I remember the ring. It was the most ominous ring a telephone could muster in the middle of a perfectly good and normal day. I hesitated picking up the business end of the tele, but after some deliberation, committed, and as I do in things I commit to, I followed through and put receiver to ear. "Ahoy!" said I. I often rotate my greeting between "Halloo!" and "Ahoy!" as these were two of the left behind greetings once used (Alexander Graham Bell used "Ahoy, Ahoy!" or "Hoy, hoy!" while Thomas Edison used "Hello") when eventually "Hello?" as boring as it is, somehow won out. I like to, in my own small way, give a nod to these forgotten heroes of yore. 

So, "Ahoy!" said I. "Karl, hurry!" Within a split second, my incredible mind deciphered who it was on the other end. It could have been any number of three or even four women whom I knew at the time, yet there I was, quick as a whip with the answer. "Sarah, what is it?" Sarah, who was a good friend even though her ways could be categorized as, eccentric, was nearly in hysterics as she went on to explain that her kitchen was currently occupied by an insect of some sort that she needed assistance with getting out of doors. As hard as I tried to hold back the oncoming laughter at the thought of such a small thing getting to her very core, my struggle was in vain and my mouth produced the smallest of chuckles. It did not pass by her. "This is serious!" she stated, and then went on to plead my company post haste. 

A damsel in distress, even if said distress seems trivial to the rougher, tougher more cunning sex, is still a damsel in distress. It was clear that my duty was before me, so like the chivalrous character that I have always been, I ended our telephonic correspondence quickly and made for the door. 

Sarah's apartment was not far away and it was only moments later that I arrived in slightly less than top form after running a few feet. It seems I am not the track runner that I once imagined I could be one day if only I trained similarly to a track runner. The door to the Sarah's apartment flung open and Sarah grabbed my stylishly coated forearm a bit more haphazardly than I would have cared for, and off we went, more via Sarah's locomotion than mine, to the kitchen in question. Not a word came from her lips, only a motion from her arm. She pointed downward to the floor where sat some sort of tannish brown shiny beetle looking thing. The bug didn't move and I imagined it was either resting after its long journey or trying desperately to become invisible. Either way, it was perfect time to spring into action. 

I explained to Sarah my plan. I would step on the thing and clean it up and that would be that. Sarah was horrified. "Absolutely not!" said she. "The thing hasn't done any wrong, just move it, get it out of my kitchen!" This time, I didn't even try to hold back. I chuckled and chuckled noticeably. "I'm serious Karl! Just move it out! Don't kill the poor thing." Sarah said. At this point I had to remind myself that women are a very different breed than men. I explained to her that moving the thing would be too much trouble and that getting rid of it from the face of the earth would ensure that it would not be back again. I had made up my mind. I'm a take charge kind of fellow and once a thing is in my head, you can't extract it with the best pliers on the market. 

I grabbed the nearest cutting board I could find, reasoning that its weight and flatness would be the murder weapon of choice. I got down on my knees to get the best angle possible, pulled the cutting board up over my head while keeping my eye on the target (something one learns playing cricket), started my come-down swing like a pro bug smasher, but then stopped at the last moment when something, more than peculiar caught my eye. The beetle cocked its head and looked at me. 

Now I can't say if it was coincidence or not, but I feel the ole chap was, in his own buggy way, pleading with me. Immediately Sarah let out a "Thank Jimminy!" and while I don't know who Jimminy is, I assume he's one of these many and multi faceted gods from the Empire's far reaches, It was a reminder that the Union Jack was on top of the world, and so I smiled. Then I got back to business. A man might be able to end a bug's life if it is staring away into the distance and you can imagine it might be plotting your demise, but when the soul turns to you and without words makes a case for its life's work, what is to be done but save it? 

I eyed the playing field and said, "Cup!" To this, Sarah said, "Cup?" I repeated, "Cup!" to this Sarah said, "What are you saying?!" It was time to get stern as a man sometimes has to when women, especially ones in the throws of hysterics, are concerned. "Sarah, listen to me. I need a cup of some sort immediately." To this Sarah said, "Oh, a cup, right." She produced a fine transparent acrylic tumbler that looked like it could hold about a half pint of Guinness. This was about a fourth of the sum that I could use at the moment, however, it would have to wait. 

