_ The Lizard 7




"Those present may take their seats." The stern, old fashioned looking notary took his glasses and placed them upon his nose. His watery eyes, over the heavy lachrymal sacs, examined the row of people sitting in front of him, while he took the sheets of paper. Valentina di Gondi-Lucertola, the widow, clothed in black silk. The lace from her black Florentine hat covered her face. Arrigo di Gondi-Lucertola, brother of the dead Matteo, was sitting next to her. A heavy, stout figure with mahogany hair, like his nephew Alessandro, sat indifferently, with arms folded across his chest. Florentine's mayor and his wife, another brother of Matteo, self-restrained as ever, just his sharp bent nose, the family trait, twitched nervously from time to time. Anastasia, family jewel for more than twenty years, occasionally wiped her eyes.

"We come together to witness the testament of the late Matteo di Gondi-Lucertola. Let us start." He cleared his throat and began to read out.

"I, Matteo di Ser Federico di Gondi-Lucertola, in possession of all my mental and physical powers, declare my last will. The palazzo Gondi-Lucertola, Firenze, goes into the sole possession of my beloved wife, Valentina di Gondi-Lucertola, as well as our house at Fiesole. In addition I bequeath to her 100,000 Euro each year as steady income.

"Anastasia Foggi will be bequeathed 100,000 Euros for her long time service in the favour of our house."

The notary stopped to dart a glance at the audience. He met only unmoving faces, except for Anastasia, who looked at him with wide, disbelieving eyes, filled with tears. He continued.

"My son Alessandro di Ser Matteo di Gondi-Lucertola gets the lifelong right to live in our Palazzo. The monthly income of 2,000 Euros are still to be provided for his livelihood. Further my money as it is held in shares and cash are bequeathed to him, but is held on one condition."

Alessandro turned his eyes surprised. He hadn't expected a cent of money. Now he was curious to hear the condition.

"Before my son gains the year of twenty-one he has to be married, and delivered of a male heir for our estate. Since he is the last offspring of our old, honourable family, the line must be continued. If he does not succeed, all money goes to the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, to care for the poor."

The notary took off his glasses and stared at Alessandro who stared stunned back. He hadn't expected money, and under these circumstances he didn't want any of it. The church could do what they wanted with that. He felt everyone's eyes on him. Waiting. Lurking.

"Alessandro, your father's wealth is about twenty million Euros. I am sure you'd like to keep that in your family."

Alessandro slid on his chair. Twenty million Euros? He had never been interested in the family's wealth, but this sum was exorbitant. He had known that there was money, but not in this extreme abundance. What could he do with that? Ten lives wouldn't be enough to spend it. And the church? What could, what would they do with it? Care for the poor? Build hospitals? Spend it for research? For the fight of diseases? Or decorate their order? The prior of Santa Maria Novella would be ordered to Rome when he could bring such a fat piece of prey... Then he swallowed hard. That would mean... he had to father a kid? How? And why? How ridiculous. His thoughts raced while everyone was still staring at him from all sides. Ideas of artificial insemination crossed his mind. He could do this. He could... yes, that was the only thing he could do. There was no way he would marry and fuck a girl.

At the same moment Luca's face appeared. How much fun they had. Have. Could have.

"Will you accept?" the notary was asking him. Alessandro heard it behind a thick cloud of thoughts. "You do not have to decide now. But if you accept, you are bound to all conditions."

Alessandro nodded slowly. "I need time to think it over, please."

"Good. Within a week we will meet here again to hear Alessandro's decision."

The notary rose from his chair and shook the hands of all. Then he took Alessandro aside and handed him an envelope. "This is for you. Your father handed it personally to me, shortly before his death."

Awkward silence. The rest of his family had gathered on the floor, whispering and glancing occasionally at Alessandro, leaning against the wall beside the group, reading his father's letter.


when you read this you will have heard my last will. You will find it very odd. But what did you think will happen? I decided to add this stipulation concerning you, when I felt my time was coming. My heart is weak and you did not do anything to help me improve my state of health.

