Mile-high --- Florence (2)

By Michael Ampersant

Dex & Jamie, the characters of Jamie 1.0, have wandered off the reservation and taken up residence in Florence. In the first part of this soap, Dex has been trying his luck on the Piazza della Signoria, so far without much success:
Next thing, a thirty year old man enters my field of vision, walks across the piazza, casts 1, 2, nay 3 glances in my direction, and is interrupted by his cell phone.

(While he’s talking: There are two types of billionaires: (1) unhappy billionaires, who are each unhappy in their own way, and (2) happy billionaires, who answer “whatever” when their valet inquires as to today’s attire and are then served with a bespoke Bond Street summer costume in understated blue. Our man belongs to the second category. What’s special about him: he’s faceless. You couldn’t even say he looks like a choir boy (hedge funds), or Osama bin Laden (family money), or Donald Trump (family money). He looks like somebody who refuses to look like anything.

There are two types of billionaires

Are you still there?

I dealt with a guy like him before and discussed this with Jamie. Jamie said:
“Consider a transformation that takes an arbitrary human and turns him into an object looking like Superman. Invert this transformation and apply it to your arbitrary human, and they look like the least-recognizable person on earth.”
“Huh?” I said.
“They’ll look anonymous. Totally. They could be caught on CCTV robbing a bank and broadcasted on cable networks and nobody would recognize their face on the bus or on the buffet of the Mar al Lago. They’ve had a face job. An expensive face job.”)

We don’t always get it right, but this time we do. Mr. Bond Street finishes his phone conversation, makes a beeline for yours truly, and introduces himself as “John.” He asks whether I like art. “Real art. Botticelli. Da Vinci. Warhol.” He chuckles. Of course we like art. There’s this museum around the corner, the Uffizi; whether I’d like to join him for a visit.
“No prob,” I answer. The Uffizi, after all, is the most important museum in the world according to the local tourist guide.

Real Art. Botticelli, da Vinci, Warhol.

I rise from my squatting position and straighten my biloxi-colored T-shirt and my dick. Uffici’s entrance is forty yards on the left side of the arcades down to the Arno river. In the summer, John tells me, lines extend miles in all directions. This is spring and the line is hundred yards long but it don’t matter, he walks us up to the entrance, and then---as if any proof is needed he’s the real thing with three gym profs on retainer---rolls his shoulders and lifts me up with both arms. He asks the nearest tourist to lower the stanchion belt that’s separating the tensed-up people at the head of the queue from lesser mankind.

He isn’t arrogant. We have to save lives here: “Pronto, emergencia,” he says. The sliding doors slide. Inside, he puts me back onto my feet. He fumbles in a pocket and issues an ID-badge with a photo of Pope Francis. “Pronto,” he repeats, holding the batch up to the face of the first available museum guard. The guard faints. Now the ticket control. Like in airports it’s electronic, with a turnstile and a bar code reader. The ID batch, on its face, is offered to the laser light, and the Pope, still smiling, makes the computer throw up its arms. We’re in.

Hold on. There’s an old-fashioned cloak room where the terrorists are supposed to leave their knapsacks. “This is what separates the men from the boys,” he says. “We are now a piece of art, Emil. Strip.”
I look at him.
“It would be easier if people were recording this,” he enunciates, raising his voice. “Folks, listen to me, we are the real thing, we are HAPPENING here as we speak.  Please activate the video function on your iPhones. We’re in this together. Let’s make history, pronto.”

The Germans understand without a hitch, Anglo-Saxons are delayed by their comprehension of the English language, other tourist nations dither, but John has already chucked his Bond Street bottoms. He’s tuned his mildly hirsute butts to the audience and folds his lower garments ceremoniously. He hands the stack to the cloak woman (still wearing his upper wears). She accepts the clothes and hands him a numbered badge. He’s facing me. “Art,” he says, “Action Art, Emil.”

I get the message and follow his example. “Ahh,” the crowd goes. I’m pretty, folks, not as pretty as Jamie, but when you’re barely legal age and drop your pants, people like it.

John hands my MuchachoMalo boxers and the A&C shorts to the cloak woman. “Let’s make history,” he repeats. “Run.” I once saw a feature about art in the nineteenth or twentieth century, and back then action art was what they did all the time, streaking through museums and High Ashbury Park and making history.

