(Disclaimer—this story is intended to entertain and amuse readers, and in no way is
meant to slur or discredit any culture or ethnicity. I owe credit for the inspiration to
Josephine and the encouragement to VR.)
It began as a normal day, or so he thought.
Wilson looked around the hospital, aware that despite the normality of the front foyer,
things had a slightly more organic feel to them. They had a new carpet—something in
sort of a leopard print, apparently. He admired it absently. The foliage was getting a
little long—the ferns looked positively huge, and some of the rubber trees were over his
head now-- but he assumed Cuddy would call Housekeeping to deal with them. Alone
in the elevator, the Muzak seemed a little heavy on the bongos, but Wilson actually
always liked them and hummed a little, feeling optimistic about the day. The doors slid
open and he walked down the hall towards House’s office, thinking about nothing in
He peeked into the room. Chase, Foreman and Cameron were all clustered around the conference table, with House standing at the board. Typical scene, nothing he hadn’t
looked in on a hundred times before—
Except they were all a little . . . underdressed. Oddly dressed. All four of them were
wearing dried grass skirts, House included. Wilson stared, blinking. Cameron had on a
demure bra of polished coconut halves over her chest, but her arms and legs were as
bare at the others, save for chunky bracelets of shell, glass and bone beads. She even
had little tufted anklets of dried grass on.
Wilson kept staring. Chase looked his usual self; scowling and quiet, long blonde hair
still in his eyes. The small polished bone through the bottom of his pert nose looked
almost distinguished, like a little knobby mustache. Twisted flares of orange paint over
his shoulders seemed to be images of caducei . . . then Foreman leaned forward and
Wilson sucked in a breath. Foreman had a gold nose ring, gold snake bands around
his strong biceps and a braided goatee. Shirtless, his muscles rippled.
Movement caught his eye; House was waving at him to enter and numbly Wilson did,
trying hard not to stare.
House’s skirt hung low on his lean hips, and he had no fewer than six heavy necklaces
of bone and multi-colored stone beads dangling down his bare, rangy torso. He leaned
on a tall mahogany Shaman stick decorated with bright blue and black feathers, and
Wilson couldn’t help noticing that some of the hideous faces carved in the stick looked
a lot like winged monkeys. House had blue paint swirls on each cheek and an ivory
crocodile tooth dangling from one pierced earlobe.
“Yo, if you’re done window shopping, Doctor Cancer, you might want to take a look at
the last three symptoms—“ came the gruff comment. Wilson reluctantly turned his gaze
from House to look at the board. It was a tanned hide stretched on a bamboo frame,
and carefully scratched onto it in charcoal in House’s familiar scrawl were the
Fever—consis for 24 hrs
Tingling pain in hands, ext to elbows
“Uh . . . Poisoning most likely—“ he mumbled out of immediate instinct. Foreman
snorted and House rolled his eyes.
“Give that man a voodoo doll. Poison! Why didn’t I think of that?”
“History is negative on ingestion,” Cameron spoke up. ”Our patient says he was working
in his yam field all morning. Had a guava juice break at eleven, some roasted zebra at
home for lunch, went out on a hunt from two to six—“
“Bag anything—besides a nooner with wife number one?” House demanded. Cameron blushed, her big gold hoop earrings glittering in the light. Wilson was fascinated to see
she had delicate green designs of what looked like bees and wasps painted on the
backs of her slender hands. Made sense for an immunologist, he mused. Carefully he
glanced down at himself as the case study went on, and he was dismayed to see that
he too was in a grass skirt. His pocket protector was painted on his left pec, and he
wore a heavy necklace of seashells and gold coins around his neck.
“So, poison. Organic most likely; what’s out there that our patient might have
encountered?” House prompted.
“Viper?” Chase offered, toying with a monkey skull on the table.
“Not the season, try again.” House countered. Foreman thought hard.
“He could have eaten it in the zebra. I know it’s not the season, but the symptoms all
say venom loud and clear. Maybe wife number one isn’t so happy at home.”
“Could be, since lord and master is out in the yam field, but cooking tends to break
down neurotoxins, and in any case he’d have to have a massive dose if he was
ingesting it. Should have noticed the bitter flavor, unless wife one is a terrible cook, and
in THAT case she better be mighty good in the hammock to make up for it.”
Cameron made a face while the other two snickered. Wilson gave a little shake of his
head at the ultra bizarre turn of scenario and looked again at House.
“There are other ways to poison a person—“ he offered, unable to stop from adding his
two shells to the conversation. House nodded, limping over to the firepot bubbling in
the middle of the floor and scooping out a hollow gourd full of something brown and
“All too true.” House slurped a deep sip and spoke again. “Before we get back to the
how, though, let’s make damned sure of the what. My trinkets are on krait venom, which
is colorless and available to anyone out there with a mongoose these days.” House
sighed, and began to dig in the tiny lizard pouch hanging near his left hip.
“Cameron, I want you to run the tox screens. Foreman, check to see if either wife one
OR two left town any time last week. And check the hut—look for fresh wet leaves,
especially at the furthest point from the fire. Chase, you compose two good chants for
snake gods—nothing with Cthulhu this time, got it? I’m NOT sacrificing another virgin
to shut that space octopus up again. Terrible waste of an endangered species around
here unless YOU want to jump in the volcano, of course.”
With that dig he pulled out a pinch of something aromatic and stuffed it into his mouth,
tucking it between his gum and cheek; Wilson noticed House’s eyes dilate for a moment
while the three minions rose and left the room.
