Terror on the Ten
By Yevette J. West
My wife Diane and I are taking a road trip to Dallas to attend an Anniversary party. We are on the 10-East crossing the Arizona state line into New Mexico. It’s a hot, early August afternoon—105 degrees according to the dash gauge. Even though we left our cozy place in Bungalow Heaven about 10 hours ago, I’m ready to turn around and head back home. Diane loves road trips and I hate them. We could have sent a card instead of going to the party and taken a mini-vacation within the great State of California. I lost that argument just as I am losing the argument in progress.
“Afraid of bugs?” Diane let this fact she had just learned about me sink in. “My gawd Dominic! You’re kidding me, right? I’ve known you for over 10 years. How did I not know this?”
“That’s why I love California—very few bugs. Besides we all know you’re not afraid of anything Miss Man Hands.” Diane ignored me.
“I’m afraid of some things, but not bugs. I just don’t like them on me, but who does? Anyway, isn’t that an oxymoron—you afraid of bugs? I mean, my gawwd Dominic, you’re grillions of times bigger than insects!”
“You’re an oxymoron, without the oxy.” I tried to be witty…nothin’.
“Wow, you of all people afraid of bugs.” she continued. “I guess we won’t be moving to Florida to retire after all.”
I could feel my face getting hot and although the a/c was on, I let my window down half way to get some fresh air—hot as it was. “I’m not afraid of bugs. I just have a phobia of them. For your information, it’s called entomophobia and it’s a real issue for a lot of people.” Who was I kidding? It was more than an issue. I’m 6′ 4″, 225 pounds, but bugs represent inconceivable horror to me, period.
Just then, as if on cue, something flew in through my half open window and landed in the back seat. A cold chill of dread-fear ran down my spine as I heard—whatever it was—fluttering in the back. Diane didn’t hear it, but my bionic hearing was locked on to the noise.
“I mean the South is full of bugs…” Diane rambled on but all I could focus on was the back seat. The fluttering had stopped and the grip I had on the steering wheel, now slick with perspiration, relaxed slightly. Diane didn’t notice because she was too busy talking…to herself.
The fluttering started again and while scanning the back of the car via the rearview mirror, I saw a giant grasshopper crawling up the back seat towards the rear window. Suddenly, to my horror, it flew towards us and landed on the back of Diane’s seat. I must remain calm…
“So what are you afraid of? They can’t hurt you unless it’s a wasp or something. Everybody’s scared of those things…” Shut up Diane! For crisake don’t you realize there’s a monster on the back of your seat!
“Hey Di, you mind if we turn off the a/c and let the windows down? We’re getting low on gas.” Who gives a shit about gas! Let’s get these damn windows down so that thing can get the hell outta here! I turned off the air conditoner and Diane rolled down her window. As soon as she did, however, another grasshopper flew in and landed in the back seat. Diane didn’t see it, but I, on the other hand, flinched and simultaneously jerked the car noticeably to the left.
“Are you falling asleep? What’s wrong with you?” she asked, annoyed.
“Nothing!” I squeaked. I was visibly sweating now. At that moment the grasshopper on the back of Diane’s seat decided to move closer to the top of her seat. I now had full view of it. I could also see the other grasshopper in the rearview mirror. It was now crawling up the back window. My eyes were straining to watch these two hideous creatures and watch the road. Hold it together man!
“Thank gawd there’s a gas station up there. Pull over Dom, I gotta pee.”
I took the next exit going 80, ignoring the 30-MPH sign. Just as I approached the gas station the grasshopper on Diane’s seat flew at me and landed on my headrest. I let out a gut-wrenching “I’m being attacked by a great white shark!” scream. I hunched my shoulders in an attempt to protect myself and my chin was almost touching the steering wheel. I was holding the wheel so tight my hands were starting to throb.
“Watch out for that old lady!” Diane screeched as I made a hard left into the gas station. She could now see the grasshopper on my headrest. The undeniable look of horror on her face fueled my terror. The other grasshopper jumped from the back window and onto Diane’s head. She didn’t feel it, but I saw it. I completely lost it.
“There’s a grasshopper in your hair!” I shouted so loud I almost choked on the words.
“Ohhh…myyyy…gawwwwwwwd!” Diane screamed as she started waving her arms. It was total chaos in the car—Diane and I screamed and flailed while the two grasshoppers jumped from place to place.
I slammed on the brakes and broke the seatbelt latch in an effort to get out, not realizing the car was still in drive. In a brief moment of clarity I jammed the car in park. I then swung open the door and swan-dived onto the pavement, rolling on the ground as if putting myself out from a fire.
I stopped rolling after about five minutes and, covered with weeds and dirt, I looked up to see a large crowd, including Diane, gazing down at me.
© Copyright 2009 Yevette West. All rights reserved.
Yevette J. West is an aspiring writer, born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She has chosen to showcase her writing for the very first time, using this forum. Yevette resides in Los Angeles and hopes to one day become a screenwriter.