You are the last one carrying our name. Our family is weak to the final shoot. Washed-out by centuries. And perverted. You know what I mean by this. But our family has not survived to perish in shame and disgrace. It must be carried on.

If you go and search for a woman that breeds children, be careful. Arrigo will watch you. It is YOU and only you who will carry on the family's name. It might be, that you will gain pleasure in this.

Matteo di Gondi-Lucertola"

Alessandro gave a helpless snort of disapproval. His father couldn't even bring himself to sign himself 'father'.

He folded the letter and fanned himself with it. He knew he was being watched. Everybody was waiting for his decision. And if he going to throw it into the wind, he would have the scorn of his family for all time. His uncles would end up with nothing. No doubt it was on him to save the Gondi- fortune. He wouldn't have a single silent minute again. "You must not give away twenty millions of the hard-earned money of the family. Gained over centuries. Lost very little of it." he could imagine his uncles now.

He had a life-long right to live at the palazzo, but that was all. His father had left no further money for him; everything was bound to the condition to marry and become the father of a son. A son - mind you. How many tries would it need to become the father of a son when it could be always girls? That thought amused him somewhat and he turned to his family.

He met the compassionate, old eyes of Anastasia, a little, fragile woman with a little, black hat. The eyes of his uncles were empty. And his mother? The once beautiful Valentina, the princess of Firenze, now destroyed by alcohol whose signs she could hardly cover. Not even with her black veil.

"What is there to grin about, son?" Arrigo snapped.

"I'm not your son, zio. Your nephew, as you might remember. And its up to me to keep the money rolling in, isn't that so", Alessandro sneered. "What would you do if I refuse to produce the heir and the money goes to the church? To decorate our family chapel for instance? Or to reserve the Dominican parish of Firenze the biggest part in the heart of Rome's Pope? He would certainly be pleased."

"Alessandro!" Emilio, the mayor, made a step forward. "You honestly can't do that. For heaven's sake, is it so complicated or beneath your dignity to marry to give us a heir?"

Alessandro shook his head. It wouldn't be complicated, but it would be against Alessandro's concept of his life. He wanted to study. He wanted to become a historian. He wanted to be free.

"And why isn't the money you have enough? You can live from your own income. What if I decided to decree explicitly for what my money should be used?"

"Because it is OURS!" Arrigo roared. "Nobody will take it away."

Alessandro closed his eyes. "I have one week to think it over. I'll let you know my decision."

He couldn't be alone right now. His mind would go round and round without finding a way out. But he didn't want to talk about his sorrow either. He was the strong one who never ever needed anyone to help him out.

On the other hand, there was someone who could help him. Not with his decision, but by his presence. He knocked at the front door of Luca's home, a palazzo like his own, though comparatively much smaller, and not with the same rich abundance of masterly worked stone masonry. He faced Luca's brother, thankfully it wasn't Dante. He didn't want to see that angry face. Heaven knew how that could be Luca's brother.

Marcello looked him up and down, chewing at a tramezzino. Of course, it was the lunch break. Apparently the family gathered at home then. "What do you want?" Marcello asked. "You have the biggest talent for showing up at the wrong time."

"Why? Isn't he here?"

"Of course he's here." Marcello made somewhat of a bow and opened the door invitingly. "Come on in." Alessandro sailed along, directly into the kitchen. Each family member was gathered around the wooden table, eating cooked rabbit. Alessandro's mouth watered.

Luca's fork fell onto his plate and he rose. "Sit down, son", Niccolò growled. "What do you want this time?"

"I'm really sorry. I'll come back later." He looked suddenly so boyish, that Clarissa's heart was touched. "Sit down, Alessandro. Are you hungry?" She started to pull out another plate, knife and fork and moved another chair to the table next to her. She waved to it invitingly and Alessandro followed, though he didn't know what was happening to him.

