The Sweet Dead Life
Renfroe looked at me like I was particularly dense. "If those swabs show what I think they will, we've found the source of your poison." He frowned at my boots again in case I had still not caught on, which finally I had.
    "These?" I nearly shouted. "My boots are poisoning me with diluted snake venom? How is that possible? I couldn't even afford real snakeskin! These are just plain old leather."
    My brain began spinning like an out of control Tilt-a-Whirl. Did silver-belt buckle Jesus at Bubba's Boot Town want me dead? This seemed not only impossible but highly ironic. But who else? Nobody else had access to them. My
    Ariats were almost always on my feet, unless I was asleep. Dr. Renfroe aimed his little ear-examining pen-light down into the black hole of the left boot.
    "Aha," he said.
    After that, I got a little too foggy to follow. Apparently there were little stiff threads poking up from the soles that seemed to match the pin pricks.
    Somehow the insides had been coated with poison, and this was how it was entering my system. At least that was the current theory.
    The last thing I remember: My boots were bagged up, too. Ed the RN was called to bring a biohazard sack.
    Goodbye, Ariats. I loved you with all my heart before you tried to kill me .
    AFTER THAT, I must have napped. When I woke up, a very nice detective whose name totally escaped me asked a few questions and then headed to Boot Town to question Jesus Olivier about my Ariats. Something told me this would be a dead end. Jesus had been so insistent that I come back and buy another pair when I got more money. This did not strike me as the behavior of a man who wanted to poison me. Besides, I had let him step me up to the extra bottle of leather cleaner, hadn't I? There was no reason for him to hold a grudge.
    When the cop left, I realized that I had no footwear. Ed the RN came to my rescue.
    "Here," he said cheerfully. "I found you a pair of clogs that look like they'll fit."
    This was how I left the hospital--wearing somebody else's purple Crocs. I wasn't sure what was worse--knowing I'd been poisoned or having to go out in public in the clogs. It was a toss-up. First, however, I received an IV of antivenin, (it
    was a crap shoot as to which type of snake), a shot of Cipro (plus two weeks of pills), and a tetanus shot. Dr. Renfroe was keeping the option of a blood transfusion on the table, and he would call us about the new blood test. But if he was right, I should start feeling better. My pee might even stop looking green. Maybe. He wasn't sure of that part. He thought the color could be caused by something else, although he had ruled out Ed's theory of algae or oysters. At that point Dr. Renfroe also proved that he should not leave medicine for a comedy career by referring to my green urine as a "red herring" and then chuckling.
    Also, I was warned not to take tranquilizers or antihistamines because they might screw with the effects of the anti-venin.
    In short, I would live. At least until whoever had been trying to kill me figured out another way to do it.
    Stuart Renfroe, MD, did not say that last part. But in my head I knew it was true. I might be sick and dizzy but I was still a straight-A student.
    The wiggly knot in my stomach had returned, possibly a permanent resident.
    I almost wished Casey would lay his hand on me again.
    I clogged my way back to the Merc. Do your thing, antivenin. I am done like dinner with my not-Ebola . I pictured the antivenin in purple Crocs like the ones on my feet, only smaller, clogging its way through my system, making me feel better.
    Suddenly, I remembered that I had not eaten lunch.
    "We need to check on Mom," Casey said. "Amber's gonna take her blood so we can get it looked at. I'd bring her to hospital, but after how hysterical she got last night, I don't think she'd go. This way she won't be scared."
    "You're seriously going to let her stick a needle in Mom's arm?" I decided it was best if I talked about Amber

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