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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 - 4. 4. Andy's Redemption

The conclusion of The Snake's Lover.

Andy saw Cicero’s resemblance to the human Mr. Garter immediately – a little heavier, with coarser features, but similar. “Cicero Garter? Sir?”

“Yes. Andy? Let’s sit down.”

Once they were seated in a quiet part of the waiting room, Cicero said, “Are you going to be taking care of my brother when they discharge him?”

“Yes, sir, I hope to. Unless you have some objection. And maybe even if you do have some objection.”

“The important thing is what my brother wants. I talked to him on the phone. He speaks of you as a nice young man who has been visiting him, but with whom he is not really acquainted.”

“He doesn’t remember. We’ve been living together for months.”

Cicero breathed out heavily. “Living together in what sense?”

Andy braced himself. “I’m his assistant, but we are also lovers.”

Cicero closed his eyes and shook his head. “Of course, I’ve known about him from an early age. Long before our parents figured it out. I’ve guarded his privacy. I don’t approve, but blood is thicker than water and all that.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You seem awfully young to take on such responsibility.”

Andy tried to convey his determination. “I would do anything for him.”

“And yet, you tried to kill him.”

Andy held his head in his hands. “I didn’t know it would hurt him. I just wanted him to be a man all the time.”

“Mr. Abbott, that ship sailed years before you were born.”

Andy looked at Cicero sharply, but Cicero continued unfazed. “He will never be normal. He can never be normal. Maybe this is the best he can do. If you want to nurse him through this, I will not stand in your way. I don’t have time to take it on, myself. If you find it’s too much for you, I will hire a live-in nurse.”

They both stood. Andy said, “Thank you. I think maybe you underestimate him. Maybe you underestimate me as well. But thank you. Please let the hospital staff know that they may release him into my care, and that I have your permission to visit him until then.”

“I will.”

“And, sir?”


“We will be holding a celebration when he has fully recovered. I hope you can attend.”

Cicero Garter’s laugh was the slightest of smiles with a tiny snort of air through his nose.


With each person he told about Mr. Garter and himself, Andy found that Mr. Garter grew stronger and remembered more. Maybe Nonna was wiser than anyone gave her credit for. The conversation with his father was particularly painful; it began, “Papa, you remember that joke that Mr. Garter made about wanting me to be his lover? Well, it wasn’t a joke.”

Andy spoke with Mr. Garter’s doctor about how to care for him at home. “We’re not really doing anything here but monitoring him,” the doctor said. “We don’t know why he’s so weak. But he is improving. We’re going to keep an eye on him tomorrow, and if he’s still stable, we can discharge him the next day. You’re going to have to stay with him pretty much all the time. If he relapses in any way, call us immediately and bring him back in.”


Andy visited his two brothers, Frank and Ed, in Staten Island, where they lived in side-by-side houses. Frank and Ed had always been rather loud guys, and their wives, Martina and Alice, stayed in the background, refilling drinks.

“I want to tell you about a party I’m going to give,” Andy said.

“Great! When?” Ed said.

“I don’t know yet. You probably heard that Papa apprenticed me to a gambler, Mr. Garter. Well, he’s recovering from — an accident, and it will be to celebrate his recovery.”

“Oh,” Frank said. “Well, we certainly wish him a speedy recovery.”

“Thanks. Right now he’s still in Mount Sinai.”

“Isn’t that a Jewish hospital?” Ed said.

“Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, what difference does it make? It’s one of the best hospitals in the country. For everyone.” Andy was a bit annoyed.

“Okay, okay,” Ed said. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“And there’s another reason for the party,” Andy said. “It’s to tell everyone about us. Mr. Garter and me. I was going to wait until the party, but something Nonna said makes me think I should tell you now.”

“What is it, little brother?” Ed said.

“It’s that — this is so hard to say — I’m in love with Mr. Garter. And he’s in love with me. That’s right, your little brother is in love with a man.”

Martina and Alice suppressed squeals of delight and danced a little jig, holding hands, then ran to Andy and smothered him with hugs and kisses.

“You owe me five bucks,” Frank said to Ed.