He felt Dante's glaring stare. He felt Marcello's curious eyes, and Giano's almost embarrassed look. Just Luca's face was glowing with excitement. Alessandro avoided looking at Niccolò. Silently he let Clarissa put him a piece of rabbit on his plate, with glazed carrots and break off a large piece of bread for him. "There you have it, now enjoy your meal." She looked friendly and motherly. Alessandro's heart tugged, but bravely he took his fork and tried a piece. It melted on his tongue. "You're an excellent cook, signora."

Clarissa was pleased. It seemed as if the chatter had died when Alessandro had joined the table. Everyone was eating in silence, passing an occasionally stare over the table to the unwelcome intruder. Luca winked at him from time to time, and Alessandro loosened up somewhat. With his bread he took the last remainder of the sauce and sighed. "That was the best rabbit I've ever eaten, thank you", he said as polite as he could. Niccolò eyed him. "And why have we the pleasure of your company?" he asked, reaching for his pipe, stuffing tobacco in it.

"Well... I didn't want to disturb you. I forgot the time. I wanted to pick up Luca actually."

Clarissa wondered about Alessandro. He had lost his cocky behaviour and it appeared to be an actually charming boy.

"Can I go with him?" Luca asked, already standing beside his chair. Dante had left the kitchen.

"If that's all...." Niccolò waved with his puffing pipe.

"Wait for me, I'll be back in a minute", Luca said and rushed out of the kitchen. Alessandro followed him, but not without thanking the family for the meal. In the hall Dante was waiting for him.

"What do you want from my brother?" he growled. He was a half a head bigger than Alessandro and looked somewhat menacing.

"What do you want from me? Are you your brother's guard? Luca can go wherever he want."

"He can't. He isn't of age. He still lives at our home. So, I ask you again, what do you want, you little queer?"

Blood shot into Alessandro's face. "Nobody's going to call me a queer," he hissed dangerously. "I'm warning you."

Dante just laughed. Luca came down the staircase, wondering about the scene in front of him. But Alessandro took his arm and shoved him out the door.

"What was that? Did you have an argument?" he asked, watching Alessandro's angry face.

"Nothing important."

Luca stopped in his tracks. "Geez, I forgot to tell you. Dante found a drawing of mine. I mean of you. All naked..." he blushed and shuffled his feet.

"Naked? Of me? Jesus, how could you leave it lying around?"

"I didn't. Dante must have brought my gifts up to my room, snooped around and found it."

"Next time you'll hide it better. I need a drink, what about you?" Without waiting he entered the next bar, sat at a table in a corner and ordered two grappas. Luca sat in front of him.

"Do you still have the drawing?"

Luca nodded. "Dante called me names. I don't know what's gotten into him. He has never act this way before."

"He has never assumed that you're queer before", Alessandro stated, while the waiter placed two glasses of grappa on the table. Alessandro drank it down in one gulp. "Another please."

Luca sniffed at the glass. He didn't like grappa but nonetheless he sipped a bit of it. Then he shivered. Alessandro grinned. "And what now?" he asked. "Will he tell your parents?"

"So far he hasn't. But what will happen when he does?"

"Your mother's a nice woman, about your father I can't tell. They surely won't hate you. You have enough brothers who can breed grandchildren."

"Is that the only aspect of life?" Luca asked. "To breed children?"

Alessandro swallowed the second grappa. "For some people it is. That's the concept of life. To survive. To carry on the family's name. To hand over your possessions." He shrugged. "To me it's not important. I didn't ask to come into this world. It's my life now. I don't feel a responsibility to society."

"We don't live on an island."

Alessandro looked up surprised. "I told you, you're much too serious for your age, amore." He leaned over. "That was a philosophical opinion. Tell me more."

"What more? It's giving and receiving. It's like a symbiosis of nature. We take fortunes from others. And the other can expect to receive something from us. That's all."