“Emil?” I throw at him while we’re flying down the corridors past all the marble statues with their broken noses.
“Emil!” he answers. “That’s your name, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I say. I’m reasonably clever, and my name is Dex. It’s not a deep thing.

“The Annunciation,” he says, “right? Under the Annunciation?”

"Action art, Emil."

The Annunciation, I’m thinking. There are hundreds of them in Florence---paintings of arch angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would conceive and give birth to a son, Jesus. Five of them are in the Ufficios, and we are heading for the major one on the second floor, a work of Leonardo da Vinci.

Left, John says, here. There’s a throng of people bulging in front of an entrance. The commotion has followed us down the corridors and there are shrieks, people raising their iThings. We turn left and find ourselves in a smallish room with five pictures, two of which I remember. Yes, this is it, on the wall off the windows, a perfect double square of a canvas with a sweet-looking Gabriel, a girl almost, brandishing stylized wings that would never fly, right arm raised and Maria, behind a crystalline workbook, making eye contact while taking notes on her crystalline workbook. And the background, folks, the best thing of these early Renaissance paintings, a folly of tree profiles and snow-topped mountains kept together by the newly discovered Perspective. I’m just eighteen-years old and Jamie’s boyfriend, but Jamie knows about infinity, and these backgrounds, if you need to get a feel for infinity, this is it.

“Ha,” the happy billionaire says and hands his jacket to the guard.

“This thing is in the box,” he say to me, “but let’s not waiver. We owe this to history.” He points at the picture. “Never been done before---well, who knows. Mile-high, mile-high.”

The guard has none of this. He has gripped John’s jacket, but now he’s holding it up like a smelly rag while fumbling with his miserable Nokia and calling for help. So John grabs a Molotov cocktail from the hands of a passing terrorist and smashes it against the red-framed emergency point on the wall. The RRING is immediate and ear-blowing. Overhead lights dim, emergency lights come on. Da Vinci’s painting, what is it worth on the free, holy markets?

Extreme noise makes people squeal---or aroused. John has grabbed me from behind and moved into position. “Ready?” he asks. I nod. “Fuck,” he yells, and there we go, him throwing his thrusts, plunging, pumping, people recording this for posterity, and us moaning for the general benefit of the audience.

“Let’s keep this going,” he yells above the RRING. “You like it?”
“Yes,” I yell.
“I don’t mean you,” he answers.
“You like it?” he yells, shouts. “Ti piace?”

Si,” people answer while holding up the iThings. “Il duce ha sempre ragione.”
“I can go on forever, you know,” John yells. “Mile-high.” 

“Show us,” a lonely sceptic answers, but everybody else is making history by recording it. (When I tell this later to Jamie, he says: When this footage is shown thousand years down the road, it’ll make a strange impression on the aliens that have finally come to rescue the planet.”)

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” John goes and I echo: “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

“Fuck, fuck fuck,” people go.

It would be a pity for John to come in obscura with half the world watching, and so he quits at the moment suprème, grabs his dinger (this is what I realized later when we showed on Berlusconi’s Mediaset, the Italian TV, Jamie relaxing against my shoulder)---grabs his dinger, asks me to turn around, and comes over my face in full billionaire load, creamy-abundant jizz spouting over my face and splashing, splashing against everything, in particular the bullet-proof, reflection-free glass pane that protects priceless art from terrorist attacks. Applause, true applause from a transfixed audience. He raises his right hand in an old-fashioned V-gesture. “Mile-high,” he cries. “Milio-alto.” 

"Fuck fuck fuck," the crowd goes.

When we were done, and he had collected his jacket from the guard that was still fumbling with his miserable Nokia, and we had descended the stairs and recollected our belongings and put them on again, and exited the building, and John passing a phone call to Francis, and us striking down for a post-coital drink on the patio of the Gucci Café---him, generous John issued his check book, asked for my real name, and signed a check to the value of 100 kay. “Don’t you worry,” he said, “this is just one percent of what I’ll be making on our art as the new owner of Berlusconi’s networks, which I bought this morning.”

“What will the pope say when he sees it?” I ask.

“That’s the beauty of my face job, see. Mile-high. Nobody ever recognizes me, not even Francis.”

(continues here

Michael Ampersant writes literary erotica. His first book, GREEN EYES, was a finalist of the Lambda Literary Awards last year. Another of his shorts, It's Immoral, has just appeared in the English lit journal Bunbury.


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