"But why me? I asked.
I was sitting at the desk on the opposite side of The Captain. The Captain was a large corpulent man given to sudden bouts of anger. The other officers said it was best to butter him up, but I had always found him very fair, without having to slip into unfeigned sycophancy.
"Why can't Simmons go? I said. "Or Dorchester?
The Captain raised his hands once from the desk and dropped them again, palms first. It was a gesture of irritation.
"If the face fits, he said.
He pushed an orange oblong pouch towards me.
"The plane leaves at seven am. Don't miss it. Be at the airport at least two hours beforehand. He made a show of looking at his watch. "Perhaps three. He gave a little laugh. "We don't want any mishaps, do we? I want to show our Polish brethren what a tight little force we run here. Our reputation for efficacy runs right throughout the EC.
I picked up the pouch and stood from the desk. As my hand was on the door to leave The Captain called me back.
"And no funny business, he said. "There's talk.
That night in the barracks I lay awake. The Captain's words echoed in my head. 'Funny business' were the ones that reverberated. They seemed such a strange choice, ones laid down almost as a gauntlet.
Over by the window, under the gentle glare of a low wattage bulb, the other officers sat playing cards. They were wearing only underpants and because today was a Tuesday, and underpants were changed on Wednesdays, 0945, the pants were more than usually stained.
There was the sound of a card being laid down followed by others. Finally, a number of cards were gathered up.
I never joined in these games. It wasn't that congenitally I was a loner, it was more that I liked my own company. If I had been one of those true outsiders, I would have joined a profession which would have allowed me, more often than not, to be on my own; a long distance car salesman, or a farmer on a remote oyster farm somewhere.
Another card was laid down, then another, and then I looked at my watch and it was past midnight and I needed to urinate. As I was making my way back to my bed I was stopped short by a burst of conversation that was obviously directed at me. I turned and found myself eye to eye with Dorchester.
"So, you're going to Poland.
It wasn't a question, more a statement of fact, so I merely nodded and made my way back to my bed.
"Hey, you fancy a game?
I paused for a moment and then, thinking that as I was due at the airport in only a few hours and sleep seemed far away, just this once I might as well join the group.
Simmons collected the cards up and dealt them out again. He had a neat way of doing things that belied his farmhand origins.
"I've heard about Polish women, said Dorchester. "Large thighs and big tits.
"I think that's Russian women, said Smith. "At least, that's what I've heard.
"Shit cards, said Dorchester. "Simmons. It's your start I think.
The game moved at a frenetic pace. Pretty soon I found myself the only one holding any cards.
"You win, said Dorchester to me. He put his hand down the front of his pants and scratched furiously. "And you were last Smith. Take your pants off.
Smith looked as if he was about to say something rude but then he merely glared at Dorchester and shrugged. "It's shit, he said.
"OK, said Dorchester. "Two fingers.
"Two? said Smith. Now he was angry.
"We always double up in the last game, said Dorchester. "You know the rules.
"But you didn't actually say it was the last game, said Smith.
Now Johnson piped up for the first time. "It is getting on. Come on. We all need our sleep. Don't be a spoilsport.
Smith looked like he had a lot to say to this but as obviously everyone was against him he lowered his pants and bent over.
I knew what to do from my nights laying awake in bed. I sucked both fingers and placed them against Smith's sphincter.
"Hurry up, said Johnson. "Don't be scared. He hasn't used it for anything except for a couple of farts all night.
With a giving of skin I pushed inside. The sensation was at once both of physical connection and emotional distance.
"Thirty seconds, said Dorchester. "Twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven¦.
"Give it a bit of wellie, said Simmons. "See if you can bend your fingers. Smith's had a whole fist up there before.
"Fuck off Simmons, said Smith.
"Now now, said Johnson. "Take it like a man. You know the rules.
"Ten, said Dorchester, "nine, eight, seven¦
"It hurts like shit, said Smith.
"Like shit, said Johnson, smiling. "I like that.
"Three, said Dorchester, "two, one.
With a sucking sound I pulled out my fingers. Smith let out a sigh. I looked around for a towel and again found myself locking eyes with Dorchester.
"So you're going to Poland, he said. "He makes me wonder why they chose you. That's what I'm thinking, why did they choose you?
And then, as if as one and it was all prearranged, the four of them leapt up. I felt myself falling back and they were on top of me and I felt my dirtied fingers being pushed into my mouth.
The taste was acrid, as was the smell.
