Henry in High Politics

XIII

By Michael Arram

The first bell began ringing from the cathedral of Saints Andrew and Vitalis at ten, and, taking their cue from the mother church, the other bells of Strelzen awoke and sang. This was not the change ringing Henry knew from England, but the raucous and joyous carillon of continental Europe. As the noise swept and surged across the city, it set Henry's nerve ends tingling.

Terry had used his contacts to get them all into the Hilton, a new development on the low hill of the Sixth District, dipping into his not inconsiderable personal wealth to book luxury accommodations. So Henry and Ed woke in great comfort in an ample bed which they had used to the full the previous night; the smell of their multiple couplings was still hanging in the air.

Ed went naked to the windows. He swept back the curtains, gazing down on the city from their ninth-floor eyrie. All looked quiet from that height, although the clanging and reverberating from the bell towers was audible even through the double glazing. The view was to the southeast over the palace grounds to the New City beyond. He could see the Rodolferplaz was already filling with people.

Ed bounded back to bed, pulled the covers off Henry and slapped his small rump. 'Come on, little babe, it's Rudi's special day. We can't miss any of this.' They showered quickly and dressed. Henry rang David's room to make sure he would be downstairs waiting for them. Nathan and Justin were going to do their own thing, while Terry was busy with some jobs Will and Oskar had given him. Henry's wallet was bursting with a huge wad of cash Terry had pushed into his hands with a kiss.

While waiting for Ed to finish up in the bathroom, Henry checked Eastnet. Rudi was expected in Strelzen at noon, coming down from Modenehem in a special train. He was in a strange position. He could not be treated as a private citizen, but neither was he officially a public figure. The news bulletins referred to him as the 'prince of Elphberg' or 'count of Hentzen'. He had been an absolute gift for the media, embargoed from reporting the election results till the polls closed. His every move was still being broadcast. Even now with the returns coming in, the arrival of an Elphberg in the capital was eclipsing the news concerning the collapse of the CDP's bid for power. Trachtenberg, Maritz and their aides had disappeared behind closed doors to carry out negotiations about who would lead the new liberal coalition, and when they would schedule the referendum on the restoration of the monarchy. The rise of the Unity party had been relegated, as it were, to the back page.

The current lead item on Eastnet 24 was the civic reception organised by the local authorities for the man everyone expected would soon be king. Until a new government had been formed, the participation of national-level politicians was ruled out. Rudi was therefore to be met at the railway station by the mayor and the cardinal archbishop, who were clearly rejoicing at their moment in the national spotlight.


Henry led his friends round the perimeter wall of the palace through streets swarming with happy, excited people. They bought Elphberg flags from the street traders. David scoffed at the tacky plastic ones showing Rudi's smiling face, but Ed bought a few anyway so he could embarrass his friend with them when Rudi returned to school.

Big though it was, the Rodolferplaz was jammed, and there would have been no getting a view if the boys had not been tipped off to go to No 33. Will's old friend, a producer and cameraman called Bolslaw Meric, had a fourth-floor office and studio on the west side of the great square, where he had already set up his cameras in the window.

'Hello, English boy queers. My facilities are at your disposal.' He was a bald man in his sixties, rather fat and very roguish. Will had told them he was harmless, and not to worry about his mannerisms. They went to shake hands, but he gave them Rothenian double kisses, brushing their cheeks with his moustache, which gave off the smell of tobacco and what Henry thought might be absinthe. He showed them to his window, tall and wide, with plenty of room for them as well as his cameras.

They hung out and looked over the packed square. All the other windows were full of people too, and most had flags hanging from them. Red and yellow bunting and drapes were everywhere. For the first time in many decades, workmen had taken out the posts, opening the royal drive up the centre of the square as a processional way. It was lined all the way up to the statue of Henry the Lion by soldiers in blue dress uniforms.

