Pest Control

There’s a big difference between trapping a wasp or beetle or spider or bee under a cup and a copy of Martha Stewart Living before banishing it outside my back door and risking life and limb on an expressway shoulder to free a cicada from my windshield wiper.

See, I couldn’t stop anthropomorphising the poor bastard. Even when I slowed to thirty-five miles per hour, his bent wings became broken arms, his coal-squat body pinned between rubber and glass like a harness, like the times I’ve been coerced to ride roller coasters that ought to require helmets and rum. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Maybe the cicada couldn’t think it but I was thinking it for him, chewing my lip with worry and trying not to watch. When I couldn’t stand it any longer and pulled over, hazard lights heralding what felt like imminent injury, I tried to coax him onto my sunglasses and freedom. His distress rivaled the rumble of motors, buzzing translation. I whipped him, finally, into the weeds and wildflowers growing just off the shoulder, both wings in working order.

If this were the sort of story I liked to read as a child, those morbid, moral feasts, the cicada would have transformed into a fairy and given me money, or charm, or a man; best yet the ambiguous gift of good fortune that promises all three. I don’t believe in stories anymore, but that doesn’t stop me thinking and acting just in case. I’m not crazy. I’ve just got a big imagination.

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