The man on the plane next to me was both very tall and very fat. He was holding a large broadsheet newspaper, the pages of which brushed against me each time he turned a page.
I was in that space between sleep and wakefulness when I realised the man was speaking to me.
"Your first time in Poland?
I nodded, hopeful that this lack of verbal communication would dissuade any more attempts at, what would no doubt be, inane conversation.
"Quite a time to be going, what with all this going on¦
I noticed that he had folded the newspaper into a perfect square, highlighting a particular story. The words were in Polish.
"This serial killer has struck again. Always the same, always young men and always he cuts off their penises?
"Penises? I sat up straighter and felt my scrotum retract itself in my underpants.
"The penises are never found, said the man. "Some say he keeps them as trophies. Others say it is not the penis he revels in, merely the act of cutting. Still others say he eats them. Of course, Poland is a very Catholic country.
"What? I was surprised at this change of tack.
"If you repress repress, said the man, "then it will come out in other ways. Look at the Pope. And Al Qaeda, it's the same.
I asked what he meant by this but he wouldn't say anything more. Instead he unfolded the newspaper and moved on to the next story.
Waiting for me at the airport was Sergeant Drogovich. I recognised him straight away, both from the uniform he was wearing and the sign he was holding with my name scrawled across it. The spelling was incorrect.
I guessed Sergeant Drogovich was roughly the same age as me, late twenties, but at the same time, he had a face that was difficult to put an age upon, having a large bushy moustache extending all the way along his top lip and ending at little points on each side. There was something cavalier about this that I liked.
We shook hands and he led me out to a small pale blue car. I had seen its like before in early seventies British spy films set almost entirely in the Eastern Block. Inside it smelt of petrol and vodka and indeed I could see a bottle neck poking out of the glove compartment.
"We'll go straight to the training ground, said Sergeant Drogovich, "introduce you to the boys and after we can drop off your luggage. I'm putting you up, is that ok? I don't know if they informed you of the accommodation arrangements.
I nodded my head ok and gazed out of the window. I had expected everything to be grey but it wasn't. Tall buildings loomed impressively showing blank windows to the world.
"What exactly is it that I'll be doing? I asked. The Captain had been somewhat stony-faced about the actual nature of my assignation.
"Cycling proficiency, said Sergeant Drogovich. "And call me Petr. Except in front of the lads, ok?
"As a force we've invested quite some money in our cycle task force. We can't afford to let anything go wrong. You are a keen cyclist I take it?
Outside four women dressed in black lay a perfectly cylindrical bouquet of flowers at what appeared to me to be a random spot on the pavement.
"Oh yes, I said, "quite keen. Although, in reality, it was quite some time since I had ridden a bike at all.
The lads numbered eight in total. Each was dressed in a neat white t-shirt and tight black trousers which showed off powerful thighs. Overhead, clouds were gathering and the wind had picked up. As Sergeant Drogovich, Petr, spoke to me, some of his words seemed to be carried away across the field.
"Eight weeks on step machines, then we moved on to the bikes themselves. We got them from the Dutch. Since we've joined the EU we've seen all sorts of benefits. Of course, the communist press often made digs about the wastefulness of Western polices, the butter mountain and all that, but it seems the last laugh is on us.
"Sorry? I said.
"The Dutch donated the bikes. Seems they are from the bike mountain. As opposed to mountain bikes.
I wondered if this was a joke, then I said, "But you said you've invested a lot of money.
Petr moved his hand up to his moustache. "In the training. And recruiting these guys, they are the cream of the crop. A bicycle task force. We will be the envy of the rest of Europe.
It seemed that that was the end of the speech for Petr reached into his pocket and took out a large blue whistle. He blew into it three times and the lads turned and jogged off to a wooden shed I hadn't noticed before on the edge of the field.
"That's where we keep the bikes, said Petr. "It's quite secure. It's guarded by a dog. She's a bitch and very ferocious. There's a lot riding on this project. No stone has been left unturned.
"How do you get them to train so hard? I said.
I had hardly needed to blow the whistle Petr had given me. I was amazed at the eight lads' enthusiasm, never having seen a group of people cycle with such verve.
"What is it you people say? said Petr. "The proof is in the pudding. Look. Today, Ivan is last.
I had noticed that as the lads were completing each of the cycle tasks we set them Petr had been making notes in a little hardback book he carried. I could now see that the notes were in a series of tables, or more precisely, a set of numbers entered onto these tables.
