"So, in short, bite me," Jerry demanded, holding out his hairy forearm.
Engelbert grimaced, and pushed Jerry's arm away. "Look, Jerry, I'd love to help you out, but that's just not how it works." He got up from the sofa and crossed to the bar in the small, bachelor pad living room. He splashed some scotch in his tumbler and looked questioningly at Jerry, who waved his hand dismissively.
"Come'on Eng, this is me, we go way back. Look at me, I need this."
Engelbert and Jerry had gone to High School together and been three season athletes together: football, basketball, and baseball. But any hint of Jerry's All State linebacker physique had long ago disappeared under a frame of middle aged fat. Jerry's hair had receded in a straight line, making his forehead look like a landing strip and the sad, scraggly beard he grew to compensate only added to the overall sense of collapse. His T-shirt declared 'Top Dog!' but a coffee stain across the 'Top' deflated the enthusiasm.
Engelbert, on the other hand, could have stepped out of their graduation year book. His broad shoulders rippled under his shirt and every strand of his thick, blonde hair was perfectly placed. Engelbert smiled, revealing teeth that belonged in a Colgate commercial. "I see what you mean. But it's not that easy."
"You just got bit yourself two days ago, remember, back when you were bald too?" Jerry replied testily.
"Of course I remember. In addition to improved health, looks, and energy, the virus increased my intelligence. In terms you can understand, it's like I'm Hawking on steroids."
"Great, so you should be biting as many people as possible, right? Bringing humanity up to your level."
"Well, there's the rub. It's a gift that needs to be reserved for a noble, worthy few. In fact, some of us are working on a cure so we can remove the virus from those that are unfit for the honor."
Jerry may not have been Hawking on steroids, but he could sense the direction the conversation was headed. "Yea, yea, whatever man, why not me?"
"You're special in your own way. You and Carol have four kids and another on the way. In a few months we expect to have breakthroughs in clean energy and housing that will allow you to live the rest of your life in comfort. Go home and enjoy the life you ha"
"I don't want my life, damn you, I want yours!" Jerry balled up his fists and rose to his feet.
Engelbert raised his hands. "Okay, I tried to be your friend. I tried to give you a chance. You want to know the real reason?"
"Damn straight I do!"
"A little known fact is that only one out of every thousand bitten actually survive with the virus. Do you know what we call the rest?"
"Lunch." Engelbert pounced.
Copyright 2012 John Lance