Illustration by Benjamin Bergman

Tchitchikov meets Aris, an annoying, younger version of himself.

Tchitchikov pondered the various options of engagement that lay before him. He sized him up: the young man was cleanly dressed, and sharply, with dress pants—though cheap—and a dark jacket over a pale shirt—also cheap, some bare threads at the elbows. The young man was cleanly shaved, apparently very cleanly, and recently too, that spoke to the care he took in quality toiletries. Most importantly, he wore a large, but slightly devilish, grin. The whole presentation before Tchitchikov was effective for its purpose. And what purpose was that? To remind Tchitchikov of a young doppelganger of himself, he was certain.

After a few moments he decided not to box him after all.

READ FROM BEGINNING: AUTHOR’S NOTE