John Boston | Lord of the Santa Clarita Valley Flies

John Boston

Like Mad Magazine’s iconic Alfred E. Neuman, I’ve got flies. They showed up at my office last week, unannounced, without an appointment, and just made themselves at home. 

These aren’t your normal riparian Santa Clarita horseflies, big-asterisks enough you can shoot with a .38 caliber revolver without bothering to look up from your computer. No. These are annoying little microscopic wanna-be tse-tse flies, tinier than a microbe but with 4-pound teeth. Worse? I just got the United Nations invasion of fly-ettes. Fruit flies. Phorid flies (they prefer carrion). Drain flies (aka, moth flies because they go through their worthless lives posing as miniature moths). Sphaerocerid Flies (commonly referred to, but not in their company, as dung flies). Fungus Gnats. Cheese Skippers. Cheese Skippers are also called Ham Skippers. I’m confident if Nature created a Bread Fly, the three could get together and enjoy a picnic. 

Those who know me can attest in court or via affidavit that I’m Nurse Ratchett anal when it comes to my environment. Don’t let the cowboy hat fool you. The Soviets should have contacted me after their untidy Chernobyl incident back in 1986.  

I’ll clean up your countertop little mister, yaw-shure, ewe betcha. 

I know. The above is Swedish, but what the heck do the Ukrainians know. They’re still dizzy from radiation poisoning. 

Point being, I keep a tidy ship. It’s not like a Sasquatch dragged a half-eaten elk carcass up to my office and left it on the carpet by the copier. I shouldn’t have flies. After all. I’m a good person. 

Worse? As I approach Middle Age, I sometimes see little black explosions in my eyes so with the 43 trillion miniature bugs and my spots, I’m spending my days in non-stop shadow boxing. Hit a letter on the computer keyboard. Swat at a fly or illusion. Hit a letter on the computer keyboard. Swat at a fly or eye floater. 

Gosh. Nostalgia. Eye Floater. That was the name of my first wife’s third husband. 

Clearly. Swinging wildly at insects or the imaginary is no way to get work done. Besides. Expending all that energy, in four or five days, I’d start to get tired, fall asleep, then the flies would eat me. 

I called My Best Pal In The World, “That Lousy Phil Lanier” as he was labeled by both his mother and mine. I’ve often suspected that Phil was not in advertising but actually worked for the CIA because Phil is always a gods-swell of arcane knowledge. 

Phil asked me the usual warm-up questions about my office and personal hygiene. Like: “Have you any unrefrigerated human heads lying about?” 

Or: “Do you have a large and spreading yeast infection?” 

Or: “Did you vote for Joe Biden?” 

The latter would make sense. From Exodus 8:21: “If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.” 

I patiently reminded Phil that I was Polish, not Egyptian. 

“Oh yeah,” said Phil. “That’s right.” 

Phil, coming from agrarian roots, suggested the obvious. “Poison everything.” Then he meandered off on a tangent about Santa Clarita “…possibly being in the midst of a planet-ending shift, moving you people toward a climate more post-Saharan/apocalyptical. You may find that flies will become an important and increasing food source.” 

Especially to the Democrats. 

Always the optimist, Lanier saw a business opportunity. 

“You could be a fly wrangler!” He envisioned me wandering from homes to businesses on horseback, my Stetson sporting several dozen Shell No Fly Pest Strips dangling from the brim. I could stroll through master bedroom or lobby for several minutes, collecting bugs. 

We chatted more, talked of our art, families, health. I bid him farewell. Phil yelled: “Hey! Wait! Guess what’s this sound!” and then went: “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…” and then he hung up. Very mature, for someone born in 1950. 

I ended up visiting the 21st century’s second-most reliable source of knowledge — YouTube. (Wikipedia’s No. 1, in case you’ve a term paper due.) My favorite fly removal technique? Take a can of WD-40, aim it toward a flock of flies, pull the trigger, then, using a cigarette lighter, ignite the petroleum stream so it creates a small flame thrower. I have to admit. It’s fun. But, it tends to leave a sickly burnt oil covering on furniture while setting off fire alarms. 

I ended up using a recipe that worked quite well. You mix water, apple cider vinegar, a few heaping tablespoons of sugar and some dishwashing detergent in a bowl. I hate to speak French in mixed company, but “voila.” It worked. Soon, a solo microscopic fly (or my wife’s third husband, Dr. Eye Floater) was struggling to do the backstroke. It was like watching a little itty-bitty Batman with cerebral palsy swimming in a pool filled with pink sludge. 

Using a magnifying glass and bullhorn, I bent over and asked, in my best Elmer Fudd voice: “Ooooo. Mr. Summer’s Annoying Pestiwence Fwom Hell! Are you dwowning? Can I thwow you a widdle life pweserver or scuba tank and fwippers?” 

I watched in satisfaction as the fly sunk to the bottom of Lake Tupperware. I was happier than Dracula’s daft crony, the fly-eating and possibly left-leaning Renfield. I filled more bowls with the mixture and placed them around the office. Soon, the containers were rich with corpses. I had created my very own satanic golf course, but instead of lakes I had containers of soapy doom. My very own La Brea Tar Pits. 

It wasn’t very Christian of me, but I found myself merrily skipping about, walking my trap lines, singing, “Die and go to hell, Flies! Die and go to hell!” 

I seem to recall seeing that song in a hymnal somewhere. 

Or maybe the lyrics were just an eye floater… 

John Boston is a local and flyless writer.   

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