Sibyl sat on her cushioned divan, resplendent in colorful silks. Her thinning white hair, flawlessly arranged, was tinted a discrete blue that echoed the sapphire of her still beautiful eyes. Sphinx-like, she gazed through the tall open windows as the sun played on the azure sea; and when the beautiful boy approached with bonbons on a slaver of gold, she delicately lifted one and smiled at him. He inclined his head deferentially, returned her smile and glided away. She watched him cross the polished marble floor. His shimmering black hair cascaded down his naked back and his long skirt clung low to his narrow hips and swayed gracefully above his sandaled feet. With the forefinger of one hand she traced the fragile bones and dark blue veins that protruded from the back of the other and wished she could remember the new boy's name. She made a mental note to ask Ariel yet again.
* * *
Ariel entered Sibyl's world long ago when she and Helene were young and very much in love. The land where he lived and dreamed was the first of many through which their wanderlust would lead them. It was a vast land, empty and arid; a land of sand and wind; a land where Ariel's god's own prophets foretold would one day flow with milk and honey. But the promise of three thousand years had turned bitter for Ariel and he was ready to redirect his devotion from a god who had become as barren as the land and the promise.
The lovers, chic as always in the latest styles from the best salons of Paris, crossed the desert in a caravan the likes of which had not been seen since the days of Solomon. Their camels were draped with rich and intricate tapestries. Well-muscled Arab boys in flowing caftans shaded them with canopies of vivid colors while others fanned them with perfumed ostrich plumes. They ate fruits of rare delicacy and smoked white cigarets in long ebony holders and the blue-gray smoke drifted behind them and vanished into the dry desert air.
When Ariel heard the distant tinkling of bells, he left his father's poor tent to see what he knew must be a wondrous sight, but when he topped the dune he was unprepared for what he beheld. The sounds and colors drew him as a magnet draws the point of a compass and he joined the lovers' caravan and walked beside their sedan. They remarked on his uncommon beauty: the glow of his honey-brown skin; his features, delicate and fine; and the intelligence behind his dark brown eyes. He walked beside the caravan and carried the silver tray the porter had given him. The lovers smiled like young coquettes when they lifted the fruits and pastries with bejeweled fingers; but the straining Arab boys glared at Ariel with hatred in their eyes.
When the lovers returned to their fabled city of wide avenues and proud mansions, Ariel, their new serving boy, was with them.
Ariel was given a room at the top of the house. Here, as he lay on his cot, he remembered the boys who labored under the weight of their canopies and sedans. He wished away the anger from their eyes and remembered instead their muscular bodies gleaming with sweat. He recalled how, in the evenings, they rested from their labors under the palms and bathed in the dark waters of the oases and wrestled clumsily in matches that frequently turned into clumsy couplings they tried in vain to keep secret.
Ariel began to fondle his cock as he remembered the night he clandestinely joined the other boys in the dark by the pool. One of them nudged him and they began to wrestle. He stroked and remembered the boy pressing his cheek into the abrading sand and baring the graceful mounds of his ass and handling them roughly. He fingered himself and remembered the boy entering him forcefully. He lifted his pelvis and groaned his guttural moans. He stroked and fingered himself with long brown fingers and came with the boy who didn't know it was Ariel with whom he had wrestled in the night.
* * *
Sibyl and Helene entertained their many friends in their opulent Fifth Avenue mansion and learned to know and appreciate the lovely Ariel.
In time the imperious call came and they left their mansion in the city to travel once more. Their mood was gay as Ariel packed their portmanteaux into the trunk of their dark limousine and threaded his way through the wide streets of the busy city. The great ocean liner lay moored at its pier, and when the lovers embarked in their grand panoply, their fellow passengers stepped aside and made low comments to one another behind protective hands.
Ariel waved to them from the pier as their ship glided majestically out to sea, and when he could no longer discern their diminutive forms on the crowded deck he returned to their house to keep it ready for their return.
