A Twinkle in My Eye

by George Gauthier

Chapter 1


Parkour is not a competitive sport the way foot racing is where you win by getting to the finish line first. Nor do coaches or track officials time your climb with a stopwatch. High schools and colleges field track teams but not teams of traceurs. And you cannot win a medal for parkour in the Olympics.

In parkour you are really competing against yourself. Of course every traceur likes to show off and brag about it later. And it is even better if a friend takes a video of your triumph, but sometimes you just go solo, no companions, no audience, no videographers, and no lifeguard cum medic with a first aid pack and a cell phone.

Some months after my kidnapping I was out and about, training at parkour, the running/climbing/tumbling sport also called free running that was all the rage. Though much of an old heavy industrial district land had been redeveloped for light industry, in the extensive acreage in back many of the old structures remained, a veritable paradise for anyone who was into parkour. There were old workshops, warehouses, sheds, an abandoned electrical substation, a fuel park and pumps and so much more. Just right for an adventuresome sort like myself to clamber over.

Besides, skill at parkour had survival value, letting me escape danger by climbing out of reach. Parkour was also and not incidentally a fine excuse for running around next thing to naked. No equipment was allowed. You relied on the capabilities of the human body alone. Which was why my parkour outfit consisted of only low-top canvas shoes and tan-thru bikini shorts.

I had thought I was alone, but suddenly a man on the ground called up to me.

"Hi, there, kid. That looks like fun. Mind if I join you".

"You, a suit, up here?" I gave back. "I don't think so." I added laughing at the very notion.

Rather than being angry or discouraged, the man in the suit was charmed. As he told me later there was no way he could just walk away from this sassy scamp and his smart mouth. Not when I was so obviously gay and, looking sixteen or seventeen, was enticingly cute and sexy, especially with that hint of mischief in my face. And my laughter was infectious.

Setting aside his jacket and slipping off his shirt and tie, he climbed the drain pipe of the next building over, swung himself up onto the roof, picked his way across the narrow box girder which joined the two buildings, and crab walked up the slanting roof to sit down next to the boy who had piqued his interest.

"Still don't think so, kid?" the man asked, eyes twinkling.

"How the hell did you do that?" I asked incredulous.

"Before I got into my real career, I worked high iron for a couple of summers back in the city." he said off-handedly. "So this is no big deal. It helps that when I come out here, I wear sturdy shoes and not oxfords. Do those plimsolls on your feet really give you enough support?"

"What they give me is a good grip on masonry, metal, and pavement."

"Hmmm, light brown plimsolls and a pastel pattern printed on that skimpy bikini with maybe one-inch along the sides. Some color but mostly the same shade as your over all tan -- not so coincidentally, I am guessing. Which is exactly the effect you aimed for, isn't it kid? For folks down on the ground to think that you might be up here stark naked."

"Guilty as charged! That is the real reason for these colors. What's that French notion about shocking the middle class, the bourgeoisie? I would really like to run around in a string thong, with only a triangle in front and nothing in back, but that would be a bit much, or rather much too little especially the way the string in back just disappears between the butt cheeks." I added, a mischievous grin on my face.

"I'd like to see that, though what about the cops?"

"Actually a thong might actually be legal though just barely -- er no pun intended -- though my lawyer strongly suggested that I do not put it to the test. I might get myself arrested. Anyway, even minimally dressed as I am, so far there's has been no trouble. So Mr. High Iron. Would you care to come along on a climb -- but on second thought, no. I'll bet you couldn't keep up with me."

"Probably not, to be honest. Small and lightweight as you are, you gotta be quicker and more agile. But I could go almost anywhere you could, if not so fast. Anyway, forget Mr. High Iron, the name is Logan. And what do I call you anyway. I can't keep calling you kid.

"I don't really mind that, but now that we are introducing ourselves my name is Troy, like the ancient city in the Iliad.

"Troy then."

