The Heart of Oskar Prinz

IV

By Michael Arram

Harry and Will managed a fair amount of sex over the next fortnight, and for Will at least, it got better and better. His bum never hurt badly again, and, as Harry promised, he got him to ejaculate with just anal and prostate massage. It was an amazing experience to watch his semi-erect penis simply pulse cum on to his bed. Time seemed to stand still when the orgasm happened. Harry was smug and pleased at his own anal artistry. Not that Will ever got a chance to reciprocate. Without saying it outright, Harry made it clear that his arse was out of bounds to Will. But Will was philosophical about it, considering how much he enjoyed being fucked by his lover. It just struck him as a bit unfair. But he was charitable. The incident off Mykonos may have made Harry cautious about trusting partners.

The Saturday before school ended, Harry came to his flat loaded with papers and books.

'OK lover, this is where we're going. Oh, but first, you have a passport?'

'Naturally.'

'Up to date?'

'Yep.'

'Good. OK. This is the plan. We fly Lufthansa from Heathrow to Munich on Monday, and from there to Prague where we pick up a car. You'll love Prague: it's got the lot, culture, nightlife and history. We spend two nights there and then drive down into Rothenia, where we pick up the plane from Strelzen to Frankfurt, and we're back after the weekend.

I've done the Czech Republic, but everyone's talking about Strelzen nowadays. I've heard there's quite a scene going on there, a lot more upfront than Prague, where the gays keep well under cover. There's a district called 'the Wejg' in Strelzen which gay businesses have taken over.'

'Wow. I'm all for it. What you got there?'

'A few guide books I picked up. You might see if there's some places you want to look at, you being a historian and all. Do you know much about Czech and Rothenian history?'

'The high and low points at least. The problems after Versailles; the betrayal by the Allies in 1938 and the Nazi occupations; the occupation by the Soviets and then the second betrayal by the Allies in 1948. Then the new democracy – the Velvet Revolution and the May Rising in 1989. That's it.'

'You're good with dates.'

'You have to be if you're a history teacher, I couldn't remember a single date when I was a student, but when the GCSE devil drives, you have no choice or the kids think you're useless.

'Prague is gorgeous,' Harry reflected, 'I've never been to Strelzen, but they say it's even prettier, if smaller. They speak English a lot in both countries, although I think German is the second language of choice in the Czech republic. You get both German and Rothenian in Strelzen.'

'Oh yeah, Rothenia's an odd sort of hybrid nation isn't it.' Something was jogging his memory from his second year course on nineteenth-century Europe. 'Let's get this right. Sorry, Harry, this is just for my own satisfaction and I'm not just showing off. Tell me if I'm being boring and remember I'm a teacher. OK. Rothenia was one of the electorates of the old Holy Roman Empire, and a kingdom after the Thirty Years' War. They called it Ruritania then. The cities were all German and the peasantry were Rothenian Slavs: a potentially explosive combination, as my textbooks said.'

'But it didn't explode.' Harry seemed mildly interested, although he may have just been being polite.

'No, that's why it's so interesting, and why so much is written about it. It held together under the Elphberg monarchy, at least until the end of the nineteenth century. Then things suddenly got more tense, though even so, there was no ethnic civil war. There was industrialisation and the Rothenian underclass swarmed into the cities. There was a revolution during the Great War – when Rothenia was neutral - and the proclamation and recognition of the Rothenian republic after Versailles. But unlike the Czechs, the Rothenians didn't throw out the Germans, and there was quite a lot of resistance by both Rothenian Germans and Rothenian Slavs to the Nazi occupation. Rothenia's unusual in Central Europe in that the language groups seem to get on quite well. The EU has just sponsored a big academic programme on what they call the Rothenian Achievement.'

'Impressive, Will. You do know your stuff.' But Harry was stifling a yawn, and Will took the hint. The trouble with teaching as a career was that sometimes you could not shut down the mission to explain. It made people avoid you in parties.

When Harry had left, Will began ransacking his bookshelf. He had invested more than was usual in books as a student, and blessed his own extravagance every day as a teacher. He was especially proud of his historical reference collection. He soon had books stacked on his work table and his laptop booted up on the web. He had a talent for intense and organised research that at least one of his lecturers had recognised, and he had been urged to go for a postgraduate degree. But, inspired by the memory of a charismatic teacher he had benefitted from in his private school days in Plymouth, it was schoolteaching that Will had wanted to do more than anything.