The prow of the mighty ship parted the frigid northern waters and the captain and his lieutenants kept a sharp eye for the ice monsters that glided noiselessly and posed great danger, determined that the recent tragedy of which everyone on board was keenly aware would not be repeated.
Safely across the wide ocean, the lovers boarded their yacht and headed for the deep fjords. It was a cold and solemn land they sought, a land of mountains and water, a land where ancient gods once strode abroad wearing wolves' skins and wielded great hammers. But the gods were dead now and the fair-skinned race that inhabited the land, descendants of fierce warriors, were finally defeated by numbers and assimilation.
The yacht was grand. Such a sight was rivaled only by the sight of the king of Norway aboard the royal yacht. Lanterns of every hue mimicked the aurora and their lights reflected off the rippling water. Tall blond boys in white sailor suits brought Sibyl and Helene rich lap rugs and waited silently by their chaises while others brought them rare and expensive coffees, steaming in thin translucent cups. The lovers gazed on the solid forms and beautiful faces of their waiting boys and sipped their exotic brews, and the blue-gray smoke of their elegant cigarets wafted into the cold sub-Arctic night.
Hans watched from the bank of the fjord with deep yearning as the festive yacht glided by his family's hovel. He stripped and dived into the water, swimming with strong strokes to whatever destiny awaited. He climbed aboard and bowed to the lovers. They were taken by his rare beauty: his hair, fine and pale as platinum; his creamy skin, clear and flawless; and the intelligence behind his ice-blue eyes. They bade him join them and they watched with humor as the steward brought the requested robe and appraised him openly before draping it over his broad shoulders. Hans smiled at the lovers as they lifted the steaming coffees from the tray he now held.
And when they returned to their city of towers and lights Hans, their new serving boy, was with them.
On his first night in the city, Hans followed the faithful Ariel up the attic stairs where he was to have a room beside Ariel's own. At the top of the stairs Ariel turned to bid the new boy good night and was happy that his light embrace was warmly returned.
As he lay in the dark of his narrow room, Hans remembered the fair-skinned boys who served the thin, elegant ladies on the sleek, elegant yacht. He remembered the young steward who paused before draping the robe; the one who came to him in the night and pulled the white satin sheets from his long-muscled body. They swam together in the icy waters of the fjord, and when they returned to the yacht they made love under the stars.
Hans remembered the boy's moist mouth kissing his lips and chest and abdomen before tugging the lose skin down his erection and kissing the red, distended glans. He stroked himself as the beautiful boy buried his nose in sea-wet curls. His semen spattered his chest, matching the orgasm of the boy who didn't care that he was messing the deck of the elegant yacht of the elegant ladies from America.
In his own dark room, Ariel lay and listened to the rhythmic sounds coming from the next room. He closed his eyes and saw the reclining Hans, his long body covered with soft blond hair, his feet firmly planted by the round globes of his perfect ass, his thighs spread to make stroking easy and to accommodate the hand that cupped his heavy balls.
Ariel moaned and writhed as he knew Hans was doing. He wanted to come with Hans, but the beautiful Arab boy appeared in his room and rebuked him for his callous abandonment and Ariel could not gratify himself until he accepted yet again the challenge to wrestle, the challenge he knew he would lose and that would end with rough lovemaking under the palms of the dark oasis.
Before long, Ariel and Hans discovered the excitement and delight of the hard angles and deep recesses of each other's bodies, and when Ariel's dark-skinned lover understood what was growing between Ariel and Hans he reluctantly quit the attic room and returned to the cooling pool in the oasis where he pinned the lithe and passionate boy against the sand. Ariel, as was his nature, became devoted to Hans; and Hans found joy in the attention and affection of his lover.
* * *
Sibyl and Helene's entertainments continued to amuse them and their somewhat smaller circle, but it was the wide world that captured their attention. Once again the longing to see distant lands took hold and they directed Ariel to book passage for them on a luxury queen heading for a dark and mysterious land. Once again he escorted them to comfortable accommodations and waved bon voyage before returning to the mansion where now Hans waited.
