Tristano was disappointed. "Can I have a shower first, please?" Tristano never showered in the gym because he was still too shy to share it with other guys. Heaven knew what would happen to him when he looked at them.
Tristano's face flushed briefly. "No, thanks." He grabbed his bag and vanished into the bathroom. He didn't hear the doorbell when it rang.
Alfredo opened the door, a bit pissed since it was too early for his clients. Three guys were standing there. Alfredo propped his elbow and said "Hi, sweeties. The deal was for two." He beckoned them into the apartment. "But where there's a place for two, there's a place for three." He went ahead into the living room. "Drink?" He turned to the three guys and froze. The expression on their faces was pure hatred. And then everything happened so quickly, Alfredo hadn't time to cry out.
Tristano padded out of the bathroom, a towel around his waist and a towel around his head. "Fredo, can I use your lotion?" he shouted into the room. Then he listened. The customers must have already arrived for he heard voices, suppressed cries and heavy panting. He grinned to himself. Something dragged him along to be a secret witness to this frenzy.
But when he entered the bedroom he stood petrified and felt a sudden twinge of nausea rising. Alfredo's upper body was fixed upon the bed, while another guy was pressing his face into the mattress. The guy behind him pressed an abnormous big dildo into Alfredo's anus while the third one stood at the side, giggling senselessly.
Then he saw the movement at the door. "There's another of those fags." He rushed
to Tristano, grabbed him by the towel and threw
it aside. "Whoohoo", he hooted and planted his fist into Tristano's
face. Blood spattered from the corner of Tristano's lips. He
tried to run, but the guy was close behind, grabbing him, throwing
him to the ground. Another hit. Tristano's head swirled and his
sight was blurred. When he saw the guy open his belt and unzip
his trousers, he yelled.
Sergio eyed the large officer in his olive green, tight fitting shirt. "Yes", he whispered, completely in a state. Vittorio patted his shoulder while the paramedic was still busy caring for the injured ones. "It looks worse than it is. Sit down, please. I have a few questions."
Sergio stepped first to the bar and poured himself a brandy. He swallowed it down, coughed and sat down, wiping his mouth.
Sergio looked completely dumbfound.
Sergio was absolutely embarrassed. The last thing he wanted to have now was a customer who remembered his profession.
Tristano shook his head.
Vito exchanged a look with the paramedic. "He's had an injection. We'll need to operate", he whispered.
A vein in Vito's temple started to pulsate, but he tried to smile at Tristano. "Everything will be all right. Tomorrow I'll visit you." He pressed Tristano's hand and went to Sergio again.
Sergio took it, then he bent forward and hid his face. Vito crouched
down and took hold of the shaking shoulders. "I'll stay in contact. We'll
get them. I promise."
Niccolò shot him a look, then he continued reading. "Madonna", he whispered, quickly making the sign of cross. "What is it, dear?" Clarissa asked.
"Yesterday evening two young men were found in their apartment near Santa Trinita, obviously victims of an anti-homosexual attack", Marcello read with glee. "Alfredo D. (24) and Tristano d'A. (18) have been the victims of rape and have sustained serious wounds; several of their genital areas. Tristano d'A. had to have a emergency operation. The co-inhabitant Sergio O. (23) could not give any details of the attack. Alfredo D. and Sergio O. pursue the occupation of call-boys and their clientele is exclusively homosexual. Florence Police department is investigating in the homosexual-milieu."
Clarissa made the sign of cross herself. Then her eyes found Luca. "Tristano? The pretty, blond boy?" she asked.
Dante dared to protest. "Pappa, it's just a truccare. You know how they are. Getting a thick candle stick up their arses would certainly make them happy. As fat as they want it. Right?" He turned to Luca. "Am I right?"
Marcello and Dante exchanged a worried look. "Well, wasn't there something about a candle in the article?"
Luca swallowed empty. Ideas and images whirled in his head. Had they pushed a candle into... He forbade himself to think on.