"Aren't you afraid someone will see us up here, Logan? All right, I am a kid, but what is your excuse? What could you say to the authorities or to the owner? Here you are. a grown man playing King of the Mountain?" I challenged.

"Actually they would be very polite with me and probably say something like, 'Oh, would this be a police chase, Sergeant Killian. Is there any way we can help you sir to capture this fleeing miscreant?"

I shook my head, here was another cop to add to my admirers. I was delighted by the big man's company and his snappy comebacks. And he was certainly easy on the eyes. Logan's white tank top hugged a powerful torso and bared shoulders any gymnast would be proud of. I found himself wondering what it would feel like to be embraced in those powerful arms. So far most of my sexual adventures in my current identity had been with young men and boys near my own apparent age, but I have always been attracted to grown men as well.

"OK, so how about we play follow the leader, non-competitively. I'll lead off and you try to keep up. I promise I won't try to shake you off my tail."

"Fine. And a good thing too, as nice a tail as it is." the man added sotto voce -- though not low enough that that I couldn't hear it.

"Better and better." I thought to myself.

We took off for an energetic clamber over some of the more difficult structures in the installation. I had the advantage of agility and light weight, while Logan had superior upper body strength, longer reach, plus a superb sense of balance which no doubt had served him well working high iron building skyscrapers. After a while, it was Logan who took the lead, and so it went, back and forth, for over a hour.

At that point, as I stepped onto a roof, the supports underneath started to give way. I threw myself to the side wall and held on. As masonry crumbled and steel twisted I found myself perched precariously on what was left of the roof, a narrow ledge still attached to the brick wall, though that might all give way at any moment.

Logan circled around the bad section and approached from the other direction. He took a firm grip on a standpipe and reached out to me. My best, really my only chance, was to jump across the open drop to what was left of the roof on his side and grab his wrist.

We looked across at one another, man and boy, unsure of how far each could trust a complete stranger with his life.

"You can count on me, Troy. I won't let go of you. I won't let you down. Not today. Not any day, and not just because of my duty as a cop. I couldn't bear the sight of someone so young as you at the bottom of a dark hole, that sexy body of yours broken and crushed, your face twisted in pain or staring blankly in death."

Gulping, but instinctively trusting the man who reached out for me, I gathered himself and pushed off. My landing was wobbly, but before I could fall off, Logan locked his hand around my right wrist. Turning with my full weight on his arms and shoulders, the big man then swung me bodily to where I could scramble atop the the wall. We dropped onto the roof of the next building and collapsed together in a heap and held each other close.

"Whoa, that was close!" I stammered, shaken by my close call.

Logan crushed me to him.

"Much too close, little one." He said, his voice trembling with emotion and near to tears over what had so nearly happened.

"But I am all right, Logan. Sure, battered and shaky, and I can see where your iron grip on my wrist left a purple bruise, but I am very much alive. Not to mention rather glad to be in your arms regardless of the circumstances.

"You little flirt!"

I turned my face up toward Logan. Taking his cue, the big man kissed me full on the lips. It was a first kiss, a tender kiss, a kiss full of promise. We both smiled giddily, then kissed again, this time holding the kiss. Logan's tongue parted my lips and invaded my mouth. Tongues thrust and parried. The blood pounded at my temples.

"Uh, Troy, as much as I am enjoying this, there are better places for it than a crumbling rooftop."

With that we climbed down to the ground and took stock of the situation. Alas, the good sergeant could not tarry and dally with me that day, but we did exchange numbers and agreed to meet soon. Since he was a cop, I added Logan to the emergency contacts on my iPhone.

Our next meeting was sooner than either of us expected, and it was under very different circumstances too.

Once again I was scrambling atop an old factory, this one unexpectedly scheduled for demolition. With no time to round up the gang I again went solo. Big mistake. Though the main structure looked solid enough from ground level, the roof was much less so. What looked like a sound stretch alongside a skylight gave way under me.

