Health and Wellness

A story I wrote last year, and started tinkering with yesterday. Then, I decided to stop tinkering and post it. Which, I guess, means it's finished.


My extremities swelled. My hands were outsized Mickey Mouse mallets.

My tongue secreted a green gel. I had to pour salt on it three times an hour to keep the glop from pooling in my cheeks.

A bruise on my thigh turned into a scab. The scab melted into a sore with the consistency and color of a piece of braised pork.

I lost my virginity when all this started. I don’t want to say losing my virginity started it, though. My first symptom, I call it a symptom because the doctor assumes this all loops back to one underlying malady, was a feeling that my bladder was being wrung like a rag into gyres when I peed. “It’s probably Gonorrhea,” the doctor told me when he saw the puffiness around my eyes.

“Any penile discharge,” the doctor asked.

“No, doc, no penile discharge,” I said, rather impishly I thought. A nurse gave me a shot in the ass.

My gums turned white. It didn’t hurt, though, unless I flossed or used a toothpick.

I started losing my hair. It came out in single strands, no clumps, but almost continuously like a breadcrumb trail.


I lay in Sharon’s bed, my feet straining against my new Payless sneakers, already size thirteen up from my usual eight-and-a-half. I put my fat hand on her belly. She had the kind of tan you see on porn stars, and wore pajama pants that rode low and a tank-top that rode up. The outfit showed off the fat on her back. It wasn’t regular fat, but sexy fat like a porn star's.


“Well, there’s not a lot it could be,” he said nonchalantly. “Since the Doxycycline didn’t work, I’m going to give you a refill on the Doxycycline, and also put you on Ciprofloxacin. It treats mostly the same things as Docycycline – anthrax, prostatitis, the Clap, several wind and blood-borne ailments – so there’s no harm in doubling up. If it doesn’t work, come back and we’ll get you on some Amoxycilin. How’s your balance? It might be your inner ears.” The doctor had generously checked the “generics if available” box on my prescription form.

“Your body ages, you know. There’s no medicine for just plumb getting older. Not yet, anyway. Your prostate is inflamed, but it isn’t swollen.”


“Are you suffering from rectal itch?”



The pharmacist took my insurance card and I instantly sensed that this was a man with a sense of humor. “I don’t think you have prescription coverage, but I gave you the discount. Try not to eat dairy, and stay out of the sun."


“Well, I think I’m going to go to bed,” said stretching Sharon. I stood and shifted from foot to foot, restless yes, but my dogs were barking, barking, barking into their size thirteen muzzles.

I kissed her once, then again and again, three times but three times that was really just one kiss with pauses, to amplify the mood. She seemed hesitant, not resistant but unambitious. When we stopped, though, she had a touch of the bedroom eyes, a come-hither look that beckoned me to a place that was far far away. Hither and thither and yon.

Earlier I told her a story about how I’d once thought I could hear my parents having sex, but it turned out to be an owl; my parents were at a dinner party. Later that night, she told me that I’d turned her on, and though it could have been something else I said, this is the only thing that leaps to mind. The rest of the talk was pretty clean.

I lounged, afterwards, around my house waiting for her to call. My symptoms came and went. Sometimes they seemed to be on the verge of lifting, and I would go without a tongue-salting for hours. The discharge would be back, congealed, before I even felt a trickle.

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