I've always hated those things. Bees, wasps, hornets. For as long as I remember their horrible buzzes and stingers have been engraved in all my nightmares. The sounds of buzzing wings always send me running and arms flailing to protect me. Whenever one was around, I'd always get my dad or brother, my older brother to get them. I've never been stung, but I wanted to keep it that way. I never wanted to take any risk around them
My dad was of course and expert at killing bugs and why wouldn't he. He's an exterminator. There was no nest, hive, or anthill that could scare him. He got stung many times and even hospitalize one time. He loved the job and it put money on the table for years. Of course he'd never expect me and my brother to follow his footsteps; especially me. I couldn't handle all the creepy crawlies, like bees. Mostly bees. My dad didn't think I would be cutout as an exterminator being such a wimp when it came to bugs, and expected me and my brother to work hard in school.
My older brother was practically level headed around bugs. He even had a pet tarantula that he'd often carry in his own hands. But he was smarter and ended up in Arizona State with a biology major. He could comeback with a full degree like dad and be an exterminator too, but that time hasn't come yet. I on the other hand haven't been too lucky. I passed high school. I got through my first year of college, but it all fell apart the second year. I couldn't keep up with my work and my job. I tried quitting the job at the moment, but I was too far behind and flopped my finals.
My family couldn't afford to send me another year so I was stuck back at home. Jobs in my town became scarce fast and was only to keep one job at a Wendy's for a month before I got replaced.
There was still one job available and that was working as an exterminator with my dad.
I didn't want to do it. It only took another month until my mom nagged me enough to take the job. To me and my dad's dismay I went to nearly every job he had with an old friend of his. He was also pretty close to the family and often visited as if he was part of the family. So for years, me and my brother called him uncle Ian.
Me, dad, and uncle Ian would get calls within our state, Oklahoma, and occasionally somewhere in the neighboring states, like Texas. Me and dad load up in our old van with the company logo saying 'Clayton Family Pest Control'. Yes, my dad's exterminator services was a family business that started with my grandfather. He retired but still manages the main branch in Kansas with my real uncle, while my dad and uncle Ian have the branch in Oklahoma.
We get calls and sometimes Uncle Ian will join in when he's busy with another job. Me and my brother have learned from watching dad how to use the equipment. Though I still needed dad to go over how to handle the pests we were after; how to detect them, find them, and kill them. Searching for the vermin had to be my favorite part of the job. Mostly because I didn't have to handle them as much. Just walk around search for the signs my dad told me to look for. Nothing I couldn't handle. Then there were days I had to go back to clean the area out.
It wasn't as bad as I thought. Rats and other rodents were a problem at first, but I got used to them as time went on. I still preferred my dad to venture in the more nasty areas needed. Roaches everyone finds disgusting and tended to avoided working around those. I only set up traps and sprayed poison to repel them. Ants I worked with the most. Very easy to find, and easy to get rid of. The poison was much easier to kill them than with my foot like I did as a kid. But I can tell you there were always a lot of ants and termites to get rid of.
We'd worked in all kinds of places. Restaurants, abandoned buildings, and some people's houses. One time we got hire to clear out a high school with their infestation problems. I remember there being anthills, huge ones, everywhere there was grass. It was done but I had to make a second trip to get more poison for the ants.
Uncle Ian and dad worked inside the school's ceilings clearing out roaches and wasps, leaving me in the sun clearing every hill, one by one, the whole day. We went back to the school one day to tackle one more area by the football field. From what dad said there was a huge hornets nest, the size of a basketball, under the home bleacher. One day during a gym class some guy got sat right underneath and was stung multiple times. Turned out he was very allergic and ended up in the hospital and nearly died. That's probably what I feared the most about them. The allergic reactions. The stingers coming one after another getting an entire hive in a frenzy. I didn't know if I was allergic and I sure as hell didn't want to find out. I know they could kill me. I've seen those animal shows where people nearly died from bee swarms. Dad says those stories are bullshit, but the facts are still there. They can still kill me!
We walked to the football field and over to the bleachers. It didn't take to long to find the nest cause the hive was right square in the middle under the bleacher. Even from twenty feet away I could hear and see the wasps buzzing and flying around the basket ball shaped hive. Yellow black abdomens along with the rest of their insect bodies crawled all around it and flying away. There was even a huge cluster of them at the huge hole in the middle, going in and out of the hive doing god knows what in their papery fortress. That's what to call it, a fortress. The hive was a paper fortress carrying practically an army of hornets to attack anything if provoked.
