Grasshopper Jungle

Michael Grant calls it ‘Original ,weird, thought-provoking…One hell of a book.’ Charlie Higson said ‘Cool, funny, sexy, gross’. ‘A literary joy to behold’ according to the New York Times. A book about life, love and the end of the world.

In Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend Robby have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army of horny, hungry six-foot-tall praying mantises. This is the truth. This is history. It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.


16. Robby Could Have Been a Preacher

We cased the Ealing Mall.

We sat across the street at Stan’s Pizza, where we ate and watched through the window.

Stan’s closed at midnight. Stan was visibly angry that we came in and ordered. There was nobody in the place, and Stan wanted to go home.

I ordered a large Stan-preme in an attempt to cheer Stan up.

“We’ll have a large Stanpreme, please. For here,” I said.

In the same way that Johnny McKeon was proud for coming up with the names Tipsy Cricket Liquors and From Attic to Seller Consignment Store entirely on his own, and just as Dr. Grady McKeon was considered a genius for inventing the brand Pulse-O-Matic, Stan must have been very pleased with himself for creating the concept of the Stanpreme.

People from Ealing were very creative.

We didn’t know for certain that Stan’s real name was Stan. We never asked him.

Stan was Mexican, so probably not.

We sat, ate, and watched.

Stan watched us.

Everything was dark at the Ealing Mall across the street, except the sign over the Ealing Coin Wash Launderette. The launderette never closed. There was no need to. Between the hours of 2:00 and 6:00 a.m., it was more of a public bathroom, a hash den, or a place to have sex than a launderette, though.

Thinking about having sex on the floor of the Ealing Coin Wash Launderette suddenly made me horny.

Nobody was out there.

This was Ealing at nighttime.

Nobody ever had any reason to be out, unless they were standing on the curb watching their house burn down.

I wondered if Ollie Jungfrau had gone home. Ollie worked at Johnny McKeon’s liquor store. Tipsy Cricket closed at midnight, too, but it was already completely dark by the time Stan scooted the tin pizza disk containing his eponymous creation down on our table by the window.

That was the first time in history anyone from Ealing, Iowa, used the word eponymous. You could get beaten up in Ealing for using words like that.

Just like Robby and I got beaten up for sitting there smoking cigarettes and being queers. But I don’t know if I’m really queer. Just some people think so.

We ate.

Robby asked Stan for three ice waters, please.

Stan was not a happy man.

We couldn’t finish the Stanpreme. It was too big. Stan brought us a box for the three slices we had left on his tin disk.

“Do you think we should make a plan or something?” I asked.

Robby said, “This is Ealing. There’s some kind of prohibition against making plans.”

If we didn’t hate being Lutherans so much, Robby could easily have been a preacher.

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