Like another of my ebooks, “The House of Doom, Dreams & Desire”, my newest story is also based entirely on a dream I experienced. This one was different in that it unfolded like a film panorama. I remember waking with amazement that the images, dialogue and setting was so clear. What was even most astounding, was that after I fell asleep again and woke for the day, I discovered I had reentered my dream where I’d left off…and it had continued to it’s conclusion. It’s not so often one can return to a dream in this way. That morning was a magical to me, as the story itself.
Description: “When Robin, a first year university student, saves the life of a beautiful young man, he finds he’s made a devoted friend. But without memory and voice, the newly named Angel is a mystery, occasionally exasperating with his child-like qualities yet possessing a strangeness which makes Robin wonder what type of being he’s really taken in.”
A speculative fantasy set in contemporary Berlin, gay fiction, rating would be PG, as it is a non-erotic tale of true love in genuine friendship. 29 pages. An excerpt is here, but can also be found at my GLBT Bookshelf webpages, along with other updates, article link and WIPs. This one is submitted, but if you’re interested, let me know.
The youth walked along as if everything in the world was new to his eyes. Long blonde hair the color of old gold under candlelight blew in a light breeze. Clear blue eyes like a winter’s crisp afternoon sky fluttered from point to point in wonder, taking in each shutter-click of the scene.
In a faded gray t-shirt and jeans, tattered sandals seasonally inappropriate on long feet, with child-like naiveté, yet profound self-possession, he looked about himself: at the trio of teen-agers casually tossing a Frisbee between themselves quick to jokes and laughter; at the couple still entranced with each other as their children tumbled about them at tag, at the many others enjoying the fineness of the clear autumn afternoon.
The laughter of the children delighted him. He smiled. The animated discussion between bicyclers enjoying a moment to stroll intrigued him. He stopped again to watch them as they passed. In the fading light between buildings, the silver whirl of bicycle wheel spokes made him laugh aloud.
In a kiosk, a vendor waited behind steamed glass as eager patrons decided on which would be best, a hot chocolate or glühwein. At a nearby corner, a young man waited for the traffic light to change, the fingers of one hand tapping at his bike’s handlebar before reaching to adjust his backpack to a better position. He released a visible sigh.
The youth liked the way the young man looked: narrow face with spectacles perched upon an equally narrow nose, clean-shaven except for a little tuff of hair on his very pointed chin. The soft brown hair was neatly cut quite low. And though clearly he was impatient for the signal to change in his favor, the fine lips looked like he could smile at any time.
Traffic was nearing rush hour. The headlights of the cars, if the youth turned his head just so, they looked like comets flashing through space. He felt slightly light-headed moving his head slowly, rhythmically back and forth. Dizzily looking up at the tall buildings surrounding the park and square, he seemed unaware his feet still moved. He stepped off the curb as if mesmerized by the shift and flow of elements.
Horns sounded suddenly, tires screeching on pavement. He was startled as a strong hand gripped his arm, pulling him back to the safety of the sidewalk. As he regained his balanced, he looked down into the face of the earnest young man.
“What were you doing? You might have been killed!” A head was shaken at him. The youth didn’t understand the words as yet, nor the urgency. “You should be more careful.”
Smiling, the youth continued to look unmoved by the accident that might have occurred, yet gave the shorter man his full attention.
“You don’t get it, do you? Perhaps you speak German instead,” the man switched to that language from his native French which, since startled, he had used first without thinking.
Pointing downward, he pronounced as if to a child, “Stay on the sidewalk unless the signal for walkers is showing.” When he looked up, it had just turned so. “Well, take care!” He called back over his shoulder as he pedaled away.
With an overwhelming urge to follow, the youth noticed a similar means of transportation leaning against a light-pole, its rider having abandoned it only seconds before to hurry to the vendor’s kiosk. The youth found he knew how to ride without thinking. He sped off after the narrow-faced young man.
* * * *
Robin, the young man, still shook his head over the youth he’d encountered though his legs pumped furiously trying for greater speed from his third-hand ancient bicycle. He’d been late to work already once this week. His employer was not an understanding man, and cared nothing for the heavy load of schoolwork Robin struggled with, this being his first year in a foreign country, his first year at university. Robin was lucky to have the job at all. He certainly could not afford to lose it.
