by George Gauthier

Chapter 3

Multiple Identities

I was halfway through my routine as a pole dancer at Something Else Again, the gay bar where I work, my nude body suspended and contorted erotically when a voice exclaimed:

"My God, Sandy?, Is that you? Can it really be you?"

Uh, oh. I recognized the voice as that of someone from my past, a former lover named Darren Nighy. The last time I went by "Sandy" was nearly forty years and two thousand miles ago in British Columbia. Sandy, short for Alexander, was a recent alter ego, one of many identities which I have had to assume over the centuries. The downside of never looking any older is that people begin to wonder why and ask awkward questions, which I cannot answer truthfully without admitting to my real identity. That would likely get me committed to a mental institution or maybe sent to a secret government laboratory for study and experimentation, no better than a lab rat.

How could I ever admit that my real name is Ganymede? Yes, that Ganymede, the boy from Greek mythology, the prince of Troy who lived a thousand years before the war which Homer wrote about, the youth whom Zeus abducted and raped and later installed on Olympus as his cupbearer. Yet there I was, still with the body of a teenage boy, but one over three thousand years old.

Darren tried to rush the stage, but the bouncers held him back. I gave him a blank look, showing no sign of recognition as they hustled him away, sputtering and bewildered. Gods, how I wanted to reach out to him. Assure him that he was not crazy, that yes, I was that boy he had loved in his youth. But I could not; I dared not. And that awful necessity made my feel like the worst sort of heel.

I later heard he had braced the club manager and demanded answers and access and wanted to know where I lived, but he got thrown out and banned from the bar as a trouble maker. Just to be sure I slipped out the back door that night and cancelled my shows for the next week. I never saw him again, leaving him to cope with seeing the doppelgänger of a boyfriend and lover from his past.

Such incidents happen from time to time, not very often, but they are always heart wrenching, both as reminders of what I have lost and of what I will soon lose when I am forced to abandon my current identity and my friends and lovers in this city. So many relationships gone before they can ripen into lifelong friendships, lasting no longer than the relationship you might have with your cat, starting as a kitten. Maybe seventeen years later your beloved animal companion dies from old age.

I later checked up on Darren through social media. He had left the city and returned to Canada quite confused, but he finally came around, putting it all down to a strange coincidence and wishful thinking. So seeing me on stage hadn't messed up his life.

You might wonder why I am not much concerned about photos or videos which patrons at the gay bar take of me. Surely the images will come back to haunt me in the future revealing the secret of my agelessness. Not to wonder nor to worry for me.

First, I move around a lot, changing countries and continents as readily as I assume new identities. I preferentially settle anywhere a pretty blond boy would fit in easily, countries I like to think of as the Blond Lands: German-speaking Europe, the Nordic countries, the Baltic States, the Low Countries, Central Europe, the US, UK, France, Northern Italy, Canada, and Australia, and the Southern Cone of South America (Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile plus the three southernmost states in Brazil). I never cared to live under the tyranny of Russia.

It helps that I speak almost all their languages with native fluency thanks to generations of residence in those varied lands. One trick I use to avoid discovery by natives is that in whatever country I settle, my papers show me to be a foreigner from another of the blond lands.

The only exception is the Estonian language which is a shame since ninety percent of Estonians are blond. Still there was never any point in learning a language spoken by only a million people in the world. It is quite a difficult tongue too. Did you know that Estonian has no less than fourteen grammatical cases, of which five are locative cases for describing where things are or happen. Sorry, but no.

With my contacts and my own skills at forging documents, I have no trouble coming up with false papers. Computer records can be too tough for even experts to hack, and I can pay for the best. If all else fails I ask one of the Olympians to have an avatar merge briefly with the central computer and give me or my hacker a back door.

In modern times tattle tale fingerprints could reveal the falsity of an assumed identity, but that is a problem easily solved with a quick visit to old Doc Asclepius on Olympus. It is child's play for him to alter the whorls on my finger tips, a perfect solution which costs nothing but some frequent flyer miles.