Having crossed the ocean yet again, Sibyl and Helene left the coast to ply the muddy river in their beautiful, elaborate barge. Crocodiles lazed here and jungle vines encroached. Heat blasted and humidity permeated their cotton blouses and skirts and made them heavy and oppressive. The dense forest reverberated with the calls of animals - hunters and hunted - and when the absolute dark of night descended, the furious roars and eerie cries of primitive animistic spirits joined the swelling cacophony to the dismay and terror of those who still believed.
Few outsiders ventured this deeply into the dappled green of the interior. The likes of the gaily festooned barge had not plied the river since the great Ewuare traveled there. Golden fringes bordered its flat roof, and silk streamers lifted limply from the scarlet gunwales.
Beautiful boys, long-legged and naked save skimpy khaki shorts that accented their high narrow asses, strained at poles to propel the barge through sluggish water or fan the lovers with fans of dried palm fronds. The boys' ebony skin gleamed with sweat and they grinned clandestinely at their carefree friends who ran along the banks, pointing and prattling their amazement in excited accents.
The lovers sat enthroned, licking delicately flavored ices in white paper cones, and the blue-gray smoke from their elegant cigarets spiraled above them and dissipated in the humid equatorial air.
When he peered through emerald foliage, Obi's heart went out to the beautiful barge and he longed to be a part of the exotic life such a magnificent craft portended. When it docked near his village he crept aboard and bowed to the white ladies in the way his elders told him that white gentlemen do. They were impressed with his grace and beauty: the velvety mahogany skin that shimmered purple highlights; the shyness of his sidelong glances, tentative and demur; and the intelligence behind his black, black eyes. They made him welcome and asked that ices be brought. The boy who served him, and who in turn would teach him to serve, touched his hand with tapering fingers.
And when at last the lovers sailed to their city of bustling crowds and grand plazas Obi, their new serving boy, was with them.
Obi was given the attic room Hans left when he moved into the room and the bed of the adored and adoring Ariel. The two men wished their new friend good night and turned to their shared room.
As he lay under the steeply-pitched roof, Obi remembered the beautiful black-skinned boys and he saw again the mounding muscles of their arms and broad backs and their scantily clad, melon-shaped asses as they forced the fanciful barge up the torpid river. He remembered the boy who caressed his hand and brushed his thigh with fingers made cool by ice in paper cones and made him shiver in the heat of noon; the boy who came to him in the warm tropical night and led him stealthily down the narrow gangplank and into the thick undergrowth of the forest; the boy in whose arms he lay without sleeping; and as he remembered, he stroked his erection and glided his palms over the satiny skin of the lovely boy beside him. He licked the pungent salt from his chest and narrow waist and from between his hairless thighs. As Obi stroked himself in the high attic room, the beautiful boy stroked his own long cock. They came together, their twin ejaculations arching high and collecting in pools in the hollows of their necks and the shallow depressions between the gentle mounds of their chests; and having come, the beautiful boy and the rain forest faded and Obi turned on his narrow cot and slept.
Ariel and Hans lay curled in the new bed they bought together from shared savings. They smiled when they heard the muffled sounds coming from Obi's high-ceilinged room. They lay in each others' arms and remembered the grace and beauty of the new boy. Their certain knowledge and shared memories and the closeness of their bodies excited them and Ariel pressed himself against his lover and sighed when Hans entered him and began the firm thrusts of lovemaking.
* * *
The entertainments at Sibyl and Helene's were fewer than formerly. Many friends they had known and enjoyed since their first years together still gathered around their table of abundance and delight, but the younger set preferred the more lively ambiance of the new clubs further uptown.
