when bees attack with righteous conviction

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The second story, con't...

The four children of the Halsey family, all striped in sweat and heavy backpacks, looked at each other in amusement as a man ran down the road, screaming.

“You get this kind of thing often when you live caddy-corner to a nuthouse,” they’d always say to their friends. And they did always say that. They had many gifts, tucked away in books and drawers. Gifts that had been left in their mailbox, or haphazardly shoved under the doormat, only to be found weeks or months later. Rachel’s favorite piece of nutmail (that’s what they called it) was a long, thin receipt from JC Penny’s, dated November 1994. On the back was drawn a small turkey, and underneath, a picture had been cut and pasted of only two faces, whose faces were angrily scribbled out in green pen. On the bottom, in horrible cursive scrawl, it said “Get those squawkers!”

The running man -- his name was Tom, but he wasn’t crazy. He was, indeed, being chased by a swarm of angry bees.Tom couldn't even remember his own name he'd been running so long. To be honest, he'd only been at it for a couple of minutes, but if you knew Tom, you'd know that two minutes was an all-time record for him. He was a 29-year-old business-type man, who still had three-fourths of a beer gut from college, and who rarely made time for breakfast, let alone a run or even a brisk walk.

If Tom weren't running for his life, he probably would have remembered that old story about a mother who was able to lift an automobile that had rolled onto her small child -- all because of adrenaline, which Tom had in spades by this point. But Tom wasn't thinking about any of this at, because those bees seemed to be gaining.

Mostly, Tom had only one thought. Water. Tom knew two things about bees. One, that he was allergic to them. And two, that bees hated water. He needed a stream, a river, a lake -- even a swimming pool would suffice. But he didn't know the area well. And hadn't seen anyone since the bees.The bees. He knew why they were after him. And he couldn't bear to think of what might happen were they to catch him. "Keep running," he thought. "Keep running....find water," he repeated to himself over and over.

The Halsey children watched Tom run off the road, up the embankment and out of sight.

"D'ya think we should go after him?" asked Sadie Halsey, the youngest and perhaps the most good-natured of the Halsey children.

"I don't know, we might want to steer clear of anyone screaming and running around like a nutter," Jacob Halsey thought aloud. Jacob, who absolutely refused to be called Jake, thought aloud most of the time. He was a thinker, and a vocal one at that. And more than likely, his thoughts were good ones. Steering clear of mad-ranting loonies running in no particular direction was, in general, a very excellent idea.

Tom wouldn't have liked that particular description of him, were he allowed to sit down and think about it. But Tom hadn't even noticed he'd been screaming at the top of his lungs just yet. Remember, running and great bodies of water were mostly on his mind. So his screams, while quite audible, hadn't really registered. He hadn't seen the Halsey children a couple hundred feet down the road. He hadn't noticed he was running off the road and up the embankment. He hadn't even really noticed he'd been on a road at all. He was a bit out of sorts at the moment, so I'm sure you'll excuse what happened next.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been chased by a swarm of bees, or a swarm of anything, but from what I hear, it messes up all the thinking parts of your brain. With that being said, Tom saw a swimming pool in the distance (the far distance--about four or five blocks). “If I take my clothes off,” he thought, “there will be less chance that the bees only sting my face and neck.” So while he ran, Tom ripped off his blue thin-stripe shirt, tearing it. The shirt that he had just bought from J-Crew for $73.50, though he didn’t have time to think about that.

By this point, he was two blocks away from the refuge of the pool and he had managed to shed his shirt, his belt, and both of his shoes while still maintaining his angry-bees-are-after-me type stride. Just before running up the stairs to the pool, Tom unbuttoned his pants and prayed to something that his attempt to simultaneously jump out of his pants and into the pool ended with something that could be compared to success. As much success as one could have while also being chased by bees.

Somehow, midair, Tom nimbly flung off his pants, which landed atop the ledge of the splintery pool deck, and sucked in enough air to submerge himself in the pool, landing in a half belly-flop, half something else that ended in a lot of welts and pain, but that didn’t have time for any thought, either.

Holding his nose, and eyes stinging from the chlorine, Tom peered up through the ruckus of the disturbed water as the swarm of bees confusedly flew away, eating their piece of the proverbial humble pie, which Tom, if he were in his sorts, would have called “bumble pie,” and he’d have had a good chuckle.

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