Rothenia had always interested him, and now he was going to wrestle the subject to the ground. He took up again with deep interest the Rothenian guide book Harry had brought. It was full of gorgeous colour pictures of châteaux, quaint towns, forests, mountains and dignified cities. But there was a lot of historical and architectural information, and he was soon totally absorbed. This was his passion, and as addictions went, it was cheaper than some others he had sampled as a student.

The Rothenians were western Slavs, like the Czechs. But their language and society was more Germanised, because they came under the overlordship of the Franks early in the eighth century. There was a Rothenian duke called Tassilo in 845, and his native dynasty ruled all the way till the fifteenth century, when the German Elphbergs inherited the duchy. But the towns had already been colonised by German burghers, and the aristocracy too was heavily Germanised. So the university (founded 1477 by Duke Rudolf II) was exclusively Germanic and the monoglot Rothenians were squeezed into a disadvantaged rural limbo. And this was the big problem for the country's later history.

The crisis for the Rothenian Slavs came in the latter end of the nineteenth century with the extinction of the Elphbergs, who had a talent for holding their peoples together, partly due to a close alliance with the Catholic church. Before 1880 there had begun a literary revival of Rothenian, and schools were opened up where teaching was in the native Slavic language, not German. The aristocracy rediscovered its native roots and Rothenian costume became fashionable. Unfortunately the new royal family proved inept and tried to marginalise the national movement. Then in 1917 the king made an even stupider mistake by trying to persuade Parliament to declare war on the Allies in favour of his Prussian cousins and, when persuasion failed, attempted a coup. So a Social Democrat revolution under Marcus Tildemann overthrew the monarchy and a democratic republic was proclaimed with Tildemann as first President.

Will put down the books. What an odd country, he thought. But then he reflected that it was a bit like the way Welsh and English coexisted in modern Wales reasonably amicably. He looked at the back of the book for some Rothenian vocabulary. It was a weird one. Will was a little bit of a linguist, and he could detect lots of Germanic and Latin words amongst the list, as well as what he imagined was Slavic. There was a long history of bickering with the Czechs, since Rothenians were prominent in resisting the Hussite reformation in the fifteenth century as well as the Calvinists in the seventeenth century. The pope had raised the duchy to a kingdom in 1644 as a reward for its loyalty to the faith. The king of Ruritania had been given the title 'His Most Faithful Majesty' by papal bull in 1663.

The national flag was a black, red and white tricolour, and the national flower was the red rose. The currency was the Rothenian krona (fifty to the pound sterling, thirty to the dollar) but the euro was now accepted in all the main shops. Rothenia joined the EU and NATO in 2000. So there was no need for a visa and if he wanted Will could stay for up to six months before he needed a residential permit.

Will scanned the pictures of Strelzen. Pictures tended to lie, but even if they were only telling half the truth, the city was amazing. The hilltop cathedral of St Andrew and St Vitalis was a vast Gothic pile with three black spires towering over the city. The people loved it. There had been a monolithic workers' palace built by Stalin as a gift to the Rothenian people deliberately to obscure the cathedral from the city centre. The new democracy's first act in 1990 was to order it demolished to restore the Church's dominant position in the city. Rothenians were still devout Catholics, and a cardinal continued to sit on the archiepiscopal throne of Strelzen, as one had done since the seventeenth century.

The royal, now presidential, palace on the Rodolferplaz had been built by the young King Henry the Lion (1707-1739) on the model of the Tuilleries. King Henry's giant equestrian statue was set in front of the palace gates and towered over the northern end of the Rodolferplaz. It was, said the book, a favourite place for young people to meet on warm evenings.

It was a warm July evening in Strelzen and Oskar Prinz was leaning up against the lower plinth of King Henry's statue. Behind him was the palace and ahead of him the vast rectangle of the square, hundreds of windows staring down from ranks of massive buildings.

Oskar was indeed hoping to meet a young, or rather a youngish, person. A group of male conscripts in green uniforms and knee-boots chatting further along were also hoping to meet someone. They had their top buttons undone and their peaked caps set far back on their heads. They were smoking. If you knew Strelzen, you would know that they were advertising themselves as open for sexual relations.