But the lure of distant lands was still strong and the lovers had long wanted to visit the lands of high mountains to the south. Ariel held the doors of the gleaming forest-green limousine and drove them to the great railroad station in the heart of the city. Excited boys pointed as the classic car approached and old men nodded appreciatively at the interlaced red Rs that emblazoned its grille. Jaded metropolitans paid no attention to the eccentric old ladies and their liveried chauffeur as they crossed the floor of the cavernous station, but tourists craned their necks and gawked with incredulity.
Sibyl and Helene boarded their private railroad car whose opulence belonged to an earlier time and smiled at Ariel through yellowed windows as he awaited their departure; and when the oldest car in tow behind the gleaming diesels rounded the distant curve, he returned to the house on the broad avenue where Hans and Obi waited to hear him tell of the day's events.
The mighty engines whisked the lovers south across borders and across time. The land that called was rugged. Massive mountains rose mightily and pierced the clouds, and steep-sided valleys echoed the thunder of long silent drums and the cries of defeated warriors being meaninglessly slaughtered as blood sacrifices to satisfy the hunger of meaningless long-forgotten gods. Those who now lived in these barely hospitable valleys and high plateaus were of mixed race. They had the high cheek bones and sharp noses of their indigenous ancestors and Christian names of the invaders who came to crush them utterly and to teach them the true religion.
As the wheezing steam engine that had replaced the diesels inched its way up the steep mountainside, Sibyl and Helene held the draperies away from pitted windows and watched as the trees became smaller and fewer and patches of snow appeared under the brilliant sun.
In the courtyard of the tiny cantina in the tiny village, unwashed natives in serapes of vivid colors and ancient designs came near the frail old ladies from the big city of the far north and gaped at their long mink coats and delicate bejeweled fingers that held perfumed handkerchiefs close to their noses.
Muscular boys escorted them from their table and bore them through high mountain meadows and pointed with shapely fingers at the rare and beautiful flowers that clung in thin soil among the lichen-covered rocks. When they reached a suitable spot, they set up the ladies' spacious tent and decorated it with colorful bunting and arranged their rich carpets and plush upholstered chairs and high feather beds. The lovers admired the flowers and the caramel-brown boys with their high cheek bones and wide-flared nostrils. Sibyl and Helene sat grandly outside the flap of their tent and the beautiful boys served them water crackers and hot hors d'oeuvre and cups of steaming mint tea. They ate and chatted with each other and blew the blue-gray smoke from their long cigarets into the thin mountain air.
Marco heard a mild commotion and left his hut to discover its cause. When he topped the rise that guarded the meadow he saw spread before him rich pavilions which surely must be as grand as those of the emperor Huayan Capec. He boldly approached the unusual ladies and presented them with gifts of unusual rocks and the unhatched egg of a condor. They were pleased with his gifts and with his comeliness: his even white teeth that lit up his warm smile; his shapely hands and long fingers, slender and lovely; and the intelligence behind his warm brown eyes. They instructed their server to bring a tray for Marco and to teach him the proper way to serve. His teacher stood closer than was necessary and thrilled Marco by the warmth of his breath on his cheek.
And when the lovers returned to their noisy city Marco, their new serving boy, was with them.
A place was prepared for the new boy in an unused high attic room. On his first night in the city, Marco followed Obi to the top floor of the mansion. Obi was thrilled by the lovely face before him and softly kissed Marco good night.
In his room under the twin gables Marco remembered the bronze-skinned boys he joined in serving the frail women in the wonderful tent; the boys who slipped off by twos to find the wanted privacy behind huge boulders and make love on beds of rare mountain wildflowers. He remembered the boy who stood too close and gently jostled his balls with his knee; the boy who, in the absolute darkness of the tent he shared with the other serving boys, came unerringly to his palate and woke him by again breathing against his cheek; the boy with whom he slipped out of the tent and into the night and who caressed him under myriad stars in the high arching sky.
