Mark Kaufman

Lately, Jim had begun to count everything. The number of piss-soaked peanuts and pretzels in tavern snack bowls. The number of women, passing by him on the streets and in the malls, whom he wanted to fuck. The much smaller number of women who wanted to fuck him.

But mostly, he'd been counting the number of insects, particularly grasshoppers, that he'd killed during his youth. Of course, there were far too many grasshoppers in the world for Jim to have been considered genocidal, but he'd definitely been a mass murderer and a mad torturer. He supposed he could have built a real goddamn 747 from the wings and legs he'd torn from grasshopper bodies.

"I once set fire to a grasshopper," he told his therapist. "It hopped twice before it sizzled and died. Does that make me evil?"

"Do you want to kill grasshoppers now?" she asked him.

"No," he said. "In fact, I feel terrible about it. But how do you apologize to a grasshopper?"

When he got home that night, Jim stepped into his dark apartment, locked the door, and turned on the light to see his walls, floor, and ceiling thrumming with grasshoppers.

Were they real or ghosts? Jim didn't know, but he made the sign of the cross, closed his eyes, and stepped into the swarm. recommended