As I fell I grabbed at some electric cabling but could not hang on long enough to slide down safely. Instead my hands lost their grip and I fell onto a stack of empty wooden crates which partially broke my fall, perhaps the reason I survived. As it was I was knocked unconscious and might have bled out from a scalp wound, despite my enhanced immune system and recuperative powers, but for my smart watch. Its accelerometers had detected my fall and popped a message onto the watch face asking if I were OK. Not getting any response, the watch dialed 911 and provided emergency services with my name and location.

With sirens blaring the first responders got to the site in minutes though not before Hermes. The Olympians monitor telephone networks for emergency notifications involving members of Olympian community who, like me, are immortal but not invulnerable, mostly the Heroes of Greek mythology like Hercules, Theseus, Perseus, Odysseus, Bellerophon, Jason, Ajax, and a couple of dozen others.

Rather than heal me completely, which would raise questions, the god simply slowed the hemorrhaging from my scalp wound so that I would not bleed out. Minutes later I was under the care of first responders.

And who should show up next on the scene of my second mishap but my new cop friend Sergeant Logan Killian.

I came to just as the EMTs were loading me into the ambulance, having staunched the flow of blood from my scalp wound, started an IV, and prepared me for transport. Logan touched my shoulder and reassured me that I would be all right, though he also ventured a feeble joke.

"We have to stop meeting like this, Troy. People will talk."

At the emergency room the doctor diagnosed a mild concussion and put me under observation overnight. Fortunately I showed no sign of double vision, slurred speech, an unsteady walk, or weakness or numbness in my arms or legs, or vomiting. I did have a headache, but it did not get worse. Aside from the pain from a considerable collection of scapes, cuts, and bruises, I was already on the mend. Thank you once again, my friends on Olympus for my enhanced recuperative powers.

I didn't get visitors till the next day. An officious head nurse tried to keep Kyle and Franco out because they were not family, but Franco and Sergeant Delaney were in uniform just before going on shift. Nurse Ratched, or whatever her name was, had to yield to the authority of their badges and uniforms. Naturally I was glad to have my friends around me. For their part, they were relieved that I had come through intact and would be released the next day to recuperate at home.

In walked Sergeant Killian.

"Killian! What are you doing here?" Delaney asked suddenly defensive. "This boy has no charges to face in connection with his accident, and even if he did that would be the business of the city force, not of sheriffs deputies from the county."

"Hey! Take it easy, Delaney! I am not here on official business. My interest in this boy is purely personal.

Killian then explained how we had met on the occasion of my earlier mishap on a parkour run.

"Oh, and here I had thought you were a happily married man, Killian."

"I am and very happy with my wife, thank you very much, and not looking for a relationship, but my wife understands that I do have an eye for a lively boy, but an occasional fling with young male such is no threat to our marriage the way an on-going affair with a young woman would be. With a boy, it is just about sex, but my wife is a life partner."

"But just look at him. Did you ever see a boy as cute and sexy? Is it any wonder that when I met Troy at a perch atop an old workhouse I was instantly smitten? Speaking of which, what about you, Delany? Is there anything you want to share with the rest of us?"

Delaney snorted.

"It's those three who are the lovebirds, Troy Ganymede, my partner Constable Paolo Franco, and their boyfriend Kyle Kavanaugh."

"Ganymede? That's the name of that kid who got kidnapped then dumped so close to the county line that police jurisdiction was unclear at first. I responded to that call but since it was just over the line and within city limits, I and my partner soon left. I am glad he was cleared so neatly of suspicion. It was looking bad for him for a while."

But that raised a question from Paolo and Kyle who had been silent till then.

"And why is it just now that we are hearing about this earlier accident?"

I shrugged. "Nothing much really happened, and besides, I didn't want either of you worried about me or getting jealous. I mean you aren't jealous are you? Me and Logan never really got together anyway and when we do it will be for a brief affair. Logan is not in the market for a boyfriend. His wife is not that understanding."

