As a child, Monsignor Rainero had always been considered a clever boy, if perhaps a bit more clever than for his own good. He was known to have very inventive and attractive ideas, but he sometimes was known to overembelish them to the point where the scheme collapsed around him. Having seen this played out time and time again, after Rainero had started out in his father's tourist resort business in Umbria and suggested that the visitors at the resort might enjoy the offering of outings to the region's principle economic ventures - which were pig farming and salami production - Rainero's father steered Rainero to a vocation in the church instead.
The newly minted priest, lifted rather high rather fast because of his family's position in the region, became somewhat of a celebrity for his inventive ideas. The latest of these schemes - a populist radio address from Perugia three times a week in which listeners would be enticed to tune in one way or the other and would, in the context of the program, receive a homily from Monsignor Rainero - was thus what brought Monsignor Rainero to the Albergo La Torre café in Castiglione del Lago on the banks of the scenic Lake Trasimeno on this sunny May morning.
He was sitting at the open-air tables just outside the café's wide doors with the patron he wished to reel in to provide financial backing for his radio program, the Count de la Giovani Montefeltro. Both had just immensely enjoyed the singing of Pepo, a young tenor with pure, haunting tones, who had performed for them as he did hourly at this café in the high tourist season. They were a good distance from Perugia, the largest town in the Umbia region, where the parish that Monsignor Rainero now served existed, but Rainero was from the Trasimeno lake region himself and often came down to the small villa he had inherited on the banks of the lake near where Castiglione del Lago, once the fourth island of the lake, now joined the mainland. For his part, Giovani Montefeltro, who Rainero was now trying to cultivate, was from an ancient noble family of the region.
"This is a pleasant café, is it not?" the monsignor murmured to the patrician nobleman. He had been watching his companion carefully and was gratified that the man's attention had been straying to the corner of the café where Pepo had been singing. Although Rainero lived in Perugia and the count lived in the lake region, Montefeltro habitually came to Rainero in Perugia to give confession. There were a couple of very good reasons for this. The Montefeltros and Rainero's family had been intertwined for centuries, and also what Montefeltro had to confess - which very much had to do with the looks he was giving the young, blond singer at the Albergo La Torre café - was not something the count, married to the daughter of an industrialist who paid the bills for the maintenance of the Montefeltro ancestral estate, wanted to confess to priests in his own parish.
"Yes, quite pleasant indeed," Montefeltro whispered back, without taking his eyes off the young singer, who had finished singing and was chatting with the man at the piano and also with the owner of the café, a big bruiser of a northern Italian named Saladino. The use Saladino was making of his hands at the waist and on the arm of the young singer left little doubt of the nature or extent of his proprietary rights in that quarter.
Herein had been the dilemma that had been set for Monsignor Rainero. The monsignor had first heard the hauntingly beautiful voice of the young tenor the previous month when Rainero had been visiting his family villa, having received permission to air his Perugia entertainment-mixed-with-religion broadcasts but only then realizing all of his plans were just that so far - plans written in a prospectus. He had retreated to Castiglione del Lago to think upon how he could put reality to these plans. He needed money and he needed entertainments that would attract listeners to tune in to his radio program.
Sitting at the Albergo La Torre café one day in deep thought, Rainero's musings had evaporated as soon as Pepo had started to sing. Here, surely, Rainero thought, was one answer to his entertainment needs. He would ask the young Pepo to move to Perugia and sing for him on the radio. The church would pay, of course - or at least some patron would when Rainero solved that piece of the puzzle - but Pepo could also sing just as well - and probably more profitably - in the cafes of the larger city of Perugia as he could here at the lakeside.
As excited as he was about this divinely inspired plan, Rainero rose from his chair in the open-air area of the café and sought out the young singer after he had finished a set. Rainero's progress was arrested, however, at the entrance of the corridor leading from the café's interior dining area to the back of the facility. Just as he was about to enter the shadowed corridor, he sensed motion at the farther end, at an open door at the end of the corridor, into which the sunlight of the day was being filtered.
Two figures were leaning against the wall of the corridor, the larger one encasing the body of the smaller one between him and the wall. Both were men, the singer, Pepo, and the café owner, Saladino. Both were naked from the waist down. Pepo's back was against the rough, white-washed stone of the corridor wall, and his legs were raised and hooked on the thighs of the big brute of a northern Italian, Saladino, whose chest was pushing Pepo's back against the corridor wall and moving it up and down on the rough, white-washed stone, while Saladino's dick thrust up in long strokes inside the young singer's channel.
The café owner must have been nearly fifty, if not beyond. His body was brawny and big boned and his countenance that of a prize fighter past his prime. And yet Pepo was moaning for him and clutching the older man's buttocks closely into him with the digging claws of his hands.
