Locals know flies can be a pain in the butt, but there is something poignant about the late-season guys who, sensing winter and death, make a determined effort to stay alive by finding their way indoors.
It happened to us a day before Hurricane Sandy, when a fly made it inside the house not once but twice; we shooed him out only to have him find his way back moments later when we opened the door to let the dog out. He's been a constant presence ever since, kind of like family. In fact, he reminds me of my mother-in-law, except she can't fly and neither one can cook.
He hangs with me in the kitchen; he eats with us in the dining room. Lately he's taken to coming upstairs at night into the bedroom with us, like a faithful dog. "Little Freddie loves us," Karen said the other night. This touching bond that has developed – the freaking thing has a name now -- hasn't stopped me from trying to kill him, which I do about 50 times a day. He's a quick little son of a bitch, I'll say that much for him. I now pursue him with the same purpose our Special Forces used to hunt down bin-Laden.
I brought in heavy artillery for the latest assassination attempt. The famous Mariah Quinn Memorial Fly Elimination System, which was either designed by scientists at Stanford or, more likely, by Mariah's father, a carpenter. It's a Flip-Flop on a stick, and it achieved legendary status over the years at the Indy office, where I eliminated nine flies with only nine swats, a feat that will probably never be equaled in the annals of sport.
(Quinn, by the way, is a former Indy staffer and international traveler. She is wanted in several third world countries for murdering insects.)
Flies, like so many of god's creatures, are amazing wonders of life (this is the part of the column where alert readers gain knowledge and enhance their understanding of mankind and what makes us tick). "The housefly Musca domestica, is a fly of the suborder Cyclorrhapha. It is the most common of all domestic flies, accounting for about 91 percent of all flies in human habitations, and is indeed one of the most widely distributed insects, found all over the world. It is considered a pest that can carry serious diseases."
In layman's terms, that means they like to stand on poop. Because flies have no teeth they primarily feed on liquids or finely granulated morsels like pork roast.
Flies taste with their legs, which are 20,000 times more sensitive than human tastebuds, which are located in our mouths. That is why flies sometimes stand in toothpaste, to clean their feet. Talk about feeling right at home -- I caught Freddie flossing his bunions in my bathroom the other day.
When doing research for this column (yes, it takes hours and hours to craft a single paragraph) I came across the following on the Internet:
Freddie is a housefly, not to be confused with a horsefly – these generally whinny and have names like Trigger and Kelso. They also like to stand on crap, but only horse crap. You'll never see a horsefly hanging around cows, for example, though houseflies sometimes do, especially when the cow becomes a hamburger.
I plotted the assassination for days. I put sugar and a little watermelon juice on the kitchen counter. I dimmed the lights so he wouldn't see my shadow. I crouched behind the refrigerator. Then I heard him. Freddie was taking the bait. He flew around once to make sure the coast was clear, then nimbly landed on the counter in the midst of the sugar. The Quinn Widow Maker was coiled and ready. With a sudden flick the Flip Flop crashed down onto the kitchen counter, sending the sugar and water flying in all directions. I turned up the lights – there was no body anywhere. Either Freddie somehow got away, or his terrorist comrades removed the corpse before my people could positively ID it.
Like Freddie The Fly, we all possess an indomitable spirit. We fight to endure, because we lust for life.
Things have been quiet around the house. Karen has been lonely. "Maybe we should get another fly," she said the other night, as if we could go to an animal shelter that specializes in stray flies instead of cats and dogs.
"Naw," I said. "There will never be another Freddie." She started sobbing. I was a little weepy too, but that was because I ran out of cognac.