Niccolò nodded. "I'll make your excuses to Coppo."
Luca swallowed hard when he was allowed to enter the ward, finding Tris' stepmother sitting next to the bed with tear-stained eyes. Her make-up had ran down her cheeks. Tristano's cheeks were swollen and on his temple he had nasty bruises. His dull eyes though lit up when he recognized his friend.
Luca smiled at him, then at the woman. "I'm Luca, his friend. Signora d'Astangli?" he asked unsure.
She nodded and rose to shake his hand. "Thanks for coming. A policeman was here to ask questions, but Tris couldn't tell anything for he was too dazed from the surgery." She sobbed and more tears welled up in her eyes. "Can you stay for a while?"
Luca nodded. She looked so tired. Then she took him by the sleeve to a corner and whispered "His family does not know how this could have happened. Tristano was in the flat of a call-boy. You are his friend. Have you any explanation?"
Of course Luca had. But how to tell her? Apparently Tristano had never told his parents. "Well", he started. His eyes were fixed on Tristano who stared bleakly back. "I guess Tristano has to tell you himself. I can't." The hell he would out Tristano. He had become wary. Who knew how she would react?
Signora d'Astangli seemed to be disappointed but didn't insist. "His father is coming in this afternoon", she said when she gave Tristano a cautious peck and vanished through the door.
Luca stood with hanging arms. Only after quite a time later was he able to move and sit upon the chair next to the bed. He'd had enough of visiting his friends in hospitals. First it had been Sandro, then Rosso and now Tristano. And the latter had gotten it worst. He touched his arm, laying upon the white bed cover. A canula stuck into his vein and connected him with the intravenous drip.
Luca shivered from cold anger. Candle. Also. "Did you recognize them?"
The door opened and a police officer entered the room. He was large and well built. Over his olive-coloured face scurried a brief smile. He nodded to Luca and took Tristano's hand. "Are you well enough to answer a few questions?" he asked. Luca eyed the man. This was Vito, the guy Tristano had tried to call for so long and who had always been on holiday. What an odd coincidence that Vito had found him then in this condition. And what if Tris never wanted to have anything to do with gays after what had happened to him? What if he returned to his "straight life"? Determinedly Luca interrupted Vito's whispering. "I want to give a statement."
Vittorio's black eyes looked astonished. Then he pulled out his
notebook and a pencil and waited.
Vito, with two of his colleagues, entered the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. "Please watch the exit", he said to one of them. "You're coming with me." to the other. He beckoned his colleague to follow and took the staircase that led to the work shops. The doors were open and they heard the screech of machines cutting stones.
Vito's colleague grimaced while Vito pulled out his police badge. Together they entered the large room where several men sat, bent over their cutting machines wearing plastic glasses over their eyes and dark blue smocks. He cleared his throat and started to shout, "Who of you are Dante and Marcello Montori?"
Heads flung up and the screeching of the machines gradually subsided. The men stared silently.
Some heads turned to two man on the left side of the room. Vito followed their stares. Both policemen walked slowly toward the brothers. Dante tore off his plastic glasses. "What do you want?"
Vito showed him his badge. "You need to come with us, Signori. There's the grounds for suspicion that you had something to do with the attack on two young men last Thursday."
Dante jumped up while Marcello sat dumbfounded, unable to move. His face was unreadable while Dante's was distorted with anger. "What?" he shouted. "You dare to accuse me of a crime?"
Vito's muscles flexed and he threw a side glance at his colleague who stood a little behind him, eyeing Marcello. Vito beckoned to Dante. When he didn't move he grasped his upper arm very firmly but Dante struggled. "I had nothing to do with it."
Alessandro, on the other end of the line, wrinkled his forehead and tried to follow Luca's harsh and quick words. "Attack?" he stuttered.
Alessandro let the words sink in. He still only understood half of it. Tristano had been raped? By Luca's brothers? Madonna, if this was the truth.... Hate boiled up in his stomach. A hate he had never felt before.
