For the last two months, I have shared my room with a bee.
No, scratch that.
For the last two months, I have slept in a bee’s room. I say it is his room because he was there before I was, he is in charge there, and he decides whether or not I’m allowed to sleep there.
He introduced himself on my first day (“Just call me B”), buzzed angrily and told me how things were going to be done around here (“When I buzz, you ask how high, got it?”)
I cowered, nodding silently. I don’t handle confrontation well.
We have an unspoken arrangement like university roommates where if I come home, see his handkerchief tied around the door handle and hear him buzzing inside, I know he’s busy and I just sleep outside on the couch in the living room.
I complained about it at the office, stretching my cramped back every time I had to move. An expat overheard and handed me a can of OFF! insect spray he’d brought with him from Canada.
I took the can trying not to be ungrateful, but thinking, “OFF Bug spray? Doesn’t OFF! make body lotion or something? I’m trying to kill a pest here, not give it smooth skin.”
Back at home, I waited biding my time until I was able to get my bee roommate trapped between the mosquito netting and the window where he would be unable to sting me if he saw me coming.
Then I struck.
Sprayed him and everything in his vicinity, drenching him in bug spray
He buzzed loud but not the fading screams of a person in their death throes, more like someone annoyed you got something in their eye. Then he stopped screaming, took a couple of steps into the sun and dried his wings, fanning them slowly back and forth to air them out.
When his wings were completely dry, he looked me directly in the eye, and clicked his tongue, as if to say, “Tsk, tsk, we’ll settle this when I get back from the office.”
Then he flew away.
I watched all of this from the safety of the other side of the mosquito netting, walked out to the living room on shaky legs and collapsed into the couch. My hands were still gripping the can tight.
I looked closer at the can and read the details on it…
“OFF! bug spray kills house flies, sugar ants-”
Wait, what’s this? The can has a list of effective insects?
I scrolled down the extensive list in disbelief looking for African Killer Bees and found nothing.
Okay, what about regular killer bees? No? Honey bees maybe? Nothing.
Canadian bug spray on African killer bees? I might as well have tried to fend off armed robbers with spray window cleaner.
What is their tagline?
“We kill only the insects listed in the manual. House flies, but not tsetse flies. All mosquito species except anopheles.”
Was I expected to ask, “Could you please tell me what type of insect you are? I am…. asking for a friend.”
B came back home that night, throwing things around the room, breaking furniture. From outside, I heard him rip my clothes. He gets like that when he’s upset.
I barricaded the bedroom door with a chest of drawers, hid in the living room and stifled my sobs with a cushion.
After spending three nights on the couch, I mustered enough courage to go to the store to see if they had something more serious, something with more kick, something that doesn’t mollycoddle insects.
I walked to the cashier and asked if they had any insect spray. She said, “Which one do you want?” and waved her hand toward their insecticide wall.
I gasped, lines and lines of cans as far as the eye could see.
“Can I get the cheapest but most dangerous one?”
She walked about halfway down the aisle, reached high for a red can and gave it to me.
I rolled it around in my hand and noticed the can wasn’t actually red. Instead, it was a huge red exclamation mark that covered the entire can.
The inscription on the side said in bold letters “KILLS ALL INSECTS.” The small print said something about being harmful to children and small adults.
I paid for it, grinning to myself. These people do not play around. I skipped the entire way home.
I waited until I heard him go into the shower, and I snuck into the room. Pieces of my clothes were strewn across the room. How did he manage to rip a pair of jeans.
Hiding beside the bed, I waited. He came out of the bathroom whistling to himself, a tiny piece of my torn towel wrapped around his waist.
I jumped out, spraying tentatively at first, picking my shots like a trained marksman. Then more frantic, I gassed the whole place.
In the thick mist, I lost sight of my adversary. I imagined the noxious fumes were smoke from a vicious firefight, and the smell was gunpowder from dead foes.
I squinted, looking for B, listening for him. My eyes were stinging and I was feeling light-headed and dizzy. Too late, I realised I had overdone it. I lost my balance and fell to the ground, hitting my head and blacking out.
I came to the next morning. There was a loud banging at the door. I never showed up to work, so they sent someone to the quarters to look for me. I had a lump on my head from the fall. The empty can of insecticide lay by my side. There was no sign of B, and I haven’t seen him since then.
That was over a week ago.
This morning, all the windows in the living room were broken, and someone had spray-painted on the wall, “I told you I’d bee back.”
You can say what you will, but don’t tell me that I am over-reacting.