And here's a Michel Giliberti photograph of how I see Paulo, as a young, exuberant Cape Verdean with a wicked smile. Sweet, no?
The soft voice came as if from nowhere, so nearly shocking in the trance atmosphere of the dark room that the collective gasp was audible.
The seated man, the evening’s host, turned his head and spoke. “Jesse, dear one. Come.” The host made a graceful gesture toward the remaining cushions and beckoned with a smile.
Into the circle of light stepped a young man, round muscles rolling under oiled skin. He turned toward the circle of witnesses and gave a small bow. He turned toward his Patron, but slowly, so that as he knelt the witnesses took in his various adornments: tooled cuffs at his wrists and ankles, a band of gold holding his dark hair off his face, barbells in his dark nipples, and a golden cock pin set with a red gem.
More than one witness sighed with regret when Jesse obeyed, hiding from their eyes the tiny links of chain glittering as they swung between the band under his cock head and the jeweled ball holding the pin’s staff in his hard, dark prick. Another band circled his balls, drawing them down while two more slender chains connected them to the cock pin and pulled them forward. The display was both understated and obscene. Jesse didn’t appear to be wearing a collar.
“You came to me to learn certain things,” the one called Patron said to Jesse’s bowed head. “Have you learned them?”
“I have, and more, Patron,” said Jesse. There was a tremor in his voice.
“Tell me what things you have learned.”
“Discipline, Patron, over myself and my craft. Pride in my work. How to share my art without losing my soul. Sanity, most of all.”
Though the words were for Patron alone, they signaled very different meanings to the witnesses depending upon their stations. The artists knew that Jesse was a sculptor and that his Patron was perhaps the best promoter of artists in the region and heard an apprentice declaring his independence, while the practitioners of dominance and submission heard a boy begging his Master's recognition.
Whatever their station, no witness failed to sense that this display, this ritual, was freighted with transformation, with a shift in a very delicately balanced power. The witnesses watched more carefully than ever.
“And you are ready to end our relationship?”
“No, Patron, I am not.” Jesse’s voice steadied. “But I am ready for it to change.”
The host gave a small, tight nod. “Then change it shall. Present for me.”
With a grace the submissives in the room couldn’t help but envy and the Dominants craved, Jesse lowered himself to the cushions. A collective gasp arose from the witnesses as he bent his head and chest to a pillow and spread his thick thighs. There, nestled between them, just behind his plump balls, another barbell pierced the skin of his perineum, as thick around as a birthday candle, capped by golden beads the size of marbles. This was Jesse’s real collar, the one no one but his Patron had seen during the years of their association.
Their host stroked his hand once over Jesse’s hair and stood, walking around his presented body to kneel behind him.
“I pierced your most intimate flesh when we committed to each other, and reduced the gauge every time you hit a milestone in your training or your art. I remove it today to free you from the contract that gave me rights and privileges. But know that I am now and will be your friend, should you ever need me, and that this is your home, whenever you decide to return.”
Gently, Tasim unscrewed one of the balls. No one saw his hand shake, so maybe it didn’t, but he did hesitate.
“Patron?” Jesse said, his voice muffled somewhat by the pillow. “It’s all right. I’m ready. I’ll stand on my own from now on, but I’ll always need you. We have a new contract, as you promised we would. The professional one? You’ll represent me? And I’ll always be your friend, too. I’m ready.”
The bent man’s voice was resolute, and Tasim nodded once and drew out the heavy barbell. In its place, he clasped a slightly narrower gold ring with a captive bead, perhaps something Jesse had chosen, something his body would shrink to accommodate over time. It made a less dramatic presentation, but if one knew what was happening, as the witnesses now did, it made sense, this new, self-contained adornment.
“Thank you, Patron.” Jesse knelt up and turned to face Tasim, who opened his arms and wrapped them around his protégé. They knelt that way for a long time.
© 2009 Lee Benoit
Watch for "Bearing Witness" on my Torquere Author Page.
Not a friend of Paulo & Preston yet? Go here to find a list of their stories, in order, including the FREE ones.
Now, how's about that second contest I promised?
I hope you're looking forward to my new story. :)
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