Slava Vishinev leaned back in the giant Roman tub of his luxury apartment in the Palazzo Raphael, at the edge of the Mediterranean in Monaco. He let the warm water slosh over his beefy thighs and then up, submerging his thick penis, then covering his broad chest. It was still a good body, he thought, though gray hairs had invaded his pubic thatch and the shag beneath his pecs. Too bad there was no one to see it.
He closed his eyes and remembered the last time anyone had touched him with sexual intent—in the men’s room at the Castorama home improvement store in Moscow. He’d gone there to buy a new pair of pliers, after his son Arseny had broken the family’s only pair.
The store had been nearly deserted that day, the calls for sales help over the loudspeaker echoing against the haphazard piles of light fixtures, the few sad barbecue grills marked down to fire-sale prices.
His penis began to stiffen as he remembered the stranger’s face.
A working man in paint-splattered jeans and a T-shirt that stretched taut over his chest, he was in his thirties, twenty years younger than Slava. When their eyes met, the look on the painter’s face was unmistakable. The man licked his lips and nodded toward the restrooms at the back of the store.
Slava forgot about the pliers and followed the painter, admiring the tightness of his ass in the faded jeans. The man entered the men’s room, holding the door behind him for Slava, who smiled and thanked him. The room was empty except for the two of them.
The painter walked up to one of the floor-based urinals, unzipped his jeans, and pulled out his dick. As his urine began to flow, Slava took the urinal beside him and opened his own zipper. He had no need to urinate, though, so he just stood there, with his thick, erect penis sticking out.
He looked over at the painter, who smiled. He finished urinating, but instead of walking away, he reached out and grasped Slava’s dick in one hand and began fisting it. It felt so good to have that rough touch against his tender skin, the solid warmth of a man’s hand wrapped around him.
The man muttered some harsh endearments as he jerked Slava, about how big and powerful Slava’s dick was, the way he would make Slava squirm and beg for release.
Thinking back on that moment, Slava stroked the tip of his penis with his index finger, feeling the sensations rise in his gut. With his other hand he pinched his right nipple, then stroked around it. Yes, he thought. This is good.
Slava usually visited one of the clandestine clubs in Moscow when he needed release, so he’d had no idea that the Castorama men’s room was a known location for gay sex. He braced one arm against the wall above the urinal, closed his eyes, and enjoyed the feel of the painter’s hand on his dick.
He’d been unaware that their interaction was being recorded by a hidden security camera. At least the store security guard had the courtesy to wait until Slava had shot off in the painter’s hand to barge into the men’s room. Then again, maybe he’d been watching the action on his monitor and enjoying it.
The guard confronted them with vulgar names. Slava was tempted to knock him down and run out of the store, but the painter was in his way. Two police officers arrived a few moments later, and they took both Slava and the painter into custody. Slava was charged with public indecency, and his wife was notified.
Thus began the cascade that had destroyed his old life.
His erection deflated; Slava opened his eyes. He couldn’t even jerk himself off anymore. Every fantasy ended in the realization of what his desire had done to him.
Sometimes he blamed his wife, Yelena. If she had been willing to experiment a little in the bedroom, giving him a blowjob, using a dildo to stimulate his prostate, he might never have had to seek out other men for sex.
But his desires had little or nothing to do with Yelena. She had been the daughter of a prominent party official when they’d met—an icy blonde who believed sex was only useful for procreation. Once she had a matched set of children, Arseny and Galina, she had closed that door except for special occasions like Slava’s birthday, or after she received a substantial gift like diamond earrings.
Had he ever loved her? As a young man, he had been entranced by her beauty, flattered by her attention. They used to talk together about their plans for the future, the home and family they would share. They both liked to watch old American movies with Russian subtitles, then repeat the lines from comedies to each other—she was Katharine Hepburn; he was Spencer Tracy.
They had both assumed that was love. What example did either of them have, anyway? His father and mother worked too hard to ever talk of love, and her parents had adopted the Communist ideal of two people working together to change society.
He had prospered, channeling much of his sexual energy into business, and over the ensuing decades he had become one of the rising oligarchs of Russian commerce, with a net worth of millions of rubles.