I have no identifying marks on my body, no birthmarks and no scars, none that lasts for very long. The way they heal completely is another disguise. I once had to prove to a persistent fellow that I was not the long lost friend he had known decades earlier. He challenged me to pull up my sleeve and reveal the nasty scar left from an attack by an angry Irish wolfhound (which is why I now carry that flail). I did so, baring my arm. No scar. So I was not the guy he remembered even though I really was. A nice guy he was too. I am sorry I had to trick him like that, but needs must.

I do have to train myself to respond only to my current name. It would not do to turn toward a voice from the past calling out a name I had once gone by. As for my uncanny resemblance to the other guy, I put that down to the huge number of human beings on Planet Earth these days. You might not have had a double when humans numbered only one or two hundred million around the globe but with over eight billion of us, doppelgängers were inevitable.

Another trick is to mix a foreign accent with a language you actually speak like a native, or you skip the accent but occasionally slip up, accidentally on purpose, and use grammatical structures peculiar to another language such as the characteristic way Russian does not use definite articles.

It is a big help that, movies and genre fiction aside, nobody really believes that immortals exist, not on Earth anyway. (Bye and bye in the sky is another matter.)

Skinny Dipping

Thanks to a hefty trust fund and my own investments, I have no real need to work, but I was not cut out for a life of sloth. I did take that gig as a pole dancer at a gay bar, but it's only part time, three days a week, Thursday through Saturday.

I spend the rest of my time pursuing my interests, one of the chief of which is books. I read omnivorously in no less than nine languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Esperanto, Chinese, and Japanese. Those are not the only ones I know but some are ancient languages, while I never got around to fully mastering others like Russian, maybe because I fear and resent the perpetual threat from Russia, rightly known in Czarist days as the prison of nations which only got worse during the Soviet period and again recently.

The recent invasion of Ukraine shows how right I have been. And if Ukraine falls, the Baltic states could be next. What a shame that would be, three small but plucky countries which successfully turned away from subjugation to eastern tyrants and resumed their historic orientation to the West. My favorite of the three is Estonia (and not just because of all those blonds), once ruled by the Danes and then by the Swedes only to fall under the Russian yoke after the Great Northern War of the early eighteenth century. For me Estonia is the little country that not only could but the little country that did.

Russia itself is the big country which could have but didn't. After the fall of the USSR the Russians blew their one chance to give up the burden of empire and the tyranny required to maintain it. But their old habits reasserted themselves

Bookworm activities aside, I work out regularly at a local health club. My program includes the exercise cycle, medium weights, and tumbling and stretching. I go twice a week, typically spending two hours on the exercise bike alone. That's a long session but never a boring one because I use the time to keep up with the news, reading digital editions of periodicals like the Economist or a couple of daily newspapers.

I prefer digital editions to print. A digital copy of the day's paper is just a flow of electrons so is essentially weightless. Digital articles might include slides, video, audio, or animation. Another plus is that the daily comics are in color, not just in black and white, as in the weekday print editions.

After my recent adventure in the park with that shooting victim, I could no longer go streaking at night along the cross country trail. The cops had given me a pass that night, and I kept my side of that bargain.

Skinny dipping however was something else. I never made promises about that, though I never went skinny dipping in the park. No, my chosen venue for a nighttime nude swim was the half-mile plus stretch of Rocky Creek where it flowed through a ravine, a notorious dense tangle of brush and spreading kudzu vine called the Black Forest.

The banks of the ravine were so steep you had to hold on to something every step of the way down to river level. On the plus side that left almost no space for an illicit gay cruising ground, which was fine by me. I am not a fan of such places. Too crude, uncivil, dirty, and often plain dangerous. Go to a gay bar already, preferably Something Else Again with its upscale and trendy clientele.

So long after honest folks had eaten dinner and were seated comfortably in front of their TVs I made my way over to the Black Forest. I did not bother very much with clothing, running bared to the hips in just onionskin shorts and sneakers, no socks. Once I reached the river I cached my outfit and slipped into the water.

Thanks to clean waters legislation the creek was free of pollution from sewage and industrial wastes. You wouldn't get sick if you swallowed the water nor would nasty microbes enter through a cut in your skin and fester though my enhanced immune system could cope with either if it came to it.

