Miniature Kamikaze pilots, singularly focused and all ablaze, whistle towards us before fizzling into threads of smoke and desperation inches from where we stand. The snow which now finds its way into the sides of my shoes melts against my sockless foot, trying in vain to steel itself against a watery fate. I take a reluctant step forward to better view the oil slicks of smoke spewing up into the night air. We’re going to jail aren’t we? I look back at Jared, standing anxiously at the periphery of the retreating snow bluffs with his eyes closed and cell phone pressed defeatedly on top of his head.
I say, “At least we got those son-of-a-bee-stings, huh?”
“I guess,” he responds.
Thirty feet from the gas station, Goksel repeatedly yanks on the emergency brake. With fits and groans from the car’s intestines, we come to a halting stop two feet deep into the designated parking spot.
“Brakes don’t work.” He grunts. Jesus Christ. I head into the store with Gatorade, grill lighters, and bug spray on the mind. I pick up a man-sized bag of Combos, a red Gatorade, a coffee, and some spray-on deodorant instead of the bug spray, before making my way to the register.
“Where’s Jennifer today?” I ask the cashier, indicating the high school drop-out who lives with her dad just beneath us in the renovated farm house, and who usually works the drawer here.
“She’s working from home today…”
“Look buddy, I don’t make the rules, she’s just not here, okay?”
Nearby, two teenagers pick up two pairs of windshield wipers and give each other a pound. I pay, eager to escape the glare of the claustrophobia-inducing halogen bulbs overhead. Goskel greets me outside with a grin and thumbs-up, a lit cigarette perched precariously on his lower lip as he effortlessly fills an empty Sprite bottle ten feet from our poorly parked vehicle. It’s 10:30 am.
Back at the farmhouse, Onur, the unofficial fifth roommate, with a propensity for accumulating 1970s video editing equipment, playing endless amounts of FIFA soccer, smoking hash, and shouting scary Turkish obscenities at the news, awaits us, shirt removed, sweaty, yet somehow near comatose and splayed on the couch which he has pilfered from our day-to-day existence. At least twice a day I confuse him for a shadow on the back of my brain.
“Dude, fucking bees man.” One hand falls loose from the controller on his lap to half-heartedly exaggerate this pronouncement with a fake swatting of bees.
“They’re bad today huh?” I ask.
“Un-fucking-bearable man, I can’t get anything done. All day, every day, more and more bees. Bees in my cereal, bees in my shoes, bees in my sound mixer, bees in the fucking walls. They’re coming out of a hole in the wall by my bed, look man.” He says, touching a small crack just above the couch where he’s seated.
He doesn’t need to explain, we’ve already pondered the dilemma at great length, discussing the queen bee’s various imagined Waterloos to the point of self-repulsed boredom. What was once a minor summer nuisance has become an alarmingly resilient pain-in-the-D this winter. But today, the culmination of religiously skipped classes and feverishly consumed Discovery channel shows will dictate the course of bee history at 203 Germantown Rd.
The goal is simple: smoke the bees out of the wall hive from a small opening in the home’s exterior. Someone has done something similar before I tell myself. Jared lights a rolled newspaper with the flame of a spray deodorant /grill lighter blow torch. We take turns holding the roll next to the opening, gently blowing smoke down into the once humming hive. It takes only ten minutes before we hear the first creak of wood, and by then it’s readily apparent that the smoke surrounding this gruesome burial ground is emanating from within.
“Shit. I think we’ve gotta call someone. How the hell do you put out an internal fire?”
“Goddammit.” Jared races inside to get his phone. He emerges with his phone in hand and an unconscious Turk slung over his back, smoke chasing after them.
It has finally occurred to me why winter is so cold and coats so necessary. Bees are now pouring out of the engulfed structure, angry and scared. Jokes never told, stories told too often, petty silence, and endless blabberings disperse in all directions, propelled by the heat of flaming bug carcasses. I imagine it all being absorbed by neighboring hives, possessing the current inhabitants with the ghosts of bees past. I hope the firemen come soon.
Has spent an inordinately large amount of time in school. He now lives in Boston/New York.