Wasp Men:Guts and Glory

wasps-coverI watch the wasp flit around the back yard, checking out the nooks and crannies to be found under the overhang before zipping off. Like a fighter jet coming on for carrier landing, it flies with its carriage hanging low, stinger like the hook on a fighter that grabs the deck wire to stop it from going off the edge of the carrier, only this one won’t be stopped.

Back again it passes my head, menacing because I have been taught that it is territorial and does not give a shit about my territory; and the fact that as spring slipped into summer heat and the onslaught of the wasps proved insurmountable, I was beginning to feel like a minority at a racist rally; always on the lookout for the attack that would be aimed my way, but never knowing where it would come from.

I stared at it through its zigs and zags, my weapon loaded, oozing excess toxins out of the nozzles that I had adapted for this hunt, and caught it in the gunsights, trying for that Mister Miyagi ballet of movements that would allow me to Zen in on the kill; the fucker had to land sometime.

Pulling hard on its ailerons it snapped upward in an illegitimate movement from Top Gun, you know the one where crazy Tom Cruise pulls on the speed flaps and goes from hunted to hunter in under a second. The fucking wasp should be screaming its own kudos by now as it zips past my head for a return maneuver, me reeling from the disorientation of tracking it around the trim and focused in through bad prescription glasses that leaves me wobbly.

And then it stops dead, flattened on an empty and open space of stucco wall; some stupid reasoning only wasps can understand. It waits and I zoom in for the shot that will end it all. Careful. Careful. Ignore the ooze falling onto my open toed flip-flops, the toxic creation of my own design, ready to kill without affecting my children, my wife’s flowers or the daycare kids when they cascade outside to destroy the back yard later in the day.

It waits and I aim, pump, load, pump, load, pump, load – trained for hours with this lightweight weapon of mass destruction my kid loves; I can feel the pressure is primed in the gun barrel and that it will not eject any faster or stronger than at this moment. I also know that after I pull the trigger I will need to keep holding it as I rapid pump this baby to spurt its lethal contents out until the territorial terrorist is soaked and down on the ground where my shoe will formally finish it off.

Across the street my neighbor uses a power hose, shooting directly at the spots where the wasps land and, like me, missing. Even when a direct hit takes place, the water does nothing. A few wing vibrations and they are good for flight again, trying to track the source of attack. You have to keep moving, never standing stationery so as to escape detection.

“Any luck?” he yells out.

“Almost,” I tell him. “I have one pinned down.”

“Good luck,” he says.

I’m ready. I suck in one final breath and pull the trigger, watch as a strong jet of foamy fluid shoots at my prey, missing by less than one wasp hair – an eternity of a distance – that allows the thing to launch off the wall at hypersonic speed toward its attacker. I dodge, flail, stinky fluid shooting off in all directions and landing on my head.

I back up, pumping even more furiously, a vile vinegary foam oozing out in spurts as I wave it around for maximum coverage, missing at every shot. My arms hurts from the repetitive motion.

The wasp detours like Tom Cruise in pursuit, aiming at me, determined to make a kill of its own. I back up a few steps, still furiously pumping away, the wasp dodging each barrage. I am running low on toxin, knowing that one false move and the wasp will be upon me seeking vengeance for the hives I have already obliterated from my yard and overhangs, seeking vengeance like a Jihad in progress, in revenge of its brethren lost in the battle. It does not look promising for me and yet I am unable to give up. I’ve come too far, too embroiled in this war to surrender what little territory I have left.

Finally, one of the last squirts smacks the thing square on, and I can see it coated in my homemade ooze. It falters, tries to shake off the goo, forcing itself to fly at me, but fails as gravity drags it to the ground by my feet. It smacks head first into the concrete by my flip-flop and without hesitation I raise my foot and smear it across the ground. Game over, dammit! You – are – done.

“Well done, you got it,” the neighbor says peering over our common fence. “I’ve yet to make my first kill.”

“You will,” I assure him. “It takes training. You have to think like the enemy or you’ll never survive.”

Out of breath, now, and out of ammunition, I stand exhausted, my pumping arm throbbing at the joints, despite the victory at hand. I look down at the remnants of wasp and know that I have succeeded. But at what cost?

From the corner of my eye I see another figure slip by, and another, their bodies hanging low as they scout my house for a landing site,  then even more wasps as the morning rays of the sun crest over the backyard fence; just a few of the million jihadist wasps that will sooner or later succeed in making a hive that I will fail to find despite all the technology at my disposal.

A sudden blast of water from the neighbor’s hose scatters their formation as they take shelter away from the spray. I stare at him and begin to wonder whether he started this war with his amateur weapon used carelessly at the hives infesting his home. Did he send them all my way? Is this how I became embroiled in this war?
I think back to when it began but cannot remember the day when I first started; it seemed as though I have always been fighting this fight.

Will I be defeated by a numbers game played by an enemy that cares little of my race, beliefs or even my right to exist. And is the neighbor an agent enhancing the wasp squadron’s ability to infiltrate my home? After all every crevice in my home is ripe for insertion; every opening, every under-hang a prime location. And all it took was a neighbor with a hose and a penchant for starting a war that I was determined to finish but couldn’t.

“We should team up,” the neighbor suggests. “We might be able to kill more of them.”

I look at him incredulously. You dumb shit, I want to say to him. You created this mess. Somewhere there is a queen and a superhive and you have no idea the destruction that will follow. I hoped that it was in his house and not my own; but there was no way I would join forces.

In the background I could just detect the fervent buzzing of a million gossamer wings vibrating furiously; wasp engines readying for the day’s mission. The kill was just the dress rehearsal; the scout party, if you will. The mothership was coming in and there was no stopping it.

I dropped onto the nearest deck chair in defeat, allowed the weapon to slip from my hand and onto the floor and waited like a real man, as the buzzing toward me grew louder and louder.

William Gensburger



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