When they leaned out, the boys could see the jutting apse of the Salvatorskirk further along the square, hung with religious banners. Apparently the ecclesiastical authorities were being given their moment to greet the Elphberg heir too, for a platform had been erected beneath a heavy brocade canopy. Henry wondered quite why such elaborate arrangements were needed. The bells of the city had fallen silent, other than those of the Salvatorskirk, which still clanged away above the crowded square.

Once they had got used to Bolslaw they found him very pleasant company, if more than a little risqué. He had them open-mouthed with his stories of working in the gay-porn empire of Falkefilm. He made no secret of of his belief that Will Vincent was the hottest porn actor he had ever laid eyes on, brief though Will's career had been. 'You knew he was in porn then, naughty boys?'

David and Henry confessed to having seen clips from An American in Strelzen. David admitted to having subsequently tracked down all Oskar's DVDs.

'That Oskar,' sighed Bolslaw, 'so beautiful and so uninhibited. One of the greats of course, but he did not have the vulnerable sexiness of sweet Willemju. I wish they'd made more than just that one film, but it still sells big for Falkefilm. It's reckoned to be a porn classic. Look: across the square and north of us is Rodolferplaz 12, where Falkefilm has its offices. You can see the pretty boys hanging out the windows of the top floor studios waving flags. The gay community here in Strelzen is very enthusiastic about their new king. Not just that he is quite a hot-looking guy, of course. They seem to think that, once kings are in fashion, queens may have an easier time. Then there is all the dressing up for the new royal court.'

The boys were in stitches by then. He had cokes for them in his office fridge. 'You're like a gay granddad, Bolslaw!' Henry chortled.

'And you're a nice-looking boy, little Hendrik. If you ever fancy a shoot, you'd take a sexy set.'

'What, not me?' David groused.

Bolslaw gave him a once over. 'Not enough character for me, young man. But the less discriminating might like you.' David guffawed, not in the least offended.

The boom of an artillery piece from Bila Palacz rattled windows and sent pigeons into the air all over the city. The prince of Elphberg had reached the Kung-Rodolfs-Bahnhof, and the municipal authorities had authorised a salute as near to a royal one as they dared. Henry asked Bolslaw if he had a TV set but was told he didn't want one in either his office or apartment. He blamed television for the down-turn in the film industry that had been his living. Apparently, he had worked with Pasolini in Italy in the sixties. Henry was impressed.

After about twenty minutes a stir in the crowd and the distant sound of military bands alerted them to Rudi's approach. There were orders shouted over the murmur of the crowd, followed by a ripple along the line of soldiers leading up the square, as they presented arms. Cheers and applause began to be heard from Mikhelstrasse where it led into the plaza. Henry craned around the corner of the window jamb trying to see, with Ed pressing up behind him looking over his shoulder.

Suddenly, military music sounded loud as a large band entered the square at the head of the procession. Flags began waving amid cheers and applause. A mounted squadron of Guards trotted on to the sanded cobbles of the royal drive, led by Rudi. He was not in an open carriage as they had expected, but riding a proud, beautiful, white stallion. He was wearing what they took to be a Rothenian general's uniform, rich in gold braid and hung with aiguillettes - so that had been the emergency tailoring he had referred to. The red sash of the Order of the Rose lay across his chest, its star glittering at his breast. A laced shako with tall white plumes in the Austrian style graced his head.

As Rudi entered the square and the roar of the vast crowd reached him, his horse skittered. With a masterful hand he checked it, bringing it back under control. He took off his shako and raised it to the crowd, a huge and boyish grin all over his handsome face, his red hair glowing as if lit by something more than Strelzen's sunshine. He was a sight to see, still boyishly vulnerable but full of strength and hope. 'Long lebst Kung Rodolf! Long lebst den Cherven Elphberg!' rolled out again and again. Rudi replaced his cap with a flourish and rode on towards the head of the square. Henry found his cheeks were wet with tears, as few were not in the Rodolferplaz.

Bolslaw blew his nose. 'That I have lived to see such a day,' he muttered in Rothenian. Then he let out an exclamation. 'What is this? Why has the boy stopped at the church?'