Monsignor Rainero withdrew to plan his line of reasoning with this young man. He could surely do better than the rough and cruel northern Italian café owner in Perugia.
But when Rainero took Pepo aside on his next visit to the café and nudged into his proposition that Pepo come to Perugia to sing on the radio, an offer that surely would be honey to the taste buds of any young man moldering away in the Umbria countryside, he was surprised that Pepo declined, saying that he had a place here that suited him fine. Rainero did what he could to hint that there were better options than the brutish Saladino, but Pepo would not listen to any of this, whether from fear or from fetish for an older, rough lover.
Rainero was amazed at the resistance of the young singer, and this became a conundrum at the back of his mind for the next several weeks. It was even there when next Count Giovani Montefeltro came to Perugia to give confession, and, to Rainero's mind, to place himself in position to be asked to underwrite the costs of Rainero's radio broadcasts. And it was during Giovani's confession that bells started to ring in the back of Rainero's mind.
Giovani was a handsome, refined, older man. He was tall and one might call him thin, but he also was well formed - surely refined and elegant were the best words to describe him. And from his confessions, Rainero couldn't help but discern that the count enjoyed fucking young men. They invariably were stable hands and chauffeurs, though, and just as the monsignor was musing that a noble, refined man like Giovani really deserved a more suitable lover, the thought of Pepo returned to the surface of his mind.
And Monsignor Rainero's mind began to weave an elaborate plan of working his broadcast needs in consort. Thus today and the planned meeting between Rainero and Giovani at the Albergo La Torre café.
"I see you are taken with the café's young singer," Rainero said to Giovani across the café table as he set his coffee cup down and smiled a knowing smile.
Giovani gave the monsignor a shocked look.
"Please," Rainero said in a dismissive tone. "You have brought your confessions to me. Have I ever judged?"
"Yes, yes, I confess I am," the count answered. Then he was caught up short by the repetition of the confession word and its connection to his attraction to the young singer and gave a half distressed look at the monsignor, his confessor. But Rainero just smiled back, clearly signaling that there was no judgment to be seen in his countenance.
"I confess myself," the monsignor whispered, "that I am trying to convince the singer - his name is Pepo - to come to Perugia to sing on the radio program I am trying to interest you in. And you've said you were planning on spending more time at your Perugia residence, did you not?"
Rainero let that linger in the air between them across the café table for several moments, as Giovani gave him a searching look.
Having discerned there was an understanding between them and any shock of what Rainero was working toward had been weathered, the monsignor continued. "I really would like to talk to you more about support for my radio broadcasts, but for now, do you think you and Pepo would like to see my family's small villa here in Castiglione del Lago? It's really quite charming - and very private - and it is nearby."
Giovani looked slightly agitated and then perplexed. "Why are you - ?"
"I wish help in convincing the singer to come to Perugia for me. He seems to be under the sway of that brute of a café owner over there. See him? I think young Pepo needs to break from that influence - for his own good. I think he should have more refined friends. Sometimes the priesthood has to work in strange ways to achieve what is best."
Giovani still looked a bit agitated, but Rainero could tell from his change in demeanor that lust and want - and his wish to believe the convenient reasoning he was being given - were winning out.
The count simply curtly nodded his head and looked away toward the lake.
When Rainero sought out Pepo and turned the young singer's attention to the outside table where the count sat, trembling a bit and dreaming of possibilities, the monsignor wasn't altogether unarmed. Other men in Castiglione del Lago had had confessions to make - and although not to Rainero, the brotherhood of priests weren't all pristinely closed mouthed in their discussions with each other. Rainero knew that Pepo would go with a man for a price - that he would more than sing for his supper.
"He won't know there is a price," Rainero whispered to the young singer, as he pressed banknotes in the young man's hand. "He will be more pleased to think of it as a seduction - and you can trust me when I tell you that I have every reason to believe he is good at that."
"Why are you doing this?" Pepo asked. But he had his eyes on Giovani, and Rainero could tell from the slitting of his eyes and the way his tongue was playing on his lips that Pepo needed little convincing to go with Giovani.
"I wish him to be a patron for that radio program I have discussed with you. I only wish for you to help me convince him to invest in that."
Rainero found the seduction of Pepo by Giovani on the balcony of his villa overlooking Lake Trasimeno both touching, and, despite his vocation, arousing.
At first Rainero joined the other two on the balcony, bringing two bottles of wine and three glasses. He stayed with them until all were comfortable and had stripped down to their waists to soak in the sun while watching the boats bob on the waters of the lake. When the second bottle of vino was opened, Rainero faded away into the interior of the villa. The other two didn't even seem to notice he was gone as taken as they were with each other in chit chat and ever-more suggestive looks and exploratory touching.
