About an hour later, I felt something move, squirm, within me. I sat very still, as though listening to echoes in a canyon. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. There it was again!

There was a shifting inside my guts. Then there was a more sudden, thrashing movement. And that's when I realized my tapeworm was going through its death throes. It squirmed and twisted, spasming – and why didn't the doctor tell me about this part, the bastard? My guts cramped and churned. This went on for five, ten minutes, until, just as suddenly, it subsided. It was over. My tapeworm was at peace.

I celebrated by going to lunch at a restaurant and ordering a large mixed salad, something inert that had never breathed or mooed or snorted or had a face. I was famished after the slaying of the dragon within, and eager to eat for just one again. I consumed my meal with gusto; life was good when parasites were gone. Before ordering dessert, I detected that gentle pressure of my bowels demanding relief. So I patted my mouth with my napkin, moved my plate aside, and asked directions to the toilet.

Once within a locked cubicle, trousers down, in position, I relaxed and thought pure thoughts. Upon completion, I leaned over, gathered some toilet paper, reached down and under in order to wipe myself clean, as usual. But for the first time in my life, when I wiped, not everything wiped away. Something remained. Dangling.