Torture, Pornography, & Sorcery

Brandi Malarkey, Artist.


So last week the city sprayed for mosquitoes, which I hate. It always seems to kill all the pollinators, and never seems to put a dent in the mosquitoes. The morning after the spray my walk was littered with dead bugs. Which hurt my heart, but also meant that I could collect specimens. So I did. Among those collected was a truly spectacular Monarch butterfly.

Unfortunately for both of us when I got the specimens home I discovered that the Monarch wasn’t actually dead. Now, I am learning more about bugs of all kinds than I ever knew to ask, but not in any kind of a controlled fashion, so I wasn’t sure if it was in it’s death throes from the spray, or if it was just slow to warm up on a cool morning. So I set it out on my front stoop with the thought that it would either warm up and fly away, or die, and I would get to keep it.

When my husband came home for lunch it was halfway across the driveway and appeared dead. We collected it again, and it turned out to still be alive. So deciding that the wind was too strong for it, I set it on the back steps where it was more sheltered. When I checked on it an hour later it was gone, and I was happy it had flown away—until I looked down to see it stuck in the crack between the stairs and the house. Poor Monarch! But then I fished it out, and it STILL wasn’t dead.

So then I was in a quandary as to continue to leave it out, or to perform a mercy killing, which I had no idea how to do without squishing it. The neighbor (who unfortunately for her ventured outside during my crisis of conscious) also had no idea. At this point I was pretty sure that if Big Brother is actually watching us, there was probably a drone somewhere nearby who was providing footage of this episode as comic relief to some sort of Russian sitcom.  I put the butterfly on one of my potted plants in the hope that if it died, it would at least die on a green thing and not concrete. The next time I checked on it it was gone, and scouring the entire area did not result in us finding it’s corpse, so I am hoping (perhaps willfully) that it flew away and will eventually recover from it’s inadvertent kidnapping and torture.

Coincidentally, this was also the day that I had an opportunity to photograph a pair of mating Ambush bugs:

Brandi Malarkey, Artist..
Taken in Fargo, North Dakota

Which means when my husband got home from work, I was able to tell him I had spent the day torturing the living, and engaging in pornographic endeavors. Which is way more fun than how it usually works, since our typical end of the work day conversation can be summarized like this: Brandi Malarkey, artist.

Which just goes to show perspective is everything.

So you’d think that would be the end of it because how much more trouble could I possibly get in to?

Well it just so happens that last week a scorpion had the misfortune to drown in my mother’s swimming pool (clearly, she doesn’t live in North Dakota). Since they creep her out completely, it is a sign of how much she loves me that she fished it out of the pool and offered to send it to me for my specimen collection. Since neither of us have ever mailed a scorpion, we were unsure of the logistics, but I was concerned that wrapping it in bubble wrap and putting it in a padded envelope may not survive some of the postal service’s machinery. So then my mother, being a determined sort, decided that if it drowned, then putting it in water for shipping might work. So she stuck it in a mayo jar and sent it my way, where instead of the two days to get to me as projected, it took several, since the post is understandably disrupted from the multiple natural disasters striking our country all at the same time.

After it was already shipped my science-y friends informed me that this was not a good plan, since water helps things to decompose, but at that point what do you do? So I consulted my entomologist (because everyone should have one, right?) and asked what to do with it if it arrived and wasn’t rotted or in multiple pieces.

He suggested vodka.

I thought this was a grand idea until he said I wasn’t supposed to drink it, but rather put the scorpion in it, which seemed less useful, but is probably okay, because I don’t actually drink vodka.

The scorpion arrived this week, in one piece. So I filled a jar with vodka, but then all the fantasy novels I have ever read loomed in my brain and I couldn’t move the scorpion because OF COURSE as soon as I opened the jar it would resurrect and scramble after me. My husband clearly doesn’t read enough of the right books, because he disagreed with this being possible. However, despite (or probably because of) his woefully inadequate fantasy education, he took 5 seconds out of his day to transfer the scorpion on my behalf. I admit the jar lid was applied firmly with rather unseemly speed following the transition.

Scorpion in vodka

So now I have a scorpion in my kitchen and it is FREAKING ME OUT. I can’t put it away somewhere, because every B-grade horror film involving an insect PROVES that putting it out of sight is just asking for all sorts of trouble and eventually a horde of magic zombie scorpions will take over the city and it will be ALL MY FAULT. Who wants to be responsible for that? So now it lives in my kitchen, where I can keep an eye on it and make sure it isn’t multiplying, or breaking out, or in any other way doing nefarious sneaky things, but I am pretty sure it is watching me back, and taunting me until it gets bored and makes a break for it. Of course, it could be that the reason you use vodka is to keep it too drunk to manage to get out of the jar, which is kind of comforting now that I have thought about it. Except, what happens if the jar breaks? Then there will be DRUNK magic zombie scorpions, and this doesn’t really seem like an improvement.

It is entirely possible I will have to move. It is clearly the only sensible solution.

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