He always felt guilty when he squashed bugs. He didn't know where it came from, just knew that smashing a spider or killing a fly made him experience a twinge of guilt. And flushing them down the toilet, wrapped up in their tiny burial shrouds of toilet paper did nothing to ease the feeling.
He imagined them, swirling dizzily in the suction that must have felt massive to their relatively tiny bodies, until they were pulled down through the s-bend and into the main line of the house drain--sticky, dark, only partly aqueous and mostly clogged with filth. Kitchen sink scraps, grease, fecal matter; flushed down to rot with the rest of the stuff. All these would be the last the insect or spider would see, how would their tiny soul make way to God? Would they be trapped in the sewer gas and slime, lodged in limbo?
Perhaps they became tiny ghosts. Perhaps the billion or so he had killed in his lifetime, between car travel and fly swatting had formed a virtual sea of dead insect spirits, all of them hanging about in sewer mains and car bumpers, waiting for the end of the world and the summons of the four horsemen before jumping to action.
The Native American tribes had respect for animals, apologizing to them after they killed them, believing the spirits of the dead animals would haunt them otherwise. They held the animals in reverence, and spoke to them before using them for food.
He wondered how a billion mosquito souls would feel for not being apologized to. He idly supposed it just might make an interesting B sci-fi flick, "Revenge of the Bloodletters" or some such--the swarming undead mosquitoes sucking the soul out of the poor masses at large.
He even avoided stepping on pill bugs when he left the front door in the morning--the house keys were just fresh from twisting the lock shut and he walked among them, mincing steps, trying to avoid them as they scurried along in their prehistoric exoskeletons. There were spider webs all up the length of the siding by the front door, their webs littered with corpses of gnats and mosquitoes, the victims of the porch light he switched on at night.
But the porch light trumped the pain the spider webs brought; the idea of someone breaking in to rob/kill/beat him driving him to greater fear and justification. He had cleaned them all off once, a few weeks back, but had thrown up after sweeping away their houses, his worry upsetting him so much that he had puked at work an hour later. As he recalled regrettably, he had eaten a hearty meal of ham and eggs that morning.
Another time he'd tried gardening. It was the year-before-last actually, and that time he hadn't been able to bear the thought of spraying pre-emergent insecticides; his tomatoes had lasted approximately 2 weeks into summer, and then ghosted away. The plants had gone just long enough for the swelling green fruit to start making him hope for a fresh BLT sandwich, when they began to wilt, wither and die.
And like the mysterious fetus that does so well one week in a late middling term, and the next week loses the desire to live, so went his tomato plants. He'd reacted horribly when he found them limp and chewed off at ground level--he'd curled into a ball on his bedroom floor, barely able to speak into the phone and whisper that he was too ill for work that day.
It had been cutworms, he found out later, a nasty caterpillar who lived in the dirt, only emerging to climb up a plant stem and chew it's way along into developing into a moth. He'd had no heart to kill them, they deserved to live as much as he! They'd aborted his tomatoes and slaughtered his anaheim peppers and he'd still let them be, for some reason unable to squish or spray them to oblivion--he was no entymologist, no entomophobic. Perhaps he was a spectrophobic? That must explain it. He suffered from a deep seated fear of ghosts--in this case tiny insect ghosts--and was so scared about it he immediately took action.
Last week, he killed a wood roach and an earwig, and he apologized to them, trembling out in broken tones which they did not know and could never hope to understand as he crushed the life out of their bodies. Those two had found their miserable way into his condo; he found them in the kitchen, scurrying across the floor. Indoor bugs crossed the line after crossing the threshold, and were fair, albeit painful, game.
What a strange man I am he thought. I am so because I give a damn about bugs, yet don't give a shit about my illegal immigrant neighbor, nor the old Mandarin guy two doors down who's cooking always makes my allergies act up.
It was always the little things that mattered to Mallory James Montblanc, the mundane tiny moments, the squashing of bugs; he found definition in these empty spaces. He busied himself worrying about things like this that really didn't matter, because he was afraid of the greater larger universe all around him. His real phobia was not due to bugs; no, his real bare-bones-truthful shake-you-to-the-core terror was that he had no control over anything. Bugs were merely a cover-up, a strange obsession, a curious footnote in his neat-freak world.
What he didn't know was that God had something more in store for him. He didn't comprehend that also very soon He was going to shake him enough to see it. God was going to throw his life into turmoil, twist him up, wring him out, throw him on the rack and break him and make him see. make him reach past all the bugs and straightened pencils in their cubby by the phone. God had plans for James.
