1. Marbella

2. From Torremolinos to Churriana

3. Ben the Baker

4. After the Fashion Show

5. The Bronx

6. You are never too old to Learn

7. Peter from Poona

8. Rule Britannia

9. Sports and pastimes

10. The Constant Nymph

11. Ben rises to the Occasion




You Are Never Too Old To Learn

'A stander-by may sometimes, perhaps, see more of the game That he that plays it.'

We enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning that is all of us except Momir who excused himself and hurried back to his studio. He explained that the fashion show and the preparations for it had completely disorganized the household and he needed to catch up with his work. Herman never mentioned the trouble of the night before, and I did not ask him how and when he had left his little friend.

Herman had not forgotten Ben's hospitality the previous weekend, and he suggested that we invite
ben the baker to join us for brunch. The place livened up after Ben had burst in, full of energy like a big, affectionate dog, practically wagging his tail with pleasure at the company and greeting me with a touching tenderness.

Momir made a brief appearance for the meal and disappeared again the moment he had finished eating. The rest of us Franny, Bill Ben and I joined Herman on the terrace.
I recounted to the others what had happened the night before at
the bronx, tactfully omitting any reference to what took place subsequently in my car.

'The boy you were with got away all right?' Franny asked Herman anxiously.
'Julio?' That was the first time I had heard Herman mention the kid's name. 'Yes, he managed. As a matter of fact, I arranged to meet him in town at our favourite cafe this afternoon.'
As he spoke, Herman cast an anxious glance at the doorway as if to make sure that Momir was safely out of the way. 'You know,' Herman continued in an earnest voice, 'that boy shows me so much warmth, so much love.'

'He seemed a bit cool last night,' I commented dryly. Secretly, I was astonished that Julio would be ready to see Herman again so soon after he had undergone such brutality.
'Oh, last night he was not himself,' Herman assured me airily. 'He was upset by all the fuss, you know. Normally, he will kiss and cuddle me - can't keep his hands off me. It makes me feel good. It's as though I am the only person in his life. All the other boys on the beach, my buddies, and terribly envious.'

'From what I have seen in The Bronx and in Amsterdam, you gays live in a superficial world of your own,' I said. 'You are all so damned fickle.'
'No more than the straights,' Herman protested. 'I know gay couples who have lived together for years.'
'Sure,' I argued, 'but they are not the ones you see cruising on the beach or at The Bronx.'
'Even the most faithful wants a break once in a while,' Herman said. 'In a heterosexual marriage, one or perhaps both of the partners, will have the odd affair or go on a sidekick. Why should we be any different?'

'All you guys seem to think about is getting your rocks off,' Bill put in. I guess that he was still feeling a trifle insecure from the way Herman had blown him the afternoon before.

ben rises to the occasion joined in the attack, 'Why do you gay guys exaggerate everything? The way you walk, talk, dance, dress - everything is so affected, as if to draw attention to yourselves. Some friends took me to a beach at Torremolinos and there were a whole mob of gay types, chattering about who fucked whom. Jack had picked up John, but John had slept with Dieter and that had upset Dick, who had gone off and fucked Tommy. But Tom had been with Jose and so on. Who gives a damn who slept with whom or how big was the last cock up somebody's bum?'

'Be fair,' Herman pleaded. 'In any bar, you can hear men discussing girls, even when they haven't been able to get them into bed. What's the difference?'

'True enough,' I conceded, 'but you fellows do seem to go on about your affairs more than most straight guys. Even you, Herman, can't stop talking about your Julio although you are living with Momir.'

OK,' Herman flared up. 'So I need a bit of affection in my life! Someone to love me. Love, love,' he repeated savagely. 'Don't you know what it means to crave love?'

'But don't you get love from Momir?' Franny asked.
'Momir!' Herman laughed bitterly. 'Of course, but all he really cares about is his work. Oh, and I nearly forget, yes, he loves his cat. I tell you he shows more affection for that animal than he does for me. When he is away, I miss having him around. But as soon as he gets back, we have a ritual. I fuck him. Without saying a word, we go into our bedroom. He drops his pants and pushes his rump in the air. In I go and, bang, in less than five minutes we have got that over and done with. What sort of love is that?'

'You mean no foreplay at all?' I demanded.
'He will hardly even say hello.' Herman's tone was bitter. 'He makes me feel as though I am fucking a whore. And it's me who does all the shopping and the cooking and the entertaining-'
'And it's Momir who pays for everything,' I interrupted.
'Yes. But can't even you, Xaviera, understand what it is to want to hear the words, "I love you" and to be treated with diamonds feeling, not like a piece of furniture?'

I could see the pain in Herman's eyes. I read there his inner loneliness beneath the outward show of good humor and swaggering sadism. I went over to him, put my arms around him and kissed him.
'Come on, Herman, cheer up.'

There were tears in his eyes as Herman looked up at me. He could feel that, from me at any rate, there was the sincere warmth for which he thirsted. He smiled gratefully and planned a big kiss on my lips.

12. The Magician

13. Say it with Diamonds

14. The simple life

15. Forced to Fast

16. The Persian Boy

17. Penthouse Pet

18. The road to Morocco

19. Have you anything to Declare?

20. Men of War

21. Fiesta in Ojen

22. Highway Robbery