“Noah’s Ark, and Other Forms of Protection” by Anonymous

AT THE AGE OF 20, ALEX WAS STILL A NAIVE YOUNG LAD. Having been the only out gay man at his high school, he was new to the dating scene when he arrived at college. His experiences in romance and relationships had been a roller coaster due to the lack of guidance and experience. Now, he was reduced to waiting for a call or text from last night’s hookup while lying in his dorm in the hellhole known as a liberal arts college campus.

He loved the small class sizes and the beautiful wooded scenery of upstate New York, but goddamn the isolated location and small student body meant that the dating pool was very limited. Even more so if you were a guy who craved other guys. The harsh winters meant that it was almost a necessity to have another warm body in bed. Except there was more to romance than necessity, the rare treat of another man’s touch felt like a divine intervention from the perils of hellish loneliness, and Alex didn’t want it to be rare anymore.

All of Alex’s friends were either in relationships, or were at least getting the pleasure of waking up in the arms of another on a sunny Sunday morning. Alex woke up to tinder notifications from men who were much less attractive than his starved for male attention mind thought so the night before. After being able to finally meet the (relatively) hottest senior on campus he relished in his good luck on finding a man who was moderately attractive, had an ok personality, and best of all, was conveniently located. In summary, Daniel Fischer was the (relative) perfect package.

His night with Daniel was hotter than hell. The arrival of the first kiss was nothing short of immaculate, and for the first time in awhile, Alex excommunicated every self hating though from his mind and focused on the moment. Daniel’s body was warm and inviting, and his dorm was perfumed with scents like cinnamon and jasmine, whose earthy aromas lulled Alex into comfort. His caress seemed to create light that spread through every nerve ending. The weight of another body flowed over him like holy water, and Alex surrendered into the temptation that enveloped him. He gave into everything immediately, and let his body accept that of another. For the time that it lasted, Alex felt whole and didn’t give a damn about any consequences.

However, after three days of non-stop texts, calls, and an intense night of passion; Alex was now facing the dreaded day after. By 3:00 PM Daniel still hadn’t responded, which now resulted in Alex lying in bed waiting for his phone to buzz once more. Though his physical form remained still, Alex felt his soul begin to enter a downward spiral. He wanted this one to be the love that lasted, but from his current perspective, it looked like it was not meant to be. No matter how tired of the tinder cycle he was, Alex was just going to have to realize that he was going to be lonely for a little while.

For now, he waited in silence under the seductive and watchful eye of French pop sensation Dalida, who stared down at him from a poster next to his bed. He looked to the wall opposite of him, where he hoped a poster of Jean Seberg pouting sassily in the film “Breathless” would be able to inspire him to gain some confidence. All of his blinds were closed, and the sunlight that was able to make its way in was dim and muted by clouds up above.  He looked at his poster of Lupe Vélez. In the movies she always got the guy, she was desirable and was famous for her love life. He wanted what she had. However, instead of actually doing anything about it, he returned to wallowing. The desire for anyone, just any damned person to appear was so overwhelming that he felt a tugging sensation in his chest that wanted to drag him to the closest possible man.

His non-prayers were somewhat answered just a few minutes later when thunder and lightning pulsed and roared outside and a man somehow materialized in his room.

“Do not be afraid!” He commanded.  He was older, but certainly not unattractive. He was the type of man who Alex would see in some clickbait listicle titled something like “16 Silver Foxes You Need to Follow on Instagram.” Alex would immediately click on that article and let his idle hands become the devil’s plaything.

“Alexander, arise and listen to me!” The man said in a deep booming voice which again, could not be considered unattractive.

“What the fuck? Who are you? Alex said.

“That is not important now my son, There is something I must tell you.”

“I’m calling the police,” Alex said, picking up his phone.

“Stop!” Said the man in a higher pitched voice that made Alex pause. “Can you listen to me for like, one damn minute?”

Though this new voice was definitely not attractive, the abrupt change was effective enough to make Alex listen to him. He sat back down on his bed. “Ok fine, I’m listening.”


