woke up in bed with Marie-Yves on an island in French Polynesia. I'd never been there before but knew where I was. I was staring up at the palm frond ceiling thinking how good I had it. Marie-Y was sleeping next to me. Evidently we were part of a research team that was sent to Tahiti to determine why Pacific lobsters had no claws.
Then I felt something slithering beneath the sheets. I jumped up, naked from the waist down, throwing the sheet back. A black and white scorpion snapped its claws and flung its tail in my direction. Marie-Y's foot was swollen and blue. I panicked, wondering what to do: If I tried to get help, people would know we were sleeping together. The only thing going through my head was: This was how we'd be discovered. This would be what our relationship was founded on. I couldn't think straight until I put some pants on. But first I felt obligated to check Marie-Y's neck for a pulse. She woke up and asked what I was doing.
"I'm seeing if you're alive!" I said.
"Well?" she said.
"You're probably in shock. You were stung by a scorpion." I pointed to her foot.
"It is all the time been this way," she said.
"There was a scorpion in bed with us. It was right here."
"Probably you were dreaming. It means something."
Then I heard a buzzing sound above my head and felt a burning sensation on my scalp. "It's in my hair!" I leaned over so Marie-Y could check. She sighed and started sifting through my follicles. "Do you see anything?"
"Nothing but for these tiny red bugs," she said, picking one out and eating it.
"Those are chiggers," I said. "They are not for eating!"
"It is nature."
"We don't have the proper enzymes to digest them."
"Pass right through me they will?"
"Then no harm in it."
The buzzing sound was getting louder and the itching more intense. I looked up at the ceiling and the palm fronds were teeming with red chiggers. I jumped up and ran out of the hut screaming. Bernard and the film crew were all there outside our door, though they were really research scientists doing a documentary on Pacific lobsters. The lights and camera were pointed at our door. I emerged, exposed from the waist down, screaming and scratching myself all over. It was silent except for me and the whirring of the film in the camera. The past was catching up to the present.
"Is this all in the script?" I ask.
Bernard throws his hands in the air. Sheets of the screenplay scatter in the wind (generated by an industrial fan). "Guillotine," he says, slicing his finger across his throat.
"You were good until then," said the cameraman, clapping.
"Were these chiggers for real?" I ask.
Bernard answers in the negative, "they are in reality baby lobsters." This is followed by a realization that I am naked and that Marie-Yves is in my bed in the hut.
Bernard gathers the sheets of paper from the ground. "Of accordance, let's try this again. Remember Jaune, suck first the poison from her womb and then you get Marie-Yves to bite the head off the scorpion." He points to the script. "Just like it says."
"Wound." I say.
"Suck poison from her wound. Not womb."
"Never mind," I say, thankful that none of it was real. When I go back into the hut, Oph is in bed with Marie-Yves. He looks just like me but it is in theory my brother.
"Action!" yells Bernard through a translating megaphone. I realize "I" am just a stand-in, so I hide myself in the closet. Through the slats in the closet I watch as Oph wakes up, discovers the scorpion has stung Marie-Y and sucks the poison from her wound. Seeing Oph naked reminds me of my nakedness. When I see Oph itching, my skin gets itchy (inducing me to wake up). I feel around in the closet for a pair of my own pants to get involved with.
Derek White runs Calamari Press, edits Sleepingfish and blogs at 5cense.com. He is the author of Poste Restante, and his work has appeared in places like Versal, Denver Quarterly, Quarter After Eight, LIT, and Post Road. His story, "Birdman Delegates Guardian of Zoo," appeared in Issue #9 of The Cafe Irreal, and "Selections from
O, Vozque Pulp" appeared in Issue #15.
Back to the Top
story copyright by author 2008 all rights reserved