It was 3:00 a.m. when I opened my crusted eyes and gazed at the nearby clock radio, the room was pitched black and I stared at the empty walls and felt a little weird sleeping in a bed that was not my own. I pulled back the sheets, slipped out of bed, and headed softly upstairs to go to the bathroom when the bluish hue of the moonlight streaming through the large window struck my eyes and Frederic standing in front, curtains completely opened, naked and strong, and basking in the light that bathed his body. His arms folded once again and he seemed to be entranced as he gazed out the window straight ahead. Although, I had no idea of what he could see from his window except the concrete walls of the adjacent building I did not know.
My mind flashed to the night I saw my father basking in the glow of the moon, his hands raised in mad abandon as he bayed at the full moon above.
“Luc, what is your dream?” Frederic suddenly asked, never turning his gaze from the scene outside the window. Taken aback by the sudden question I replied.
“I want to write music.”
“Ah, that’s a good dream.” He simply said.
“I came up to go to the bathroom.” I awkwardly said not knowing what else to say during this situation.
He nodded briefly and I took my leave tearing my eyes off him.
The next morning I was awoken to Frederic yanking me from the bed and when I opened my blue eyes his golden pair stared down at me and he tilted his head in that same curious fashion. Never much of a morning person I raised my head and plopped it back down onto the pillow, my body felt achingly stiff and the sleep hadn’t washed completely over me. That did not stop him from pulling me from the bed as if I weighed nothing.
“Get ready. I’m taking you out for the day.” He said with a cheeky expression plastered on his face.
“Survival?” I yawned wiping the sleep from my eyes.
My ears rung with his laughter.
“No. Just a relaxing day of hanging out. Trust me.” He winked.
Once I was cleaned up and ready to go we rushed from the house, or more like Frederic rushed from the house dragging me along for the ride. We ran through the narrow maze of the stone streets until we reached a wide city road, then we stopped. I placed both hands on my knees and panted looking up at the tall man in front of me who seemed to smile at my predicament.
“I thought you would have been able to keep up. I’m sorry about that.” He grinned a perfect row of teeth.
“No problem.” I breathed standing tall swallowing my spit to relieve my parched throat.
“I don’t think I would ever remember my way out of there.” I said talking about the narrow streets.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
He waited a few moments before asking me if I was okay enough to continue and I nodded telling him that I was. I looked at the tower of a man once again, strong arms, and chest that looked perfect in his black tank top, he wore loose brown jeans and I noted the large buckle of his wide black belt, and the various chains and leather roped trinkets that hung from his neck. I gazed once again at his wild brown hair and the chain earring that hung from his left ear now. ‘I wonder how old he is?’ I thought comparing him to my own slender body. Thinking that I looked far too much like a young boy to be just nineteen years old.
He held out his hand for me to take and when I did we rushed once again down the streets, passing the people as they went along with their daily lives, I felt somewhat embarrassed, believing that we were too noticeable when I saw some people look back at us running past them. We soon crossed the street and to my dread we entered another constricted side street before stopping at a high tapered light beige building with a skinny brown double door.
“This is it.” Frederic smiled looking up at the sign above the door that read. “Museo dei giovani artisti” (Museum of Young Artists)
“What is this place?” I asked curious as to why we had to run all the way here.
“Since you have an appreciation for art I figured I’ll start your day off by showing you this.”
He grabbed my hand and led me inside.
“Frederic! You’re late again!” A tall, blonde, beautiful woman marched to the door as he stepped into the simple large gallery.
“I know, I know. I over slept.” He smiled wolfishly at her.
She sighed and grinned along before her yellowish eyes sat on me. “So who is this?” She tossed me a cunning smirk and I immediately looked to Frederic.
“Off limits. That’s all you need to know.”
“Fine fine…you see that man over there?” She pulled him close to her changing the conversation as if I wasn’t there. “Go woo him. He’s looking at that broken vase picture you took. I’ll keep your friend company.”
