BEES, MOTHS&OTHER THINGS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 161 wasp-blue flowerWHAT IT IS

Baines Wainscott had to see PLOT 82 for himself before venturing off to New Orleans to find Leo Barnard who seemed to have experienced the same fate as Mary Samson. The Plot was a vibrant acreage of fruit trees, lush vegetation , natural springs and a chaotic insect and animal life. It stood out in sharp contrast from the surrounding area of bulldozed topsoil, mounds of boulders and what could only be described as a human garbage dump filled with mountains of garbage bags, discarded appliances, derelict cars and trucks and of course the ubiquitous piles of electronic waste.

Baines walked the perimeter of the Plot and when he attempted to go deeper inside, worker bees and hordes of other insects prevented his advances by hovering menacingly about his head. “ It’s a portal to the land of one hundred women…they will not let you pass!” A blind man and a small horse turned and walked away.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Brown grabbed a young intern from the cafeteria and with her at the wheel, Brown climbed into the back seat of the car, set up his drone monitoring gear and began barking orders: turn left, turn right, follow the highway, down that dirt road…no not that one…that one…and so it went! Nerves began to fray after the first hour of these erratic orders and a nervous breakdown nearly occurred when the intern swerved to avoid a jogging porcupine and ended up sliding off the gravel road into the ditch. More than the porcupine, it was the teddy bear riding on its back the freaked out the young intern. Fortunately for Brown, the moths began their decent only a half a kilometer from his position, so he set out on foot to locate them.

When the moths landed on the rock, Brown floated the drone above them. A yellowjacket, bigger than most, attached himself to the drone’s camera lens, then another, then ten, then a hundred…and so it went. By the time Brown reached the rock, the weight from the massive swarm grounded the drone and the moths had vanished.

 

IN FLIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 160 Seagull flightWHAT IT IS

Sitting in the Pittsburgh International Airport on a cold and snowy February morning was a delight Mr. Deakins did not enjoy. Adding to his discomfort was a group of loud pre teens and beyond toddlers occupying a large corner of the airport, whose jumping and wrestling and tormenting of one another sent sharp acoustic waves of glee and happiness throughout the terminal. To break this pre-pubescent assault on his psyche, Mr. Deakins would walk over to the large floor to ceiling window and watch the lifeless, snow covered airplanes shiver in the cold. From the roof, gulls would float down to the tarmac, find nothing, then return to the roof.

If religion was the opium of the people in the last century,

Surely charity is the opium this century.

-Miles Hobbson

Mr. Deakins was a bagman for the governor of Pennsylvania and although it was only a rumor that Hobbson was going to run for governor as an independent, it was Mr. Deakins’ job to scuttle any campaign that Hobbson’s followers might initiate. To that end, Deakins sat in the airport babysitting a large, hard-shelled suitcase containing fifty thousand leaflets that a team of Young Republicans would distribute across the state.  The leaflets contained quotes and musings attributed to Hobbson over the years and some were so outrages, like the one above, that Hobbson’s possibility of gaining wide political appeal would be thwarted.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Feather and Hammer unfurled a fifty foot length of sisal rope that contained a fine golden thread woven into its center. They laid the rope in a circle around the ordinary looking rock and waited. The two knights induced themselves into a dreamlike state for five days while their dependable horses watched over them. On the sixth day they awoke and watched as a man appeared on the horizon, walking along the road toward them. With the rising sun at his back, it gave him a shadowed featureless form making him look as if he was floating above the road, growing slightly larger with each passing second. He carried something small in his arms, a creature he was fond of, as he would stroke it, talk to it and even point out landscape features to it.

Slim Clemons asked Stacks McDonald to bring a young bearded dragon to the knights so they could sprinkle the rope with dragon scales. Once done, the knights tied the rope around the rock, easily moved it and retrieved the knowledge key. Now they just had to wait for the seagull to arrive and fly the key to a waiting Ellie.

MIST

blogphoto159tree-mistWHAT IT IS

Samantha Gallant was one not to be trifled with and the Chaps would soon learn who they were up against as she kicked over the first motorcycle, then a second, then a third until the entire gang abandoned Margaret Brookside and took off to stop her destructive tirade. That was about the effect Samantha hoped for and as the gang closed in on her she jumped into Margaret’s car, sped directly toward the gangsters watching as the angry bikers dove away from the oncoming car. Screeching to a halt in a dust cloud, Margaret jumped into the passenger seat and the two women headed back to New Orleans.

