Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Huntress

I wake slowly and lie in bed wondering why. The half-light coming in through the uncovered window tells me it's still early, before dawn even. Then I identify the reason for my wakefulness: it's the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz in my ear of a mosquito.


I am instantly wide awake. I spring out of bed and turn on the light. I espy my quarry resting nonchalantly on the wall -its delicate legs and tell-tale tiny shadow - just above the head of the sleeping Chelsea Boy, who seems oblivious to the light, the springing or the whine of the insect.

I seize the first weapon which comes to hand. It is a Penguin paperback, one of those colour-coded horizontal grid ones from the inter-war years: orange for general fiction, red for drama, pink for travel, blue for non-fiction and so on. This is green for crime, and to be precise is Agatha Christie's Parker Pyne Investigates, a mediocre collection of short stories which I picked up for €0.50 from a street stall in Piazza Sonnino. Parker Pyne Investigates in hand, I climb stealthily onto the bed and advance carefully towards my prey.

Splat: a swift swipe and it is done. Blood spills forth, possibly mine, possibly Chelsea Boy's, and I think of John Donne's The Flea (1633):

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be;

Cruel and sudden, I have Purpled in the blood of innocence the front cover of Parker Pyne Investigates, to which also adheres a stray leg. My glorious victory is acclaimed with a sort of grunt from the sleeper at my feet. But wait! I am poised, motionless, balanced on the bed. Still the whining zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz continues.


there is another one.

Diana, on her nocturnal hunting expeditions, favoured the bow and arrows as a weapon over the collection of short detective stories and who is to gainsay her choice? However the bow & arrows might not prove wholly useful against the mosquito, so with Parker Pyne Investigates in one hand I equip myself with a can of doubtless highly environmentally unfriendly mosquito spray in the other and prowl about the room. Diana also favoured, we are given to understand, some form of abundant rather impractical white drapery. The modern Diana is better served by cotton pyjamas and an old 'Italia Campioni del Mondo 2006' t-shirt, admittedly a little faded from washing, but less liable to trip one up as one balances on the edge of the bed scanning the room for tiny flying prey at 4.10am. What the modern Diana lacks in glamour she hopes to make up in effectiveness.

The hunt, alas, is slow. It requires patience as well as stealth. At one point the quarry alights on top of Chelsea Boy's slumbering form but I pause, uncertain as to whether he would be more displeased to be awoken by Agatha Christie or a squirt of toxic gas, and miss my chance. But determination, persistence and inflexible will are mine and so too eventually is victory.

sleep is slow in returning, though. Chances are Diana liked a lie-in.


Josh said...

I recently killed a wasp with the nearest book I had to hand - which I then looked at and saw it was Aristophanes The Wasps.* Possibly the most ironic death a wasp has ever suffered.

*Ok, it was a collection of 3 of Aristophanes plays, which included The Wasps but close enough.

bernardlion said...

Possibly the only benefit of the dreadful weather we've had here this spring is the non-arrival of the mozzies: apart from a hardy soul that got me one night a good month ago, my sleep has so far been undisturbed by the little shits. I fear that's about to end though - yesteray afternoon I killed two (non ancora colpevole, as I like to put it, there being no such thing as an innocent mosquito). Time to get out the electrical zapper* and start with the chemical warfare, methinks.

* You should get one of these, spangles - they're great fun.

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