Day and Night Two
After a morning of vigorous exercise, a hot shower, and breakfast of bagels and coffee, Klaus felt clear-headed and lively. He decided to go for a walk.
There were no other cabins around for miles. Nothing but snow and trees. Above the cabin loomed a beautiful mountain peak, glittering with thick pure white snow. The sky was dazzling blue and cloudless. Klaus' breath frosted on the air. He liked the cold. It made him feel alive and glad to be so.
Last night seemed like a dream. In fact, the past week felt like a dream in the brisk, bright clarity of the Alpine day. The cold was real. It was sharp and crisp. Better than the stale, stifling air of Schloss Eberbach.
Cheerily, he strolled through the stand of trees south of the cabin. He whistled tunelessly, surveying the forest to make sure everything was in order. The pine needles were scattered just so on the pristine blanket of snow. The animal tracks made the appropriate pretty paths through the trees. Yes, his domain was in order. A little further on, though, he noticed something which dampened his spirits. There was a place where the snow had been tossed about carelessly, and blood dotted the pure whiteness of it. A single large brown feather lay to one side of the ruined snow. A movement caught his eye. At once he thought it was one of the Neo-Nazis. But it wasn't. It was a child with black hair and sad eyes. He was dressed in a wrinkled, soiled school uniform. Klaus stepped closer.
"Oh, dear," he sighed. The child was himself. Strangely enough, he wasn't alarmed. Only disappointed. "I thought I was doing better."
The child-Klaus only watched him, soberly.
"Well, what do you want?" Klaus demanded.
Little Klaus didn't reply.
"Do not look at me that way," Klaus frowned. "You were a stupid child. You should have known better."
Little Klaus turned and ran.
Big Klaus watched him go, then went back to the cabin. Upon entering the clearing, he saw Dorian in the window, waving to him.
"You're back!" Klaus exclaimed and ran inside.
The office was empty. He wandered around, looking at the spines of the fine leather books and the vases and candlesticks on the bookshelves. Next to the bookshelves hung the painting of Gabriel rolling the stone back over the horrible cave. Inside the cave sat the Waiting Man, but one couldn't see him. You just had to know he was in there.
Father Haffemann was coming. He could hear him crunching in the snow outside. He had to hide. If he let Father Haffemann do IT to him, then he'd have to lie about it. Klaus never lied. That's the one thing his father wouldn't tolerate. Well, that and failure and a million other things,
The door opened, but it wasn't Father Haffemann. It was Eroica, dressed in a chic coat of long mountain sheep hair and carrying two elegant leather valises. Eroica wanted the same thing Father Haffemann did.
"Didn't you hear me calling you?" Eroica asked.
"Do not touch me or I will tell," Klaus spat.
Eroica eyed him warily as he set his bags down and shut the door. "Klaus? Are you all right?"
God, but Eroica was beautiful. His cheeks were pink with cold and his hair was carelessly wind-tossed. He loved Eroica's hair. Eroica wouldn't hurt him. He'd keep Father Haffemann away.
"How did you get here?" Klaus asked.
"I caught a ride with one of the rangers."
Rangers? Oh, yes. The cabin. He was in the cabin. Then Eroica was real. Not another phantom. The Earl approached him s1ow1y.
"Are you all right. Major?"
"No, I am going mad. Have you come to watch?"
"You're not going mad," he stated matter-of-factly,
"I keep seeing things."
"You'll be all right. I'm going to take care of you, okay?"
His head felt full of stale, stifling air. Even another walk outside wouldn't help. He sat down at the table and toyed with the clean silverware left there to dry.
"Hungry?" Dorian asked.
Klaus thought about the demon inside him, eating away at his mind. He wondered why it didn't hurt. After a while, even Father Haffemann didn't hurt anymore.
After a while?
