Wednesday, October 20, 2004
The Million Mantid March is going well. Every town they pass through, their ranks swell, as timid mantids find the courage to join the swarm. The opposition's scare tactics--revolutionary new bug-zappers, death rays, digitized flypapers--are proving to be laughable fictions. The Washington Times, America's only truly objective newspaper, puts glowing accounts of the March on the front page every day.
Karl Rove feels a little silly riding along in a pot on wheels, with an assroot plunged deep in the soil, sucking up water; it's not a little humiliating to ride along like some kind of freak on wheels when everybody else is walking or swarming. He's not extremely happy, either, that March organizers have to keep scrounging up water, a gallon an hour, to keep dumping into his soil. But there it is. You go with what you've got. He's always been a fighter. He can fight this.
What's a little disturbing, though, is that the bugs walking and flying along on the march are starting to look, well, extremely appetizing to him. He can taste them on his tongue. He keeps humming "Sing a Song of Sixpence" in his head, but realizes at some point that he isn't thinking about blackbirds: it's "four and twenty mantids baked in a pie." What's that about?
The thoughts don't go away. The farther they march along, the more obsessed he becomes with eating insects. It doesn't matter how hard he works to keep his famous brain focused on the prize, on killing Lincoln and ousting his fishy minions from the White House: all he wants to do is eat a bug.
And then it happens. A good conservative cockroach from Mississippi crawls up onto the rim of Rove's pot, wants to tell him how much it admires his great work--and Rove snags it, pops it in his mouth, crunches it down. He does it before he even has time to think it through. Quickly, furtively, he glances around to see whether anybody has noticed: apparently not. Whew!
But then, a few seconds later another cockroach comes up to the rim of his pot, says she's from Water Valley (god what wouldn't Rove give for a whole valley of fishless water, preferably skimmed over with waterbugs), and has Rove seen her son? She thinks he came up here.
Shit. Somebody's going to hear her. She's going to keep going up the line, looking for her son. The paper trail will lead right back to Rove.
So he snags her too, crunches her down. Nobody sees: lucky again. But ... they taste so GOOD. What is he going to do?
A few minutes later an elderly Mississippian cockroach climbs up, wheezing a little with the effort, and introduces himself as the lay preacher of the Water Valley Primitive Missionary Cockroach Baptist Church: has Rove seen two members of his congregation, a mother and her grown son?
Rove gobbles him down too. But how the Raid is out of the can: somebody sees. Some random mantid, nobody big. But their eyes go wide. Karl Rove is eating bugs!
Rove motions the mantid over. Just to have a word, mind. Suggest maybe it would be better if this didn't get out. But the mantid's big buggy eyes go even wider, and it moves uneasily up the line, glancing back nervously, as if afraid Rove might be pursuing.
And now he knows that it's just a matter of time.