Killing Things

A story about extermination

Young boys are mean and they like to pick on things smaller than themselves. Animals, for example.

Nothing cute of course, but small slimy critters were fair game. It all started with what we called “tent” worms. You know, those fuzzy little caterpillar-looking things that build elaborate web-like tents in trees. The fields behind my house had plenty of them, so I would gather up a couple of friends and conduct a series of Great Tent Worm Raids.

At first we would attack by poking holes in their tents with sticks. They would fall out onto the ground in great, writhing piles. We would then set to smashing them en masse with bricks and rocks and sometimes our shoes. All that remained was a pile of smeared caterpillar guts and fuzz. It was cool, but gross. After doing this to a few trees with our primitive stick weapons, I had the greatest idea ever.

I’m sure you remember when we all used real aerosol sprays for everything. Ozone layer be damned! Hair spray was one of those things, and my house was full of it – something called “Final Net” I think. Every kid on earth with access to a lighter knew what to do with hair spray and a flame. I decided to try using one of these impromptu flame throwers as a weapon against the approaching Tent Worm hoards. I just held up my lighter near one of their tents, flicked it, pressed the spray button and fwooooosh! the air was filled with falling clumps of flaming caterpillars. They’d squirm and fizzle and burn to a crisp on the ground. The tent itself would disintegrate instantly in a ball of fire. It was awesome!

Fortunately we were pretty good at controlling our hair spray weapons. We’d make sure the fire never got out of control and eventually get bored and head home, victorious. I’m sure my mother spent many mornings wondering why she was once again out of hair spray.