As he pulled up to the popular little café, red-cheeked and winded, a co-worker was stepping out to change the menu on the chalkboard to the left of the door. Previously, the young woman who was friendly yet just distant enough so they’d only exchanged passing pleasantries before, half-jokingly scolded him for his tardiness. He shrugged with good grace, hurrying to secure his belongings to the bike rack. Another person rode up beside him as he turned.
“What are you doing here?” he exclaimed in surprise, nearly bumping into the youth he’d saved from possible injury or death at the square corner. “You followed me–but why?”
Long lashed eyes blinked innocently at him as if the youth didn’t know. The lips parted as if he meant to say something, but then closed in consternation. Next they curved up into a smile, eyes brightening, slight frown disappearing as if it had never been.
Robin laughed. “Sorry, but I haven’t the time now. I’m, ah, late for work.” He turned to go into the shop. The youth just stood there watching him expectantly. “I’ll be here a few hours at least. Don’t you have somewhere to go?”
The handsome face saddened. The youth looked about himself disconsolately, biting his lower lip.
Robin yelled back a clipped affirmative as the young woman called to him again from inside. “Look, I’ve got to go. Really.” Robin thought furiously, he found he didn’t want the youth to go away no matter how short or long the time. “Come, come inside the door. If you don’t mind very much, you can wait for me at the backstairs until I’m finished, alright?”
With him now standing on the bistro steps, the two were about the same height. Robin looked into bottomless blue eyes, full of trust and quiet joy. They took his breath away. He felt himself pulled forward as if drawn. Despite the noisy commotion coming from the dining area, Robin whispered softly, “Come, I’ll show you.” Robin took the willing hand in his own, leading the youth inside.
* * * *
The shift manager had allowed Robin’s new friend to stay as long as he kept in the background, out of the way. At his first and only break, dropping down tiredly a step below his “guest” on the stairway which was still lit faintly with the light from the landing window behind them. Robin finally had a chance to get to know him better. Sitting two bottled beers to the side, he stretched rackingly, emitting a huge yawn.
“Ah, that’s better,” he sighed. “It’s truly a madhouse in there tonight.” Muffled conversation and music floated up from the floor below. He opened one bottle then the next, handing one over to the youth. “On me!” he pronounced, “go ahead.”
The youth only looked at dark glass perplexedly, running a finger down its sweating side, rubbing the moisture between fingertips.
Robin laughed, taking a long draught of his own. “You drink it. It’s beer!”
The youth sipped cautiously, widened eyes, a cough, and a blink. He quickly looked at Robin, who’d burst into laughter.
“You’re too funny. What’s your name, after all this time? I’m Robin, by the way.” He waited, watching as the other young man took a longer taste. “What, can’t you speak?”
A small frown, a glance downward then back up. Robin sobered empathically. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.” A pause, yet his naturally cheerful nature took over again. “But I have to call you something!”
He leaned back against the cool plaster of the wall, thoughtfully rolling a mouthful of pilsner around his mouth, then swallowed.
“With the light behind you just so, shining in your hair…you rather look like an angel fallen to earth,” his pleasant tenor making the statement poetry in the lull from the sounds from below. “Like an angel truly. That’s what I’ll call you I think: Angel.”
Angel leaned down to him, touched his hair then grinned like a little boy. Soft touches lingered over Robin’s eyebrows, the curve of his cheek, nails explored the little goatee he proudly groomed each morning. Robin closed his eyes savoring the gentleness, while his heart sped fiercely up to a frenzied pace.
“Robin, you up there? Robin!” called a voice from below, heavy but female. He quieted his annoyance before answering. The shift manager, Sabine, wanted to know what he was doing. The owner might yet come by this evening and they’d not even begun preparations for the special desserts for tomorrow! Quickly, she said, up to the storage room to retrieve the pans needed!
“Want to come with me? We can look off the rooftop also. It’s one of my favorite places to go. Oh, don’t forget your beer. We can finish up there.”
Robin quickly located the pans in the storeroom, setting them on the landing before unlocking the door to the roof. “Come on, Angel, it’s like a different world!”
Angel followed him up the narrow stairs, which opened out onto a flat rooftop bordered by a red brick parapet. From here one could just see the tops of the trees half clothed in browning foliage, the tall buildings at the city’s center far off to the west. The sun had already dipped below the horizon, but the sky was still awash in soft crimson, apricot and deepening azure. A wind had arisen, cool and touched with frost.