Alessandro shook his head. He bet that Marcello and Dante would deny everything. On the other hand... if they raped Tristano and the other guy there would be traces enough to find out the DNA. But in the case that they used a condom....
Vito had sent the forensic team to the home of the call-boys to gather finger-prints and any other evidence. Dante and Marcello had to give saliva for a test. Tristano and Alfredo had both enough remains of sperm to mean they both needed a test for several diseases.
Carlo Lanfranco, his colleague, nodded. His face was angry. "You could hardly call this sex, could you?"
Vito looked up. "No. I know the boy Tristano d'Astangli. We met at the Cascine when the attack started there."
Carlo nodded. "I remember Raniero Riefoli. Do you think he's involved?"
Vito hurried back to the hospital again, showing Alfredo a photo. He instantly recognized Raniero Riefoli as his attacker.
The cordon search was in full swing. But Raniero had vanished without leaving any real trace. Vito and Carlo visited the gym where Dante and Marcello had been members and wasn't surprised that Raniero belonged there too. The girl at the refreshment bar recognized Sergio, Alfredo and Tristano as being occasional visitors. Vito had have a keen sense of smell. The connection was the gym.
Since neither Tristano nor Alfredo had recognized Dante and Marcello,
the brothers had been released from custody. The saliva-test had
come out negative.
Niccolò didn't speak to him anymore. Probably he was thinking
the same, despite what he had said that Dante and Marcello wouldn't
be his sons anymore if they both had had something to do with the event.
But wasn't blood thicker than water? Wasn't it an unwritten rule
that you must not give the names of your family members to the
police no matter what they had done? Probably Alessandro would
understand that code of honour.
Rosso occasionally glanced at his friend. Being gay seemed not to be always fun. Especially when there were such idiots as Luca's brothers. On the other hand he couldn't imagine them doing harm to their youngest brother. But who knew?
Rosso pondered. "But everything only started when you came out, right?"
Luca nodded. "Except that they always talked bad about faggots."
Rosso poured them another glass and pushed the bread basket in front of Luca. "Eat something." Luca took a piece of unsalted bread.
He struggled; fought with hands and feet and started to yell. "Sshhh!" a voice said, gripping his hands tightly. "Stop kicking me!"
Luca woke up with a start and stared into Alessandro's eyes. Rosso snored at his side.
Luca glared and Alessandro grinned. "Sorry. Were you afraid?"
He took a box with dried peppermint leaves and crumbled them into a sieve hanging in a pot. Then he poured over the boiling water.
"Sit down and let's make a plan of action." He pulled out his box with cigarettes and lit one. "Do you mind? I need one now. Actually I was going to visit Leoni, but this is more important. This Alfredo recognized Raniero from a photo, yes? But not your brothers. What about Tris? Did he recognize one of them?"
Alessandro raised his eyebrows. "That's a point. Have you told Vito?"
Luca pondered. "A playing field near the stadium where they used to play football. There's a little casino where they drink and play pool." Luca sipped at the hot tea. "Tris has had to have a test for HIV and hepatitis", he said quietly. "The bastards didn't use condoms."
Alessandro burnt his tongue on the hot fluid. The heat of his anger matched the temperature of the tea. He wished nothing more than to get those monsters and gave them the same treatment. Preferably in jail with dozens of sex-hungry guys just waiting for them...
Then he pulled himself together. He had to be sensible. Revenge in cold blood was more satisfactory. He thought about the casino at the stadium.
Luca's head had sunk upon his arms.
What if he could summon up enough buddies to teach them a lesson? What if he told the carabiniero Vito? Would their punishment be enough or would they be released again all too soon because raping fags wasn't important enough to hold them in jail for a considerable amount of time? And who cared about the victims anyway?
Luca snored softly. Alessandro watched him lovingly. He lit another cigarette, leaned back and put his feet upon the chair next to him. Considering the possibilities he developed a plan during the night.