"Logan is it? So on a first name basis already?" Delaney observed."

"Oh, don't try to stir things up, Delaney." Kyle protested. "We aren't at all jealous, are we Paolo?"

With a skeptical look on his face, Paolo allowed that no, he was not jealous, not quite, but maybe he ought to be. But we knew him too well and realized that he was yanking our chain.

"Besides," I opined with feigned umbrage, "If anything, I should be cross with Sergeant Killian for referring to me as a fleeing miscreant. Does anyone really use that word anymore? A miscreant indeed!"

Logan countered with: "You know very well that I put that word in the mouths of hypothetical on-lookers. What I did call you, in my own persona, was a little flirt."

"You got that right," my friends agreed.

With that settled, the visit went well. Before he left my new friend Logan urged:

"You need to be more careful with this parkour stuff. Always go in a group, with that lifeguard you mentioned. Hard as it is for you teenagers to believe, you are not immortal."

Ah, but I was immortal -- just not invulnerable, as a recent incarnation proved, if ever I needed that lesson.


Several incarnations ago before my current life as entertainer Troy Ganymede, I had an accident which lead to one of the strangest episodes of an existence which has lasted so far for more than three millennia.

It happened on the mundane plane outside of Olympus, meaning the pocket dimension just out phase with Planet Earth, not that windy mountain top in Greece.

I do not remember how it all started. A head injury inflicted enough damage to keep what happened from getting recorded in memory. It was what safety experts call a vertical deceleration injury producing what doctors call counter-coup trauma. That is where the skull stays intact but the brain inside bounces back and forth.

So this account of my accident is largely a reconstruction from information provided by others, including the Mountain Rescue Service. As I later learned from the Olympians, I was returning from a consultation with old Doc Asclepius, specifically for a new set of fingerprints. I also had two sets of false papers with me. One set was for only temporary use, just to travel to where I would take on my new incarnation.

My route to the site of my accident started in Greece but bypassed the Balkans via a series of coastal ferries which took me to the port of Trieste at the head of the Adriatic. I traveled west overland through the Veneto then north by rail and intercity bus toward the Brenner Pass on my way to my destination in Austria.

I never got that far. At Bolzano in the Alto Adige region of northern Italy I switched to hiking trails, intending to reach Brixen (Bressanone in Italian) on foot before emerging from the woods, ostensibly just another hiker, but with a fresh new identity for a crossing of the Alps by intercity bus to my destination, which was Innsbruck.

I wrote of my accident as if there had been only one but there must to have been two accidents, one after the other. Trails in the mountains follow watercourses which in March were at full flood from the spring thaw. Somehow I lost my footing and fell into a raging torrent, which carried me away willy nilly downstream. I was lucky not to have drowned or been battered to death on the rocks. Lacerations on my body show that brush reaching out from the banks had ripped away my pack and outer clothing, leaving me wearing only a torn T shirt bearing the FKK logo, boxer briefs, and a single sock.

Battered and bruised, scraped, and half-frozen when I dragged myself out of the glacial meltwater I was unable to maintain my usual degree of situational awareness, staggering along a short way only to pitch over the edge of a cliff. Fortunately the ground forty feet below was soft, almost spongy so I did not crack my skull but the impact did damage.

Alerted by hikers, the mountain rescue team from Bolzano did an exemplary job getting me to a hospital, but otherwise the authorities did not know what to make of me. I had no documents, no equipment, and worst of all no memory of who I was. My personal history was a blank.

My rescuers found that I spoke both German and Italian with native fluency, but that did not help much. Bolzano is a bi-lingual city nestled in the Alps, though I could not have been a local since I did not fit the description of any missing person. Fingerprints were no use either. Only a teen who had gotten into trouble with the law would have had his fingerprints on file anyway.

The police did their level best to figure out who I was, though this was before facial recognition was a thing. In the end no one came forward to claim me.

