The Heart of Oskar Prinz

I

By Michael Arram

The following story describes people and places wholly fictional, although based on some element of reality. How much is really up to you to decide. There is a place called Ruthenia, but it is not the Rothenia depicted here. It won't take long for the alert reader to realise that my Rothenia is unapologetically borrowed from Anthony Hope's magnificent creation of Ruritania, although updated for the twenty-first century. There are touches drawn from all the Hope Ruritanian books, and the title is taken from the third - and least known - of them, The Heart of Princess Osra. Ruritania here is a post-communist EU accession state, and the tensions between the Ruritanian Germans and majority Rothenian Slavs in the country is a major theme in this and several of my subsequent novellas, tensions resolved in Henry in High Politics.

This was my third attempt at gay erotic fiction and first appeared on the Nifty archive under the College section. It remains my favourite novella, principally because the plot came together so easily and quickly. I wrote it in a fortnight. I had a fascination with the Belami model Josh Elliot at the time, and you may imagine Oskar as resembling him physically, because I did.

The story contains graphic depictions of sex between adult males. If the reading or possessing of such material as this is illegal in your place of residence please leave this site immediately and do not proceed further. If you are under the legal age to read this, please do not do so.

And for those with an inclination to vomit, I have to warn you that this is fundamentally a romantic story written by a hopeless romantic.

For the fourth time Will circled round and walked back along Old Compton Street. The afternoon was getting darker, and less people were around. He got to the door of the well-lit book shop he had selected, steeled himself, and feeling giddy, he entered. A staircase led downstairs with a small and discreet neon sign indicating XXXX Videos. He had gone too far now, there was no retreat: he descended the stairs, trying not to clump too hard as he went down.

Five or six people were browsing the DVD shelves in the dim cellar rooms. All men of course, as his mind registered. No one looked directly at anyone else. A bored young male was sitting at the till. He glanced at Will incuriously, and then back to a book he was reading. No one looked at him with any interest at all. He breathed again and scanned the shelves full of tits and bums, looking for the section he knew must be there somewhere. He moved to the back of the cellar, and with a rising pulse he found the shelves he was looking for. Pale naked boys and buff muscled men stared out at him from the plastic.

He scanned the shelves. He had followed his libido this far. Where to start? His heart was thumping and his adrenalin level was high, he felt he might faint. Did he have the coolness to scan the shelves systematically? A middle aged man was looking at the same shelves further along. It was unsettling him. He was as old as his dad, and dressed perfectly respectably. Snap out of it, he told himself. Browsing gay porn did not make you a criminal, it just made you feel like a criminal. He focused on the covers. He did not find them arousing. Most of the kids were his age and the British ones looked like losers. A lot of the Eurotwinks looked like they could do with a good meal. He didn't fancy watching any of them getting their rocks off on his DVD player. The muscle guys looked a bit more promising, especially the one where a guy had most of his hand up another guy's arse. But even that looked a bit artificial.

The critical part of his brain began functioning at this point, as it always did in moments of crisis, to his annoyance. What was he on about: 'artificial'? How could sex before cameras be anything other than artificial? It's hardly high art, hard core porn, is it? Back to the shelves. Then, with a surge of libido, it happened. The face caught him: a naked boy, smiling at the camera, kneeling sideways to the left, his fantastic bum resting on his heels. His body was lightly and evenly tanned, but it was his face that arrested Will. He was utterly gorgeous. A soft smile played around his wide mouth. His straight blond hair had fallen into his laughing, blue eyes. His cheeks were full and boyish, although he was a grown man. Christ, his libido screamed, what a total dream babe.

Will took down the box. The title said Falkefilm's 'Rothenian Boys 7'. The thumbs on the back showed a variety of pairs of good looking lads in the act, including the cover boy. He looked at the price: £39.99. Will gritted his teeth and thought of the precarious state of his bank account, but Cover Boy smiled gloriously up at him and all thoughts of economy left him, burned away in the flame of ersatz passion. He had thought of getting two or three DVDs from this first anxious expedition into the heart of the Vice Capital of Britain, but he wanted this one, had to have this one.