Upon reaching the Salvatorskirk, Rudi had indeed reined his mount in. Once more he removed his shako, which he handed to the officer commanding his escort. The bells suddenly ceased their ringing, and a hush fell on the thousands assembled in the square.

'Maybe he's gonna ask the cardinal for a blessing?' suggested David.

'Listen!' hissed Henry.

The sound of a choir chanting rose above the murmur of the crowd, when out on to the square from Lindenstrasse came a religious procession. Henry heard the sound of Bolslaw's heavy camera as he captured the historic moment. Acolytes bearing banners and candles preceded the chapter of the Salvatorskirk in their glittering copes. High amongst them on a litter they carried a tall reliquary, draped in red and gold.

The choir's anthem was suddenly preternaturally loud in the Rodolferplaz. Henry could distinctly hear the repeated phrase 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord'.

The crowd stirred as it realised that something extraordinary was about to happen.

'No! It can't be!' Henry exclaimed.

'What is it?' Ed asked.

'I don't believe it! It's gotta be ... but, how?'

Rudi vaulted easily from his mount and climbed on to the platform below the apse of the church, where the litter halted before him. He carefully removed the veil from the reliquary. There was utter silence in the square, followed by a great roar as the crowd realised what they were seeing. For Rudi had taken the Crown of Tassilo from the reliquary and raised it above his head!

Eerie silence returned once more, and as Henry watched, everyone in the square - clergy, soldiers and people alike - fell to their knees. Clear above the rustling and a few muffled sobs Rudi's voice rang out: Bozh zechne zu, men folk. En otchosciske zechnen pren men detchen. Bozh zechne voyje prubehn und pruchehn. ('God bless you my people. A father's blessing on his children. God bless your going out and coming in.'). It was the kungliche pozechnen, said by an Elphberg to his people in the heart of Strelzen, and the bells of the city rang out wildly in reply.

To lighten the moment, Ed asked, 'Did you get a good one of Rudi on his horse?'

'Rudi, you call our young Elphberg Rudi?' Bolslaw dabbed at his wet eyes. His eyebrows were raised.

'Of course,' replied Ed. 'Didn't Will tell you we're at school with him?'

Bolslaw's jaw hung loose. 'This was not mentioned. Heavens! So you know him well?'

'Well enough to have punched him twice!' David explained with a grin.

'Dobra Bozh!' swore the old man. They had to spend the next quarter of an hour satisfying his curiosity.

Rudi in the meantime had resumed his mount. With the crowd milling round him - soldiers and people both - he began a slow progress up the square. Many there were who grabbed at his hand to try and kiss it. His cavalry escort had its work cut out to force a way through the press to the Osraeum Palace where Rudi was to stay that night. Others surged after the Crown as the clergy returned it to the Salvatorskirk, where it was to rest amongst flowers on the high altar till it was required for what everyone was now certain would be the inevitable coronation of King Rudolf VI of Rothenia.

For the first time since 1919 the royal banner - the plain red lion on yellow of the Elphbergs - was raised over the city, as it broke from the flagstaff of the Osraeum. Henry later learned that the banner unfurled that day was the same one that had been laid on the coffin of Queen Flavia during her state funeral, then raised for Maxim Elphberg on the day the Thuringian dynasty fell.

While crowds milled around the square, singing national songs in a mood of huge euphoria, the boys stayed in the studio. Bolslaw pulled a bottle of Rothenian fruit wine out of the fridge so they could toast the health of King Rudolf VI while they viewed his photos.

They selected a few and he printed them out, giving them one that he said he wanted them to get Rudi to sign for him if they had a chance. Then he insisted on taking a few shots of them, singly and together, as souvenirs he said. They signed one of all three of them for the old man.

They kissed him back this time when he kissed them. 'Goodbye, pretty boys ... come back and see me sometime soon! Bozh men! What a day!'


