Gian invited us to his penthouse in Sabier City. It was awash in dark colors and the smell of herbs and Piedirosso. While looking glum, he was glad to offer us drinks, olives, and homemade hummus and bread.
What is your name?
“Oh…full name or do you just want something short to call me during this?”
Full names interest me.
“Gianluca Cote, but everyone calls me Gian for obvious reasons.”
Do you know why you were named that?
“My dad was notoriously devoted to his own name, which was such a strange and common name to want to protect. He knew tons of Cotes when he was young. But my mum would only let us have the family name if she named us. She would die fighting instead of letting us forget her Italian roots…if it came down to that of course.”
Where’s she from anyways?
“Originally her family was from Caiazzo, but they had been in Napoli for generations at that point.”
And have you ever been?
“Of course, whenever I get the chance.”
It’s a romantic country, isn’t it?
“Not really. It’s not a place of fantasy or dreams. It’s a home for millions of people.”
With that, are you single or taken?
(Gian preceded this with a long sigh)
“Taken now, but…it’s a difficult subject to approach for me.”
Sorry to hear that.
“I know, it’s pathetic. And it’s all about the perfect woman I couldn’t have, so I beg you to just laugh at my pain like everyone else.”
I won’t though, I promise.
“I could go on for hours about Leah, though. She used to come over when she couldn’t stand my brother anymore, and we’d drink wine on the balcony and she was perfect bathed in that city light. She was so close that I could touch her…but no matter how we felt, I never did.”
Stop treating her like a Mary Sue!
“Excuse me, but she was perfect and there’s nothing wrong with that. No name-calling necessary.”
Anyways, what’s your eye color?
“Sorry, is it hard to see it behind my glasses?”
(At this point, he’s finished a glass of wine and poured another. I wondered how much it would take to get Gian drunk, as he is a particularly tall man)
“You know, brown like the Italian…like almost every Italian’s eyes, really.”
How about hair color, was it always so grey?
“I barely remember when it was all black. We grey early in this family.”
Have you any family members? And do they have black hair too?
“Oh, tons. Both sides of the family were Catholic, after all.”
“Also on both sides, though some true brunettes come through every now and again. Most of my nieces and nephews have lighter hair than us, and I’m amazed at how quickly our looks can change.”
Cool, how about pets?
“None right now. I’m not the kind of bachelor who collects pets…but can you keep a secret?”
Sure thing, not interviewing anyone else of course…
“My…I don’t really know what to call her. But there’s this woman I’m the legal guardian of, and I want to get her a dog for Christmas. She needs something to be responsible for, and with my help, I think a pet will solve a lot of her problems.”
What kind of dog are you thinking of?
“Oh, something she can identify with. I’m thinking a sickly, nervous Chihuahua if I can rescue one.”
That’s cool, I guess. Now tell me something you don’t like?
“Are you expecting this to be a short answer?”
It doesn’t have to be.
“It’s the sick fucks at the top of the corporate ladder. I know it because I was there, and I know their dirtiest secrets. I know every whore and underage girl they buy, every sex slave they keep, every man or woman or dog they’ve killed for power. I knew when they were brought to my house, right in front of me, offered to me and how adamant I was about saying no. I hope dad and Andrea are rotting in hell!”
(His mother yelled down to him to keep it quiet and to not slander her precious men’s names)
And you did nothing to stop it, did you.
“Lord knows I tried once…and then I learned exactly why I never tried before.”
Would you change it if you could?
“Morally of course…but that’s a big if that you’re dreaming of.”
Being in our wretched timeline, do you have any hobbies to distract you?
“Cooking, of course.” (He reminded me that he made the hummus in front of us)
But you’re so skinny.
“My other hobby is exercising. You must have seen the Uptown Gym down below, on your way up here. Wonderful facility and truly the most scenic place to play basketball or jog.”
I must have…do you play on a team?
