The Shroud of Turin by Michael K. White

On his way to work on the first hot sticky day of summer, Albert noticed a tiny green bug making its way slowly across the windshield of his brand new 2020 Toyota Sphynx. He was stopped at the light at 23rd Street and was waiting impatiently for it to change.  He watched as the tiny green beetle like bug traversed the open windshield at a slow steady pace. Albert waited for it to take wing and fly away. He figured as soon as the light changed it would get the hint and fly home.

He was listening to AM talk radio, the Gerry Lazo Show, a call in show about the Shroud of Turin and was it real or not. Albert has never even heard of it before, he wondered if it could really be real. It seemed like a miraculous thing to Albert, but he was skeptical because one time he had heard Gerry Lazo say there were pop bottles on the moon found by Apollo astronauts.

The light changed to green and Albert proceeded through the intersection. He kept his eyes on the bug, who had not halted its progress at all. The bug was mid windshield, right in his line of vision and didn’t seem to even notice that the car was now in motion. It wasn’t doing his brand new 2020 Toyota Sphynx any harm, but Albert still felt offended. He flicked his windshield wiper stalk on his steering column to flick the bug off his window and send it on its way.

Instead, the windshield wiper crushed the tiny green bug and smeared its guts in a thin fine arc of a line across his driver’s side window. It didn’t obstruct his vision or anything g but it was there, a reminder of a murder intentional or not. Not that it interrupted anything, but it was annoying. Albert felt a pang of guilt. He had not meant to kill only to nudge out of the way. But it was just a bug.

In fact, it wasn’t a bug at all but a massive space ark full of thousands of microscopic desperate aliens from a galaxy you never heard of. After many of their years on a dying planet they had selected Earth for its abundant dirt, which they colonized. It was the answer to all their prayers and the salvation of their species or so they thought.

 They were one of many millions of various alien species that regularly visited and colonized the Earth. Most of these aliens were tiny, so tiny that the inhabitants of Earth did not notice them or thought, like Albert did, that they were just bugs. Thus, countless attempts to tame the savage Earth had been squashed on the bottoms of many shoes and devoured by numerous cats.

 In their world, they were giants, but here on Earth their colossal transports, the height of their technology, resembled little green bugs. The conglomeration of body and mechanical fluids that smeared the fine line on Albert’s windshield was the point where their ancient and formidable civilization was forever snuffed out.

Albert went on through his day not even thinking about the death of thousands that he had caused by an innocent flick of his windshield wiper stalk. He was even yawning when he did it. But the smeared line bothered him. It tugged at him. He hadn’t meant to kill the bug. It was just a bug. On the way home from work Albert decided it would be a good idea to wash his car. To get the bug guts off his window and his conscience.

He pulled into a bay at Sudsy’s car wash and filled the box with quarters until a high-pressure spray came sputtering then booming out. Albert made sure to wash his windshield extra good because he knew from past experience how hard it could be to get bug guts off a windshield. And wouldn’t you know when he drove off, he could still see the thin fine arc of a line left by the wiper’s stroke

Later at home, he took some paper towels and Windex into the garage where his wife was replanting tomato plants from egg cartons to pots.  She didn’t look up or ask him what he was doing. Albert squirted some Windex and rubbed it vigorously with the paper towel. After a few more squirts, he could no longer see the line.

‘Have you ever heard of the Shroud of Turin?’ he asked his wife.

About the contributor

Michael K. White wasted his youth as a member of the semi -legendary playwriting group Broken Gopher Ink. His novels, "My Apartment" “Change” and Broken Gopher Ink's "Four Plays" and “Murder In The Men’s Store” are available on Amazon.com and fine bookstores everywhere. A rockin’ audio version of “Change” is available at audible.com.

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