Once upon a County Island day, a dark cloud descended upon our little horse-corral while myself, Original Coors, and Coors Light was settin to eat our supper hay. Only instead of bein a normal cloud carryin refreshin rain, it was an angry cloud filled with killer bees. And instead of settlin in above our heads up high in the sky and givin us fresh water which makes mud for a horse to roll in, and sometimes tiny bits of grass for a horse to savor, the angry killer bee cloud settled in to a bush by our own buckets and the prancin arena and the big people-barn, and didn’t give nobody nor no horse nothin except grief on account of its general disagreeableness.
Now, mostly, if you leave bees alone, they leave you alone, and everybody goes about mindin their own business. That’s how I believe things ought to work generally and also especially as regards any critter that’s got “killer” in its name. That’s how it also worked back at the ranch where I was raised. Your nose may get stung now and again from pokin it in the wrong pokey place where a bee’s at, but a bee sting don’t sting much compared to all the other stings that can sting a horse. You’ll likely live.
When you leave the bees alone, they go about makin more flower blossoms and that means more sweet and savory yellow palo verde flowers for me to eat. So bees are generally alright. But a killer bee, for those who don’t know, is a kind of bee that makes County Island people — to borrow the proper California words from the Coors brothers — totally freak out. A killer bee probably ain’t gonna kill a person nor a horse. Then again, if instead of a killer bee, ya got more killer bees than a horse could ever try to count, all bunched up together in a ball that was bigger than my own bucket and hangin from branch like a bunch of bad-asses, then they possibly might get all pissed off enough to kill somethin, I guess.
They were there for more than a day until they were noticed by our bucket gal. That’s how unobservant people are of their surroundins. Me, Coors, and Coors Light knew they was there, and therefore we was givin ‘em their space until they decided to buzz off to wherever else bees buzz. Over the top of my slow-feeder hay-box abomination that I had my face shoved down into eat my breakfast hay, I observed the bucket gal walkin aimlessly in the general direction of the big bee ball branch, and I thought, this ain’t gonna be good. Then she stopped, lookin spooked. Then she disappeared into the big people-barn, and I figured that was that.
Before we’d even finished our hay, Coors and Coors Light got led into their stalls, and I got tied to the rail in the shade, like we do when we’re due to see the horseshoer man. Only when the bucket gal opened the corral gate, instead of his big rig, a little rumbly-truck came in that had a big bee drawn upon its side, like a ranch brand of a bee only on a rumbly-truck instead of on a horse or a cow, and instead of backin the little rumbly-truck up to the mare motel where us horses were, it backed itself up to the buzzin ball of bees on the bush branch.
The bee rancher got out and said somethin to the bucket gal about how if the bees was good bees, he was gonna gentle ‘em a bit with some kinda fly spray and then haul ‘em back to his own bee ranch, in what looked to be a tiny little white bee stock trailer he brought with him and set down on the dirt. That kinda made sense, on account of it’s always a good idea to add some new bloodlines to the herd. But, he said, if they was bad bees, he was gonna “exterminate” ‘em on the spot and kill them killer bees dead.
Instead of a Stetson, the bee rancher put on a big floppy white hat with what appeared to be a big ol’ fly mask attached to it. And instead of proper work gloves, he wore floppy white ones wrapped up with more fly mask mesh. This was fixin to be the freakiest roundup I’d ever seen, so I had to crane my neck to see more of it.
The bucket gal came trottin back to us, where we was all a safe enough distance not to get stampeded by the killer bees if all hell broke loose like it does sometimes on a roundup.
The bee rancher adjusted the brim of his hat, and pulled out what I thought was gonna be a gun, and then I wondered if he aimed to actually shoot all the bees dead, which’d be ridiculous if he tried and downright miraculous if he succeeded. But it was a enormous bottle of what must’ve been fly spray.
“Okay, these are bad bees!” he yelled. “They’re really angry with me!”
Well, hell, I would be, too, if I was a bee.
And then he sprayed the giant ball of bees that was now buzzin like they all meant business with the fly spray and startin to swarm all around his fly mask hat, and there they dropped, dead. The roundup turned showdown was over.
But it still ain’t over on the County Island.
This past week, Coors Light said when he was bein trotted down a dusty road, he saw another rumbly-truck bearin the brand of the Bee Ranch, only this truck was also colored to look entirely like a bee itself, all stripey and black and yellow. And the bee rancher he saw step out of it, before he got reined back to lookin where he was goin and made to keep movin forward, was attired in not only the giant floppy white fly mask bee cowboy hat and the giant fly mask mesh gloves, but also a whole, entire spooky white fly sheet wrapped all around his entire body so he was hardly recognizable as a human at all. Coors Light surmised he was tryin to bluff the bees into thinkin he was a mere horse decked out in pampered pet horse turnout clothes, so as to sneak in close to ‘em before whippin out his gallon of Flyect and exterminatin ‘em dead.
Seems to me like tryin to bluff killer bees thusly would be a bad idea. And Coors Light’s been known to embellish. But y’all can believe me when I say I’ll be regardin any buzzin black clouds that come passin through these parts with a tiny bit more trepidation than I would’ve done before, in case there’s further cause for folks to freak out more than they usually do here about bees on the County Island.