty friendly.”

Reza stared at him. “Wha… you saw that?”

“Yeah,” Gianni replied casually, gesturing at the railings that overlooked the hotel pool. We’re often up here.”

Reza felt himself starting to blush again and cursed himself for it.

Come on… WHY do I feel like I’m being ‘caught out’ here?

“Oh, that was just… Otto.”

“Ot-to,” Angelo repeated, his dark eyes glinting mischievously.

“Pretty cute, huh?” Gianni said.

I don’t know,” Reza countered. “You tell me.”

“Oh, he totally was,” Gianni replied. Next to him, Angelo nodded enthusiastically, and then they started to playfight, both laughing. The football tumbled from Gianni’s grasp, and Claudia scooped it up with a snicker.

When calm had been restored, Claudia passed the ball back to Gianni and he tossed it up into the air briefly. “Want to join us for a bit, Reza?” he said. “We were just passing the ball to one other… nothing fancy.”

“Sure, I guess,” Reza replied, pausing to make sure that his camera lens was safely capped. “Hit me.”

Gianni dropped the ball to the ground and nudged it gently in Reza’s direction. Reza deflected it straight towards Claudia, who stopped it ably enough, then paused as she considered where to send it next.

Per me, Claudia,” Angelo incited her. She shrugged and kicked the ball over to him willingly enough.

Reza sensed that Angelo was about to send the ball his way. He tensed to receive it.

“So, will you be seeing Otto again tonight?” Gianni asked lightly, timing his question perfectly. In shock, Reza struck out way too hard, missing the ball completely. Claudia ran off to fetch it, giggling.

“Would you stop that?” Reza protested, breathing hard.

Gianni laughed. “Sorry. It’s Angelo… he’s a terrible influence.”

Smirking, Gianni’s boyfriend dug him hard in the ribs with an elbow. Still chuckling, Gianni mouthed an “Ow!” at him and rubbed the spot where the other boy had struck him.

Reza was getting tired of being the butt of the joke. “I have a girlfriend, okay?” he said. To make the point, he turned to leave. “Maybe I’ll just go.”

“Hey, wait,” Gianni relented. “Stay with us, please. We’ll stop teasing you, I swear.”

“You’d better,” Reza grumbled.

“So, where are you from?” Gianni asked. “I’m guessing it’s not a council estate,” he added perceptively, observing Reza’s stylish clothes, his camera and his expensive wristwatch.

“Guildford,” Reza replied. “Dad’s in property development.”

Gianni nodded. “That’s cool. Ever get up to London?”

Reza shrugged. “Sometimes.”

“What’s new there?”

“That where you’re from?” Reza asked, receiving an answering nod from the other boy. He shrugged. “Dunno, really.”

“Fair enough,” Gianni replied. “It’s just… it’s been a long time since I’ve had anybody to talk to about the place.”

“How long, exactly?”

“I’ve been here a year,” Gianni explained. “I had to say goodbye to pretty much everything. I live with my grandparents now.”

“That’s heavy, man,” Reza sympathised.

“Not gonna lie,” Gianni admitted, “it was rough for a while, but…” he glanced at Angelo, “this kid saved me.”

Unbidden, he placed an arm around Angelo’s shoulder. The spiky-haired boy smiled, leaned in and planted a quick kiss on his cheek. Watching this unfold, Reza realised for the first time that there was, perhaps, a lot more than just chemistry between these two. He didn’t feel as weird about it as he would have expected, and he thought for a while, trying to remember if he had ever shared a moment like that with Tania.

Meanwhile, Claudia was getting visibly impatient.

Andiamo,” she interjected, bouncing the ball hard on the stone paving to make her point.

“Right, sorry,” Gianni said, releasing his grip on his boyfriend. They broke apart again, ready to continue the game. Claudia passed him the ball, but then he stamped on it, glancing across the square in disappointment. “Oh, damn.”

