Ludus Scaenicus Mortis Rubrae
by William Maltese

an excerpt

I stand naked at the castellated-abbey window. The sheer red-rock cliff drops off directly below, so I have a good visual of the panoramic vista that culminates with a fiery sun disappearing beneath the horizon. The attending sky is attractively blushed from pink to cinnabar.

More to the foreground, the field of red clover is now almost black with shadow, but not so much that I don't spot the sudden movements of the red deer cautiously entering it from the surrounding trees. It hesitates, as if expecting interruption. It sniffs the air as if all the fieriness of sun and sky are evidence of the forest burning, and the animal only awaits scent of telltale smoke on the air for confirmation. Finally, though, it begins to graze.

I'm reassured by its presence. It means that life goes on beyond these castellated-abbey walls in which my companions and I are willingly locked away.

Sudden cricket chirps audibly contribute to the reality of descending nightfall. They don't come from the world outside but from the small rosewood-weave cage on the small inlaid stand just to the right of the room's walk-in fireplace. My host has an Asian wise man among his permanent entourage, who insists such caged insects are harbingers of good fortune. In these trying times, good fortune being in great demand, Prince Prospero has seen that each guest room in the abbey is provided with at least one such beneficent, if noisy, caged good luck charm.

My right hand flattens over the top of my chest and slides as far as my rosy nipples. My index finger and thumb pinch the little towers that have arisen from the surrounding pink aureoles. The resulting red pain assures me that I, like the deer, am still alive, despite whatever is out to prevent it.

My self-caress continues down my body, following the thin line of red hair that rides my taut abdominals to my navel; the latter is so flush with my belly that it sometimes seems nonexistent and, thereby, has persuaded me, with the additional insistence of my lover, to attend this evening's masque as Adam after His Fall from Grace. After his biting of the red-red apple, at Eve's persuasion, because-despite our Prince's progressive nature that would likely have him relish my daring-do in having as my costume no costume-Adam before the temptation of the snake was free of carnal knowledge and, therefore, wouldn't even think of doing what I have plans of doing. I will oblige my many admirers by going naked from the waist up, but I've had the good fortune of Mistress Aredlin, who loves me despite the fact that she well knows I love another (who is a man), provide me with an exquisitely embroidered fig leaf on the codpiece of a pair of flesh-colored tights.

My hand moves farther down my body, through and over the fiery little bush of red hair that parenthesizes my dick. I manipulate my cock and balls to air them; they have gone sticky with sweat. For whatever the reason, I usually sweat after a hot bath, which makes me wonder why I bathe at all. God knows, many of my peers simply enjoy the natural scents that go with prolonged periods of not washing, or they cover their odors with more and more excessive dousing of expensive perfumes.

Immediately, my cock responds to my touch. It never needs much encouragement to rise to any occasion and, now, quickly engorges with blood, elongates its thick neck, lifts its pinkish bulbous head up...up...up...until my penile corona would, if its supporting shaft were bowed just a bit more, actually rest within the very small indent my belly button provides my stomach.

On any other occasion, I might very well hand-fist my dick and pump it to climax. I've never been one to neglect my hard cock for long, except under rare circumstances like the one existing at present. Start squirting my cum now, and I might run out of the creamy elixir before my and my lover's goal is realized for the upcoming night. Abstinence now will hopefully prolong my virility as the evening progresses.

Instead of fisting my dick, I fist the cup of a silver goblet exquisitely ringed with insets of uncut spinel. I pour red wine from a nearby flagon. Excellent wine it is, too, in that the Prince has been very generous in making the contents of his storerooms, including his extensive wine cellar, available to those of us he's favored to share with him this death-watch. The liquid tastes wondrously of grape as it slides along my palate, enters my throat, drops into my belly and causes a spontaneous combustion that warms me all the way from my toes to the top of my head.

I turn to face the opening door.

My lover, Lyle Redmond, Duke of Beryl, stripped to the waist-his tunic, his blouse, his hilted sword all in hand-enters our shared apartments. His auburn hair is tousled, his handsome face is flushed. His sweaty muscled skin possesses a sheen that makes it literally glow.

"You look like a man just returned from fucking someone other than your lover," I say, although I really have no fears that what I say is true. Redmond has sworn to be faithful, as have I, and I believe his oath as surely now as I did when he first made it.