Mr Beetle’s Walk

It was a fine Friday. The noon-day sun was bright. Trees gossipped loudly about their new summer leaves.

A certain beetle (who inherited the dignified family name of ‘Mr. Beetle’) decided to take a walk. Mr Beetle was a substantially large insect, with a shiny brown coat and a number of legs which were kinky at the elbow joints.

He found a suitable path for his suitable self. It was the cement curb running alongside a road. The road, in case you are interested, was one that went in a straight line south until it ended in a sort of bubble (as if it was coughing) just where blue Lake Ontario begins.

Lake Ontario was indeed very blue today, and the beetle was very warm as he trotted along. He was glad for this fine highway. Snails slugged along below him on the tarmac. Occasionally one was flattened in a sickening instant when a four-wheeled monster appeared out of nowhere. To the left of him (he was journeying North) grew tall grass that would have been very awkward to walk through but was quite pleasant to walk by.

A chickadee perched somewhere above him burst out laughing, “Chic-a-dee-dee-dee, oh-my-oh-me-me-me, just-look-and-see-see-see, it-is-mr-bee-bee-tle”

Mr Beetle scowled a little. Just at that moment, a June wind came gusting along. First it tickled him, then it pushed him so he skidded along the cement curb, then it picked him up and flipped him right over!

Mr Beetle fell belly up (if beetles have bellies) on the street below his beautiful curb. The chickadee, in another burst of laughter, flew away.

Mr Beetle was very annoyed at the wind. He waved his legs in the air, and contemplated the blue sky with an ever deepening scowl as his legs did nothing to right his situation.

Now, you and I know about hearts and veins and arteries and such. and that we can flop belly up, toes up, ears up, or back up without issue. But beetles are quite different. They were made for staying on their funny little feet. When they’re flipped upside down their blood simply doesn’t get to where it needs to go.

Mr Beetle had never studied Biology. He was quite oblivious to the danger he was in. Still, he was extremely uncomfortable and very embarrassed as his many shoes, so nicely polished for the walk, now stuck straight up in the air!

The ground began to shake. Two very big shoes walked past him. Inside the shoes were two very big feet. After passing him, they turned and came back.

The feet belonged to a girl. She had seen Mr Beetle.

Beetles can not yell for help. But a beetle on its back, waving its legs is pretty common sign language that means: “eat me” (if you happen to enjoy insects) or “help”. The girl wasn’t inclined to eat beetles, but she didn’t like them either. Still, something had to be done.

So she took a ziploc bag out of some obscure pocket, twisted it, and poked him gingerly with the very end.

Mr Beetle felt the edge of that plastic. First it tickled him, then it pushed him till he skidded along the road, then – it flipped him back onto his feet!

When he had found his feet and his breath again, he glared at the feet. He very much resented having being flipped over by a lunch bag, as if he were not the respectable, suitable Mr Beetle! And besides, he was still down on the road with the snails. He felt a bit dizzy.

The girl was obviously dull-witted. She couldn’t sense his displeasure at all. Instead, she smiled down at him. “Well, Mr Beetle” (her voice came from very far away) “I have saved your life.”

The feet walked away then, obviously not expecting an answer.

The girl, as she continued her way, still smiled. Maybe it had only been a beetle – but she had helped a little thing that would have died. Somehow it made her day seem brighter.

The beetle walked away, too. He did not smile. The beautiful June day was now too hot. The lovely high grass was annoying to look at. His dignity had been crushed by a girl with a ziploc bag. Worst of all, he had to climb the curb and it was a steep bit of climbing.

No, Mr Beetle would not walk that way again. Not for a very, very long time. And certainly never at noon.

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