The First Male
Simon Cassel dreamed of serpents.
They covered his body with their cold scales and slithered arrogantly across his bedroom floor. Snakes of every kind and every color, in numbers far too great to count, commandeered his home, as if they had no plans to vacate the premises; they claimed his tenement as their permanent residence.
Colorful coral snakes with their deadly red, yellow and black combination wriggled in his bathroom sink and tub; black mambas with their intimidating speed darted across the floor of Simon’s kitchen, curling themselves around the legs of his table; rattlesnakes, making good use of their bone-chilling sound, lay in wait in the half-open drawers that contained his socks and underwear. Huge Burmese pythons hung from the railings in his closet and balled themselves in the corner on the floor, covering his sneakers and the only pair of dress shoes he owned. Aggressive king cobras, flaring their trademark hoods, hissed loudly and attacked and cannibalized a few smaller members of their species. A massive ball of red-sided garter snakes spilled from the top shelf of his kitchen pantry and swirled each other, seeking to mate with the lone female; green tree snakes made themselves at home, blending in with the pine branches of Simon’s anemic Christmas tree that stood against the bay window that overlooked the busy sidewalk below. An indistinguishable combination of large and small snakes squiggled and squirmed around each other on his bedroom floor, almost playfully, giggling and hissing his name as if they were seasoned friends. They crawled across the massive stacks of medical, historical and technical books that occupied space against the walls around the perimeter.
Ssssss-simon. Ssssss-simon. Ssssss-simon.
Hundreds of serpents writhed carefully over Simon’s bare body as he lay in bed, asleep. By their casual movements, they seemed comforted. They hissed his name with care, as if they wanted to wake him, but did not dare startle him.
A black snake, who had been satisfied to watch the orgy from the darkest corner in the room, slowly began to crawl across the floor. It slithered haughtily, in no particular hurry. It was completely black, except for its dull, yellow eyes and it looked to be carved from solid black marble; it was glossy and void of scales, its body having the appearance of a long, gleaming oil slick. It moved with purpose and ego, and the other snakes parted like the Red Sea so that it could pass, unobstructed. It slithered up one of the legs of the bed and crawled across the blood red comforter that was tangled up at the foot of the mosaic queen panel bed. It moved calmly toward Simon’s face, pausing momentarily before it continued its forward motion. It crawled unhurriedly through his legs, past his ankles and calves, between his thick thighs and over Simon’s exposed genitals. When it reached Simon’s chest, the serpent raised its head and looked on, as if in admiration, with its forked tongue darting rapidly in and out of its mouth.
Ssssss-simon. Ssssss-simon. Ssssss-simon.
There was no venom or malice in its sounds; instead, the hissing was like a gentle whisper tickling the neck an old friend. It was tender, almost nurturing; yet, Simon awakened from his dream in a panic, clutching his chest. He sat straight up in bed, and looked around the small enclave that served as his room. His chest heaved rapidly and his body was drenched in sweat as he tried to cut the darkness with his eyes, but the black of night was too thick. The only light shone in the room was an eerie green glow from the digital alarm clock on his nightstand that illuminated only a small section of the cramped space. Simon steadied himself and remained alert, but he was afraid to move, almost petrified.
The corner of the room nearest his closet was completely shaded in black. Shadows. Something about that corner unnerved him and wouldn’t allow him to completely release the panic the held him. Then, his breath froze and his lungs tightened as a pair of sinister yellow eyes slowly came into view. In a fright, he clumsily reached over and clicked on the lamp on the nightstand, his elbow accidentally nudging Brooke in the middle of her back. She moaned grumpily. A dim radiance spilled into the room.
When the light banished the darkness, Simon exhaled. There were no dangerous eyes lurking in the corner of his room; only a pair of sweat-soaked gym socks that he had yanked from his feet and tossed carelessly in the corner after his evening run through the park.
“What’s wrong, baby?” Brooke asked in a sleepy voice, her eyes still closed tightly to block out the light.
“Ummmm, nothing. A bad dream.” His reply was flat and contradicted the fear in his heart. He lied because he knew how she was. Usually, if he explained his dreams to her, she’d force him to stay up while she eagerly applied the knowledge she’d gained from three years of college psychology classes to make a rudimentary and crude diagnosis. Not tonight. Simon didn’t have patience for psychology and its Freudian ramblings about the meaning of dreams. Sometimes, a dream is just a dream, although his dreams of late had taken on much darker hue.
“Fine then. Turn the light off,” she said as she buried her head underneath a big fluffy pillow and rolled onto her stomach with much more motion than Simon thought was necessary. Clearly, she was still angry from their fight earlier in the evening, but he didn’t care—it had all been her fault. Why she was talking about the size of his dick and what they did in the bedroom to her silly sorority sisters, who he knew from now on would stare at his crotch each time he entered a room to see if they could sneak a peek at the snake between his legs, was simply beyond his understanding. He didn’t want to be objectified anymore. He knew all too well about women and their secret desires. All his life women had been drawn to him like he was honey, often pulled in by his mesmerizing eyes. They savored his flare, but were often startled by the power of his sting when he carelessly let them go; nevertheless, they loved him anyway; they always had. Beauty was a curse, he often thought. Sometimes he just wanted to blend in instead of standing out from the crowd because of his physicality.
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