A Night at the Bug Bar in Tate’s Hell

It’s been a rough night at the Bug Bar. A giant jumping beast named Jones acts as bouncer at the door, eyeing each patron suspiciously. Jones doesn’t want any more trouble tonight. In the middle of the floor is the result of the earlier tussle: a large beetle lies crushed, marshmallow-like guts oozing out onto the filthy floor. RIP, Fred. Fred’s body will continue to lie there as a reminder to the other patrons that things can get ugly, that they’d best watch their backs. Later, Fred’s remains will probably just be swept into the street. They don’t call the police here.

A few hours ago, Fred had gotten into a skirmish with one of the few humans who try to get into the Bug Bar. Fred was always too aggressive, always acting without thinking. He charged at the human, the human started screaming and causing a scene, but Fred didn’t back off. We’ll never know what Fred was thinking. The human reared up and stomped on Fred, and it was all over. Jones keeps hearing that noise in his head, over and over again. CRUNCH.

When he was younger, Jones used to try to keep humans out of the Bug Bar. Sometimes he’d launch himself at them as they tried to enter, using his strong back legs to cover huge distances in a single leap. He’d dart about on their skin and hair as they futilely tried to smack him away. They’d usually run for the exit, yelping and crying. Now that he’s older, now that he has a wife and kids to think about, Jones tries to use the power of intimidation to keep humans out rather than getting physical with them. But some humans overcome their fear and loathing and make it past him.

Jones surveys the scene. What a mess. A beetle is passed out in each sink. They don’t look like they’ll make it. Hundreds of tiny flies lie dead in bands under the wall-mounted lights. Up above, the ceiling is canopied with spiderwebs and egg sacs, ready to dramatically expand the already large spider presence and threaten the other patrons. It’s a buffet in here for those guys. A giant horsefly loops around the room, bouncing softly against partitions and walls. He’s had too much. A tiny cricket lazily jumps against the wall, again and again. Going nowhere.

This might be the end of Jones’ career as a bouncer at the Bug Bar. He’s not sure he can handle seeing another human/bug battle come to an ugly end. He’s not as effective as he used to be. He should be at home in bed with his wife right now, listening to his children chirp contentedly through the thin wall.

Back at the door, ants stream in in a column, each one sure the guy ahead of him knows where he’s going. Followers. Jones wishes they’d act independently for once. Moths flutter in, against their will, drawn by the irresistibly bright lights. Jones hates the moths the most. They’re such showy lightweights, always getting into trouble and always hitting on him. Moths can’t handle their lights. Jones spies a walking stick over on the far wall. He can tell that the Stick is unsure whether he belongs here. Not really his kind of scene, this place. What a snob, Jones thinks.

Yeah, Jones will tender his resignation to the Bug Boss at the end of this shift. It’s not a good sign when you start to despise your patrons. It’s dangerous. One day he’ll act out, do something stupid and harm a fellow bug. It’s time to leave. At the end of this shift, his career at the Bug Bar will be over, over like Fred’s precious life. If this shift ever ends. Just three more hours to go…

If you go: A franchise of the Bug Bar can be found in any remote restroom in the Tate’s Hell or Apalachicola National Forests in Florida. The author recommends you visit early in the day, as the nighttime scene can become too intense for some visitors.

View Larger Map