Oskar had been there and done that when he too had been a teenage conscript, but in the past year or two the practice had got more commercial, as western gay tourists had cottoned on to the old practice and the guides on the internet were happy to advise them that these young boy soldiers were for rent. In fact that had not been the case until recently. They would have been happy to do it bareback for a few drinks and a smile in Oskar's day if the pick up was nice. But the city was getting a harder place as the tourists poured in and the money increased.

Oskar watched as a couple of moustachioed American men in shorts and tight sleeveless vests furtively approached the boy soldiers and began chatting. Eventually a pair of boys detached themselves and wandered off with them, one putting his peaked military cap on an American's head and blowing kisses to his friends as he went. Oskar hoped he knew about condoms. HIV was increasing in Rothenia, and boys here had archaic prejudices about preventives.

Oskar was getting looks from the conscripts, probably because he was wearing an Italian leather jacket and designer jeans. They were wondering if he were a foreigner. Eventually quite a pretty one wandered up.

'American?' he asked.

'Sorry kid, no.'

The boy smiled nicely, 'One of us then, sorry to bother you.'

'It's no bother.' He offered him a cigarette from the packet he kept for social purposes. He did not himself smoke. It was gratefully accepted. 'Do you score a lot here?'

'I've done OK for the past three weekends.' He lit up, 'A British man gave me two thousand krona just for a blow job last week. You interested? No charge. It'd be a change to have some conversation with the guy who's fucking me. You're nice looking too.'

'Thanks for the offer, friend. But I'm supposed to be meeting someone.'

'Odd place to choose.'

'He's an odd man.' They laughed and the boy wandered back to his comrades.

Oskar looked after the boy a little regretfully and jumped when someone said in his ear, 'Evening, Oskar.'

'Don't creep up on people like that, Hendrik! Why on earth did you want to meet here.'

'It's close to the office. You're not very romantic are you? Isn't this where we started?'

'Hendrik, ours is and always has been a business arrangement. Have you forgotten why you were here, looking for people like me?'

'Don't undersell yourself Oskar. You're the only boy I ever took from King Henry. But there was no mistaking your talent even then. I was just passing, but I caught that body and those blue eyes of yours and I had to try and sign you up. I could hardly believe it when you were interested.'

'Let's go get a drink.'

'Do you still go to Liberation?'

'Not now. You've spoiled it for me. The foreign gays have taken it over, and I get fed up of requests for autographs and blowjobs. An unwanted fan tailed after me down Domstrasse last week shouting "Marc". It was embarrassing. I'm thinking of moving to my sister's. Strelzen is getting uncomfortable.'

'The Koningen Flavia then?'

'Fine by me, and you're paying.'

They settled into a concealed booth in the picturesque and ancient inn across the Rodolferplaz where Modnehemenstrasse entered the great square. The main room was beautifully panelled in walnut and a great pottery stove occupied a corner in the blue and white colours of Delft. A portrait of the last of the Elphbergs smiled enigmatically down on them from the far wall. The waiters were efficient and the food was good.

'So,' smiled Oskar, 'Is it "Rothenian Boys 11"?'

Hendrik laughed. 'No. Though that's on the stocks when the team recruits a few more new lads. It's a special: a one off. I'm thinking in terms of "An American in Strelzen". Straight American tourist comes to Strelzen, meets wholesome Rothenian gay boy, eyes meet, world shifts, next minute fucking like bunnies in various interesting locations and positions.'

'... and I'm the wholesome Rothenian boy.'

'Oh yes. A role you were born to play.'

'They won't like it. It looks like favouritism, Hendrik. Felip will feel snubbed; you know he envies me.'

'Felip's a pretty boy and very sexy, but he can't act even up to our low standards at Falkefilm, and unlike you he can't improvise. Besides, whatever you think, you're the only boy he won't feel jealous of. He has real feelings for you, you know that, that's why Rothenian Boys 7 was such a big seller in the West. It was obvious he was heart and soul into you, even on DVD. He didn't have to act that. But don't worry. I look after my boys. I can distract him with another project. The other thing is that you're getting a lot of attention out there. I'm thinking of sending you to San Francisco to represent the firm in the Pride festival. You should get out more. You're a star, Oskar.'

'So who's the American? Do any of the boys speak good enough English?'

'Ah well, that's the problem isn't it.'

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