Looking at one another while squeezed into a six foot wooden crate Samantha and Margaret simultaneously whispered -why-did-we-come-back-here? Perhaps it was Margaret’s naivete or Samantha’s unbridled tenacity, but the two women found themselves back at the dilapidated garage, where they first encountered the Chaps. The order went out to Mauls, a beast of a man and a loyal Chaps foot soldier, to check and secure the garage. Samantha peered through a knot hole in the crate as Mauls, a length of chain wrapped tightly around one hand and a three foot pipe wrench in the other, walked slowly in their direction. He rhythmically slammed the wrench into his chained palm sending a sharp, metallic sound echoing through the near empty building. As he closed in on them, Samantha could see headlights bleeding through the cracked, barn board siding of the garage and with the arrival of this vehicle, Mauls did an abrupt about face and joined the other Chaps outside.

Samantha knows the result of a broken knee when she sees it, and as a pilot she has seen plenty. She starred through the knot hole at two men each carrying five gallon pails of something very heavy in both hands. Their gait was crooked and wobbly, their arms unable to hold the pails high enough to keep them from randomly clipping the spongy wood floor. They were told to put the pails into the wooden crate and Samantha’s eyes pivoted from the knot hole to an ashen faced Margaret Brookside.

It is indeed strange how a few well chosen words can lift one’s spirits, can give a whole new meaning to some one’s life or can transform a simple moment in time into something so beautiful, so unexpected. This was the way Margaret and Samantha felt when they heard the words…not that crate, the other one!

A heavy mist overtook New Orleans and when the last Chap deserted the garage, Margaret and Samantha crawled out of their wooden prison. The crate next to them was the object of their interest and when they popped open the lid the four steel pails were nearly invisible, covered in every industrial hazardous label known to man:  the corrosive boney hand, the bright red fire decal, the radioactive nuclear insignia and of course the skull and crossbones. Samantha delicately removed an information sheet from a see through envelope, the contents were labelled as an experimental pesticide: 1,4 Dichloropropene-Not for Resale-Not for Import/Export-Not for Atmospheric Use-For Federal Experimental Use Only! Samantha thought of an INSECT agent she knew that might be able to help them figure out why a motorcycle gang would have such a chemical.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It had been foggy, misty and raining for the last three days, but that didn’t stop expert tracker and trapper Bulldog Snipes from his dusk to dawn search for Bill and Emma. He had been over the same area off Hwy 537 a number of times believing the frail couple could not have gotten very far. The fourth day broke as did the others, with low temperatures and a heavy mist, reminding Bulldog just how much arthritic pain he would endure that day. He walked across an old hay field now filled with pigweed, burdock and dandelions and entered a thick, dark jack pine plantation. The self pruning trees left a tangled mess of twisted and gnarled branches on the ground making his progress difficult. It was at the end of the plantation, along a small stream, that Bulldog found the bodies of Bill and Emma.

Every OPP officer has a favorite road to patrol, perhaps because of a good restaurant, perhaps because of the type of folks they tend to meet or just because of the scenery or the quality of the day’s journey. Jessica Potts’ favorite patrol was Hwy 537, a quiet secondary highway with lots of curves, slow traffic and tons of friendly people. On a foggy Friday morning, Jessica exited Hwy 17, turned south on 537 and was about fifteen kilometers down the road when she saw a black SUV down an embankment and half submerged in a stream.

After radioing for help, she inched her way down the steep embankment to offer assistance but there was no one in or around the vehicle. The plates revealed the SUV was a rental, one Floyd Smith had picked it up in a nearby city the previous day, leaving Jessica to wonder who was William Offley Jr. whose driver’s license she found on the driver’s side floor.

 

 

STREAMS

blogphoto158water26tree

 

WHAT IT IS

 

If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there. Cars clipped along the road bringing Aunt May to the doctor’s office, getting Uncle Willy another case of beer or letting Sally and Bree meet up with the Lockstone brothers for a moonlit walk. Cinder Willoughby knew it was there, so when he saw the mammoth oak tree that was struck by lightning a few years back, he pulled his car over to the side of the road and got out. Willoughby walked around the car, stretching his legs in a kind of Nazi goosestep manner, before reaching into the trunk and dragging out some water sampling equipment. It was not the first time Willoughby worked for Beaver County, they liked his work and he their pay. With gear in hand, he followed a winding path used by the locals that came out to a peaceful stream where Willoughby would dutifully take ten water samples that he would later analyze for purity, clarity and the like.

