M.Skeel
Flea Story
Chapter 2

After they found each other, SmartFlea and TufFlea settled down to a life of domestic bliss. SmartFlea lay lots and lots of eggs, which hatched into larvae, which grew into small fleas which got killed by the thousands whenever Carlos Bandidos was given a flea-bath. This happened whenever a new brood of SmartFlea's babies hatched, because Carlos became so itchy that he spent all his time scratching.

Whenever his human owner saw him scratching, she grabbed him with no warning, shoved him in a sink, and soaked him with disgusting clean water and hideous, poisonous shampoos. But SmartFlea and TufFlea always used their time-tested strategies. TufFlea held his nose, shut his eyes and hung on inside Carlos' ear. SmartFlea abandoned ship, hiding in the warm clean towels that the human had ready for the newly washed dog. In this way, they both survived.

Their babies could be divided into three groups. One, the largest, consisted of Weak Fleas and Dumb Fleas, who succumbed to the poison and were washed down the drain. The other two groups were the survivors, the true sons and daughters of SmartFlea and TufFlea. They were either strong enough to survive or smart enough to find a way to hide and together they formed the elite of SmartFlea's many children.

As good parents, SmartFlea and TufFlea educated their surviving children. TufFlea took them for physical education and sports. Under his expert guidance, they practiced long jumps and high jumps, diving, breath holding and other useful skills.

SmartFlea took them for lessons in diction and grammar, Flea-history and of course their numbers and letters. SmartFlea trained as a Flea-ologist so science figured greatly in her syllabus. She was particularly interested in Fleanatomy and Fleasiology. She had studied the structure and function of the flea body in conjunction with TufFlea's preparation for the Flealympics. She knew every muscle, every nerve and every organ.

SmartFlea also taught Flea-osophy and attempted to answer such deep and meaningful questions as: "What is the Crown of Creation?", "Why are there Fleas?", Why are there dogs? and most importantly, "Why are there Humans?" This last question had a practical side to it because humans were the chief cause of misery in the life of Fleas.

SmartFlea had worked out scientifically that the answer to the first question, "What is the Crown of Creation?", is... Fleas. She was quite convinced by the data that fleas are the undoubtedly evolution's crowning glory. She could prove this with her theorem, Flea = mC squared, where m is the mass of the creature being studies and C squared is the speed at which that animal can jump times the height of the jump.

Animals that cannot jump have a score that is always zero, no matter how big they are. Since fleas are the best jumpers in creation, their score is the highest. Therefore they were obviously meant to be the highest animal the known universe because all other creatures have lower scores than this ultimate score, as represented by the "Flea" in the equation.

Answering the first question (What is the Crown of Creation?) effectively answers the second question (Why are there fleas?). The answer must surely be that since fleas are the top creatures, they have no more to prove.

As for the question, "Why are there dogs?": They were obviously put here by a benevolent creator to provide for the comfort of the Crown of Creation - in this case, SmartFlea, her husband TufFlea and their many children.

But why humans? Why did she and her husband have to bury so many beautiful children? She pondered this question while she sat laying eggs and while she taught the young grubs their letters and numbers. Somewhere there was an answer and she was going to find it...

TufFlea never pondered such deep and meaningful questions as "What is the Crown of Creation?". He found his happiness in life by working out and practicing for the next Flealympics. He had brought home many medals at the last events and he was sure he could do better at the next. As well, he had now taken on the job of coach and had a promising crew of young survivors who were training up to bring home a bagful of medals. In fact, if she had asked him, SmartFlea would have found out that TufFlea already knew the answer to the "Why are there humans? question.

TufFlea was not as emotionally attached to the children as SmartFlea and he figured that if all the children lived, there would not be enough food for them all. So humans were there to bathe the dog and get rid of any fleas not tough enough (or smart enough) to take the heat. This left the cream of the crop, from which TufFlea could choose which were worthy of his training. That way he did not have to waste time training the unfit. The humans had the task of making the first cut. It was a dirty job and better that the humans, who were obviously created to be the servants of dogs, do it, than the fleas having to do it.

Both SmartFlea and TufFlea had, in their own ways, come to the conclusion that fleas were the crown of creation, the highest point in fleavolution, and the humans were the lowest of the low. After all, dogs were there to serve fleas and humans were there to serve dogs. The servants of the servants of the Crowns of Creation, were, in a way, at the opposite end of Creation - the tail end to put it as nicely as possible.

