Hell, I Just Killed Liam…or Murdered Murf

Hell, I Just Killed Liam…or Murdered Murf

Oh, don’t look at me like that. Liam’s a housefly, and it was a mercy killing. While we’re at it, Liam’s not his real name. His real name is Musca Domestica, or Murf, for short. At least that’s what it sounded like as I smooshed him with the wooden blinds. “Murrrrf.” And don’t think I wanted to kill one of God’s creatures – I’d spent hours trying to swoosh Liam out the door before I had to smoosh him, but what does he do? He goes over to the door and calls to his friends, then goes swooshing back with a sashay and a slight buzz and they all start to party like it’s 1999. I must’ve left an undrained wine glass out.

Next thing you know, Liam and his buddies are flitting around my face while I try to ignore all the goings on behind the blinds.

Up till then, I’d just been relieved that Liam, or Murf, wasn’t a hornet. As his shadow wizzed by me, strafing my earlobe, Liam dove between the slats of the blinds and struck glass. “Be careful,” my husband said. “I think we have a wasp in the house. Or a mosquito.”

I am used to wasps – we get one or two in the living room, every year, and every year, I grab the useless can of Hot Shot Wasp & Hornet Spray and try to drown the poor sucker in what ought to be enough poison to fell a racehorse. My couch is now saturated with toxins and one window in my house is sparkling clean because we keep having to squeegee Hot Shot off of it. The can says “Guaranteed to kill on contact,” but what it actually does, over the next forty minutes to an hour of writhing, insectoid agony, is cause the poor creature to enact a death scene worthy of a Shakespearean actor:


The poor bugger generally scoots his way slowly across the window ledge, about ten feet off the ground – flipping from his front to his back and back to his front again – then drops, slowly spiraling with one tiny leg waving, acting as an air-rudder for maximum spin. Looks like a synchronized swimmer who’s taken a header from an airplane at 35,000 feet without a parachute. Then he’ll convulse at irregular intervals, ensuring that no corpse is touched or disposed of before its time, for another twenty minutes or so. You think I’m exaggerating? Here’s actual film footage, taken from about the forty minute mark, six weeks ago:

I listened carefully. I went up to the hall balcony, where I have a view of the window-ledge from which lone hornets like to gaze longingly out the window at a world they will never, again, be a part of. There was definitely something there. Something bigger than a hornet. My husband offered binoculars, but I decided I didn’t want to know, that badly, what the something was. The point is, Liam wasn’t there. The lump, which was definitely not a breadbox and probably not a mutant wasp, wasn’t moving.  “Probably not a wasp,” I said, to my husband. “He’s not in the usual spot, plus I think I heard him go shooshing by, and he doesn’t sound big enough, or angry enough, and his little body isn’t quite hard and crunchy enough as it hits the glass. Definitely too big to be a mosquito, though.” At this point, I paused to wonder what sort of mosquito sounds big enough to be a wasp, or how my husband could have been confused on this point. Maybe I had exaggerated just a tad about how loud the previous night’s mosquito was, while it was trying to decide which of my ears to whine in. Maybe, I planted the idea in his head that we had mosquitoes that were bigger than a breadbox.

At this point, the flies start partying in earnest. I have realized that there are at least two of them, now, and their buzzing reaches an annoying crescendo. I find Liam trapped behind the wooden blinds, in the kitchen, whining piteously as he body-slams the windowpane. The other one is still flying like a drunken Kamikaze pilot around the living room, barely a shadow on my peripheral vision. I look at Liam. “Shut up, you,” I mutter. “Don’t make me squoosh you.” I make a pot of coffee and hope that a word to the flies will be sufficient. I have not noticed, yet, that there are three of them.

Eventually, the frenzied buzzing and beating of a rather large, striped fly body against my kitchen window really starts to get on my nerves, and I try to extract Liam for this trap of his own making. I rattle the blinds, hoping he’ll notice that they are open and he’s not really stuck back there unless he wants to be, which it seems he doesn’t. What do I know, right? Maybe he was just trying to taunt the robin, out in the yard, buzzing a high-pitched, “Nanny, nanny, boo-boo, no lunch for you-ooo!” But he seems lonely and in need of attention, and I think maybe if he has company, he’ll stop trying to get my attention like a temper tantrum throwing wild child. Unfortunately, I manage to hit him with one of the wooden slats. I’m pretty sure he’s injured, and we all know there’s no fly EMT circling overhead to take him to the insect hospital. I’m pretty sure the exotic animal vet would just tell me there’s nothing he could do to help Liam, so, with a twinge of guilt and torn between trying to jerry-rig a splint for his crushed leg and wing or just squooshing him and getting it over with, I reluctantly decide to put him out of his misery.

