William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Eighteen

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“I’d feel more comfortable if Julia was with us,” Alice said, watching Carson drive.  They were traveling south out of Sacramento in his van.

“Taking the samples from the fetus, not to mention the girl, that was illegal.  Julia is a professor, and with Schwarzenegger begrudging every last penny being spent on higher ed, we don’t need that kind of exposure.”

Alice nodded.  “You work the brake and the accelerator with your hands.”

“Yes,” he said.

“Muscular dystrophy?”  It was going to be a long ride, so she may as well ask.

“That’s right.”

“Is it getting worse?”

“Two summers ago I went snorkeling in Majorca.  I could still work the flippers.  Now I can barely move my legs.”

“That sucks.”

“My dad is rich, which helps more than you would think.  I’ve had years of aggressive, expensive treatments, some of which are not even legal.  But it’s helped.  They told me I’d be on a respirator by now, but I can breathe fine.  And physical therapy keeps my arms and hands working.”

“That’s great.”

“Yes,” he said, “but peeing through a catheter is not.  I try not to lose sight of the negative.”

Alice grinned.  “Have you ever had sex?”

“Are you propositioning me?  We could find a motel.”

“No, just curious.”

“I have,” he said.  “Some years back, my uncle hired me a prostitute.  Little Puerto Rican lady.  Then every time I visited, he would do the same.  I started visiting a lot.”

Alice shook her head.

“Do you think that’s funny or pathetic?” Carson asked.

“Not pathetic.  Funny, I’d say.  I would do the same in your position.”

“How about you, ever get any?”

She laughed.  “Yeah, you know, I do.  I had a boyfriend until recently.  We were together four years.”

“So?”

“It was because of a lot of things.  But I’ll tell you, the whole sex thing got to be a drag.  He wanted some level of flexibility or outrageous skill sets that I don’t possess, so he got disappointed.”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” Carson said.  “I kind of just lay there.  So what do you make of this girl Karen Sorrows?  Is she a lying little vixen?”

“Yup.”  Alice fiddled with the radio, trying unsuccessfully to find NPR.

“She was intact, as we doctors say.”

“She may be a virgin in the technical sense but she’s no stranger to near-miss ejaculations.”

“I’m not convinced,” Carson said.  “She’s a little girl.”

“Not that little.  She’s fourteen.”

“I wasn’t getting any at fourteen,” Carson said.

“Neither was I, but she was.”

“Virgin births are not unknown,” he reminded her.  “You can buy virgin birth insurance in twelve countries, including our own.”

“That doesn’t make it real.”

“Nor does it make it not real.  Parthenogenesis has been reported for as long as there has been reporting.  Women who have no sexual contact having babies.  It happens in snakes all the time.”

“I’m not fresh off the fruit boat,” Alice reminded him.  “It has been reported in snakes maybe three times.  And yes, I know about the turkeys, but no one has ever seen it in mammals, much less humans.”

“Suppose it happens in humans all the time,” Carson said.  “Everyone thinks a girl is lying.  But what if it’s part of our evolutionary mechanism.  In the absence of suitable males, a woman self-fertilizes, keeps her genes in the pool for another generation.  It’s highly adaptive.”

“And highly fictional,” Alice added.  “You know they’ve been looking for this for years.”

“They’re not looking in the right places.”

“Where should they be looking?”

“In poor black communities.”  Carson turned on the cruise control.

“Why?”

“I’m thinking that the ancestral human 120,000 years ago was African.  Any deviation from that form would be due to mutations.  My blue eyes, your hot China girl look, all of this is a result of mutations.”

“So what?”

“So if we want to find humans who have undergone the least modification, the ones most likely to display ancestral adaptive traits, like parthenogenesis, we need to be looking to Central Africa or inner-city U. S. because that’s where these people are.”

“Do you make this up as you go?” Alice asked.

Carson shook his head.  “Look, I can’t walk, so I have a lot of time to think.  And I think humans have been reproducing asexually for a very long time.  We just ignore it.”

Alice stared out the window as a souped up Honda Civic sped past, three teenage guys hanging out the windows yelling into the wind.  “Would that it could be,” she said.  “I still don’t know what we’re supposed to say to Karen.  It’s not like she’s going to admit anything.”

“True, but the first time I had sex, I got a glint in my eye, like I was part of something.  You have that glint in your eye too.  I can always tell with people.  You know Kathryn, right?”

Alice turned to face him.  “Kathryn from class?”

Carson nodded.  “Never had a day of fun in her life.”

Alice laughed.  “Kathryn is a knockout, and she’s twenty-five years old, so it’s unlikely that she’s a virgin.”

“Never had a day of fun in her life,” Carson insisted.  “The closest she comes is in my dreams.”

“You dream about her?”

“Like I said, I have a lot of free time.  The result is an active fantasy life starring what few women I interact with.  So yes, I think about her.  You too.”

“Ha ha.”

“It’s true.  You’re amazing in bed, all that flexibility and outrageous skills.”

“Very funny.  I’ll bet you think that’s supposed to be some kind of compliment.”

“Yes I think that.”

Driving faster than the speed limit on Route 99, Carson passed the souped up Honda Civic and flipped off the driver.

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Written by williamdoonan

January 17, 2013 at 3:53 am

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