Letter from
Muni Court
Part II
The insect operations in my house became obvious shortly before my jury duty. One morning, I picked up a poppy-seed pastry that I had left for a day on the kitchen counter. I was about to bite into this treat when I noticed that a few of the poppy-seeds were moving.

As the pastry dropped from my fingers, I noticed an entire line of moving poppy-seeds all along the kitchen counter. Closer inspection revealed a veritable neighborhood festival among the ant community, complete with little marching bands, tiny souvenir stands, and microscopic parade monitors along the line of march. I thereupon left my house for three days to perform my civic duties at Municipal Court.

I think I was hoping that the ghosts would frighten away the ants. No such luck. When I got back, the parades in my kitchen were still going on, and I began to notice scouts reconnoitering in other parts of the house. In fact, I began to see lines of them everywhere, even with my eyes closed, even in my dreams. It was time to seek help.

I turned to the Internet --- where else does one go for help these days? --- and looked up pest control. Old fogey that I am, the webpages of Terminix International quite puzzled me with their emphasis on fun and games. A whole section of the website reads:
Online Insect Activities
Just for Fun
Unwind with our interactive insect activities and digital downloads.
And check back often as new features are added!

The website then invites us into such activities as,

    Discovering your inner bug is just minutes away. Take our quiz to see if you're more like a destructive drywood termite, a carefree cockroach or some other crazy critter.

Further on, one finds:

    Terminix Bug Masks!

    Become a bug with Terminix Just for Kids!

    Download and print one, two or all three masks in either black and white or color....

    You can also print out EXTRAordinary Bug Parts for bug-errific features like antennae, ears, eyelashes, sunglasses and tattoos.

It must be a sign of the times: role-playing in a pest control website, no less than downtown at Municipal Court.

Disorientation almost overwhelmed me --- was the real inner me a defendant, a Bailiff, George Voskovec, Martin Balsam, a carefree cockroach, or a drywood termite?

Fortunately, the sound of Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude" coming out of the light fixture called me back to what passes for reality. Assuming the role of a desperate householder, I sent a distress call to Terminix and managed to secure an appointment with a pest control technician for the following week. Help was on the way, or so I thought. Bugerrific!

Yesterday, the Terminix technician finally arrived. I was hoping for a miracle-worker who would banish my cares, but instead he turned out to be a textbook depressive. He identified himself in a toneless voice while staring steadily at the floor ... a case history straight out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual II.

I explained my problem, and gestured in the direction of the ant parade ground. The technician raised his eyes two degrees from the ground and shook his head mournfully. "The only way to really get rid of the ants," he sighed, "is to burn down the house." I fell to my knees, begged him to spray, to poison, to lay traps, anything. "I suppose we could try to spray," he observed helpfully, "but you know they'll just come back."

At length, my lamentations persuaded him to perform a desultory spraying outside the house. "Your house is probably built over a couple of anthills," he confided, before departing.

Can it be that the tiny arthropods can defeat a civilization that put men on the moon? Things look black, but maybe I could still come out ahead if I have my broker, E.G. Marshall, transfer some funds into ant futures.

As of right now, the creatures seem to have gone into hiding temporarily. Maybe the depressive from Terminix persuaded them that, in the long run, nothing is really worth the effort. So, it looks like I'll mope around my house for the time being.

I would sink into complete despondency, except that sometimes, when I open the door to my front porch, I am cheered by the strains of Jeszcze Polska nie zginela ("Poland has not yet perished") coming out of a flower-pot.

--- Dr. Phage

Go back to
Part I

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