“Just pickup games with small groups, though I used to play with Leah twice a week…I’m still mad that she gave up her dream. Forget trying to stop a big issue that’s beyond any one person, I just wish that I could have changed her mind.”
Did she give it up for your brother?
(Gian simply nodded and finished his glass of wine)
Do you feel like you hurt her too?
“…I ask myself that a lot. But…the problem wasn’t me. It was Andrea.”
Your brother, right?
“My twin and everything.”
How is he today?
Ever…killed anyone before?
“Are you asking about Andrea? He died of cancer. I couldn’t cause that even if I wanted…there’s nowhere to throw money at for that. For something too unpredictable.”
Makes me wonder if you tried.
“It crossed my mind a lot, but that’s the difference between me and other execs. I never could follow through with it. I’m not so rich that I just act like a horny, violent animal.”
What kind of animal are you, then?
“An Italian stallion, of course.”
(He laughed for once. I personally blame the wine)
Name your worst weaknesses, because I’m guessing alcohol.
“I’ll admit it.”
My other guess was Leah.
“It’s true. If she was still around, she would just with her voice.”
Do you look up to her?
“Still do, for being loving and tender. It’s something I’ve lacked or at least can’t express…even Logan told me that once.”
“Just a guy from uni, when I studied in Germany for a year.”
Are you bi?
“Believe me, no matter what I answer, people will put their own words in my mouth about my identity.”
So it goes beyond labels, huh.
“People clamor for ways to label, say, men who will fuck other men or date trans women, and never once ask what we think of ourselves. I’ve been called everything. Gay in denial, bi, heteroflexible…I’m not a fan of how any of it sounds.”
To be fair, between loving women and sometimes men…you sound bisexual.
“So I am! But I’d rather live my life with who I want and not waste my life searching for a word to make others’ lives easier.”
And didn’t you work in marketing? I thought your life would be buzzwords.
“Quite frankly, I’m tired of them.”
Did you go to school?
“I quit halfway through my doctorate.”
“I stayed at Yale the whole time…besides the year in Germany of course. And I regret it. It’s a beautiful college, but it kept reminding me of Leah and it ate at me. I couldn’t study and then just watch her and Andrea get married and go on with their perfect lives, when I couldn’t feel any of that at all. My mentors said that my thesis was brilliant and I was a hard worker but…you know how far those kinds of things take you. I hope you do.”
I might not. But do you ever want to marry and have kids one day?
“Believe me, it is far too late for any of that.”
I doubt it, you’re only–
“Sixty-two! And unlike some powerful men, I’m not some pedo will stalk teenagers just for that last dying hope of a family. I won’t even date anyone younger than 50 these days. It doesn’t feel right…it truly doesn’t. It’s the thing I can’t believe so many men get off to.”
But marriage doesn’t have an upper limit.
“But it has a type.”
Do you still feel loved?
“Thankfully by many.”
Do you even have fangirls/fanboys?
“Just a few devoted ones in swingers’ clubs!”
I guess you’re right about not being the marrying type.
“I’m mostly retired from it now, but I wish that I found someone willing to jump into that with me earlier. I wouldn’t have gone there ever if it wasn’t for Leah breaking my heart the way she did…but I’m sad I can’t change any of this. I can’t believe it’s become my life.”
Do you fear something instead?
“A lot…that’s all I’ll say.”
You’re very well dressed. (He wore a grey, cashmere sweater and wine-purple slacks) Is that what you usually wear?
“Thank you! And of course, though I’m not afraid to walk around the house in my bathrobe.”
Do you have a special apron you wear for cooking?
“Several. My fave is…” (he lowered his voice for this) “…the one embroidered with Eat My Meat.”
What’s your favorite meat to cook?
“Seafood isn’t a meat, just ask the Pope.”
What’s one food that tempts you?
“I gave up charcuterie after Andrea’s cancer diagnosis. It was in the stomach, and if I share all my genes with him, I’m playing with at least a little bit of fire if I eat any more. But it is so hard to go to a butcher and see all the salami and red meat, dangling down. It’s all stuff I ate so regularly, and he did too. I might have relished the slow drama of watching him die, but I want to go much quicker and painlessly.”
