BEETLES


by Brandi Wells



This morning my cat ate and un-ate a beetle four times. He smacked his lips (cats don't have lips, I know) and made grinding noises with his teeth. He makes the same grinding noises when he is chasing house flies. I think he communicates with the houseflies. He sends them on dangerous missions, where they infiltrate a cheese factory like Speedy Gonzalez and bring back all the Muenster.

I worry about the amount of pain the beetle was feeling and hope that by the fifth time, when the cat finally crunched it up and swallowed it, that maybe the beetle had lost all feeling. It bothers me that I couldn't see the beetle's expression. (Beetles don't have lips, I know).

I wonder how many beetle killings I miss every week. I wonder how nutritious the crunched up legs and wings are. Do you think the nutritional value of a beetle negates the horror of beetle murder, thus ensuring it is not "senseless?" Everything is for a reason, right?

---

I saved one of the beetles today. I was like Mighty Mouse and Underdog with no cape. I was a worthwhile and valuable member of this community. The cat had only spit the beetle out twice and its legs were still moving. I wouldn't say a beetle's legs flail, because they are so wiry looking. I imagine that to the beetle, his legs are flailing, but to me it looks like he is trying to pedal an invisible bicycle, made just for beetles at the hour of their deaths as sort of a "life to death" vehicle.

Have you read much on Buddhism? I worry I will return as a beetle. I worry my death will be senseless, without a greater purpose. I worry I won't achieve anything in this life or in my life as a beetle.

---

I stayed awake last night, watching the cat and waiting for him to attack beetles. I called you and left you a message. I thought we could take shifts watching the beetles, watching the cat.

I went outside and checked to see if there were any beetles near the door, but there weren't. I even turned on the porch light, to attract them, just so I could put them far away from my front door, but no beetles came, only moths. Eventually I feel asleep on the couch. While I slept, I think the cat ate seventeen beetles.

---

I replaced the weather stripping on the front door so no beetles could crawl inside. The cat watched me. I think he was watching so he could remove it later. He is crafty, like the maintenance man who steals the light bulbs from my closet and replaces them with bright non-energy saving bulbs that are fading my clothes.

When I went to sleep, I locked the cat in the bathroom, but first I checked to be sure there were no beetles. I tucked a blanket under the door so beetles couldn't crawl under it and to the cat. I don't know why they would crawl towards crunchy death, but it is the same with moths who fly to a bug zapper.

I still have the key to your apartment, but it doesn't work anymore. I left it underneath your front mat, in case you want it. It is slightly to the left of the word "Welcome."

---

Today I caught the cat chewing on something and I held him down and pried his mouth open so I could see what it was. He gagged and tried to jerk his head from side to side while I dug my fingers in his mouth and under his sandpaper tongue. Spit foamed up around the corners of his mouth and he looked like what I think a cat with rabies would look like. I couldn't find anything in his mouth, so maybe it was just cat food.

Since you haven't gotten the key from under your front door mat, I moved it. I was worried someone else would find it. It's under the ashtray now. I didn't know you were smoking again. Do you smoke outside near the beetles or in your apartment? Second hand smoke is bad for beetles. It gives them nasal congestion and sudden death syndrome.

---

I checked the content of my cat's dry food today, to see if it had beetles in it. There were some words I didn't recognize, that might have meant beetles, but I'm not sure. I fed him canned tuna instead, because I am pretty sure there are no beetles in it. They say tuna is the chicken of the sea, but I don't agree. I think tilapia is the chicken of the sea. It is more normal tasting and you can do anything with it.

I remembered how you like tuna, so I left a can of it by your front door. I moved the key and put it underneath the can so you'd be sure to see it.

---

I thought about getting rid of the cat today, but then it occurred to me that no one else would monitor his beetle consumption. I'd be releasing a killing machine. I fed him more tuna and watched him licking his paws and staring at the door.

I hope you enjoyed the tuna. I went by to make sure you'd gotten it. I'm glad you finally took your key inside. Your neighbors have always looked sketchy to me, like they might come in your apartment and rearrange stuff, removing small items that you wouldn't miss, like coasters and measuring cups.

I left you another can of tuna (the light kind) and half a pack of saltine crackers. Please don't put mayonnaise in the tuna. I hate mayonnaise. It reminds me of rotten eggs and medicine and children being raped.

---

I found another beetle today. It must have come in when the door was open or managed to slide in by the weather stripping. The cat got it in his mouth, but I shook him until he dropped it. Then I took the beetle outside, walked across the road and put it in the grass. It sat there, flailing (or pedaling) in the dirt, so I moved him a few inches and then he waddled away.

---

Are there any beetles at your apartment? Maybe my cat could stay with you if there aren't. There are so many beetles at my apartment. It isn't safe. I feel like Charles Manson shits in my litter box.

I'll leave the cat by your front door. I'm going to duct tape him inside a box so he can't kill any beetles while he's outside.