I began to write a how-to piece on being ugly when a fly buzzed into my
office. He circled overhead, landed on my arm, and otherwise made a pest
of himself. I tried to concentrate. When the fly crawled into my armpit,
it was all I could take. I stopped typing and faced him like a man. He
sat on my shoulder rubbing his hands, fond of the attention.
Instead of swatting him back to hell the way I should have, I decided
to trap him for a better look. I poured out my glass of vod -- water
-- and moved in for the capture. The fly pretended not to see me, but
come on, he had 32 eyes. Just as I went to pounce, the sucker danced
out of the way. He seemed annoyed now, performing his little fly-bys
next to my ear.
We played this game for a spell before I caught him off-guard by the
Slam! He was in my glass.
I covered the lid with a rejection letter and admired my prey. He
bounced around like a madman bent on freedom. Ah, but I was in charge
of his freedom now. I watched him bang his head on the walls of his
new world, sorry to have ever met my armpit.
Then a strange feeling came over me, something I hadn't felt, well,
ever. It was a queasy feeling that clogged my throat: I was suffering
from mercy. I was actually concerned for that filthy, annoying, buzzing
little beast. I got to feeling that it wasn't my right to contain a
fly, no matter how much he bugged. I reflected on all the flies I had
squished in the past, how I had taken pleasure in cleaning their guts
off the table. I remembered the journal in which I recorded the kills.
Suddenly, it didn't feel good.
I considered the Right Way as defined by the Buddha, then Thoreau's
story about warring ants. I thought about Pamela Lee Anderson just
Was I really going to let this fly fly? Who was I, and what had I
done with the real Jason?
I inspected the fly up close and waxed philosophical. How was this
creature different from any person I know? He was born to live out
his days the best he could. He buzzed around, landed on the occasional
turd, and procreated. It wasn't much different than being a human.
In fact, unlike myself, this fly had reason to be here because his
mom got pregnant on purpose. The big difference, I guess, is that if
I kept a human inside a glass wondering what to do with him, someone
might take exception.
It dawned on me that my fly guy might be suffocating. So I moved the
paper back just a touch to let in some air and -- BOOM, he was out
of there so fast it wouldn't show up on film. He darted past my ear
and out the door, never to return to that sadistic monster in the computer
room. Even as we speak, he is hovering above some nearby garbage can,
telling the story of his abduction.
But I, sigh, I feel kind of empty. I wasn't done studying my new friend,
who had so much to teach me. He is gone forever, and I'm left to my
normal worries, starting with the cost of vodka.