“Nice, isn’t it?” Robin said, though verbally, he knew Angel wouldn’t reply. “I love to come up here. It’s so peaceful. Everything seems so far away.” He looked back to the east for a moment, where the first stars were beginning to appear on an indigo field.
“Are you cold? You’re not really dressed for the night at all.” He shivered himself though wearing his usual layers in muted tones: undershirt, shirt, then pullover and wide whaled corduroys. Winter was truly coming soon. These were the last fine days of Fall before the rains came, the gray days and long nights, the dirty snow and ice of a northern city’s streets.
“Angel?” he queried. The youth had wandered near the ledge to look downward to the narrow lane of the building front, hair lifting like wings back over his shoulders.
“Angel!” he called more sharply, moving, remembering the street incident from the afternoon. “Don’t get too close to the edge!” As he neared, Robin continued more moderately, “You can you lose your balance easily–,” He tried to draw Angel away. “I have to go back down now, and it’s getting cold anyway. They’ll yell at me again.”
Angel lingered despite Robin’s urging, face turned up at the sky long seconds, eyes wide, reflective. His hand found Robin’s, finally allowing himself to be drawn away.
“You scared me back there,” Robin laughed, as they clattered down the stairs. “Again!”
* * * *
The owner didn’t show up after all, so the previously necessary cakes were unceremoniously moved to the back refrigerator case for tomorrow’s opening. After washing up the last of the dishes, and mopping the floor, Robin was allowed to leave. Be on time tomorrow, reddened his ears, as they left. He winked at Angel, closing the door behind them.
He unlocked his bicycle from the rack. “Two things. I don’t suppose you have any place to go now either, do you? And that bike you rode earlier wasn’t yours, was it?”
Angel looked to the side, raised eyebrows, gave a playful toss of his head.
“Where do you come from?” Robin asked in mock severity, yet the youth’s face fell as if he didn’t understand the humor behind his words. “No, no, it’s ok. I was joking! I know where you can go.”
Angel looked interested then. “With me, of course. I’ve just a little place, just a room I rent, but you’re welcome.”
A reasonably spacious room, high ceiling. Two sets of window upward from waist high showing at this time of night row upon row of windows on the other side of the street. Some bright with light, others dim and blue, but mostly dark as empty eyes.
The room was like its renter: mostly neat, clean and perfectly ordinary, yet with noticeable colorful touches. Near the left-hand window, behind a painted screen, a covered mattress filled a corner of the floor. A few odd pillows decorated the top. In front of the partition was a makeshift couch of sorts; crates stacked together, a low table on which books overflowed to the wooden floor. On the right wall was a desk with a battered chair tied with ribbons. Sprouting from the wall above it, like blossoms from twining vines were paper lanterns, rather like one would find in an Asian garden. Angel liked those especially.
“It’s not much I know,” Robin said, hanging his pullover on a coat-rack in the nearest corner, “but it’s home.” He smiled somewhat shyly, yet proud also, “I like it very much. It’s the first place I’ve ever had on my own.”
Kicking his shoes off to the side, he directed Angel where he could place his own. Robin explained more as he straightened up the clothes lying over a chair, the papers scattered across the floor, that he rented from a person he’d found in a local newspaper, an older gentleman searching for a quiet tenant. The landlord was seldom home, usually quiet himself, allowed usage of the kitchen as he needed, and to have friends over as well. It was a perfect arrangement.
Since they’d shared a meal of leftovers at the bistro before leaving, and Robin had had a long day, he suggested they simply retire for the evening, excusing himself to use the bathroom across the hall. When he returned Angel was standing in the same place. Robin scratched his head, apologizing.
“If you want to come this way, I’ll show you,” he directed Angel through the doorway into the short hall that led to the facilities. As he’d almost come to expect from his new friend, Angel immediately fell to trying and testing each of the new things presented. Off, on, off, on the water. Fingers probed the electrical socket before being snatched away with a warning.
“The toilet…you know how it’s used…or do you?” Robin began. “Hmm,” he pronounced, “well, I’ll leave you to it. Press the button here when you are done. Come back to my room when you’re finished.”
