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The night with the white French poodle.

Boys everywhere: in the street, in busses and trains. I basked in their beauty, the sound of their voices. At school and in lecture rooms I studied those splendid bodies. I could dream about their fresh, blond or dark heads. Each boy could be Mr. Right, but they stayed beyond my reach. Paralysed by shyness I didn't speak about my desires. Like that day when Michael came to me, crying. He had been hit by his father because of his bad marks. I could not utter a word, He was fifteen, I was seventeen and cowardly I concealed my love.

Almost a year ago I had something going on with a schoolmate, studying in Enschede. I wanted much and was allowed a little: his lower body responded. His face was taboo, my kisses were fended off. I was too excited to unload, too tense to sleep. For hours I explored his sleeping body. That morning we parted as if nothing had happened. The pain lingered on.

I decided to put a personal ad. The text: 'Utrecht, boy 20 looking for friend for love and sex' generated eleven responses, ranging from a few lines to detailed proposals. Kees tried to impress with his artistic boutique. Bas sent photocopies of his huge manlihood. Ruud scribbled 'You can cum fridays evenings and back in the mornings. I clean ofices witch is safe'. Only two real nice letters: unfortunately my voice made no impression on Peter's answering machine and Richard remained hidden in his This way I would not find my man.

A couple of weeks thereafter I received another letter. 'I'm a little late in replying, but hope to hear from you anyway. I'm 29, slender, 66 kgs., fair, 1.75. I would like to invite you for a couple of days between Christmas and New Year. I will indulge you in love and sex. Love and regards from Martin.' Warmth returned in my body. Martin! His surname too sounded attractive. Nervously but unflinching I called him. His voice made me melt away, I kept thinking back to our conversation for hours.

The next day: 'After you called I decided to send you a note. I found out which bus is best to take. I am dying to meet you. You can stay as long as you want. See you very, very soon.' He called at regular intervals, usually when I was out and my landlady took the message. She found it exiting. 'Your friend has called again'. The florist delivered a poinsettia. For her from Martin because she was so nice on the phone.

December 27th came, the day of the meeting. The route was mapped out. The intercity train to Eindhoven, then a slow journey in an almost empty bus. Get out, take my bearings, find the right way, walk. I rang the bell. Martin opened the door. I swallowed the lump in my throat. A white French poodle sat on the floor of the livingroom. Fragile furniture everywhere, Greek statuettes, semi-antiques. This was Martin. I was seated in a comfy chair. The dog rubbed my legs, licked my hands.

'There's turkey in the freezer and collared beef. We'll have a feast', Martin said. 'It will make up for my travel expense', I thought and listened to his stories. He showed me a photo album with pictures taken during carnival. Most of them showed a handsome, cheerful guy. He had been living with this Eduard for years, but he had wanted his freedom and left. We spent the evening talking and in silence, with music and snacks. 'Will I be like this too?', I thought.

Time passed and we moved to the bedroom. The dog came with us. We undressed and lay juxtaposed in silence. Martin pulled me over. I smelled his queer, sweet smell. He tracked with his fingers across my back and pinched my skin. He licked my stomach and chest and sucked at my nipples.

Suddenly the dog jumped on the bed and pushed his head between us. The animal was put outside and scratched yelping at the door for a long time. In the dark room the game of love continued. Martin fingered my body and kneaded my skin. He threw himself on top of me and rubbed our lower bodies. It hurt. His skin was sticky, beads of perspiration on his balding skull. My despiration grew with every movement. He was breathing increasingly heavier and came with a groan. 'Now it's your turn', he said and took possession of me. He pumped and squeezed, pinched and jerked. Semen came without joy.

'Now we sleep', Martin said. I was quiet and motionless. It will pass, I thought, everything has an end to it. I thought of Michael about whom I wrote in the school magazine: "who is like God - who taught me speech - and assisted with some words - when i am alone - i whisper your name - a non-believer is not - entitled to more". The room became chillier, darkness complete. Unfamiliar sounds kept me from falling asleep for a long time.

Martin sat in the kitchen. He looked surprised when I entered. 'Gee, listen', he said. 'My friend just called from Belgium. Asked could I come and pick him up, he's broke and wants to come back.' 'That's rotten for you'. I told him I understood the situation. Martin drove me to the station. I looked back at his car but he didn't see mee. The train was crammed, the journey took ages. At home I took a shower and went to the supermarket to buy food, sherry and wine. That night I drank too much and I threw up my stomach.

I felt a heavy weight resting on me. It took a lot of effort to move my arms in search of a back, hips, genitals. The body crushed my chest, I was unable to push it away. I could not breath anymore. With great difficulty I could open my eyes, my hands were clenched around my neck. A glaring sun shone through the window. My head throbbed, my bones ached.

'What a sight you are', my landlady said when we were having coffee. She shook her grey head when I told her about Martin, about the French poodle en the return of the prodigal friend. For weeks thereafter the poinsettia stood ostentatious in the window-sill.

Olaf Korder

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