Curiously, Reza followed his gaze. An elderly couple were walking slowly across the square. They were both in their seventies, by the looks of it: she was stout, clad in a traditional black dress, with long, bushy hair; he was stooped and wiry, wearing a flat cap and a heavy jacket despite the heat.

“I have to go, sorry,” Gianni explained as his grandparents approached. “But we’ll be back here on Thursday morning. If you’re free, why don’t you come and hang out with us for a bit? We’ll show you round, and we can talk some more.”

“Sure, okay,” Reza replied, surprised.

Sei pronto, Gianni?” the old woman asked as she and her husband arrived.

Sì, Nonna,” Gianni replied. He passed the football to Angelo and offered Reza a friendly shrug. “Ciao, Reza.”

“See you later,” Reza replied. The elderly man offered him a wink; his wife followed through with a polite smile, and then the three of them set off together down a tree-lined street that led out from the corner of the square.

Reza glanced back and found himself face-to-face with Angelo and Claudia, who were both looking at him expectantly with their identical dark eyes.

“Oh, great,” Reza murmured to himself. “Left alone with two people who can’t understand a word I say. Nice work, Reza.”

Angelo exchanged the briefest of glances with Claudia. “I can understand you perfectly,” he replied, and then they both broke off into peals of spirited laughter.

Reza stared, open-mouthed, realising he had been fooled once again, as the two siblings pawed at each other for support.

Ragazzo sciocco,” Claudia giggled.

Reza noticed that their loud display of mirth had attracted the attention of two young boys who were passing by. The slightly taller one, who was wheeling a bicycle, glared at them suspiciously.

Angelo rolled his eyes. “Vattene, Toto,” he told him gently. The boy with the bicycle led his friend away, chin tucked low.

“Sorry,” Angelo went on, turning his attention back to Reza. “He’s a bit weird around Gianni and me. Some people still are.”

Reza sensed there was a story there, but this probably wasn’t the right time to ask.

“I’ll… see you in a couple of days then, I guess,” he said.

Angelo nodded. “Sure. Claudia won’t be with us, though.” He grinned. “She has to help Mamma with the shopping.”

Ingiusto,” Claudia grumbled, arms folded again.

Angelo placed an affectionate arm around her grumpy shoulders and shrugged. “Ciao, Reza,” he said. Just as Reza turned to go, he grinned and added, “Have fun with Otto.”

Reza shot him a glare, but the spiky-haired boy just laughed, sending him on his way with a friendly wave.

* * *

When Reza arrived at the poolside that afternoon, Otto wasn’t there, even though the rest of his family were lined up on their sun loungers as usual. At first, Reza felt relieved as he made his way to his own corner, but then he began to feel slightly put out. Otto had seemed so keen to make friends yesterday. Had the blond-haired boy forgotten about him already?

It was then that he realised that Otto’s towel was still spread out on his lounger, so he had to be around somewhere. Reza glanced around the pool area, wondering where he’d got to, then half jumped out of his skin as he found the German boy standing beside him with a frosty glass of Sprite in each hand.

“I saw you from the bar,” Otto said, “so I doubled my order.”

“Umm… thanks, Otto,” Reza replied, sitting up and taking one of the glasses from Otto’s outstretched hand. The other boy smiled, sipped at his drink for a moment then set it down on a nearby table, reclining on the lounger next to him and flashing his smooth armpits.

Seriously… does he shave them or something, like his sisters??

Once again, Reza was forced to ask himself why on Earth he would wonder such a thing.

“So, did you have a good morning?” Otto asked.

“Fine, thanks,” Reza replied. “My parents went a walk down to the coast, but I… just stayed in town and took some photos.”

“Hmm,” Otto replied. “Sounds fascinating.”

Reza gave him a sidelong glance.

He thinks that sounds boring. The irony…

“Are you making fun of me?” Reza said suspiciously.

“No, no,” the German boy said with exaggerated sincerity. “I am sure it’s a great way to spend the day.” He smirked, flicking his baby-blue gaze in Reza’s direction. “Maybe next time I come with you. Then you can take pictures of me, instead. That sounds even better.”

