Our movements were slow and purposeful as we enjoyed each other’s company. He teased and played, while I caressed and held with a desperation for company. He took joy in the acts we performed together that night, and his youthful body and vigor soon held me enraptured.
As we finished, I held his body close to mine, and we fell asleep together, utterly spent.
By morning, he was gone. How he came and went, I had no idea. I sighed regretfully and began to dress. Every layer that I pulled on felt all the more confining, and by the end, I felt like I was simply a tiny spark inside a golem made of flesh. I walked from my apartment at the local inn and grabbed some toasted bread from the innkeeper’s wife with a nod of greeting. As I took a bite, I noticed the taste of butter and strawberries. Expensive! I looked back at her in shock, and she shot me a wink. I forced a smile, and she went inside. Once she was gone from sight, I sighed and finished breakfast.
That woman always made life awkward, I decided as I began to walk to work. She used expensive foodstuffs to prepare my meals and flirted with me openly, even when her husband was present. After all the man did for me, I could hardly take up the woman’s rather obvious offers. He let me live at his inn for mere pennies a week, and my breakfast was free of cost. I sighed as I placed my hand on the door of my place of work.
As the door opened, I could hear some men discussing orders from the King’s Justice. Two hangings, one decapitation, a public stoning, and one unfortunate was scheduled to be put in a crow’s cage. I had a long day ahead of me, at this rate. I waved to the two men, then retrieved my official list. They overstated things, but it was still quite a list. The only execution they were wrong about was the stoning. I flipped through the sheaf of papers to familiarize myself with any specifics, then paused as I saw a friend’s name on the list. On closer inspection, it was not him, merely someone who shared his name. I was relieved, but forced my feelings down. The first death was to occur at noon, in the square.
I prepared quickly. I pulled on my black leathers and hood, then made my way to the cells, accompanied by the two guardsmen from the main room. I pointed out the unfortunate who would face a public noose, and he came meekly. The guards were rough with him, and said many times that he deserved it; he was a monster who preyed on the innocent. To me, he was another face that I would not remember. I motioned for them to lead him out, then followed behind.
The man jabbered at me the entire trip, and swore when we arrived. He called me a cowardly scoundrel, and other less flattering names as he was forced into the noose. I placed my large hand onto his slim shoulder and gave it a squeeze. He spat in my face. I double-checked the noose and the chains on his wrists. All was secure. I looked up to check the knot that tied rope to wooden beam. It looked to be sound.
The guards, the convict, and I stood waiting until the criers shouted the hour of noon, and I kicked the tall stool from under the man. His bare feet tried to grip it, but even his monkey-like feet could not hold it in place as my leg forced it away. His legs kicked out faster than I could dodge, and I came away with pain in my shoulder that made my eyes water. I blinked the unwanted tears away, thankful for my hood, and turned away to pick up the stool in order to return it to the guard house. The man was executed now, and I had more work ahead.
The previous night was so dirty! The adolescent boy laughed. He was still giddy over his lover’s embrace the night before. The tall, strong executioner made a desperate lover, who never turned him away despite their shared gender. The boy settled into the bath at his parents’ house and enjoyed the warmth. His dark, baggy eyes slipped shut as he fell asleep in the hot water, only to wake with a start as he slipped under. He pulled himself out and rinsed in clear, icy water to wake himself.
He pulled on his small clothes, followed by pants and boots. His fingers shook as he pulled his shirt on and buttoned it. Next came the cravat, and finally his jacket. He looked at himself in the mirror, then tied his hair back. He certainly didn’t have the look of a pervert anymore, he hoped. He placed his glasses on carefully, then smiled. There, now he looked like a scholar who was confused about which hours to sleep. He walked out of the bathing room, his heels clicking along the polished wooden floor. He felt so alive every day that he kept the charade of being a good boy up. It helped him avoid marriage, as long as he was ‘truthful’ about how he felt. He said things like “I’m sorry, father. I simply cannot keep my mind on such a union at this time. Please allow me some time to dwell on it.” and “Oh, mother. I so look forward to marriage, but I feel I need to have my own home first.”
