The Lady Bug


by Bill Jansen

IT WAS A BEAUTIUL DAY IN IRAQ. My buddies looked like raisins in the humvee. The weather was not bad in Germany either.  I enjoyed my stay at the hospital. The President came by everyday to shake my hand. He seemed like a nice guy. Everybody seemed like a nice guy; the doctors, the morticians, the women, the guys who harvested organs.
Reluctantly, I allowed myself to be released and sent back to the States, where I went AWOL as soon as I got off the plane.
I got a job wearing a ladybug suit in Portland, Oregon. All I did was stand outside the Ladybug Health Food Store and attract attention. The store was downtown, Burnside and Broadway. I had tried for other jobs, but my face was a problem. I now looked like a plate of shrimp. Even the President had said just looking at me reminded him of Louisiana, which he had carried easily in the last election. My "Bring It On" t-shirt seemed to please him. He pinned a broccoli floret on my chest and saluted me. Some of the nurses wept.
Not only did I now have a job, but the costume was an excellent disguise. I felt I was in the clear. I took it off only after it got dark.
The owner was Chet. He’d been to Nam. (While there a VC booby trap castrated him, saving his marriage). I also  learned he was pissed off about a supposed attack on his organic farmers by Ronsanto. Ronsanto agents were pushing them to grow only from genetically altered seeds. Maybe, I said, that would be a good idea. After all, the government seemed to like the idea. Chet said he would think about it. Then he put the nozzle of a can of Raid into my breathing hole and held the button down until it was empty.
A crazy guy who walked around the streets giving the finger to everybody seemed to be interested in me. A beautiful girl who worked as a nude dancer in a club next to the Lady Bug was also interested in me. On her way to work she would bend over in front of me and fart loudly, like a truck backfiring. I resisted the temptation to ask her for a date. They both had FBI  crawling out of them.
Then Chet got on another jag. He said his farmers were reporting giant aphids with flashlights sneaking around their spinach at night. Some of the farmers were threatening to shoot any giant bugs on sight.
I began to feel funny in a bad way. I asked for some days off and watched TV in my floppy room on Glisan street. The next morning I saw my replacement on the local news. He, or she, was face (so to speak) down on the sidewalk in front of the store, lying in a pool of what looked like raspberry smoothie. There was collateral damage to some mangoes. I decided to stay in my room until management or the exterminators kicked me out. My legs began to transform into something purplish and sweet.  A fly landed on my big toe and joined the feast.

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