That kind of wealth attracted attention, though, and about two years before, a greedy interior minister had begun demanding that Slava hand over ownership of Roskosh—a luxury retail chain—to the state.
Slava had declined, politely at first, and then with increasing defiance. But he knew in his heart that this was a battle he could never win, so he had begun transferring assets to several different Swiss bank accounts. By the time of his arrest at Castorama, he had a nest egg of nearly ninety million euros put aside.
His high-powered attorney had quickly secured his release on bail, but when he returned home, Yelena announced he was no longer welcome there. He had sent his assistant to collect his clothes and personal items and moved into a hotel.
The next day he’d received a visit from the interior minister at his office. The man had offered to drop the charges against Slava if he would agree to turn over ownership of Roskosh.
Slava had signed the papers, and that night he’d packed his belongings and booked himself a first-class flight from Moscow to Nice, and from there a limousine to Monte Carlo, where he had reserved a suite at the Hotel Metropole. Two months later, he had moved into this apartment in the Fontvielle district.
He had not spoken to Yelena since that day, though his attorneys and hers had exchanged many messages about the pending divorce. If he were honest, he would admit that he was relieved, and didn’t miss her. He did, however, miss his children. Galina had immediately sided with her mother and refused to speak to him. Arseny had recently joined a very right-wing political group and renounced both his father and his father’s wealth.
Grudgingly, Slava rose from the tub, water cascading from his arms, his belly, and his legs. He looked at his body in the mirror above the sink. Yes, he could lose some weight. His doctor chided him, wanted to see him fifty pounds lighter. But his shoulders were still broad, his legs like tree trunks. And his dick? His dick was his pride and joy, long and thick. If only it gave him the same pleasure it had before his arrest.
Now that he was free of the expectations that had tied him to Moscow, to commerce, to his wife, he wanted more than pleasure. He remembered those American film comedies, the sense that the two stars genuinely loved each other. That was what he wanted, if it wasn’t too late. Someone to love. A man who would look at him the way Tracy had looked at Hepburn, the way Clark Gable looked at Claudette Colbert. A man he could share his most intimate self with, in bed and in life.
He had met few people since moving to Monaco, only those there to serve him, like the Palazzo’s concierges, the handsome young baristas at the coffee shop he frequented. He had no idea how to meet other men like him. He had tried one of the dating websites for gay men, but halfway through he had abandoned his profile. It seemed so silly, so impersonal. How could you feel the zing that romantics spoke of through computer wires?
He dried himself off, shaved, brushed his teeth, and took the cup of little pills that kept him healthy. In his big, simple bedroom he pulled on a pair of expensive silk boxers, then a loose pair of sweatpants and one of the oversize polo shirts with the Roskosh logo on the breast. He was just going to the store around the corner so he slid his feet into a pair of rubber slippers.
He waved hello to the concierge behind the big round desk in the lobby. “Bonjour, monsieur,” the man said between surveying his video monitors and accepting packages from a deliveryman.
Slava blinked a few times as he stepped outside into the bright sunshine. Why had he spent so many winters in cold, dismal Moscow, he wondered, when there was this beauty to be enjoyed? Glorious sunlight, sparkling water, verdant hills. And all around him, the smell of money, from the women’s diamonds to the men’s gold watches, every model of luxury car. He loved it.
A gentle breeze blew in from the Mediterranean, only a few hundred feet away. A tiny bird swooped in front of him, then climbed a dizzying trajectory toward the clouds.
The traffic light was in his favor, and he stepped from the curb to the pavement. He heard the acceleration of the white panel van as it headed directly toward him, but he continued to cross the street. This was the Principality of Monaco, after all, and drivers obeyed the law.
Someone had forgotten to tell that to the van’s driver, however. Slava looked wide-eyed as the van approached, then jumped to the side as it brushed past him, knocking him to the pavement, then speeding away.
The impact knocked him out for a moment, and when he awoke the concierge was leaning over him. “Monsieur, monsieur,” he said. There was blood everywhere, and it felt like his head was going to explode. He looked up at the concierge, and then everything went dark.