Dutifully, Angel reappeared after some minutes. Robin had laid him out a place for sleeping on the near side of the screen, pushing the crates behind the door to allow room. All of Robin’s extra blankets and pillows had been neatly arranged into a pallet. Robin dimmed the lights to just one small lamp sitting on the floor in a corner, and then removed his outer clothes down to his smalls, gesturing for Angel to do the same.
“You can lay them over the chair, just there.” Angel seemed to think, and then removed his jeans, folding them carefully. “I put you closer to the door because it’s warmest. I’m near the window where the cold seeps in, but I like to look up at the night sky.”
Still with the faded t-shirt on, blinking sleepily, Angel stood in what looked to be old style cotton leggings, reluctantly looking to his makeshift place. Robin was rearranging his own few pillows to his satisfaction on his usual mattress, shaking out one thin blanket.
“It’s alright, you can lay down,” said Robin, looking back. Angel took one step towards his pallet, but stopped, shoulders lowering. Licking his lips, he looked as if he might say something, emitted a breath of frustration at his own inability, and then gave a single sob.
“What’s the matter?” Robin was instantly attentive. Angel took a step towards him slowly, then another, paused as if in inquiry, fingers working just away from his thighs.
“Ah,” Robin said, understanding, with both chagrin and guilty pleasure. “You want to sleep with me?”
Angel’s tenseness disappeared, his whole body radiated need as he positively trembled with anticipation. Robin rolled up to disassemble the pallet, dragging the comforters back to his mattress. It was acceptance, yet he wasn’t quite sure to what he had agreed. Somehow he could not believe Angel wished sex with him, though it had crossed his own mind as they returned to his room. Attractive as Angel was, Robin could not imagine him feeling carnal desire.
Angel helped him spread out the blankets, crawling with him beneath them, moving swiftly to embrace Robin with a happy squeeze, head laid next to Robin’s own. The youth made no other move, only sighed contently like a child, breath slowing, then slipped quickly into slumber.
Robin gave a single sniff of amazement. No, he revised his thought, he should not have been surprised by Angel’s innocent response. Settling more comfortably, his arousal soon faded to his great relief though Angel’s sweet breath played in his hair, and the heat of the lean body warmed him in a way he’d never experienced, even when held close in a lover’s arms. He felt no uncontrollable craving for congress, but only a tremendous sense of contentment. Soon, Robin slid spinning through a cloud of stars into happy dreams.
“What am I to do with you?” Robin asked mostly to himself, struggling to pull one of his few extra pairs of socks onto Angel’s feet, who wasn’t exactly helping or actively resisting. “Can’t take you to class with me, that’s for sure.”
Angel did know how to pull on his sandals, which didn’t require fastening since their faded leather was worn, and out of shape. He stood clothed in one of Robin’s largest pullovers, yet still the cuffs ended well above his wrists. He looked fresh and neat for Robin had brushed his hair and teeth for him simply for expedience sake. Squeezing long streams of toothpaste from its tube had intrigued Angel, slowing the morning process considerably.
Robin had few acquaintances in the city, especially no one who could baby-sit what looked to be at least a twenty-something attractive male without attempting to explore his sense of proper decorum.
He cursed softly. Maybe they would let him leave Angel at work? He would have to come by after class in any case for he was scheduled this evening. He could retrieve Angel then.
“Come on, then. Let’s give it a try,” he decided, gathering up his rucksack, taking Angel by the hand.
* * * *
He knew he was going to be late for class, but Angel looked so pleased at the response from the pigeons. They were used to taking grain from the regulars in the park so they eagerly flocked around his socked and sandaled feet, yet as he reached to stroke them, in a wave they would take flight then settle a few meters away to avoid his hands yet again. Angel kept trying, laughing all the while. The sound of his voice, unheard before, made Robin’s heart contract with joy. Soon enough they made their way to the bistro.
“He’s simply enchanting,” Robin promised the ladies, “but rather like a small child. You don’t have to watch him every minute, but just the same, he needs supervision.
Marta looked askance as him, her plump, strong hands, kneading dough. “Since when have you become so responsible, young man? Anyway, who is this boy?”
Robin looked perplexed. “Truth be told, I’m not sure. I think he’s lost, and doesn’t remember where he came from or how to get back. He can’t speak either.”
