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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 - 2. 2. Andy's Education

Andy's training as a gambler begins. But that is the least of the changes in his life.

Andy’s first day of his new life was a whirlwind of unfamiliar tasks. He had ridden in a train only a few times, and suddenly Mr. Garter expected him to manage timetables, luggage, platforms, meals, and sleeping compartments. Following Mr. Garter’s instructions, Andy stowed a locked box of dark wood in their privy. “Be careful with this box, Andy. And never look inside it.”

At bedtime, Mr. Garter said, “I’ll take the bottom bunk. My top-bunk days are behind me. But you’re young and agile. You can scramble into the top bunk and back down with no problem.”

Andy prepared for bed and lay down in the top bunk. Mr. Garter entered the privy for a few minutes, emerged as the handsome man Andy had seen the night before, said, “Buona notte, Andrea” softly, lay down in the bottom bunk, and went to sleep.

Andy’s hopes that the next day would be easier were dashed when Mr. Garter began his training as a gambler. First was learning to memorize a shuffled deck of cards, in order.

“My memory’s not very good,” Andy said.

“Your memory is not trained,” Mr. Garter said. “We will develop your mind’s eye. Your visual imagination.”

Second was calculating percentages and probabilities. “I’m not very good at math,” Andy said.

“And why is that?”

“After arithmetic, I never saw the point.”

“Well, you’ll need it now. So there’s your motivation.”

“I can’t pull out paper and pencil at the gambling tables and do a bunch of figuring,” Andy objected.

“No, you can’t,” Mr. Garter agreed. “You’re going to learn to do it all in your head.”

“That’s insane.”

“No, that’s how much faith I have in you.”

Mr. Garter showed his faith by his patience with Andy as he taught him, and taught him, and taught him.

On their arrival in New Orleans, Andy’s brain was so tired from multiplying and dividing that he was glad to return to valet duties. Once they were settled in their hotel suite, they indulged in a long hot bath — separately, of course.

Mr. Garter kept his mysterious wooden box in the bathroom, and kept it locked.

That evening, Mr. Garter played poker and kept Andy nearby, not to play but to observe. It appeared that Mr. Garter was well known and enthusiastically received by the locals and out-of-town high rollers.

Andy wondered how Mr. Garter would hold his cards. But his cards floated in front of him, just about where he would be holding them if he had hands.

“How do you do that?” Andy whispered.

Mr. Garter flicked his tongue. “Mind over matter. Now back up. I need to concentrate.”

And, as promised, the food was amazing.

Once again, as they prepared for bed, Mr. Garter spent a few minutes in the bathroom. The door didn’t close securely. It stood open a crack. Andy could not resist peeking through it.

Andy watched as Mr. Garter wriggled out of his snake skin and emerged in his handsome human form, then folded his snake skin and locked it in the beautiful wooden box. He kept the key on a chain around his neck.

Having completed this transformation, Mr. Garter said with some amusement in his voice, “You’re not being nearly as subtle as you think, Andy. Come in and stop sneaking.”

Andy entered. Mr. Garter continued, “Oh, those pajamas look good on you. Let me straighten them a bit.” He tugged here and smoothed there and said, “Much better.”

Andy’s head was swimming. “I don’t understand. How can you be a snake during the day, and at night be such a handsome man?”

Mr. Garter lifted an eyebrow. “Handsome, is it? I hope you know, Andy, that you’re quite good-looking yourself.” Leaning forward, he kissed Andy — just a touch of lips to lips.

Andy cleared his throat. “Isn’t there some rule about not mixing business and pleasure?”

“Is that a rule you want to keep to?”

“It’s just that — it makes things complicated. What if you’re disappointed in me? What if you like me at first and get tired of me? It’s — such a risk.”

“I’m a gambler, Andy. I take risks for a living.”

Andy felt like he might pass out, or be sick, or fall. “I don’t.”

Mr. Garter stepped back with a slight smile. “You will. I’ll teach you.” Then he gently pushed Andy back out the door. “You have a room all to yourself. Use it. Buona notte, Andrea. Sleep well.”


They stayed in New Orleans for ten days. Mr. Garter gambled for half of what Andy thought of as his “snake hours” — day and evening — and spent the rest training Andy, drilling him on the odds in poker, craps, roulette, and other games, and relentlessly improving his memory and his ability to calculate in his head.

