The bug is perched alert and in waiting on David Montoto’s pillow. Poor chap! He’s dead asleep, dreaming. Dream sequences come and go in his mind: flashes of floods, fires, the Bible; a priest, a tiny child opening the Koran before praying. There is also a stark naked girl with dark flashing eyes that twinkle and splash, like falling water.
While David is lost in that tender limbo separating dream from reality, the bug eyes him steadily, flapping its wings dauntlessly and in wait. Who knows? Perhaps it also is dreaming. Do bugs dream? Perhaps it imagines sucking warm blood, flapping its wings, rolling its eyes gently as it basks in the sun.
Now David turns and groans, flinging his arms about almost as if they were wings, groaning, moving about on the bed between slumber and wakefulness, as if he were someone’s puppet. Is someone dangling the strings? His dreams now seem have become fitful. A bead of sweat rolls from his forehead. Words form on his lips but are lost in meaningless mumbles.
Dreams last but a fraction of a second, they say. But they are intense experiences. Could it be that David is trying to prolong the dreamy illusion so he can squander a few more precious minutes in bed to fill his fleeting sensations with a more intimate content? Maybe he just does not want to wake up. How wonderful it is to let dreams come and go with no censor to cut them short; no crude reality to mess up the picture! In his dream he might be making love passionately to an Amazon queen whose firm nude body is stretched invitingly on a soft silver cloud gliding over a mountain lake. Why not lie in bed and imagine kissing her silky skin? What’s the big thing about sex? Humans seem obsessed by it. Yet bugs copulate too, don’t they? True: only to reproduce. Has the bug on David’s pillow experienced that repeatable pleasure of copulating? Has it? Who knows? How hard it is to know what goes on in the mind of a bug!
It is almost dawn now. Beams of sunlight come dashing and dancing into the room. Outside city life warns loafers to take heed of their obligations. Rumbling cars, growling motorcycles; a school bell sounds, a police siren rings out, men hustle here and there. Further off the sound of a plane crashing, an explosion, gun fire, the desperate cries in a distant hospital ward, a mother’s face distorted in suffering, the harsh roar of wind, rain, rain, more rain, calls for help, a kiss, another, the tick-tock of a clock, a door slamming shut, the gurgling sound of a politician clearing his voice, questions blurted out, answers lacking...
The bug has opened its beady eyes and is staring straight at the man, while flapping its wings in the sunlight that strikes the pillow. An attentive observer might conclude that it is doing its warm up exercises. David’s lips are trembling, as if vibrating, but all you can hear is a dull mumble. Too bad people mumble in their sleep. They should take lessons in oratory, breathe deeply, and say their mantras to the moon, run on the beach with pebbles in their mouths, like the ancient Greeks. That way their partners could decipher their words.
The man is waking up but seems to be unaware of the danger.
There is a soft tender spot under his left ear, close to his neck--where there is always an abundant supply of blood. That’s where his girl friend likes to kiss him; it is precisely the place the bug has singled out to bite. It knows by instinct that the flesh is soft there, filled with succulent capillaries.
In an instant the insect launches its attack, digging into the man’s flesh, eager to suck his warm blood, licking its tiny tongue with pleasure, pushing its dung into the wound. As far as the bug is concerned, the action combines pleasure and need. Is the bug’s action any worse than what humans do when they slaughter cattle or when they go to war? For the bug the red liquid is the stuff of life. If it were not David Montoto it would be someone else, or any nearby blood bearing beast.
David’s sleep filled hand moves with shocking speed. Whack! The sound reverberates like the slap of a rapist. It takes him out of dreamland and brings him back to reality. The blood of the squished body of the insect gets mixed with David’s. The bug is dead. It is now no more than a bloody spot under David’s left ear. It suffered a quick and painless death. The victim cleans the spot with his index finger, then with a damp cloth. Yet some of the insect’s blood is swirling inside the David’s veins. The amount is too small to measure, certainly an insignificant quantity, insignificant, though potentially as deadly as a bomb.
Day has dawned. With daylight dreams fade away. It is time for a shower, coffee; time to kiss the lady, flag a taxi, greet the boss. Who was it who said dreams are the stuff life is made of? Maybe the man will carry one of last night’s dreams to work with him. Maybe he will be haunted by a dream all day. Maybe he will come home with a fiery fever. Maybe the bug has formed an alliance with some other hidden enemies, an army of virus, parasites. Men think they are so powerful, with their flying machines, their technological revolution, internet, atomic bombs. But they still have not unwound the secret of a simple virus. There is no reason to exaggerate. David will show up at his office in an hour or so, clean shaven and dressed as usual, with a slight smarting there under his left ear.
It was 9:15 a.m. when he poked his sleepy head into Key Master Plastics, Inc. Fifteen minutes late. Nine hundred seconds of the company’s valuable time lost due to his belatedness.
“You’re late!” growled Michael Grondona, the General Manager. His voice sounded crisp and clear, as if the order had come from the lips of General MacArthur. David appeared not to hear his boss’s words so Grondona furrowed his brow and repeated:
¡You’re late, I said. Late!”
David reacted with unexpected tranquility. He tightened his grip on his briefcase, blew his nose gently on his silk handkerchief, then placed his face half a meter from Grondona’s nose, looked him squarely in the eye, as if he were an equal, and declared:
“You miss the point.”
“What do you mean? How dare you!”
“Just what I said: ‘you miss the point.’”
“And what, may I ask, is the point?” Grondona tried to put sarcasm into his voice but he actually felt the situation was switching to the wrong track.
“I’m late because this is my last day at this miserable God forsaken profit gauging company. I’m sick and tired of being treated like a modern day slave, a mere cog, an insect, a wretched bug!”
By that time a compact group of diligent employees, secretaries, accountants, book keepers, lawyers and office boys had silently formed a semi-circle around David and his boss.
“Leaving without notice, just like that?”
“You heard me.”
“Look David, you have been with us for 15 years and you say you are leaving, just like that. Are you alright? Is something bugging you?”
“Yea. You. The company. Everything. I’ve had enough. Too much. I want to be free. I want to make decisions for myself, not for other people. I’m tired of being a blood sucker. I want to live my own life.”
The numb surprise of the employees, lawyers, office boys, secretaries, accountants and book keepers then turned to pale-faced bewilderment when they saw David Montoto inch up to Michael Grondona, the General Manager of Key Master Plastics, Inc. and sink his teeth into the warm soft flesh that dangled right under his left ear.
Michael Grondona and the whole staff stared after David Montoto dumbfounded. David dropped his brief case and kicked it across the red hued carpet, threw the handkerchief into the trash can marched past the General Manager, past the employees, past the lawyers, past the secretaries, past the office boys, past the book keepers and past the accountants. He marched straight into freedom and was never heard from again.
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