"So, as I said, it's been, umm, three nights and I really have to, ummm, get some, sleep," Henry said. The dark circles under his eyes attested to the truth of his words. Henry cast a sidelong glance at the exterminator next to him.
"I told you not to look at me," the exterminator, who had introduced himself as Thor, said in a stage whisper.
Henry immediately faced his eyes forward. "I know, I apologize, it's just, well, is the suit really necessary?"
"Do I tell you how to do your job?"
"No, no, you're right, of course," Henry replied. Still, the giant foam antenna, the brown body armor with foam legs and plastic wings, the large goggles, he couldn't help but wonder if Thor wasn't taking his job a little too far.
As if reading his mind, the exterminator said, "The illusion must be infallible. Crickets are the Einsteins of the insect world. He must be convinced that I am his comrade. It is a chess match, with feints and double feints."
"In that case, won't the size difference tip him off?" asked Henry.
After a moment's silence, Thor replied, "Look, I can leave right now. I've got plenty of other customers who want to take advantage of my expertise."
"No, no, I'm sorry. You come highly recommended." Though, now that Henry thought about it, his friends really loved to play practical jokes.
"You say you've been hearing him behind the fridge?"
"Okay, you can leave, I'll take it from here."
Henry did a quick mental calculation of the pros and cons of leaving Thor alone in a room with access to knives and other sharp implements, but he needed the cricket gone.
Henry sat in his recliner in the living room and started reading the biography of Thomas Jefferson he had downloaded for his Kindle.
After a few minutes he heard the grating, nerve racking chirp of the cricket. Try as hard as he could, he couldn't stay focused on his book.
He sneeked a peek into the kitchen. The chirping stopped. The exterminator was sitting on the floor.
Henry was immediatly ashamed. "I'm sorry, did I scare it away?" The thought that the cricket had escaped because of him and the spectar of another sleepless night brought Henry nearly to tears.
"You didn't scare it away," Thor replied, obviously annoyed at the interruption.
"Oh, I thought I heard it."
"That was me," Thor said, refusing to look at Henry.
Henry was taken aback. "Really, it sounded very realistic. How did you do that?"
The exterminator finally looked at Henry. "Do you really want to know?"
There was something about Thor's wild, eager eyes that gave Henry paused. "No, probably not."
"Good, it's a trade secret anyway. If I told you I would have had to kill you. Now, if you don't mind, if he seems me fraternizing with humans he'll never trust me."
"Oh, right, ok," Henry retreated back to the living room. The chirping began again.
Henry wondered what the chirps really meant. He wondered if Thor remembered which side he was on. Henry had a vision of the goggled exterminator laughing as he rode a carpet of crickets to take over the world.
Henry shook his head. Madness.
Suddenly he became aware of an entire chorus of chirps coming from his kitchen. It sounded as if an entire army of crickets were in there.
Henry was tempted to go peek again. But then he remembered Thor's eyes.
He scribbled a note and left it on the coffee table. Had to go get groceries. Please leave a bill and see yourself out. Henry
Henry resolved to get a motel room and a good nights sleep.
THE END copyright 2013 John Lance