“Ohhh that’s good poppy. I’m telling you I’d have never made it to the Emerald City
myself, I’d have just munched the lawn outside. . .”
“Er, right. So, any particular reason we’re all so . . . dressy?” Wilson asked, trying to
catch a glimpse of his reflection in the glass. Actually, the grass skirt seemed to be fairly slimming—
“Eh, Cuddy likes me in blue, and I have to go file my request for new panther bones.
The warranty’s up on the old ones and casting’s getting a little tricky.”
“Yeah, I know I should go through Accounting first, but I prefer the direct approach.
Besides, if I give her my sincere “It’s for the good of the tribe speech” she’ll break down
like a femur in a hyena’s jaws. Isn’t a thing that mambo mama wouldn’t do for this
outpost.” House lumbered forward and out the door, adding, “Come--Patooka-Puntala Teaching Hospital awaits—“
They strolled down the hall, and Wilson tried hard not to stare at anybody but it was
really hard now. Nurses in colorful kente cloth wraps strolled by; loinclothed orderlies
tugged donkeys loaded with office mail and laundry sacks on their grey backs. House
seemed oblivious, and it was only when he looked twice at the man next to him that
Wilson realized he was carrying what seemed to be a shield. House looked dour as he
limped along and chewed.
“Think I can get out of Clinic by claiming I’ve been cursed? I know I used that a few
months back, after we lost that headhunter trying to woo Foreman away . . .” House
ruminated, turning down a hall, his Shaman stick thumping loudly. Wilson sighed,
giving in and joining the madness.
“Tell her you’ve been possessed by a rhino demon; the behavior signs are all there:
tough hide, surly attitude, territorial . . .”
“ . . . Terminally horny,” House arched an eyebrow with dour amusement. “Speaking of
which, fertility goddess at two o’clock—“
Cuddy emerged, stalking towards them, head held high. She had no choice; the piled
neck bangles around her slender throat kept her posture straight. And Wilson noted
her hair had been cornrowed and brushed with red clay. The gold scarf around her
cleavage was barely holding her abundant chest back, and with amusement he saw
she also had a gold caduceus in her exposed navel, just above her grass skirt.
He looked at House and nearly yelled. The shield wasn’t a shield at all; it now rested
on House’s face as an elongated wooden mask carved in a familiar grimace, the swirls
on it matching the ones he’d seen earlier on Greg’s cheekbones. Gold and ivory had
been hammered into the mask design in intricate patterns of kidneys and microscopes.
“Don’t you make that face at me, House. I know why you’re here and the answer is no. Henderson in Radiology needs a new polished mirror and spirit stones more than you
need panther femurs.”
With a dramatic sigh House tipped the mask up and looked under it at Cuddy. She
dropped her hands to her hips and glared at him.
“You’re putting the health and well-being of the patients at risk by letting me cast with
depleted panther bones?” he whined.
“Give me a break! You could cast with cheetah bones; in fact we both know you could
get away with fossilized gecko bones if you HAD to, House. You keep touting that it’s all
about experience, not equipment, so now’s the chance to prove it to me, isn’t it?” Cuddy snapped.
House made a great show of pulling his attention up from her heaving cleavage.
“Sorry, just thinking of the Kilamanjaros there. So no new panther bones, damn! I hope
you know this affects my mojo. I feel a curse working though me and I better pass on
Clinic to stop it from catching—“
“Unless you want your dangalangas shriveled like rotten mangos you WILL get your grass-covered butt to the Clinic and shaman until twilight, House!” Cuddy growled,
sounding all too much like a lioness to Wilson. Reluctantly House pulled the mask off completely, scowling at it.
“I should have never worn it. Too much for you I know; all traditional.”
Cuddy pursed her mouth and Wilson listened to her bangles jangle as she shook her
“Yeah right—love potion number nine fails again. Get to work, people.”
Wilson looked at House, who glared at Cuddy’s swaying backside as she stalked off.
“Gah, I hope an elephant stomps on her. Come on, the usual assortment of whiny-
assed complaints await us—“ House rolled his eyes and immediately launched into a high-pitched imitations of a patients. “Doctor my son won’t submit to ritual scarification!
Doctor, my nose fell off—do you think it might be a hex? Doctor, we had an explorer for
dinner last night and now I’ve got the runs—“
Wilson fought a snort; House’s impersonations were always funny, and these were no exception. They moved down the hall once more, towards the stand of bamboo with the
word ‘Clinic’ inlayed in wildebeest bones over the doors.
“Ah well, at least we don’t have to worry about Vogler—“ House mused, picking up a
hide from the nurse’s station and unrolling it absently to examine the painted designs
“Such an ugly, messy scandal—“ House tried to look solemn as he gazed into the
distance. “But we’ll never know who fatally dosed him with Warthog love juice . . . I hear
the jungle drums had a field day with that story. And of course, PETA was pretty upset
too. But it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy-- ”
*** *** ***
With a start, Wilson woke up. He blinked, disoriented, trying to get his bearings as he
yawned and sat up. The speaker at the dais was still droning on, his Powerpoint
presentation on a slide of some sort of statistics. Wilson looked over; next to him House
was still asleep, scowling even in unconsciousness. Resting on his lap was the same
glossy flyer Wilson had, a colorful brochure with a headline that suddenly gave
meaning to everything.
DON’T BE A WITCH DOCTOR! Navigating the jungle of health care regulations in the Twentieth Century: an Overview of the new legislation by Sheldon Meyer