Every time we get back from vacation, a new brood of flies is in our house. Don’t ask me why. It’s not like we leave the doors open when we head for the beach. Maybe they’re attracted by all the crumbs my kids leave everywhere. They buzz around the trashcan and stick to the kitchen windows. You can’t open anything without sending one flying across the room.
It drives my wife crazy. She spends the next few weeks with a fly swatter ever at hand, zealously stamping them out where she can find them. We used to use a magazine, but then she busted a hole in one of our windows, so now we stick to the flimsy plastic kind.
It’s a hard campaign. Their breeding always manages to stay one step ahead of the exterminator’s slap. No matter how many poison traps we hang or bug-light death machines we run, the next generation carries on. Our swatters are cracked and the handles are bent. We even got an electrified tennis racquet called “The Executioner.” It works. Doesn’t make much of a difference, though.
I help. The flies don’t inflict the same kind of psychological torment on me. As far as life’s annoyances go, as few self-regenerating flies in the kitchen aren’t the biggest. But I do what I can. I’m like the coalition countries when the US decides to attack some foreign country. I’m really just there for moral support and to provide some legitimacy to the effort.
I must admit, though, there is something satisfying about tracking a fly across the kitchen, dipping in and out of the obsidian-colored countertops like a rabbit through the brush, waiting for that perfect opening, landing the final blow with a sharp smack.
I take no pleasure in ending a life, even one as insignificant as a fly. I do what I must for the safety and sanity of my family. But nor am I immune to the thrill of battle, setting my wits and my eyes against the speed and cunning of the flies, testing my patience against their endurance, building the anticipation of
that one, decisive moment.
Is this what hunters feel, stalking the deer through the woods or perched atop their stand? The beast wanders by, oblivious to its fate, sniffing the air as it walks. It stops to graze on a shoot of grass. You level the rifle. You nock the arrow and draw back the bow. You wait, finger on the trigger. It looks up.
THWACK! Missed again. Oh well. Every trip to the cupboard is a new opportunity.