milan. with you but without you. after dropping you at the studio i wandered around aimlessly for a while, every time ending up in the same place. the air was dead and i could feel myself sweating. i was hoping to break the cycle by arbitrarily turning corners, and yet i landed back at the biblioteca ambrosiana every time; till midday.

the food was probably already rotten in the small plastic container as it lay there in the sun on the sidewalk. was it not good, did they have enough of it? how did it come to be there? perhaps it dropped from a old man’s bag as he was carrying it home to have the rest for dinner. i didn’t want to pick it up, it was covered with some oily reddish-brown sauce. i looked around to satisfy my curiosity of what might have happened. there were no restaurants or supermarkets from which something like it would originate, i had to rest a bit, i spread myself into the narrow piece of the shade against the wall of the church which hadn’t seen the sun yet. the cool of the building’s marble against my back. i kept on staring at the mysterious container. i must have been staring too long, a tall man in a tailored suit and crisp white shirt was passing, he seemed out of place in the wilting heat. he briskly looked me up and down before he saw the container and carefully picked it up, as gently as one would pick up a wounded bird. he handed it to me and i accepted without hesitation, like an offering, not even minding the oozing sauce, just to touch his hands.

i’m tired of waiting for you, i want to go back to paris, although now it’s not the same anymore; the excitement had turned to trepidation.

i remember the imitation grass carpets, they made me feel deserted; an undelivered promise of verdant green. this one on the piazza, the one in rue jacob near the église de saint germain des prés and the one at the italian deli in london. it was on the corner, just down the road in belgravia where i stayed. they say blue plates dull the appetite, but green carpets do the same for me. i just couldn’t get myself to order anything, when the waitress came around for the third time and i again only asked for a coffee, her patient smile suddenly evaporated and she whipped the menu from the table with a crack. i sat there disappointed, alone, not thinking what to think. my attention drifted to the tables next to me; an eastern european couple with a baby in a pram, two business men shoddily dressed in scuffed shoes, an old man alone with a cane, dressed in linen slacks, his purple dotted shirt (i should say blouse) buttoned to the top, and a light blue blazer. i still felt a hunger but the magic carpet had done it’s work. i eventually got up to pay inside: at the deli counter with it’s display of appetising dishes, a beautiful young man; our only exchange a glance and two pounds fifty.

i returned to the hotel to escape the heat, i jerked off alone; in my post orgasmic haze there was a whiff of limes and i saw his face again.

the biblioteca ambrosiana was warmer than i expected despite the ominous swinging of the fan blades overhead, there was no refuge from the heat. gratefully there was also no queue; i had a moment’s hesitation, as if there might be nothing of interest beyond the over-lit entrance, but to see leonardo’s portrait of a musician was worth not standing in a queue for. the handwritten notices; don’t eat, don’t drink, no pets. there were three desks, at each of them sat a caricature from some italian movie. i asked at the first counter, she directed me to the next where a man took my bag, gave me a number and said sternly: ‘no photo.’ the third tore my ticket and indicated the way into a large room with books, new books; it was the museum shop. the multi-lingual information card stand was empty except for a few polish and russian pamphlets. from the corner of my eye i could see him unpacking a box of pamphlets. he walked over to me and confidently filled the shelf marked ‘english’, he waited for me to take one. i waited, he next filled the french one and paused again looking intently at me; i liked this game, the spanish one was next, i remember his expectant face when he filled the dutch one. i probably should have taken it but i found a thrill in the accidental proximity of our silent encounter; he had a woody scent about him which mixed with the acrid smell of his sweat. three turns later i took the german one; not that my german is any good but i feared that the spell would be broken if i hadn’t left him that instant.