Ed said, somewhat uncomfortably, “That’s great. We’re glad you found someone. We were afraid you’d end up alone, or living with Papa and Mama.”

Frank was more enthusiastic. “Good for you, little brother. We’re really happy for you.”

“Wait,” Andy said. “You knew?”

“With your lisp? Yeah. We knew,” Frank said.

Ed said, “I didn’t think we should assume, but as the years went by, it became pretty clear, yeah.”

Frank added, “I’m glad we don’t have to avoid the subject now.”

Ed said, “We don’t have to yell it from the rooftop. I mean, it’s fine, talking about it within the family, but we could leave it there.”

“It’s not a dirty secret,” Andy said.

“I don’t mean that,” Ed said. “But some people aren’t ready to hear about this kind of thing. I mean, there are still laws.”

“Ed,” Alice said. “Can we just be happy about it for the moment?”

“Of course,” Ed said. “Ecstatic.”

Alice glared at him, then kissed Andy again.

As Andy left, Frank quietly said to him, “This guy’s a snake, right?”

“How did you know?”

“Oh, a little bird told me,” Frank said, imitating Nonna’s voice. “Listen, don’t let Ed get to you. He hangs around with a bunch of macho mechanics all day. It’s different for me, working in movies. Anybody who gets bent out of shape if there are a few snakes around would never last in the movie business.”


Andy steered Mr. Garter back into his penthouse in his new wheelchair. Fortunately, Mr. Garter remembered the apartment. “Where have you been sleeping?” he asked.

“You gave me the guest room over here, but mostly I’ve been sleeping in your room,” Andy said.

“I’m really looking forward to remembering all this.”

Andy took over not only his care but also management of the house, learning to cook, ordering some meals delivered, conferring with Gabriela, paying bills (Mr. Garter arranged for Andy’s check-signing authority), and handling correspondence. Mr. Garter was too weak for any of these things.

Avery Teitelbaum, RN invited himself over several times and advised Andy on Mr. Garter’s care. Andy gratefully accepted his help, and shared the delivered meals and his modest culinary efforts with him. Andy knew that Avery was becoming a real friend when he was willing to eat Andy’s overcooked roast chicken.

Mr. Garter was getting stronger. A major improvement happened when he had Andy mince the remaining scrap of snake skin and make a soup of it. After he had eaten the soup, Mr. Garter could sit up and almost stand.

And Mr. Garter’s memory returned, at first in flashes, then in patches, then in whole stretches of time. Eventually he remembered everything except the burning of the skin.

Mr. Garter’s weakness in his arms and legs became severe. Andy worriedly asked Avery, “Should I call the hospital? Is he relapsing?”

“All part of the process,” Avery assured him. “If he were in the hospital now, everybody would be running around wondering what went wrong. But this is part of what his body has to do.”

Mr. Garter’s skin started to feel thick, then dry. His legs seemed stuck together and his arms stayed firmly at his sides. Gradually his skin started to detach. It was his new snake skin. Together, Andy and Avery managed to slip it off in one piece.

“A good first effort,” Mr. Garter said. “I’ll probably have to shed a couple more times before I’m really back to normal.”


Mr. Garter could barely use his arms and hands. He wasn’t quite ready for sex, but kissing seemed to speed his recovery. “I can’t believe that I ever forgot this,” he said, flexing his fingers and rotating his shoulders.

Andy said, “I think we should set a date and make arrangements for a party.”

“A party?”

“Yes, a party to celebrate your recovery, and to celebrate us.”

“To celebrate us? Are we getting married?”

“Well, there will certainly be cake. What kind of party shall we have?”

Mr. Garter considered. “How about a casino night?”

Andy laughed. “Where? It can’t be too far away.”

“A casino ship. We’ll rent a boat and sail out to international waters.”



Invitations were sent out and accepted. Andy was preparing the passenger manifest, which required full names. He was surprised to see that his brothers sent in their names as Edward Abbott and Franklin Abbott. He called them. Ed answered.

“Hey, Ed, what’s this on your form? You wrote Edward Abbott instead of Edoardo.”

“That’s my legal name now. And Frank’s is Franklin. We changed them.”