You never saw another swimmer. Most folks were not convinced the water was clean; others feared that they would be vulnerable to criminals lurking deep in the brush, out of the sight of honest folks. Someone had started a rumor about squirming leeches. That was my cue to put up warning signs with a horrific composite picture of a leech with the mouth of a sea lamprey. Another rumor was that the dark waters of Rocky Creek harbored a big snapping turtle who might mistake a skinny dipper's virile member for a dangling earthworm and snap it off.

All stuff and nonsense of course but if it kept others away from my private swimming hole I was all for it.

It would be more convenient to go to an Olympic size pool, but I would have to wear Speedos and anyway the health club I patronize now has no swimming pool. That is really too bad. I miss the big pool at the nearby YMCA which closed only a few years ago. The building got turned into a WeWork location, now in receivership. The Y was almost never crowded in the morning. I often got a lane all to myself and swam for two hours straight from 9 am to 11.

The pool was in the basement, below ground level, but the room had big windows high up along the street with a picture window in the lobby for folks to watch or more honestly to ogle us swimmers. I wore skimpy Speedos though actually, when you are swimming, the waves and shimmer don't let anyone get a good look at you except from underwater with goggles.

I always rested for twenty minutes after my long swim, stretching out on a lounge chair set back near the wall away from the edge of the pool. Stretching out on the lounge chair did allow spectators to get a good look at my oh so scantily clad and so deliciously scrumptious physique, though the reason I took the break really was that it left me fully refreshed, ready to bounce right back into the swim of things. Or is that a mix metaphor?

If only we could go back to the days before guys had to wear swim trunks at the Y, before the advent of Title IX which enforced gender equality in sports. Well into the 1970s the YMCAs were unisex, Associations for Men only, though not necessarily Young ones nor Christians, which was OK by me. I am a pagan. Nude swimming was the rule back then, and as a member of the Businessmen's Club I had direct access to the pool from our locker room. The one for the low rent crowd was upstairs.

Swimsuits are actually a fairly recent invention. For most of my very long life, from before Classical antiquity to the nineteenth century nude swimming was the rule. From classical times till the mid nineteenth century men swam nude whether in rivers, lakes, streams and in the sea though shy folks might strip down to their underwear.

In the Victorian era prudery won out, and nude male swimming was banned in 1860 in the UK, inaugurating a blessedly brief era of ridiculously voluminous bathing costumes, a lugubrious practice now thankfully consigned to the dust bin of History.

Alas during one night swim I got robbed by some bratty teens who, having discovered me skinny dipping in Rocky Creek, poked around and found my cached garments. After taunting me they cut my clothes apart with their knives then ran off, throwing the tattered remnants who knows where. At least they hadn't got my ID. I had not brought any with me. No key fob neither. No one in that spooky old mansion I live in would bat an eye if I walked in the front door starkers and I could always sneak in via the secret passages.


What to do now? I had to make a run for it, to keep to dark alleys and slink along lonely streets, avoiding the bright cones of light under street lamps while making my way back to where I lived.

No such luck. The brats had called the cops on me, spinning a yarn about how they had been chased by some naked guy down by Rocky Creek, likely some strung out druggie, to hear them tell it.

And who should show up in his squad car to make the arrest but Sergeant Delaney the cop from the shooting incident in the park. With him was a new partner, a young cop I did not know.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't pretty little Tinker Bell."

To his partner he added:

"You wouldn't know him Franco. This is the streaker kid who helped save a shooting victim in the park a while back. "

Turning to me, Delaney shook his finger at me.

"Now what did we say about not streaking in the park? We gave you a break that time, not wanting to throw you into the holding tank stark naked, likely to face a gang bang from a bunch of hardened criminals. You promised you wouldn't go streaking anymore, yet here you are running around starkers once again."

"No, no. You don't understand, Sergeant. I wasn't streaking just now, and anyway we're not really in the park, are we."

"Look kid, the river corridor may not be part of the park grounds, not technically, but we did find you running out of the brush along the ravine, and you are stark naked."

"I..I..I can explain that."

"This I would like to hear," he said with exaggerated patience

"I wasn't streaking Sergeant, not really. I... I was ... skinny dipping."