That was way too much for Reza. Setting his drink down on the same table, he flopped back onto his sun lounger, fighting laughter.

“Come on,” he managed, trying to take refuge from this insanity in the clear blue of the sky… but, instead, it just reminded him of the other boy’s eyes. In confused frustration, he ran both hands repeatedly through his hair, completely ravaging has carefully curated style.

Otto smiled. “Are you rejecting me?”

“Oh, no,” Reza played along. “There’s nothing I would like more.”

Next to him, he heard the other boy laugh, but then his voice dropped. “Reza…?” he asked quietly.

Reza forced himself to face the other boy once more. Otto had turned onto his side: he had propped himself up on one elbow and was looking at Reza with an intense sort of curiosity.

“Yeah?” Reza asked doubtfully.

“I feel I can talk to you,” Otto said, “because, whatever happens, after this week we never have to see each other again.”

“Okay,” Reza said warily.

Otto smiled nervously. Keeping his voice low, he asked, “Have you ever been with another boy?”

Reza stared at him in shock. “What the…?” he replied in a loud whisper. “NO!”

Otto sighed. “Neither have I. Only…”

Oh GOD, please stop!

“…don’t you ever wonder…?”

“Wonder what?!” Reza hissed, now lost in the depths of total embarrassment.

“…what it would be like to have someone… you know…”

With a vaguely bashful smile, Otto traced a line slowly down his bare chest towards his trunks. Reza forced his eyes away… he didn’t need to see the rest to know where that finger was going to end up.

“Otto… seriously…!” he protested hysterically, trying desperately to fend off the image that was threatening to invade his thoughts, but it was too late. It involved a semi-darkened hotel room, two boys, and… um…

No, no, NO!

He flew up into a sitting position, drawing his knees up in an urgent attempt to conceal the stirring sensation that he had suddenly, horrifyingly felt somewhere in the region of his own swimming shorts.

NO!!!

“Reza… are you okay?” Otto asked, watching with interest as this strange behaviour unfolded in front of him.

“Fancy a swim?” Reza blurted out breathlessly, then he sprang up off his sun lounger and dived in at the deep end.

* * *

Reza and his parents had dinner at the restaurant on the hill that they had spotted on their first morning in town.

Barely aware of the stunning view down to the coast, Reza ate his meal in a vaguely paranoid silence, certain that his unwanted, impure thoughts would be detected somehow, but his parents didn’t seem to notice anything unusual. As the receding glow of the sunset faded from the sky and lights winked on among the houses further down the valley, they told him about everything they had seen on their walk and, for once, he was happy to listen to them drone on… as long as it meant he didn’t have to say anything. When Dad asked Reza how his own day had been, he grunted something non-committal about meeting and briefly speaking with couple of local boys, and how one of them had turned out to be from England.

“Imagine that,” Mum mused. “London to Ravello as a permanent move, leaving all your friends behind…!”

“Yeah,” Reza nodded. “Pretty major, right?”

He focused on his mixed vegetable antipasti, happy to leave her to reflect on that notion for as long as she liked. He picked at the grilled courgettes, fennel and aubergines and the roasted cherry tomatoes and peppers, grateful for the distraction.

After dinner, they walked back down to the hotel amidst the relative cool of the night, the chirrup of crickets and the light of the decorative lanterns that hung from the old buildings that lined the footpaths. The fresh air calmed his nerves a little but, all the same, he was relieved when he was able to say goodnight to his parents and retreat to the privacy of his room. At least he had managed to survive the evening without being immediately outed as… whatever the heck he was now.

All the same, as he lay in bed, he couldn’t stop thinking about Otto’s proposition.

But there hadn’t been a proposition, had there? Not really. Just two boys, having a general chat about things of concern to all young men.

Reza froze. Somehow, while he was thinking, his hand had made it into his underpants. He yanked it back out as if burned.

Oh GOD, what’s happening to me?

