“Tell ya what, ameego, we’re gonna stop off and see Wayne quick-like ‘fore lunch.”

“Okay.” In for a dime, in for a dollar.

With that, the bug man pulls the steering wheel right and bumps the truck up on to the sidewalk full speed then jerk stops, half in traffic, half out, in front of a run down gas station. He hops down out of the truck as a car races by, horn blaring.

“Oh,” Travis says without surprise, “We’re here.”

Travis gets out of the truck and follows the bug man stepping carefully, looking out for broken glass.

“Now Wayne here—he jes’ might be the best karyoke round these parts… cain’t sing worth a darn though.”

“Well, naturally.”

From out of the shadows of the decrepit gas station comes a thin wiry man in mechanic’s jumpers wiping his oil-black hands off on a dirty rag. “Well, shit. Look what the cat done drug in.” He winks at the bug man.

“A mouse?” the bug man asks.

“Naw, you! The Mack hisself.” He winks at Travis

The bug man looks nervously at Travis who doesn’t notice.

“Hi, I’m Trav—“

“This here’s Chief.”

“Oh yeah right,” says Travis as though he’d stupidly forgotten.

“Ya’ seem ta fergot your shoes,” Wayne points out. Then winks.

Defiantly, “No. I didn’t.”

“I got some extra flip-flops you kin have, if ya’ want.”


“Ya want some flip-flops I got?”

“What’re’ya tryin’ ta say, man?”

“I got… flip… flops.”

The group ponders the words for a quiet moment until Wayne turns to M and says, “They come in.” Then he winks at him.

“That’s what I was hopin’.” Turning to Travis, the bug man smiles and winks. “Wait’ll ya see this.”

Feeling left out for a moment, Travis turns to Wayne. And then winks at him.

This sets Wayne wondering off back to the garage as Travis looks around the lot made up of asphalt punctured by seams of grass here and there, broken gas pumps and rusty cars—all framed by a chain-link fence. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask… I mean, you’re an exterminator and doesn’t it ever seem… well… futile to try to kill bugs—there’s really…”

“I hate them.”

“Of course, I just meant that given—“

“I hate them.”

Travis waits for a moment, looking at the little man. His eyes are tense and wide and round, waiting. “We’re not really gonna discuss—“

“I hate them.”

“Okay.” Travis nods.