The back door is open. Light puffs of a warm spring breeze softly whisk through the kitchen, caressing my bare arms and ruffling my hair. The picnic basket is almost full: creamy potato salad, deviled eggs, fudgy brownies and cold fried chicken. Just need to make a few sandwiches and perhaps a stuffed celery or two. This afternoon should be glorious, just perfect for an outing. Driving there is half the fun, gentle winding roads through shadowy woods and lush pastures dotted with lazy cows. How frightful to be a cow. Day in and day out the same old dreary thing—no birthdays, no Christmas. No wonder the English ones go mad; Cows have no holiday. Or eyebrows. One cannot properly express oneself without them. I, however, would be the Scarlett O’Hara of cows, arching one now and then just for effect. But a cow with a fetching cone-hither look would be enormously popular, and I have a weak back. better just to keep them furrowed. My eyebrows, that is. Driving does that to you, forces contemplation of current circumstances. Mulling or musing over passing scenery, frustrated relationships, placement of the damn drink holder right in front of the radio knob, flights of fancy (rounding this hairpin turn at warp speed, I am the Indy 500 champ) to those sexual scenarios (I am having sex with the Indy 500 champ).
The back door is open, only now that harbinger of change carries with it something most insidious. Flies. And not just a drifter or two but a thundering herd. They must have sailed in somewhere between the Miracle Whip and the Mad Cows. They seem aimless as they careen through the door, as if there’s a drunk at the helm. Why do they come in here? Once inside they head straight for the windows like they want out again. But they never fly out the door, only in. Surely they can see the door from the inside, they saw it from the outside. They are even endowed with compound eyes but from where I stand in my kitchen (a glaring human exit sign by the back door), it appears they have not one. After a moment, the electric buzzing of tiny transparent wings subsides as they light in various perches about the room and begin to busy themselves with wee fly tasks. This mostly consists of crawling a few multidirectional steps, then stopping to rub pointy front paws together as if perfecting some fiendish plot. A plot likely to involve either the deviled eggs or the fresh sore on Mr. Whisker’s head (the result of an ill-planned attack on nestling blue jays)> But little do they know their plans are about to be thwarted.
I hate flies. Those creepy compound eyes and those icky leg hairs visible under magnification. I hate them. Growing up, I would tell Mama I hated something or someone (like those phony friends of her), and she would say, “You don’t hat anyone, Dear, you simply dislike them intensely.” But I really do hate. Hate, flies (and big meaty roaches—politely termed “Waterbugs”). I can even tell Mama that. Apparently one is allowed the luxury of hating flies and spared coercion into the weenie realm of intense dislike.
Remaining motionless among the winged vermin, my eyes search the surroundings for the Instrument of Death. Only I hid it. Fly-swatters viewed from the table at supper present a most unappetizing sight. Where did I put it? I am forever finding too well-hidden Christmas presents in July, why do I do this? Therefore, I must tear the kitchen apart looking for it, causing a full fly fury. My sudden movement has evoked mistrust and I am now regarded with much caution, manifested as increased flight activity. Or perhaps it is the Mighty Purple Swatter of Death I hold poised over their beady compound eye containing heads. Flies are so disgusting. Sitting in church as a child, I would hear visiting missionaries vicariously describe the deplorable conditions of a faraway country where they served. God had called them there. Places where people sifted through garbage for food, died of diarrhea (a temporary condition which, at the age of 10, if you ever had was the most embarrassing thing to ever suffer compounded by your mother who would relate the situation to everyone in a 17-mile radius) and flies crawled on the eyes of children. I lived in absolute terror my entire youth fearing God would call me to be a missionary.
The Reign of Terror has begun. Little black bodies litter the kitchen table, some legs up, some still, some twitching (these get whacked again). I leave their lifeless corpses scattered upon the table as an example, a warning, to all the other airborne beasts. They stupidly pay no heed and continue madly soaring across the kitchen sky, this time though, lighting out of reach. (Apparently genetically evolving during the table murders, the wee beasties have learned to avert death through increased vertical positioning.) Perhaps the remaining flies, looking down upon their erstwhile companions, lying dead on the table, believe them to be only sleeping. After all, their fat little insect bodies are still remarkable and wholly intact despite the force and impact of the fatal blow. Better perhaps, if the dead flies were to appearmore dead. Evisceration seems the key to a mass exit. However, after several futile attempts with the pizza slicer and the bread knife, it is my opinion that fly vivisection is just not possible. At least with kitchen utensils. In the meanwhile, I have become the Josef Mengele of the insect world, and the flies on the ceiling are staying around, out of sheer morbid curiosity.
Purple swatter tucked discreetly into my shorts (those compound eyes utilize selective vision - overlooking massive fly carnage but able to spot a rolled magazine a mile away), I begin my precarious ascent up countertops and appliances. The mountain is coming to Mohammed. The kitchen atmosphere begins to darken with a stream of hastily assembled and mostly unrepeatable curse words. My father-in-law, Mickey, in conversation often alternates the accepted name of an item with “sonsabitches.” I often wondered at what point the item in reference ceased to be properly named and evolved into the more spectacular “sonsabitches.” Now I know.
I swat a few out of mid-flight and watch with glee as they plummet out of the sky like gallstones from the belly of a plane. Now only four or five remain, surreptitiously loitering behind pictures, knickknacks and ceiling fan blades. Luckily enough, they are granted a temporary reprieve as an entirely disagreeable thought occurs: Rotting, Decomposing fly bodies. Corpse disposal becomes a priority as the inhalation of small insect parts could become lodged (and unlodged) in nasal mucous membranes where they might fester asymptomatically for some time. It is the unlodging, no doubt at some inopportune moment, that worries my (Incredulous prospective employers venture: Is that a fly leg hanging from your left nostril?). Likewise, unwitting human hosts often harbor intestinal tapeworms only to suffer the sudden and most unexpected oral exit of the segmented parasite at a Mexican restaurant. Driven out by the spicy fare, unpalatable and noxious to most tapeworms. Just such socially awkward moments comprise the psychological drama that is life.
Corpse disposal complete, my return to the kitchen is heralded with motionless silence. Instead, they leer at me through those freaky compound eyeballs from high atop ledges of brief sanctuary. Makes my skin crawl. Sonsabitches.