The Flies

I’m sure most of us have lived in a place where at one time you had a seasonal problem with some type of insect. In the many different places I’ve lived, I’ve had issues with ants (the teeny, teeny ones), ants (the big and crunchy ones), and in one house one year we had an infestation of wasps after they built their home in the eaves (where my apartment and storage closet were).

I’ve been in this same apartment now for seven years, and almost every year right about this time of June, July, and August I have a problem with flies.

Have you ever tried to sleep with a mosquito in the room?

This is worse than that.

The funny thing is, it hasn’t been every year; maybe it’s been closer to every other year. Either way, I now own 3 fly swatters (that are hanging strategically around the apartment), 2 tennis racket-shaped, battery-operated bug zappers –

- those tennis racket zappers are fun! (Hell, you need something fun about a situation as annoying as this is.) Killing flies become A Quest. You become so paranoid of the bugs that at the merest hint of a “BZZZZ” your drop everything and find yourself in the middle of the room, totally still, in full position to SWAT! with that Clint Eastwood ready-to-pull-the-trigger-at-any-second squint in your eyes as you scan the room for anything moving.

- OMG! I just remembered something! There was this one time I was naked and … never mind. I’ll write about that when I’m 80. (Be patient; I will.)

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

- and 6 half-empty cans of bug spray (because I apparently only feel fully-armed if the can is full).

As I’d said, this doesn’t happen every year, so it always catches me by surprise.

Like this year.

I’d had a really long, frustrating, bitchy, hot, cranky, angry, pissy, postal kind of work day (unfortunately as of late, most of them have been like that). I had big plans to tackle a few projects at home after work –

-stupid things like this always happen on those days, don’t they?

- and I allowed myself a half hour (maybe an hour) of nothing on the couch before I started. Before I sat down, I poured myself a cup of coffee (which may or may not have included a double shot of Rum Chata — it was that kind of day, I told you) and turned on the television.

Immediately, I noticed — heard — a fly buzzing over my head in circles around the ceiling fan.

Fuck it, I thought. I’m too tired to get it now; I’ll take care of it when I get moving. Ignore the buzzing … ignore the buzzing … ignore the buzzing.

But then there were two flies.

Did I mention that these are the BIG flies? Not your normal-sized fly, but the BIG ones that are really loud, and seem to have weight to them — enough weight that when you swing at them with the tennis racket-bug zappers and connect with their bodies, they sail across the room like a base hit. (Then you have to go and find their little carcasses.)

I’m no longer relaxing anymore, but I still don’t feel like assuming the position of Clint Eastwood-slash-John McEnroe.

John McEnroe. That fits. Swinging the racket around as if in a fit or tantrum — or some kind of seizure.

I decide to not make a sport of it and head to the kitchen for the bug spray. I figure to soak ’em quickly so I can get back to my business.

It was when I got into the kitchen that I realized I had a problem; there were more flies in the kitchen. As soon as I had the (full) can of spray in my hand, I went on the attack — but they seemed to be multiplying!

Where were these little fuckers coming from????

First, I checked the window that housed the air conditioner, because sometimes the top window could drop down and inch or two.

I have blinds on all the kitchen windows and they are all closed to keep the sun from heating the room up any further.

With my right hand holding the bug spray (finger on the trigger), I use my left hand to move the blinds to the side. I don’t want to open the blinds because if I do and there are more flies there, I will let them out into the room. If they are behind the blinds, I can spray there and trap them there to inhale the fumes.

Yes; experience has given me ‘a system’.

There were no flies above the air conditioner, and the window was still shut tight.

Next window.

I pull aside the blinds.

All of a sudden, I’m Tippi Hedren and flailing my arms about in panic as I’m descended upon by thousands of flies.

Okay, not thousands; probably only 20 or 30 — but it seemed like thousands!

After what seemed like years of that awkward, jerky, morbid dance I manage to channel my indignation (dignity is gone) and my inner Clint remembers I have a weapon in my hands.

The can of bug spray.

Faster than whatever I cannot think of right now to compare it to, my finger is heavy on the button and I’m SPRAYING. All over. All around me. Everywhere. Until the can is almost empty.

And all I can hear is that insane BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ — over the sound of the aerosol.

The kitchen is now engulfed in fumes, I’m nearly asphyxiated (maybe a little high), and I stop to watch them DIE.


Now, my stillness is due to shock. What the HELL???

I’m staring at them, all of them, still flying around the room, stunned.


And then, while I’m watching them, they did die. One at a time. I was watching them buzz around almost as frantically as I was, and they started dying. The buzzing got quieter by the millisecond as they stopped flying and started falling from the air.

They were dropping like … well, flies. As the buzzing slowed down, I was hearing little thunks as they landed wherever they did.

Now I’m surrounded by little fly-carcasses all around me on the floor, on the countertops, on the stove, the table and chairs, on the refrigerator — on everything.

Of course I’m barefoot and don’t even want to take a step anywhere now for fear of stepping on one, but I tiptoe over the little bodies to the broom and start sweeping.

Can any of you understand how disgusting that is, sweeping up dead flies and seeing a pile of them in your dustpan? And I was finding their little bodies everywhere!

It took a long time to get all of them. I swear they were timing their deaths to when I thought I was done because I kept finding more!

Then, I had to wash all of the exposed dishes — coffee cups, really; because I don’t like bug spray (or bugs) in my coffee.

You know that I gave up on doing anything and went straight to bed after all that. By that time, I wasn’t just frustrated, bitchy, hot, cranky, angry, pissy, and postal — I was paranoid. It probably took me two hours to fall asleep because all I could hear was that buzzing. Even now, days later, I still find a random carcass or two, and I still don’t know how they got in. I checked all the windows and everything (a number of times). I’m still hyper-sensitive to anything that even remotely sounds like a buzz, my peripheral vision sees flies everywhere, and I’m on high alert all the time. At home. Where I should be able to relax.

I’m traumatized.

And now, so are you. Because that is five minutes and thirty-nine seconds of your life you won’t get back.

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