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July 15, 2024


By Frederick Foote

SLAP! "Goddamn mosquitoes big as butterflies. Now I remember why I left this godforsaken place."

My uncle Reginald, ninety-seven-years-young, in the other rocking chair, stops his chair, turns and stares at me in disbelief. "Leo, boy, you whining about them little old baby mosquitoes. You forget how me and your Pa saved you when you was three years old? You forgot that?"

SLAP! "Sure have. And I bet you have, too. I think you and Pa were drunk for the first five years of my life. I think you sobered up when I was 6 or 7. Took one look around and went back to drinking. That's how I recall it anyway." SLAP!

"Boy, you can disrespect me because I'm here and can defend myself. But, your Pa is dead and gone these many years, and I won't stand for you throwing shade on my dear dead brother."

"No disrespect intended." SLAP! "But, the truth is the light and you bury it underground or toss it under the water the light will shine through."

"The truth! Boy, you wouldn't know the truth if it's snuck up on you and bit you on the ass. The truth is your sorry ass wouldn't even be here if we hadn't risked our lives to save you."

"Uh huh, sure you did." SLAP! "Uncle, look at that thing. Big as the palm of my hand."

Uncle Reginald takes a long sip of his moonshine. "That's nothing, boy. Your Pa and I were sitting right here on this porch. You was sleeping on the bed. Your mom and sisters were at the evening church service."

SLAP! "See, see, I know you lying right off the bat. Ma never went to no church service unless they had free food or something like that."

"Now that you mention it, I do recall there was some kind of potluck or something going on. Well, I heard this ripping sound --"

SLAP! SLAP! "Get on with it. These things getting out of hand."

"I say, Willard, you hear that? We both listen real close, and we hear the window squeaking on your bedroom."


"Well, I had my shotgun here. Your Pa picked up the sickle, and we busted ass around the side of the house just in time to see two mosquitoes carrying you by the diaper out the window and toward the swamp."

"Yeah, I bet you two saw a lot of strange things in your time." SLAP!

"I couldn't shoot for fear of hitting you. Them two critters was serious business and getting away from us. We ran through your mom's clothesline, trampled her garden, knocked down the picket fence. All to save your worthless hide."

SLAP! "Sure, you did." SLAP!

"We was out of breath and staggering to a stop when I heard one critter say to the other. 'He heavier than he looks.' And the other one say. 'He don't smell all that good either.' And the first one say. 'I think we should just drain him here. If we take him back to the swamp, the big ones will take him away from us for sure.'"

SLAP! "Damn, these things getting bigger by the minute."

"Well, the skeeters put you down on the ground, and we lit into em. Beat em like redheaded left-handed stepchildren. But they got a second wind and was coming back when this bat, big ass bat bigger than a Piper Cub, swooped down and scooped em both up."

SLAP! "Shit! Okay, I believe you, Uncle. Let's move on inside." SLAP! "These skeeters making a believer out of me." SLAP!

Uncle Reginald slaps me hard on the back of my head as we move into the house.

"Ouch! Shit! That hurts, Uncle."

"I got him, Leo. Boy, you got a hard head."

Uncle slams the door, crushing a skeeter as big as a cat.

"Hey, Leo did I tell you about the time our mule died, and we hitched one of them big skeeters to a plow?"

I'm not listening to my uncle. I'm trying to get an earlier flight home. And, you know what the clerk tells me? "All flights into our local airport are on hold due to a mosquito alert." I know she have to be pranking me, right?

Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2018-03-26
Image(s) are public domain.
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