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STACY HARDY
the dark side of the moon

The first time you feel the thing is on Saturday night. You're in traffic so you lift your ass out the driver's seat and use one hand to scratch. You claw at the outside of your jeans, clench your teeth, gripping the steering wheel with the other hand and looking ahead at the dimly lit street. At the next red robot you unbutton and unzip your jeans, you suck in your stomach and stick your hand down your pants. You scratch at your underpants. You rearrange your balls. You rezip, putting your foot flat as you accelerate onto the highway. The itch doesn't go away, it becomes an uncomfortable pricking sensation, then, what feels like something crawling down the side of your penis and onto your scrotum.

You reach your house and park your car. You unlock the door and let yourself in. You strip off all your clothes, tossing them over your shoulder, onto your arm as you climb the stairs to the bathroom. When you reach the bathroom, two fluid motions as you switch on the light and you throw your clothes on the floor. You turn on the shower and let the water run until it's piping hot. You stand under the steaming spray. Your soap is Protex anti-bacterial. You take extra care scrubbing the inside of your thighs, your ass, the crack, up towards your balls. You lather your penis into a foaming white sock.

The next time you feel it is on Monday. You're in the hardware store shopping for fittings to redo your bathroom, standing in the pluming aisle, surveying epoxy putty and plumbing acid brushes. Further down a couple are looking at copper fittings. At first the itch is concentrated around your crack, then it starts to spread out, it tickles down your right ass cheek. You shift your weight from one foot to the other. You pull on your jeans. You turn so your back is against the shelf with the epoxy putty. You move up and down as if you're trying to get a better look at the taps tails and check valves on the opposite shelves. You try and scratch against the metal edge but it's cool and rounded, too smooth to offer any real relief.

You somehow make it out the shop and into the parking lot. When you get into the driver's seat it feels as though your buttocks are on fire. Your balls feel raw. You push down your pants and scratch. You tear at your skin. You use your fingernails and scratch hard. Your hands are shaking as you start the car.

At home you lie on your bathroom floor, contorting your body into ridiculous positions to get a better look. You peer over your shoulder; you clench your head between your thighs. You decide the itch is probably psychosomatic. You lie in bed and try to remember everything you know about pubic lice but all that comes to mind from primary school biology is the life cycle of the tapeworm. You close your eyes and listen to the house settling. You take deep breaths. Your bed smells like tea-tree and chlorine from the anti-bacterial soap you use in the shower.

You try RID Maximum Strength Mousse Hair Formula for Lice, which you get from the Link pharmacy down the road. The pharmacist's assistant wears a white coat and glasses. Her face is completely blank while you stammer through your "problem". She disappears behind the counter and comes back with a small bottle. At home you apply the easy non-drip, pleasant scent formula according to the instructions in the pack. You carefully brush it through your pubic hair using the patented egg removal comb. You wait a day, but the itch comes back.

It comes and goes at irregular intervals, mostly at night. You wake yourself up scratching. The blankets are knotted. You're sweating and hot. You feel a sensation as if something is crawling: it runs up and down your crack, onto your scrotum, around the base of your dick then back, a burrowing sensation in your asshole then the itch disappears.

You decide the thing is probably living in your asshole, exiting on occasional nocturnal sojourns. You try to enema it out, starting with Magic Bullet Laxative Suppositories (usually work in 15 minutes to one hour). Afterwards you experience abdominal discomfort, rectal burning, mild cramps, and then the itching returns. You try dipping your ass into warm wash basins, donning latex gloves, probing your asshole with your right index finger. You attempt a Sunmark fountain syringe enema, complete with hang-up hook, kink-resistant, durable, flee-flow tubing and extra-smooth pipes for easy cleaning. You search blindly with the tube's rounded greased end for an insertion point in your sphincter. Once it's inserted, you squeezed hard, filling yourself with hot soapy liquid.

That night you wake up scratching again. The room is dark except for the light from the passage seeping through the crack of your open door. You try and picture the thing. Images that come to mind: a tiny Jeff Goldblum in the final transformation scenes of David Cronenberg's The Fly; an antlion, like the ones you used to dig up in dry riverbeds as a kid; the microscopic images of the AIDS virus attacking immune cells that your saw in you office workshop on AIDS in the workplace. You climb out of bed and stumble downstairs. Your modem sings, connects. You search google, then head over to the cyberdoc on health24.co.za. You log in as, "Bummer". You write:

"I recently had sex with a rather unsavoury lady... and yes, we did use a condom. Shortly afterwards I felt something crawling down the side of my penis and scrotum. This creature, whatever it is, has apparently taken up residence inside my rectum. I have no unpleasant symptoms or pain etc. except occasionally the little bugger will crawl out and around my ass. I have tried on these occasions to grab it with a well-aimed fingernail but it has proved to be very illusive indeed! I am most eager to have the little bugger evicted ASAP as I am quite sure that anyone that lives in a place like that can only be up to no good whatsoever! Has anybody ever heard of anything like this before and if so what can be done about it?"