a truth that's told with bad intent

His master wants him pale, and so he will be pale; he scrubs himself in the bath to get all the dirt off, to wash himself clean of his earlier incarnation as a street brat.

His master smokes cigarettes and has dirt under his fingernails.

His master gives him toys, and he is happy to have the toys, and he plays with the toys to show his master how grateful he is.

Once he asked his master if he ever played with toys, and his master gave him that familiar quirking smile which showed that he was thinking about something very funny indeed that couldn't possibly be explained to little boys.

His master gives him a ghanta and a rosary, and robes to wear, and everything that will make him a priest. Look, he has the mark on his forehead. All he needs now is a sutra, and he will have everything -- everything --

His master doesn't have a mark on his forehead. "Clever boy," his master said when he asked, and he never asked again.

His master gives him everything that he could possibly ask for.

He knows his master will tell him if he needs to ask for anything.

He wants very much to be like his master, because he doesn't have anyone else to be, except for a half-remembered child with a broom in a courtyard full of leaves . . .

. . . but he wishes sometimes that he knew who his master was.

---