CRICKETS IN THE LIVING ROOM, BUGS IN THE MACHINE

One of the pleasures (yes, there are more than one) of being from the American South is the sound of crickets in the evening. The only analogy that comes to mind (when you have thousands humming along in unison) is the 60Hz hum of a nearby electrical transformer. But that’s another part of town. You only get crickets in Nature, usually. That’s what I thought, anyway, until one found its way into my LA apartment.  How he got here, I don’t know.  He must’ve followed the mouse in, I guess.

Mice usually live in the woodwork, of course, symbolized by that little hole in the wall along the baseboard, of cartoon cliché.  Here they sneak in the front door, under the door, that is, that stops short of the threshold. I’d heard the little f*cker before, nibbling away in the kitchen while I sipped chamomile tea in the living room to mitigate the effects of chronic insomnia at around three in the morning, “the bewitching hour,” I tell myself romantically.  Then I finally saw the little beggar, grinning like a Cheshire cat, red face turned up and looking at me, caught in the act, in flagrante delicto.

But I don’t know how the cricket got in.  He can’t exactly hop under the door, now, can he? I don’t know; maybe he can.  And I swear he leaves on ‘visa-runs’ to the outside, for days at a time, probably checking up on family. Then he comes back, and starts singing every night, just he, a solitary voice, far from home, wherever that is.  I tell myself he must be happy if he’s singing.  I’m pretty sure that must be true, since sometimes he’ll start singing in harmony with a song from the radio. He seems to like hard rock,especially old James Gang tunes.  He’s the ‘Midnight Man’, I guess.

He stays pretty quiet during the day.  And I’ve never actually seen him, of course.  But he’s got his corner staked out pretty well. If anyone comes close, the sound stops.  I tell myself he came to sing me to sleep during my bouts of insomnia; or maybe to keep my wife company as I prepare to take off on an extended trip of indefinite duration.  Yeah, I like that concept.  Or maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic; or an incurable optimist.  I believe in God, too… and a Promised Land, of our own making.

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