Someone from Prunedale


It felt like a pair of scissors were cutting behind him, like a shearing, somewhere. Then it felt like a fly was on him. And then an intense heat and confusion. That’s how it was with pain, somewhat non-linear in the procedural order. Or any accidental emergency and encounter with the violence and damage of nature. It was overcast and he had been innocently pulling weeds. Well, maybe that wasn’t such an innocent thing. He cursed in the pain and walked around in a circle for awhile, still smarting and confused about the order of sensations, if you could even call it that. Confused about the confusion.

He put his hood up and went back to the task on his hands and knees, or squatting over. Then it came at him again, or another one, but the same kind of insect pelt him square in the back of the head, that he could strongly even through the thick cotton of the sweatshirt.

“Alright, fine. No more weeding.” And he walked away.

The headache lasted until the evening, until there were enough distractions. But something about the bite, and the pelting together, felt like a signal of some kind. A pain you were supposed to pay attention to. Instructive toward the imagined potential threat that now felt looming.

Yesterday, then, in the daylight and the heat that had returned to the valley, together he and the father had been talking and then walked up to the top of the hill where the first bite had been struck. Across the ravine it looked full of activity. They could not tell at first, from this distance, what type of things it were flying around.

Then, at the ground at the slope of the ravine down, surrounded by bramble and poison oaky, the stream like an army and a navy and an marine corps, winged and black and yellow and angry in their movements.  Nothing peaceful about it at all. He thought of the hummable song, but he was not just a little black rain cloud, hovering over any hunny tree. He was staring into a nightmare that if not taken care of, if just ignored, if he hadn’t been bitten, it was unclear really if they would have noticed before the weekend when all the other humans would be there, also invading the territory — if he hadn’t been attacked, would they have been looking? Without that, it could have ended up a total disaster. Because based on the size, the nest had been there for quite some time.

He looked at his father and could tell that it wasn’t what he wanted to hear right now, one more goddamn thing to take care of, that he would have to take care of. He took a breath and thought about the options, and felt ultimately here was another situation to maybe try and be in charge.

There were two ways it would go. His father would try to take care of it himself; but that looked pretty bad, and there had clearly been some tensions and stressors rising in all of them, continuing to take on more and more things to make the whole experience, the short few hours when everyone would be together, better.  But it would probably go pretty poorly. There’d be cursing. In the best of scenarios.

Then there was the other way. You’d need everyone to at least tacitly accept they weren’t in control, and that your skill set and the situation required a real professional, and that despite all our DIY nature, this was probably the one thing we just didn’t need to try.

So he just decided to take care of it himself, in his way. He’d make the phone calls, do the research, schedule the guy. The guy would be named Steven and he had one job in the morning  in Pebble Beach to open a new account, and then he could be out, and he was older and lived in Prunedale and that seemed about right. You wanted someone from Prunedale for a job like this.

“That’s one big ass colony you got down there buddy. It’s at least,” and he opens his arms wide across and then even longer again deep, as if he’d caught a beach ball bass the size of a chair, “biggest one I’ve ever seen. There are just thousands of them all in there. Woo!”

“Every second this is feeling like more and more the right decision.”

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