by Andrew Foote

Chapter 26

We saw Mum and Dad off the next morning. Dad was bullish and needed to get back to his passion, - farming the land. Mum was looking refreshed and relaxed; perhaps an over-indulgence of Champagne was the right thing to do, but now we were on our own again so we investigated a means of transport that might get us around.

One possibility was one of Dad's unfinished projects, - a 1944 Willys Jeep that had been abandoned on our property following the liberation of Sicily at the end of the Second World War.

It was complete. Dad had managed to find someone who could repair the radiator that had a bullet hole in it. EBay unearthed a second-hand distributor, carburettor and fuel pump, but whether he'd managed to get it running, I wasn't sure.

Dad had been working on it. The tyres were inflated, the bodywork cleaned and the key was in the ignition. Thilo dipped the sump for oil while I checked the gearbox, and satisfied that they had been filled and the filters replaced, we looked for the battery.

It was missing, but Thilo was having a Sherlock Holmes moment.

"Look at the battery leads. They're new, but there's traces of lead on the inside of the connections."


There's been a battery connected to them recently. It's just the small matter of where it is now."

We turned the workshop upside down, but no sign of a battery.

"Why would you take a battery off in the first place?"

"To put it on charge I guess."

"Exactly, but your Dad smokes, so charging it in here would run the risk of an explosion because they give off Hydrogen, so where else might it be?"

"This is the only outbuilding, so that leaves the house."

A tour of the house revealed nothing, so we brewed some coffee and took the mugs poolside.

This time of the year, the Nature Reserve is closed to the public, and being a long way from other housing or busy roads meant you could almost hear silence, except for a creaking door somewhere blowing in the breeze. But then the penny dropped.

"That battery. It'll be in the old outside loo.

Rational thinking has deserted me, 'cos Mum would never allow Dad to bring it inside the house, but the old bog would be perfect.

I'm going to finish my coffee and take a look. Apart from anything else, that fucking door is driving me insane!"

I connected the croc clips then turned on the power and watched as the charge meter hit five Amps before settling down to a one Amp trickle charge.

Thilo looked at the battery and commented on its size.

"One-hundred and ten Amp/hour deep cycle marine job. Why so big I wonder."

"Maybe Dad got fed up with it only lasting ten minutes of failure, so got something that would give him half an hour of failure."

"Assuming there's a spark at the plugs, fuel's getting through, sufficient compression and the timing hasn't slipped, it has no choice but to run."

"I'll take your word for it, but as of now, you're the chief mechanic.

What do you want me to do?"

"Sit in the thing and turn the engine over when I say."

Thilo connected the battery then removed the distributor cap.

"What are you doing?"

"With the ignition off, we put the thing in gear and bounce it until the points are closed. Then we turn the ignition on and pull the points apart with a screwdriver. If the condenser's okay, we should see a spark."

"Then what?"

"Whip the plugs out and check the electrode gap, then once they're set, we try to start the beasty."

"Okay. I'll wait on your instructions."

"Take it out of gear before you hit the Go button. I'm standing in front, and I wanna keep my legs!"

Ten minutes on and we were ready to rock.

I hit Start, the engine turned over, coughed, then fell silent.

"Again Steve. There's a spark and we've got fuel. Maybe it just needs some throttle."

I hit Start again, but the result was the same.

"You have pulled the choke out, haven't you?"

"Yes boss. All the way out."

"Fuel starvation. That's our problem.

Let me just check something else."

I climbed out and watched as he removed the air cleaner, then turning to me, he smiled.

"Look at this. Someone must have taken the carb to bits for cleaning, but forgot to tighten the choke's butterfly valve. You pulled on the choke lever, the shaft rotated but the butterfly's just sitting there doing fuck-nothing. No wonder she wouldn't play!

Let me find a small screwdriver, this won't take a minute to fix."

Five minutes, and we were ready.

"If it starts, reduce the choke until it sort of ticks over. We don't want it overheating."

First press of the Start button, and we were rewarded by it running for all of five seconds, second try and it managed ten, then on the third try she roared into life filling the workshop with a cloud of blue exhaust smoke. I shoved the gear shift into reverse and backed her out into the courtyard, very quickly followed by Thilo.

"Shit Thilo? You're almost as good with petrol engines as you are in bed!"

"No, I'm much better in bed!"

"I'm hoping that you'll prove that later."

"Oh. I will.

"Changing subjects before I split the seams of my shorts, where do you want to go on her maiden voyage?"

"Where can we go?"

"We could just take a wander around the reserve, or go down to the beach. You choose. I'm not happy about taking it into town until we know it's reliable."

