Last night as we were sitting in the living room watching TV, one of the boys pointed out that there was a bee flying up near the ceiling, bumping into the lights but not doing much else.
Oh, I thought, maybe I should try to whack it, or somehow get it to go outside. But it was up there, just bumping around, not really bothering anyone, nor were we bothering it. So okay, I thought, no big deal.
What none of us were counting on was Chucky. He’s one of our cats, a stray we took in a couple of months ago. I guess he must have batted the bee out of the air because next thing I knew it was stumbling around on the sofa, right next to Al. And then Al, who didn’t know the bee was there, put his left hand down right where it was. He lifted his hand up a moment later and the bee was gone. Without thinking, he’d scooped it right up.
“Al,” I said, getting up, trying to figure out how to get that bee out of there without freaking Al out and/or getting him stung.
But it was too late. He jumped up and started running, holding his left hand with his right. The bee had stung him.
Now let’s pause for a moment and think about how bee stings usually go. I think we’ve all been stung at least once, right? I got stung by a bee once when I was a kid. It sucked but it was no big deal. I cried. So let’s pause and imagine Al running over to me, crying, and Leen saying Oh what happened, oh that bee stung you, oh poor Al. And we wipe his tears away and google all sorts of home remedies for bee stings and pick the least crazy one we can find, and we apply that remedy and maybe wipe some more tears away, and then we all go to bed.
Well, that’s not what happened. Because things aren’t like when we were kids, are they? No, these days bees can kill your kids. Just like peanuts can kill your kids. You have to watch out for bees and peanuts. And cars. For God’s sake, don’t let your kids play outside! If they do, they’re probably going to get hit by a car. And if they somehow manage to dodge all the cars that are driving around trying to hit kids, they’re going to be taken by one of the child molesters who are waiting on every street corner for some careless parent to let their kids wander out of their sight. Yes, folks, it’s a mad, dangerous world out there for our kids, and it’s full of killer bees.
Anyway, I digress. Suffice it to say that thanks to NatGeo Wild or something, Al thought bee stings were way more deadly than they actually are. So instead of just running over and showing me his booboo, he ran around the living room as fast as he could, leaving a trail of blood-curdling screams in his wake.
This wasn’t the first time something he’d seen on TV had left him with a horrible fear of something. A couple of years ago, one of those Caught on Camera shows had a segment where a car got hit by raging flood waters and the occupants narrowly escaped by climbing out onto the roof and leaping into the arms of rescuers. After that, Al was absolutely terrified of heavy rain that sent water flowing down the street. At the time, we lived on the 18th floor of an apartment building, but during heavy rain he would run around in a panic, screaming about how we were going to get washed away. It was terrible and hilarious at the same time. Well no, not at the same time. Terrible then, hilarious now.
Anyway, Leen and I both took a look at the sting, and it looked okay. I mean, his thumb was red and kind of swollen, but minutes after the sting he still looked okay. He wasn’t convulsing on the floor or frothing at the mouth or swelling up like a balloon and thaying eberything like thith becauthe ob all the thwelling. He seemed fine…except he was still shrieking OH GOD AM I GONNA DIE I DON’T WANNA DIE and jumping around like he was on fire. So we figured we’d better take him to the clinic up the road just in case. Bee stings can be dangerous, Leen said, which really just made Al shriek louder. Well yeah, I said, recalling this guy I did basic training with in the army reserves. He had to carry a little kit around with him everywhere he went because he was allergic to bee stings. Cue more shrieking.
Meanwhile, the bee was still on the sofa, stumbling around, its guts oozing out where the stinger had come off. Chucky was thoroughly traumatized by this point, probably by all the screaming, and wasn’t going anywhere near it now. I picked up one of the sofa’s massive cushions and hit the bee hard. When I lifted the cushion up, the bee was still stumbling around, so I hit it again. Still stumbling. Whack! Stumble. Whack! Stumble. Oh for…WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! Finally the damn thing stopped moving. And the whole time, Al was screaming like he was being hacked to death with a machete dipped in flaming acid.
Why the neighbours weren’t all out in front of their houses when we went outside, I’ll never know. It’s a bit disturbing, actually, to think the sound of someone being murdered wouldn’t bring the whole neighbourhood out. Thanks, guys. Anyway, we went outside and I unlocked the car and Leen and Al got inside, and I put Aaron in the back and closed the door and suddenly HE was shrieking, and I was all What’s wrong with you and then Leen was shrieking HIS FINGERS! HIS FINGERS! So yeah, I had slammed the door on Aaron’s hand. So I opened the door and moved his mangled fingers out of the way, closed the door again, and got in the car and off we went.
The clinic, the only one around that was open at that hour, was packed. Well, I thought, if they assess Al and suggest we wait, then it’s probably no big deal and we can just go home. So they assessed Al and suggested we go to a hospital, the sole reason being that there were so many people ahead of us at the clinic. My brain could not brain that (if it’s serious, can’t he just be given priority? If it’s not serious, why go to a hospital?). Bee stings are dangerous, the nurse/receptionist said, which got Al shrieking again, all the way back to the car.
So we were cruising into Kajang town, debating which hospital to go to, while Al shrieked in the back seat. Fortunately Aaron had stopped shrieking already, but I can’t recall the exact moment he stopped because the inside of the car was stuffed to the roof with shrieking, punctuated by Leen and me yelling as we debated our destination. We decided to go to Hospital Kajang, because we knew KPJ would make a huge deal out of the sting even if it was nothing, and they’d charge us a lot for it. So I put on my four-way flashers and ran a red light near the police station and we turned into the Hospital Kajang compound.
The doctor in triage said Al would probably end up getting an injection, and suddenly Al went from shrieking that his pain was a ten to calmly saying it was maybe a two. No, one. Actually you know what Mommy, I feel okay now. But we were there, and Leen was concerned, and eventually Al’s number came up, so I waited out in the waiting room and sat in front of some kid who was feverish and coughing and puking while Aaron slept in my arms. We were sitting there for what seemed like an eternity, and then I heard Al shrieking in the examination room. The shrieking went on for a minute or two, then went silent. Then, finally, Leen and Al emerged. I half expected Leen to be carrying him, but he was walking, his good hand on his butt. He had been given a tetanus shot. Okay, I thought, whatever. It only cost us one ringgit. Let’s go home.
So we finally got home and slumped onto the sofa. The bee was nowhere to be found. Chucky must have eaten it, we all said. Then I saw it, right where Al was sitting. It was dead, right under his leg. But I didn’t say anything until Al had already got up and moved far enough away.
Because you know, shrieking.