Do you ever have a cheat day?
“A couple of holidays and my birthday, but my last birthday featured very little meat besides chicken. I know I’m losing my taste for it, bit by bit.”
What about dessert?
“I’m more for post-meal coffee, and I sometimes take it sweet.”
Two sugars, or something far more fancy?
“Vietnamese style, which uses sweetened condensed milk. It’s lovely to drink while out on the balcony.”
…am I annoying you?
“About food? Never.”
Well, it’s not over!
“Like I asked!”
What class are you (low class, middle class, high class)? (in hindsight this was a stupid question, and I crossed it out just as I was about to ask this very rich man that)
How many friends do you have?
“Many…that’s what keeps me going.”
And I bet you cook for them.
“I think that’s exactly why I have many friends.”
What are your thoughts on pie? Or theirs.
“Everyone loves pie, of course.”
Do you have a favorite to bake?
“I’m actually a bigger fan of savory pies. I was skeptical about fish pies, especially that ‘stargazy pie’ with the fish heads sticking out. But I was seeing this lovely couple in Cornwall and, I swear, that week taught me that any ingredient can be made gourmet.”
“Love quiche. Who doesn’t?”
(He swirled his wine glass in front of me)
What’s your favorite place? You sound well-traveled.
“Most of my family in Napoli is dead or unfamiliar to me now, so I think my answer is Lombok. Bali is great for tourists and I love it too, but the only place I’ve truly felt at peace is when fleeing from an eruption of Mount Rinjali when I was hiking it.”
“It was the awe of nature. I could put the fear of my own mortality aside to look behind me.”
Were you with anyone?
“I actually did try to get Leah to go with me…it was when she was still alive. She always loved hiking, and she wanted nothing more than to go to Indonesia.”
And she didn’t?
“I think deep in her heart, she feared what Andrea would do in Indonesia, or anywhere in Southeast Asia. They went to China a lot, no fear from her, but he used that for hiking. Not sex tourism…she didn’t want to see in right in front of her and realize that the worst about her husband was indisputably true.”
Are you interested in anyone else?
“I told you I’m taken. Her name’s Leticia.”
But are you interested?
“I hope I am.”
That was a stupid question.
“Not really. I’m sure you want me to be happy like any concerned bystander who hears just the snippets of my life’s story.”
Would you rather swim in a lake or the ocean?
“A hot spring, but the ocean is my second choice.”
“Always…when I can get away with it.”
“Whoever is old enough and says yes.”
What’s your type, then?
“If they’re tall, I’m game.”
Like…is there a lower limit?
“The shortest I’ve dated is 5’9” and I told her she was too short to her face. I just don’t like towering over people. It’s enough to tolerate it on a day-to-day basis at work or on the streets.”
And how tall was Leah?
“Six feet even. She isn’t the tallest woman I’ve dated, but no one could carry height like her. She was so fearless in heels, fearless of the way she towered over Andrea. I know it scared him, but he wasn’t kind enough to leave her.”
Sounds like a fetish.
“It’s a type. I know fetishes,”
Any fetishes, then? Besides your group sex parties, it seems.
“The best sex I ever had was while blindfolded and ear-plugged, my mouth stuffed with a hand cloth. All I could feel was every tactile sensation on my skin and the smells of my partners. I forgot how important those were in the act, really.”
(In summary: yes to masks and masqueraded sex, submission, elaborate roleplays, and urethral play. A hard no to public sex or ageplay)
...but when you travel, is it camping or indoors?
“It’s wherever I need to be, but there’s something special about looking up at the stars and wondering if Leah ever looks down on me.”
Where did you feel her the most?
“It was in Tanzania a couple of years ago. There were more stars than you’d ever see over Uptown that sparkled over Mt. Kilimanjaro, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how she never finished her climb there.”