“Yeah it’s Alex, let’s ex out that Xander part.”

“Ok, Alex, I know this is all going to sound quite fantastical, but I am Saint Fiacre, I am here for you in your time of need. I am a holy man, a healer, a man in tune with herbs, plants, and the workers of the world.”

Alex stared at Jean Seberg, motionless behind the weirdo, and tried to formulate an attack plan. He glanced towards the scissors on his desk. The man was old, he could probably be taken down easily. However the scissors slid off of the desk on their own. He looked towards his book collection to see if he had any potential projectiles. He had large, thick collections of both Anne Sexton and Virginia Woolf, and an Edie Sedgwick biography. All were too far away, he was fucked.

“I’m dreaming, this is all a dream.” Alex said.

“Let’s test that out.” Said Fiacre. He reached out and pinched Alex’s arm. Alex felt the pressure and stinging sensations radiate throughout his body. “Hm, no. Not dreaming. Let’s try something different.” He grabbed Alex by the arm again. Alex’s body went limp and his vision blacked out only to be replaced with a fiery red. All he could see was a deep scarlet as a droning noise began to rise out of the background. Then he felt heat, nothing but heat. White hot fire that pierced every pore on his body and wrapped itself around his organs and burnt them. The noise became much more distinct as he began to make out that it was just a choir of people suffering. The screams were unrelenting as unidentified voices wailed, cried, and begged for mercy. However, the worst was the loneliness, the sense of isolation that he felt roam around his body. If he reached out he wouldn’t even the movement of air as all molecules had left him. The smell of sulfur started to invade his nostrils. Just as he was unable to take it, the vision stopped.

“Believe me now?”

Alex was in shock, but relieved the experience was over “You present compelling evidence.” he said.

“May I take a seat Alex,?” Fiacre said motioning towards the chair at the desk across from Alex’s bed.

“Yeah, sure.”

Fiacre sat down, and Alex could now see the warmth in his eyes. Outside, a gentle rain that sounded like the delicate footsteps of a toddler began. The man, who Alex was starting to come around to believing he was a saint, twiddled his thumbs like he was waiting for Alex to make the first move.

“Do I need to re-explain what my deal is, or…” Fiacre said.

“No I remember you’re all about things like plants and stuff. Wait, ok so if this is about those succulents and the orchid that I accidentally killed in here, I swear I did my best to take care of them and that I’m so much better with plants at home.”

“Don’t worry, for it is not about that.” Said Fiacre, smiling.

“Right you’re all about herbs too. Ok then I’m really sorry about the time I sold oregano to those middle-”

“-Ah Ah Ah! I didn’t know about that one, but…” He trailed off and took a small notebook out of his pocket and scribbled in it furiously. “That’s noted.”

“Goddamn it”

“What did you say?


Fiacre rose out of his seat and paced the room for a moment before returning to it. “Alex,” he said. “My patronage covers many other subjects as well. Like cab drivers, gardeners, and tilemakers.” He stopped to think for a moment. “Well I’m not sure how to break this, but I’m also in charge of certain diseases.”

“Like what?” Alex said.

“So when two people love each other, they get together.”

“Nice,” Alex said.

“Yeah I hear it’s nice, don’t have much experience with it y’know,” said Fiacre. “The whole ‘devotion to God’ thing. Anyway when they love each other they get together, but one of them,” he paused again. “Well, they could be ill, and that illness could be passed on.”

“And…?” Alex said.

Fiacre put his head in his hands and let out a sigh of frustration. “Dude! I’m the patron saint of STI’s and you have one! Didn’t you read the email from the student health center”?

“Well it came when I was super busy so I just skimmed it.”

“Your school has a massive chlamydia outbreak. You have chlamydia. Alex.”

“No! No I refuse to believe that,” said Alex.

Fiacre got up and walked over to Alex’s bed and sat down next to him. “Alex, you weren’t careful last night and this is a consequence of that.”