As he worked, Willoughby was joined by two older fellas who were collecting frogs along the stream’s edge. The were friendly, jovial characters who regaled Willoughby with stories from around the county. One story in particular peaked Willoughby’s interest: The two were out joy riding in their father’s Duster…early July…no late June…oh, about 1967…they seen a bright light up ahead…over in the field…when they got close up…a naked man was walking down the road…about twenty…little younger…picked him up and drove him to town…soes he could get some clothes…said his name was Niles…maybe it was Miles…

WHAT IT IS NOT

It was a special holding facility, you needed a specific key card to gain entry, you were required to sign in at a registry book and all cell phones and electronic devices were to be left on a stainless steel table located inside the main entrance. Once inside, a long hallway drenched in flickering florescent light guided you to an utterly dark room where the one thousand moths were kept. It was William’s turn to do the four hour check on the captives, and when he entered the room and threw the switch that activated the soft red lights all seemed well in the ‘moth room’.

Relief came at 7 AM in the form of agents Jones and Brown who would take over the monitoring duties until noon when INSECT’s chief chemist was to take charge. Jones was the first to hit the all-stations alarm when he realized at the 7:15 inspection the moths were in the middle of escaping outside through a hole created by a squirrel many months earlier and apparently never fixed by the maintenance department.

A quick thinking Brown ran to his car and got a drone into the air and began following the moths. The normally erratic flying insects flew in a near perfect triangular formation with a single moth leading the way until they descended over a small stream and landed on a rather ordinary looking rock.

 

 

A BLUE FLOWER

blog photo 157 blue flowerWHAT IT IS

In 1982 Mary Samson was a twenty year old women who had never been outside the state of Missouri and quite frankly never felt the need. She grew up with her sister Norah near Cooper Hill on a small farm her brother had bought after returning home from Vietnam. Mary was content with the rural life, helping out in the fields and cooking for the hired hands. In her free time, she loved to walk through the oak and maple woods picking wild flowers and keeping an eye out for wildlife.

Baines Wainscot got this information from Norah Samson while staying at the motel where Norah worked. It was June 21, 1982 when Mary left for the day to wander the fields and woodlots near their home and as the day drew long and dusk fell, Mary encountered a brilliant light in the field, a spinning sphere and a man emerging from the sphere then disappearing into the night. Found the next day with a small horse watching over her, Mary had lost her sight and would never be the same again. Baines of course investigated the story thoroughly and to his surprise discovered the incident occurred in the exact location of what today is known as Plot 82.

WHAT IT IS NOT

The Ontario Provincial Police knew it, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police knew it, the local constabulary knew it and even a couple Interpol agents knew it…the only ones who didn’t know it were Schulz and Lehman.

The noose around their wilderness cabin was so tight the local police were heard joking, “No moose on the loose gettin’ thru this noose.” And tight it was, with only one road into the property and harsh Precambrian rock surrounding the cabin, the police were certain Schulz and Lehman were as good as captured. Twenty five men and women, under the cover of darkness and in sub zero temperatures, slipped into the bush behind the cabin and formed the classic tennis racket formation while a heavily armed tactical team formed the handle of the racket, approaching up the road directly in front of the cabin. The order was given for Schulz and Lehman to surrender and after a thirty minute wait, the tactical team moved in. Not a shot was fired as the cabin was breached.  Only a bouquet of small blue flowers indicated the presence of anyone living there. As the officers considered were the fugitives were, the doors of a nearby shed burst open and the two raced away on a snow machine. It seems Schulz and Lehman had kept busy over the last few months digging a tunnel between the cabin and shed.

 

WILD CANARY

 

0b2a4116_1aaaaWHAT IT IS

One eye was completely missing, lost in a disagreement with a German Sheppard who thought he owned the railyards down by the waterfront. Half of his tail was gone after realizing he was losing the fight but wasn’t fast enough to make it across the tracks in front of an oncoming freight train. Most of the fur on the left side of his face had been ripped off because of the constant fighting with his brother.

His brother on the other hand was in much worse shape. Somehow getting his front leg caught in the spokes of a motorcycle caused his tripedalism. Most days he couldn’t see because his eyes were covered in a thick, fowl smelling substance that oozed down his face creating yellow pustules along his cheeks. His one good ear had been chewed up by a rabid fox, his other ear just a lump protruding from his head. But still Kitty-kitty and Kitty-cat were somewhat taken care of by Tiny Leblanc and soon they would get the opportunity to show their gratitude for everything Tiny did for them.

