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By Morgan Stinemetz the acceptable medical standard is to take three vials of blood from each patient, but the patients she drew blood from were often confused, especially hospital patients. From hospital patients she took four vials of blood, she admitted. Bubba asked her why she did that. And she told him that she had a collection of leeches at her apartment, in a closet, and that she fed the leeches with the extra blood she collected.” “You heard all this, Tripwire?” I asked. “Every word,” he affirmed. “And Bubba?” “Yeah, Bubba, too. And then she went on to tell Bubba and me about how, when she turned the light on in the closet where she kept her leeches in several aquariums, the leeches all knew it was feeding time and became very animated. They swam about quickly, she said. She told Bubba that she put the blood in sausage casings, filling them so they were tight and dropped the casings into the aquariums, where they were soon covered with leeches.” “Where does one get leeches in the first place?” I wanted to know. “She said she got hers from a company up in Burlington, NC, a biological supply company. They charge $8 per leech. Shipping is extra,” Tripwire said. “Why in God’s name would anyone want leeches?” I asked. Tripwire went into a long explanation about how women who have not had children tend to fixate on pets. Most people have dogs or cats or birds, she said. This woman, because she was able to feed her pets with the excess blood she collected, thought she had a good deal. She never has to take them to the vet. She said she never named any of them because they all looked the same. They didn’t have to do tricks to earn their keep. They just have to be leeches and multiply, and they do just that. Leeches are hermaphrodites, so when they couple, it’s possible that both get pregnant and that produces more leeches. The “mother” deposits a football-shaped cocoon on some sphagnum moss at the dry end of the tilted aquarium, and a few weeks later tiny leeches emerge. “I don’t care how you explain it, Tripwire,” I said, “keeping leeches is just twisted. What use could they have?”

“Bubba came up with one,” Tripwire parried. “And that was?” “You know how he has been getting beaten in races by that rich guy with the rock star crew and a fast boat? And you know how Bubba hates to come in second to anyone?” Tripwire asked me. “Yeah. I know,” I said. “Bubba is a sore loser.” “Well, he got this phlebotomist, who wasn’t bad-looking, to petition the rich guy to give her a slot as cook on his boat when he was doing distance races,” Tripwire told me. “The rich guy went for it and put her on the crew. After the entire crew was asleep for the night, she got some of her leeches out—one for every sleeping crewmember—and dropped them gently on some exposed skin. Some went on hands. Some went on arms. Some went on legs, and some went on people’s cheeks. When the crew woke up, each one had a leech attached that had been gorging itself for several hours. They were far bigger and more disgusting than when she had brought them aboard. The crew was appalled. No one knew how to get leeches off. They went to a hospital ER to get that done.” “And Bubba was involved in this?” “It was his idea. She had the leeches. And I think he gave her some money to do it. Now the rich guy cannot get anyone to race on his boat with him. He has no crew. He cannot race at all. Sailing is a small world and bad news travels fast, especially when it comes to leeches,” Tripwire related. “So, Bubba’s not around because he’s afraid that someone will connect him to the leech caper?” “I didn’t say that,” Tripwire objected. “What happened to the phlebotomist?” I asked. “She’s with Bubba,” Tripwire responded. “She brought her leeches.” “How is she feeding them?” I asked, shuddering at the thought. “I have no idea,” Tripwire responded, “and I don’t want to talk about it.” I didn’t say another word. The items on display in the window of Victoria’s Secret had captured all my attention. It could be true that while men may grow older, they never actually grow up. But that’s just a guess.

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