Visitors were staying on and partying all over the city, waiting for the huge fireworks display over the presidential palace that had been promised for after sunset. It was with difficulty and quite a delay that the three boys managed to find a late lunch on Mikhelstrasse. Afterwards, they went to stare at the people patiently queuing to get in to the Salvatorskirk to see the Crown. The long line already stretched far along Lindenstrasse and would be there - and indeed growing - all night.

They decided not to join it, instead going off to meet Nikki Baltasar, Henry's friend, at his home in Sudmesten. When other kids from the Anglican church youth group in Strelzen turned up, Nikki's parents had a celebratory barbeque in their back garden. It was a brilliant afternoon and evening for the lads. Davey in particular was a big success with the Rothenians, both for his looks and charm.

When they got back to the hotel a little before the fireworks display started, all three reckoned they must have had a far better day of it than the others. A phone call brought Nathan and Justin to join them in watching the awe-inspiring display as it erupted from the palace grounds just below them.

'What did you two do today?' Henry asked Nathan.

Justin scowled at him. 'You mean when we weren't arguing and sulking? We watched the parade, then hit the Wejg. It was half-price Guinness in the Irish bar.'

'What's got into you two?' asked Ed.

'Not saying,' snapped Justin. 'Don't seem that Lord fuckin' Underwood here will let anyone do anyone a favour.'

'Cut it out, Justy.'

'No, you!'

'I give in.'

'Good.'

A moody silence descended on the group until David wondered, 'What's up tomorrow? Wanna take us down the Wejg, Justy?'

'No chance mate ... the mood he's in, Terry might kneecap me. Anyways, I got an appointment I gotta get ready for.'

'Okay, Justy, confess. What's the mystery?' Henry demanded.

'Not saying. Iss private.'

Henry turned to Nathan. 'You know, don't you?'

Nathan gave him a cold look. 'Yeah, I know. But Justy's right. It's not to be talked about. Maybe later, but not now.'

Somehow all of them were glad at that point to disappear to their respective beds.


On Tuesday morning, the queue to see the Crown was still so far down Lindenstrasse that Ed and Henry gave up the idea of joining it, They decided instead to wander the streets of their favourite city and visit some of the places they loved the most.

As they crossed the Rodolferplaz, Henry cried out, loud enough for people to turn and look, 'Hey, it's Justy! Justy!' It was indeed Justin, who desperately motioned Henry to cool it. 'What's he doing?' Henry asked Ed.

'Dunno, but keep it down, Henry. I think he's up to something. This has the stamp of Terry O'Brien all over it.'

So they walked past Justin, dodged down a side lane and were followed into it by the lad himself. 'What's going on, Justy?' Ed demanded.

'Stuff. Like I told you. Now will you fuck off and let me get on wiv it?'

'This is Terry, isn't it?'

'Yeah ... it's security stuff. I done work for him before. We makes a good team, so will yer please bugger off before yer screws everyfink up?'

'Okay, we're out of here, but you'd better fill us in later.'

They made a good day of it. Returning to the Salvatorskirk late in the afternoon, they found the queue now reached all the way to the ring road. They walked on past the end and climbed the hill to the Strelzen Hilton, where Terry was waiting for them in the lobby. He seemed pleased about something. 'Fancy clubbing tonight?'

'What, us ... being scene gays? Oh man!' exclaimed Edward.

Terry gave a tight smile. 'It's not New York or London, but such as it is you can sample the Strelzen scene. Club Liberation's having a special Ruritanian night, so I arranged some fancy costumes for you, with the help of Oskar and Will. They're on your beds. See you in an hour.'

Henry and Ed found beautifully tailored nineteenth-century dragoon uniforms in their room, complete with real swords and plumed silver helmets. They even fitted, though matching Henry's small size could not have been easy.