"Wait here, said Petr.
The lads were huddled in a group. While earlier they had been laughing, boisterous even, now the silence of expectation had fallen over them. Petr opened up the book and puffs of frosted air appeared from his mouth which indicated he was speaking, although because of his moustache, I was not actually able to see his lips move.
As the puffs stopped all of the lads bar one leapt into the air and there was much laughing and clapping of hands. The single remaining boy, Ivan I guessed, looked disconsolate and with a stamp of his feet made his way solitarily to the bike shed. Intrigued by what was happening I moved towards the group.
"Sergeant Drogovich, I started to say but Petr held up a hand to silence me.
"There is something of a ceremony about this, he said and gave a laugh. "As I said, we are a Catholic country.
It took me a moment to realise what was different about the bike Ivan was wheeling out of the shed and then I noticed the seat. Instead of the usual triangular leather design, there was a large purple phallus.
Petr leant over and whispered in my ear. "This one came from the Dutch sex museum. Another donation. We didn't have this kind of thing under communism. We much more had to just 'make do'.
The lads had formed a circle and into the centre of this Ivan wheeled the bike. The earlier jollity had now been replaced by a sombre silence. Ivan looked towards Petr, perhaps hoping for some kind of reprieve, but as none was apparently forthcoming, he carefully lay down the bike and removed his clothes item by item.
His body was perfectly white, almost marble-like, and as defined as a statue. Petr had stated they were cream of the crop and I wondered under what conditions exactly they were recruited. The clouds had moved in closer and it was about dark.
"If you would, as our guest, do the honours, said Petr and he passed me an open tub of what I guessed must be some kind of lubricant.
Ivan had cupped his hands over his penis and as I approached he turned slightly and bent at the waist, offering up his backside.
I thought that it was only the night before when I had put my fingers up Smith's arse. And here I was again.
"If I put a lot on, I whispered, "it won't hurt so much.
Ivan nodded very slightly. "Thank you, he said. "You are very kind.
We were back in the car and Petr was talking although my mind was elsewhere. I was thinking of Ivan as he sat on the phallus, the way once it was inside him, it looked like he was riding a regular bike. I recalled the officers back at the barracks putting their fingers up each other's arses on a nightly basis under the guise of a game. Everything was something under something else and I was trying to decipher the exact significance of this, if indeed there was any, when I realised the car had stopped and Petr was saying something to me.
"A drink before we return home?
On each side of the car loomed the grey facades of three storey buildings. The street was empty and I noticed a gentle snow had started to fall. Flakes were clinging like tiny white insects to the windscreen of the car.
"A regular haunt of mine, said Petr. "I'm sure you'll like it.
My eyes were heavy but it seemed the drink was already a foregone conclusion, like everything else that had happened over the previous two days.
I followed Petr out of the car and up to an unobtrusive iron gate. Petr pushed a button, a buzzer sounded and we gained access to a courtyard. At the end of this was a staircase, hewn from the concrete, leading down to a door.
"I found this place quite by chance, said Petr and he rapped on the door with the edge of his knuckles.
The door was opened by a burly man in a thick, ribbed jumper. From inside I sensed a warm fug of smoke, the cosy chatter of intimate friends and the gentle beat of music.
The ceiling was not much higher than my own head and radiating from the main body of the bar were a number of alcoves. We were led to one of these and within seconds two beers were placed in front of us.
"It's always good to relax after a long day, said Petr. "And I wanted a chance to talk to you properly.
From the corner of my eye I noticed a door opening on a side wall. Through it came a youth dressed only in a pair of white underpants. For a second I thought it was Ivan and then I saw the face was different. There was a smattering of applause as the youth stepped onto a low-rise stage.
"You've heard about our serial killer, have you? said Petr.
"What? I said. And then, "Oh yes, I see. I clearly remembered the fat man on the plane although that seemed a while ago now. "He cuts off their penises, doesn't he?
On the stage the youth was gyrating his hips. Someone passed him a bottle of oil or something and he held it vertically, squirted the liquid on his chest. It made the already taut muscles glisten, even in the half-light.
"It's our Catholic heritage, said Petr. "Where you have rituals, you also have a perversion of them. That was one of the plus points of communism. It didn't stand for all that. You knew where you were with communism.
A barman appeared and replaced our two empty glasses with two full ones. It was odd as I couldn't remember taking a drink. The youth beckoned someone onto the stage with him; a muscular compact man from a table near the entrance.