Yes, there had been other times. Father Haffemann would summon Klaus to his office, usually early in the morning, and then have sex with the boy. Afterwards, he would make Klaus bless him for driving away the demons. Klaus never understood it. He only followed orders. And after a while it didn't hurt anymore. He didn't feel anything at all. He escaped into the painting, disappearing into the black tomb, hoping Gabriel would roll the stone over it before he got out.
"I love you, Klaus."
Klaus jerked back to the cabin. He looked up at Dorian, who stood over him, tears streaming down his face.
"Did he hurt you?" Dorian sniffed, nodding down at the table. Klaus looked down. He had scratched the name "Patres Haffemann" into the surface with the butter knife.
"...and then he made me bless him while he knelt at my feet in mock piety."
Klaus and Dorian sat on either side of the table, each brooding into a steaming cup of coffee. Klaus could no longer see the point of keeping the truth from Dorian, who had pretty much figured it out anyway. Dorian listened quietly, patient when Klaus had to stop and collect himself. Dorian held no scorn for the tears. He merely reached over and touched Klaus' hand, and that gave him strength to continue.
"I do not know when I forgot, or how I forgot, but I did. And then it all came back to me in Freiburg. I don't know why."
"My poor Major," he said.
"Don't!" snapped Klaus. "I want none of that."
Dorian closed his eyes and nodded. "I understand. I'm sorry. I promise, my -- Major, I promise I won't bait you anymore. After all you've been through, it's no wonder you hate my kind. I won't come on to you anymore, Major. And I'll try not to call you 'Darling'."
"That is very kind of you, Earl. Thank you for understanding."
"Hey, I've been there, Dar-- Major."
"I know. But it didn't change your lifestyle."
"No, it didn't. Everybody's different. I may be rather libidinous, but I don't like to fight. You're just the opposite. We just dealt with it differently. That's all."
Klaus pressed his lips tight. Eroica didn't know how accurate that observation was. They sipped in silence.
"I am glad you came."
A smile. "Me too."
Sleeping arrangements were going to be awkward. Dorian assured Klaus that his new promise of non-teasing would prevent him from trying to molest the Major in his sleep, but Klaus was unconvinced.
"Major, I would never do that to you. I wouldn't want you to hate me, to think of me like you do Father Haffemann. I'd never hurt you."
Klaus felt ashamed of his mistrust. This was his only friend, after all. "All right."
Dorian lay his sheeps-hair coat on the mattress. Dressed in a soft grey cashmere sweater and black canvas trousers, the Earl looked like an ad for wine or something, lounging there in front of the fire.
Klaus stood by the bed frame, folding up the day's clothes, He now wore a red and black checkered flannel shirt and blue jeans. Very macho Dorian had said before catching himself. As he stood there folding, there was a rumble outside. Thunder, he thought, and dismissed it. But the rumble didn't stop. Dorian stood up, alarmed.
Klaus glanced out the east window. He couldn't see anything at first. Then he noticed that the ground seemed to have lost its sparkle, even though the moon was out. It undulated strangely. Then the cabin began to shake. He heard the rafter above him groan. He was dreaming again.
"Klaus!" screamed Dorian. In a flash, the Earl grabbed him and pulled him back as the east side of the roof collapsed in an explosion of wood and snow.
There was no time to think, only to get away from the cave-in. Dorian threw Klaus onto the mattress and covered him with his body, clutching his best-beloved's head to his bosom. A cold blast tore through his body and he was sure the end was at hand. After an eternity the noise stopped. The cabin, or what was left of it, creaked and groaned under the weight of the avalanche.
Slowly Dorian lifted his head. Snow rolled off his hair and shoulders. All was black. Even the fire had gone out. He pulled his lighter from his pocket. Thank Fortune he'd kept it in there.
It was a miracle. The entire cabin had been crushed except for the few feet that Klaus and Dorian occupied. The stone chimney, it seemed, had braced the crossbeam enough to create a sort of lean-to. Above them were boards and shingles and packed snow.
