A Sort of Biblical Swarm
Being from Northeast Ohio, I had plenty of experience driving in bad weather. So for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why my car was hydroplaning on a dry, sunny summer day in Louisiana. I fought the impulse to stomp on the brake, and I steered into the skid, regaining control. I realized there was some kind of substance on the road, but I wasn’t sure what it was so I cautiously turned into a gas station.
The parking lot appeared to be wiggling, and I turned the radio off, as if the sound was somehow interfering with my vision. Nope – the parking lot was still wiggling. Then my brain finally accepted what my eyes had been seeing the whole time – grasshoppers. There were grasshoppers everywhere. Truckloads of them. I could hear them crunching beneath my tires.
I parked, and tried to tiptoe inside the gas station to minimize the amount of casualties I was inflicting, but there was no helping it. I could feel them squishing under my shoes, and they were slippery as hell. When I got inside I announced to the girl behind the cash register, “There’s grasshoppers all over the place.”
“Crickets,” she said quite matter-of-factly.
“Okay, crickets” I conceded. “They’re everywhere.”
Another employee chimed in from the snack food isle, “I reckon they’re a might worse than I’ve seen in a while.” He had a broom, and he was busy trying to corral some rogue crickets into a mop bucket.
“How bad are they, typically?” I asked.
“Sometimes bad. Sometimes not so bad,” the guy informed me.
“Where ya from?” the girl behind the register asked. “You sure do have an accent.”
“Ohio,” I said.
“What’s a Yankee boy doin’ way down here in Shreveport, Louisiana?” she said. The word came out like, Lose-y-anna. It sounded very exotic to me, and I suddenly realized how attractive she was. I guessed she was around my age – early twenties, tall and tan with long dark hair and blue eyes like glacial ice.
“I thought I’d brave the biblical swarm of locusts so I could ask you out for a drink,” I said with as much confidence as I could muster.
“It ain’t no biblical swarm neither. It’s just a might worse than usual. And I done told you it’s crickets.”
“Oh,” I said, dejected. “Well, I’ll see ya,” I said as I turned to leave.
“My shift’s up in about forty-five minutes,” she said. “There’s a little bar up the road. If you want, I’ll meet you there for a drink. It’s called, Scuddy’s.”
“Yeah, I know where that is. I’d love to meet you for a drink.”
“It’s just one drink now, and it’s just us talkin’. Don’t get no ideas.”
“Scout’s honor,” I said, and I raised my right hand to show how virtuous I was.
“And I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts you was never no damned boy scout.”
She was right about that, too.