He looked around and made his way to the counter. The youth at the till looked blankly at him. Probably the look was calculated to be non-commital, but Will thought that he was being looked over. He looked coolly back at the bloke, maybe only a year older than him. Yup, I'm gay, he said to the bloke in his head, so hate me. Then he thought that perhaps he'd better say something aloud. 'Er... this one please.'

The bloke grunted. Will put his card in the machine and tapped in his PIN number. The bloke put his purchase in a plain striped bag. Naturally, thought Will. Who'd walk through London with SOHO PORN EMPORIUM on the side of his carrier bag? Well, some people might, he admitted, but not him. Amused by the thought, he smiled at the bloke behind the counter and murmured, 'Cheers'. He looked startled, and then Will reflected that he was standing there as a self-proclaimed gay man, and he had smiled broadly at another man, who might not perhaps see it as just a friendly and human gesture. Get used to the fact of being different, he told himself. He got out fast.

He headed back down to Charing Cross Road, feeling weird. Will was not out to his parents or friends, although he knew what he was well enough. But for the moment, walking Old Compton Street, he was an openly gay guy in the heart of gay London who had a bag containing gay porn and an issue of Gay Universe. He passed a bar and stared inside. Lots of young gay and lesbian couples were sitting round inside. If only he was with someone who could give him the confidence to go in and take a seat. But he was shy and he was nervous, and so he walked on till he came to a Starbucks and got himself a mint chip frappucino as compensation.

He sat in one of the squashy chairs and did something courageous for him. He took out the gay mag he'd bravely bought at Paddington, and, trying not to watch if people were noticing it, he opened it up and began reading the contents page. He felt as though was making the first steps towards being truly himself, and so just opening the mag was, for him, an exciting experience. The contents ran: HIV; the campaign for the Rainbow flag; hospices; the gay scene in the Czech Republic (dismal), Belarus (positively homophobic) and Rothenia (opening up). He blundered into pages filled with eye candy, none showing any crucial information, and rushed past them in case any theoretical person watching him thought he was just perving. The classified ads section was dense and looked as though it would repay some concentrated study.

Then a familiar face caught his eye. Dark thick hair, black eyes, crimson lips, a perfect brown face organised like a pre-Raphaelite angel; it was the gay supermodel, Matthew White, mostly naked in a full-page advert for a well-known male fragrance. He checked out the perfect physique, draped over a balcony in Milan or Nice or somewhere like that, and felt the usual longing ache. It was that face that had haunted his student years. He had a scrapbook filled with Matt White and a Matt White poster pinned inside his wardrobe door. He had wanked off to fantasies of the man almost for as long as he had wanked. His was the face and body that had made him realise he was gay.

He knew everything about Matt White: his favourite colour, where he grew up, his family, his long-term boyfriend, his university career. And if you had perused his scrapbook, you would have found that he had gone somewhat beyond the celeb mags in his devotion to his idol. Like the saddest of teen groupies, he had discovered where Matt White lived in London, and had walked up the road and looked half longingly at his house (empty at the time) and he had sneaked into a public lecture the man had given in Oxford and seen him in the flesh, for Will knew what most Matt fans didn't care about, that he was a serious scholar as well as one of the world's favourite male faces. He had taped copies of his Channel 4 documentaries.

Will felt there was a real personal connection with his idol, as extreme fans always did, although in his case there was some justification, because he had studied history in the same department as Matt White had, although three years behind him. He had been taught by some of the same teachers as Matt had. He had even talked breathlessly to people who had known him. And if you gathered from this that Will was an obsessive, you would not be too far wrong.

Will sighed and took a deep breath. His adventure into his own sexuality had gone off alright. He was sitting in London, reading Gay Universe, and no one was even watching or caring. He had bought hardcore gay porn, and no one had rung his mum to tell her. The world was a lot more indifferent than he had thought.

The street was dimming towards evening outside, and Will checked his watch. It was Saturday and his preferred train left from Paddington in only an hour. He carefully packed away his mag and as he did caught a glimpse of his DVD purchase. Cover Boy smiled up at him enigmatically. For the moment, and perhaps it was really about time in Will's life, Matthew White was forgotten. Time to go home. And once home there was a whole new source of sexual dynamic to get used to.

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