Crime and Punishment

She swept in, piercing his calf with scissor-like mandibles, spreading the blades to sever capillaries. At the same instant, a quick injection of burning saliva, to make the blood flow. Her plan, to zoom away with the prize before he knew what hit him.


Sadly for her, she was dealing with the lightning reflexes of my husband.  Which is how she ended up under my magnifying glass.  A greenhead was she, horse fly of coastal marshes.


Her pain is over, and my husband’s is abating.


Reminds me of the time something flew into our son’s blond hair. Instinct bade him grab it, whereupon it unrolled its sucking mouthpart and gave his finger such pain as to light up the neighborhood with his screams.  They don’t call it assassin bug for nothing.


As with the greenhead, the encounter ended badly for the bug. Which is how it came to be under a magnifying glass.  Which is how we know what it was.


I will say this: the burning agent of an assassin bug is meant to liquefy its hard-shelled insect prey, for ease of consumption.  It didn’t intend to liquefy David. It was simply defending itself.


Whereas, the greenhead acted with malice. At least from the perspective of a human leg.


She would say on the stand that she needed that blood, just a few drops, to make more greenheads.

Author: Phoebe Dishman

Phoebe H. Dishman was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. An essayist and poet, she teaches adult Sunday school, compiles a monthly prayer calendar, edits the Big Thicket Association quarterly bulletin, and keeps a keen eye and ear open for birds.

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