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Venom: a short story — Conclusion



Arriving at the scene of the mishap, Josh found the uninjured Swiss woman kneeling and pulling down the other’s stocking, revealing the nasty red wound where the snake, it seemed, had bitten her. She was weeping and said to Josh “It was a puff adder. A little before I looked it up on internet and they are lethal.” Then, laying her hand on Josh’s pleasantly hairy arm she said, very gently: “please try to help her.” “You call Lineo and a security guard,” Josh told her. “I’ll squeeze the venom out of the wound.” Then having second thoughts, he sluiced his mouth out with brandy, poured some more over the wound, and bent over to suck out the poison. “Must look like some pretty kinky porn,” he thought. Grimacing then, he spat the muck out on to the grass, washed his mouth clean and took a big swig of the never-more-welcome brandy. Seeing the victim had opened her eyes and was glaring at him he told her: “take some brandy to revive you.” “I do not drink.” “Oh, suit yourself,” Josh thought. At which point Lineo arrived with two security guards, who started thrashing around the foliage with knobkerries. After a moment one of them let out a triumphant yell and picked up the pulverized snake with two fingers. Lineo placed her hand on Josh’s shoulder. “My hero,” she murmured. “Now. We must get her down to the clinic. Let us just pray they have the serum in stock.” And turning to the security guards, she said “well done. Please, quick, call the driver and get him to bring my car down here.” Remarkably swiftly the vehicle arrived and the driver stepped out, a short, stocky fellow with a huge beard. The victim was helped to her feet, at which point she glared at the driver and announced “I do not like men with beards.” “What do you think he is?” Josh wondered, “Boko frigging Haram?” “You relax on the terrace,” Lineo purred to Josh. “I’ll bring you more brandy and some vegetable soup and toast.” In the evening, on his way to dinner, Josh saw Lineo at reception. She waved and called out “Hi there, honeybunch.” A pause, and then: “was that good American?” “It’ll pass muster,” replied Josh. He was about to ask after the victim, but Lineo’s mobile rang, so he went into dinner. In there, he found no guests other than the victim’s companion. “Good evening,” he said. “How is your friend?” “Thank you, she is fine, and thank you so so much. At the clinic they had a fresh delivery of serum. She has rested and they are keeping her in overnight as a warning. No,” she corrected herself, “as a precaution. They will check on her from time to time.” “You must be very relieved,” said Josh. “Absolutely. And we are so grateful for your kindness and your courage. I must say to you also, I am sorry if my friend is sometimes without humour. She suffers very badly from stress.” Josh thought to himself: “Stress?? Try teaching in a Maseru high school”, but actually said “I am truly sorry to hear that.” “For how long will you stay here in the lodge?” “I am afraid I must leave tomorrow morning.” He was tactful enough not to mention that his holiday money had run out. “Please do leave me your address. I am sure Odile will wish to write you thanks and to send you a reward for saving her life. Meanwhile I wish you all success and happiness.” “What a sweet lady,” Josh thought. “I wish I’d taken the trouble to get to talk to her.” Just a month later, in the Maseru school, Josh received a small package from Switzerland. Inside was a bar of hazelnut chocolate and a note that said “thank you very much, young man, for saving my life. Do enjoy the chocolate, my gift, which is much better than any you will find in Lesotho or indeed in your own America.” “I hope I don’t choke on the nuts,” thought Josh. Chris Dunton

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