Slash and Suck

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.”



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