The little boy with the sandy shade of fluff atop his head claimed to me that he was Cupid. He couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old, yet there he stood on my blue and orange flowered welcome mat, cheap downy angel wings strapped to his back and a yellow plastic nerf bow clutched between his pudgy fingers. He stared with deep puddles of eyes that couldn’t possibly be a natural shade of blue. In all the moments of the day, from first light to twilight, I had never seen a sky lay down a blue so blue as this child’s eyes. Across each rosy check a far too generous dappling of dark freckles and his nose moist with the warm goo found within the dark caverns of his nostrils. Though I am sure he explored those caverns all too often.
The wide grin just below the goo caves revealed a huge gap between his teeth where he had lost the front two. Through the gap I could see his fat, pink tongue. My mind ran over words to make him say that contained S’s then laugh when he couldn’t manage the S sound properly. Mississippi was always good.
Then his grin vanished and he stuck a pudgy hand under my nose, or rather, as close to it as he could reach. “Two dollar’th plea’th.” Was this kid kidding? A quick scan around the neighborhood revealed nothing unusual. A couple houses down, nosey Mrs. Dumas (pronounced Doo-Moss) peered at us through the cream colored blinds guarding the window. She held a phone tightly, probably reporting me to the police as some kiddie porn ring leader.
I ignored her and politely asked the boy to repeat himself. He thrust his hand further under my nose, this time standing on tip-toes, as if he thought he might find something in my nostrils. His fingers smelled like peanut butter. Dark dirt planted firmly under each nail, at least, I hoped it was dirt when one finger hit my lip smearing my chapstick across my chin.
“Two dollar’th plea’th.” Yes, the boy had asked me for money. I asked what the money was being spent on and he said, in a tone that suggested I was some kind of idiot that he was Cupid, again. A quick mental check confirmed that it was not February, nor was it October for that matter. It was the middle of June. The boy wasn’t leaving without his two dollars. I laid the money heavily into the greedy center of his palm, reluctantly.
The toothless grin reappeared. “Thank’th lady!”
In one swift, if slightly crooked motion, a bright, neon yellow nerf dart whizzed towards my face. It hit my lip with a moosh, causing more chaptstick to smear.
Across the way Mrs. Dumas lifted the phone again. Thankfully, the police in the area know Mrs. Dumas and that she had them on speed dial.
“Now, you will fall in love!” the boy yelled, bending to retrieve the dart from the welcome mat.
I had to admit, it was sort of cute. I asked who he thought I was going to fall in love with, with my best you-can-tell-aunt-Rose smile. A few jelly beans fell from his pocket.
“Bea’th me lady. That’th your problem.” He popped a red jelly bean between the gap in his teeth. He trotted down the driveway and towards the next house. I heard him say, “Hi, I’m Cupid. Two dollar’th plea’th!”