Alessandro shook his head. "It isn't so easy. What if nature stops us from giving?"

"How do you mean?"

"Look. We both are men. We can't have children on our own. We need the female part as it is written in the book of nature. And what will you do when you want to have children?"

"Adopt one."

"Nobody will give it to you because you're a queer and will spoil the kid's soul. They think it's infectious. Homosexuality I mean. And after all, it isn't the same. It's not your own flesh and blood. I was talking about handing over your genes."

Luca grinned. "I know. But what's all this talk about?" he asked warily.

Alessandro looked out of the window. Over the expanse in front of the church of Santa Croce strolled the usual groups of tourists, gathering in front of the monument of Dante Alighieri.

"I've been to Will reading of my father."

"You didn't tell me!"

"No. It was this morning. You see the heir of to almost twenty million sitting in front of you."

Luca was shocked. "No, you're kidding me." But Alessandro's eyes told him that he wasn't. Luca emptied his grappa in one go and coughed.

"What will you do with it?" he managed to say.

"Give it to the church."

"What?" Luca laughed harshly. "The church? You?"

"Will you marry me now that you know that I'm a good match?"

"Right away, let's go." They stared at each other, not knowing what to say.

"There's just one problem. I really have to marry."

"Marry." Luca repeated. "Marry? Who said that?"

"A clause in the Will. I'll get the money when I marry and have a son."

"But, come on, that's ludicrous. Are we living in the middle ages where the father can extort his son?"

"You don't know the noble families, amore."

Luca shook his head. This was impossible to believe. "And who will get the money if you turn it down?"

"The church."

"The church? Was your father so religious?"

"Of course he wasn't. It's a trick he plays on me. Even after he's dead. Take revenge for my heinous life. I bet he jerks off right now from pure pleasure at having me in a pickle."

"And otherwise you'll have no money? But your mother?"

"She'll have the houses and a bit of money each year income as well as I'll have. 2,000 each month."

"So she certainly could provide you with some of it until you can stand on your own feet."

"I'm sure my uncles will find a way to hinder that."

They fell silent.

"I have two and a half years to fulfil my father's wish, Alessandro said finally, throwing some Euros upon the table cloth. "Let's not think about it. I'll start my study soon anyway."

"But..." Luca rose and followed Alessandro out. "You have to decide. You can turn down the bequest. I don't have much money either, and I can life off that."

"Yeah. You. Next week my decision has to be made."

Luca stood on the pavement. His head swirled. "What will it mean to us when you marry?" he shouted after Alessandro's back, not caring about the people passing by.

Alessandro waited for him to come closer. "Probably nothing. I'll continue my life. But", he hesitated, "that's not what I want, you see? I don't want to live a life of hiding, of lies. It soils our relationship. It puts it into a corner where it doesn't belong. I don't want to become one of those cowards, living their real life in a fantasy world. Or in gay bars, carefully hidden in the darkest corner. I am out. I am gay. Everybody shall know."

Luca said nothing, but he understood. "You've slept with girls before", he mumbled.

Alessandro turned furiously. "And so what? Haven't we all before we realize what we really want? It wasn't a mistake. I won't say it wasn't worth it. It's not that different."


"What so?" Alessandro snapped. "You say I should fuck the girl, get a son and live happily ever after with my twenty millions, right? That's the price for losing my soul?"

"You could divorce after a while, pay the mother, take your son and live with the twenty millions happily ever after."

Alessandro looked at him surprised. "I hadn't expected such corrupt ideas residing in your mind, gioia", he said calmly. But the idea had fallen on fertile ground. Could he find a girl to make an agreement with? Perhaps it wouldn't be that difficult when he could promise a generous compensation.

"But the kid?" Luca asked. "Wouldn't you be interested? Having a son? Wouldn't you care for him?"

"I'm a kid myself still!"