Well, not quite all the rest of the hours were spent on Andy’s training in gambling. There were more pleasurable hours spent teaching Andy about of food, architecture, art, literature, and music, and filling gaps in Andy’s knowledge of history, the sciences, and world affairs.

Andy found one conversation particularly memorable. Mr. Garter was discussing gambling strategy in general and noted, “Often a gambler’s worst enemy is himself. The great hindrances are fear and greed. They lead to many bad decisions. Fear is not bad in itself; it can warn you of real danger. But we must not let it cloud our best judgment. Greed is not bad in itself; it can alert us to opportunities. But again, we must not let it cloud our judgment.”

Andy asked, “But what if you do your very best and you still lose?”

“Then you lose. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve raised a fortune dollar by dollar, then lost it all and had to begin at the bottom again? It doesn’t matter. Even starting over has its interesting points. The universe offers many second chances, Andy.”

Each night, Mr. Garter changed out of his snake skin and said “Buona notte, Andrea,” before going to bed. Each night, Andy wanted to say something to him, to delay their parting, to spend a few more moments together, but couldn’t think what to say. Each night, his longing to touch Mr. Garter, to reach out and hold him, grew stronger, and the separation when Mr. Garter went to bed pained him more.

On their last night in New Orleans, Andy was already in bed when Mr. Garter came to his door and said, “Buona notte, Andrea,” and was about to go.

Andy impulsively said, “Mr. Garter,” not knowing what he would say next.

Mr. Garter turned and stepped into Andy’s room. “Yes, Andrea?”

“I have a question,” Andy said, then tried to think of one to ask.

“What is it?”

“It’s about probabilities and odds.”

“Certainly, Andy, ask me anything.”

“How do you figure the odds for things that don’t have numbers? Things that aren’t at the gaming table?”

Mr. Garter approached closer. “Like what, Andy?”

“Like life. Like, figuring out if I should do something. Like, if I should be friends with someone.” Then he whispered, “Like, if I should fall in love.”

Mr. Garter sat on the bed. “I thought you found such things too risky.”

“Maybe I’ve been letting fear cloud my judgment. But I don’t know. What odds would you give — us? What if it doesn’t work out?”

Mr. Garter’s face was inches away. “What if it does?” He kissed Andy.

Andy’s mind swirled and his pulse raced, but he was already lying down, so there was no risk of falling. He plunged into the sensation of the kiss and of all that followed.


On their return to New York, Andy’s education continued. During Mr. Garter’s snake hours, gambling and general education were the topics; during Mr. Garter’s man hours, the heady feelings of new love were the subject, as Andy tried to find his way through them like a sailor in a gale.

He knew he was falling in love with Mr. Garter, but that did not lessen his mortification at being seen with a reptile. People stared, and Andy knew that they disapproved of something so abnormal; people sneered, and he knew that Mr. Garter’s extravagant and hissing voice was constantly giving away his true nature. Yet, at night, when he and the almost unimaginably attractive man who was undeniably Mr. Garter were making love, he felt lucky beyond measure, blessed in the extreme.

Andy chided himself for being ashamed of his association with a cultured, educated, intelligent, generous, attentive creature. He could imagine no other circumstances in which he could have learned so much on such a broad range of subjects. He didn’t mind working hard at mathematics and memory, and he delighted in Mr. Garter’s disquisitions on the arts and sciences, when he was in his snake form. Every interaction that involved just the two of them made him better and happier. It was only when other people were present that he wished things were different.

He watched Mr. Garter’s bedtime routine and his rising in the morning. The key on its chain around Mr. Garter’s neck drew his eye in a way he couldn’t control. His mind wandered to the wooden box in the bathroom when he was trying to sleep. And despite all he owed to Mr.-Garter-as-snake, he was beginning to regard him as an obstacle to his happiness with Mr.-Garter-as-man.


Mr. Garter’s next trip, a voyage by luxury ocean liner to Monte Carlo, brought an expansion of Andy’s more mundane duties. There were passports to acquire or renew, tickets to purchase, cabin assignments to upgrade by means of a little bribery, international cables to fine hotels to be sent. And on the day they embarked, there were luggage, taxicabs, and dozens of other details to arrange.