'Sir Elton would be proud of us,' Ed declared, as he preened himself before the mirror. They looked like the cast of a comic opera when they were all down in the lobby waiting for the car. Terry was dashing in a hussar officer's pelisse and tight pants, a curved sabre at his belt. Nathan was an imposingly tall grenadier, Justin a monocled and beribboned general. It was David, however, who was frankly superb as a breastplated guard cavalryman, his long legs encased in boots and spurs, his head adorned by a tall helmet. He jingled as he walked. They practised saluting and heel-clicking and fell about. They drew quite a crowd in the hotel, which cheered them as they emerged into Rodolferplaz to join the colourful queue for the famous gay club.

Most people had made an effort to look nineteenth century. The small gay transvestite population of Strelzen had gone to town in ball gowns, bustles and ostrich feathers. Cameras were flashing in all directions. Henry was trying to get shots of everyone on his mobile.

'My first gay night club! This is so un-Trewern,' Henry crowed.

'Not even Shrewsbury could match this, little babe,' Ed assured him, a little ironically Henry thought.

Terry paid the entrance fees and they more or less strutted into the club, which was an amazingly colourful sight that night. They secured a booth in the tabled area, and stared round at the mass of people. There were rather juicy young Rothenian waiters, done up that night in the long aprons and waxed moustaches of the Café Royale. 'This ain't like many clubs, little babes. Bit old fashioned, but mercifully pretty drug-free, which is why I'm reasonably happy to bring you younger boys. There's a dark room if you really must ...'

'Dark room?' asked Henry.

'Place to shag,' explained Terry. 'They keep the lights down.'

'Oh ... right.' Henry blushed under his helmet, though he couldn't have said why.

David had taken his tall, crested helmet off, and was getting a lot of attention - much more than the rest of them. Henry had got used to David's looks and body, and had forgotten that he was rather better looking than the ordinary boy. Then a very pretty blond Rothenian leaned over their booth and asked David if he would care to dance. David hesitated and looked at Terry, who shrugged, so David nodded. His top boots gave him a little difficulty when climbing out of the booth. He swore and unbuckled the spurs, then disappeared into the crowd.

It was a while till they saw him again, which was when Ed talked Henry on to the floor, and they had a go at dancing. David was in passionate liplock and close embrace with the Rothenian, sporting a massive erection visible in his tight white breeches, and a look of total bliss. The pair disappeared, and when David finally turned up again, he had a very smug look on his face.

'Okay. What happened?' Ed hissed.

'Fucked him,' David grinned.

'What, here? How?'

'In the toilets. I got my boots off and breeches down. He took all his clothes off and bent over the loo. Then I fucked him up the arse! I don't believe it. I've done it! I've fucked a guy, and what a looker! What a fucking, hot tight arse! His name's Anton, and I got his number. We're gonna do it tomorrow too! All fucking day! Oh bugger, bugger! Why do we have to go back home on Thursday?'

Henry laughed. He was very pleased for his friend. Ed leaned over and kissed him, saying, 'So can we assume from this, Davey, that you're over Henry?'

David gave a delightful laugh. 'I'll never be over Henry, but I've found a distraction at least.'

Terry reappeared at this point with Justin, with whom he had been dancing. He listened to the news and looked at little solemn as he stared at David. 'Sorry, Davey babe, but I've got to ask. Did you do it bareback?'

David raised an eyebrow. 'Er ... I did it with my trousers round my knees.'

Justin looked amused. 'He means, did you put a condom on?'

'Er ... didn't have one. Anyway, he was only a young bloke.'

Terry looked even more solemn. 'He may have been young, but he was able to take you up the arse with very little preparation, so he must be pretty experienced and he must have been doing it without protection for quite a while. They have HIV here too, Davey babe.'

David's blissful expression evaporated, and Henry hated seeing it replaced by a look of sick fear. 'Wha ...?' David stammered feebly. 'Oh God, no. Oh please ... don't let this be happening.'

'Trip to the clinic for you, little one,' Terry decreed, and Henry was almost sure there was a tinge of malice in his expression. That was the end of the night as far as David was concerned.

Ed and Henry spent the next half hour trying to reassure him. 'There's HIV here, sure, but a lot less of it than in the west. And anyway, did you tell him he was your first?'

'Well sorta,' David nodded. 'I said I didn't have much experience.'

