day late...

several dubloons short for Father's Day... sorry. Spent it at a muscle car / hot rod show in Pennsy hawking the roller derby league.
Anyway, a belated happy to all the fathers out there. My dad passed away many years ago, but left me with a wealth of memories and lessons. I've fictionalized a lot of them in a collection of stories about a guy named Jack. All the stories are based on real events in his life, some of which I was around to experience (usually in terror and/or awe...) and some are based upon stories he told me when I was a kid. I was around for this one and play the part of his neighbor. I've posted this one before, but saw something yesterday that brought it back to mind, so here is is again. Hope you like it.

Jack and The God Damned Wasps

Over the course of a year or so, Jack had added an addition to the driveway side of his house. It was about twelve feet wide and ran the length of the house, from front to back. It became his kitchen and dining area, with large windows that ran along the driveway, affording a commanding view of the privet hedge that separated Jack’s domain from “the neighbors”. The new room had a shed style roof that pitched down to the driveway, on which Jack had hung a rain gutter to keep the driveway from becoming a quagmire of wet cinders and dirt. (I’ll tell you about the cinder driveway some other time when I can summon the strength…). All was well over the course of the next winter, but when the warm weather came around again, there appeared some unwelcome tenants living up under the gutters… wasps. Every night when he came home from work, Jack would park his car in the shade of the new room, and when he got out of the car the wasps would hover out from under the gutters to have a look, and decided Jack was some sort of threat, so they would dive bomb his head while he ran, swatting, to the safety of the back door. This went on for a while, till he finally had enough of this daily swatting and sprinting business and he decided to do something about it.

I was mooching around the vacant lot across the street from Jack’s house early one Saturday morning, kicking around in the waist high weeds looking for box turtles. I looked up from the hunt and saw him standing in the driveway. He had on heavy wool pants, which were tucked into a pair of winter boots, the black rubber kind with the snap clasps on them. You know the kind of boots I’m talking about, don’t you? We all had them as kids, for trucking around in the snow, the clasps getting full of snow and freezing shut so you had to pry them open to get them off… anyway, over the boots and pants he was wearing a heavy red and black plaid hunting jacket, heavy leather gloves with gauntlets going half way up his forearms, and, to top it off, one of those Yukon hats, with the built in ear muffs, which were down and tied fast under his chin. Not a bad outfit for exploring the frozen wastes in winter, but it was late June and this was tempting heat stroke, at the least. I decided to stop worrying the box turtles for a while and mosey over to see what this was all about.
“Jack, what are you all done up for?” I asked as I met up with him. He was setting a ladder up against the side of the house and he turned to me and said,
“I’ve had it with those God damned wasps. They chase me into the house every night and I’m fed up with it. One of these days one of the God damned things is going to sting me.”
“What are you going to do, Jack, smoke them out” I asked.
“Nope”, he said, reaching into the right pocket of his coat and extracting a tall white aerosol can. “I got a can of God damned wasp killer. I’m going to squirt the God damned things and to hell with them.”
“Well, that sounds like it should work. Have you ever used that stuff before?”
“No, but the guy at the hardware store said it will kill them in one shot, so I’m going to give them a squirt and that’s that.”
“Ok… but you know, I think I’ll watch this from across the street.”
I turned to walk back out of his driveway as he started to climb the ladder. What happened next, I can only imagine, because all I heard was,
followed by a loud thud. By the time I turned around, all I got to see was Jack sprawled on his back in the driveway, his wooden ladder laying on top of him and the can of God damned wasp killer spinning in the cinders a few feet away, sending up a little dust devil in the late morning heat. I ran back to him and helped him crawl out from under the ladder. It was then I got a good look at his face. One of the wasps must have decided to fend off the lethal squirt with a preemptive strike and had flown up under his glasses and stung him under his left eye. It was already swollen up like a bright red walnut.
“Are you ok, Jack?” I asked.
All he did was get to his feet, kick the ladder out of his way and start walking to his back door. He paused a minute to look at the can of God damned wasp killer lying at his feet. His whole body shivered like he had a chill and he just walked by and went inside. I didn’t see anymore of him that day.
I picked up the ladder and put it in his garage and then picked up the can of God damned wasp killer and set it on his back porch. I went back across the street to see if any box turtles were to be had and that was pretty much that.

Jack decided that the wasps were better left alone and I think the wasps decided that Jack was to be avoided, too. They wouldn’t make any more personal appearances when he got out of his car, they just made a loud buzzing under the gutters to remind him they were still there and they should leave each other alone.
He did pick up a strange habit, though, that lasted as long as I knew him… whenever he got out of his car he automatically looked up to his left to sure some God damned wasp wasn’t making a sneak attack. It didn’t matter where he was or if there were any wasps or not, he still made that left and up turn of the head. Better safe than sorry, I guess.

Oh, yeah… the wasps eventually left their haven under the gutters… I think it was because of the bats. But that’s another story.
pearls before swine...


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