Ivan and the nest of evil

Sept. 21, 2009

by Ivan Raconteur

When I agreed to help some friends sell their hobby farm, I had no idea what I was getting into.

They have moved out of state, and I took on the role of maintaining the property and conducting showings for prospective buyers.

One of my first duties was to evict some squatters who had taken up residence on the south facade.

The interlopers had constructed an elaborate nest as big as a Buick on the warm brick wall.

The first time I saw it, my eyes did that thing that the eyes of cartoon characters do when confronted by a scene of extreme horror; they shot out on stalks and got as big as pie plates, accompanied by the sound of sirens.

When my eyes returned to point “A” and I was able to dislodge my heart from amongst my back teeth, I retreated a respectful distance and assessed the situation.

On further examination, I concluded that the Nest of Evil was not quite as big as a Buick, but it was certainly as large as an over-inflated basketball.

Another problem that I observed was that the offending article was located only a few feet from the front door.

Now, some will call me a coward, but I would rather be an intact coward than a hero who resembles a pincushion full of wasp stings.

In an effort to eradicate the flying fiends, I spent a morning engaged in chemical warfare.

I began with a single large can of national-brand wasp and hornet killer that promised a quick knockdown and the annihilation of the entire hive.

I started out early Saturday morning. I would have preferred to wait for cooler temperatures, but things are so arranged in Minnesota that when wants cold weather, one doesn’t get it. The first showing was scheduled for 3 p.m., so I had to press on.

The overnight temperature never dropped below 60 degrees, which meant the enemy was more alert and active than I would have liked.

I arrived when the first pale light of dawn was just starting to illuminate the target, making it appear even more menacing.

I opened fire and continued to unleash the chemical from as far away as practical, given the range of the dispenser.

The can was empty much too soon, and I ran like a girl back to the mobile command vehicle to seek reinforcements.

I drove to a local hardware emporium, and picked up two cans of wasp and hornet killer. This time, I chose a store brand, because it was on sale for a third of the price of the national brand. The store owner assured me it was just as potent.

I returned to the battlefield, and took up my position.

My first assault had revealed a flaw in my battle plan, and by buying two cans of ammunition, I was able to remedy this.

With a weapon in each hand, I was able to focus one on the entrance to the hive, which resembled the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour, while using the other as an anti-aircraft gun to pick off the tough devils that made it through the barrage and tried to get at me by flying over and around the toxic stream.

This strategy proved more effective, but once again, I ran out of ammo long before I ran out of wasps.

I again retreated to my vehicle and drove to a different hardware store.

There, I selected two twin-packs of liquid death.

I went back to the national brand, because it had a broader spray pattern than the store brand. Anyone who has ever tried to hit a small but angry target swooping and diving at him from out of the sky will understand why this is important.

From a distance, I reconnoitered the enemy camp, and was greeted by a troubling sight. Even though I had thoroughly soaked the humongous hive during my previous attacks, and the battlefield was littered with the corpses of fallen combatants, there was more activity at the hive than ever before.

By then, it was nearly 9 a.m., and the sun was beating on the hive and warming the inhabitants, stirring them to action.

I began to fear that all I had accomplished by my previous assaults was to provoke the demons. They were flying in and out of the enormous orifice with increasing frequency. I was not comfortable launching another attack under those circumstances. The situation was becoming too hot to handle.

The clock was ticking, and I had work to do before the prospective buyers arrived.

I am not a salesman, but I was sure that getting stung by a swarm of angry wasps would not be the kind of first impression that would lead to content customers or a successful sale.

During my third trip to the store, I met a former mayor who suggested that I simply avoid the front door during the showing. This sounded like excellent advice, but the only way to unlock the back door was to run the gauntlet at the front door and walk through the house.

I adjusted my sunglasses, pulled my hat down low to minimize exposure, and donned my heavy leather motorcycle jacket as body armor.

I took up a can of the chemical in my left hand, placed my finger on the trigger, and held the key in my right hand. Then I crept past the hive as quietly and carefully as I could, unlocked the front door, then dived in and slammed the door behind me.

I finished my work, and the prospective buyers came and went without injury.

The Nest of Evil survived the assault, and I still need to eliminate it, but I will wait for a nice crisp Minnesota autumn morning to try again.

I have received plenty of good free advice about how to deal with the situation, mostly involving poking the nest with a stick, but unless I can find a stick that is about a mile long to give me a head start, I am going to pass. I am not as fleet of foot as I was, and I need every advantage I can get.