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As with any illegal drug, Bond came to me through a friend, my officemate at the graphic design firm where I produced diagrams for mathematics textbooks. Larry was a compact, cherub-faced man with an inappropriate mane of long, thinning blond hair, whose densely-lashed blue eyes sparkled with a perpetually conspiratorial glee. Long live the elf king, I’d sometimes think as he swept into the office, wearing some loud, loose-flowing shirt. There was a weird magnetism to the guy, or at least I came to believe this to be the case, because his girlfriends would often show up at the end of our shift to pick him up, and they tended to be lookers. They also tended to be Asian immigrant. A new one every month, it seemed. Larry, I gradually realized, was a kind of collector, or addict, perhaps—the high-functioning sort. His only constraint was supply, and in New York the supply was for all intents and purposes unlimited, an ever-bubbling spring bearing exotic flavors from distant lands.

I tried to be a good audience for his exploits; I sensed this was important to Larry. Whenever he brought in a new “friend” for the first time, I would get up from my seat and shake her hand as though honored by a rare opportunity. But we never talked about the specifics of Larry’s predilection until the freezing January night Larry invited me to have a drink with him. I found myself in a fashionable downtown bar where the martinis were served in deep petri dishes and the women were tattooed and high-heeled and attractive. We talked shop for a while distractedly; I sensed something bigger was on the agenda. Maybe Larry had become bored with the mere display of his trophies, and wanted to show me his seductive powers in action. Maybe I was about to be taken on as some sort of apprentice.

Suddenly he turned to me. “So do I seem different to you, or what? ”

It occurred to me that Larry was dressed a bit less flamboyantly than usual; instead of the sleek Italian designer suit or Paul Smith shirt, Larry was wearing a Notre Dame sweatshirt and jeans. I told him that he seemed in good spirits.

“You’re very perceptive.” He nodded, brought his petri dish to his lips, keeping me fixed in his insinuating elfin eyes. “I haven’t brought anybody by the office in a while. You noticed? ”

Maybe it had been a while since his last visitor. “Let me guess. You met your soulmate.”

This came out sounding a little sarcastic, but Larry’s grin was magnanimous. “You’re more right than you could possibly know, my friend. ”

He told me, then, that he’d bonded with his longtime friend Jacqueline. When he showed me a photo of her, the first thing I noticed was that Jacqueline was not Asian. In fact she looked the opposite, somehow, like the daughter of a German farmer. Smiling as though he perfectly understood my confusion, Larry said, “I’m sure it must have been very fascinating to you, my compulsive behavior. You were a good sport, I gotta say, which is why I feel compelled to tell you my story. That’s why I’ve brought you here.” He waved his hand in a way that indicated the bar, and perhaps indirectly the people in it. “This is a prison, my friend, and I encourage you to escape as soon as you can. ”

I had some vague notion of the science. A lot of people did by then. That the prairie vole—essentially a fatter, hairier rat—was predisposed to lifelong monogamy had seemed sort of fitting. What better way to dignify oneself in the face of eternal verminhood than to uphold the Earth’s preeminent species’ most exalted form of moral virtue? And yet there was apparently nothing more exalted going on in that rodent body than a gland that produces certain chemical during the initial sexual encounter. It certainly was gold to the pair of Swiss chemists who patented a means of extracting and preserving the hormones produced by virgin mating voles. They were rich—very rich—despite the fact that the drug was illegal to produce in nearly every industrialized country, and available in the U.S. from only the same kind of sketchy Canadian websites that sold other black market medications (you remember this all, Theresa, I am sure; I’m just trying to provide context).



Michael George has published fiction in Epiphany and Cimarron Review, among other journals. He lives in New York City.