The Square Peg - You ate WHAT?!
© S, Bradley Stoner
I was picking up my mail, minding my own business, just happy to be back home for a spell. I wasn't paying any attention. I guess I should have. I didn't hear footsteps... damn sneakers! "Hey! I haven't seen ya for a couple of weeks... where ya been hidin'," Bingo Bob boomed, nearly causing me to jump out of my sneakers.
"Holy crap, Bob! Don't sneak up on me like that! I could've killed you... or worse, you could've given me a freaking heart attack!"
"Sorry," Bob mumbled, but he really wasn't. A grin kept twitching at his mouth and he was barely able to contain it. "So whatcha been up to? Holed up writin' that novel?"
I could have b.s.ed him, but I figured he'd already heard something on the neighborhood grapevine. This isn't an easy place to keep secrets. "Nope... I was out of country."
Bob's eyes went wide. Apparently somebody had nipped the grapevine before it got to Bob. "Seriously? Where'd ya go?"
"Took a cruise to Central America and Mexico."
Now, one thing you need to understand... after talking to Duncan Donutz one too many times, Bob is convinced that anybody who goes to Central America is bringing back drugs or some other form of contraband. He eyed me suspiciously. "What'd you go there for?"
"For pleasure of course."
"I dunno, I've heard things..."
"I'm sure you have... you've gotta quit believing everything Duncan tells you. Not everybody who visits there is a drug lord or a mule. Some folks just go to see the sights, enjoy the culture, and sample the local cuisine."
"So where in Central America did you go exactly?" I could feel Bob building up to the third degree and I didn't have the time, or the inclination.
"Well, after two days of sailing, we stopped at Isla Roatan off the Honduran coast. Just wandered around and did a little shopping there. Then we stopped at Belize the next day... well, we actually anchored offshore and took a launch to Belize City where we caught a bus for a tour of some Mayan ruins near the Guatemalan border. That was kind of the highlight of our trip. Heck, I even tried some Belizian Tic Tacs while I was there."
"Belizian Tic Tacs? How are they different from American Tic Tacs?"
"Well, first off, they crawl."
"They crawl... and they live in a big cellulose nest."
"Now you're puttin' me on!"
"Nope... they're termites that feed on a local variety of mint. Pop a few of those and you not only get a little protein, you're breath is minty fresh," I smiled, knowing Bob's aversion to eating anything that didn't come from our local grocery store, not to mention his dislike of bugs... a dislike that bordered on hatred fueled by some primeval fear of things with six or more legs.
"Termites?" he spat incredulously, "termites? Did I hear you correctly?!"
"Yep, but you have to chew them up real well or they'll try to crawl back up your throat," I was delighting in watching Bob's discomfort grow. He even stifled a retch.once or twice, so I cranked it up a little. "Yep... you just poke a hole in that nest with your finger, stick it inside, and the little buggers swarm over your finger. Then you just pop your finger in your mouth, suck them off, and chew real fast. Their heads are a little crunchy, but the bodies are soft. Just like Tic Tacs, but a bit stronger on the mint."
Bob's eyes glazed a bit, and he turned just a little green. "I... um... gotta go..." he retched.
"But wait! I still haven't told you what we had in Mexico..."
Bob began trotting away. Mission accomplished.