Luca couldn't object. More than anything he wanted to comfort Alessandro. The ridiculous clause couldn't be the end of the world. "May I come to your place?" Luca rubbed Alessandro's back.

"Sure you can", he responded softly. Alessandro didn't feel like himself. Nothing, absolutely nothing had been able to throw him off track like this. It concerned his future life, that was true.

He sat with Luca on the loggia in the wicker chairs. After yesterday's rain the air was fresh and clean, and a mild breeze was getting up. He didn't want to end their days together this way. Their days before he started his study at Pisa. On the other hand, they hadn't made a pact. They were sharing the bed, that was true. But how much of his time was Luca allowed to give him? He, being the protected chicken of the family. Not of age, jealously watched by his big brothers. Admittedly, Luca was intelligent, and he had good talks with him he didn't dream of having with his buddies. Just the opposite. But was this the start of a real relationship? It couldn't be. Both of them were much too young.

"I'm much too young to bind myself for all of my life", he said aloud.

"Of course you are. That's why I suggested you marry and divorce. If you find a girl that agrees to it for money it should certainly be this way." Luca was agitated. "I mean, the facts are clear: she gets what she wants and you get what you want."

Alessandro sighed. "If only it was that easy. You remember the kids of Michael Jackson? I guess he made a similar agreement. You don't believe in the slightest that his kids were sired in a natural way, do you."

"You mean, he bought his kids?"

Alessandro flinched. Could you play with humans? What if his son found out that he was fathered without love? Just to fulfil a monstrous last will? Because money was more important than the birth of a new human? Even if that new born would have the best conditions in which to start his life? Wealth, care, perhaps love in the circle of a family? And who would that be, eh? His drunken mother, who didn't care the least about other people? His uncles and their wifes, who weren't able to breed kids themselves? Another idea crossed his mind.

"What if I'd find a doc that proves I am infertile?"


Alessandro leaned forward. "Yes. I can't father children, imagine that. And what then? Would the money be mine or the church's?"

"You'll never find a doc to prove that. And how will you pay him? Your family will drag you in front of every doc they know of."

Alessandro leaned back again. Luca was right. There was no way out.

"But what will happen when you indeed turn it down? The money would be lost to the family. They would be cross with you, right. But they won't kill you."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that", Alessandro said gloomily, and Luca laughed unkindly.

"Now, where's that pearly laughter of yours, hm? Come, let's forget about this. My mother's gone to Fiesole and we have the house to ourselves. You haven't seen the rest of it."

He pulled Luca along with him, giving him the grand tour. But it wasn't showing off, Luca sensed that. He just should learn more about Alessandro's household. He felt as if he was visiting a museum and he was glad when he could return to Sandro's room under the roof. Nothing of what he had seen was cosy enough to live in.

"Come here", Alessandro said, taking Luca into his arms. Oddly enough he felt weak and Luca was the only person he would allow to sense it. He wondered why. Stroking Luca's back up and down, his face buried into the blond hair, he felt for the first time how good it was to have a friend. Even more, when the friend and lover were the same.

Luca had so many questions still to ask on his behalf. He was very confused about the events. He couldn't grasp the wealth this family had gathered over the centuries. He couldn't even comprehend the change Alessandro was going through. It was as if he would turn into another under his hands. He pulled him to the bed, pulled away the curtain, and fell with him between the soft pillows. This at least was something he understood. A place for withdrawal. A comfort. A place of their own with no stares, no nasty names called, and reality could wait outside.

It wasn't long before their sex drive gained the upper hand. It wasn't to see if Luca had learnt to hold out; it was a play, nothing more. And he could repeat it as often as he wanted. "That's the good fortune of being so young," Alessandro said indistinctly, sucking at Luca's cock, dangling in front of him, while Luca did the same for him. "That's called 69."

Luca moaned and rolled his eyes. "No more of that education, please", before both burst out into a heartfelt laughter.

Part 8