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A thousand tiny souls

This isn’t about abortion. It’s about flies.Last summer, they came. A huge black swarm of them took up residence in my home. I had seen flies, of course. All my life. I took the last picture of my uncle before he died. He was sitting in a lawn chair, his face creased and exhausted, holding a fly-swatter across his lap, ready to do battle. So maybe it’s a genetic thing.

But I had never seen them in such numbers, certainly not inside a house. It looked like a scene from a crime show, when the detectives enter to find a long-dead body.

For the past year, I have kept a fly-swatter at hand along with home-made fly spray: water, vinegar, a dash of hot sauce, and a few drops of Dawn detergent. It does kill flies (spray to immobilize, then swat), doesn’t smell horrible and, after the fly is swatted, you can easily wipe off the black spots that are left.

I’m thinking of making a swatter-belt with a holster, so the weapon is always at hand. In general, I’m not crazy about stalking my home with weapons of death. It doesn’t feel very Zen. But this is war: Me vs. Flies. Who will win? I’m bigger, but am outnumbered by a large factor. When I smash one, a dozen more take its place.

They surround me when I sit at the computer, buzzing around my head, landing on the screen. When you swat a fly on a touch-screen, interesting visual effects ensue, and increase when you wipe off the smear it left. Sometimes they land on the white wall above the screen. I wondered why they liked that spot, where they are such easy prey, then I learned why: they are feasting on the smears left by those that died previously on that spot. That doesn’t make me like them any better.

I’ve learned a couple of things along the way. Old wives tale: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Not necessarily. Maybe my flies are different. I tried an experiment: I poured a little honey in a saucer and left it on the counter, expecting to find a multitude of flies if not dead, at least in one place where they could easily be dispatched. Not a fly. I left it out for a couple of days. Not a fly. Recently, I accidentally left a cup with a little cider vinegar in it on the counter. I found seven dead flies the next morning.

I guess that’s really the only thing I learned. No, wait, one other thing. Fly-swatters are one of the simplest and most effective low-tech tools ever devised. Long wire handles to allow for a good strong swat. A flat plastic head full of holes that, I suppose, somehow distracts the flies from knowing that they are about to be annihilated. More deaths occur if I swing the swatter in a big arc and come at the fly from a good distance above.

And I just thought of a third thing: If your foot is badly bruised , a fly lands on it and you swat it, it hurts like (*^*. Instant karma.

Sometimes, I’ll come upon a pair of them, joined together and buzzing frantically. They’re either fighting to the death or having at it. Easy to get both of them in one mighty swat. It feels sad. Do flies enjoy it? If so, it might not be a bad way to die. Sometimes I swat one and it leaves a smear of yellow yuck. I wonder if she was pregnant. If so, I’m glad to have prevented more flies. But it still feels sad.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just culling the herd. Weeding out the weak and stupid ones, breeding a new, stronger fly.

What I wonder most is whether I’ll step into Bardo carrying the weight of a thousand tiny souls on my shoulders. Do no harm. Am I preventing still more harm? I guess I’ll find out. I have to say, my backhand is getting pretty good.


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