"Skinny dipping?"

I explained about my nighttime swims and how the teens had pranked me.

"I see. What do you think we should do Franco? Should we let this young miscreant off again with another warning or should we take him in?"

His young partner, who had been staring at me with longing, gulped then said."

"Couldn't we go easy on him, Sarge, just this once? He's so very young, and isn't he really the victim here, when all is said and done?"

Delaney nodded to himself. Here was a chance to impart a double lesson to his protege. Franco was clueless, unaware that when the sergeant half turned to put his cell phone back in its holster he had caught the look of romantic longing on Franco's face.

"Aaaah! I get it. You fancy him, don't you Franco. Fess up. He's your type, isn't he."

"No, no, that's not it at all, Sergeant Delaney. Whatever makes you think I'm gay?"

"What did they tell you in the Academy about noticing things and learning to read people. Well, just now I read you loud and clear."

"But sergeant when you were talking to er...Tinker Bell as you called him, you weren't even looking my way."

"What I was doing then and always when on duty, especially at a crime scene, was maintaining situational awareness, another thing they taught you at the Academy. You didn't notice, but I did glance over at you just now. The look of desire on your face was unmistakeable."

"How could I have been obvious when I'm not even gay."

"Get real Franco. Everything about you says that you are gay, so you might as well admit it. Or do I have to embarrass you listing the many tells I have observed since you began riding with me?"

"All right, sergeant. You got me. I'll admit that I am gay, but you won't tell anyone, will you? It's not just embarrassing. If the other guys knew they might not trust me to watch their backs."

"Not to worry Franco. This is the twenty-first century. No one cares that you bat for the other team. And I wouldn't have to tell anyone about you either. It's hardly news. We know, we all know, everyone knows, who doesn't know, for Chrissakes?"

Poor Constable Franco stood there looking utterly crestfallen.

In the end the officers gave me a ride home. No charges were pressed, but I had to promise no more skinny dipping in Rocky Creek. Darn!

In time Constable Franco did get that romantic tryst he so fervently yearned for. I was more than willing to add the earnest young man to my string of casual conquests for Paolo Franco was quite presentable in his own right. The young police officer was barely out of his teens. Of northern Italian antecedents (Torino), he had a gracile physique and stood just under six feet. His fine-boned features, fair skin, raven locks, and grey eyes made for more of a pretty boy than a macho stud, but what's wrong with that?

On that first date, we ate dinner at a nice restaurant featuring northern Italian cuisine then repaired to my apartment. The sight of the spooky old mansion brought raised eyebrows to Paolo's pretty face. He ventured a joke:

"I think I've seen this movie before. It didn't end well."

"Not to worry. The mansion may be old, but it has been fully modernized on the inside."

"Okay, but ghosts are said to haunt old buildings like this. Beside, its appearance puts me in mind of a line from another black and white movie I caught on TV where a character warns "These old houses are just honeycombed with secret passages."

Fortunately he was looking up at the gables when he dropped that line on me and did not catch my look of surprise. When we got to the threshold of my apartment, I opened the door, stepped in, and gestured dramatically saying:

"Enter freely and of your own will..."

"Ha! I've seen that movie too."

What happened after that was everything I could have hoped for. Paolo was so very young and cute and nervous. This may not have been his first rodeo, but he had come out only recently. I extended the time I usually spent on foreplay, caressing his cheeks, laying soft kisses on those sweet lips of his, easing him out of his clothes, hugging and nibbling his ears and his nipples. I like to think that in that first tryst I gave him the best sex ever. Given his age, it was not surprising that his lovemaking owed more to youthful enthusiasm than to practiced technique, but the results were more than satisfactory.

A week or so later, when I called by his precinct house to take Paolo on our next date, Sergeant Delany saw us together and remarked:

"So you two have done the deed, eh? Oh, and why the look of surprise young Tinker Bell? You didn't think I'd pick up on that?"

"He really should have," Paolo agreed, speaking then in his persona as Constable Franco. "By now our young friend should have realized that as cops we notice things and we've learned how to read people. Indeed, that's how I hope to make detective some day."

Sergeant Delaney grinned and gave his protege a thumbs up.

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