The Speakeasy #159… THE LEPIDOPTERIST

Somewhere in Chicago a telephone rings…

“Hola, Gringa!”

“Hi, Ethel. Let me guess, we’re eating Mexican food today.”

“Si, mi hermana. Arturo’s is having a burrito sale. It’s on me.”

‘On me’ coming from Ethel meant she wanted something. Cheryl was proud of her friend for sticking with the Spanish class she had found in the PennySaver, but she was not about to tell her. Most of Ethel’s ‘projects’ lasted a week at best, and it had been a while since the ceramics fiasco.

“Let me guess. You have a new hobby.”

“You know how I’ve always been interested in Entomology, I’m going to be a Lepidopterist!”

“So now you’re taking Latin? What the hell are you talking about, Ethel, some English please?”

“A butterfly collector, Cheryl. I’m going to be a Butterfly Collector!”

“Okay, first of all, where are you going to find a butterfly in the city? Second, how does this involve me?”

“I’ve already collected one.  You know how I can’t harm animals, I need you to stick the pin in when I mount it.”

“Oh right, the PETA thing. All right, I’ll do it, but only after Arturo’s.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Western & Armitage…

“Uno burrito pollo con extra salsa y beanos, por favor.”

“I’ll have a number seven, Arturo, thanks.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Later on the third floor of a brownstone in Wicker Park…

“It’s kind of drab and not very pretty, Ethel. I didn’t know you had a net, where did you find it?”

“I used a jar, Cheryl. It was on the back porch by the light. I don’t want to hurt it and besides those beady little eyes give me the creeps. That’s why you have to do it”

‘All right, give me the pin. Where do you want it?”

It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.

“One thing, Ethel. I hate to break your butterfly bubble, but I’m pretty sure that’s a moth.”

✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧

Speakeasy Managing Editor Suzanne Purkis has issued these instructions for this week’s entry in the writing contest:

  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  • You must include the following sentence ANYWHERE in your submission: “It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.

✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧

Incidentally, if ever in Chicago… Check out Arturo’s Tacos in Bucktown.  Fond memories of fabulous burritos after closing the bars…


37 responses

  1. I guess I just don’t understand how anyone could be a Lepidopterist, as butterflies are so beautiful. I couldn’t even stick a pin in a moth, poor Cheryl. Good story Ted.

    1. That’s why Ethel didn’t call Betty. Thanks!

  2. This one is funny with espanol here and there,I was having a great time reading it, you want to study entomology now,not a bad idea seeing that you’re already collecting butterflies,that word fluttering made me think of butterflies too, I’ll let it go this time. Ha Ha Ha this one is funnier than some I’ve read.

    1. Thanks, Ranu… you know, Butterflies were originally called Flutterflies.

  3. Hey there, Ted. I told you I’d be back, and look at that! It’s still afternoon. 🙂

    I loved this story. I am wondering, though… (forgive me for asking) did I miss the reference to the picture prompt? I may have done, because my head gets spacey these days. Any chance the moth was a fox moth (https://www.google.com/search?q=fox+moth&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb)? I didn’t look hard enough to find out if they live anywhere near Chicago… maybe Ethel’s PETA leaning include a campaign to protect the American Silver Fox? Man, I’m just throwing stuff out there to see if any of it sticks.

    I worry about asking questions like these, but your story is too good not to make the grid. I want to see you there!

    And thanks for the nod. It was a nod, right? Oy. I hope it was a nod. 😀

    1. Of course it was a nod!!!

      I would like to say it was a fox moth, but I’m not that clever. As far as the photo prompt, the fox had beady little eyes… like the moth Ethel caught. I like to pick out one little feature of a media prompt to use. Historical fact… 150 years ago there were too many rabbits on my island. They were eating the carrots in everyone’s gardens, so they brought over foxes from the mainland to control the rabbits, then had too many foxes. Good thing PETA wasn’t around then, because they had to have a big island fox hunt… and they weren’t ‘riding to hounds’.