Still, once they were underway and they were settled in their cabin, the pace of life slowed considerably. After a short time, Andy heard celebratory cheers and the popping of corks.

“What’s going on?” Andy asked.

“International waters,” Mr. Garter explained. “There’s no Prohibition on the high seas. And no laws against gambling, either.”

Mr. Garter had plenty of opportunity onboard to practice his profession.

An attitude of live and let live prevailed. Mr. Garter’s peculiarities seemed to draw no attention from passengers or crew. Andy felt more at ease. He could almost imagine the voyage as a honeymoon. The richly varied delights of his nights with Mr. Garter did nothing to dispel this fanciful notion.

Mr. Garter was so pleased with Andy’s progress in gambling that he allowed Andy to play a few low-stakes games with other passengers.

Andy almost forgot to be ashamed of Mr. Garter for the duration of the voyage. Things changed, however, when they checked into their hotel in Monte Carlo. First the desk clerk and then a maître d’ and then one guest after another seemed to greet Mr. Garter and Andy with a curled lip. Andy would turn suddenly to glimpse staff whispering to each other, looking in his direction, then studiously looking away.

Suddenly, Andy was acutely aware of every extravagant, over-dramatic coil of Mr. Garter’s sinuous body. He was near to a panic attack from the hissing of Mr. Garter’s voice. He was sure that everyone was looking at them.

Andy tried to beg off accompanying Mr. Garter to the gaming tables, but Mr. Garter said, “I musst inssisst.” And when Mr. Garter shot craps, using his inexplicable mind-over-matter method to hold and throw the dice, and they landed as two ones, Mr. Garter humiliatingly cried, “Ssnake eyess!”

That night, Andy was especially fervent in his lovemaking. When they were done, he said, “I love you.”

“Andrea, my love, I love you too.”

“You have to believe that I love you. I really do. No matter what, don’t forget that I love you.”

This gave Mr. Garter pause. “All right,” he said. “I won’t forget.”

The thing I’m going to do, I’m doing it for your sake, so you can be a man all the time, Andy thought. Not until we get back to New York, but definitely then, as soon as I can manage it.


The return voyage was as enjoyable as it could be, given that Andy felt the constant weight of his secret. Their first night back in Mr. Garter’s penthouse, Andy initiated their lovemaking as soon as Mr. Garter had shed his snake skin. Barely able to get the words out, Andy asked, “Could you please take the chain off your neck? It keeps bumping into my nose.”

“Anything for you, my love,” Mr. Garter said, and took off the chain with the key and laid it on the nightstand. Andy used every trick he had learned to run his lover to exhaustion. Utterly wrung out, Mr. Garter mumbled, “This is what I get for having a nineteen-year-old boyfriend,” and fell blissfully asleep, the key still on the nightstand.

Andy took the key and some matches and newspaper he had stowed in his pockets and locked himself in the bathroom. He unlocked the wooden box and took out the snake skin. Wrapping it in newspaper, he placed it in the sink and held a lit match to it. “It’s for your own good,” he mumbled.

As the packet caught fire, he heard Mr. Garter cry out, then call, “Andy!” Soon he was pounding on the bathroom door. “Andy! Don’t! You don’t know what you’re doing!”

Andy yelled, “I’m doing it for you! I’m doing it for us!”

“Andy, you’re killing me!”

Alarmed, Andy opened the door. The snake skin was all but consumed by fire.

Mr. Garter looked at the burned skin in horror. “What have you done?” he gasped. His eyes rolled back and closed, and then he fell to the floor and lay motionless.

Next: Is it too late?

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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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Based on Beauty and the Beast? I must have fallen asleep during the Disney movies because I don't remember the sex. 😁

"The Fear of Fairies and Other Fairy Tales" series has been delightful. And this story continues the delight you're giving readers. 

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49 minutes ago, frosenblum said:

Based on Beauty and the Beast? I must have fallen asleep during the Disney movies because I don't remember the sex. 😁

There are many, many Animal Groom folktales. And check out Peter Cashorali's "The Man Who Was Lovers with a Pigeon" in his collection Fairy Tales: Traditional Stories Retold for Gay Men.

And if you want to read a really bloody, very non-Disney version of Cinderella, try Aschenputtel (The Girl of the Ashes) from Grimm's Fairy Tales!

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