Copyright © 2022 James Carnarvon; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Everyone reads between the lines, at least they do if they are like me, and that is the beauty of a story flow which is not spelt out but open to interpretation. Why would Reza yank his hand back as if it burned? A sudden prise of conscience, but why? It could be religion, even if he and his dad don't practise much. What else? A feeling of disgust with himself that he might jerk off thinking about a boy? Maybe he would see it as disloyal to his girlfriend. I have the impression (maybe just my imagination) he hasn't done much with his friend who is a girl? Don't you just love speculation!

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30 minutes ago, Luca E said:

Everyone reads between the lines, at least they do if they are like me, and that is the beauty of a story flow which is not spelt out but open to interpretation. Why would Reza yank his hand back as if it burned? A sudden prise of conscience, but why? It could be religion, even if he and his dad don't practise much. What else? A feeling of disgust with himself that he might jerk off thinking about a boy? Maybe he would see it as disloyal to his girlfriend. I have the impression (maybe just my imagination) he hasn't done much with his friend who is a girl? Don't you just love speculation!

I think you can interpret it any way you like!

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1 hour ago, Luca E said:

Everyone reads between the lines, at least they do if they are like me, and that is the beauty of a story flow which is not spelt out but open to interpretation. Why would Reza yank his hand back as if it burned? A sudden prise of conscience, but why? It could be religion, even if he and his dad don't practise much. What else? A feeling of disgust with himself that he might jerk off thinking about a boy? Maybe he would see it as disloyal to his girlfriend. I have the impression (maybe just my imagination) he hasn't done much with his friend who is a girl? Don't you just love speculation!

Love speculation🤔, so with James permission...Hand and Mind were not connected until the southern destination sent input to the mind. Surprised the mind connected to the hand with orders to withdraw, leaving both the hand and its intended destination disappointed.  BTW James, hormonal teen boys are not smutty, just horny. :yes:

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6 hours ago, James Carnarvon said:

You quoting just that section out of context makes the whole thing sound so smutty! 😅

I think we're all clear that this isn't the sort of material I usually write. Just having a bit of summer fun... as, potentially, is Reza...

See...this is what happens when you, the author, let's your hair down just a bit and veer from the usual!!!

Give your commentators an inch and they are going want to see more!!!

Of Ravello that is....

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I think James is teasing us like a fly- fisherman with the salmon coming upstream, as it were, as he casts his rod, as it were.  
 

forgive me but I love this story and how the author is playing with Reza and with us.  Bravo 👏 

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6 minutes ago, Gary L said:

I think James is teasing us like a fly- fisherman with the salmon coming upstream, as it were, as he casts his rod, as it were.  
 

forgive me but I love this story and how the author is playing with Reza and with us.  Bravo 👏 

Would you mind leaving my rod out of this? 😆

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10 hours ago, James Carnarvon said:

Would you mind leaving my rod out of this? 😆

Just be careful what you do with your flies!

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I am certain it was unintentional @James Carnarvon, but I had an enjoyable little chuckle at Reza’s apparent discomfort and dislike of “temperatures pushing thirty Celsius”. What a wimp. Temperatures of this degree are mild summer temperatures in Sydney, Australia; the temperature we sometimes have as the minimum temperature overnight. We are currently experiencing unprecedented cold weather; a temperature of thirty Celsius would be welcomed by many Sydneysiders with open arms. I love the heat and humidity, but even friends who do not, are yearning for the warmer weather of the southern hemisphere to be upon us sooner rather than later.

I had forgotten Claudia was once a timid shy girl, only recalling the more recent confident, hip and sassy Claudia. A very clever ploy employed by you in this story to illustrate her transition. The changing dynamic of her relationship with Angelo and Gianni also a joy to observe.

Reza’s uncooperative “sensation felt somewhere in the region of his swimming shorts” and his reaction to same also had me chuckling. 

And thank you for the reintroduction of healthy food into this chapter. My mouth watered at the grilled courgettes, fennel and aubergines and the roasted cherry tomatoes and peppers. Delizioso.

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