Expertly, quietly, deftly I crouched with the cup and placed it over the bug. "There!" I said with a sigh. "There what?" said Sarah. I thought it would be obvious, but again, I had to remind myself that this was not one of my brethren I was speaking with , but a woman. This meant an explanation of my meticulous and near genius workings would have to show itself. "Now we wait for him to pass out." "Pass out? What do you mean pass out?" said Sarah. Supposing she wasn't following me due to a regional dialect, I am from finer places of course, I said, "Passing out is akin to blacking out." I said. "You can't make a bug pass out!" she said. Chuckle released, I said, "Darling girl, let's leave the technicalities of the workings of the bodies of man and insect to the professional." To this Sarah said, "What professional?" I thought about it, and I didn't know, so I simply said, "Well, let's leave it up to me then, c'mon let's have a drink." 

After drinks and talks we took in a movie at the local movie house. After the show we had a wonderful supper at Vincent's, a very quaint Italian restaurant over on 2nd street. After supper we came back to Sarah's and the bug was still there and still in tip top shape. He was holding out much longer than I had anticipated. The following exercise took some time, a little over two hours, but the fact is I accomplished the task. I took to scooting the cup, centimeters at a time across the kitchen floor being careful not to cause harm to the current inhabitant. Once I made it all the way to the side entrance to the stairway, I worked it through the open door and down each of the 32 steps until finally we hit green grass, which at this point in the night was looking rather bluish gray and fuzzy from the lighting and from fatigue. 

At last, I lifted the cup and the bug was free. He was free to do as he wished whether that meant fly or buzz or do whatever bug of his sort do. He decided to sit. Regardless, proud as punch I was that my manly ways were the ticket, the key to solving this complex situation. What would Sarah have done without me? Goodness knows. Thank heavens for me, I thought. 

Just then, a passerby saw me getting up from my previously kneeling pose and asked what in the devil I was up to. I explained the whole thing in summarized form. I'd like to say that he held back a chuckle. This however, was not the case. He nearly fell over with laughter. "That's not a bug you twit! That's a locust shell! It's a shedding!" I had never seen, except for in the movies, a man walk so far and remain laughing the entire time. I followed his shape all the way down the street as it staggered to and fro with seemingly unending mirth. Finally this giggle geyser, after numerous minutes, faded completely away. 

I bent down to look at the thing, and sure enough, it now looked like a shell instead of a bug in it's entirety. I picked the thing up carefully with pointer finger and thumb. As I brought it to my eye for closer examination the street light shown down on it just right so that I could see its comparatively massive jaws draw back and sink its hooked looking beak into the soft flesh of my thumb. "Yyyyyyaaaaaahhhhhh!" I cried out and shook the thing loose. In doing so, I'm afraid I flung the blighter straight into the window of the bottom apartment where it stayed, in it's new, lifeless form. 

Just then Sarah came to the door, she had left me to free the bug way back at step one, which I was now very glad of since it kept her clear of seeing all the goings on of the past half hour or so. "Is there something wrong?" Said Sarah. I answered, "Absolutely not, tip top shape," as I hid my thumb behind my back. "I'll see you later then." I said. "Alright." she called out, and shut the door. 

But I could not go, at least not in that state. My remorse for what had just happened was overwhelming. I climbed the steps slowly and asked Sarah if I could stay a bit longer. I explained that either the salad at the eatery or the picture show had caused me to feel blue and her shoulder was immediately offered. Eventually, I felt good enough to make it back home and to bed. 

The next day James Higgle Bakersmith, the local man of the cloth, assured me, in confidence of course, that the creature was in a better place and that my actions, even though should not be repeated, were useful in speeding the good soul off to a bounty of untouched leaves and various other items which bugs adore, in the sky. This speech, which was not shorter than three quarters of an hour, did me well and restored my constitution just enough to go down to the local tap for 
one of the best games of darts I or any man, could ever play. 

—Olie Sylvester 
Baron, International Oom Paul Society of Non-Typicals

AuthorOlie Sylvester