Author: Alzo David-West

There’s a giant beetle who lives in my apartment compound.

He does pull-ups on the taller of two high bars, in the patch by the motorcycle shelter, and chin-ups and hanging Vs and other exercises I don’t know the names of. When he’s done, he rotates the joints of his six legs and stretches his forelegs. Then, he breathes deeply for a while, and he puts his hard shiny shell against one of the poles of the high bar, standing straight for five minutes. He’s there every fourth day at around the same time in the late afternoon.

Yesterday, I saw him carrying a little beetle. He had gone somewhere down the hill and returned with a heavy backpack and a heavy trolley bag. He put his young on the rubber matting under the second shorter high bar. The little beetle was sleeping.

He sat cross-legged, observing army ants darting out of the surrounding leaves of grass. He grabbed one ant in his claws, studied it, and removed its head. The body shook, and the antennae stopped moving. He put the separated parts on the matting, and he caught another ant and another and another. He may have caught six or seven ants.

Staring over the fragments, he made a scraping sound, softly buzzing to his tired nursling.

He got up and did his exercise routine. And when he was finished, he awoke the little beetle, put the backpack on his shell, held the young one’s claw, and pulled the trolley bag, and they left. The army ants lay on the matting, silent, and I wondered why the giant beetle who lives in my apartment compound decided to analyze ants that day.