Year of the Returning Cicada

Names Brood X, the last time they appeared in hordes was in 2004. In a few months these monstrous looking bugs will burrow out of their 17-year hiatus and attach themselves to


They will be everywhere, leaving exoskeletons and nesting in trees. If you miss seeing them—don’t worry—you will hear them as the average male mating song can reach 100 decibels, on par with living with a leaf blower.

I mention all this as the 17-year cicada makes an appearance in my book Cloud of Witnesses. Roland comes out of his family’s trailer to find his bicycle covered with winged locusts, big-eyed bugs. Later Granny will fry some up to eat in her black-iron skillet. “Tastes like bacon,” she’ll inform Roland.

I pulled my bike out of the rack in front of the school and shook half a dozen cicadas off the seat. They had begun to hatch earlier in the week, googly red-eyed insects the size of my index finger, emerging from underground near the roots of trees. They clung to whatever they could attach themselves to: mailbox posts, the carcass of the Datsun lying in the ravine, Granny’s vinyl chair.

Soon after hatching they molted a tobacco-brown tissue-paper-like exoskeleton. I could barely walk without crunching and cracking them under my feet like dry leaves. Granny had taken to netting and frying them up in her black-iron skillet with a bit of grease. “Taste just like bacon,” she stated, wings and legs sticking out between her gapped front teeth.

Later—Patty, Roland’s love interest tries to draw him out in a final scene:

She looked me in the eyes.  “I get the feeling that I’m talking to you through a door. I’m trying to get the door open, but you’re holding it from the other side.”

“Sorry.” Maybe I was like those seventeen-year cicadas cocooned underground. There must be some inner alarm clock telling them: Now is the Time.

Check out Cloud of Witnesses at my publisher’s website or online or at your local bookstore which would LOVE to order you a copy!!

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