fugit inreparable tempus
(originally posted 7/2/2019)
You know who I respect? There are a few flies that hang around my outside trash can the same way there are young toughs that hang around the pool rooms I picture in my head from the 50’s. If they wore t-shirts I’m certain there would be a pack of smokes rolled up on one of their six sleeves.
You pictured that didn’t you?
You love that nostalgic stuff.
The reason I respect them so much is that unlike the swarms of other flies that visit my yard on a given day, they are waiting for me.
They know the routine.
After dinner every night I walk out with a bag of garbage. I walk up to the outside receptacle, open the lid and toss in the evening’s refuse. The lid is open for maybe two seconds and in those two seconds the flies that are gathered around make their move.
In they go.
The smell of raw garbage must be intoxicating but they also know that when that lid closes it is closed for 24 hours. There is no wandering in and out of my outside garbage can. You have to be committed.
And as they fly in there are always a few flies on their way out. Their shift is over. They are sated and ready for some sunshine. They must hear me coming and get all excited about their coming release. If they don’t pay attention or if they are feeling a bit sluggish they get to spend another 24 hours in the hole.
My point is this, 24 hours of pitch darkness must be rough if you’re a fly.
How do I know this?
By the looks on their faces when I approach the garbage can. They have that same forlorn look that you see in old black and white photos of coal miners just before they started their shifts. Except with five eyes. That’s 250% more forlorn than humans are capable of.
How do they know if there isn’t a spider sneaking up on them as they start tucking in?
I’m sure their imaginations run wild. The slightest rustling noise is a five inch praying mantis about to snatch them up and eat their head.
Do they nod to each other as they pass?
“Frank.” Little nod.
“There’s some ham in a bag at the bottom on the left. By the shoe.”
“You don’t say. Thanks.”
I picture them talking like they are the flies that used to hover around pool rooms in the 50’s. Maybe even a little Brooklyn accent.
Is it sexist that I imagine that female flies have no interest in my garbage can? That they are all over at a picnic at a park somewhere? Probably not a safe place for female fly anyway. All those tough flies, all that darkness. I feel like some nasty Animal Planet stuff would go down in my garbage can if they ended up there for a night.
When the flies that I respect so much are in my completely dark garbage can do they even fly? Are they crashing into each other? Are they cursing or are they good-natured and even gather near the top of the can after a few hours to play games of chance? Do they tell stories about the time I went on vacation for two weeks and only a few flies made it out?
“It was a friggin’ nightmare. Thirteen days and nights. Temperatures outside were in the 90s. I can only imagine how hot it was in the can.”
They call it ‘the can’.
If you were one of the ones that made it out I bet all the other flies would nod and tip the caps that I imagine them wearing whenever they flew by. Wondering what they were thinking when they finally saw that strip of light at the top of the can. Were they crying their five eyes out or did they play it cool when the fresh air hit their face?
“Hey rookie! You ready for The Show? That’s the recyclables. There’s nothing in there to eat. Come over here. Follow me in.”
Tonight I’m going to imagine all the flies as having t-shirts, caps and Brooklyn accents. I suggest you do the same. I even left the game of chance I mentioned earlier up to you to choose. Was it cards? Was it dice? Did one of the flies drop a card and everyone else grumbled and rolled their five eyes and nobody wanted to be the one to crawl all the way down into the darkness to retrieve it?
Did you forget that it was completely dark when you selected your game of chance?
No worries. Braille cards.
(Are we really making things for blind flies now?)
“And when Hugh would grow progressively Gandhi on me, I’d remind him that these were pests—disease carriers who feasted upon the dead and then came indoors to dance upon our silverware.”