By the light tenor of my voice register and my bodily proportions I did look like a youth just past his growth spurt, but my slight build 160 cm (5' 3") and 47 kg (104 lbs) and boyish features, beardless cheeks and glabrous skin suggested I was mid teens at best. As a compromise, when I was granted conditional asylum under the punning name of Luca Fortunato, they arbitrarily assigned me a birthday fifteen years before the date of my rescue. If I ever got my memory back, fine, I could switch back to my "real" name.

Now what do you do with a fifteen year old orphan too young to make his own way in the world after release from the hospital but also too old for anyone to adopt?

The solution was to place me in an orphanage, one originally established to handle the many orphans of World War II and the children of displaced persons, whether refugees or impressed laborers from other countries. By the dawn of the twenty-first century, their clientele had shrunk and changed. Now it was all troubled youth whom no one wanted to adopt but who were not so bad as to get sent to juvie hall.

The orphanage building was a former residential school dating to the late nineteenth century. Practically everything was old-fashioned including the plumbing and heating though the electrical system had been upgraded to modern standards. Dressed only in hospital scrubs and booties I was lead into the office of the director, Professore Inardi a pleasant enough looking man of middle years, dark haired though graying at the temples.

The director welcomed me then explained what I could expect from the institution.

"We don't run a normal school with classes and homework and all that. No reports to parents obviously. Each boy is evaluated for what he already has learned and on that foundation we build a particularized curriculum for him and assign a tutor. Few of your classes will be on-line using new teaching tools available on this new Internet. For most you will learn from an older technology called teaching machines as well as books written to support so-called programmed learning. Such an approach lets the student set his own pace while the machines and books provide immediate and regular reinforcement. Now how does that sound Luca?"

"It sounds progressive though I really have nothing to compare it with. My past is a blank. So learning at my own pace sounds like the best way for me to learn what I need to know."

"Excellent. I am afraid I now have to address how you will fit in with the other boys. You will be a complete stranger to them and they to you..."

"Actually before I go on with that let's get you out of those hospital scrubs. Just drop them onto that small table by the door, will you. And yes I know that you aren't wearing anything under those scrubs, but we are all males here, aren't we?"

"There, and what a very fine body you have, Luca. Absolutely stunning really. Your beauty is almost enough to make me rethink my own preference for the female of the species."

I notice also that your body is completely glabrous, without body hair anywhere nor any sign that you might ever have grown any in the three usual places. It cannot be from a medical condition like alopecia. You have a good head of hair on you and finely arched eyebrows. But no body hair and no sign of a beard, not even peach fuzz."

"I am not surprised that you are quite unselfconscious about being naked in my office. Your file mentions how you were found wearing a T-shirt with the logo FKK, for FreiKörperKultur, German for nudism. Your reaction just now is one more bit of evidence that you are not body shy. Also, the hospital report also noted that you were evenly tanned all over without tan lines, so you are the sort who must spend a good deal of your time outdoors unclothed. Not terribly surprising here in Bolzano or Bozen to give it its German name. You are far from the only aficionado of FKK among the locals here though we are a little more discreet than those living in the German speaking lands.

"Taking into consideration your habitual nudity even outdoors, your slight physique, and the way you were observed checking out your young male nurse at the hospital, the impression you give to everyone who meets you is that you are one of those who prefers boys to girls and that you are on the submissive side of the spectrum."

"You may well be right, Professore. With my memory loss I'm not sure about myself, but my feelings do point in that direction including the attraction I felt just now for that boy who brought me to your office."

"Yes, that would be Gianni, my runner."

"Now as you can imagine, with dozens of boys living together in close quarters, the sort of hierarchy and power games common in residential schools is inevitable. Boys will be boys, and since a school is but a microcosm of the world at large, some will be dominate and others submit including sexually. As on the world stage the powerful do what they can, while the weak suffer what they must."