It wasn’t quick, I shudder to say. I might as well have drowned him in the Hot Shot.

The other two must’ve heard Liam’s piteous moans and they started whining and buzzing and eventually they came over to try to claim the body. “ENOUGH!” I cried, and hastened to put them all out of their misery. It’s lonely in fly quarantine, without Liam. Rest in peace, Musca Domestica.


Author’s Note: I no longer know or care what day it is, and that includes the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Rather than give up and eat bonbons, I’ll play the game my way – it’s not cheating if there are no rules, right? 

H, I, J, K, L, and M – all in one post! 

Dire Dullness

Dire Dullness

We meet with stark denial
The unspeakable unknown.
A dire dullness creeps,
Settles, swaths in sleep
A dawning, drowning
Dismal truth.

Wild-eyed the urge
To turn the page, to skim
To skip ahead, past present
Pandemic plodding
(Just a peek!)
To find out how it ends.

Who cares? Who cares.
Read slowly, savor sunshine.
Put away the flashlight, sleep –
Not every tale tells
Lies and lives…
Happily ever after.

Fish Heads, Fish Heads

Fish Heads, Fish Heads

I am a huge fan of “novelty songs” and satire. “Fish Heads” was never my favorite Dr. Demento hit, but the story of how it became a hit at all just tickles my funny bone. If you’ve never heard Barnes & Barnes “Fish Heads,” watch the video below. After you’ve recovered from the “What the hell did I just watch?” feeling, check out the interview with Bill Mumy on how it came to be.

One day, I hope to win the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest. Why? Because it appeals to my “weirdly competitive” side, whereas “win a Pulitzer” or “win a Hugo” seems like one of those goals you sneak up on, strolling along, whistling nonchalantly, pretending like you don’t give a damn, lest the universe send you fish heads in the mail.

Bedsheets

Bedsheets

I don’t sew. Or didn’t,
Though I bought a machine:
A nice, beginner-level sewing machine,
along with some “how-to” books.

They all wanted me
to make a drawstring bag.
I have no use for drawstring bags;
Seems like a waste of time and cotton.

But idle hands, make idle minds;
That dive down rabbit holes. And so
Inexpert, but with purpose, I sew
Masks for the war effort.

Old, fitted bedsheets – sacrificed!
No more folding. They’re off to war!
Or maybe, just… the grocery store,
Where Sherman’s tank is armed

…with toilet paper.

In all seriousness, I think that this effort serves some additional purposes:

  • Gives people a sense of purpose and control – a feeling that they have a constructive way to help themselves and others;
  • Keeps panic prone people from stockpiling PPE that is desperately needed by medical workers;
  • Keeps hands from being idle – if you can figure out how to make these or get supplies to others, you’re not just sitting around dwelling on apocalyptic scenarios;
  • Made correctly, they are not pleasant to wear and should also help encourage folks to stay home.

Cloth masks like the ones I’m making are less effective than surgical masks and way less than n95. BUT… they are 2 layers of bedsheet cotton with a pocket for adding additional filter (like HEPA filter from a vacuum bag).

There are two styles being made out there, and some confusion – the other one is designed to cover and prolong the useful life of an n95 mask. It’s probably still effective for people running errands, but I don’t know if the fit is as good.

And unfortunately, even our medical professionals have had to resort to these in times of shortage. See rosiesews.org for info and patterns. The call was put out by a hospital in New York, originally. Now that supply is being reserved for medical professionals, these are a good idea for the rest of us as an ADDITION TO social distancing. If nothing else, they keep you from touching your own face while grocery shopping. Why are they being recommended, now? Because you could be infected and showing no symptoms – mainly, wearing a mask is a way to protect others from you, whether it helps you much or not. Not to put too fine a point on it, but SARS-CoV-2 (“novel coronavirus” that causes COVID-19) is airborne, and wearing a mask in public helps you to keep your (possibly infected) “droplets” to yourself.

