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Something Wicked. . .


October 30, 1998|William G. Schweizer | * Schweizer, 51, is a lawyer. He lives in Aliso Viejo

Is there anything scarier than waking up just before the alarm sounds to find that during the night, through no fault of your own, you have become a moth?

You look at your pajamas lying flat and empty on the bed as you sit on the pillow and wonder why you now have antennae.

Just as the full awareness of this new persona becomes complete, your moth brain is assaulted by fumes that burn like a smoggy day in the Basin.

That cough drop that you spat into a dish on the night table before going to bed last night is spewing shimmering waves of mentholated gases, which twist around inside your insect cranium. Their long molecules intertwine until a wall between the mind and the wings begins to form. Just before total paralysis occurs, in a desperate bid to survive you flutter your wings once and then again and because you weigh what an eyelash weighs you ascend immediately and the danger recedes.

You are airborne. You strafe the clock radio just for kicks.

Almost immediately you realize what it is to be a moth and not a human. All previous needs have been supplanted by one overwhelming compulsion, wool in any form, but preferably a sweater or skirt.

In need of breakfast to the closet you rush. Interrupting your dreams of cashmere, a ripple of gravity kidnaps you like the sun kidnaps a comet and instantly you are whirling around the lightbulb that your still-human wife has switched on as she begins to get ready for her day.

Like an electron you plunge in captive orbit around the light. You are a new particle, an insectron. And occasionally your poor little head (still aching from the menthol) bangs against the bulb, which is most aggravating. Your powdery wings are toasting and you wish, but too late, that you had applied sun-block before going to bed last night.

At what seems like your millionth revolution your wife sees you. Rescue! You shout her name "Hilda" but it comes out in moth language and inaudible to the human ear. She notices you but sees only a threat to her sweater collection.

In an eyeblink there is a rolled newspaper in her hand. The Times. You see the headline but half the words are missing as they wrap around out of sight. Even so, the news that you can read fascinates you. As you focus on the words trying to discern their meaning the print gets bigger and bigger and too late you realize the paper baton is about to meet your little moth head with no air bag in between. "Oh the humanity!"

Alone in the darkness you see a flickering candle flame, which grows smaller and smaller and finally disappears.

Because you are a moth and not human there is nothing further, no afterlife, no reincarnation. You end as a moist, dusty blot on the Metro section. Your wife, still not recognizing you in your altered state (now considerably flatter), with a long plastic fingernail methodically scrapes you off the page in order to read the winning Lotto numbers. She has won $5, which she will spend on chocolate.

Your dog, previously forbidden to do so, immediately climbs up onto your green leather armchair curiously confident that you will not return to correct him.

Tomorrow at work your chief rival will glide his car into your reserved parking place and after two weeks he will regard it as permanently his.

Don't you just hate days like these?

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