I pulled the dusty gloves out of the box and tied them down my wrists. Have you ever tried lacing boxing gloves by yourself? I've never wished so hard for a third arm. It takes lots of teeth, especially after the first one is already tied. I was feeding my resolve with images of calm serenity. How quiet it would seem when those incessantly beating wings were suddenly silenced.
I remember as a boy being forced to catch bugs for science class. Living by a stream, it was easy enough; a tray of water under the floodlight by the garage brought plenty of healthy specimens. It was pinning them to the Styrofoam that made my stomach twist up in knots. They seemed so fragile, like just breathing on them would make them fall apart.
Then I got married and my wife was totally nuts for bugs. She would not let me kill them, any of them, no matter what species of crawly critter. I had to scoop them into plastic containers and escort them outside; even spiders. Had what she called the 'spider relocation program' if full effect. Some bugs she actually brought into the house. She'd find those caterpillars, fuzzy-wuzzies I think they were called, and let them crawl all over her arm. Then she'd come waltzing over to me and practically drop the thing on my nose. I lost too many just opened beers that way. I could hear her laughing all the way down the hall as I made my way to the bedroom to change my clothes.
It was six months after she split when the last cocoon hatched. I tried my best to get them out of the house without resorting to violence, but that last one just wouldn't take a hint. It was like it wanted to torment me. It would buzz around the edge of the open window for hours. Eventually the wasps would start flying in, but they were smart enough to leave me to my fermenting rage. Then that fluttery little fur blob would start to dancing around the place all happier than ever. I kept thinking the ex must have left it very specific instructions.
I thought about just leaving a candle burning, but that didn't address the basic problem. My manliness was at stake. Would it be possible to banish my fear forever? That's when I remembered the boxing gloves in the closet.
I lost two lamps and punched a hole in a painting that's been in my family for five generations, but I was not to be denied. I jabbed left and hooked right. I had my foe exactly where I wanted him. I sensed his panic. As if giving up, he settled into stillness on the window. I closed in for the kill. He disappeared behind my glove, and I felt him yield up his spirit in defeat as I connected with the solidity of what lay behind. Slowly I withdrew my arm. I wasn't happy about it when I saw him smooshed against the windowpane. The glass had cracked in half and I could just make out my reflection, marred by an irritable blackness right where my heart would be. Just then another moth settle right onto the gloved wrist of my right arm. Was I doomed to repeat this scenario in an endless loop? I offered him the open palm of my left glove. He hopped onto it as if on cue. I wanted to clap the gloves together and end it there and then, I really did, but I could not.
Outside I was greeted by a veritable swarm of moths swirling around the porch light. I lifted up my arm and let the moth I had sparred join its brethren. One of them fluttered right up to my face and I just about broke my nose trying to get it off me. It was utterly hopeless I realized, not only was I outnumbered, but they were smarter than me. I sat down on a step and watched them dance in the light.
When my ex-wife showed up three hours later to pick up her last box of books, I was sprawled out on the bed we had shared for so many years with blood crusted on my face and the boxing gloves still covering my hands.
"Don't ask," I told her.
She smirked, and left without a word.
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