The other day someone told me that locusts (like the kind you read about in the Bible, not the humming cicada kind) are just grasshoppers, except that when they get together in big numbers, they start to frolic and swarm, and the suddenly there’s many billions of them eating their own weight in a day, in clouds many miles long.
I was frightened, but he said not to worry. All the locusts in this part of the world died off for some reason. And I felt better.
A year or three ago, I was in Grandfalls on the way back from some place, and stopped at the Allsups there for fuel.
As someone who went to school in Alpine and still has friends down there, that Allsups is pretty much the only public stop in the 50 miles between Monahans and Fort Stockton. After Fort Stockton, it’s 60 miles of nothing to Alpine.
The Allsups is a popular place, Grandfalls is a fine town, and the D Avenue churches and the elementary school are prettier than you’d expect for a shrinking town the size it is.
But on that night, Grandfalls was covered with all manner of bug, especially grasshoppers of the large variety. To the extent that if I’d just needed food or to answer nature’s call, I might have waited the 15 minutes to make it to Monahans, but my car was actually about to run out of gas, so I had to stop.
When I went inside, thwacked no more than twice, I think, on my 30-foot walk, I told the clerk I imagined I was going to have a fun time filling up.
The no-younger-than-17-but-no-older-than-21 years old woman asked, “Why?”
“Because of the grasshoppers,” I said, handing her my money.
“Oh,” she said, looking at me like I was crazy as she turned on the pump then went back to being busy being bored.
And of course I’d chosen the only pump where the catch didn’t work, so I had to stand next to my car the whole time, right under the very popular lights as everything flying, jumping and crawling congregated to frolic.
(Someone once told me that night-bugs navigate using the moon, so other strong light-sources throw everything off for them. I don’t know if this is true. This isn’t the Outdoors page, and I’m not Michael Price.)
When I finished, either my tank ran out of room for fuel or I’d run out of money to pay for it, I don’t remember, I walked back into the Allsups to use the bathroom’s mirror to check my back. There were indeed several crawling things on me. I got them off.
I asked the clerk on the way out if they’d had a lot of rain there lately.
“No, it’s been like this all summer,” she said. “Some nights they cover the windows black and nobody even comes in.”
“So this is a good night,” I said. And she shrugged.