had taken the can from him first thing.
know me, you see, he said. Twenty years. Only been stung twice.
chuckled. The sun was hot where he stood, the lawn yellow and patchy around
them. The beekeeper wiped his nose with the back of his finger and looked
down at the man: There are right ways and wrong ways of handling it, he
said, as if to say, we can do this the easy way or the hard way;
as if leaving a choice.
comb like dried papery skin hung by the tree and swarmed with them. Their
thick yellow stuff was daubed around it. It looks like a wound, he said.
Donıt it? Like itıs dead and theyıre just flies. Iıll tell you what: You
know well as I do that ainıt true.
other man lay on the ground underneath the hanging hive, prone and hog-tied
with horsehide strips. The stone sat within his view two feet off in the
grass. The stone was reddish at a spot where it had struck his head, which
now hurt. A few of them, the dying ones, crawled twitching by his face.
There were cold-dead ones too. The grass itched under his cheek.
beekeeper probed his foot at the manıs chin. Look at me, he said. Youıre
a stranger. They will get you. They might badly. But the beekeeper did
not know this: He had never spent too much time with strangers, only with
went up and held his finger to it. He pressed it in. They rubbed louder,
but kept to themselves. See what I mean? he said. He circled the prone
man, then went back into the shack.
kitchen he turned the gas flame on under a pot of water and waited. He
looked out the window and saw the manıs legs hitching back and forth,
his arc of tied limbs twisting, the arc falling to one side. He could
see the man's face now, his neck pounding that one side of his forehead
into the grass. His mouth was opened wide and his teeth, even from the
distance, were yellow and clear. They seemed larger than the beekeeper
knew they were, they seemed like horse's teeth.
took his time tidying up the rooms, placing the two books back on the
shelf so that their spines would be visible, sweeping up the furled hairs
from the cat. What the hell, he said, rubbing his fingers in the fur devil.
the kettle boiled in the kitchen, he poured the hot water into a mug.
The water bloated the bag inside, thin string dangling over the lip down
to a yellow tab stapled at the end. He took a spoon and pushed the air
from the bag. He smeared a small ant by the sugar jar, then worked it
from his thumb. The window was steamed and he wiped his hand across it,
creating a swipe of vision where the prone man was clarified and disintegrated
by the exchanges between the print of his hand and the steam. In this
window the prone man was not a man at all, but a torso, a smear, a neck,
stripes of face.
beekeeper got out the suit. He had not worn it in years. He put the meshed
hood on, then the jacket, then the pants. He used the spoon to take the
bag out of the mug and wrapped the string around and strangled black tea
from it. Then he put on the gloves and went out.
howıd you like I did it to you? he shouted from the back porch. He waved.
He crossed the lawn and knelt by the prone manıs head. Three welts were
already raised on his chin and cheek, each with a white aureole, a thick
hair-like proboscis still centered in the one beneath his eye.
beekeeper shook the can, leaned over and sprayed it close to the manıs
face and scalp so as to avoid the bees.
you like it? he repeated.
bees, agitated, rubbed louder.
beekeeper sprayed until the can sputtered and was used up. The prone manıs
cheeks and eyes and lips and wound were wet with it. The beekeeper picked
the stone up from the lawn. He stood back and threw it at the hive. He
walked to the porch, leaving the stranger coughing on the lawn.
went on like this for days.