'There you are then, Davey,' concluded Henry, his fingers crossed. 'He obviously sticks to other young blokes, maybe virgins, just so's to minimise the risk.'

David began to look a bit happier. It was a straw to keep him afloat.

Ed asked, 'So will you still meet him tomorrow?'

David sighed. 'If it's gonna be a short life, it'd better be a merry one. Fuck it. Yes.'

Ed grinned. 'That's our Davey. So what was it like?'

David grinned back. 'I thought you knew?'

'I only know what it's like with my Henry.'

David took on a confiding air. 'We started making out and he kept rubbing my dick, and I got my hands down the back of his trousers and felt his bum, and fingered in his crack looking for his ... y'know. He was squirming against me ... oh God, so hot, I'm going hard again. Then he whispered in my ear - as he was licking it - that he had to have my English dick in him. So we got in this stall and he just lost his clothes, like one moment they were there and the next they were gone, stuffed down the side of the loo. I struggled out of these fucking boots. He pulled my breeches down and said he couldn't wait any more. So he just stuck his bum in the air and I felt round with my dick till I found his hole. I pushed. It caught and sort of slid in after a bit. And then ... well, my body just took over. Wham, wham, bang!'

'Did he enjoy it ?'

'He said it was great. Maybe it was just the danger and the moment.' David gave a regretful little laugh. 'It couldna been my technique. After that, he sat on my lap and we kissed a bit, then he dressed and said to ring him tomorrow morning as he was going home.'

'You can't have performed all that bad then.'


It must have been a little past midnight, when they were all sitting together again with drinks, that a tall presence loomed over the table. A big man, doing a very passable impersonation of Edward VII, sucked at a cigar and smiled down at them through his beard. 'Good evening Terry,' he said in a mid-Atlantic accent. 'I see you've brought your travelling harem with you.'

Terry grinned back up. 'Evening, Hendrik. I thought I might see you. How you doing?'

'Fine, thanks for asking. Introduce me.'

'Lads, say hello to my old acquaintance Hendrik Willemin, otherwise known as Anton Aramis, founder and proprietor of Falkefilm, owner of this joint - for which I can forgive him a lot - and of much else besides in Rothenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Hendrik, these are Ed and Henry, Justin, Nathan and David. Visiting Rothenia on a school tennis tour.'

'My, you corrupted them quickly, Terry. Even for you that's fast. Seriously, I was sorry to hear about Ramon. He was a great guy.'

Terry looked momentarily affected, and replied with a quiet thank you. 'Come and sit down, Hendrik. You should socialise more with your customers. You've never gotten into the mine-host thing properly.'

'Terry, I employ people to do that. But you are not any ordinary customer. Come over to my booth. I have a few things to say.' He disappeared to the other side of the club.

'Now, boys, I've got some dealing to do. Justy, await the call.'

Justin grinned and polished his monocle, for which he had developed a strange affection.

Ed looked hard at Justin. 'Are we about to find out what you've been up to?'

'Sure, Eddie baby. You know when I saw you guys after lunch on Rodolferplaz?'

'Uh huh.'

'I was on my way to an appointment that had been fixed for me with Falkemodel - Hendrik's gay porn agency.'

'Fixed for you?'

'Hendrik's got only one weakness. He insists on auditioning all the new Falkefilm models and checking them out.'

'Checking them out?'

'Wanking them off, sometimes more.'

Nathan was glowering in the corner. Ed nodded and looked as though he understood something.

'So,' asked Henry, 'who fixed the appointment?

Justin grinned. 'The same Elphberg sympathisers at Falkefilm who told us Willemin was selling us out. I was put on his day's schedule as if I had been one of the boys picked up by their scouts. So I went up to the offices ... just like me and Nate did last year when we got a bit drunk like, only this time I went all the way.'

'And enjoyed it,' muttered Nathan.