"The beach. Definitely the beach. It's been years since I've had a paddle in salt water!"

"Okay. So long as you're happy that she's not about to boil over, I'll top up the fuel tank and we can head out."

What a great day for a drive in something that was just a set of wheels, an engine and sod-all else!

It coped with the rough terrain like the pro that it was, and with the breeze cooling us down, we were on the beach in fifteen minutes.

We weren't alone. Five other kids were there messing about swimming naked in the seawater pool. They didn't seem that bothered by our appearance, - the only place that track led to was our villa, but Thilo had me laughing for England!

"They're…… not wearing anything, like they're naked already!"

"Well spotted Einstein. My admiration regarding your intellect has just spiralled up to a whole new level!"

"Fuck you!"

"You bottom, me top, remember?

Anyway, I'm not ready for an audience right now!"

"But, is that allowed here?"

"What? Having sex in public?"

"Skinny-dipping, you wanker!"

"No one else around, so why not?

Did you think to bring something to change into?"

"No, but I was only going to have a paddle?"

"Dip you toe into the water, and the next thing you'll know is an irresistible urge to join in the fun."


Will you be going in?"

"Damn right I will!"

"Like naked and with nothing on?"



"Naked and with nothing on is the same deal!"

"Oh, I give in. Come on then, let's do it."

Thilo hauled the jeep around and killed the engine.

I knew one of the boys from previous visits. He spoke some English which made him stand out from the crowd in my book.

Paulo wasn't what you might describe as a gay boy's dream, but he was handsome, fit, and muscular for his tender fourteen years.

We high-fived, then the customary hug before I introduced Thilo.

"I'd like you to meet my partner. His name is Thilo, and when I say Partner, I mean that in both the business sense as well as him being my life partner, okay?"

"I know that Steve. Our Fathers talk, remember?"

"Have I met your father?"

"Yes. Marco Fellichi. He looks after this part of the island."


Now I understand."

Paulo walked over to where Thilo was standing.

"Paulo Fellichi. A friend of Stephen is my friend, so how do we do this? Do we shake hands or do it the Sicilian way?"

"The Sicilian way Paulo. I'm happy to embrace Steve's friends."

They embraced, then Paulo introduced us to the other kids; most of which were his cousins. But we were anxious to cool off, and so a game began.

A frizzbie, nice and light, thrown from one person to the other until one of us missed a catch. This involved a lot of swimming in water where you were out of your depth and it was tiring, but a real laugh! How points were awarded remained a mystery, but needless to say, our side lost hopelessly.

We laid out on the sand drying off before getting into our shorts and flip-flops.

At last we were beginning to relax in a manner boys of our age should. This was perhaps the first time since Moses had issued us with weapons that I could remember feeling at ease. I had Thilo to myself, and I felt very horny! Everything cool, right?

We offered the lads a lift back up the hill, but they refused saying they had mountain bikes hidden behind some rocks. We would see then again as they went to the beach most days. So, with farewell hugs, we fired up the jeep and made towards the villa, cold beer, and an opportunity to get reacquainted with Thilo's incredibly sexy body!

Ever made love to someone out in the open when the temperature in the shade is close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit? If you have, then you'll know just how sweaty you get! But then afterwards, making love again in a swimming pool is like totally out of this world!

We couldn't get enough of each other, and just at the point we thought we could give no more, we were off again.

Thilo doesn't look his sixteen years, and if that makes me sound like a pervert, then fine. He's pliant, smooth, apart from a neatly trimmed bush of blond pubes, his body is tight and not overly-muscular, but he's strong and can be very demanding in bed. But without doubt, one of his finest qualities was the way he kissed. God! He could almost make me cum just by kissing me. He only had to smile at me and I'd pop one!

I loved him desperately, and if it meant me sacrificing my life in order to save his, - I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Lightly grilled rump steaks and a small mixed salad took care of supper; a couple of glasses each of ice cold Frascati rounded of an evening that found us in bed by ten o'clock.

I liked to believe I knew myself. I had been a difficult kid when I was younger; always wanting to push at the limits, go beyond the boundaries of everything I'd been told was acceptable behaviour. I was wayward in the extreme which is why Dad had me sent away to school in Cumbia, but even that environment, - the discipline and tough regime didn't stop me from lashing out when I found myself cornered. My attitude towards the teachers was fine. I wanted to learn, I needed to understand so many things…… but feed me bullshit, and you'd better take cover. No matter your position, fuck who you were, - I'd fight for my beliefs.

But now I'm experiencing something completely different. Yes, I still have attitude, and yes, I am well able to piss people off even now, but I've found someone who's turning me around; found the inner 'Nice' person that had always been hiding inside me.

