My big brother hates Palmetto bugs!
OK, I guess nobody really likes Palmetto bugs, but my brother David hates 'em like Bush hates Saddam; like Red Sox fans hate the Yankees.
Fact is, he's scared of 'em! I mean, if he sees one, he's sure-to-God going to try to kill it; and if he does manage to subdue it, he won't pick up the remains unless he's got six layers of paper towel between him and that dead-or-dying bug.
And Heaven help us if one gets away. David'll bring out the insecticide and hose down half a room! The only thing that gets gassed successfully is Mom and Dad and me, but that don't stop David from trying.
He used to chase the big ones with a heavy-duty fly swatter and just smack and smack at 'em until, after about eight smacks, the poor ol' bug would finally give up the ghost. Palmetto bugs are hard to kill. Just forget about hitting them with a rolled-up newspaper. They're like the Superman of bugs! They'll take a licking and keep on kicking. And they move lightning-fast, so if you smack 'em with just paper, they aren't even stunned.
They'll just take off running and -- boom! -- Gone.
It's hard to sneak up on 'em, too. David was always trying to get within smacking range, and often as not, he'd fail.
But human beings (even my brother) are smarter than Palmetto bugs, and David finally found a sure-fire way to eradicate one. It was kind of a WMD for roaches.
David was reading a book one night, just sitting on the couch, there, in our living room, and along comes one of those Palmettos he hates so bad. It was a big sucker, too -- over an inch long and ugly as Karl Rove on a bad-hair day.
The fly-swatter was nowhere in sight, and David knew that if he got up and tried to pound that creature with just his newspaper, it would surely escape. So, from a four-foot distance and with suitable elevation, David sailed that
hard-cover book he was reading like it was a Frisbee, and, sure enough, it landed flat and square on that bug and took him out, pretty as you please!
Well, it made for a messy corpse, and some brownish gunk had to be wiped off the book cover with one of them anti-bacterial disposables, but that bug never knew what hit him! No fuss, no muss. (Well, there was some muss, but anyway, it was a clean kill.)
After that, ol' David got where he'd keep a book close by whether he was actually reading it or not, as it was obviously the weapon of choice in the Palmetto Wars. It worked like a charm, because the impact of book-on-bug was way more severe than any number of swatter-swats, and because -- evidently -- the bug radar that normally helped Palmettos to know when David was coming didn't work that well against flying books. The bug would generally just sit there, thinking its bug thoughts, until suddenly, it was over.
Well, we went on a week-long vacation trip to Pinetree Lake, down past Atlanta, and we had bedrooms on the main floor, Mom and Dad on the one side, and me on the other, off the Great Room of our A-frame cottage. But David -- The Wheel -- he got to sleep upstairs, in the loft!
It was neat up there! You could see out the big windows that covered the whole front side of the cottage. Even when the drapes were pulled downstairs, David could look out and see the lake from his bed.
The cottage was a fun place, but it had a lot more bugs in it than we had back home. You might see a Palmetto twice a month at home, but in this country cottage, there were quite a few of them, and they kept ol' David busy.
He used the Book Trick that week to send several of them little bastards to Bug Heaven. The Georgia Palmettos weren't any smarter than the Carolina ones, and David had gotten so good at book-tossing that they were practically an endangered species.