November 7, 2014

I was sitting in the Mehlville Dairy on Route 3 this afternoon, eating peanut M&M’s and Skittles with Greg and Rachel, when in walked Worm Wrangler, a good looking, shave-headed, forty-something black man. He loaded up a refrigerator with red wigglers and night crawlers then stopped to chat.

And since my readers have inquiring minds, I’ll happily inculcate you with some worm facts. Night crawlers can live thirteen or more years, reds slightly less. Worms do not smell; they are among the cleanest of living organisms. They have brains; the nerds wear glasses just like us. They like to screw—like us. Twenty worms in Worm Wrangler’s worm pit will become thirty thousand worms in less than a year.

Worm Wrangler feeds his charges organic vegetable waste only. In other words, they eat better than we do and have super low cholesterol. Which is a good thing,because placing a heart stent in a worm is, as my cardiologist put it, “gnarly.” They survived last year’s horrid winter without even a cover being placed on the worm pit. Change the “o” to an “a” and you have “warm.”

Worms come in United Nations red and grey and white and purple. Just like us, they embrace this multiculturalism. Interracial dating is encouraged and gay worm marriage is legal across the country.

Does Worm Wrangler have a wish? Yes. He’d like to be able to offer his customers Canadian night crawlers, the largest worms in the Americas. Alas, Canadians don’t like the USA. Plus, Canadian worms get free health insurance, something Worm Wrangler can’t afford.

Raising worms is a multi-billion dollar industry. Annually, Altonians and Godfreyites and Jerseyvillians and Graftoners buy thousands of dollars of worms, to catch tens of dollars of fish. Raccoons and coyotes dine regularly at Worm Wrangler’s worm pit, apparently mistaking it for a steak house.

Worm Wrangler has held baby worms in his hands. They hatch from eggs and look like tiny pieces of white thread. You can tell boy worms from girl worms because boy worms like trucks and girl worms have camel toes.

“The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out.” I have decided to donate my body to Worm Wrangler for use in the worm pit. I have promised him I will go vegan to raise my organic profile. Scout the Cat, who can read my mind, is staring at me as I write. She’s afraid we are a package deal.

Of course, it ends badly for the worms. They get hooked, if you know what I mean. Until then they lead the good life, sunshine and daffodils and lollypops and rotting lima beans. The more educated worms memorize passages from the Gettysburg Address and recite them to would be anglers, who sob and “let my people go.”

Oddly, worms like opera. Rachel and Greg and I watched and listened in astonishment as Worm Wrangler’s ‘kids’ sang “The Anvil Chorus.”

You will never meet a peace loving worm. War, as one night crawler put, “tastes too good.”

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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