“I know,” Alex said. “But I was just so excited that someone wanted me I kinda, well, I kinda forgot.”

“Alex, you have to be more careful. I know a man is an exciting and rare opportunity for you, but that is no reason to not practice safe sex,” said Fiacre.

“Ok Fiacre, I’m gonna ignore that you said a man is a rare opportunity for me and focus on that fact that I have a fucking disease.” said Alex.

“Hey listen chlamydia is curable. It’s really all going to be fine, you just need to know how to take care of yourself. Watch this.” The man stood up again and raised his hands. At first nothing happened, but Alex’s dorm soon became a private concert venue.

A light from an unidentified source shone down on Fiacre and a droning noise began. The drone achieved more clarity though, and it was beautiful. Voices rising in perfect harmony that was angelic. Except they changed themselves into a familiar tune. Fiacre went towards Alex’s dresser and produced a pamphlet from the top drawer, the concert ended abruptly.

“Were they singing-”

“-J’attendrai by Dalida? Yeah, we decided that it might be more comforting if the angels sang something you were familiar with.” He gave the pamphlet to Alex who stared at it intently and then began to read aloud.

“So You’ve Been Diagnosed with Chlamydia.” The black letters were inside a garish purple circle and were arranged in a way that suited a children’s cartoon more than a sexual health pamphlet. In the corner was clip art of a frowning clown holding a solitary light green balloon.

“So that should contain all the info you need, all the steps you need to take and such. Be well Alex” said Fiacre. Alex could hear the familiar rumblings of godly trumpets and grabbed the saint’s arm. “Wait, please don’t go.”

“Alex,” Fiacre said. “You don’t need me. I was only here to deliver the message.”

“Please Fiacre,” Alex said. “I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.”

Fiacre turned around. “It’s all gonna be fine, you just have to be safer in the future, and maybe not have sex for a little bit while you get treatment.

“Oh,” Alex said. “That part isn’t difficult.”

“Then it looks like my work here is done.”

“Can’t you just, like, fix it?” Alex said.

Fiacre stopped in front of Jean Seberg. His face took on the look of the friend who had a huge truck and knew they were gonna be asked to help someone move in. “I mean I could, but then if word got out then I’d have to cure everyone, and then the big man upstairs wouldn’t be too happy and things just get complicated.”

“Pretty please,” Alex said. “I’ll go to mass every Sunday.”

“Listen kid, no one’s believing that one, if I had a dollar for every time I heard it I wouldn’t have been venerated. Will you be more careful from now on?

“Yes! Yes! Yes, I promise, just fix me please,” Alex was desperate. “I’m already lonely, and if people know I have chlamydia they won’t want to get with me. I just want to be clean.”

“This isn’t about getting ‘clean’,” said Fiacre. “This is about your health and the health of others, capisce?”

“Yes completely, now cure me.” Alex said.

Fiacre sighed, “Ok, now lie on your back.”

Alex did as he was told and Fiacre laid his hands just above his groin. He expected to feel some change, or at least some sensation but nothing came. Fiacre took on the look of intense concentration and Alex stared at his ceiling. A few minutes passed before Fiacre lifted his arms back up, and the procedure was over.

“Remember, just between us.” Fiacre said. “My work here is now really done. Peace be with you and all that jazz.” Fiacre went towards the door just a little too excitedly though, and Alex had one more question left in him.

“Before you go, can you tell me if Daniel is gonna call tonight.” Alex asked.

Upon hearing the question, Fiacre’s face went through an elaborate emotional journey before he settled on a smile tinged with frustration.“Pray to St. Upid for that one, Alex.” he said, strolling out the door.

All was silent in the little dorm room and Alex felt as empty as he had before the arrival of Fiacre. He checked his phone to see if Daniel had attempted to contact while Alex was having his vision, but there was no such luck. In his mind, Alex was facing two choices. One was to face the loneliness head on and become part of it, or face Daniel and deliver some well deserved divine retribution. He stood still as a statue, paralyzed by indecision and the realization that his only companion was the rain that continued outside.