Friday, August 19, 2011

The Roman Spring of Mr. Stone

The Roman Spring of Mr. Stone
—for Tennessee Williams

"Rome is a very old city.
Three-thousand years.
How old are you? Fifty?"
—Paolo di Leo
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

It was late in the afternoon—the stainless blue sky over Rome was beginning to pale. The blue transparency of the narrow streets—was gathering into faint opacities of dark adolescent vapors.

Domes of ancient churches were swelling down there—under the sheets. Mr. Stone sat by the bed—smoking a cigarette. Admiring Paolo’s fine butt—the tiled roofs along kid’s ribs. The fine curvatures of recumbent Paola—sleeping there in Mr. Stone’s bed.

The white sheets were bathed in a gold light—as they descended from the Piazza Trinita de Monte of his dark curly marbled head. Down past the Piazza di Spagna—of his naked fine tight Italian hustler’s ass.

The derelict hordes and refugees of the night—were getting ready to crowd the topmost steps to receive the American tourists’ valediction. They took on the usual air of cold irreverence on their thin faces—posing like slutty Michelangelo statues frozen in time.

The urchin vendors of the Roman night—smoking cigarettes on the Spanish stairs. Filthy moiling cute Caravaggio types—pouty angels along the Via Veneto.

But Mr. Stone wasn’t going out—he had his own young Roman statuesque companion. An exceptionally beautiful youth. Beautiful even in an ancient city—where beauty wasn’t particularly exceptional or hard to find.

There was the beauty celebrated by heroic male sculptures—in all the temples and fountains of Rome. But then there was a different kind of young male beauty—slightly disguised a little at night.

Hiding in the dreadful poverty of indecent garments—toes sticking out of sandals. Filthy pants, trench-coats to slouch in. Nevertheless stealthily stunning—in a different male way.

Naked Paolo was that way—exposing his triangle of bare ivory flesh to Mr. Smith. As if beauty were inviting Mr. Stone—to swoop down on it. And commandeer that shameless thing—as pale and cryptic as an Egyptian obelisk. Whose pagan engravings—demanded further study.

Mr. Stone offered Paolo a cigarette—that was the signal. Paolo accepted—then the sequence of other gestures came. Without exchanging glances—other than a steadfast gaze at Paolo.

Paolo looking away. Checking out the height of the palazzo—the size of its grandeur. Letting Mr. Stone see a more fragile grandeur—Paolo replacing the usual boring American tourist spots.

Knowing he’d lost it—had been haunting Mr. Stone recently. His critics hadn’t forgotten though—he was just another Norma Desmond to them. The mere idea of rotting away in a Sunset Boulevard dump—repulsed Stone to no end.

But he still needed it—like Norma did. Male beauty can’t be forgotten—without it the world becomes an ugly cracked mirror. Disclosing a shattered image—cunningly sharp but still out of focus.

Mr. Stone instinctively avoided—contact with all the American str8t tourist types. Their darting eyes, their big mouths—their uncomfortable clinging candor.

But Paolo was completely different—so knowing and intimate. Yet keeping his distance—from the melancholic Mr. Stone.

The tightly wrinkled pale white sheets. Paolo’s prodigally spreading fountain—the sheets gathering around his crotch. A pubed multitude of worshippers in the wings.

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