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Short stories

Bugman

“It’s a problem,” says the bugman, “but I can solve it.”  He leans over the marble countertop and takes a closer inspection of the problem. The problem recoils. “Do you leave your windows open all night?” We shake our heads. The bugman tuts loudly. “You must have left the back door open and it sneaked in. You would be amazed how fast they can be.” The bugman swabs his brow and then pokes the problem.  It remains steadfast and taciturn. Next, he shows us his equipment. The bugman is proud of his equipment.  “This stuff was designed to kill terrorists.” (I think the bugman is exaggerating.) “It’s the best on the market.” (I believe him.) “It never fails. Made by the Government.” (I could laugh.) “They pop like popcorn.” My wife claps her hands and cheers. The problem moans. “Did you hear that?” says the bugman. “They’re obsequious and sycophantic. You could keep it as a pet.”  “No,” I say. The wife would, I know her, she would. “No,” I reiterate. “Too expensive, too much trouble,” says the bugman, “I understand.”  I nod. The problem in the cupboard moans, almost too theatrically. I need a drink. The glasses are above the problem. I point. It reaches up. “To the left,” I say.  It hands me a glass. I go to the sink and pour water into the glass. The bugman starts to whistle. The problem groans. I go into the front room. I can’t watch. I sit on the sofa and turn on television. My wife joins me. I turn up the volume and then we hold hands. The news is on, the economy is booming. I sip the water. The old man in the kitchen, wedged in the cupboard, of his own choosing, screams and screams.

Paul Kavanagh

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