      I really enjoyed your story about patience, and now the cat.

      1. Doh! I knew it was right there under my nose! The whole time I was typing I was thinking, “Ted’s been doing this a long time. There’s no WAY he missed it. You’re just not seeing it.” I really should listen to my internal voice more often.

        Regarding the rabbits and the foxes: perhaps the carrots were at fault. Down with vegetables! Carrots are murder!

        I’m glad you like Patience, and Prissy, too. I wonder how much of this story can be inspired exclusively by writing prompts? I’m not sure I can keep it up. The more I write, the more the characters seem to assert themselves and tell ME what to write. I’m not entirely sure who’s running the show anymore.

  4. This line is my favorite: “You know how I can’t harm animals, I need you to stick the pin in when I mount it.”
    I like your stories, Ted!

    1. Hey, thanks Coleen! I liked that line too, Cheryl would have never thought that way… pure Ethel.

  5. Hahaha “One thing, Ethel. I hate to break your butterfly bubble, but I’m pretty sure that’s a moth.” How can you be a butterfly collector and not tell the difference between a moth and a butterfly? Love it!

  6. Haha, a moth! Poor Ethel.
    Love this, Ted!

  7. Haha, it seems she may need a new hobby sooner than usual. Poor moth.
    Quite the pair, these two characters.

  8. Hey, Ted. Check out the grid. I’m lookin’ right at cha. 😀

    1. You sure are! I like that look better than the one above me here…

      1. HA! Watch out for that one. She’s a dead eye.

        (I admit it: I crack me up.)

  9. Love this story, Ted (Ethel and Cheryl are favorites of mine.)

    The line about how Ethel moves from one project/hobby to the next perfectly explains how she could mistake a moth for a butterfly. I had to chuckle though, because her not being able to do the pin is like a surgeon who faints at the sight of blood… maybe it’s time for the next hobby 🙂

  10. heh, i used to live very nearby Arturo’s! 🙂

    1. No kidding! Did you ever go by Lottie’s at Courtland and Winchester? I helped set that up and run it for a while.

      1. nope, i’m not much of a bar person. but i did love me some Arturo’s. you still in the city now?

      2. Oh no, that was 20 years ago. I live in Friday Harbor now.

  11. That is a killer last line, Ted. I love that Ethel is learning Spanish. Really enjoyed this! 🙂

    1. I think she is learning Canadian next. Thanks, glad you liked it.

  12. I love your stories and the interchanges between Ethel and Cheryl. They are quite entertaining!

    1. I’m glad you do… thanks.

  13. Okay, I’m now in love with the word ‘lepidopterist’. The ending made me laugh out loud, although I’m an animal softie and couldn’t help but cringe that she poked the pin through it while it was still alive. But hey, how many moths can you stab in only a week 😉

  14. Butterflies are a lot like flowers to me. I like them where they live not in jar,on a pin or in a vase. I liked the prediction the hobby would be short and the butterfly being a moth.

  15. Spanglish, that would be! I’m sharpening up my pins Ted, give my name to Ethel if Cheryl is not available!!

    Great story

  16. Extra beanos, por favor… Gotta remember that one. 🙂 Nice job.

  17. Slowly, slowly you build the suspense and then, BAM! Love it. Ha! Ha!

  18. Maybe John can help Ethel with her spanish? Si?

  19. Ethel and Cheryl crack me up. I love how their friendship is so well described by their conversations. You don’t have to say anything about them – their banter is enough. Great job, Ted!

  20. Good one!

    (Arturo’s and Lazo’s next to it. Ok. Now I’m just hungry).

  21. […] Speakeasy #159… THE LEPIDOPTERIST […]

  22. That was fun, I love your wicked sense of humor!
    I miss the Speakeasy/Moonshine Grid. I wish they hadn’t gotten rid of it.

    1. Thank you. I miss it too. Not the same anymore. A bit confused if you ask me. I remember your name.

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