"Now at our school that does not mean brutality only sexual submission. Healthy boys must have is an outlet for their sex drive, beside pleasuring themselves, which is where boys of your sort come in. You see, in the face of the impossibility of imposing celibacy or chastity on our boys, we give them a free hand with submissive boys of your sort, boys who were born for that role."

"So I am to be what, their punk?"

"That is crude way of putting it, but I suppose as good a word as any, foreign though it be. Don't worry for your health. The boys are all vaccinated against viral STDs [hepatitis A and B] and are regularly inspected for signs of the common bacterial infections [chancroid, chlamydia, and gonorrhea]. As to your physical integrity, understand that we do not tolerate physical abuse much less outright cruelty or sadism by the dominant boys. You can expect humiliation and spankings but no more than that. We do not tolerate thugs. Our mission, after all, is to raise our boys to be decent men and good citizens."

He pushed a button on his desk which brought back the office runner Gianni into the room carrying a small basket.

"All right Luca, that green short-sleeved jumpsuit and slippers in the basket will be your outfit from now on. Don't get too used to wearing it except for meals or public functions. I expect that once the other boys realize that you are a nudist, they will insist on that lifestyle for you, one which will be a good fit, in any case, for your role as their, let's call it their boy toy. Expect to get passed around a lot."

"Now Gianni here will take you down to your dormitory and provide you with a starter kit of toiletries, towels, and school supplies and also explain the rules to you, the ones the boys have adopted among themselves. Good luck in your new school."

With that I started my double life at the orphanage as both student and sex toy for the student body. Only the senior boys had unlimited claims on my services though they often pimped me out to the other boys in return for their pocket money or a favor. Hardly an ideal situation, but I had no choice in the matter. I fully expected it was to be my life for the next few years till I aged out.

Zeus had rebuilt my body not only stronger so that I would not get hurt during energetic sex play but also with an enhanced sex drive, which meant I get aroused quickly and stay hard between the repeated orgasms of which my sexy little body was capable with only a minimal recovery period between.

Add in my exquisite my looks and it was little wonder that I was besieged with so many suitors, if I may call them that. I was often drafted into a round robin cluster fuck where I had to take the boys two or even three at a time with me spit roasted on two cocks up my tail and another presented for oral service. As one boy finished and withdrew, another boy replaced it with his own cock in an endless series of mountings.

I was never beat up, but I did become the object of demeaning trash talk from the senior boys. It was their favorite form of foreplay. They mocked me for my stature and my lack of body hair even at the fork of my legs, and the sounds of pleasure their lovemaking brought from me.

"You should see yourself kneeling at our feet, a small naked hairless boy, cringing before your betters which is exactly where you belong. Boys like you were made to be used by stronger boys like us, It's lucky for you, that in the absence of girls, we are willing to oblige cock sucking pansy faggots who crave taking it at both ends."

"We are doing you a favor, really. There is just a small chance, however unlikely, that filling you with our manly juices might finally turn you into something more than the pathetic little fairy you are today."

"Meanwhile we have you to slake our lusts. You don't realize what a turn on it is little Luca, to have you on your back, holding your knees apart to give us access to your hole. Then when we slide in and sink to the hilt, you bend like a pretzel, knees on either side of your head as we plug away, one boy after the next, with you quivering and moaning with pleasure the whole time you are used.

They further humiliated me by forcing me to submit to them in full view of the younger boys, many of whom liked to take photos of the action. The next step was to cut four of the five buttons off my green jumpsuit leaving only the one at my waist, which made the garment gape open exposing my chest down to my hips. In time, they trimmed the pants legs down to ragged cut-offs ending a handspan above the knees.

The abbreviated garment made it quicker to get me naked, which went even faster after they insisted that I practice shucking my jumpsuit and kicking off my slippers, the goal being to get naked in under five seconds. Alternatively they had me stand easy already barefoot while a boy behind me pulled the jumpsuit off my shoulders then dragged it to the floor leaving me to step out of it. A hearty slap to my tush was the signal to the boy with the stopwatch to call out my time.

