There must be more efficient ways of ridding a citrus tree of stink bugs than with a vacuum cleaner, but certainly none more satisfying. Thwok, they go as they hurtle up the tube. Thwok, thwok! A slurry of tinkling thwoks as a column of the little orange-backed bugs is sucked up the metal tunnel.
I’m gazing across my desk and out the window as a hearse glides down my street, a seemingly endless parade of cars in its wake. I wonder briefly who has died in this small town, to attract such a crowd. I mentally list the old and the sick, reach no conclusions and return to my work.
The next day I take my usual mid-afternoon ramble with the dogs, out the back gate, across the small village common and down the dirt track to the cemetery. It’s not hard to spot the new grave, still heaped with dirt and strewn with flowers, a small white wooden cross at its head. “Arnna Marie Clarke”, it reads, “aged 45 years”.