Rated 17 and up for sexual situations
The Garden of Earthly Delights
By Jay Caselberg
Bosch drew deeply on his cigarette and exhaled slowly, watching the smoke paint clouds of tissue paper across the chill moon. If his hard-boned mouth had been capable of smiling, it would have. He’d tried to mimic the gesture often enough. He took one last drag at the cigarette, then flicked it out in a wide arc to scatter sparks against the broad stone steps. It was funny how compelling these human habits could be, even the ones they frowned upon. There was no risk for Bosch, but the humans seemed to like the fact that he had adopted one of their vices. It showed them he had his personal weakness.
Compelling. It was less compulsion than convenient subterfuge, but they weren’t to know that. Smoking, and alcohol, and sex — particularly sex; the examples went on and on.
“Ambassador Bosch, come to escape the crowd?” It was Davy, his shadow, his cultural liaison, assigned to keep him on the straight and narrow.
Bosch turned his head to make eye contact. These humans liked eye contact. He whistled once and snapped his mouth, forgetting for a moment for the hundredth time that Davy could not understand. Quickly, he followed it with a series of signs using his three long fingers. Davy nodded and waited while Bosch withdrew his pad from inside his clothes, slipped the stylus from the carry case and tapped at the screen. Davy craned over Bosch’s shoulder to read, then glanced down at the still-smouldering cigarette end lying on the steps below.
“Yes, I needed some fresh air as well. I think it’s going well, don’t you?” Bosch tapped at the pad once. As well as it could be, he thought, but Davy seemed satisfied.
The smooth, dark-haired human leaned his head back and looked up at the stars. “Yes, a good night for it,” he said.
A good night for what? Often, these little expressions eluded Bosch. Expressions, cultural behaviours, so many things.