He’s nothing special, you think. He certainly doesn’t seem new to this trade, dispute his youthful appearance. You peg him to be around twenty, short-ish, average. His eyes are blue, same shade as yours. Same shade as half the people in the tri-state area. Paler than you, but not by much.
The red hair, though, you’ll give him that. It’s boyish, nice, different. But not enough to make up for the extra money you paid, swayed by a nudge in the ribs and a few words thrown out about how absolutely spectacular this one is.
(skilled in quick softness. Unspontaneous. cute,)
He looks at you expectantly. He knows how this goes. He’s not afraid. If he is, he hides it well.
He doesn’t have much to be afraid of. You’re an old man now, slow and achy and beer-bellied at fifty-something. You can’t hurt him. Not that you would have hurt him in your prime, whenever that was.
You suppose it was when you and your nemesis weren’t separated by those pesky lifespans, so disproportionate and skewed from platypus to human. It was really only a handful of years with him, years your memory has reduced to a mere few moments. But those were the good years. He paid attention. He listened when you spoke. He saved your life.
He stopped you before you did things you’d eventually regret.
(Kitty. a whore. Sixteen
you corking brute)
The first few, you figured, were just your way of mourning him. A coping mechanism. The pimps took one look at you and knew, figured you were a widower or something, found the right ones for you. The ones that listened patiently, that were able to at least act happy and comforted by your company, at least half as happy and comforted as you were by them.
With him in your lap, fitting nicely in your arms, his breath tickling your neck, you begin to tell him of your late nemesis. What you did together, how much you respected each other, how much you miss him. His hands are on your back, massaging casually. They still when you utter Perry’s name.
“I had a pet platypus named Perry, when I was little,” he says into the skin of your neck. He sounds young, familiar.
“Is every platypus named Perry?”
“In a perfect world.”
Some recollection is tickling the back of his consciousness, like it is in yours. You can tell by the way he shifts against you.
“Your Perry doesn’t sound like ours, though. Ours didn’t do much.”
He’s rigid. He doesn’t want to think about it. He didn’t come here to talk about himself.
When you kiss him, he relaxes. He stays relaxed through it all, in a practiced way. He smiles, young and innocent. You wonder how long he’s been at this.
(“kitty” twice eight)
By the end of it you decide he was worth the extra money, and you tell him that. He seems unsurprised, but gracious. A child sent to care for a lonely old man, job well done.
As he’s leaving, you work up the nerve to ask him how old he is, and he says, “Sixteen,” in the most bare way. He smiles gently in response to your obviously stricken face, internally glad for such a kick to you conscious. It’s the sort of feeling only your old nemesis could give you, with a disappointed look or a good loving kick to the stomach.
He hugs you then, face back against your neck like it belongs there.
“I miss him too.”
(whose least amazing smile is the most great
common divisor of unequal souls)