I did find relief from their continual importuning by helping out in the garden, growing vegetables for the kitchen and ornamentals to decorate the school. This was one of the vocational apprenticeships they could offer to boys, those with an interest and aptitude in a particular line of work which they might pursue after aging out of the orphanage. So I apprenticed to the gardener while others worked under and learned a trade from our cook, handyman, electrician, and IT specialist.

I quickly found that I very much enjoyed working with plants, turning the soil, nurturing fresh growth, pruning, and trimming excess growth. All of it done outdoors in the bright sunshine of the mountain girded Alpine valley which Bolzano occupied. Gardening in the nude gave me a chance to work on my tan, giving me that bronze healthy look which I have always prized.

One afternoon after I left off my gardening chores and went to get dressed, I found that the senior boys had brought out a pair of scissors and were in the process of cuttomg the back and side seams of my cut-offs, turning my jumpsuit into collection of rags barely held together, a peek-a-boo outfit suitable only for a clown.

Though irritated beyond measure, I proposed a compromise.

"Wait! Don't destroy my jump suit. I have a better idea. No more half measures. What you really want is to keep me naked full time, don't you? Fine! You got it. Burn that raggedy jump suit and lock away the replacement. Keep it for me for when I might need to go into town which would be your call not mine. Make me live like the sex slave you have turned me into, permanently naked."

The boys applauded and announced that since I had volunteered to give up clothing, it would now be compulsory in case I tried to change my mind later. All agreed that I should stay bare-ass naked for the next several years till I aged out and left the school. That included the dining hall where a stool replaced the chair I had sat on before, the better to display my unclad body while seated.

Professore Inardi was surprised at this fuller expression of my penchant for FKK but finally approved the change. He hoped that, given the FreiKörperKultur in my background, this might even stimulate my memory and recall me to myself.

Besides he had been pleased with how much my presence had lead to a much more peaceable institution with fewer fights over access to sex partners. No matter what happened between the other boys, I was readily available for their pleasure, and now would always be conveniently naked for instant access. My quick arousal and performance in bed demonstrated that at some level, I must be a willing victim in my sexual enslavement.

So I became a naked sex-toy for several dozen horny young males at the orphanage. I am almost ashamed to say that a part of me welcomed my degradation as exactly what a boy of my sort should expect of life. When all was said and done what was I but a sexually submissive, small, soft-spoken, and glabrous youth, an exhibitionist without much use for clothing regardless.

It's not that my life at the orphanage was some sadomasochistic nightmare. Far from that. It was pretty much like life at every other boy's residential school in the Western world only with rather more same sex activity than usual. There were a few mean boys but most were the cheerful sort with whom I got along just fine. The boys left me alone enough to keep up with my studies and with my extracurricular reading, for I had discovered in myself a love of books; I was a real bookworm.

Understand that at this point I was not a three thousand year old in a teenager's body with access to my memories and to the wealth of life experience which is my greatest advantage over mayfly humanity. Nor did I realize what skills I had learned over the centuries. The muscle memory was there but I still knew nothing about my latent capabilities. So I responded the way any small lonely helpless boy my apparent age would act and went along with what was evidently my humble role in life, at the bottom of the pecking order.

Myself Again

Things started to improve following the bomb scare. It seems that a builder excavating a basement for a new apartment building had uncovered an unexploded bomb left over from World War II. The railroad through the Alps joined Italy with the German Reich which made Bolzano a target for Allied bombers. Unexploded ordnance was nothing new. As before, the authorities activated their standard playbook and evacuated all buildings, including our orphanage and a nearby jail situated within half a kilometer of the newly discovered five hundred pound bomb.

Nothing untoward happened during the evacuation. Explosive ordnance experts managed to defuse the bomb and transport it to a site where it could be safely detonated. What struck me afterwards was the different way the story ran in the local papers. Now most of the region of Alto Adige is German speaking but the majority population of Bolzano speaks Italian at home thanks to immigration during the Fascist period. The Italian language newspaper ran the story on page one above the fold. The coverage in the German language paper was very much less. There the story appeared on page nine. That says something about ethnic loyalties in the region.

