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 In his fantastic search for the perfect mistress, George neglected...

"The Matter of Belief"

by James Bellaugh


Sir Knight

Vol. 2, No. 1, 1960

     GEORGE WILLERS was a lover. The whole of his existence was built around the fact that he loved women and they loved him and the fact that he had the amazing good fortune to outlast and satisfy them all.
     It wasn't empty vanity that made George Willers think of himself as the world's perfect gift to women. Each morning, when he looked in the mirror, he saw a completely unhandsome face staring back at him. The deep, brown eyes might have given him a poetic quality, but the chiseled lines of his nose and jaw spoke more of strength and firm conviction than masculine beauty.
     Of course, George was a man of strength and firm conviction. The only trouble was that his strength was jealously conserved until he unleashed his unbelievable stamina in the boudoir and his firm convictions were channeled only toward newer and more exciting female conquests. Ideally, George might have become an extremely successful pimp or an internationally respected gigolo, but he tired easily of individual women and money was of no importance to him. He didn't care how he made a living as long as he kept business and pleasure on separate planes.
     That is why, when he found himself out of a job and an employment counselor mentioned that the Testing Institute was looking for a janitor, George wandered over.
     He enjoyed the month of salaried leisure afforded by the finger printing and security clearances before he was officially hired and, when he actually did go to work he didn't pay any more attention to his job at the Testing Institute than he had ever paid to anything that didn't involve women. He walked through the motions of cleaning offices and laboratories while mentally tallying his amatory score and organizing his elaborate dating schedule.
     George might never have had any interest in his job or the institute had he not found out that the main project there was an electronic apparatus called the Durational Transistor. It was an elaborate machine that operated on a cyclotronic principal and which could disintegrate matter by separating objects into their basic molecular structures. It could even transfer and reassemble those objects, not only in space, but through time!
     George had heard rumors about time machines before, but he had never really believed they existed until he was fortunate enough to peek through the door of the main operations room and actually see the machine in action.
     And, at that precise moment, an unformed thought lodged in his mind.
     In the days that followed, George watched and listened and pried until he was absolutely sure that he could operate the Transistor as well as any of the Ph.D.'s or technicians he had seen in the function and operations rooms. And, as he watched, the embryonic thought began to grow and form clearly in his mind until it took control of his entire being.
     He, George Willers, might personally be an important part of history! If he could succeed in operating the machine, he could not only be the greatest lover of his own generation but of all time!
     On his off-duty hours, George began to break dates for the first time in his life. He spent sleepless nights trying to decide which woman of all the great lovers and courtesans would be the best for him. He haunted the public libraries. For hours he pored over book after book in an effort to find the greatest female lovers in history.
     He had already gone through Pompadour, Catherine of Russia, the Everleigh sisters and Fanny Sweet when he stopped. He was staring at a passage in the book before him. It read:

"So, Messalina, wife of Claudius and Empress of the Roman Empire, challenged the greatest courtesan in the city to a show of sexual prowess on the very steps the Senate. The records show that after eighteen gladiators had coupled with the prostitute, she was obliged to give up in shame. The Empress, however, continued to prove her ability throughout the afternoon and into the evening. She did not stop until the sun had set on the City of the Seven Hills and she had 'vanquished' forty-five of the most magnificent male specimens in the Empire."
     George Willers leaned back in his chair and repeated the name Messalina to himself as he remembered his three successful affairs with proven nymphomaniacs. Each time, after hours of lovemaking, his partner had begged him to stop, panting her thanks. He had even helped one achieve a cure without feeling the least fatigue after a full afternoon of the most strenuous exercise. As a matter of fact, he had had another date that night.
     Sitting in the library chair, George Willers mentally rewrote the paragraph in the book:
"...The Empress, however, continued to prove her ability...until a foreigner named Willers satisfied her so completely that she sighed her thanks and granted him the, sum of...
     George Willers thought for a moment, then snapped his fingers. "Why not?" he said out loud. Someone said, "Shusssh," and George reconsidered the book. He read the paragraph several times before surreptitiously tearing out an etched illustration of the Roman Senate.

     THE NEXT DAY after work was over, George went directly to his janitorial closet, but instead of changing clothes he sat down on a pile of old cleaning rags and smoked several cigarettes. When he was absolutely sure everyone had left the building, he took the heavy ring of skeleton keys from their hook and went directly to the main operations room.
     He opened the leaded door with one of the keys, quickly locked it behind him, then turned to face the Durational Transistor.
     The huge machine covered three walls with its dial selectors and multiple banks of electric wiring. The Molecular Disintegration Chamber with its heavy shock-proof walls, stood in the center of the room surrounded by batteries of tubes and circuits and overshadowed by the huge world map on the fourth wall of the room.
     At the locator apparatus, George set the time selector switch for 2:30 P.M. The geographic selector had to be operated in conjunction with the huge world map above it and the return had to be synchronized exactly the same way.
     Consulting the wall map and his stolen etching, George rechecked the exact latitude and longitude to the yard of the leftmost pillar of the Senate building.
     When he had set the geographic indicator for both the initial trip and the return, he carefully rechecked each of his preparations. Then he looked at the wall clock. It was exactly 7:10 P.M. He set his wrist watch and stepped into the Molecular Disintegration chamber. He shut and locked the vault-like door, closed his eyes and crossed his fingers.
     Then he threw the Terminal Transfer Valve.

