This story of short fiction thew big bug invasion in Tecumseh when a giant sculpture is erected to attract tourists and the disappearance of the Iron Man. #short fiction #sculpture #Tecumseh #Indiana
The Big Bug Invasion
Nobody in Tecumseh is sure about who came up with the idea. The only thing the citizens of the small Indiana city knew for sure was a giant praying mantis was being built on the corner of Monroe and Grant streets.
When word got out about the bug construction, everybody thought it was a joke. A crowd gathered the first morning a large pile of scrap metal appeared on Grant Street on a flatbed trailer. John Wilkes, a retired city worker, told the folks gathered on the corner he knew for a fact some of the parts from an old stoplight arm vanished from out behind the city garage.
They’d been laying around rusting for years. Buster Bradley said he thought the rest of it was from the old water tower they tore down over on Buckeye Street five years ago.
The citizenry wasn’t sure how they felt about having a giant green eyesore hanging out near downtown. It wasn’t like Tecumseh was the most scenic place on earth. The members of the city council weren’t ignorant of the citizen’s complaints. The Mayor ordered his cronies to get ahead of the uproar. They released a statement saying no city funds were used in the construction of the giant bug.
The materials were being donated from scrap the city needed to get rid of anyway. A local philanthropist was paying a renowned and unknown artist an exorbitant fee to design and construct the praying mantis.
The city leadership has gone off their rockers
The old guys at the liar’s table over at the Cup & Spoon jumped on the chance to have some fun at the cities expense. If they could make a little money along the way so much the better. The gentlemen passed the hat until they had enough funds to take out a full-page ad in the Tecumseh Times in which they suggested the entire city leadership had gone off their rockers.
They started a series of betting pools with a definite Mantis theme. They placed bets on several things such as how long it would take to construct the giant bug and the identity of the mysterious donor. Luther Pigg III functioned as the pool’s bookie.
The rest of the grumpy old men handed over their money and waited for disaster. The betting ended on July 4th because Luther spent all the gambling money on beer. Rumor spread through town there was a price on Mr. Pigg’s head.
If you make a big green bug, people will come.
Construction on the Mantis ended a month early. The bug project completed ahead of schedule for the first time in Tecumseh’s history. City workers spent two weeks painting the giant metal bug green. (You know how slow city works move.) A ribbon-cutting ceremony complete with a bottle of champaign took place on a Tuesday. The giant green sculpture given the name of the Tecumseh Mantis became the cities official mascot. The nig bug evasion had begun. The Mayor made a speech in which he declared the Tecumseh Mantis would bring tourists to their small mid-west city.
These visitors would spend money in the community when they came to stimulating the city’s sluggish economy. Kids posed for pictures beside the bugs large feet. Indeed, everyone had a good time
The Mayor’s prediction came true. People did travel to Tecumseh to take pictures of the giant green bug. The grouchy old men over at the Cup & Spoon lost money betting the praying mantis idea would be a disaster.
The Iron Man’s gone missing
Therefore, the big bug invasion became so successful the city leaders contracted for a bumblebee and a spider sculpture. The scheduled erection of these monstrosities would take place of the summer. The obstacle standing in the way of Tecumseh ‘s dedication to the promotion of bug art being Andy Anderson’s hideous Iron Man. The giant metal sentinel stood in front of his plumbing business on Grant Street two blocks down from the Tecumseh Mantis
They passed an ordinance making it illegal for any sculpture on the main drag of the city to be anything not in the shape of a bug. Andy wasn’t happy when they served him the papers. He shouted something about it still being a free country before he slammed his office door in the sheriff’s face.
The ladies were minding their own business
Two weeks after Andy got served the cease and desist papers, he went to visit the ladies at The Hen House. They were minding their own business going about the daily work routine when he showed up at the shop. The ladies managed to stay out of the bug controversy.
It was in their best interest to keep a low profile after their brief exposure to fame. Indeed, they rescued their men while bringing down the biggest drug ring Tecumseh had ever seen. Andy was bashful about approaching them with his proposition, but he had no choice. The Iron Man had vanished from his post outside the plumbing company sometime during the night. He had to get him back. He’d heard The Hen House ladies were good at finding people.
They were so good at locating Chopper’s bail jumpers they earned a reputation as bounty hunters nobody could hide from. Andy approached the front counter and a full-figured woman turned to him. She said, “Can I help you with something? Or are you going to stand there with your hat in your hand? You better hurry up and say what you got to say. I got work to do.”
Andy didn’t care if the woman had a surly attitude. Andy wanted to find Iron Man before he became scrap metal in one of the city’s big bug projects.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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