Hi.  I’m Ed.  I squish things man was not meant to know.

Seriously, though, I’m just one of many footsoldiers against the forces of darkness.  In my case, I’m usually up against the squiggly things.  The astounding deviancy of  multilegged beings so unnatural to humanity they have chitin rather than backbones, as if they were the sticky spawn from a place far, far from the rocks from under which they crawl… um, end of Lovecraft moment.

So, I met E while working a low profile case at a condo west of Denver proper.  I was dressed in my working gear, which includes the little *fwt-phwt* machine you generally see guys like me carting around.  Mine blows a little air more than anything else.  I use it to disturb things.   Don’t get me wrong – I’m still probably played by John Goodman in the film of my life, but I don’t use poison unless I have to, and I certainly don’t spray the kind of xenomorph-blood acid Delbert did in _Arachnophobia_.  (Yeah, it was a dumb little fun movie.)

You see a lot of crazy in my line of work.  No, I wasn’t leaving out a word, although a few might fit there.  See, I’m a utility kind of guy.  Most of the time I’m not invisible, like water or power to the privileged suburbanite, but you want me to be.  If you have to call me, you’re in trouble.   You’ve already got a problem.

Most people don’t stop to count the legs.  That makes sense – if it skitters, it’s not likely a pet.  (Disclaimer: my boss has told me I cannot advertise small, untrained, yappy dogs as “pests” that can be “controlled.”  Nor their ignorant caretakers.  And contrary to the story Maggie tells, I did not leave a small child at the pound.)

These things didn’t just have too many legs; they crawled in and out of places that didn’t exist.

It helps that dad ran a small handyman business while I was in school.  I know what to look for in a well-joined cove base.  (It’s that area between the floor and the wall that collects dust that drives your wife crazy to stare at while she’s sitting on the throne.   Or, at least it did mine.)  That’s why I know these critters were not going through into the wall or floors.  They were doing some kind of crazy dance that didn’t have anything to do with cracks, spackle, or euclidean geometry.

“Canaries,” E called them.  I know he was referring to the coal mines, not pretty little golden birds upon which cats snack.

“They have a better name?”

“That’s their job description.  I’ve heard them called flitters, twinklings, umbrats, glints, and my favourite, shadow puppets.  Let’s just call them glints.  They’re attracted to certain kinds of magic use, especially quincunxial types.”

I did ask him if he was speaking English, even though I knew he was speaking Technical of a type I wasn’t a techie.

Then he did his magic.

I’m a sane, rational, reasonable man.  I’ve seen swarms, I’ve seen natural states of decay, and solifugids that have turned other men pale.  What I saw when bent down and did…whatever it is he does… to the glints wasn’t right.  It wasn’t a part of the world I knew.

Look, I’m a dude.  I have two and a half ways of handling that situation.  I can fight it, I can f… I can make friends with it.

I wasn’t fighting anything that can bend space and time like the engineering deck on an old Starfleet vessel.

And I don’t swing that way, anyway.

So, I became a convert.  I always recommended my customers learn how to close jars and windows anyway, so it wasn’t like I had to do too much changing of my spiel.  Now I look for the things that are, well, things, and not just members of entymological interest.  I call E in when I know it’s something on which bait, sprays, and the methods of this world won’t work.  He calls me in when he needs a cover to go looking someplace unpleasant.

It’s a working relationship.

Unlike what he has with Maggie, of course.

Yeah, yeah, I’ll keep out of it.  But if he’s smart, he’ll find someone who doesn’t drive him crazy.

I love E, man, like a brother, and he’s the best there is at what he does, but he’s not smart.