A Short Story, in 14 Acts
A bed bug [bɛd bʌg]: a small bug that is unhappy, unattractive, and mean.
- Stare at its likeness in a subway poster. Consider it may be the most unphotogenic animal on earth.
- Continue in Midwestern illusion such creatures only exist in seedy hotels.
- Discover in New York, a clean apartment is no guarantee. Something is biting in the night, and when you are not sleeping with another human, this is never a good thing.
- Conduct research.
A bed bug: a parasitic insect that lives exclusively on blood. Bed bugs can live for up to 18 months without a “feeding,” and purportedly up to three years in the case of the Oeciacus Vicarius. Bed bugs have recently surged in the United States to “near epidemic proportions.” (Feeding and mating rituals withheld to spare the sensitivity of readers.)
- Consider following: a. Leave New York immediately. b. Throw bed out of window. c. Is DDT really that bad? (It worked in the 1940s.)
- Continue reading.
- Discover bed bugs now thrive on DDT (It’s weird, but true.) Scratch option c. Discover bed bugs live in walls and also the cracks of floorboards. Scratch option b.
Consider throwing self out window.
- Be relieved to learn “natural bedbug enemies” do exist. They include: cockroaches, ants, mites, rodents, centipedes, and something fantastically called the “masked bedbug hunter.” But as wikipedia helpfully points out, “Unfortunately, biological control is not very practical for eliminating bedbugs from human dwellings.”
Return masked bedbug hunter.
- Discover people blog about bedbugs. Discover lots of people blog about bedbugs. With domain names like “Bed Bugs are Ruining My Life,” and “The Bedbug War.” With lots of “!”s and profanity, for good measure. Like an addiction support group, they speak of prevention, relapse, and recovery.
- Discover people pay up to $5,000 to render the creatures thoroughly, professionally, dead.
- Consider graduate loans.
- Consider sleeping in plastic. Consider sleeping in sin, as long as it is not in this apartment.
- Consider never sleeping again.
- Consider I have just unwittingly joined a group that speaks in the epic language of Good versus Evil, The Common Enemy, and Victorious Battle.
A bed bug: a force of evil whose presence on earth will soon be obliterated through the work of a chosen few.
———— addendum: Day 6. Wake up on an air mattress, on the kitchen table. Pick outfit out of carefully wrapped plastic items currently hanging beside the stove, which have been cleansed at high heat. Check UPS status of various weaponry en route. Inspect mattress. Inspect self. Prepare for battle.