3 min

An itch to drive you mad

Sam and Sian's contagious skin parasite

Credit: Bryson Young

“It’s your fault,” growled Sian from the droopy chesterfield. She was huddled up in her boxers and bra, looking like a wounded dog.

Sam, in the porch doorway, was grabbing earnestly at his crotch. One hand was down his pants, the other scratching through the khakis. “Whatever I did, I’m sorry,” he bleated. “But spit it out. I’ve gotta get to the clinic before I itch my dick off.”

“It’s about the itching,” said Sam, with the tone of a Scotland Yard agent. “Sit down, dear. You gave me scabies.”

Sam made little moaning sounds and thump-stepped his way to the couch. “I had scabies last year!”

“Well,” nodded Sian, “it’s not the chicken pox. You can get it as many times as you like.” She poured him a drink. She had found that gin helped her to not think about the itching.

“Maybe we’re just allergic to something.” Sam was now going all out on his inner thighs. He unbuttoned his pants.

“No, Sam. It’s scabies. You gave me scabies. I’ve got a parasite in my skin, thanks to you.”

“How do you know you didn’t give it to me?”

Sian laughed. “Because you’re the whore.”

Sam nodded in agreement but then downed his drink and started shaking his head. “That’s got nothing to do with it!”

Sian cocked an eyebrow. “Whatever, dirty whore.”

“How many people have you slept with in the past month?” he asked her, shrugging off his Burcu’s T-shirt and swiping the half-empty bottle of Kwellada lotion.

“Three. You?”

“Two!” he cheered. He gave her a look which was meant to say “Oh ho! Who’s the whore now?” He slathered up his armpits with the Kwellada.

Sian responded with a stare that said: The Sweet Sanctimony of Lesbian Love Could Never Have Brought On This Disease. She trucked into the laundry room to throw Sam’s clothes in the wash.

“Underwear, too,” she called. A pair of white Hanes went sailing into her grip.

“Slumber party?” Jen hadn’t knocked. She had carte blanche at Sian’s and let herself in through the porch door.

“Close,” cheered Sam, now pouring his second drink eagerly, “Scabies!”

“You’re joshing me! Sian! I slept on your couch last night!” She gave Sam’s exposed nether regions a quick snort and sat down beside him.

“Lather up!” came the voice of reason over the thump-thump of the washer.

“And have a drink!” suggested Sam.

Jen’s muffled voice came through her sweater as she lifted it over her head. “Vodka, please.”

“How long till we can wash it off?” asked Sam as Sian came back into the room. She had brought clean white sheets for everyone to wrap around themselves.

“Twelve hours,” moaned Sian, making a sarong out of her bedspread. “Sam! Stop it!”

Sam was scratching his bum against the arm of the chesterfield. “I . . . can’t . . . stop . . . .”

The women pushed him off the arm and took up post on either side.

“Wait a second!” Sian stuck her arms out like a traffic director. “The couch! We’re all sitting on the couch! It’s a scabies couch. Up! Up!” The saronged trio leaped to their feet and used the tips of their fingers to extract the offending cushions.

Jen took the suspect material into the laundry room.

“Omigod!” squealed Sian, looking down at her shag carpet. “Vacuum! We’ve got to vacuum!”

Sam waved his arms in the air like a plague victim, “Unclean!” he squealed, “Unclean!”

An hour later, on her fourth drink and putting the vacuum away, Sian had begun to get antsy. “This Kwellada stuff is worse than the scabies! I can feel it poisoning me! It’s some kind of neuro-toxin I heard.”

“You’re all . . . psychosomatic,” insisted Sam, jostling his drink in front of her face. “You just ih-mah-gine the itch. . .”

“Hey guys?” Jen was attempting to poor her sixth vodka. “What if we have scabies forever?”

“Then we will never sober up,” murmured Sam in wonder. He was lying backward over the armrest of the stripped chesterfield.

Sian, meanwhile, had assembled a pad and pen. Somehow her voice had now affected a southern drawl. “I’m gonna figure out who’s fault this is. Someone is gonna pay huge.”

The three began to account, with varied success, for where they had slept over the past two months, who they’d slept with, what they had done, and the relative cleanliness of the sleeping quarters. Sian turned it all into a point system and constructed some very impressive looking flow charts.

“You guys! You guys!” Jen huddled up and swallowed, “It’s like Clue! It’s like a murder mystery! Whodunit??”

But the charts and point system had grown messy and incomprehensible as they progressed. Arrows seemed to point to everyone.

“That’s it!” hollered Sam from his spot under the computer table where he had taken up residence with the remains of the gin. “It . . . is . . . everyone! We all did it!”

“Shut up, lush!” Sian was chewing her Bic furiously. “There must be-some logical . . .”. But there was nothing.

And by the eleventh hour, the three had passed out together on the couch. They awoke next morning, scabies free, but pointing fingers about the puke.