The youth knelt the man in front of him and carefully took off his own underpants, revealing a penis that was both large and erect. The man took the oil from the youth and started to rub it into the shaft of the penis, performing a slow masturbation.
"I wanted to bring you here, said Petr, "away from the hurly-burly to explain the true nature of our task force. Can you keep a secret?
"I wouldn't want this getting back to The Captain.
"I keep myself to myself, I said.
The youth was sliding his hips slowly backwards and forwards, his penis slipping and sliding out of the 'o' the man had made with his hand. On his face was a look of ecstasy.
"The main reason our bicycle task force has been set up, is to catch this serial killer. Traditional methods have failed. The powers that be want to try something new. Are you willing to help?
The muscular man while keeping one hand in a perfect 'o' reached into a pocket and pulled out a small circular cracker. He held this near to the head of the penis. The youth gave one final thrust and came, the cum splashing onto the cracker. There was a loud round of applause and Petr asked me to repeat what I had said, my words obviously having been drowned out in the din.
"But why me? I said again.
I couldn't remember the drive back to Petr's apartment. Our initial two beers had turned into seven or eight and the effect of the alcohol had only been intensified by my extreme tiredness. The lift smelt of stale urine and Petr's door was at the end of a long corridor. I had the sense that we were very high up.
"Before we go in, said Petr, leaning close and whispering, "I must warn you of the mess. You understand, it has been a hectic few months, and certain things have slipped.
The apartment was one room divided down the centre by a breakfast bar. There was one other door; a bathroom I assumed. As a place to live it was economical, neatly packaged. In the corner was a bed, unmade, blankets and sheets half on the floor. And across the floor were a series of Polaroid photos; all boys' faces.
"It's nothing like that, said Petr, who must have noticed the direction of my gaze. "My intentions are always towards females. These pictures, they are the victims. And then quite spuriously he added, "Of the serial killer.
Somehow, not wanting to get into all that now, it seeming a better topic for sobriety and the morning, I picked up the only other object on the floor. This was a wooden toilet seat fitted with four six inch legs. I thought it perhaps an object of communism little talked about in the West.
"Ah that, said Petr. "That is my own design. He seemed a little flustered, his bluffness for the first time deteriorating. "You have to remember that with the end of communism came this sense that we could try almost anything, that anything was permissible in the market of supply and demand.
I turned the toilet seat over. Obviously, a lot of work had gone into it. Each of the legs fitted flush with the base and at the end of each leg was a perfect little wheel. I could imagine it scooting across the floor, almost a child's plaything.
"There is a certain lady I pay to sit below this seat, said Petr. "I like her there while I am watching the television. The sensation, how shall we say it, pleases me.
"I see, I said.
"At the time I am quite naked, said Petr. "It is only a little thing. Now, Petr clasped his hands together, "could I get you a nightcap?
There was none of the usual awkwardness when two men share a room of who was going to sleep where. After all, there was only one bed. At some point Petr stood up and removed all his clothes. Due the smallness of the apartment I suddenly found myself face to face with Petr's extremely large and heavy penis. It was surrounded by a thick bush of hair. In fact, this hair continued all the way up Petr's body. My initial instinct was to reach out and cup the balls with my hand, but Petr currently being my immediate supervisor, I decided this was not a matter for consideration.
While Petr was in the toilet I removed my own clothes, rearranged the bed covers and slipped inside. I could clearly hear Petr grunting over the toilet bowl and I thought of that poor girl who was made to sit for hours with her face pressed against his arse. Or maybe not so poor, for who are we to judge others? Maybe this was her darkest wish too. Perhaps, in a Catholic sense, she saw Petr as her saint.
I must have been asleep when Petr got into bed for I don't remember him doing so. I woke up once and his arm was around me, his hairy front pressed to my smooth back. He had a nighttime erection and his penis had worked its way so it was nestled between my thighs. The sensation was not unpleasant.
When I woke a second time light from a full moon was shining through the uncurtained window. In its spidery glow I could see picked out each of the faces of the murdered boys and every time I opened my eyes after this, disconcerted, they were there. Eventually l I could stand it no more and got out from under the warmth of the bed and one by one turned them over to face the floor.
In my absence Petr had turned to the wall and the covers had slipped away. His arse was meaty, as hairy as his front. I got in next to him, nestled my own penis against this hairy area and fell back into a more than comfortable sleep.
