Rhinoceros Beetles

Dear Carlson Redmond,

I'm sorry to say I've put off writing this letter for at least a week. You see, I discovered something very remarkable recently, something that I thought you would really appreciate, but I knew a description would prompt the question, "Mr. Tack, where on earth were you to observe this very remarkable thing?", a question I didn't know quite how to answer until recently. I was in Japan, Mr. Redmond, and it was under very uncomfortable and accidental circumstances. Remember Caniri? It was her fault.

I was in the soda district, and was dehydrated for I'd spent the afternoon sampling all the different flavors. It seemed like every turn I took put me in front a shack selling just the taste I thought would hit the spot. And finally, after a carbonated lurch toward a sign advertising blueberry-kale, I found I was out of money. My hyperglycemic brain-bath inducing an acute mental instability, I flailed about in search of a pickpocket, but of course there wasn't one, I'd spent all of my money on the irresistible juices.

Over the course of the following week, I investigated the district. It turns out there is a very regimented system in place to take advantage of visitors. First, in the outer streets, they are treated to very diluted sodas under the auspices of free samples. Naturally the visitors soon find themselves needing to urinate and head to the public restrooms before venturing further into the labyrinth. Little do they know that this act of micturition is their downfall; children have employed their pet beetles to walk up through the plumbing and to deposit sensors in the pipes of the toilets. These sensors, by way of an elaborate system of wires also deployed by the beetles, then relay information about what the visitors have recently drunk to the nearby vendors who quickly concoct sodas to match these predicted tastes. Of course this system isn't flawless, but there are many other tricks, for example, the streets are layed out in a branching manner, so that the visitors choose paths that match their flavor preference, the whole district acting like a sort of taxonomic key.

I've sent a complete account of the district to the secretary, but I knew you'd never forgive me if I hadn't sent you a personalized taste of the thing.

How have the pins been treating you?

Your friend,

Hard Tack

[A Beetle Sketch]

Sketch by Walter Mensch