In the court of Gaia, the aphid and the flea were put on trial. The aphid was charged with the serial killing of roses. The flea was prosecuted for sheer sadism, chiefly against dogs and cats.
The aphid represented itself. It admitted to sap-sucking and that it was really the worm at the heart of the sick rose alluded to by William Blake. It denied not having created something useful to Creation. The ant and honeybee, upstanding members of the symbiotic Community, spoke on behalf of the aphid, praising honeydew as sublime Manna. Aphid was acquitted of murdering Beauty, but fined for overpopulation.
Flea, of course, was represented by Satan. The ghost of William Blake testified on behalf of the ghost of the Flea, as it had given him a good idea for that painting. This did not move the jury. “My client,” Satan said, in his summary, “is admittedly a blood-sucking parasite who could vanish from Earth without causing the slightest hardship to any species and whose Extinction would bring only Joy. Even I do not admit fleas into Hell.”
“Even so,” said the Lord Of Flies, scratching his shaggy hindquarters, where his clients had taken impertinent lodging, “Flea once did a great Community Service for Gaia. I am speaking of the Bubonic Plague which nearly rid Her of the pestilent human being, next to whom my client is a mere nuisance! Because of human beings, half of all the species on Earth will vanish within thirty years. My client is only to be blamed for not having been more industrious with the Plague in 1348!”
With one dissenting vote from an I.R.S. agent, Flea was acquitted of being useless to Gaia by a jury of its peers. It was fined for overpopulation.
Next on the docket was the human race…
John Impey, like most people, wished the better angels of human nature prevailed more often than they do. Forgive us our sentence fragments, for they sometimes know exactly what they do.