Flash Fiction by Stuart Watson
A Buzzing in Her Ear
Two weeks before Christmas is no time for a fly to show up. I was reading, enjoying the shitty life of the writer’s imagination, when this fly divebombs my ear. My right ear, if you care. I called Big Bad Brad. He’s the only exterminator in town, if you don’t want to bait your own traps and fog the house with Smogg.
“Fly like that, he could do a lot of damage to a place like this,” he
said. “You got insurance?”
“OK, couple hundred. Take me a day, maybe two. Depending.”
“On what. You never know.”
Two days, to kill a fly? Then again, I had to think about the damage. The potential damage.
My wife woke up with a swollen eye. Complained of soreness. It was all red, in the white part of her eye. It should’ve been white, is what I’m saying.
What caused that? Elise went to sleep perfectly fine (OK, she could lose a pound or two), and when she wakes up, she’s a mess. Did the fly wait for her to fall asleep, land on her cheek, walk gingerly up to her eyelid, reach down with his two front legs and lift it up? Did he? Did he then turn around and stick his butt under her eyelid and crap in there?
Once something like this gets a purchase on my brain, it’s hard to settle down. Elise says
I’m obsessive. I prefer focused.
I’m not at the place my friend Rafe got with a fly that invaded his domicile. For him, it was the noise. For me, it’s the touch. Drives me fucking insane, when they land on your forehead, then fly off when you sweep your hand up, but return to land on your neck. Repeat, rinse, wash. They surely know, smart as they are, that their little legs will aggravate the shit out of you when they touch down over and over and over on your skin. Spreading filth, I might add. From dogshit to your face, in one quick flight.
Rafe said he eventually had to take a shower, to wash off all the excrement he was sure the fly had left. And when he stepped out of the shower? The goddamned fly landed on his pecker. Can you believe it? The gall of the little bastard.
No wonder Rafe eventually lost it, went and got his single-shot shotgun, and blew thirteen holes in his sheetrock before he ran out of ammo. Then the fly landed on his gun.
“Neener fucking neener!” Rafe yelled, swung the gun and hit a lamp, which must have crushed the fly because he couldn’t hear it any more.
Brad showed up and asked me to leave because it wasn’t safe being inside with the toxic fog. He said it was a genetic disruptor or somesuch. Causes tumors that expand rapidly and kill the fly. Whatever. Anything for a little peace. He told me to come back around three.
I told Elise I was leaving and she should, too. I drove around for a bit. Saw my favorite bar and went in for a couple whiskeys. Barry asked me why I was there in the middle of the day. “Fly,” I said. “Evicticator is doing his thing.”
“Hear you, buddy,” he said. “Dirty little bastards. Had one visit us last month, we all had diarrhea for a week after that.”
“Sure it wasn’t Jo’s cooking?” I said. “Everybody OK?”
“We’re good. Sore butts, but OK.”
We had us a good laugh. When I got home, Brad had the windows open and fans blowing and there was a fine, smokey haze coming out of all the windows.
“Can I go in?”
“You might wait a bit,” he said. “Just to make sure.”
“Is Elise around?”
“My wife. She was taking a nap, in back. I told you.”
“You didn’t tell me that. I would’ve remembered that. Everybody’s supposed to be out when we disperse the Smogg.”
“What happens if they’re not?”
He’s pretty white already, but he got whiter.
I ran into the house, held my breath, ducked beneath the cloud of toxic fog, turned down the hallway and burst into our room.
Elise was in bed. She had grown. A lot. She almost filled the room, crouching on her knees, her back against the ceiling. Saliva foamed around her mouth. Between her face and the wall stood the slowly stirring body of an extremely large, extremely well-fed fly.
Its head lifted up from Elise’s broken skin, ropey mucus hanging from what looked like a vacuum hose. I heard the messy sound of a straw taking up the last of a vanilla shake as the fly hoovered a kind of gravy from Elise’s gut.
The head turned, to take me in. For a brief second, I could see myself reflected a hundred times in its bulbous eyes.
My mouth was open a hundred times.
A hundred times, my lips poured out an elongated wail wrapped around the word “No.”
On the backside of a long award-winning journalism career, Stu Watson now devotes his energies exclusively to poetry, essay and short fiction. His work has recently appeared (or will soon) in The Maine Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, Revolution John, Montana Mouthful, Wretched Creations and Wanderlust Journal. He lives with his wife and the world’s best dog in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon.
Flash Boulevard is edited by Francine Witte. Banner photograph Wes Candela.