Tucker didn’t believe in aliens from outer space. He had more immediate and pressing concerns; like how to get rid of all the flies that invaded his house over summer. Each autumn would be spent with a squirt bottle of window cleaner in one hand and a rag in the other, clearing walls, windows, and cupboards of little black specks.
He didn’t like using chemical fly spray much. To be honest, he wasn’t a Greenie; he didn’t avoid fly spray because of environmental concerns. He avoided fly spray because he had a fish tank and life in an aquarium doesn’t appreciate lethal chemical weapons. The fish were safe.
But enough is enough! The day was hot and sticky. Tucker was cooking some corned beef to have cold with a salad in the sultry evening. Flies came from far and wide. Tucker grabbed an old can of fly spray and let the flies have it.
“That’ll teach you… you… you…” said Tucker.
The fish in the aquarium died. Its last words were, “I had told my boss back on the home planet that I didn’t want to be a fish.”
Heidi asked her big brother, Edmund, why they hung the sticky fly paper from the kitchen ceiling. It was covered with flies. The summer had been a bad year for flies.
Edmund explained that when the sticky flypaper was taken down, it could be immersed in boiling water, and made into a delicious soup. All it took was the fly paper covered in flies, some hot water, and some pepper and salt. Then once it had been thoroughly boiled for about ten minutes the fly paper was removed and discarded. If there were too many large blowflies in the soup then the mixture could be briefly pureed. But generally speaking with the small flies it didn’t greatly matter.
That evening, Heidi said she would cook, and she had soup on the menu; soup and toast.
“I didn’t make the fly soup like Edmund suggested,” said Heidi, “because I knew it wasn’t true. Instead I made some soup out of zucchinis that I cooked and pureed. But for Edmund I made a separate dish.”
She placed the special plate of soup in front of Edmund. There was nothing wrong with it of course. It was the same as everyone else’s. But Edmund wouldn’t eat it. He just ate a bit of toast.
(The form selected for this week is an adaptation of the Vietnamese Luc bat. It is an adaptation of the poetic form because Vietnamese is a tonal language and it cannot be imitated in English. The syllable count and the rhyming pattern have been adhered to!)
Let me make one thing clear:
it’s not been a good year for flies.
It’s cold and each fly dies
before they can lay shit-pies and eggs
upside-down with their legs
stuck to the ceiling, pegged up there.
I’ve a good mind to swot
at the several I’ve got, but oh!
I think I’ll let them go;
fly free, you flies, but know one thing:
to pet cat food don’t bring
an egg to make a single maggot.
Eoin hated flies. Not the big mother-fucking blowflies (don’t swear, dear) but those little mother-fuckers. Those little fucking house-flies. (Don’t swear, dear). He hated the little fucking bastards. They’d land on your legs as soon as you sat down in the armchair with the feet up and a good comic.
All the time you’d swish, swish the book at the little fuckers. They wouldn’t leave you alone.
Eoin decided to rid the house of flies. He got a fly swot; a plastic one from the supermarket. He got a can of fly spray; “for all flying insects”. And he got one of those automatic fly spray contraptions that go fizz-fizz every seven minutes to squirt the air with pyrethrum and do the fucking flying assholes in.
“I‘ll get rid of those fucking little bastards if it kills me,” said Eoin.
“Don’t swear dear,” said his mother.
Eoin got asthma-like symptoms. He got atrial fibrillation. The heart specialists couldn’t work out why. He died.
It was a reaction to pyrethrum. Quite rare. The flies got him in the end.
Bonita was famous. She was a film star. She was rich. She was divorced. She had a manservant called Rupert.
There were two things that Bonita detested; one was flies in the house, and the other was weak coffee. The coffee had to be ground from the beans. It had to be percolated. It had to be strong.
Quite frankly, Rupert was sick of it. He penned his resignation. He would hand it to Bonita tomorrow morning.
“Rupert! There are six dead blowflies on the window sill in the kitchen. And the coffee this morning was as weak as weasel piss.” She spoke the word “piss” like it was disgusting; like she was holding someone else’s used tissue that had snot in it. “Do better tomorrow.”
The morning came. Rupert cleaned the window sill. He ground the beans. He made the coffee. Later, he handed in his resignation.
“That’s a shame,” said Bonita. “This morning’s coffee was the tastiest you’ve ever made. It had a bit of body to it.”
One of the things that intrigued Roberta, was that not only could flies land and walk on the ceiling, they could crap upside down as well.
Flies would leave trails of fly poo all over the ceiling and on the ceiling fan. If humans could do that, Roberta thought, think of the space saving in the bathroom. The toilet could hang directly over the bath; although it could be a bit disconcerting if someone was taking a crap while one was bathing naked below.
Yes, it was a lazy day for Roberta. She was lying on the sofa with a Danielle Steel paperback, which was why she was looking at the ceiling and thinking silly thoughts about fly dirt.
She dozed. She read. She dozed. Why not go the whole hog and put the entire bathroom upside down above the kitchen sink? Flies did it there. Why not us? That would certainly save space. Or on the lounge ceiling. That way, visitors wouldn’t miss out on the conversation when they had to make a quick dash to the bathroom. She muttered this to her husband who was dozing in a nearby armchair.
She nodded off again. She quietly died.
It was a strange thought to have died with. Roberta had always imagined she’d die after saying something profound.