Of course, none of that had happened just yet. No, today he was standing on the deck at the rear of his house, looking at his tiny postage stamp of a yard (as he lived in a condo) and looking at his empty garden which bordered the tiny stamp of grass. He had his hand on his hips, his lips pursed out, and he was sweating. His glasses had slid down his nose, his hair was mussed into a sort of half mohawk, and he had newsprint smeared on his forehead from where he'd fallen asleep on a yesterday's newspaper on the couch.
He had no idea of the meteor hurtling towards him, ten million miles away and closing, nor that it had been sent directly from Kolob, with a label for 10 N 1040 W apartment B.
Today he stood and considered cutworms, and God in turn considered him.
Today @ 4 am something really interesting will happen. The time and the date will line up in a straight flush of sorts, and create a phenomenon most of you will miss. While you lay in the midst of a R.E.M. painted dream, the cosmos will pause a moment for this.
But not me. Not the vampiric graveyard shift manager on a technical team. I will be awake for it all, a front-row-ticket holder at the event of the century.
While most of you will be sawing logs, the equivalent of a planetary alignment will happen; it will be 04:05:06 during 07-08-09.
Do yourself a favor and run for the hills. This is gonna be bigger than Y2K and leap year combined. Think "Rockin' New Years Eve" but with people turning into zombies and Titans being released from Tartaros, or Nicholas Cage running around trying to save the world because numbers make things go boom. Blood will flow like rivers. Brains will be chomped. Asteroids or maybe Pluto (still pissed at getting voted off the island) are going to crash into the seas.
Or maybe not.
It is true that a date/time event like this one in the morining is admittedly a bit of a yawner. It feels like it should be accompanied by the afore mentioned zombies or demi-gods (if you believe cinema in the last 40 years) , perhaps even narrated by Nick Cage. Instead it will come and go, most folks not even making the connection that the "hand" they had would beat four of a kind, a full house, a flush, a straight, or three of a kind. Perhaps the old Greek and Roman gods are just playing cards, and early tomorrow morning Hermes will win yet another hand.
Of particular note is the comment entry by "guest" on Thursday, June 25, 2009 (they really should make folks register, nothing like anonymous small mindedness being sprayed out on the Internets).
"I doubt many ammo buyers are preparing for civil war. Only the most fringe militia types which are 0.000000000000001% of gun owners. Here are some other more likely reasons, though:
1) Lots of people bought their first-ever gun in the months preceding and following the 2008 presidential election. Because they're racist rednecks angry that a black man is president? NO. Of course not. Rather, because the economy was going to pot which means more crime on the way, better be prepared to defend yourself. And also because there is a rational belief that this may be their last chance to buy a gun----something they've always wanted to do but haven't gotten around to doing. Obama hails from Chicago, after all, where all guns are banned. Too bad that advertising an unarmed-victim zone in that manner doesn't seem to be helping the murder rate. Anyway, more gun owners equals more ammo demand. Especially new gun owners who need to ramp up on skills.
2) Speculators. A lot of people who don't even own guns are buying ammo at Walmart and selling it for 50% markup or more on gun auction websites
3) component shortages in inputs to rounds including primers
4) government is buying more from the big manufacturers. The DOD also briefly tried (on Obama instructions) to stop selling spent military brass casings to reload companies. This only lasted a week before backlash prompted a reversal, but it certainly indicated Obama's intent to reduce the supply of ammo out there as a backdoor gun control method.
5) Huge growth nationwide in the number of small towns having SWAT teams and gang task forces, counter-terror task forces, etc., and needing more weapons, more military-style weapons, more training, and more ammo.
The shortage is showing signs of getting ready to ease. The hoarders seem to have hoarded enough (or at least, all that they can afford), and some of the bigger government contracts are nearing being fulfilled. Further, some ammo producers have made the gamble to increase production (something that involves substantial risk if the increased demand is only temporary), and finally some importers, smelling opportunity, have increased their imports from producers in eastern Europe, etc."
So all in all, I hope the shortage is abating. Paying $20 for a brick of 9mm is just too much!
And finally, for a contrasting note I add an article from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Tom Stienstra suggests that we are selling our ammo overseas at huge profits. Interesting tie into war mongering, that. I quote: "A national shortage of ammunition for hunting rifles and target pistols, blamed on large volumes of ammo being sold overseas at high prices."
Just for the record, read the comments posted on these papers at your own peril. Lots of angry folks out there in re: to you and I having the right to defend our families, homes, and property. Apparently those angry folks believe that a police state should be doing that, instead of the average Joe. It is interesting to note that these same folks believe the Constitution is a "interpretable document" and believe that the Supreme Court has the right to read it how they want to.