I don’t mean to impose myself on your time; after all, I am only a lowly inchworm, and I don’t even have a name of my own, like all you human beings do. I assume I must have had a mother and a father, although I don’t have a close, personal relationship with them: I don’t even know who they were or whether they are still alive. I can only picture my father leaning back after an anonymous night of passion with my mother, smoking a cigarette, and saying to her “So, you come here often?” or “Was it good for you, baby?”
Do you know much about us inchworms? No? Well, we’re a pretty hearty species, known principally for our distinctive gait. Despite the name, we’re actually only about a quarter of an inch long, and we tend to swarm, especially around sources of food. When we’re not engaging in swarming activity, though, we find sleeping accommodations almost anywhere, but our favorite place to hang our hats is in your bathrooms, preferably under the rim of your toilet seats. In fact, I myself own one such glass-enclosed condo over in Lucca, Italy.
We’re not fussy about what we’ll eat, like some of you human beings are. Just give us access to some organic garbage in that narrow time slot between when it’s put in the can and when it’s taken out to the curb, and I’ll tell you we’re as happy as a pig in a blanket. In fact the more rancid and odorous it is, the more we like it. Not that we’re picky eaters, mind you, but if I could speak on behalf of the whole inchworm community, I would venture to say that our favorite dish is leftover rotten orange slices. Hey! I see you out there rolling your eyes and turning your noses up at such delicacies, thinking, “I wouldn’t eat such garbage.” And that word “garbage, “ suggesting it’s some lesser form of nutrition – I mean, like what’s up with that? Listen, I’m frankly nauseated by the thought of steak and potatoes, but I don’t tell you what to eat.
Even though we’re a peace-loving organism, we’re persecuted tirelessly by you human beings and since there are more of us than there are of you, I guess that makes us the Persecuted Majority. There are always random, isolated killings of us inchworms every day based solely on our membership in the inchworm species, but that, by itself, isn’t what gets me riled up. Sometimes bad things happen to good inchworms, and we just need to accept that as part of life. What I’ve got a problem with, though, is the lack of accountability. I mean, how many human beings ever stand trial for their murderous deeds? Are their murders even investigated? Some human beings appear to regard inchworm hunting as a spectator sport.
In the absence of adequate protection by law enforcement authorities, we’re forced to develop self –defense mechanisms of our own. Every adult inchworm is naturally endowed with two such mechanisms. First is the Rope-A-Dope feature, whereby a fellow inchworm, inching along, minding its own business, can respond to any disturbance in its immediate surrounding area by instantly curling up into a ball, going limp, and falling to the floor. The obscure location of its fall can then usually restrict its accessibility from the probing fingers of any meddlesome human being. And second, we can implement supernatural defense by exercising our reincarnation option, trading in our physical beings as earthbound inchworms and coming back as inchworm moths. As each of us is endowed with only one such option, we will usually choose to exercise it only when facing the prospect of our imminent demise, since the transformation option is irreversible. The other relevant aspect of the reincarnation option is that, although we are called inchworm moths, conjuring up an image of graceful flying entities with lofty elegant wing structures, we would more accurately be characterized as inchworm gnats, a prospect much less tantalizing.
Sometime in August, the owners of the apartment that encloses my condo entered into a lease with two American human beings. We inchworms have always had a love-hate relationship with those owners: On the one hand, they enclose orange slices as artwork in our rectangular community center. But then, they expose us to grave danger by leasing out their digs to a long line of possibly psychopathic human beings.
The exact date of the attack is indelibly etched in my memory: On September 2, 2016 – a date that will live in infamy – the inchworm community center was suddenly and deliberately attacked by these two lumbering human beings. While a sizable number of unsuspecting inchworms were lounging around the toilet, they conspired to flush the entire contents of our community center – a cache of orange slices and all those innocent inchworm bystanders in the prime of their lives—down the toilet to perish as collateral damage in that great tomb that knows no sound.
Most of those poor lost souls were playing possum, relaxing and resting their eyes when those cowardly human beings launched their attack, so the inchworms never had a chance to implement either of our defense strategies. Of course, Rope-A-Doping would not have had a chance to be effective in the wake of such a sudden, willful wholesale slaughter; and there wasn’t time to implement the reincarnation option, even if those lost souls didn’t mind being transformed into gnats.
That reminds me: How about you? Do you believe in reincarnation? I know I do, not just because I own that option by virtue of being an inchworm, but I believe in the concept of reincarnation and have faith in its reality. It was the underlying theme of the song called “The Highwayman”, written and performed by the singing group called “The Highwaymen.” This group of four human beings, each a big singing star in his own right, each sang one stanza –a highwayman murderer and thief, a sailor, a dam builder, and a starship flyer – and each recounts the circumstances of his death and asserts that he will come back again. There is also the idea that these four human beings are connected to each other so that although the first one was the highwayman, the fourth one speculates that he may become a highwayman again. He also hypothesizes that he may even be a single drop of rain, which strikes me as less satisfying, because of the ephemeral nature of such an incarnation, unless that single drop is the early warning indicator of an approaching thunderstorm.
In any event, the concept holds out the possibility of engineering a separation of our physical bodies from our immortal souls, usually only the hope of elderly human beings suffering from incurable illnesses (the so-called Geezer community), but we inchworms also have a vested interest in seeing such a solution implemented as well. It should be apparent to everyone that reincarnation is not just wishful thinking. It’s just simple arithmetic: There have been virtually an infinite number of physical bodies living relatively short lifetimes since the beginning of time, but there are only a finite number of souls or personality types. The only logical conclusion is that there must be a significant amount of soul recycling going on. Under these circumstances, our souls would be freed from the constraints of their immediate physical reality and thus be free to relocate invisibly to other locations and other time periods. My only concern arises from the inherent intra-species restrictions imposed on the process. Why couldn’t there be inter-species reincarnation, so that I could come back as a human being and Donald Trump could come back as an inchworm? I intend to lobby the powerful Rules Committee of my legislature, the Diet of Inchworms, to have this rule amended so that this new modification becomes the law of the land.
When that human being duo launched its assault, I was out of town and didn’t witness the actual bloodbath, but reliable eyewitnesses later testified to the cause of the vacant community center. And afterwards, the deadly pair set about hunting down and eliminating the handful of us brave inchworms on whom they had not yet satisfied their blood lust. They augmented that murderous surgical strike which dispatched so many of our companions to inchworm heaven by staking out our usual toilet seat hangouts to lay traps for us. Why, just yesterday, they cornered my close associate, IW, and squished him with a rolled-up magazine, and this morning, I spotted a handcrafted wanted poster with my picture on it. I hear voices and footsteps. I know they’re coming for me next.
“You’ll never take me alive, you dirty human beings!” I cried just before pulling the ripcord on my reincarnation option.
Editor’s note: the corpse of an anonymous inchworm “moth” was discovered in Lucca, Italy on the afternoon of September 6, 2016.