“Poor lad,” Marta said, “but he seems happy enough. You should go to the police or make a flyer and perhaps someone will claim him.”
“Yes,” Robin said. Yet he felt reluctant to do so. That someone might come forward to claim Angel and take him away left a queasy cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Well, in any case, I’m off. Will be back around sixteen hour!”
He gave Angel a short lesson. Please stay here until he got back. Please do what the ladies asked him to do. Please do not get hurt. Angel’s fine brows had creased in worry. He looked like a five-year old left his first day at kindergarten. Robin had hugged him; assured him everything would be all right, that he would be back as soon as classes were finished for the day.
Looking back once, twice, and then again before pedaling off, Angel would be all right Robin told himself. Scarcely five minutes passed before he already missed the pleasant presence of his “foundling”.
* * * *
Huge mounds of pale dough turned out upon long wooden tables, while the women chopped and measured, kneaded and rolled the ingredients together into fanciful shapes ready for the oven. Pulling and stretching it, adding drops of color here or there, nuts, sweetmeats, chocolate and fruits; Angel was allowed to taste as he pleased. Sometimes wrinkled his nose at the tangy tartness of sourdough or rye, or eagerly gestured for more of the raspberry filling for the petit four cakes. Like a favorite child, he was indulged.
When Angel grew drowsy with the heat of the kitchen, full as could be, he was sat on a little stool behind the women in one corner. Marta continued talking to him just as she would her own daughter who was six years old, explaining as she went. He soon fell asleep to the hum of the ovens; the comfortable clack and clatter of utensils, head upon one shoulder, arms wrapped around his torso.
* * * *
Raised voices, threats, shaken fists, exasperation: the owner has arrived. Of less than average height and more than average weight, with a receding hairline and large protuberant blue eyes, whatever Uwe Stubbe lacked in finesse he amply made up in sheer force of character. He and Sabine, the store manager, were engaged in a fierce argument.
The other kitchen workers had grown wisely quiet, as the kitchen manager seemed to have reached the breaking point. Throwing up her hands, turning her back to the owner, she resigned her position then stomped out angrily. Rudely awakened, Angel sat looking distressed, eyes wide and fearful, instinctual knowledge to remain as still and silent as possible.
Unfortunately at that moment, Robin entered the room, late again and immediately spotted.
“And you, how many times has this been? Should I pay workers who are not here when they’re suppose to be?” yelled Herr Stubbe, stalking up to the sweating Robin, who stammered trying to explain. The forceful statements by his boss, who had warmed to his topic, overrode his words.
“I should throw you out. I don’t need workers like you either. Oh, workers I said! I think I should say shirkers instead! Get out! Get out of here, I never should have hired you in the first place!”
Robin attempted to plead, to beg, gesturing Angel back to his place for he had risen with pale brows puckered together in alarm, chest heaving. The owner and Robin stood eye-to-eye, tempers ablaze fully, in a show of pride.
Amid the tumult, without prelude, Angel began to cry. Simply covering his face with long-fingered hands, he wept heartbreakingly, great sobbing cries, totally forlorn. Robin looked around to him, mouth falling open in surprise. The owner looked also, completely perplexed, very round head perched at an unusual angle on his short neck. Herr Stubbe stared at the weeping youth over the top of glasses that had slipped down to the tip of his sharp nose.
Drawing Angel into his arms, Robin soothed him with non-words, stroking his back and hair attempting to steer him out of the door and collect his fallen rucksack at the same time. The owner’s intent gaze followed Angel as if mesmerized, as if he has never seen him before, though Angel has been in the kitchen since the owner’s arrival at noon.
“Who is he?” he said, faintly, on a breath, looking Angel up and down where the two young men had stopped in the doorway. No one answered. The owner frowned, licked his lips before his florid face paled with fear. “What is he?”
“He’s my friend,” Robin finally replied, “I care for him.” His narrow face was closed and troubled, curving lips pressed down into a thin line. “I don’t know what we will do now.”
Bemused, Herr Stubbe turned back to the corridor that led to his office saying nothing. He looked back once again at Angel, whose sobs have quieted with Robin’s tenderness.
“Be here tomorrow before the booked party arrives,” said the owner. The man now seemed afraid to raise his eyes. He shook his large head suddenly, as if awakening from a trance. “Well. Well, just be here tomorrow.”