I don't know how I would have handled a winter in the mountains. The orphanage was a drafty old building. Without clothing, keeping warm would have been problematic even indoors. Fortunately over time as my body healed I started to get my memories back though not my memory of who I was. It was just episodes -- scenes of lives going back to antiquity. At first I took those as memories of vivid dreams not of real events, dreams suggested by movies or novels or my own yearnings. In memory I had been a slave in a boy brothel in ancient Alexandria or an actor in Elizabethan England. More disturbing was the brutality of my life as a slave boy cum gladiator in the Colosseum where I was forced to kill else I be killed.

I put these memories down to fantasizing. I knew that the the brain uses the same circuitry to process images we see with our eyes with images we see with only our mind's eye, created by our imagination whether while reading a novel or dreaming. In the end though it was Hermes who repaired the last damaged circuits in my skull and restored me to myself.

Thanks to Hermes' monthly checks, the Olympians had been aware of my plight soon after my accident and the onset of amnesia. Quickly satisfied that my life at the orphanage would be tolerable, they adopted a policy of watchful waiting which would let them gauge how quickly and how well my enhanced immune system and recuperative powers would repair the damage inside my skull and restore my memory. They also considered that a stay of a few months in Bolzano was a growth experience, a chance for me to once again lead the life of a mere mortal. It would demonstrate how well I could deal with a situation with no Olympian to turn to for help.

During my five months at the orphanage I had a recurring vision of a hazy glob of light. I took this to be no more than a vivid dream, but it was really an avatar of Hermes making his monthly checks on my well-being. Eventually during my final night at the orphanage, Hermes visited me and restored the last links in my brain's wiring to let me access my memory of who I was, the immortal Ganymede beloved of Zeus.

Why Hermes and not Asclepius? Though Asclepius was the god of medicine, all the Olympians have identical powers. Their specializations reflected their personal interests and the role they had assumed when they incarnated as a particular Greek god or hero. So Hermes could fix me up just about as well as old Doc Asclepius could.

[The symbols of both Olympians are often used in a medical context. The Caduceus or Staff of Hermes and the Rod of Asclepius look very much alike. Both feature a snake wound around a stick, a single snake for the Rod but two intertwined snakes and wings for the Staff.]

Words fail me in expressing my surprise and sense of relief at remembering who and what I was. I also realized that I was lucky that I had been between incarnations at the time of my accident, so I had not just disappeared and left a messy situation behind with dear friends wondering for the rest of their lives what might have happened to me. That consideration is why on the day after I left, I sent a letter to Professore Inardi, telling him that now that I had my memory back, I was looking to a future as someone other than an orphan named Luca Fortunato.

When all is said and done, the staff at the orphanage were serious about preparing the boys for independent living, offering useful instruction not only in academic subjects but also in life skills like personal finance, home economics, cooking, IT, expository composition, and vocational counseling. So much so that once I got my memory back I made a generous anonymous donation to the school's betterment fund which supplemented government grants.

And I never had any complaints about the food there. It may have been prepared in an institutional kitchen but it tasted like home made, a mouthwatering combination of northern Italian and southern German cuisines.

Anyway I like to think that my experience in the orphanage made a better man of me. My main regret is that my lowly status kept me from making any really good friends among the other boys.

More than ever I appreciate my supreme stroke of good fortune ages ago when the king of the gods caught sight of me from atop Mount Parnassus, then swooped down and carried me off to a life of wonder. And if ever I needed a lesson in the difference between immortality and invulnerability, this was it.

Only recently could I write about these things, choosing, out of caution, to cast them as fiction, a series of fanciful tales of an immortal youth written under a pseudonym. My secret is safe for no one in these days of modern science will believe it. In this tale, everything except the names is real. The events described really did happen just as I have written.

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