Walking around the front and hopping in the other side, Travis turns to the bug man, “So, you got a name?”

“Yep, yep,” the bug says. Leaning over, the little man turns the radio nob, and the sounds of the mariachi band trickle through the speakers. “Now you don’t know nothin’ bout Hemi’s ’til you seen one in action.” With that, the bug man stomps on the accelerator and peels out like a Montego Hera. Travis watches ahead as the truck swerves through the parking lot, the accelerator and brakes being applied frequently and randomly, jolting him back and forth, back and forth, like a punching bag before a kangaroo. When they get to the apartment complex’s exit to the road, though, the giant truck pulls out at a crawl as cars stop or swerve to miss the lumbering obstacle. It becomes apparent to Travis that the bug man cannot see through his thick glasses. The little fellow has placed his nose against the steering wheel, resting it there squinting, hunching the entire top half of his bulk over the steering column. The mariachi band jingles merrily in time with the convulsions of the truck, still randomly braking, accelerating and swerving.

“Uh. Can you see with those glasses on?”


Furrowing his brow, Travis stares at the bug man, who looks back at him as though no explanation should be necessary. “They’re a disguise,” he whispers mysteriously, before bursting into a strained chipmunk grin.

“Oh,” Travis agrees without question.

“Yeah, the people—they call me M.”

Travis looks to the bug man quizzically while latching onto his door handle as the truck swerves hard right out of the opposing lane of traffic. “M as in…”

“M as in mmm that’s mighty fine fried chicken!”

The brakes squeal as the bug man slams on the brakes at a red light; Travis flies into the dashboard, bracing himself just in time.

“Meatlamp!” the exterminator yells at no one in particular, his face jammed up against the windshield. After a moment, the truck engine roars as the bug man slams on the gas again and the huge lavender truck screams into the intersection, the light still red. Looking back through the rear window, Travis watches as two cars swerve and smash into one another.

“So, I got a joke for ya,” the bug man announces.

“Oh. Yeah?”

“Yeah. How many bugs can you fit into a Buick?”

“Any particular kind of bug?”

The bug man looks irritated, “What kind!? Them’s bugs.”

“Right. Sorry.” Travis shrugs. “I give up. How many?”

“Uh, lets see,” the bug man says, calculating, “One hundred thousand, five hundred and sixty-three—not countin’ the trunk!” Then he laughs suddenly, like a mule, banging back into his seat a couple of times causing the truck to start and stop. Turning to Travis, he punches him in the shoulder. “Get it?” he yells, his one wandering eye, searching Travis out. Several cars swerve to miss the truck, which is riding in and out of its own lane in rhythm with the bug man’s mule-like giggling.

Forcing a nervous chuckle, Travis just replies, “Sure. That was a really good joke,” hoping that a minor semblance of control might return to the vehicle.

“That there is a good joke,” the bug man says, leaning back to the steering wheel, resting his nose there again. “It’s the only joke I kin ever remember cuz I made it up.” He pushes his glasses up again, from where they had slid down onto the steering wheel. “I wish I could remember more jokes.”

“I knew a good joke, once.” Travis says nostalgically.