He was still amazed that he could say such things with a straight face. He paused before he entered the kitchen, and smiled at the fat lady that kept order and made food there. “Hello, Lou.” he chirped with as charming a smile as he could manage.
The fat cow blushed and smiled back at him. “Ah, my lord. Good morning.” It was only sheer force of will that kept him looking at her eyes rather than her bad teeth.
“What have you made for me, Lou?” he asked with fake cheerfulness. How he hated her! He hated to look at her, and hated that he could not fire her. She made the food, so he was bound to make her feel happy. His mask of cheerful flirtiness faded the moment he left the kitchen, mood soured.
He forced himself to think back to the previous night, when the thick-armed executioner held him like he was a doll made of the most delicate porcelain. He smiled and began to walk to to the study, fairy toast in hand.
At the door, he heard voices. One was his father, and one was unfamiliar. He listened in as he ate.
“Your boy was at my inn again last night, sleeping with my wife.” the second voice chimed in. “I don’t care if he was seen asleep by a maid. My wife was not in my bed with me, and I could hear your son’s voice, speaking of perverse manners while in the midst of them.”
The lord of the house spoke next. “I will have words with him. Until then, why don’t you try keeping your wife chained to the bed at night? Every day on my way to work, I hear tales of her exploits. Perhaps the problem lies with her.” he offered coldly. “Now, please leave. I will discuss this with my son when he wakes.”
The innkeeper fumed. “Fine, but I will come back every day I hear them together.” he swore.
The young man outside the door tried hard not to laugh. Oh, what a stupid man! At least this provided cover for his real reason to be at the inn, speaking horribly dirty words. He backed up and hid behind an old suit of armor and waited for the man to leave. Only once he was gone did he walk around to try again at entering the study. He blinked as he saw his father watching him.
“Have a good listen, Tobias?” the man asked.
“Oh yes, Father. The innkeeper claims I sleep with his wife.” The young man tilted his head. “Why would I? She is unattractive, and not chosen by my parents for me to wed.”
The man chuckled. “You act like such a good boy, Tobias.” he said, then waved the young man inside.
Tobias entered with no worries, then stood near a seat to wait for his father. The older man took a seat behind the desk, then spoke. “I hear stories of you sneaking out. You do this several times a week, and you always go to the inn owned by that man.” He frowned. “I want you to stop.”
“Father, I do not deny that I go to the inn, but I have never slept with that woman.” he objected.
“It is not her that I worry about you sleeping with. I would be proud if you did, for it would mean that you were finally over your foolish lust for other men.” The man’s words were sharp, and Tobias winced.
“Come now, Father. I fully plan to wed the woman you and mother have selected for me.”
“When?” The firm voice demanded, rather than asked. “I need to know exactly when, and I want it written. I want you wed before another year passes, and I want grandchildren. Time marches on, Tobias. Once you are wed and have bed the girl, then you may pursue men all you wish– in private, of course. If you cannot force it, find a sterile lover for her, and ensure that he is given your seed to insert into her during their lovemaking.”
Tobias’s eyebrows shot up, and disappeared among his bangs. “Father, surely you cannot be serious!” The boy was shocked that his father would suggest such a scandal.
“I am, if it will get you to marry and have children.” The man’s face was stern. “Until then, your room will be locked at night.”
Tobias’s eyes were wide in panic. “I will wed her in two days,” he promised, “Before God and the King, and I will have her company until she shows signs of pregnancy. I will purchase a home, and I will pay the innkeeper for damages I did not cause.” He stood stiffly. Tobias felt dizzy.
The older male smiled. “Good. We will make the arrangements, and you may pen a note to your lover that you will not be able to attend your fun for a time.” With those words, he rose and left the room.
Tobias sighed. “Yes, Father.” He slumped down into the chair, defeated and alone.