Indigo Billy – John Markestad

 

Indigo Billy

It’s a very nice stateroom, to be sure. Larger even than the captain’s cabin, there are three distinct rooms to the suite: living, bath and bedroom. You wouldn’t think it to look at it but the sofa in the living room folds out into a bed, a comfortable bed at that. Flanking each side, on the wall, are sort of cylindrical lamps made of wood from a planet far from here. Not that he knew just where ‘here’ actually was at the moment. But the wood came from someplace not close by; in interstellar terms, of course, there’s no place that’s close to someplace else. Opposite the sofa there’s an entertainment screen built into the wall with big, plush chairs, with floral designs on them, either side of it. Under the screen a bookshelf stands, also of some kind of wood, and on the shelves are real books; perhaps a dozen or so.

That’s what Billy recalls of the living room, which is where he is not at the moment. He’s in the bedroom, on the bed. There are small spots of blood here and there on the sheets. Lights, two, quite small, mounted to the wall over the bed, one for each reader, shine down on a boy of perhaps thirteen years, Earth standard. He lies on his back, limbs comfortably spread, with the covers thrown back but for his left leg. The pale blonde hair on his head is cut short and looks pretty much the same no matter what he tries to do with it. His pubic hair, what little there is of it, normally also blonde, is now dark with sweat and other fluids, and matted to his groin. Both are a shocking contrast to his dark blue skin tone. Add to that what seems like oversized eyes of green and teeth of brightest white, a downright pretty face, and, well, it isn’t hard to see why he has no trouble attracting clients. He’s alone in the bed, just now. His current client has just gone into the relatively spacious bathroom, and is standing under a shower that offers up unlimited hot water, an incredible luxury. Billy knows he needs to be gone before the client finishes and comes out. He’s a mean bastard when in the best of moods.

Sitting up he scoops up the three small gems from the shallow bowl on the nightstand next to the bed: green for payment, red for warning, black for what the warning warns of. He slides the gems into his mouth and puts them between his cheek and gum on the left side. On the right side, his tongue, having made sure the tooth is where it should be, hastily backs away so he can put his jaws together and hold the tooth where it belongs. It may be a baby tooth but he prefers to keep it as long as possible. He quickly slips into loose pants and a shirt, and then into the lightweight slippers he typically wears. Through the living room, a quick peek at the hallway outside the apartment door, and he strides casually to the door near the end of the hall on which there is a sign excluding almost everyone from entering. Billy enters the small closet and closes the door and locks it. There are shelves of plastic bottles of this and that, cleaners and scrubbers and sweepers, wipers and scrapers, and, in the ceiling, a panel that can be easily moved aside.

In the far corner of a storage hold, behind the gigantic crates that comprise the Emergency Colony Kit, in a warren of restacked boxes and packages, a place where the overhead lights do not reach, is Billy’s home. So long as you’re the sort that doesn’t need to spend a lot of time standing up and walking around it’s actually quite comfortable. Over the last year and a half he’s managed to ‘liberate’ numerous blankets and pillows, a small battery powered refrigerator, some hallway lights, also battery powered, and the six-sided wrench necessary to loosen the screws that hold the panel to the service tunnel in place. Other, smaller, boxes with their ends cut out are stacked each on another for shelving, and a small entertainment screen, jacked into the comm wires that run through the service tunnel, hangs at a jaunty angle about three feet off the floor. The home of Indigo Billy is neat and clean, he washes his clothes and blankets regularly and always puts things back in the place he has designated for them. In the service tunnel, behind a thick conduit, under a crawlway, in the darkest of shadows, Billy keeps his cache of cash and other valuables.

Three days later, using the shower facilities attached to the gym at three in the morning, Billy begins getting ready for his next client. He doesn’t know who it is yet, he hasn’t found him, or her, or them. He takes his time. The hot water only runs for thirty seconds at a time but he moves from stall to stall and so gets all he wants. The lock on the towel closet is simple to get by and he uses two towels, a most grave violation, and tosses them into the wash bag when he’s done.

While most of the passengers are on the esplanade, mixing and mingling and drinking, Billy moves carefully through the service tunnels, he doesn’t want to get dirty, to a point near the starboard viewing blister. The viewing blister is a room comfortable for twenty people at a time. There are round-top tables suitable to stand at, and a few larger tables where groups might sit and gather.

One wall of the room is a hemispherical, optically corrected, lens of purest transparent diamond. Outside the blister the galaxy waits in nonchalant beauty for all that may wish to look upon it. Unhampered by annoying atmosphere the stars do not twinkle but shine with exuberance, each putting forth its undiminished spectral glory.

Exiting the wall into the hall takes Indigo Billy only seconds. A few steps and he’s in the blister room where he moves to a darkened corner; he’d removed the overhead light months ago. Somehow, through a sort of covert passenger whisper network, it’s known to some that this is the place to be when sexual diversion is on the menu. The crew makes it a point to not visit the starboard viewing blister except during late morning hours. The times are posted on the door.

His wait is short. Almost immediately two youngish women come over and ask to join him. They’re newlyweds and have reminded each other that their honeymoon is a time for making memories. Billy chats with them. The two women meander their way to what they want of him then quickly agree to Billy’s price. He agrees to meet them in their cabin in fifteen minutes. No, he will not accompany them there. He will make his own way.

Back in the service tunnels Billy can’t help but smile. He likes women couples. They don’t usually associate beating the crap out of him with sex play. These two look like the spoiled children of the very wealthy; trust-fund babies, most likely. He hopes that translates into a big tip.

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