Seeing Bees in Chicago

by Dalgraye Chebberston Sr.

Two bees were walking down Milwaukee Ave. It was a summer afternoon,
around three o’clock. The bees were the size of people, walking
upright on their rear legs like people. One of the bees was wearing a
t-shirt, it looked like a band t-shirt, with holes torn in the sides
below the sleeves for its second set of legs (and presumably in the
back for its wings). The other bee touched its shoulder and they
stopped in front of a bookstore. The shirtless bee turned, produced a
pack of cigarettes from somewhere, lit one and started smoking. They
seemed to be looking at me (although thinking about it now, they must
have been looking at me with their compact eyes the whole time, but
now they were roughly facing me, standing where I was on the other
side of the avenue, separated by the traffic). Except for the smoking
bee, raising the cigarette between its mandibles, none of us moved.
The nonsmoking bee almost looked like an ambitious art project. Some
minutes passed, a cloud passed over the sun. Something about their
appearance changed in the shadow.

The nonsmoking bee seemed to be telling a joke to her friend. Just
hear me out, she said, what if we go to her house anyways, and pick up
her cats, but we pretend the cats are machine guns and that we are
old-timey Chicago mobsters. You knock over a bank and lose all the
money in a single bet on a boxing match. I leave Lincoln Park a love
letter written in bullets. Murphy’s unconscious body is stuffed into
an oil barrel and rolled between the legs of the statue into the
river. After a moment of indecision, our rivals at the Board of Trade
tragically fall through their glass penthouse walls onto the streets.
At Deloitte our accountant burns all of our documents and puts the
ashes in a briefcase in the trunk of the Plymouth and we take the cats
and drive it off a ramp at the end of Navy Pier. Everyone thinks
we’re gone, they think we’ve lost it, but the Plymouth is a submarine.
We fuck off to Duluth and we get all fucked up on Duluth and then we
fuck up Duluth and burn the Plymouth, and we portage through the
boundary waters and carve a mess of bloody tears across the face of
Canada. By the time we get to Manchuria the cats are suffering the
psychological effects of bearing witness to the violence that comes
from their bodies, so we sell them to a banjo maker and give up crime
and buy a jeep and a caravan tent and a couple goats and drive into
the heart of the unknown continent, beyond the (front of) Japanese
tanks. In the morning I make goat milk tea and in the afternoon I
take peyote and talk about building a cocoon in the dirt and you’re
beginning to imagine that this whole thing was my idea, that I dragged
you into this alternate past against your will, and why did we ever
burn the submarine and while I’m pressing a mache of thistle
regurgitate inside the tent you take the jeep but there’s not much gas
and it stalls out under the stars in a borderless field of sleeping
yaks, and you panic, because what if the Japs find you out here, you
don’t even have a gun anymore, we never should’ve left Chicago, you
dig a coffin-bed in the ground under the jeep and fall into a (thin)
sleep. A few nights later you wake from hunger and remember your
wings, but you can’t remember the last time you used them, you’re not
even sure they ever worked. Dawn breaks. It is early spring. You
smell pollen and you gather as much as you can on your legs and eat it
all. Now revived you find that your wings work. You fly back to the
camp and drink goat milk until you feel sick and you find me in the
tent, which has been transformed, it’s hot and smoky, I’m covered in
fluids and surrounded by candles I have made. You shriek in horror.

Calm down, I tell you. A simple thing has happened. This life of
adventure has taken a toll on us both. We have taken divergent paths
backwards and landed on opposing interpretations of our original
nature. But where do we come from? Bees belong in a hive, but where
is the hive? Have you ever seen a hive big enough for us? Fuck a
hive, find one if you can, good luck with the communal life. If your
conscience is bothering you, try your luck as a hero to men. Sting
for them, if you want, but that’ll be the end of you. I’ve decided to
live here as a demon. The horsemen, supposing I have carried them
off, can come with swords in search of their children or lambs. The
Japs can come with their railroad bombing plots and mad doctors. I
will kill who disturbs me and leave the rest in peace. I will turn my
eyes to the lamp and penetrate the inner mysteries. I will turn into
a reptilian spider if I can do it without losing my wings. I will
keep this land free of cities for as long as I can, I’ll poison wells,
whatever. And then you realize there is no sense trying to convince
me, you take a last look at me, purple fluid dripping from my face,
and wander off, I don’t know where, maybe you head in a daze to the
northern wastes or maybe you’re lucid enough to head for the
mountains. That would be a trip. The smoking bee dropped her
cigarette, paused, seemed to chuckle, looked up as the street
brightened again. Then a tour bus stopped between us and a band
started unloading gear, and after a minute I got up the nerve to cross
the street and look for them, but they were gone.

1 comment:

  1. whoa, I can't believe you guys got Dalgraye Chebberston Sr!