Johnny America


Flour Moth/Luna Moth


Nico­la made an un­wel­come dis­cov­ery in­side the can­is­ter of Ital­ian-sea­soned bread crumbs: moths. Three flew out, one fly­ing di­rect­ly up and hit­ting her on the chin, be­fore she snapped the plas­tic lid back in place.

“What the hell?” she said, be­cause: how did those get in there? When was the lid off those bread crumbs long enough for lar­vae to be in­volved? Though per­haps it hap­pens very fast. She tossed the cylin­der across the room and in­to the trash can. “Tyler,” she said, “how long does it take for a moth to lay eggs?”

Tyler head­ed to the set of En­cy­clo­pe­dia Brit­tan­i­cas and grabbed the M vol­ume. He set­tled on­to the floor, a look of grave con­cen­tra­tion on his face. “M.…o…” he mut­tered, flip­ping through the pages. The en­try on moths had sev­er­al il­lus­tra­tions, in­clud­ing one full-col­or pho­to of a Lu­na Moth with love­ly pale green wings.

“Ah,” he said even­tu­al­ly. “It does­n’t say. Should I check on the internet?”

“Maybe lat­er; right now I need you to run to the store and get some bread crumbs for me.”


“Yes, that’s right.”

“Like what hap­pens when you eat toast?”


“You can buy them at the store? Does some­one save them from their toast?”

“Well, no…” Nico­la start­ed. “They make them spe­cial, for peo­ple to buy…” Tyler was look­ing at her skep­ti­cal­ly. “See, they al­so have spices in them.”

“There could be spices on the toast when they eat it…”

“No, it would take too many peo­ple eat­ing too much toast to make that many crumbs. They just dry out a bunch of bread and then crush it all up.”

“And peo­ple pay mon­ey for that?”

“They do, and in fact you’re about to, on my behalf.”

“Okay. But I dis­agree on principle.”

“I can live with that.” Nico­la pulled the con­tain­er of bread crumbs from the trash and showed it to him. “Get this kind, understood?”

“Sure, sure,” Tyler said, tak­ing the five dol­lar bill she of­fered. He had a ge­nius-lev­el IQ and knew it, which made him slop­py about day-to-day things like pur­chas­ing products.

Nico­la stared af­ter him as he walked down the dri­ve­way, feet crunch­ing the dry leaves col­lect­ed on ei­ther side. The meat­balls could progress no fur­ther un­til he got back, so she un­corked a bot­tle of wine and sat down on the Berber car­pet­ing. The en­cy­clo­pe­dia was still open to the pho­to of the Lu­na Moth. She pulled it to­wards her, tak­ing a drink from the bot­tle. Then she read the en­try start-to-fin­ish, so she could know at least one of the things her son knew.

Filed under Fiction on October 26th, 2006

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