3. Kissing a Masterful and Handsome Boy

Though Tereus often breaks off to sample a new vice or carry out an elaborate practical joke, he and Claudius quickly become inseparable. They take long, rambling hikes through the mountains that ring the village, and talk with adolescent enthusiasm about philosophy and literature. They fall asleep holding hands and gazing into each others’ eyes. Tereus lures […]

2. Sound Advice from Agamemnon

In the profoundly epistolary age in which our story takes place, it was usual for parents to send their boys to school with letters that mingled advice, admonishment and logistics. Over dinner that first night, some of the older boys read their parents’ letters aloud to ribald laughter. This one’s mother hopes he’ll guard against […]

1. Tereus Shelawn’s First Love

Claudius is bent over a tiny desk studying Latin verb declensions. The semester at the elite Continental university won’t start for another week, but he already fears he’s behind. The door to the tiny double room opens. Claudius looks up, irritated to hear the shouting and banging in the crowded hallway. The boy standing in […]

8. Policing the Neighborhood

Brutus has been breaking into the same tobacco warehouse for years, now that looters have stripped the pharmacies and convenience stores. It’s perched on a narrow strip of Native American land, along with a defunct casino: a two-story building painted to resemble a barn, but with a drive-through window. The choices have dwindled. Brutus eyes […]

28. One Last Thing to Break

Soundtrack and Video: Frank Turner, “Recovery (Live)” Six weeks later, Tereus presses a note into Valeria’s palm. It says, “Meet me in the hayloft tonight, if you can.” Of course she makes her way to the barn, climbs the ladder into the hayloft. It doesn’t much matter what she does. It feels like her conduct […]

26. Sympathy and Longing

Fall sets in. Winter is coming. There’s little work on the farm. Tereus and Valeria divide it between themselves silently and efficiently. Lavinia cooks on occasion and watches the children. Camilla continues to help her mother. Valeria tries to teach Claudius his letters, but he’s restless and can’t be made to practice with his chalk […]

23. Reckless Greed

Tereus’s passion is fierce, painful. He’s always enjoyed sex, but for him it’s a casual pleasure, well below drinking and battle and smoking, and good food, for that matter. Now that he is deprived of other vices, his constant, punishing rounds of craving and satisfaction center on Valeria and the need to possess her. Valeria […]

21. Lost Children Returning Home

8/31/17— We retreated to the hayloft again. The days are so very long. We were tired, and I think we felt that we deserved a small reward for all our hard work and diligence. He made no attempt to persuade me. We lay in each other’s arms in a dream-like state, as if we were […]