By Julieanna Blackwell
Once there was a tricky little bug, with a secret. He was so old the scientists thought his species extinct. He did not mind being the only one of his ilk found crawling above the ground, in the rain. He was hardly a special bug; black, round, stubby legs, nothing special. Any passing bird would consider him a plump catch, but he was the type of bug that tasted bad, because his smell was pungent, so they always flew over him. Frogs were tempted to eat his bulbous beetle like body, yet they estimated he tasted as bad as he smelled—especially when wet. Any good frog knows it takes a full evening for bad beetle breath to dissipate, so they simply hopped over him, landing in a puddle. Of course, when the scientists discovered his existence, dozens gathered with their umbrellas, studying, snapping pictures, sharing notes, crouching over the poor thing as he strolled down the sidewalk. They thought he held the answer to at least one of the world’s problems, like, maybe, the salvation to man’s extinction, or the prospect of halting disease, hunger, blight, loneliness. However, the bug was alone, just him walking, ignoring the hype and the attention. When the scientists failed to discover his secret, they labeled the bug an anomaly to the laws of survival and left town to study the butterflies of Madagascar. No one really knew the old bug’s secret, or why he was the only one. Until one day a curious little girl figured the secret out. She noticed that the bug was always wet. That must be it. She asked him why. He explained that he only ventured out on rainy days to take a long walk to clear his head. She then asked why, why he only took a walk on rainy days, and why his head needed clearing. There was no secret. He explained the truth—there was a whole tribe of those stinky, foul tasting bugs living it up under the ground where it was always dry. However, they liked rock music. He did not like rock music. He preferred a more jazzy beat, like Baker, Coltrane, and Brubeck. He hardly cared that his fellow bugs remained hidden underground, for the air was so refreshing on the outside; they did not know what they were missing. On the other antenna, he did not like the idea of being eaten by nasty birds or sticky frogs. The rain offered him a respite. Everyone needs a respite, right? Besides, who could care that he was a happy little old bug crawling in the drizzle humming a jazzy little tune? The little girl agreed, he was an anomaly, in a way, so she left him alone.
Julieanna Blackwell’s work has appeared in several publications including Lunch Ticket, Slippery Elm Literary Journal, Ragazine, and Burningword Literary Journal. The Naples Daily News published her humorous column of personal essays. She is also an editor for 805 Literary and Arts Journal. A native Chicagoan, she lives in Florida. You can visit her at www.julieannablackwell.com.