Justin looked momentarily annoyed, then gave an odd look at Nathan, as if he were an adult and Nathan a child. 'Oh yeah, I enjoyed it, Nate. I'm more alive when I do these things than at any other time. Accept it, Nate. Iss what I am. I know you want to come and protect me, but babe, I'm a pretty mean piece of work meself. 'S time you grew up and dealt with it. We ain't kids in the back gardens of London anymore. Me, I was never a kid anyway.'

Although Nathan still looked rebellious, Ed asked Justin to continue. Justin nodded his head and went on. 'So okay, I goes up to the reception and there's three of us waiting. Nice looking lads ... actually juicy-looking, super-hot lads; all of us wuz eighteen. They wuz nervous, cos I doan fink they'd done gay sex, and I doan fink they knew yet that they'd have to go all the way wiv Falkefilm. So I made 'em even more nervous by coming on to one of them ... y'know, hand-on-the-inside-of-his-thigh sorta thing. He freaked a bit but still sprang a boner. The other guy was more coy and up for it, I fink, so I came on even harder to him. I tried to talk him into a shag in the loos while we wuz waiting, only that freaked him. So like when they went in before me they wuz nearly wetting themselves with nerves. They musta done crap interviews, cos they got bounced straight back on to the street ... did 'em a favour really, I fink.'

'This was all in the plan?' Ed asked, fascinated.

'Terry's plan, yeah. The two nervy virgins had been picked deliberate like - the coy dark-haired sexy sort we know turns Hendrik right on. And so it was my turn, the third of the dark-haired beauties, and a Westerner too. We know Hendrik likes Westerners.'

Henry was gaping. 'This was a seduction scene? Bloody Nora!'

'Oh yeah. By now he was all fired up and frustrated. He must have tried it on wiv the second Rothenian, cos the kid came out of the room at a run and went straight in the lift. So it's my turn now. I goes in all quiet and looking up at him through me long curlies and - be fair, mates - I'm not unpretty now, am I?'

'Anything but,' confirmed Henry.

'So he gave me the Falkefilm family spiel, sorta drooling at me as he does, and tells me to strip, which I do - no pants, by the way - and I spring a stiffie straight up. All the time I'm making love to him wiv me baby blues, and being sorta shy but eager wiv it. He can't help himself, he comes over and starts wanking me, and then he really gets into it. He kisses me and tells me to display me arse, which I do, and he ...'

Nathan got up and left with a snarl.

'He what?' David breathed, his interest in the scene very obvious.

'He finger-fucks me, and I really get into it, moaning and cooing like. And I even rub meself against his leather sofa till I comes. That sort of spoils the moment, cos it's expensive Italian leather and it'll have to be cleaned, so he gets a bit cross. Otherwise, I think Nathan might have had a lot worse to forgive.'

Ed was confused. 'I don't get it. You seduce this bloke, but how does it help Terry?'

'Oh, well, guess! Willemin's room was secretly wired for video coupla days ago by dissident technicians in the firm, friends of Will's boyfriend, Felip, who Hendrik fired last year after he got into a head-to-head wiv Will over Rothenia's future.'

'Oh ... wow, so Hendrik is now filmed doing homosexual acts with a lad who might easily have been underage! It's blackmail,' Ed concluded.

'No, Ed, iss insurance. Hendrik is goin' to use the fact that Rudi's chief agent and the CEO of Strelsenermedia - Hendrik's main rival - were gay porn actors, and he has footage to prove it, and some. He knows Will and Oskar have backed the winner in the election. He's gonna threaten to piss all over the Elphberg parade if he doan get the same deal from Trachtenberg as he was going to get from Bermann.'

'Which was?'

'Licence to buy TV stations as well as run newspapers in Rothenia, which is currently illegal. He wants a bigger market share. He wants more money. What he's telling Terry at the moment are his terms for Oskar's surrender. And what ... whoa, looks like I'm needed. Hold this monocle for me Henry. I'm going to introduce meself to Mr Willemin properly and give him a copy of the DVD we co-starred in. It's Hendrik's turn to get fucked, the dirty bastard.'

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