The Bed Bugs Bite

They were in the woods somewhere, hunting him. He mustn’t get caught. If he was they’d push his face into the nettles again. That’s what the Japs used to do to their prisoners during the war. So Willy said anyways.

But he was a Commando and he wouldn’t let himself be caught, not this time. Commandos were brave, they were the good guys. He could never understand why Willy and Tonto always wanted to be the Japs. Everybody knew that they’d got beat in the war. The Americans dropped a big bomb on them, and then they gave up. The Japs were evil too. Tonto’s Uncle Jamesy was in the war and got captured by them. They made him build this bridge out in the jungle somewhere – he’d seen a film about it – and didn’t give him anything to eat except spiders and insects and other creepy crawlies. He’d nearly died.

Geordie kept still and listened. He was hiding behind a chestnut tree near the clearing where the big fellas went every night to drink cider. He could see the burnt grass where they lit their fires and in the branches above his head a blue plastic bag fluttered like a flag in the wind…

‘The Bed Bugs Bite’ was judged first prize winner of The Brian Moore Short Story Award in 2002.

The judge was Dermot Bolger.

It was published in the anthology ‘Breaking the Skin: Twenty-First Century Irish Writing Volume 1 – New Irish Writing’ from Black Mountain Press in 2002.

Sadly, the anthology is now out of print.


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