It’s all about perspective.
By Angela Rasch
I heard their voices as soon as my eyes blinked open and I became aware of my surroundings. Nowhere else has that peculiar smell -- a mixture of antiseptic and floor polish that signals healing . . . or death.
I tried to look around, but found that not only could I not lift my head, but that my entire body was unresponsive. Oh Gawd! I’m paralyzed.
The last thing I could remember was walking in the woods with my nephews. I’d spent a disagreeable day with my wife’s family listening to their bigoted opinions regarding same-sex marriage. The earth had given way beneath me and I’d landed in a big pile of . . . SNAKES!
I wanted to scream - - reliving the terror I’d felt in that hole with all those scaly creatures gliding over and around me. I’d covered my face with my hands but had felt repeated strikes on my hands and on legs exposed by walking shorts.
“It could have been much worse.” A man’s face hovered over mine. He didn’t seem to realize I could hear him. “According to what the people said who brought her in -- there had to have been over a hundred snakes in that pit.”
“The snakes were in a mating ball,” a woman’s voice said from behind me.
“A mating ball?” the man questioned. “You’re the expert, but is a mating ball like a bar at closing hour?”
They both laughed.
I’m paralyzed and they’re both laughing? The table below me feels like cold steel. At least I have the ability to feel things.
“I feel lucky being in town for a convention. When you called I dropped everything. There’s only five other cases like this that I’m aware of.” The woman moved to a spot where I could also see her.
“I don’t get it,” the man said. His name tag identified him as Thomas King, M.D. “Tell me Dr. Shaughn. What did those snakes do to her?”
“Please . . . call me ‘Sheryl’.”
“Sheryl it is. And . . . please call me ‘Tom’.” Tom peered right at me and smiled. “It’s incredible. I’m a doctor and have given the patient a complete examination. I know she has a penis, but I can’t bring myself to think of her as anything but a very sexy female.”
“And. . .” Sheryl started, “. . .I’m sure you’re having a hard time believing how totally male the patient looks to me . . . sort of a Brad Pitt . . . Matt Damon hybrid.”
“Jennifer Lopez. . .” Tom refuted. “I swear the patient looks like a dead ringer for Jennifer Lopez.”
“That’s the wonder of these cases,” Sheryl said. “Pheromones are extremely powerful. Some species use pheromones to aggregate others to a calling site for defense against attackers. Others use pheromones to spread the alarm when a predator is detected. Some use them to scent a trail. Humans . . . we mainly use pheromones for sexual arousal. I see it’s having a predictable impact on your libido.”
The male doctor’s face turned deep red. “I’ve been like this ever since they brought her in . . . HIM in. Hey! It’s been over four hours; should I consult a physician?”
She laughed. “Consider yourself consulted. You can also consider yourself amply endowed. And — believe me, If I wasn’t wearing a bra, you’d readily see that my nipples are as hard as rocks.”
The male doctor shook his head. “How does it work? How can it possibly be that you see him as a him, and I see him as a her?”
“Those snakes in that pit were Redstripe Ribbon Snakes, Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus.”
“I’ve never heard of a Redstripe Ribbon Snake.”
“They’re a kind of garter snake.”
“Garter snake,” he asked with a great deal of skepticism. “I thought you said the patient is suffering from envenomation.”
“That’s right. Garter snakes can’t kill humans with their mild neurotic venom. The patient was bitten so many times that his body has been permanently changed.”
Permanent? Am I going to be paralyzed forever?
“Let me get this straight,” Tom stated. “You’ve been involved in several cases like this before.”
“Uh huh. The outcome has always been the same. In these cases with massive venom ingestion the patient’s body takes on the ability to secret pheromones in amounts that a far beyond the normal ranges for other human beings.”
“That explains why you find the patient so attractive,” Tom said quietly, “but what explanation is there for me being so ready to jump the bones of a patient I KNOW is a man?”
He leered at me as if I were something to be eaten.
“Garter snakes have a complex system of pheromonal communication. They can find one another by following their pheromone-scented trails.”
“I’ve heard of that,” Tom said. “That’s how snake repellant’s work. I spread snake repellent pellets around my house in the fall to keep out snakes that are looking for a warm place to spend the winter.”
“That’s right,” Sheryl said, “garter snakes emit pheromones that are immediately distinguishable as either male or female. However, sometimes male garter snakes produce both male and female pheromones.”
“Why would they do that?”
Sheryl laughed. “My theory is they’re horny little devils who want more than their fair share of lovin’. Those snakes that produce both pheromones actually fool other males into attempting to mate with those ‘she-males’. ‘She-male’ garter snakes have been shown to garner more copulation than normal males in the mating balls.”
I groaned and both of them looked toward me.
“She’s coming around,” Tom stated. “I swear - - she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I’d gladly put my license in jeopardy for ten minutes. . . .”
“Maybe we can get him to take part in a threesome,” Sheryl breathed lustily. “Tell me Doctor, what is your patient wearing?”
“Besides that delightful perfume . . . she’s wearing a black lace mini-skirt and a matching halter-top.”
I looked down and saw exactly what he had described. Heavens!
“The amazing thing is — he actually obviously used Old Spice after-shave this morning and is wearing blue denim pants and a flannel shirt.”
I blinked several times to clear my vision and saw that I was wearing clothing much like the lumberjack in the Brawny commercials.
The female doctor smiled broadly. “In every case I’ve studied the patient is as taken by the pheromones as are those around him. If the patient is with a male she is highly attracted to him and believes with all her heart that she is a suitable female mate. When the patient is with a female he is sexually attracted to her.”
While my eyes swung from one of them to the other I felt ambivalence.
The female doctor took up my chart and made some notations. “In a few hours the patient will be able to move freely, the swelling from those bites will go down, and there will be only minor abrasions which will heal within days. The only long-term effects will be the constant secretion of those pheromones. She will be a he to some and a she to others. All will find the patient highly desirable and in turn the patient will be extremely sexually attracted to nearly everyone she meets.”
“Nearly everyone?” Tom questioned.
“Well,” Sheryl said with a giggle, “no one loves a politician, now do they? Not even a few dozen snake bites can make one of those hypocrites look good.”
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