Billy, Eddie and John were like most 14 year old boys: endlessly hungry and dirty in the same moment, exhibiting the attention span equivalent to a sub-atomic particle and in possession of the inquisitive nature of the scientist who discovered it. They were ‘good boys’, a description often assigned by their mothers in the small Nebraska community where they lived. When they were bad, they would say so as well. Today, the three sat in Eddie’s garage throwing a tennis ball Billy had found in his sister’s gym bag. Billy had a knack for finding things in obvious places. In this game, they threw the ball to one another as quickly as they could, but each had to catch the ball one handed. Making the other guy’s hand hurt when he caught the tennis ball was always the ultimate goal of the game, but they only kept score by the number of times you missed a ball that should have been caught. Arguments over whether a ball was catchable were often and loud, a secondary benefit of playing this particular game.
“Here it is,” Johnny would scream from the front of the column, “I found the bread crumb!” Of course, ants don’t really scream because they don’t even talk, but if any could, Johnny would be the first. Each morning Johnny would set out from the colony in search of nourishment, because there were 40,000 ants to feed and it was Johnny’s job, along with 39,998 other ants, to find the food for the day. Johnny took his responsibility to his family and friends seriously.