Giovani had his arm around the back of Pepo's chair, and when he cupped Pepo's bicep in a hand, the younger man leaned into him and sighed.
Rainero saw that the second bottle of wine was empty and he went into the kitchen to get another one. But when he came back, he saw that no more wine was needed - at least on the balcony - as the two men were kissing, and from what the monsignor could see, Giovani's free hand was in Pepo's lap. So, Rainero returned to the kitchen for another wine glass, pulled the cork on the bottle, and sat in a sofa with a full view of the balcony and slowly drank down the third bottle himself.
Pepo disappeared for a while, the view of his kneeling body being blocked by Giovani's back and spread legs. And then a naked Pepo was straddling Giovani's thighs and the two were kissing, with Pepo's hands laced in the well-groomed gray-streaked black hair at the back of Giovani's head. Giovani was gripping Pepo's waist on both sides and moving the youth's body in rhythm to the rocking of the balcony chair they both now occupied and the grunts and groans of the fuck.
When, with a harmonizing tenor and baritone cry of release, the sounds of coupling and the rhythmic movement had ceased and Pepo was sighing and collapsed onto Giovani's body in satisfied exhaustion, the monsignor tiptoed out to the door sill onto the balcony and whispered in Giovani's ear that he had been called away to priestly duties in the village and that the two were free to use the small villa's main bedroom. And then Rainero left. When he returned two hours later, the moans led him to the bedroom, where Pepo was stretched out on his belly on the bed and Giovani was riding his hips like a camel on the desert, crouched over the body of the younger man, his hands covering those of Pepo, their fingers laced together. So intent were they in the pleasure they were giving each other that they had no idea the monsignor had come and then gone.
It was almost morning before the monsignor returned again to find that the villa, at last, was deserted. He barely had time to gather his clothes and motor back to Perugia to be there for the next mass he had promised to give.
Days and then a week and more went by before the monsignor was able to give Pepo and Giovani a thought. Indeed, he didn't think he had to think much about them. He was very pleased with himself and was content in the belief that they both, each working the agenda that Rainero had set for them in exchange for bringing them together, would now come through for his plans for the radio program. It was the radio program that was consuming his time and attention - making all of the preparations for going on air.
At the point where he had to actually provide funds to the radio station, Monsignor Rainero decided it was time for another visit to Castiglione del Lago to settle his two-pronged arrangement with Pepo and Giovani.
At the Albergo La Torre café, the monsignor was met with a sour-faced Saladino, who towered over him, beefy arms crossed, and obviously keyed up and angry.
"Pepo? That worm? He left me, more than a week ago. No notice, no nothing. Not even time to find a replacement, and it's high season."
Backing away from there, and without giving it much thought, Monsignor Rainero drove out to the Count de la Giovani Montefeltro's nearby country estate, where a somewhat surly servant answering the door told him the count wasn't there, and a disheveled countess, appearing at the door as Rainero was opening the door to his car, screamed in distraught tones that the count indeed was gone and a curse on him and all men.
It dawned on Rainero that it was possibly natural that Pepo and Giovani wouldn't be at the Montefeltro villa. Perhaps he should have checked the count's town home in Perugia before he came here. Perhaps they were already set up there. But then, again, perhaps they were at his own small villa here in Castiglione del Lago.
A check there indicated that, no they weren't there - that no one had been there since he had hurriedly left himself. The bed was still unmade and there were two empty wine bottles on the balcony and another one on the floor at the base of the sofa.
As he was leaving the villa, a village priest was walking up the road.
"The count?" the village priest responded to Rainero's query. "You mean Giovani Montefeltro, who fucks young men and thinks others don't all know he does just because he goes to you in Perugia to give his confession? Why, he and that young singer at the Albergo La Torre café ran off to Florence more than a week ago. The word is that neither one is coming back, either."
Monsignor Rainero withdrew back into his villa and sat heavily down onto the sofa. His foot hit the empty wine bottle and he watched it roll away from him.
A radio program to pay for and format within a week and so far he had nothing. Less than nothing, he thought bitterly. He had paid for the first fuck of Montefeltro's from Pepo and he was out three perfectly good bottles of wine. Well, two, he admitted. He'd drunk this one all by himself.
He sat there and thought and thought and thought. Maybe he shouldn't make such elaborate plans all the time. Maybe he should make simpler plans and let them build on their own if that happened naturally. And then he looked at the wine bottle again. It was from the winery of Landolfo Ordelaffi, who lived just outside Perugia and who brought Rainero a bottle of wine from his vineyard each time he came to confession.
Funny that he should think of Ordelaffi, the monsignor was thinking. That man's latest confession was that he had taken the young opera mezzo-soprano Melina Doria for his mistress. "Hmm," Rainero thought. "Ordelaffi has plenty of money to burn and Melina Doria's voice would be simply divine on my radio program."