Ian and dad both went to the nearby bathroom to change into their suits. Dad went in first to change and me and uncle Ian stayed with the equipment. It was just nerve racking. I could hear all the wings of every wasp making that horrible buzzing sound. Now and then one would fly past us and would shield and swat the air every time one pasted by. Uncle Ian told me staying calm would keep them from stinging, but how could I just sit still? They were everywhere! On the Fence! The Bleacher! The ground! I couldn't take it. I felt so exposed! Every second that passed was another one of those wasps could attack me! Any minute! I wanted to run, but I couldn't this was the job. I had to do it. Right now. But then the thought came of my dad. The shame he'd give me. The disappointment. I didn't want that from him or anything.
I was hoping for dad to get out so I can change into my suit next. I whispered 'come on. come on' to myself over and over again thinking it would make him move faster. Still second by second, minute by minute went by standing in front of the hornet's nest. It felt like forever, but I saw him come out the bathroom and I rush towards to doors with my suit. It was relieving to be in the bathroom. Finally I could breath and relax for a minute. I almost hesitated putting my suit on. I kept thinking that if I go out there I still might be attacked by them, suit or no suit. I did not want to be around those bugs; crawling, flying all over me. Their very presence and appearance was enough to wound me up.
The door in the bathroom knocked. Uncle Ian asked if everything was alright. I didn't know how long I zoned out, but I snapped out and quickly put on the bee suit. When I came out the bathroom I told him I needed to use the bathroom. He told me okay and went to put on his suit as I went back over to my dad. It felt hot in the suit, but I doubt it had to do with it or the sun. I was breathing fast through my mouth, and my heartbeat begin to race. I saw uncle Ian come out the bathroom and my dad starting preparing the equipment. The beats of my heart pumped faster and I got this new feeling, a knot in my throat that I couldn't swallow and the choking feeling I had would have killed me if not the hornets.
We knew they were too active right know, but the school needed it removed before the weekend was over. It was Sunday, and the job has to be done, as my dad says. We just waited, and waited in our suits as they buzzed around. Almost thirty minutes later most of the buggers went back to the paper nest, one by one. Dad saw it as a chance. He got the salve squirter, as I call it, ready and uncle Ian got insecticide ready for the stragglers. I was thankfully given the safest job with a water hose to spray down dad or Ian if they got overwhelmed.
They've done this before. They said it was foolproof, but everything that could go wrong still went through my head. The hornets swarming before we started. The hive falling getting them in a frenzy. Their noise kept swimming through my ears like an angry storm of pure living fury. I could feel their stings all over, everywhere! Dad shouted go and went to work. He shot his squirter into the nest's huge hole and continued to seal off the hive from the outside encased in the toxic salve. Uncle Ian went to work clearing the flying hornets and much smaller nests with insecticide. They all flew into the mist he sprayed and dropped to the ground like ducks during hunting season. Down and down and down. He even got stung a couple times but nothing I needed to hose him down for.
Then it happened. A hornet landed onto my hand with his gripping little legs. I looked at it's slender yellow figure fearful of it's weapon; the sting. I wanted to panic, but I remembered Ian's stay still tactic. I trembled and it felt it. It crawled around further up my arm. As quick as lighting it flew into the netting around my face and I just went off swatting at the air until I was sure it was gone. When I was done with my little episode I found dad and Ian were just watching me and were already done. All dad could do was put his hand to his face.
We took our equipment back to the van after taking off the suits. I got back to the car while dad when to inform one of the school officials as I took a long sigh and felt I could finally relax after the day I just had. Not like I was the only one tired. Dad was all sweaty from working it the cramped ceiling and covered in dust. He was a hard worker and deserves to relax more than anyone else.
It felt good to go home too. It was definitely better than being in a hot van for an hour. Mom would have dinner ready in a couple and Uncle Ian would get to join. After dad usually had a tradition for watching monster movies, particularly ones with bugs. It doesn't sound like something I'd watch what with my fear and all, but dad watches them to make fun of them. Truth be told I thought they were ridiculous too and we'd all have a good laugh. Some bullshit about genetic modifying and Ian would somehow make a sex joke out of it. Somehow.
Though as we watched our movie after a good belly-filling meal, not all of uncle Ian's quips about the movie's cheesiness or the obviously fake CG bugs could get any damn uneasiness I felt. Those insects crawling into the man's head on screen is nothing to laugh about. What if it was real, if it actually happens to you in real life. I only imagined such things, but I could feel it as if it really was real. Every sting, every bite felt as real to me as the hornets we just finished exterminating today.