Launder on HOT and dry on HOT; only touch them after proper, vigorous handwashing. After use, wash hands, remove, throw into the laundry, and wash hands again. Assume both sides are dirty.

Stay safe and healthy out there!

Antipatheia

Antipatheia

Steel-gray, the morning sky, done with night’s temper tantrum, spent, resigned itself to quiet weeping. Joy, sapped of strength and spirit, lay lifeless on a disheveled bed, clothed in crimson. “Why are they still here?” Anger seethed, and gnashed his teeth, unable to look at his son and daughter. He tossed a bag of coins at the midwife’s feet as she swaddled the mewling twins, Angst and Anhedonia, in silence. “Take them to the Mount of Sorrows,” he growled.

The weary midwife nodded, squatting to scoop up and pocket her payment. The shuttered doors blew open as Anger’s sister, Grief, swept the house and hung the mourning curtains, blocking out all but the pale, guttering flame of a black candle. This was no place for newborns. The midwife put the twins into a basket and left before Anger could turn his attention on them. Grief and Anger could bury Joy without her help.

As the midwife climbed the Mount of Sorrows, the weight of the night began to fall from her shoulders, replaced by the enormous burden of the twins. A veil of mist gave way to dawn’s weak light. Hungry at last, the twins began to stir. Their cries, at first half-hearted, became more lusty as the morning wore on. With a sigh, the midwife shook her head and began to descend from the Mount of Sorrows. She took the babes into her own home, where she nursed them on goat’s milk, brought by her own sister, Comfort.

The children would not be left to the wind, the rain, the sun, or the ravaging wolves. Not today, at least. Over the next seventeen years, the midwife would have brief occasion to second-guess her choices, but there was enough of their beloved mother in both of them to bring light and laughter into their world, and the three of them formed a bond that only strengthened, as time passed.

By and by, the midwife learned that Anger had died in Grief’s arms.

Though Angst and Anhedonia struggled, squabbling with one another, now and then, they learned to look outside themselves. Together, they climbed the Mount of Sorrows. Angst faced his fears and goaded his sister, Anhedonia, into opening her eyes until, at last, seeing all the world laid at their feet, she could not help but smile and exclaim, “Ahh, amazing!”

They thrived, blessed and nurtured by the immortal midwife who brought them into the world. Her name…

Her name was Hope.


The title is taken from the word “antipathy,” which didn’t seem quite right until I delved deeper into it, and found this:

antipathy (n.)

c. 1600, “natural aversion, hostile feeling toward,” from Latin antipathia, from Greek antipatheia, abstract noun from antipathes “opposed in feeling, having opposite feeling; in return for suffering;” also “felt mutually,” from anti “opposite, against” (see anti-) + pathein “to suffer, feel” (from PIE root *kwent(h)- “to suffer”).

An abuse has crept in upon the employment of the word Antipathy. … Strictly it does not mean hate,–not the feelings of one man set against the person of another,–but that, in two natures, there is an opposition of feeling. With respect to the same object they feel oppositely. [“Janus, or The Edinburgh Literary Almanack,” 1826]

 

Two Armadillos’ Strife

Two Armadillos’ Strife

I have a love-hate relationship with poetry, including my own. Too much of it is contrived, precious, melodramatic, and affected. This one, though, makes me laugh, and maybe cements my claim to being the only person who’s written a poetic ode to roadkill in sonnet form.

Two Armadillos’ Strife

Against the truck, two armadillos fought
(They lost not only lives, but tail and ear)
‘Twixt sun and rain and tire tread they rot;
And yet, Death is no sneering victor here!
See? In the putrid stinking street they lie
Crushed, congealed, their armored innards cool,
Providing shelter for the pregnant fly
Who leaves her maggots where dogs dare not drool.
The gleaming pearls wriggle – what a treat!
Joyful little maggots writhe and nibble
On fetid juice and desiccated meat
A revolting sight – no one would quibble –
But thus, within this roadkill springs new life;
Small recompense for armadillos’ strife.

Copyright 2003-2020 Holly Jahangiri