I was dreaming of a steady life in Poland, my own apartment, myself as head of a bicycle task force when I felt myself being jolted awake. I opened my eyes to find Petr standing over me, still naked, phone pressed to his ear.
"It's Ivan, said Petr, and it took me a moment to comprehend he was speaking to me and not into the headset. "He's gone. They think the serial killer has struck again. Come, get ready. We must leave now.
I looked around the apartment for last night's discarded underpants. As I pulled them on over my morning erection I wondered what the day would hold in store for me.
The lads were in a state of high agitation. Apparently there had been an argument; teasing about the phallus had turned somewhat nasty and Ivan had said he was going home to his mother's.
"But that is strictly forbidden, said Petr.
Ivan's closest allay in the group, Stepanek, said he knew this, so had contacted the mother in the early hours of the morning in order Ivan could return before his absence was noted. He was informed that Ivan had indeed been home but had only been there a few moments, in his own bedroom, before he had stormed out again with the words, 'I will show those buggers. I will get the bastard myself'.
Apparently unbeknownst to everyone but Stepanek, Ivan had been doing his own investigation into the serial killer and had confided to his friend that he had a more than firm lead.
"Then this morning, said Stepanek, "came the light.
I looked across at Petr and incomprehension must have shown on my face.
"There are certain details, said Petr, "in any investigation that are never released to the press. Just before dawn on the night of each killing, a light in the shape of a penis is shone into the sky. It is an indication of a murder.
Stepanek was almost beside himself. "Ivan is missing. It doesn't take a genius to work out the facts.
"You never know, until you know, said Petr. "Stepanek, we will go to his house. That is where the trail currently goes dead. At the door Petr turned and looked directly at me. "You too. You are needed. Your experience may help us dearly.
Ivan's mother was a tiny lady in a thick coat. She was far removed from the fine specimen that was Ivan. I was made to sit with her while Petr and Stepanek searched his room for clues. She served me a strong alcoholic drink in a tiny glass and passed me a plate of pickles to eat. I felt she was holding back, that at the slightest hint from me, she would burst into hysterical tears.
After what seemed like hours Petr and Stepanek emerged from the room. I could tell from their downcast faces that nothing had been found.
"If you don't mind¦ I said.
Petr shook his head. "An extra pair of eyes. You may see what we did not.
The room had the unadorned transience of a room in an assignation house. Above the bed was a picture of a lake with ducks, in a corner a sparsely stacked bookcase, pornographic magazines spread across the bottom shelf. All these items, I imagined had been duly noted and checked. No doubt Petr had not risen to his position of power by being unmethodical.
I remembered the way Ivan had looked at me as I applied the lube to his arsehole, the mumbled, 'thank you'. There had been a connection between us. Perhaps that's what Petr and Stepanek were missing, that connection.
Ivan had been bullied by the other boys and the nature of this bullying was over the phallus inside him. This was his sense of shame, not perhaps the object itself, but the others' perception of it. In the corner was a small wicker basket, an item which with no stretch of the imagination could be used for laundry.
A large object up the arse may cause some bleeding and this blood in Ivan's mind would be symbolic of his humiliation. I guessed he would want to remove the pants that held this symbol.
Bingo! There, at the bottom, were the pants. I picked them up, and following my instinct, I held the front of the pants to my nose. The smell was masculine, comforting and intimate at the same time.
It was as I was placing the pants back that I noticed the slip of paper, lying alone at the bottom of the laundry basket. Its story was very short. 'St Barnabas Church' it said.
"If I pushed Ivan the hardest, said Petr, "it was only because I felt he had the most exceptional talent.
Stepanek was sitting tight-lipped in the front of the car. I was squeezed in the back. We were worming our way upwards, thick trees pressing in on either side.
Snow had started to fall again and when the trees did finally break I felt I had been presented with a scene you normally see in one of those glass decorative balls you shake.
The church stood alone on an outcrop of rock. Across its faÃ§ade were flying buttresses, the carved faces of screaming monkeys, and below them, window after window after window, the glass a blaze of every colour under the sun.
Access to the church was by a wooden walkway held secure by ropes above the precipice below. Petr went first, then Stepanek, then me. Once across, Petr held two fingers to his lips and gestured we should go to the side of the church.
"Who knows what we are getting ourselves into, he whispered.
About a third of the way down, at about knee height, was a small glass window.
"There is talk of St Barnabas, said Stepanek, "that once you join its order you are there for life.
