After the festivities of the holiday weekend it was time to get some things done around the cabin. My husband was clearing some dead trees on our lot while I was to pull weeds from the rock garden. The day before we had a fly hatching. Some of you may be familiar with the black fly of Northern Minnesota; this is no ordinary house fly, they have knife-like mandibles that slash your skin and then suck up the blood. And, of course, its only the females that possess this gift.
To prepare for this delightful chore I put on a pair of worn blue jeans with a long sleeve denim shirt, a cap that my dog had chewed, and two pair of socks; an ensemble sure to repel all living creatures. In the garage I searched through our arsenal of bug repellant and chose OFF, dousing myself thoroughly. Pulling on my gloves I noticed a hole in the middle finger; since I didn’t have another pair I sprayed OFF on my gloves. Armed with knee pads and garden tools I set out for the backyard.
Within minutes of digging up weeds, the flies descended slashing and sucking as if I was hamburger– right through my clothes. Bitches! I went back to the garage foraging for something deadly. On the top shelf, my hand wrapped around a large black can of Raid. With a quick shake of the can I began to spray and was soon in a fog of pesticide; eyes watering, tongue tingling. I turned the can around and through blurry eyes read the precautions: Not intended for personal use. Outdoor use only. Keep away from eyes and mouth. If ingested seek medical attention. I figured I had 24 hours to live.
Back in the garden the flies buzzed around me sizing up the new barricade; antennae twitching, slashers ready. I had a 10 minute reprieve before they were once again, swarming my arms, legs, neck, and ankles. The pesticide might kill me by sunset but these bitches will live on.
I went back to the garage. Now it was war. With my sight compromised, I stumbled over a gas can, whacked my foot on a cooler, and knocked over a row of empty propane containers. I ricocheted sideways, landing face down with my swollen tongue savoring the concrete floor; notes of grease with a hint of gasoline. When I collected myself and my bleary eyes adjusted to the low light, the first thing that I focused on was the blow torch sitting on the shelf. Yes, I thought, I had my weapon.
Outside, marching to the garden with blow torch in hand, I hadn’t noticed my husband walking toward me.
“Hey, what are you doing with the blow torch?”
I meant to say, “Slashers,” but with my swollen tongue it sounded more like, “smashers.”
“You’re smashed?” he said. “I’m out here busting my ass and you’re drinking?”
I shook my head, pointing to the hole in my glove where a fly was preparing to strike my middle finger. I held up my finger so he could see it better and said, “Fuck.” I couldn’t seem to pronounce suck.
“Be that way,” he said, “and fuck you too.”