This story appears in my book A Creature Wanting Form.
No one ever really knocks on our door so when someone does I assume something must be wrong like how it used to be getting a call in the middle of the night yet here was the neighbor presenting a fresh-baked loaf of bread she was holding in her hands like a loaf of bread.
I baked some bread for you guys she said and I said oh thank you.
There’s a hornet nest on your porch she said and I said oh thank you.
It was 101 degrees in May and I wasn’t sure why she was baking bread on this day of all days but that didn’t stop me from eating it later when she wasn’t looking.
When one of us would fumble the football in practice the coach would say don’t hold it like a loaf of bread and none of us ever knew exactly what that meant. Coaches love to say stupid shit that doesn’t mean anything but for the intensity with which they’re saying it.
Hold onto it so tightly you don’t care if you damage it I think was the point. Squeeze the shit out of it.
Unlike footballs loaves of bread are meant to be handled lovingly. Sticking out of the basket on your Parisian bicycle. Coaches hate Parisian bicycles and everything that whole thing sort of calls to mind. Maybe the striped shirts remind them of referees.
Hornets and other kinds of wasps construct their nests by chewing up wood in their little hornet beaks and turning it into a papery pulp whereas people chew on an entire loaf of bread and turn it into regret.
Some of the nests are underground but most are exposed like the sad one being built by one single hornet on my porch flying back and forth spitting his home onto my home one mouthful at a time.
Later I poked my head out the door and saw the hornet right around where I usually sit and thought ah there it is that must be the famous hornet I had heard about earlier.
When it gets cold a hornet colony will collapse but the queen squats inside hibernating alone waiting to start all over again later on.
Before that it all goes to complete shit though.
The first signs of winter drive all the hornets insane and they turn on one another and the young in particular and while they’re busy fighting amongst themselves the maggots and the woodlice and centipedes and moths are waiting at the gates.
I just looked up hornets on Google and what people want to know about them is:
Are hornet nests dangerous?
How do you kill a hornet nest? Should I leave a hornet nest alone? Are hornets good for anything?
I thought that last one was kind of rude.
Then I clicked around and read that a wasp-waist is a women’s fashion silhouette that you get by cinching everything together real tight with a girdle to accentuate the hips and breasts. Apparently at some point a guy decided he wanted to fuck wasps or at least women who look like them and then women had to go around like that.
I rode my bike over some altogether unrelated hornet nest far from here long before I knew how to hold the football one way or another.
Like other wasps hornets release a pheromone when threatened or when on the attack against prey in a sort of synergistic effect. So they all know it’s time to fucking go.
Vespine is the term that applies to wasps. It comes from Latin and is basically the type of word a writer would use if they were trying to show off how sensitive to nature and language they are. Vulpine is another word like that. Vulpine means cunning like a fox more or less. How a fox might sneak into an aviary undetected.
The word synergy comes from the Greek term synergos which means to work together which the hornets promptly did that one time crawling up inside my chubby little boy camouflage jacket that I thought would have made me invisible to all of my enemies.
Around the same time the hornets got me but not the same day because that would have been a bit much the neighbor’s dog bit me almost right on my dick and balls but it was a near miss. It was always a nice dog before that but I guess it had gotten old and was lashing out at its dog gods and its instincts were overriding its socialization.
I remember my grandfather becoming very angry out of nowhere like that at times toward the end of his whole deal which was scary because he was never cross with anyone. He hardly did anything at all as far as I knew besides sit there and tremble and let my grandmother yell at him for his quiet.
At the beginning of the end he was a janitor at the local high school and I remember hearing that the kids would goof on him because he was so slow and his hands shook so much. I want to go back and find those kids and shove hornets into their jackets. This kind man never hurt anyone even when everyone else around him was hurting each other.
A story my mom likes to tell me is about a time I found a dead mouse in the yard when I was a little pisspants and it was a whole thing for my brain like this existential crisis and I cried over the mouse like it was my dead son or something. They killed my boy.
I didn’t even know this individual mouse previously. It was a stranger to me.
I think she likes to tell it because it reminds her of when I was sensitive and stupid instead of an asshole and stupid like I am now.
So I got the can of poison and I went out and looked at the nest and there was the one worker laboring hard and I pointed my awful weapon at him and briefly felt like a scab or a Pinkerton and then I noticed there was a large spider building a web in the general vicinity and I wondered which of them was waiting for the other to fuck up first. I wondered if they knew each other from around the neighborhood.
Another thing is adult wasps only eat flowers or whatever they don’t eat bug meat but their babies do so they have to go out and sting a spider or a cricket or some other poor bastard in exactly the right bug nerve ending so it doesn’t die instantly and then bring it back to the nest and lay an egg inside of it and then the larvae eat it very slowly and methodically piece by piece so it stays alive as long as possible.
Remember that scene from The Road where the main guy comes across the cannibal cellar and everyone is inside there still alive with their legs chopped off? Being shaved for meat like at the deli. That was just about one of the worst things I’d ever heard about. Nobody liked reading about that shit.
So I shot the hell out of the hornet with the poison and then I felt weird about not killing the spider too because who am I to play a capricious god and once you start killing it’s easy to just keep going and the spider fell to earth and sort of just laid there in a spider ball huddled inward and the hornet took off and flew as far as he could go with as long as he had left.
Did you know a hornet can sting you just about as many times as it wants without dying unlike a bee who only gets the one shot?
When the hornets were attacking me I dumped off my bike and ran back to my mother and she told me to take the jacket off. Take the jacket off she yelled at me but I couldn’t. I decided to roll around on the ground like I was on fire which I sort of was and thereby squishing all of the stingers into me. Stop drop and roll would have been one of the only things they taught kids about not dying at that point in history. Not getting into strange vans too I suppose. They didn’t even teach kids how to hide from gunmen yet when I was young that wasn’t invented yet.
The rolling didn’t work naturally so I took off running to nowhere in particular but it didn’t really matter because I was carrying them along inside with me wherever I went.