As he remembered, he began to rub his palm against the underside of his cock; and as he rubbed, the beautiful boy lifted his poncho, straddled his waiting body, and slowly lowered himself. Marco came, matching pulse for pulse the boy who had impaled himself on him in the night.
Obi heard the soft sounds coming from Marco's room. As they subsided, he rose from his bed, slipped down the dimly lit hall and lifted the latch of the new boy's door. Marco heard the nearly inaudible clink of metal and looked up to see Obi silhouetted in the doorway. He hurriedly covered himself, but Obi was beside him in an instant. Marco understood and moved to to the far side of his bed. Obi lay beside him and slid his hand between Marco's well-muscled thighs. Marco lifted his legs and moaned his pleasure as Obi pressed and entered.
* * *
In time, most of the old grand houses were gone from the Avenue, and the few friends who still visited Sibyl and Helene's found theirs dated and a bit shabby.
Reluctant as he was when they first suggested it, Ariel began to sit with Sibyl and Helene in their front parlor and allowed himself to be served by Hans and Obi and the new boy, Marco.
When the lovers first announced their desire to travel yet again, Ariel sounded a cautionary note, but they knew their prerogatives and he ultimately knew his place. Obi drove the immaculate antique automobile out of the city with his passengers to the distant airport and Marco carefully guided them through the maze of cement and glass and humanity that bewildered them. The handsome attendant took them to their seats in the front of the plane.
Marco watched through huge plate glass windows in the huge terminal building as the great plane lifted from the expansive tarmac before returning to Obi who drove them back to Ariel and Hans in the mansion on the now-familiar avenue.
The lovers had long looked forward to their sojourn in the land of pagodas and cherry blossoms; of fierce samurai warriors and gracefully terraced gardens. They expected a jinrikisha to take them to their hotel, but instead a common taxi whisked them into a city they could hardly differentiate from their own. Their suite was spacious and lovely and when the manager read their names in the register, he arranged for baskets of fruit and a large spray of flowers to be sent in; and he assigned the lovely and highly competent Somei to await their every request.
Somei stood tall and straight. In his red uniform with braids and tassels of gold he reminded the lovers of grenadiers who stood guard at the palaces of kings. He brought them light meals and cigarets of expensive tobaccos that were encased in pastel rice paper and tipped with gold wrapped filters; and when Helene coughed the vile phlegm from deep in her weak lungs he handed her dainty handkerchiefs to wipe her thin lips.
Helene sat in the plush chair and did not complain when Sibyl canceled their trip to the gardens of the emperor. She sat and smoked and coughed, and Somei fanned away the heavy gray smoke that spiraled around her beautifully coiffured hair. She looked with sadness into Somei's eyes and blotted away the red streaked phlegm. Then she glared at the pretty pastel cigaret and crushed it against the alabaster ashtray with a violence that surprised her companions, but her resolve came very late.
Sibyl and Somei, the new serving boy, took Helene back to the land of her birth and her mansion in the teeming city.
Ariel and Hans showed Somei to his room in the steeply-ceilinged room in the attic and sat hand in hand listening to his story while Obi and Marco saw to the needs of the lovers downstairs.
Helene's passing was noted in metropolitan newspapers across the country but only a few who read the obituary knew the name and even fewer found their way to the soaring cathedral or to the shaded hillside cemetery across the high-towered bridge.
Sibyl lay alone in the bed she had shared with Helene for more than fifty years. She could not cry nor did she want to. Her circumstance was too new and her loneliness had not yet begun. At last she agreed to drink the draft her beloved Ariel pressed on her and she fell into a deep and restful sleep.
* * *
Somei answered the bell and escorted the real estate agents into the dated front parlor where Sibyl and Ariel waited. He served them coffee to sip during their deliberations.
In the rooms above, Hans and Obi and Marco were packing for the journey that would take them all from the city and the doomed old mansion: a final journey half way around the world to the beautiful white villa that gleamed on its tall white cliff overlooking the sun-drenched azure sea.