If Little Mikie were bigger I wouldn’t lose him so often, but then again, this past couple of years I’ve lost track of several full-sized friends, so maybe when it comes to keeping up with friends, size doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you pay attention to what’s important, and just because something or somebody is important to you when it’s convenient for you doesn’t guarantee that they’ll stay around if you get distracted by the generally inconsequential 10-watt agonies of your own life.
Little Mikie had been in the bottom of the bathroom kit for about a year. Jeez, Mikie, I said when I saw him. I thought maybe you’d gone and run off with an older woman, like Tinkerbelle.
You know, man, said Little Mikie, that might be funny except for if you can’t do any better with me than size jokes then you oughta go get an elephant for a friend because then at least your jokes will be bigger if not funnier. He stared at me while I tried to figure out what he meant by bigger jokes. Mikie’s thinking often baffles me.
In any case, I was sure that he needed to get out of the house. I asked him if he wanted to poke around in the garden a bit, and then maybe I’d pocket him over to Peoples for a local brew. Beats unrolling dental floss for a hobby, he said. Which explains the large tangles I’d been finding lately in the bathroom kit.
He disappeared under the turnips after asking for directions towards the basil.
What I did not know was that there was some rough trade working my vegetable garden. Calosoma scrutator. Big green beetles called Fiery Searchers, on account of the irridescent red and orange trim they favor. Nasty black mandibles for catching and eating caterpillars, their favored food.
Two of them backed Little Mikie up against a basil stem. You make a habit of being in wrong places, Nice Friend, said the bigger Searcher. Let’s eat it, said the other.
Screw you and your hard-shell friend, said Mikie, trying tough. There’s a bigger picture here, and it will crush you.
Let’s eat it, said the smaller Searcher. The big one brought his antennae wide, which if Little Mikie had known anything about Calosoma Scrutator body language, was not at all a good sign. You smell foolish and hot, it said. I take my name from your mouth. I am Big Picture, Fiery Searcher, it-who-crushes.
Well, OK, said Mikie. I was getting to that. Say, here’s the deal. A Searcher walks into a bar. Give me a caterpillar on the rocks, it says. Sorry, bud, says the barkeep. You’re a little late, they all pupated.
In the 15 seconds it took the Searchers to process the joke which, because it was not only a joke but a bad one at that, had completely clogged up their neural pathways, Little Mikie slipped away through the tomatoes.
See Little Mikie’s last encounter with an exoskeletal creature: a Maine lobster.(Scroll down to the 7th pic. This is a blog before they invented blogs.)