Klaus stirred and sat up. He fished about for his lighter as well, as if Dorian's light could not be trusted. He looked about, disoriented. Dorian said nothing as Klaus reached out to touch the walls of this ice-and-debris cave.
"Am I dreaming?" he asked.
"No, Klaus. It's not a dream."
The Major turned to look at him with sharp green eyes. Dorian was prepared for the worst; Klaus to snap completely, but all the Major said was, "You saved my life?"
The Earl chuckled uncomfortably. "I suppose so."
Those piercing eyes stared at him steadily. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He wanted to ask ‘What should we do?' but considering Klaus' recent mental condition, he decided the Major was in no state to think clearly. He only hoped this wouldn't cause his fragile mind to crack. There was nowhere to hide if Klaus let loose. Dorian had to keep him calm and collected.
"I think we should try to relight the fire," he suggested, sweeping away the snow that had been blown into the fireplace.
"Is the wood dry?"
"Some of it," replied Dorian.
"Check the chimney," Klaus said. Dorian was surprised at how clearly Klaus was thinking. It was an encouraging sign.
"Of course." He put his head in the fireplace and looked up the chimney. "I think it's snow-packed." He sat back. "Won't the fire melt it?"
"Not before we choke to death on smoke. Better find something to poke it loose."
They searched the debris, but the only board long enough was supporting most of the snow. Besides, how could they get a ten-foot plank through the hearth to the chimney?
Dorian found a meter-long stick. "I'll just climb up and jostle it loose."
"Don't be foolish. If you did loosen it, it would only fall in and pack you up in there."
"Oh." Dorian felt stupid. A madman was thinking clearer than he was.
Klaus laid down on the damp lamb's hair coat. "I am tired. Let's worry about it tomorrow."
"No! Klaus! You can't go to sleep!" Dorian said, shaking him. "You'll freeze to death in your sleep!"
Klaus raised an eyebrow. "Freeze? I keep my bedroom colder than this."
Dorian gave him a dubious look. "Well, we don't have any blankets. Only my coat."
"Yes, well I suggest you put it on. You certainly will freeze."
"We'll both freeze if we can't clear the chimney and light a fire." The Earl poked one finger into the surrounding snow. His fellow captive picked up the coat and put it over Dorian's shoulders.
"I'm sure we'll be found soon," Klaus said in what resembled a soothing tone.
Dorian tried to smile. "Yes. You all right?"
The Major shrugged and lay down. Dorian shivered for him. The mattress was so cold and bare. He covered the Major with his coat. There. Better, perhaps. He snapped off the lighter. It became pitch black again.
"Lie down beside me. We will both keep warmer that way."
Dorian could hardly believe it. His heart skipped a beat, then broke as he realized he couldn't even flirt with Klaus anymore. Finally, he was invited to lay down with his one true love, and couldn't touch him. It was a cruel, hateful twist of fate. Still, just to be close to him... it would have to do.
He lay on his side, next to Klaus, facing him but keeping his arms crossed over his own chest ala Klaus. The mattress was just as unpleasant as he imagined it would be. He made a pillow of his hair.
Klaus began to sing in a soft, small voice.
"Mary had a little lamb..."
Dorian tried not to cry. Klaus, a poor little raped child, in need of comfort. A little boy inside, wandering among ruins. Dorian began to sing with him.
"It followed her to school one day..."
Slowly, Klaus softened his singing and then stopped altogether. Dorian thought he must have fallen asleep and stopped as well.
"Continue," whispered Klaus. "Please."
"It made the children laugh and play..."
Eventually, Klaus fell asleep and Dorian found himself relaxed enough to follow him.
Sometime, perhaps only a couple of hours later, Dorian awoke to find he'd laid his head on Klaus' chest. It felt so warm and comfortable. And Klaus didn't seem to mind or notice, so he remained there and went back to sleep, soothed by the most primitive lullaby; the sound of a heartbeat.