Kitty-kitty sized up Jaclyn before pouncing from the top of a bookcase, landing directly on her face, embedding the claws from his one good paw into her forehead and sinking his rotting teeth into the bridge of her nose. A startled Jaclyn recoiled backward, fired a shot from her revolver that hit and opened the door of a bird cage at the far end of the room. Tiny’s “wild canary” seized the opportunity and flew toward the open front door just as Kitty-cat was rounding the corner from the kitchen ready to take on the other officers. Kitty-cat’s long jump over Tiny landed him squarely on the groin of one officer, while the second officer awkwardly batted the air as the wild canary fluttered impatiently to get outside. The resulting pandemonium saw two policemen, one bird and one determined cat tumble out of the building and onto the sidewalk. Jaclyn meanwhile stumbled to the shower and hosed Kitty-kitty off her face.

Tiny was indebted to many characters in New Orleans and as he walked toward the waterfront he added Kitty-cat and Kitty-kitty to the list. Once a safe distance from the fracas, Tiny stopped under a streetlight, lit a cigarette and ruminated about the evening’s events. As he thought warmly about his two grotesque companions, a white moth leisurely drifted from atop the streetlight and landed in front of him. Tiny looked intently at the moth, the moth’s large eyes starred back and the visual standoff went on until Tiny fell asleep, and when he woke the moth was gone.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Cathy Jennings loaded up the devilishly cute black squirrel into the back of her car and drove home to pickup a goldfinch she was nursing back to health. The goldfinch had been inadvertently involved in a mid air collision with a duck which was working with local police trying to track down a couple of fugitives. The Conservation Officer for the area asked Jennings to rehabilitate the bird and of course she was glad to do so.

The day had come for the bird’s release, so sticking with the old adage…the one not mentioned here…Jennings gathered up the bird and squirrel for the release back into the wild. When back at the lab, Jennings overheard the loud and obnoxious Exotic Creatures agents boast about the raid near the Red Squirrel road north of Temagami so this was where she decided to release her charges. It was a lovely day for a freedom gesture: the goldfinch wasted no time flying up into a red pine and the black squirrel hopped away quickly, turning back briefly in what Jennings thought surely was a thank you. She was now a sad lady; fired from her job, her little black squirrel acquaintance somewhere in the forest, her goldfinch flying merciless free, and she stuck with not much to do. She turned to go back to her car when her cell rang…it was Samantha Gallant…could she come to New Orleans?

MOTH

blog photo 155 mothWHAT IT IS

It was a small enclave stuck between a run down café and “a save the pets” charity storefront in the seventh ward where Leo Barnard spent most of his nights. A real plywood roof propped up by four Union Carbide skids along with an Exxon kerosene stove, which doubled as a heater, was all the material possessions Leo required.

Jaclyn had her Glock service revolver trained on Tiny as the bewildered fugitive’s eyes darted around the room looking for a way out, but it didn’t look good. When another team of officers arrived, Jaden went looking for the small horse thathad disappeared from the scene.

Leo rolled up a cigarette, just as good as store bought he had been told over the years and Leo came to believe it. His trembling hand lit a match, he held it up to the front of his masterpiece and sucked long and hard as he watched his small horse meander down the alleyway toward him. As the horse dithered along, a woman in uniform emerged from the street and stopped at the end of the alley. She walked with purpose toward the horse but the filly turned a corner and sauntered down a nearby lane. Jaden quietly followed, exchanged pleasantries with Leo who told her that the only thing she would see down that lane was small white moth. Intrigued, Jaden surveyed the dimly lit area but could see no horse just a moth looking THE light.

WHAT IT IS NOT

With the acting interim head of INSECT laid up in hospital, a new assistant acting interim head in the person of Smith was elevated to the position. Smith was through the roof over several INSECT deficiencies, but none more so when Johnson and Williams lost Butsey and Beersey in Nova Scotia. As a reward for their lackluster efforts the pair were once again sent to Plot 82 to collect one thousand white moths that INSECT chemists needed in an experiment.

It was embarrassing…two grown men…accomplished law enforcement officers at that…to be running around the countryside with butterfly nets and plastic boxes collecting Lepidopterans. But collect they did, and after two days the lads possessed one thousand live moths ready for transport to the Northern Ontario headquarters. Gathering up their gear for the return trip home, Williams saw the blind man and small horse they met some months earlier at the Plot. Waving enthusiastically, Williams called out, but of course the blind man couldn’t hear him, or so a confused Williams thought. At any rate, as the car pulled away Johnson noticed a moth on the back window, and thinking it must have somehow gotten out of its container, asked Williams to pull over so he could put it back in its rightful place. Once again the lads were off, and as Smith got up to full speed he looked in his rear view mirror to see only the blind man standing in the middle of the road, the horse nowhere to be seen.