     WHEN GEORGE WILLERS opened his eyes, he was being bumped and jostled in the midst of a throbbing crowd screaming in a strange language and pushing toward the columns of a huge building ahead.
     He'd made it! He was in Rome--48 AD!
     He pushed his way through the crowd, edging forward and elbowing strangely clad people aside until he was at the foot of the wide flight of stone steps that led up to the Senate building.
     Both women were here, both looking contemptuously at one another and hissing words he couldn't understand.
     George watched wide-eyed as both women stripped off their loose clothing and stood ravishingly nude before him. Then the redheaded woman called to the crowd. She, he knew, must be the great Messalina.
     George watched fascinated as a line of husky men, soldiers, gladiators and gentlemen in flowing togas stepped forward to form a double line facing the nude women. Then he saw the historical event as it had happened almost two thousand years before his birth.
     The prostitute was fast and skillful, bringing her partners to shuddering climax with an almost mechanical efficiency. But the Empress seemed to savor each man as if he were a personal thing to be held as long as there was any worth left. George counted the men as they mounted the steps. Messalina had only had ten while the prostitute was wearily finishing with the eighteenth. Slowly she rolled away and tried to struggle to her feet.
     The crowd jeered as she staggered up, almost falling twice, and slumped away amid a hail of angry words and bad fruit.
     In that moment, George Willers elbowed his way forward until he stood in front of the Empress.
"I think you'll meet your match," he said.
     She looked at him without understanding.
     He tapped his chest. "Willers," he said. "George Willers."
     Slowly her arms circled his neck and drew him down to her until they were together on the steps of the Roman Senate--slowly, deliciously writhing and twisting amid cheers from the crowd.
     Again and again Messalina moaned in ecstasy and thrust herself against him--grinding, thrusting until George thought he would drown in a sea of warm flesh and impossible pleasure.
     Again and again he felt all of life drain from him and he wondered if perhaps through the time machine he actually had met his match. But he remembered the book he had read in the library. If he were successful, he would see his name in print there when he returned. He would be the greatest lover of all time. This was his one chance for ultimate success or failure. He knew he had to win.
With renewed incentive, he thrust himself against Messalina--again and again...

     STILL MOVING in a half coma, he was vaguely conscious of the damp Italian evening on his back and the haze of last twilight beyond the hills when the Empress gave a final moan and feebly pushed away from him.
     He knew he had won. The great Messalina--the most insatiable woman of all time--had succumbed to the prowess of a man from another century.
     George Willers staggered to his feet, retrieved his clothing and helped Messalina to stand. He watched as she called an attendant.
     She took a bag from the slave and, almost collapsing under its weight, handed it to George.
     George, always respectful of women, bowed his thanks and feebly tapped his chest. "George Willers," he gasped. "Don't forget the name. It's very important."
     He let his head sag through sheer exhaustion his gaze fixed on the bag of money dangling from his hand. Then, weary eyes noticed something else--the shining band of his wrist watch. Almost in panic, he lifted his arm.
     It was almost 8 o'clock. He had to get to his rendezvous with the machine or he would be stranded in Rome for the rest of his life. No matter what his success with the women of his own time, George knew he could never last under the daily strain of an almost equal partner.
     He bowed again, then clutching the bag of golden coins in his hand, managed to stagger up the steps to the Senate building and press against the pillar on the far left.
     He waited only thirty seconds as the crowd started after him--then he felt the driving tug of the Duration Disintegration Chamber at the Testing Institute--smug, satisfied and completely exhausted.
After much feeble fumbling, he opened the chamber door and checked the wall clock. It still said exactly 7:10 P.M. In all the hours he had been in Rome, not one minute of current time had passed.
     He wanted to rush to the library and check the reference volume but physical fatigue was too much for him. He knew he'd be lucky if he made it home to his own bed and, for the first time in his life, he hoped it would be empty.
     George Willers honestly wished he might never see another woman again. He knew instinctively that his strange gift of stamina and sexual prowess had disappeared, been burned out of him by the greatest female lover of history. Even if he wanted to, he could never perform a quarter as well as he had that afternoon. But it had been worth it.
     At least he was part of history. He would always be known as the world's greatest lover.

     IN THE YEAR Of our Lord 48, a rather strange conversation took place between Claudius Germanicus, Emperor of Rome and his official court chronicler.
     "Bitch!" the emperor screamed. "First she consummated a bogus marriage with that idiot Silius and then she tried to take on the whole city of Rome...and on the very steps of the Senate building!"
     The chronicler nodded his head. "Where is this man Willers?" the Emperor demanded. "I want him thrown to the lions. I'll have his head impaled. I'll...I'll..." 
     "Sire, he disappeared," the historian said. "He mounted the steps of the Senate and..."
     "That's not all he mounted! You fool, he's probably hiding in the Senate building right now."
     "No, sire. A thousand people saw him lean against a pillar and just...just disappear."
     "Impossible! This whole thing's impossible! At least the whore gave up after eighteen, but you say Messealina and this barbarian were in the act for five solid hours and then the man just vanished?"
     "Yes, Sire."
     "I order her death!" the emperor screamed. "She's given me nothing but trouble for the past ten years. Besides, she's getting old. She's pushing twenty-seven." He leaned back on his couch as the historian started to leave. When the chronicler was almost out of the room, the Emperor clapped his hands and called him back. He stroked his chin for a moment, then faced the historian.
     "In your records, friend scribe," he said, "I don't mind your saying that Valeria Messalina, Empress of Rome, consummated her...eh...marriage with Silius before a crowd of dinner guests. Everyone knows how bad he is on a couch. Nor do I mind your saying that she took on the whole city of Rome on the Senate steps. That will only explain what a disloyal, ungrateful bitch she is. But it would be better if this Willers man--this barbarian--were left out of the incident entirely. It might make my imperial reputation seem...er...somewhat inadequate."
     "His performance is rather hard to believe, sire."
     "Yes," the emperor said. "We can't have our historians penning a lot of fairy stories for posterity."
     "I understand fully, sire."

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