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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Snake's Lover - 1. 1. Mr. Garter the Snake

Based on various Animal Groom folktales, such as "Beauty and the Beast" and "The White Bird and His Wife." In three parts.

When Giuseppe Abruzzese arrived at Ellis Island in 1894, his name was changed to Joe Abbott by an immigration official with little talent for foreign languages. Such changes were not unusual.

Joe married a beautiful Tuscan girl in New York City and had three sons: Edoardo, called Ed; Francesco, who went by Frank; and Andrea, who insisted on being called Andy. We’re all American boys now, with American names, Joe thought; but he had not been able to bear christening them with any but Italian names.

Andy’s real name caused him endless grief in school. He would finally get to the point where everyone called him Andy when another substitute teacher calling roll would read out his name as “ANN-dree-uh” and ask him why he had a girl’s name. And for a week, everyone called him “ANN-dree-uh” again. Andy developed a long-term defensiveness about his masculinity.

Being old-fashioned, Mr. Abbott encouraged his sons to find good apprenticeships. Ed was apprenticed to a mechanic in the growing automotive industry. Frank was apprenticed to a photographer with an interest in motion pictures. In due time, Ed and Frank set up their own businesses and married good Italian girls.

Andy, however, would not agree to any of the apprenticeships his father proposed. The building trades did not suit his finely sculpted hands; to cook or bake for a living did not appeal to him; he was sure he could not abide the discipline of the military; and office work, he was certain, would kill his soul.

He seemed to have no interest in marriage, either, or even in dating girls. His eye kept being drawn to handsome, somewhat older men — Andy was nineteen, and defined “older men” as over thirty — but he never mentioned this to anyone and never acted on his interest. It seemed too risky.

His father was frustrated with Andy’s failure to work and to progress toward marriage. He let Andy know that his patience was waning.

Joe Abbott was complaining about Andy one day to a business associate, who recommended an acquaintance who was looking for an assistant.

“What does this acquaintance do for a living?” Joe asked.

“He’s a gambler by trade,” the man said.

“A gambler! Does he make a good living?”

“Quite good, from what I understand.”

Joe considered. “Is this all legal?”

The man waggled a hand. “More or less.”

Joe considered some more. “Is he a good man?”

“Depends on whom you ask. He keeps his word, and he doesn’t lie, but some of his business practices are sharp. There are plenty of people who think he’s a snake.”

“Well,” Joe said, “I can’t be terribly choosy at this point. There’s sure to be another recession now that Prohibition is on. And Andy’s not getting any younger. Only five foot six and he goes through food and clothes and shoes so fast you wouldn’t believe it.”

Joe arranged for the gambler, Mr. Garter, to visit his house early Saturday afternoon for Andy’s interview.

“So this is Andy,” Mr. Garter said. “Short for Andrew?”

“Andrea,” Mr. Abbott said.

A smile of delight bloomed on Mr. Garter’s face. “An excellent name! A superb name! Like the great composer Andrea Gabrieli. I may not be able to settle for calling him Andy now, knowing that his real name is so beautiful!”

Mr. Garter explained that being a professional gambler required a great deal of travel and attention to his personal appearance, and that Andy would be expected to help with those matters while he was learning to gamble.

Andy had been speechless from the moment of Mr. Garter’s arrival, for no mention had been made of the fact that Mr. Garter was a snake. A real, actual, slithering, fork-tongued, hissing snake with scaly skin and no limbs.

“Papa, can I talk to you in the kitchen for a minute?” Andy asked.

Mr. Abbott frowned but said to Mr. Garter, “Will you excuse us for just a moment?” and went with Andy to the kitchen.

“Papa, how can you think of apprenticing me to a snake?” Andy whispered.

“Oh, he may be a bit hard in his business dealings, but what difference does that make to his apprentice? I have it on good authority that he’s an honorable man who keeps his word and doesn’t lie.”

“Are you blind? Have you looked at him? He has fangs! He has scales! He has patterned red and yellow and black skin!”

“Yes, I must ask who his tailor is. That suit he’s wearing is really sharp. As for fangs, well, that’s simply what the modern business world requires.”

“He hisses when he talks!”

“Really, Andy? With a lisp like yours, you’re going to criticize?” Mr. Abbott said.

While it was true that Andy’s speech was noticeably sibilant, his father had never commented on it before. Andy thought no one had noticed. Sudden shame silenced his scruples.

“Now let’s get back in there and finalize the details,” Mr. Abbott said.

So they did. Mr. Abbott was apprehensive that Mr. Garter would want a great deal of money to pay for the apprenticeship, but he asked only a hundred dollars.

“Is that all?” Mr. Abbott asked. “You’ll take Andy on and teach him your trade, and that’s all you want?”

Mr. Garter smiled as much as he could with his thin lips. “Well, I would be lying to say that’s all I’m looking for. It’s a lonely life, traveling all the time, and if things work out, I’m hoping that Andy will become my lover. By mutual consent, of course, if he’s interested.”

Andy’s jaw dropped and he could find no words.

Mr. Abbott, after a silence as shocked as Andy’s, but briefer, laughed heartily. “Good one,” he said. “You’re a real card!”

“Ss-ss-ss-ss-ss-ss-ss-ss,” Mr. Garter laughed.

Mr. Abbott regained his composure. “But as you said, that part would only be by mutual consent, so that’s between you two. Come on, Andy. I’ll help you pack.”

Mr. Garter said, “I’ll be back in the morning to pick the boy up, Mr. Abbott. Nice doing business with you.”

Later, Andy decided to see if he could get through to his mother. She was cooking, an act which required her full concentration, so he wasn’t sure she quite understood.

“Mama, this guy that Papa wants to apprentice me to is a snake.”

