Battling Vespula by Matthew Dexter

I snort dying hornets and watch the rest swarm from their honeycomb downward toward the daycare center where sweaty babies are soiling themselves beneath the noonday sun. Some are sucking thumbs, crawling on the triangular lawn. The teenager in charge lands a summersault and swats the wings of wasps with open fists. My husband has the clarity of mind to turn the garden hose on them.

The hornets persevere and obstruct the sun. Their stingers enter our hair follicles by the dozen. Cries of babies elevating blood pressure, the teenager is racing through the maze of hornets to carry the children inside the house. We blow a pyramid of deer antler spray with curly straws. This pumps our veins with insulin-like growth hormone.

We pounce. The husband body slams the teenager onto dampened grass. The concussion does little to curb her adrenaline and she gnaws his flesh with greedy incisors and porcelain veneers until there is nothing left of his alabaster but blood and hornets. We retreat over the wooden fence, heave ourselves upward with the assistance of the gutter.

The children are triaged into the kitchen and we revert to Plan B.

We snort three lines of deer antler spray carved into the bark of the deck. The hornets disperse; their mass has thinned and separated into tenuous branches which have traveled to other backyards. We can hear neighbors on both sides cursing the black cumulonimbus. We listen to the symphony of shell-shocked adulterers and innocent siblings.

The glistening wounds of the husband are nothing compared to our desire to lose ourselves in the hornets, to wrestle into the honeycomb passageways and find that monarch bitch that makes them struggle via perpetual construction of her monumental cathedral.

When winter arrives, the hornet drones and laborers that stay behind to protect the nest will be frozen and left for dead. We are merely accelerating the process of rejuvenation.

The drone of hornets and approaching police sirens is an accompaniment to the drip down our throats of powder comprised of delectable hormones. The husband has been diagnosed with throat cancer. Silence is the only cure–our answer to the ills of modern medicine. Eight months of obstinate hollering has killed the moose in our bedroom, the mirror full of Viagra: no longer effective. We need to live void of stress, without screaming infants.

The hornets swarm beneath our hairs, peeling purpled layers toward decrepit insanity. Some tumors are too deep to reach through the folds of time, too sunken for the scalpels of millionaires. Our faces are wrinkled into oblivion from sleepless evenings and noisy afternoons serenaded by shit-eaters.

We open the door, hoping the police can cut out the lumps. We have seen the labyrinthine fire ant farm up close. We listen to distant echoes of crying babies and ambulance sirens, dreaming of excision, and these maidens sitting on vibrant rainbow rock in the fountain on the deck, amid monarch butterflies, singing sweet songs of youth and health and redemption.

To purgatory with the police, we are wrestling the patio furniture and twitching at the squawk of their radios. The husband does a summersault and pulls a handgun from the seat cushion. He aims the barrel at suntanned faces and they open fire. The rounds enter his chest in the shape of a honeycomb.

An innocuous swarm of hornets fills the living room. I clutch them in wrinkled fists, their stingers disappearing beneath swollen knuckles, their spirits seducing eight wide-open pupils studying the fragments of cancer dripping from the loins of an animal losing his antlers.


Like a nomadic Pericú, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of grilled shrimp tacos, shrimp cocktails, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. He lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He can be found here: mathewdexter.com.