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River of Venom

"I think it was the pills," you tell Jorge. "Out of the medicine bottle."

His eyes narrow. "You are thinking this? I am thinking this too. Here," he says, pulling down a book, "let us find out about this 'acetylsalicylic acid.'"

You watch as he looks it up. "It is -- aspirin," he says finally. "So that is not it."

if they take it, they will die

"Are you sure?" you say. "Doesn't aspirin send some people into shock?"

He reads on. "You are right. Some people, if they take two aspirin, they will die of anaphylactic shock. But not her. You see, she never takes the aspirin. Never in her life. And if you have never had it before, you cannot have an allergic reaction. You never had a chance to become allergic to it, you see."

"Then what is the aspirin doing here? And are you sure it's aspirin?"

He breaks a tablet, tastes it, hands the other half to you. You taste it: "Simple aspirin," you agree. "She keeps it here for me," he explains.

"Also," he says, "she has never had the epinephrine. So that is not it." He ponders for a moment. "It was something else that gave her the allergic reaction. But what?"

What do you tell Jorge?

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