Sometimes a sight is so odd and curious that a writer can’t help but identify the perfect metaphor
There’s a river trail not all that far from my house that I like to ride my bike along during the summer and fall. Because of a nearby field, grasshoppers often end up on that trail…where they’re sometimes turned into roadkill by the cyclists who speed along the pavement.
This fate is bestowed on more than a few of these little guys, and what I’ve long found fascinating about the frequent display of carnage is that the survivors’ love for their fallen comrades lasts well beyond the grave.
What do I mean by that? Well let’s just say that when it comes to mating, male grasshoppers are apparently just as content to get it on with dead partners as they are the live ones. For practically every flattened corpse on the trail, there’s a healthy grasshopper riding on its back (or what’s left of its back), and hoping for the best result.
With their attention focused on what’s below them, rather than what’s above them, they leave themselves prone to the same gruesome fate as their partners. Hence, double-stack grasshopper-cakes.
As a writer, this behavior struck me as the perfect metaphor for a theme I was incorporating into the manuscript for Broken Slate (book three in the Sean Coleman Thriller series). Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3, where I lay the groundwork. This seemingly throwaway exchange between Sean and 13-year-old Toby Parker provides some foreshadowing for big events that occur later in the book. Enjoy!:
“In the fall, before the weather started turning cold, there’d always be a bunch of splattered grasshoppers littering the concrete. It still happens. People run over those things with their bicycles, more often than not doing it on purpose. Crunch! Flat as pancakes. Sometimes just half of their bodies, but enough to kill them either way. Even with guts hanging out of their mouths or asses, other grasshoppers will just jump right on their backs and start humping the hell out of them, or whatever they do. It’s a sad, sad thing.”
“Yuck,” Toby said, cringing with widened nostrils. “Why would grasshoppers do that?”
Sean closed one eye and examined the hook at the end of his line. He rotated it in his large fingers. “Instinct. Pure instinct.”
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