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Come Fly With Me
He’s in here now. I can hear him buzzing. It’s the deep, lazy sound that only a big, old fly makes. I’ve seen him a number of times around the house, sometimes hidden from view, sometimes right in my face. He doesn’t do it taunt me, I know, so I don’t take our interaction personally.

Buzzing, landing, taking off again. Some time soon, I know, he will land and wait just a little too long. When that happens, I must try to remain calm. The swatter must come down forcefully, but I need to maintain the icy resolve of a killer so that the death stroke will be both swift and sure.

He will probably die soon of natural causes, but I can’t wait that long. I keep picturing him walking all over my kitchen surfaces, including on my food. And on my butter…my butter! Who knows what else those filthy feet have walked on? He’s probably been up to his ankles, or his knees, or even his hairy thorax in all kinds of unsavory muck — and then tracked it through my precious butter.

This is unacceptable. I could, I suppose, open the doors and windows and trust that the big buzzer could find his way out. He thumps against the windows again and again and again, so I assume that he yearns to go outside. On the other hand, he is a housefly… musca domestica. Maybe he’s right where he's supposed to be: in housefly heaven, where it’s warm and windless and there’s butter aplenty for food or frolicking.

I am told that the lifespan of your average housefly is about 28 days. This one, though, is the size of an Atlas Airbus. He’s two months old if he’s a day. And that buzz…he is an old lowrider of an insect in need of a tune-up…a tune-up that will never come.

For now it is his time to go. My guess is that flies are not the smartest of animals, but I can’t help thinking that he knows the end is near. Perhaps he even welcomes it. And perhaps, at some level, he realizes that it is I who will be cast in the role of Death in his life’s final drama.

It is in both of our interests that I make this quick. He doesn’t want to suffer needlessly, and I don’t want bug guts smeared all over my stuff. But neither of those things will happen. He is nearby now, circling lazily by the big window in the living room. If he lands, I know he will be too slow to lift off in time. And when he does land on the window, on the sill, on the countertop — anyplace, lord, but on the butter itself! — I will have him, and this show will be over.

But he does not land. He is drawing out the last few moments of his life on Earth. That, of course, is his privilege. If he chooses to gaze wistfully out of my window at the sunny summer day, those few moments are his to spend. But I am not beholden to his schedule. I am Death, and I have other appointments to keep. A full calendar of duties, in fact. I cannot wait for a convenient landing. I must act, all the while remembering that I must take no pleasure in this duty. The fly and I are as one, partners in the cycle of life. Well, his cycle of life anyway.

The swatter flashes, almost imperceptibly to the human eye, catching the big bug midflight and full-on. There is no squirming, no unseemly entrails to wipe up. I swaddle him in his Kleenex shroud and honor his passing with a solemn burial in the place he loved so much in life — the garbage.

But our bond has not been broken. The fly and I are brothers, joined by death and a deep love of fine, Grade A butter. I think of him even now as I stand by the same window where he breathed his last. It’s almost as if he’s still right here with me.

What’s that buzzing sound?

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~ JC, Bonny Doon