by Joel Haas
I make animals for the garden. “Whimsical,” most people call them, though they look real enough to me. I suppose “real animals” would look pretty whimsical to a Martian. Owls, hummingbirds, butterflies, cats, and flies would look pretty whimsical if you’d never seen one before.
God is pretty whimsical.
800,000 species of beetles, for crying out loud! Hard shelled creatures with sloshy yellow blood breathing through their six legs??!!? And here’s another thing. Fish! Fish breathe underwater through their gills which are where you’d expect there’d be ears. Sound travels best underwater and God blows off giving fish ears!!!???
And talk about a product merchandising nightmare….BATS!!!
Can you imagine going to Jehovah, CEO of The Universe Unltd., to pitch a concept like bats? !
So, The Almighty and the arch-angels are doing a power lunch at the Four Seasons and God wants to know what’s on tap for the Spring mesozoic collection.
“Hey, Big J.,” Gabriel trumpets, “have I got a high concept for you!”
“Talk to me, Gabe, baby, but make it snappy. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not have all the time in the world.”
“You’re gonna love it!” Gabriel scoots back his chair and whips out his horn and a few charts.
“Enough with the horn already,” arch- angel Michael grumbled. “Save it for the ad campaign.”
“Spill it,” God agreed, airily conjuring lit cigars and brandy all around.
“Sure,” Gabriel said. “Think mice. Think blind mice. Think blind mice with wings!”
The Almighty’s brow furrowed in puzzlement. “This is not another one of your hare-brained schemes like marsupials or nipples on men is it?”
“No! No!,” Gabriel insisted, “This addresses a real need with a real product solution. Think blind mice with wings and huge ears!!!”
“What keeps’em from running into stuff?” arch-angel Michael asked.
“They scream,” Gabe beamed. “It’s a real high-pitched scream only stray dogs and burglar alarms can detect.”
Everybody around the table looked at Gabe blankly. “Don’t you see?”
Gabe continued, “They scream and the noise bounces off stuff and comes back to them! That’s why they’ve got the big ears!”
“Sort of like Sonar in “Run Silent, Run Deep,” God exclaimed.
“Exactly!” Gabe beamed. The Boss had caught on without his prompting. He was going to get backing for his project after all.
“But…why?” arch-angel George insisted. “We know it flies around screaming so nobody can hear it and not bump into things, but what does it do?”
“Bugs. Eats flying bugs.” Gabriel, folding his wings and arms, leaned back--triumphant. Now was the time for icing on the cake.
“And since it doesn’t need to see to fly, it can patrol for flying insects night or day.!”
“Pretty ingenious,” the other arch-angels muttered glumly. Gabe was going to get the green light for this project and they could see their own budgets being cut or frozen.
“What sort of habitat and lifestyle have you got laid out for these things?” God asked.
Gabe cleared his throat. “Well,” he began, “ They’re pretty small and we need them in large numbers to be effective, so I figure they’ll live in large colonies hanging upside down in caves, crapping all over themselves and the creatures below them.”
“Charming,” arch-angel Michael sniffed.
“Can’t be helped,” Gabe answered cheerily. “Caves are a natural landfill anyway.”
A low roll of thunder shook the head of the table. Turning, the angels saw The Almighty’s visage darken.
“Flying day or night?” Jehovah rumbled, his beard glowing like a burning bush.
“Er…yes…quite,” Gabe felt a nervous sweat break out along his wings and forehead.
“Beetles fly during the day,” God thundered. “They’d eat a lot of beetles.”
“Why, yes, they would,” arch-angel Michael agreed. “Yes, yes.” The others chimed in, seeing their opening to kill Gabriel’s project. A lifetime’s close study of the universe could only yield one certain fact about The Almighty, as J.B.S. Haldane had noted –God is uncommon fond of beetles.
With over 800,000 species known and Jehovah cobbling together a few more every week-end, Gabriel realized he had just messed with The Boss’ favorite project.
“Day or night…” Gabe started in hasty desperation, “ What I meant was, which do you prefer? Sir? Ma’am? Your Whateverness?”
“Well, I…hmm…” God pondered.
“You never really liked those night-flying beetles.” Gabe ventured. “You know, the ones with the glowing butts.”
“Weeeellll….yeeeessss” The Almighty mused. “Never did think that was really quite aesthetically pleasing. If anything were going to have a glowing rear-end so they could roam around in the dark screwing each other, it should have been lawyers….not my beetles.”
“That’s perfect, Your Whateverness!” Gabe sensed he’d saved the situation. “We can have these creatures only fly around at night when they’ll eat mosquitoes, fireflies, and moths! You never did much like moths either!”
“True enough,” God rumbled, swallowing the last of the brandy. “See to getting these things worked up, Gabe, and spread them out over the face of the Earth as you see fit.”
Which is how we got a screeching, blind, night-flying rat that eats bugs and hangs upside down to shit on itself.
“We shouldn’t have to bear all these costs of internal development,” arch-angel Michael complained while putting on his celestial robes and picking up harp and halo at the hat-check counter . He slapped his halo on angrily. “If moths were such a problem, we could have at least gotten an outside contractor bid from Orkin. The Purchasing Department is never consulted in these cases!”