Ants, No Uncles

This summer, for the very first time, some beast has been stealing the nectar from my hummingbird feeder. It began with the feeder on the ground in the morning, the yellow cage thingies plucked and strewn about. Each successive night, the beast managed to drain the feeder without throwing it to the ground. It was evolution on the hoof.

I woke up one night, sleepless in Genehouse, and looked out a back window. And saw what I first thought was a mini triceratops, high hunched back and long tail, running crazily around the yard. It was a racoon the size of a Volkswagen Golf. And I swore that I would destroy Beastie Boy and make me a racoon coat.

I started taking the feeder down at night and putting it in the kitchen sink. With one hand, mind you. The only problem was, black ants would spill out of the yellow thingies. I killed ten or more ants nightly, between right index finger and thumb, making sure the poor critters were totally dead, no torture.

Last night, I brought in the hummingbird feeder and rinsed its surface in the sink, and began the insect massacre. I had the thought that I should eat the ants, full of protein and crunchy.

I turned on Colbert. The monologue was a howl. Then, I started howling. Inside my cast, a burning sensation erupted. Something was crawling in there. A few minutes later, a black ant staggered out the hand hole of the cast. Maybe the flesh cheese of my four-week unwashed arm had poisoned it.

More ants emerged, this time from the armhole, and started climbing Mount Eugene (you would call it a shoulder). I plucked them, crushed them, beheaded them, and Scout the Cat began eating the remains. My left arm felt like it had been lit by Girl Scouts building a fire.

At three a.m., I awoke…and felt a crawling sensation inside my cast. Someone—some…thing—laughed. It was the Lone Formicidae, I thought, the Hannibal Lecter of Vespoidia. It was taunting me by singing Barry Manilow songs. Oh, the horror.

By the pricking of my surgically repaired thumb, something wicked this way come—came. Then, came a knocking on the Genehouse front door, and a tinny, tiny voice said “Kemosabe?” It was Tonto Formicidae, sidekick of the Lone Formicidae.

Tonto had led an army of ants underneath my door. Then, I heard a banging in the kitchen. Then, a gay ant male chorus intoned: “Nevermore.” All went silent. I hovered under the blanket and wept, as Jesus wept, you know, the shortest line in the Bible.

This morning, my hummingbird feeder was pulverized on the kitchen floor, as though someone—some…thing—had smashed it with a thousand tiny ant feet. I am all about irony; I got the message.

At early afternoon, I went down for a nap. Scout the Cat snarled and fled. And I took a deep breath, and I knew what it was. My cast was filled with ant shit. And I wept, as Doris Day wept, you know, in “Send Me No Flowers.”

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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