On the other side of the window was a room. It was sparsely lit, bare except for a stone table in the centre. A door in the room opened and a young man stepped in. He was wearing a monk's habit and the back of his head was shaved in a perfect semi-circle. He walked up to the table, lay his hands upon it, bent and kissed it reverently.
There was an air of serenity about the young man. He raised his hands to his neck and fumbled there and the habit fell away. He was naked underneath, his body perfectly shaved. He lifted himself up and lay face down on the table, his legs slightly apart. Just visible was the tip of his penis, flattened against the table top.
The door of the room opened again and another young man entered. He was swinging a censor in front of him and by the way his lips were moving it was obvious he was inciting some incantation.
I was so drawn to the naked youth that I almost missed the third. This one had an extremely large nose and was holding a red cushion on the palm of his hand. In the centre of this cushion was a small round wafer.
The youth on the table lifted his head slightly, looked around, smiled. The large nosed youth placed the cushion down on the table, picked the wafer from it and very carefully parted the arse-cheeks of the naked youth. The sphincter, like the rest of the body, was perfectly shaved.
"It's a kind of ceremony, whispered Stepanek.
I felt my own penis stiffen. In my head was Ivan. Unconsciously I had replaced the youth on the table with him.
The youth with the large nose bent forward, licked the arsehole with an almost feverous passion, so when he came away the arsehole was glistening, even in the half-light. With his other hand he then pressed the wafer against the sphincter. After some initial resistance it disappeared inside and I could imagine it there and wanted to be part of it. However, I was torn from my reverie by several things happening very quickly and almost at once.
Ivan stepped into the room, Stepanek called out his name, and Petr, Stepanek and I all felt the heavy fall of a hand on our shoulders. We leapt up and turned around and there were four more monks. Each was holding a gun. The guns were pointing at us.
We were standing before the priest. He was flanked on either side by the monks. A little away from them was Ivan, his head down.
"You do realise, said the priest, "that the interruption of the Eucharist is a very serious matter.
Petr's face flushed red. He stepped forward with clenched fists. The priest held up a hand.
"My son, your anger is best directed towards more productive avenues.
It was then Stepanek who spoke, voicing something that I myself had been thinking. "But Ivan you are alive?
Ivan looked puzzled. "Alive, but of course I am.
"We saw the light, said Stepanek. "We thought you were the next victim.
"Ah, said the priest, "that I can explain.
The priest led us back outside, back across the narrow wooden walkway. As we went he talked.
"The Church has its own way of dealing with these serial killers. A trap was laid. A monk was set as bait. The serial killer struck.
"The monk was killed? I said.
"Oh no, said the priest. He stopped. We were in a barren field a short distance from the church. "The monk was saved but the killer escaped. He left only this. The priest pointed towards a contraption on the ground. It was a light-box.
"The penis in the sky, said Petr.
"The net is closing, said the priest. He turned to Ivan. "And you, my boy, must make your choice. It is the bicycle task force or my monks. The State or the Church. In Poland that is the way it has always been.
Ivan put a hand up to his mouth then dropped it. He looked at me. "What about you, he said. "What are you going to do?
Petr pursed his lips. "I can swing it with your Captain. Say you are doing important work here. It's your choice.
My choice, I thought and then again, Why me? This time though, there was a competing and more appealing thought. Why not?
I was assigned a room in the barracks with Ivan. By day I was advisor to the bicycle task force, by night I slept side by side with Ivan. On our third night together he slipped his penis inside me. There was no ceremony about it and no talk. I liked the feel of it there and pushed myself back against him. As he came he twisted my head around and kissed me.
"Do you believe in love at first sight? he said.
I thought of my life up until then, my life in the barracks back home. I had been an outsider, excluded. There had been no room for love. Everything had been a series of feints, moves, ritual maneuvering.
"Can I fuck you? I said.
Ivan gripped my arse cheeks as I fucked him, his legs over my shoulders. It was my first time and I watched the head of my penis as it disappeared inside him. After, we showered together. Ivan got down on his knees and took each of my balls in my mouth. As we were getting dried Ivan passed me his underpants.
"Would you wear these today? I want to think of you in them.
Then we were back outside. Petr arrived later than usual and he asked to speak to me in private. He was holding a slip of paper.
"It's bad news, he said. "The killer has struck again. This time for real. They want us to go fully operational, now rather than later. Do you think you're ready?
I was aching where Ivan had been inside me. I thought of more nights of us inside each other. Somehow this felt like the important thing. Everything else was periphery, even death.
"Let's go for it, I said.