There is no way around it but to admit that SmartFlea and TufFlea were racist - or species-ist, although that's pretty hard to say. SmartFlea had proven scientifically that her species was best and TufFlea just knew it and lived it. TufFlea knew that he could, for his weight, lift more and jump further than any other living creature, therefore he knew he was superior to all other creatures. SmartFlea confirmed this for him with her theory and he in turn confirmed her beliefs to her. All she had to do was look at her fit, strong, Tarzan of a husband and her breast swelled with pride.

In between bouts of child rearing, when the last brood had been washed away and it wasn't time to start the next family, SmartFlea and TufFlea had a lot of time on their hands. After all, being Fleas, there were no meals to prepare and no food to be gathered. So SmartFlea studied and TufFlea worked out and occasionally they took vacations...

They did this in much the same way that Americans or Australians go camping with caravans or CamperVans. That is, they took everything with them, including the dog. In the case of SmartFlea and TufFlea, the dog was everything, providing food, shelter and protection. It was just a matter of getting the dog to go where they wanted him to.

Now luckily their dog, Carlos Bandidos, was a brave, adventurous Chihuahua who loved to explore the bush with his humans. Each time that Carlos Bandidos went for a walk, his fleas went with him. At first, when they were young, they simply rode where-ever he went. After a while they learned how to control the dog and make him go where they wanted to go. As Carlos Bandidos loped along through the Bush, TufFlea would hang on to the dog's left ear by one strong arm and yell: "Yee-ha, ondole ondole, Carlos!" (pronounced on-doe-lay and which is Spanish for 'faster, faster'). Carlos always responded to this like a race horse, flattening himself out and running as fast as he could.

SmartFlea rode the right ear with more dignity. She used the riding style of the English aristocrat, sitting side-saddle, posting with each bounce and holding the dog's ear hairs as if they were reins. Just because she lived in the Australian Bush didn't mean she had to act like a yobbo.

She controlled the dog in a much more sophisticated way than yelling down his ear. When she wanted to turn their dog, she rotated the ear she was riding in the direction that she wanted to go and then made purring noises like a cat, which Carlos would turn to investigate. If she wanted to stop, she just bit him hard, causing the dog to stop, sit and scratch as surely as food made Pavlov's dog salivate. If she wanted him to stay stopped, she ordered her many children to bite him until she was ready to move on.

When SmartFlea stopped the dog to carry out scientific investigations, TufFlea always went along as her bodyguard. On these expeditions, SmartFlea was able to learn much new scientific information about the bush. Everything that SmartFlea learned, she added to her store of knowledge to pass on to her children or she used the information as evidence for her favourite theories, which she published in learned Flea-journals, such as the Fleacological Monographs.

She was especially interested in gathering information about other species of animals that 'proved' their inferiority when compared with fleas. Anything that showed that other animals were less intelligent or less capable of feats of great physical strength and prowess was evidence. So far, she had not found a creature that could match her brains or TufFlea's brawn (taken on a weight for weight basis of course).

Over many years, Carlos Bandidos went on daily walks and SmartFlea gained an encyclopedia full of information about the insect and spider life, the birds and the mammals and the lizards that lived in the Austrakian bush. Ants, bees, wasps, flies, praying mantids, stick insects, bugs, beetles, cockroaches, moths, butterflies ... she knew them all.

After a while it started annoying TufFlea that SmartFlea always knew everything's name and what it did and where it lived. It wasn't that he minded her knowing everything. It was just the way she acted - so superior, as if what mattered in the world were these irrelevant bits of information about creatures that TufFlea already knew were inferior and therefore of no consequence. Sometimes SmartFlea made it up to him by praising him when he did a particularly good jump or complicated dive into the water dish, but he always felt that somehow these things did not count as much as book knowledge and scientific learning. "But a lot of good that will be to you in a tight spot" he muttered. "When SmartFlea gets in trouble, its me she calls on and its my muscle that gets us out of trouble, not her book learning!"

TufFlea needn't have worried. SmartFlea appreciated his good qualities and admired him greatly for them. In fact the success and rightness of her theories depended on his abilities and she knew it. But she did make the mistake of believing, that between her brains and his brawn, they could get out of any situation. This mistaken belief almost cost them their lives...



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