Klaus Hnilica
Friday September 8th, 2017

Pure Slug Terror

Carl and Gerlinde (Instalment # 53)

Somehow or other, Carl could very well sympathize with the murderous ideas that were reflected in the eyes of his neighbour Konrad whenever anybody uttered the word ’slug’!

After all, this peace-loving owner of solar panels had a spacious garden – including numerous vegetable plants and a glamorous flower bed. Just like Carl himself! And like him, Konrad, too, did not want to poison his family by using enormous amounts of the snail and slug bait ’metaldehyde’, did he?
So what to do? After all, every summer, as soon as dusk neared, these disgusting, finger-thick, brown ’slime-slinkers’ started their silent attack on defenceless zucchini plants and freshly planted marigolds like modern guerrilla hordes? And only when morning dawned and they had mercilessly eaten up everything, they dastardly retreated into their ivy-covered hideouts?

So it was no surprise that not only Konrad, but also many other garden owners patrolled their gardens like South-American murderer brigades equipped with headlamps, secateurs and razor-sharp spades. They did their murderous craft with exactly the same stealth and ruthlessness as those slimy ’slug monsters’ did theirs!

Yes – Carl had to admit that he would really have enjoyed taking part in such revenge crusades against this ’slug pestilence’. And that he had actually already taken his torch and his secateurs and been secretly at it when Gerlinde was not at home in the evening. But provoking a ’permanent crisis’ with Gerlinde for this reason – that was definitely something he did not want at all!

After all, his darling Gerlinde was a passionate animal rights activist and could not treat any animal poorly, which is also why she mostly only ate vegetarian! Except if an attack of hunger forced her to spontaneously fry a mountain of pork schnitzels or a leg of lamp. Or, even worse, if one of those sneaky gnats or horse flies was bold enough to NOT bite Carl on his lower arm but instead her on her lily-white neck: those were the moments when she actually was able to do some deathly beating!

My God – what a fuss she had made about it when, two years ago, he had tried to fight the slug terror with beer traps. He had actually filled several jam jars with beer and sunk them into the soil in the garden at strategic points! And – just like he had intended – said jars had been full of drowned slugs in the morning. Basically, one would think that was not a bad way to die – drowning in ’Krombacher’ – was it? But his super-sensitive Gerlinde had a totally different opinion!

She almost suffered a yelling attack when he, imprudently, showed her one of the well-filled jars with the ’slimy’ slugs in it – before she disposed of them into the sewage system.

Well, it must be admitted – they did not look particularly appetizing!
But then, according to everything he had read about it, these poor snails with their minuscule brains had not suffered very much, either.

Since, however, Gerlinde, even in discussions that lasted several hours, could not be persuaded, he soon realized that, even if, perhaps, the fight against the ’naked slug’ might be won in this fashion, the price would be the loss of his ’naked Gerlinde’! And that was definitely a price he was not willing to pay. It was better that these nice snails kept eating up all the vegetables in the garden – if that was what they and Gerlinde wanted!

Totally unexpectedly, the solution of the problem came from Gerlinde’s friend Hannelore! Because Hannelore’s animal-loving Kurt had developed the following procedure against the evil slug: in the morning, he strolled through the dewy grass carrying parts of yesterday’s FAZ and collected two or three well-saturated slugs on their slimy return trip with the big double-pages of the newspaper. He added the occasional half-nibbled leaf of funkia and then formed an easily manageable box of several layers that he encircled with rubber rings.

These daily three or four boxes with still living slugs would then soundlessly disappear in the biological waste container in summer. And with the exception of the slugs, everybody was happy!

Of course the layer of paper for the ’slug post’ should not be too thin, because otherwise everything would be slimed through in no time and the cute slugs would sit on the underside of the biological waste container on the next morning. Then the entire packaging procedure would have to start again until the waste was emptied next Monday.

Well- and that was exactly the weakness of this ’slug elimination program’ designed by Carl’s animal friends!

Carl suddenly discovered a hitherto unknown sensitivity in himself when some lone ’slimy plant eaters’ sat on the border or the lid of the biological waste container and slumbered in heavenly peace!

Strange? – all of a sudden he felt pity for these slimy monsters that yesterday had still eaten into his zucchini plants and he embarrassingly found that he no longer had the strength to send them back into the container after they had so courageously liberated themselves from their ’ FAZ incarceration’ . Instead, it felt almost like a compulsion to give them back their freedom. …

Gerlinde and Hannelore actually even cried a few tears when, a short time ago and after his first glass of beer, he admitted this weakness of his. They would not have believed it possible that the otherwise sometimes quite rough Carl was capable of such sensitivity. It was quite sweet – really sweet … …

After his third bottle of beer, Carl found it just as sweet as his two admirers. However, he considered it more prudent to perhaps not mention that he actually had released the few who managed to break through into freedom – but, of course, freedom meant the so much more attractive freedom in his neighbour’s garden– and not in his garden!

And since slugs are by nature rather discreet creatures, there was certainly no danger that this small secret they shared with him would see the light of day any time soon. …

KH
(Translated by EG)

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