Thilo had completely changed my life.

I loved him. I couldn't envisage life without him.

I leaned over and turned off the bedside light.

Thilo turned over in his sleep and pulled me into him.

It had rained overnight. The air was fresh and clean, so I dragged myself out of bed and went for a swim in the pool.

Gecko's, or medium-sized lizards were everywhere, licking the raindrops and dew off the foliage, not taking a blind bit of notice as I dived into the water.

This was bliss. I really believed I could relax and enjoy life for the first time in six months.

More out of habit than fear, I'd brought my gun with me. Thilo would have his tucked under his pillow, but I hoped he would only remember to carry it once he woke for the same reason I had.

I wanted this to be over. I didn't even mind about the prospect of going back to Keswick, - anything to be free of this curse.

A while later I heard the patio door open, and Thilo walked out, his gun holster draped over his shoulder, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"I'm sore! We really did an excellent job yesterday!"

"I'm sorry?"

"Don't be. I loved every moment…… at the time."

"Do you want some breakfast?"

"Orange juice, toast and bum anaesthetic might be good!"

"Would you prefer tea or coffee with that sir?"

Thilo giggled, placed his gun on a sun lounger and sat down.

"Tea. It's the only way to start the day!"

"I can do that. Just rest your bum and I'll be back in a minute."

"Don't I get a Good morning kiss?"

I got up from my lounger, sat beside him and lay my head on his shoulder.

"As many as you can take. But um…… I'm worried about us, - not about us, but for us. There's this niggling doubt in my head that won't go away."

"You're having second thoughts about us?"

"Don't be crazy! I love you beyond words. I couldn't function if you weren't in my life, but I keep coming back to how we're being so well targeted.

At Keswick, there wasn't a problem even though everyone knew where we were, but as soon as we get back to Malvern, the hoards from hell descend on us, - not once, but three times.

We go back to Cumbria to get the tablet, but nothing happens, yet as soon as we return home, we get whisked away to Sicily.

It doesn't make any sense."

"When we went back to Keswick, we were taken there in a military helicopter. That's probably why no one followed us."

"Yes, but then how did they know, - whoever they are, that we were back?

We go to Namibia. No problems.

We get back safely, - again no issues, but as soon as we're on terra-firmer, wallop!

We come here, but we came courtesy of the Royal Navy. We had transport provided by the Italian military from their base to the villa. We told no one we were planning on travelling, therefore no one knows we're here other than my family?"

"So, does that mean you suspect mine?"

"You've only got one other member of your family left, and I've met him.

Your Uncle is the real deal, of that I'm absolutely positive.

The way he was so concerned about you when you were in hospital, the way in which he helped me, and his understanding when you shifted your funds to the UK and spit them up leaving him completely without access to them no matter if both of us died?

No. Not him. What would our assets do for him anyway? He's a very wealthy man as things stand?

We're missing something here."

"But I told you. This has nothing to do with money. This has everything to do with the information stored on that tablet. Now that it's in the hands of the British government, I fail to see how our speculating over who was or was not responsible for those attacks is going to help anything."

"It probably won't help anything, but four times in as many months, - three times in as many days, someone, somewhere is responsible for ordering our assassination, and I'm sorry, but that pisses me off."

"I can't say I'm exactly overjoyed either."

"Maybe I'm being paranoid. Maybe I should stop worrying and leave up to the authorities to work it out."

"Maybe you should get us some breakfast!"


I happen to love you very much, and the thought of something happening to you all because I couldn't join up the dots scares me.

I'll get breakfast on the go."

I tended to his wounds. – Sex underwater…… not a good idea!

Poor Thilo. That had to be very painful, but trouper that he is, he hardly winced as I applied some antiseptic cream where it was needed most.

"Are you going to be okay? I'm really sorry I hurt you, - you should've said something at the time?"

"At the time, it felt great, but afterwards…… next time we buy waterproof-water-based lube!"

"I'll have to remember to Google it. Remind me!"

"Sod you.

Is that Jeep like road-legal?"

"Probably not…… probably definitely not. Why do you ask?"

"Just fancied going into town."

"We can do that. I wouldn't dream of driving to Catania, but Avola shouldn't be a problem. Our Jeep is like a limo compared with some of the heaps of crap you see on the roads around here.

Is there any particular reason for going there?"

"Not really. This is my first visit to Italy and I want to see some of it."

"For God's sake don't go saying that to the locals! This is Sicily, not Italy?"


Can we go then?"

"Whenever you're ready. Go and get dressed while I see to the washing up and we'll get away."

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