“We all have our faults,” Mrs. Abbott said, adding two more bay leaves.

“I don’t mean he’s not a nice guy. I mean he has no arms or legs.”

“Well, if he’s a nice guy, what’s the problem? And I thought I raised you better than to be prejudiced against the disabled. And I thought I had more basil than this.”

“Mama, he’s not a human being. He’s a snake. A reptile with a tongue that keeps darting in and out.”

Mrs. Abbott held out a spoon. “Taste this. Does this taste too sweet to you?”

“You’re not listening!”

“Andy.” Mrs. Abbott put down her spoon. “I’m your mother, and it pains me to say this, but you’ve always been a very picky child. Now get over whatever problem you have with this man and make the best of it. You can’t stay here living off your parents for the rest of your life. It isn’t good for you, and we can’t afford it.”

Andy decided to see if his grandmother would take him seriously. He visited her in her tiny room at the back of the house. “Nonna, Papa is trying to apprentice me to a snake,” he told her.

“Oh? What is so bad about this man?” she asked. She spoke with a heavy accent.

“Please, Nonna, listen. He’s not a man. He’s a snake.”

She turned and looked at Andy intently. “You mean a real snake? A creature that crawls on the ground? Like the one that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden?”


She thought. “And he speaks, and no one else sees that he is a snake?”

“Yes! That’s the weird thing. They act like I’m just being pig-headed.”

“Pig! I thought he was a snake.”

“No, they think I’m the — Nonna, I need help. I don’t know what to do. Have you ever heard of anything like this?”

She sighed. “When I was a little girl, in Torino, there was a rich girl who had to marry a frog. She wasn’t happy about it. And her family didn’t help at all. They acted like they didn’t even notice. But this was a strange frog. Sometimes he was a frog, sometimes he was a man.”

“That’s impossible, Nonna. It sounds like magic.”

“I always knew you were a smart boy. If you want my advice, you will accept this apprenticeship, and watch this snake carefully at night. And if he offers you an apple, don’t take it.”

Andy thought the last bit of the advice spoiled the credibility of the rest. “Nonna, do you know what happened with the frog, in the end?”

“No, I don’t. Now I need to ask you something more important. Do you have a girlfriend yet?”

Andy rolled his eyes. “No, Nonna.”

She shrugged. “A boyfriend, maybe?”

Andy laughed nervously. “What a question, Nonna!”

“What? I’m just asking. You’re not a baby anymore. I’m not so ignorant as people think, just because I spend all day sitting in this little room.”

Andy had noticed that no one ever took his grandmother out, but, being self-absorbed, he hadn’t thought about it much. Now he felt a twinge of guilt. “Well, if things go well with Mr. Garter, maybe I can change that,” he said.

She laughed. “Good luck with your snake. With no girlfriend and no boyfriend, you have to be extra careful.”


The next morning, Andy found himself unpacking in a small bedroom in Mr. Garter’s stylish East Side residence. He scarcely had time to catch his breath before Mr. Garter took him shopping to update his wardrobe. “Appearances count for a lot in this business,” Mr. Garter said. “Even where we’re going tomorrow.”

“Where’s that?” Andy asked.

“New Orleans. The food is amazing. We’ll save the more upscale destinations for later.”

To Andy’s surprise, Mr. Garter was charming, solicitous, and generous. While insisting on unostentatious clothes of good quality, he let Andy choose many items of apparel. He took Andy to an expensive but informal restaurant for lunch.

What bothered Andy was Mr. Garter’s voice. Jeez, his esses could pierce concrete, he thought. I could get used to the lack of arms and legs and the yellow eyes, but those esses, and his ridiculous sentence intonation, so overly dramatic — they’re so embarrassing.

As if in confirmation, a conservatively dressed man at a nearby table looked askance at Mr. Garter and muttered, “They’re everywhere these days!” disapprovingly.

When they returned to Mr. Garter’s penthouse after a full day of preparations and dinner at an elegant restaurant, Mr. Garter suggested that they turn in. Andy retired to his room, changed into his new silk pajamas, and soon fell into a troubled sleep, dreaming of snakes winding themselves around his legs and throat.

He woke at midnight hearing footsteps outside his door. Not the slithering of a snake, but footsteps. Quietly he got up and peeked out. A light was on in the kitchen. From the darkness of the hall, he peered in.

Standing at the kitchen sink, a man in pajama bottoms poured himself a glass of water and drank it. His dark hair was silvered at the temples. He was lean but muscled. His skin was tanned or naturally a little darker than Andy’s. His face reminded Andy of John Barrymore. His neatly trimmed mustache brought to mind riverboat gamblers of half a century before. He was the prototype of every man to whom Andy had ever felt drawn. His eyes were — amber.

Andy hurried back to his room. Sliding into bed and pulling the blankets over his head as he waited for his heart to stop pounding, he wondered, Was I seeing Mr. Garter as he really is?

Next: Andy's Education

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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Surprising------Is the young man apprenticed to a snake or a snake who can also be a man at times?

Andy, the young man, will find out more about who is boss really is.

He was told his boss wants him to be his lover.  Andy is a virgin, and a snake body would not be useful for human lovemaking. I assume the compatibility concern will be solved soon. 

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1 hour ago, scrubber6620 said:

a snake body would not be useful for human lovemaking.

It's true that having sex with a snake would involve definite compatibility issues. 

And yet -- all too many men focus on the trouser snake, to the exclusion of other equally important matters.

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2 hours ago, drsawzall said:

It just goes to prove, we all see the same things differently...

I was considering writing something about Andy having hyper-sensitive gaydar, or snakedar, and developing the ability to see the man within the snake and the snake within the man, but it got too metaphysical.

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