Frederic groaned. “All right, just be nice.” He said before walking away.
I looked into her amber eyes and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of confusion. I had no idea what was going on and her aura felt so familiar like…Henri. As though she was beyond the conventional perceptions of reality. I did not feel as if I had any say so in anything that was happening right now. I glanced about the room at the various paintings, model busts, and photographic art hanging from the plain off white walls—the dark wood floors that shined with a high gloss and then up toward the second floor that housed more works of art. I tried to gain some sort of hold over the situation. I am Luc Jon Baptiste, I am nineteen years old, I escaped from my estate to Venice, and I spent the first night away from home in the apartment of a man named Frederic. I am now standing inside of this art museum and now this woman is speaking to me. I closed my eyes not really listening to a word that was coming from her mouth.
The woman laughed and it sounded like bells ringing, I did not even know what that meant.
“Are you all right?” She asked placing her hand on my shoulder, and I remembered not wanting her to touch me. I backed away slowly, almost ready to bolt if she approached further when Frederic gripped her pulling her back and stepping in front of me, grabbing me and asking me if I was all right.
“I think so.” I breathed my mind a cloudy mess.
“We can go if you want?” He asked, his thick brows furrowing in a perfect state of worry.
“No.” I answer not wanting to be a burden.
“Okay, we’re not gonna stay long. I just wanted to show you this one thing.” He seemed to assure me.
He wrapped his arm around the small of my back and guided me upstairs. We walked past several pieces until we came face-to-face with a large mural painting of an androgynous person with their body shrouded with a thin black silky fabric, the background looked like a forest area and the large tree stump the person was perched on might as well had been a stage. I couldn’t resist placing my fingers onto the painting, feeling the soft strokes beneath my fingers.
When I looked closely I noticed that one of the legs was a bloody stump and in the background was a wolf devouring the leg in its large mouth.
“Did you do this?” I asked noting the signature.
“Yes.” He smiled. “You like it?”
“Yes.” I replied in awe. “Do you have a name for it?”
“Yeah, I call it Hell’s Maiden.”
“Thank you.” He looked at me as I looked at the painting. “Now that I showed you something I’m proud of you have to show me some of your music, think of it as a pact between us.”
I laughed. “You know, I talk big about wanting to write music but I’ve only written a few songs and I don’t know if anyone would buy them.” I blushed.
“I believe in you.” He smiled.
“Thanks.” I softly replied.
We strolled out the gallery and spent the rest of the day with Frederic leading me around the city of Rome. We walked the long stretch of Piazza Navona and people watched and admired the extravagance of the Baroque architecture, grabbed a bite to eat at one of the local pizzerias, and ate Gelato. My head was no longer cloudy—in fact I felt as clear as the blue sky and safer with him than with anyone else in this world.
“Take my hand, let’s go.” Frederic suddenly demanded and feeling a small patch of hair rise on the back of my neck my heart skipped a beat I felt something dangerous nearby but I had no idea what it was, just a stalking presence of a beast with evil intent. We ran through the streets once more and this time it was no race. I heard the loping sounds of feet galloping nearer and nearer and as if a mirage it was gone. We turned fast down a long alley and Frederic finally stopped yet he kept as firm grip on my hand as if afraid he would lose me. I was not used to this activity and I couldn’t help leaning against the large green trash bin to relax. I tried to swallow but my throat was parched.
“I knew it was you.” A man slithered like a snake as he spoke. He approached from the darkness ahead and kneeled low before us. I could see the vein pulsating along Frederic’s arm and his grip tightened. “I can smell that it is you.” He looked up with black pooling eyes in pure reverence to me.
“Leave here Luc. Head back home.”
“Uh…is it okay for me to just leave you here?”
“Yeah. I’ll be okay.”
He let me go and although I had not the vaguest idea as to how to reach the apartment I decided that it would be best to leave and try.