For months I went into a routine that I can only imagine would be like with any other job. I get up with dad and check the equipment. We wait for calls, set appointments, and take stock to our inventory of poisons. On days we had jobs, we get up especially early to make it to which ever part of the state we needed to be. We lived in the dead center of Oklahoma, so there we could reach anywhere in at least a couple of hours. We all sat in the van, ate breakfast sandwiches from McDonald's or snacks from a gas station whenever we stopped for gas.
The exterminating itself felt routine after a while. Same old search and destroy tactics with basically the same pests. After a while I was even able to handle small cases of wasps and bees. I guess having the power to kill those insects watching their life drain as they twitch gave me confidence to tolerate them on the job. It didn't destroy my fear, but it helped me coped with it. I still asked dad though if I can just handle the smaller hives or nests. I couldn't handle something bigger than a softball.
We also had our competition from mainly bigger exterminator companies, but my grandfather's connections to some people made us known in the region. He was able to get a commercial for our services to be viewed in four states; Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, and Kansas. I couldn't be sure how many people did call us because of that commercial let alone see it. I mean, I see commercials all the time but it never compels me to buy something after seeing it. Never understood how advertising works, but it didn't really matter, because it was enough to fed our family and give me and my brother an education. Still, the competition was still an annoyance to my dad and mocked them when ever he could; sometimes starting a fist fight.
At times I wished I could have worked harder that time in collegeI got to travel to a lot more places around the state, and saw some pretty interesting things. We once cleared out the house of someone who owned a bunch of movie props. Turns out he was involved with some of the movie and got to keep some of the minor props. They were still pretty cool; Some were even from my favorite movies. Swords, costumes, spaceship models.
I also couldn't forget some bat shit crazy woman who was sure the opossum in her shed was an extraterrestrial; she's not the one who called though; it was her husband. She wore the tin foil on her head and everything holding a paddle ball, which I can assume she thought it was a weapon. It took a while, but we got the opossum, I called him E.T., and made sure nothing else could get back in the shed.
It all became a part of my life for nearly half a year now. It was about late November, during Thanksgiving when dad said he could probably have enough money to put me back in college before next fall. 'Good' I thought. Now I wouldn't be stuck spraying down those buzzing menaces. I've had plenty of time to make my mind up, and exterminating, after experiencing it, wasn't my place. Last time I tried for engineering, to become a mechanic, and I still want to go for it. I did like cars a lot, no, I loved them.
My brother did comeback for the holidays, after his semester was done with and brought his girl friend. Man did she have a hell of a body. Better than that bitch who I dumped for being a needy skank. My brother's no she was definitely different. She was certainly nice and it didn't look like my brother had been worn ragged by her. Why did good things happen to him? I'm serious. He gets good grades. Gets the ladies. I'm stuck her killing bugs. Still didn't stop him from reminding me I need a woman.
Aside from the constant achievements I have to live up to, he was always the person I could count on. He's always helped with my math homework, stood up for me a few times, I've done the same, and drove me anywhere until I got my license. He wasn't a terrible brother, but he was hard to catch up with. Everything I would do was three steps behind what he did. Maybe I just didn't have his confidence. Maybe I was not as daring or brave. Maybe one of the siblings has to end up getting scraps. Hell, it's just frustrating.
I couldn't say I hate him. It's frustrating to put up with his sheer perfection. Mom and dad expect the best from him and he gives the best. They expect the same from me and I drop out of college. At least he didn't bother me about not having a girlfriend.
Christmas came by, and it thankfully wasn't a depressing or bad Christmas. My brother and I got matching sweaters like every year, and like every year we have to wear them when we go to our grandfather's house up in Kansas. This was the first time my brother brought home a girlfriend for a holidays and she was eager to see the rest of the family to my brother's annoyance. Our grandad was odd of course, but one of the most respected family members for founding the Clayton Family Pest Control business. He was his own boss, the family was his work, and it made him a independent tycoon in the area. Almost no other exterminator in Oklahoma could compete.
Her expectations meeting this man were high and would've stayed like that if see hadn't met him. He was obsessed with bugs. Aside from killing them he collects them and likes to show them off like hunting trophies. He had your usual bugs preserved in a case, but then there were the quite literal trophies in his career as an exterminator. He had the decapitated body of the biggest roach I've ever seen; a terrifying 4-inches! He also kept a colony of dead ants in a jar along with its queen, some spiderwebs preserved in a frame, and collection of scorpion stings. As you'd expect from any normal woman , she was freaked out and you can tell she immediately regrets stepping a foot into that house.
That wasn't all though. There was the piece de resistance, he had the charred remains of a huge beehive from a colony of africanized bees. It was huge enough, almost the size of a mattress, but he said it was only a portion of what he faced. They entire hive took up the frame work of an abandoned house that was to be taken down. When there were reports of a bee infestation, my grandad and other exterminators, not just him, got to work to clear them out. He said it was the most important job of his life cause he claims it taught him how dangerous the world is. Back when he was an exterminator, bee suits weren't as bee proof as the ones now and when they attempted to spray the house the swarm got him and some other guys and he passed out after being stung hundreds of times; he nearly died.
When he found out the house still had the fuckers, he suggested the craziest, probably stupidest way to get rid of the bees: he wanted acquire flamethrowers, fucking flamethrowers, to burn the house along with the bees. As crazy as it was, the county allowed him to construct flame throwers with aerosol cans and candle lighters and went back to burn the house. He took back the biggest piece of the hive he could salvage, and there it was before us now on display in the basement.
I think back to all the times he told me and my brother that story. Around guests and what not, he'd just tell the story as anyone else would. In my case, since I was family, he would tell very close people the excruciating details of that story. Every moment of fear, every buzz, and every second of pain he went through. The kind of pain I never want to go through at anytime in my life. No matter how many times someone says 'they're more afraid of you than you are of them', these 'scared' animals had still killed people and nearly killed my granddad.