для читателей старше 18 лет
The prince trembled.
He remembered the islands, beautiful, but unintelligible,
remembered the princesses, unreal, but beautiful.
(J. Fowles, The Magus)
Michail Duridomov was sitting on a deck-chair on the terrace of the second floor of a small house, which Bella and he rented on Capri for the last week of vacation, and reread “The Island” of Aldous Huxley on the tablet. He could hear Bella rattling the dishes in the kitchen: they lived in apartments to rest from hotels and people; they saw the couple living on the first floor maximum once a day, exchanged a short “Bon Journo” and did not even know what language they spoke.
On the second floor, there was a separate staircase, the entrance to the first was decorated with two ionic columns, and they called their house a villa. The floor was lined with ceramic tiles, it was nice to walk barefoot in the heat. In total there were two rooms and a bathroom: a huge living room with a kitchen and a table in the corner, a sofa and armchairs in the middle and an exit to the terrace, and a small bedroom with peasant-style furniture; on the walls bright copies of famous paintings hung, the windows had blue shutters.
On Capri, they sailed on a ferry from Naples, where they flew by plane — it was in the morning, thick mist overlying the sea, and the rocky bulk of the island emerged from it quite unexpectedly and struck the gaze with primal savagery. Then, when they sailed around the island on a yacht, this impression only intensified: sheer cliffs descended right into the sea, sometimes intimately revealing some cave, a grotto or a stone gate.
They lived without a hotel regime: they got up when they got up, drank coffee and buns, went down to the beach, sunbathed, sailed slowly, sunbathed again, went home through the market, bought olives and tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, pepper, finocchion, salsiccha, or a local sausage, mozzarella, gorgonzola or parmigiano reggiano, ciabatta — Italian bread, oranges and peaches. For dinner they always had a huge bowl of salad from all the vegetables that were found at home today, with olive oil, with grated cheese; Sometimes Bell made pasta, and sometimes simply ate sausage with bread, washing it all with red local wine from a paunchy bottle.
After dinner, they had a real siesta: they were lying in the bedroom behind closed shutters, without touching one another under one sheet, touching each other with their fingertips, without any purpose, until a shiver of excitement would throw them at each other, but they held back, did not hurry, they were well fed, loved each other slowly, delaying the final. They thoroughly knew the reactions of each other, withdrew at the last moment, “tormented” one another with anticipation, reveled in anticipation; they liked the game itself already more than the orgasm that loomed ahead of the rising sun — they were magicians, able to slow or even stop this sunrise. Then they slept for an hour or more, wrapped in the tart aroma of love, woke up, drank tea, took a bath, lay there for a long time, sat on the terrace looking at the sea, gathered and walked into the city. There they wandered through narrow streets, Piazzetta, went to the shops, sat in bars, listened to music, looked at people, then they looked for a new restaurant, where they had not yet been and had dinner. Ate each time something else: lasagna or risotto, pizza or pappardelle, ravioli or melanza. After dinner they could sit for a long time at a table with a glass of wine, listen to Neapolitan songs or wander through the night city, absorbing the fragrance of Italy, the last smells of summer.
“Misha! Lunch is ready! Hurry up!”
“I have made a new sauce. For spaghetti. Try it.”
“Hmmm! You went out of your way with pepper! The last turned out the best.”
“Why the last?! Still, tomorrow left!”
“You forgot. Tomorrow we are going up the hill. And then we’ll go down to the sea. We must take food with us.”
“And what is there on your mountain?”
“Villa of Jupiter.”
“The one who is Zeus?”
“That very one.”
“So he lived there? Is that a temple?”
“He lived. But this is not a temple. You’ll see tomorrow.”
“Okay. Full already? Or more food?”
“I’m full, Bell. Let’s go to bed? And I’ll wash the dishes later.”
“You’re kind, that’s suspicious. Probably, come up with something. For dessert. Mmm?”
“How you managed to guess.”
“And I am your smart girl. An ingenious one.”
“Come here, sit down. Here, look: we take a peach, break it… not to the end, we remove the stone… What does it look like?”
“Now we take the cream… and put it there… Do you want to?”
“Looks delicious. And who will eat?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, what are you, Bell.”
“You are a debauchee, Misha!”
In the morning they got up early, had breakfast and went on the road, their way lay on the Rocca di Capri, the highest peak of the island. They moved from Piazzetta to Via Tiberio, did not hurry, stopped to rest and got to Villa Jovis in an hour. Michail bought tickets and a map, there were almost no people, the majestic ruins in the thickets of green rose to the sky.
“There’s nothing here, Misha! Where is your Jupiter? If only a portrait or at least anything.”
“This is one of the twelve villas of the emperor Tiberius, Bell, it is two thousand years old. He lived here for the last ten years of his life, almost never went anywhere.”
“Why did he have twelve of them? Here, in one of them, there’s enough space.”
“No one should know where he slept. He also moved to Capri, fearing enemies in Rome. Come on.”