Summer Concerto
Jeff Alan
Day and night they scream.
I tried those spongy yellow ear plugs that the drugstore sells, but they don't work. You have to squish and twist them between your fingers and then quickly jam them into your ears before they expand again. I'm never fast enough. They sit impotently in my ear canal, half in, half out. I get frustrated and throw them across the room. The cat thinks they're toys. Fucking waste of four bucks.
When I first moved into this house, the little shits were strictly outside, in the woods out back. That was bad enough, but now that they know I'm here, they've found a way in. The house is nearly as old as I am: cracked and splintered. I bought that yellowish foam stuff that comes in a spray can and filled all the cracks I could find in the basement. Every door and window is sealed with tape. It hasn't done a damn bit of good.
They're everywhere now. When I see them, I stomp them with my shoe. Their gooey yellow guts are splattered all over the place. The cat does what he can, but that uncouth animal chews them with his mouth open: crunch-crunch-crunch. I can't hear myself think anymore.
I haven't slept in weeks. I try, but it's no use. I go to bed fully clothed, knit cap over my ears, but still they find a way in. They congregate in my skull, rubbing flightless wings together furiously, compulsively. They never stop. They're insane, all of them.
I've been swallowing bottle after bottle of aspirin, but I can't get rid of this constant headache. I think the aspirin is making me sick. My stomach is sour. I've been puking yellow-green bile.
I read somewhere that a group of crickets is called an orchestra. Pretty goddamn ironic, if you ask me.
Without sleep, the days are too long. I run out of things to do when the sun goes down. I have a surplus of thick rope that was left behind by the previous owner. I found it coiled in the basement. I practice tying knots— the same kind, again and again. It's something to do. Dozens of yellow nooses are strung throughout the house, hanging still and quiet like a sky full of moons.
Jeff Alan is a self-described gypsy, having lived in more states than he can count on one hand. He presently resides in a small, quiet town in North Carolina. His work has appeared, or will soon appear, in Boston Literary Magazine, Yellow Mama, and Flashshot, among others.  Blog