“Couldn’t get loans with our Italian names. Damn bankers thought we were mobsters.”

“Oh. Okay.”

It bothered Andy. Maybe it was just a practical move. Or maybe there was something similar to his father’s shame at Nonna’s accent.


The party was a grand success. All of Andy’s family came, Avery and a few others from the hospital came, friends and gambling associates of Mr. Garter came, and Andy made sure Gabriela came.

Mr. Garter came in his human form. He was finding his new snake skin a little itchy. He won big at all the card games, but gave his winnings back to the poor amateurs who tried to play against him. Not to the professionals, of course. That would be insulting.

And Cicero Garter came. He seemed to get along well with Ed.

Andy introduced his grandmother to everyone, somewhat to his father’s discomfort.

The time came for speeches. Andy had not prepared. He said, “I’m so glad you could all be here. We’re celebrating Mr. Garter’s recovery. But also, I wanted to say once and for all, for everyone to hear, that this is the man I love. I started as his assistant, and I still am, but I am very proud to love him and to have won his love.” He kissed Mr. Garter.

There were cheers and some uncomfortable murmurs.

Cicero Garter said, “Well, I guess it’s about as good as you could expect.”

Andy had had enough. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Cicero said, “Well, none of us ever had very high expectations of my brother. But you two found each other, and that’s as good as it gets for people like you.”

Mr. Garter said, “Cis, don’t be like that.”

Andy spat, “People like us?”

Cicero continued undeterred. “Yeah, people like you. Snaky guys, light in the loafers or entirely without them, you know what I mean. You’re never going to be captains of industry or leaders or anything like that. But if you find a place for yourselves, even if your talents are kind of superficial, that’s great. That’s the best anyone can expect.”

“No,” Andy said, seething. “Your brother is the best of men. The best of men and the best of snakes. He is generous, kind, patient, accepting, learned without being pretentious, a whole lot smarter than you, and I might add, an amazing lover. There is no one, human or snake, better than he is. I made the mistake of trying to destroy half his nature. His snake half. I was so wrong. It’s part of what makes him a good man. The best of men. A great man.”

Cicero raised an eyebrow. “Well, excuse me.”

Andy pointed to the door. “Gladly. You’re excused. There are plenty of places on the boat where you can be out of my sight.”

“I knew I wouldn’t fit in here,” Cicero said. “So long, Andy.”

Andy waved him out. “That’s Andrea to you. I’m Italian.” To Mr. Garter he said, “I’m sorry to do that right in front of you.”

“Oh, he had it coming,” Mr. Garter said.

Avery ran up and hugged Andy. “Doll, that was amazing. You are a lion. I mean, not literally, not like your man here is a snake, but you took my breath away.”

Andy said, “Mr. Garter, I don’t know if I ever told you that Avery is the nurse who got me into your room when no one else would.”

Mr. Garter hugged Avery. “So that’s how you two met. Thank you so much.” Then, suddenly, his brow furrowed. He grabbed Andy’s arm and said, “I’m remembering something.”

Andy froze. The room went quiet.

“It’s coming back to me. You burning my snake skin.”

Andy kneeled. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

As the memories clicked into place, Mr. Garter said, “You did it because you were ashamed of me. But you also loved me. And now you’re not ashamed of me.”

“Can you forgive me?”

Mr. Garter thought a moment. “Yes. Yes, I forgive you. But you owe me, big time.”

Andy’s jaw dropped. “All that caretaking and I still owe you? What do I owe you?”

Kneeling, Mr. Garter said, “Oh, I think a lifetime apprenticeship.”

Andy kissed Mr. Garter, and this time the cheers were deafening.

“You never told me if you had another name, Mr. Garter,” Andy said.

“Sisyphus,” Mr. Garter whispered.

“Sisyphus,” Andy hissed tenderly. “What a beautiful name.”


Thanks for reading!

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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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All's well that end's well. Andy finally gets along with Mr Sisyphus Gartner.

After trials and family getting in the way, they commit to each other publicly.


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All's well that ends well!!! I great take on fairy tales of past and once again, love wins out!!

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