Monday, January 23, 2012
And Call Me In the Morning
“I must admit,” Dr. Russell Waller said, “I’ve never seen anything like you before.”
Jerry Salmander wiped his huge honker of a nose with a fistful of tissues. “You don’t know what I got?”
“Oh, I’ve got a pretty good idea what you’ve got. I meant, I don’t get many dragons in here. By ‘don’t get many,’ I mean you’re the first.”
“Yeah, we’re pretty rare. That’s what’s got me concerned. If I bite it, who’s gonna service the ladies?”
“Uh, yes.” Dr. Waller adjusted his glasses. “Would you please stick out your tongue?”
Jerry stuck out a tongue that would have made Gene Simmons hang his head and slink into a corner in shame. Dr. Waller studied it and said, “Mmmm.”
“What’s that mean?”
“It means this may not be a cold, as I first suspected. Have you been running a fever?”
“Doc, my normal body temperature tops 108. How would I know if I had a fever?”
“All right, have you been running cold, then?”
“No, I been right on the money. Except for—”
He sneezed. The poster of the digestive tract hanging on the opposite wall went up in flames.
“Sorry,” Jerry said.
“Quite all right,” Dr. Waller murmured. “If it happens again, try to aim at that corner over there. Excuse me, is your gown … smoldering?”
“Yeah, happens when I get upset. That high body temp. I go through clothes like you wouldn’t believe. One of the reasons I’m a nudist. I thought maybe I’d caught a bug or something.”
“That seems highly unlikely, given your temperature. Most germs would be fried upon hitting your system. I’m beginning to think this is an allergy. Have you eaten any unusual foods lately? Unusual for your species, I mean. Or changed your soap or after shave? Or acquired a pet?”
“Last meal was a bull moose, no, no, and pets are appetizers. I thought maybe dust, so I had some pros come in and clean out the man-cave, but that didn’t—oh crap, here it comes—”
Dr. Waller ducked, a half-second too late. He felt the flash of heat across his face, and the sudden lightness of his upper lip.
“Oops,” Jerry said sheepishly.
“Yes. Well.” Dr. Waller brushed the seared, brittle remains of his moustache from beneath his nose. He checked his eyebrows and found them still intact.
“Your skin’s fine,” Jerry told him. “Just looks a little sunburned.”
“Thank you. Are you dating anyone new?”
“Yes, I am, as a matter of fact. Arlene. I met her at work. Komodo dragon. Best I could do, the real deal being so rare and all.” He elbowed Dr. Waller. “You wanna see her? She’s out in the waiting room. Hot as all get out, know what I’m saying?”
“And virgin, I suppose.”
Jerry smirked. “Not any more.”
“And how soon after you two started dating did you start noticing symptoms?”
“A couple days … oh crap. You think I’m allergic to my girlfriend?”
“Or her soap or perfume or hair care products. Do you find yourself sneezing a lot if you get too close to her?”
“I told you, I thought it was a bug. We go skinny dipping a lot, and the mountain lakes around here are frigid. You been hearing those reports of weird steam clouds rising out of the woods? That’s me.”
“We could do a series of skin tests if you want to be sure, but I’m not certain the samples would last long enough, given your body temperature. I don’t even know if a hypodermic would penetrate your skin.”
“Yeah, we got thick hides, all right. Gotta ward off swords and spears and all. Allergic to my girlfriend, huh. St. George hack my balls off.”
“There’s no reason to let it interfere with your relationship. It could simply be her hair or skin care products, as I said. The two of you will have to experiment. In the meantime, here’s a couple of over-the-counter allergy medications you could try. I recommend you concentrate on stopping the sneezing first.”
“Yeah, that’s a bugger—uh—”
“The corner! The corner!”
Seconds later Dr. Waller stood shaking his head over the scorched and peeling paint on the wall. Jerry hopped off the exam table. “If that’s all you think it is, then maybe I should be getting on.”
“I don’t think you have anything serious to worry about.” Anyone he faced, however, might be another story. “Please see the nurse at the front desk. If this keeps up—”
“Then me or the fire department will be in touch. Thanks, doc.”
Jerry yanked on his slacks and T-shirt and headed out toward the front of the clinic. Minutes later Dr. Waller heard a sneeze, then a feminine scream. Smoke drifted up the hall to the exam room.
“Shapeshifter sanctuary or not,” he muttered, “I never should have left Seattle.”
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Last-minute add-on: I just got my cover for Legacy! It's on my page. I'll be posting it over on Title Magic, probably Thursday. Maybe this'll bring in the Twilight fans. Y'think?