Contributor: Michael Fontana

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The wasp flew outside our door, his little pinprick legs hauling in mud for construction of a nest. I responded by breaking out the broom and attacking his pile of mud with the bristles, breaking it out of the crevice in our fireplace, scattering it to the ground and then spraying it with wasp killer for good measure.

He then flew up into my face, extending a leg forward as if for a handshake before speaking. His voice was all gravel like he smoked a pack a day. “Charlie the Wasp, Mike. You don’t mind if I call you Mike, right?”

“I suppose not. I let the kid at the deli do it. You’re no more offensive than him.”

“Where you get off wrecking my house, Mike?” He was a lanky purple sucker, his wings whirling to keep him afloat in front of my nose.

“What do you mean?” I asked. I was in my 40s, lanky and lean, dressed in a polo and jorts for the day. It was like to break 100 out so my brown hair was in a soak from sweat.

“You got this nice suburban ranch home going there, Mike,” he said. “You and your wife got it really cozy. Just think a minute was I to bring along a tree trunk and starting pounding away at your bricks and mortar. You wouldn’t take a shine to that now would you?”
“You don’t have the wherewithal to pick up a tree trunk,” I said. “The whole comparison is absurd.”

Obviously tiring at beating his wings, he took a rest on the edge of our porch railing. “You got a bad attitude toward us insects, Mike,” he said. “It’s downright discriminatory.”

“How you mean?”

“Listen, Mike, I got my function on the planet just like you. You got your job, I got mine, just let me be, okay?”

“Can’t do that,” I said. “You’d sting my wife’s ass just as sure as I dig bread pudding.”

He hoisted one of his spindly front legs like a Boy Scout. “Swear I never do such a thing.”

“Uh-huh. That’s the nice thing about bees. They sting you once and it’s suicide for them. You little pricks sting over and over without consequence.”

“You think I got no remorse for giving up the sting? Let me tell you, Mike, it’s hard work having a human flail at you with his hands like to smash you into oblivion. It’s all self-defense, kind of like the way you idiots all shoot each other and blame the pistol for it.”

“Different scenario entirely,” I said, thinking about the Glock I had locked away in a desk drawer for safe keeping. “We have property and life to think about. You got bitty little eggs and a clump of mud to consider.”

“I don’t kill people though, Mike. Your type does. On a regular basis.”

“What if someone has an allergy to you?” I asked. “It’s pretty lethal then.”

“Rare aspect,” Charlie said. “I often fly around the head of the corpse afterward or tap at the window of the funeral home to level my apologies.”

“Wasps don’t have remorse.”

“You don’t know wasps.

I considered this with a finger to my chin. “I suppose you’re right.”

“Now see, Mike, we are an oppressed creature from time immortal. Always viewed as evil, always viewed as bane despite our industriousness. We help the ecological plan along.” He took a thoughtful pause. “You do support the ecology, don’t you Mike?”

I perked up. “We recycle.”
“Good man, Mike. See, we help that along. There’s a chain of interaction involved in all of this, Mike, and the wasp has just as much a role in it as your kind.”

“I’m still not letting you build your nest on the outside of my fireplace.”

“Where am I supposed to build, Mike? Your neighbors don’t want me any more than you do. I thought we had an understanding brewing here.”

“I understand. I just don’t want you sharing quarters with my family.”

“You’re a real piss, Mike, you know that? I take you for a stand-up rational guy and you turn out to be etched of the same flickering flame of miscreation that all you people are.”

“Now who’s stereotyping?”

“I got my sweet recompense though, Mike.” I could have sworn he smiled on that pinpoint purple face of his. He flew at me in a hustle and stung my neck and ear before taking flight into the distance. In the midst of all my cursing I hurled the mud of his would-be nest into the air after him.

My wife came out to scope the situation. She was a heavyset bundle of beauty that knew me better than I knew myself. “You’ve been arguing with the insects again, haven’t you?”

I nodded, cringing in pain from the stings, a hand to the back of the neck and to the ear.

“Inside with you,” she said, guiding me with a loving palm to the small of my back.

Before the door closed completely, Charlie the Wasp returned to fly up to her. “Give him what-for,” he said to her. “He’s a real dip.”

“Try living with him,” she said.

They both chuckled as I ministered to my wounds.

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Michael Fontana lives and writes in beautiful Bella Vista, Arkansas.
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