By: Jason Covey

It had been nearly three days since the old man began his vigil in the patio chair…waiting…forever waiting next
to the rotting wood fence. But now waiting had given way to a despair brought on by diminished hope. After all,
a man can only hold out for so long.

With each passing moment, an eternity each one to be sure, the chance that his friend would return became
more remote. The old man was now forced to allow his imagination to ponder his friend’s fate, for in his heart of
hearts he now knew that it was gone. All that was left for him to do was admit the truth. And that horrified him.

Oh, he had done such a disciplined thing to have kept his mind focused for as long as he had, especially
considering the constant supply of vodka and whiskey that he poured down his gullet. A lesser man than he, a
man that did not love his friend as deeply as he did, would have become insane from the unknown. Never once
did he doubt his friend’s love for him. He did not allow himself to consider that his friend had left for something
better. That is, before tonight.

The memory of his initial encounter with his beloved Bumblebee flashed in his mind’s eye. At first he was
frightened of it. Prior to this he had always hated bees. When he was a little boy, about seven years old, he
was playing on a grassy field. The grass was a deep green and absolutely luscious. Little white wild flowers
speckled the landscape.

Of course he could not resist the temptation to run through the grass barefoot; however, as he stepped down
a large bumblebee that had come to rest on a wild flower perceived impending danger. Like any scared animal
would do when its life is in jeopardy, the bumblebee attacked the very thing that scared it. He suffered a nasty
wound thanks to this bumblebee. Fate has a sense of irony it would seem, as the bumblebee lost its life that
day and the boy grew into an old man that had a life long fear of stinging, flying creatures.

The old man scolded himself for jumping from one memory to another, no rhyme or reason, without finishing one
memory before going to the next. He now forced himself to return to the first time he encountered his beloved
Bumblebee.  

It was a warm summer day and the old man had grabbed a can of his favorite cheap beer. What to do next?
There was nothing on the goddamned TV except for those stupid talk shows will all the freaks and fags.

The old man decided to stick to his usual daily routine: Go out and sit down in his patio lounge chair, drink a
beer or six, and nap the day away. Nothing else to do. Nobody to see. Nobody coming to see him.

As the old man reached his chair, something big and black buzzed by his head. At first the old man had no idea
what it was. The mystery object buzzed around his head again. When he realized that it was the largest
bumblebee that he had ever seen, the old man threw his can of beer at it and then started waving his hands
wildly in an attempt to swat it away.

The projectile that had been a can of cheap beer missed its target, struck the fence, and then bounced back
at his feet. Beer spray showered the old man as he tripped over his chair and fell to the ground. Picking himself
up, the old man climbed into his chair. He recognized the sound of the bumblebee coming in for the kill. As fast
as his old bones could turn him over the old man spotted his nemesis.

The bumblebee gracefully landed on the old man’s chest and stood motionless. It was looking him in the eye.

The old man was captivated. He admired its perfect beauty. All black was the color of this bumblebee. It was
the deepest, most pure black that he had ever seen. The wings of the bumblebee looked so fragile, so
transparent.  

Satisfied with the bond now forged between them, the bumblebee took back into flight. It flew above the old
man much in the same way a beautiful show horse prances around for all to admire its exquisite beauty.

The old man never let his eyes leave the glorious creature. The bumblebee, obviously wanting to share intimate
information with his new friend, made a sweeping pass around the patio and then flew into its home: a hole in
the rotting wood fence near the lounge chair.

For the rest of the day the old man sat in his chair watching his new friend. He never moved so that he could
watch every thing that the bumblebee did. Coming and going…flying here and there and back again… to do
whatever it is that a bumblebee does during the course of a day.     

Over the next two months the old man would wake up every morning before sunrise, go out to his patio chair
with a cooler full of beer, and sit to wait for his friend. Just after the first rays of the sun flared across the sky,
Bumblebee would emerge from its lair and buzz around the old man, as if it was saying ‘Good morning my dear
friend’.

At least that is what the old man had decided Bumblebee was saying to him. And he took comfort in knowing
that something in the world cared about him.

About a month into his friendship with Bumblebee, the old man was visited by his grandson. It was a rare
occasion that anyone came to see him. Most people that knew the old man ended up wishing that they did not.
He didn’t care; they could all go to hell.

His grandson used to visit him weekly, but now he was going to college some two hundred miles away. And with
all the busy things in a young man’s life, well there is not much time for grandpa. To hell with him too.

“Hi grandpa, how are you doing,” Parker said as he walked into the backyard.

The old man was startled. “What are you doing here?”

“I just came by to see how you were. Mom said that she hasn’t talked to you for a while,” Parker said.

That is because your mom is a bitch, the old man thought. “Well, sometimes we don’t get along. But, I don’t
need her. I get along just fine on my own.”

Parker sat down and for a moment there was an uncomfortable silence.

“It’s pretty hot out here,” Parker said.

“I like the heat,” his grandfather said. “Do you want a soda or something?”

“Sure that would be great. I’ll go get it.”

The old man waved him off. “No. I’ve got to go inside anyway.” Groaning, the old man pushed up off the chair,
shuffled across the patio, and into the house.

Parker closed his eyes and sat back in his chair feeling the summer heat soak into his skin. Sweat tickled his
brow as something streaked in front of his face. Parker opened his eyes and picked up the sight of the black
bumblebee flying away from him.  

Unwilling to be victimized by the wicked insect, Parker decided to bring its reign of terror to an end. A
newspaper lay underneath his grandfather’s chair. Parker got up and took the newspaper in his hand, rolling it
up. From a distance Parker mirrored the bumblebee’s chaotic flight pattern, waiting for it to make its fateful
mistake.

The bumblebee landed on the arm rest of the old man’s chair. In slow motion Parker moved within striking
distance of his prey. Cocking his arm Parker took aim: Steady…steady…don’t move…Now!

For such a large insect the bumblebee’s reflexes were amazingly quick. It narrowly averted certain death;
waiting until the last possible second to avoid the young man’s attack. The bumblebee took a couple air-born
victory laps around Parker’s head finally coming to rest on the fence.

“Oh, no way,” Parker said. “That’s it, you’re dead.” Parker cocked his arm in the ready position and headed for
the fence. Again he swatted at the bumblebee and again he missed.

“What the hell are you doing you stupid bastard!” the old man screamed, launching a cylindrical projectile at his
grandson.

Parker turned around at the exact moment that a can of Pepsi bounced off of his forehead. “Damn it Grandpa,
why did you throw that at me?”  

The old man picked up the rolled up newspaper that Parker had dropped and began to smack him with it. “Get
the hell out of here, you bastard,” the old man said as he repeatedly hit him with the newspaper. “You tried to
kill Bumblebee.”

Parker flashed with rage and grabbed the paper away from his grandfather. “Stop hitting me. Are you
completely insane? It was a stupid bee. Why do you care?”

“Bumblebee is my friend,” the old man shouted. “I won’t let anything hurt it. Now get out! I don’t ever want to
see you here again!”

Parker threw the newspaper down at his grandpa’s feet and stormed off.

The old man collapsed into his chair. Bumblebee streaked through the air and came to rest on the old man’s leg.
“Don’t worry Bumblebee, I won’t let anything happen to you. You are my only real friend.”

In the days that followed the old man could feel the bond with Bumblebee growing stronger. Each day
Bumblebee would fly down to the old man and walk on his leg. The old man knew that Bumblebee was listening
to him as he told it all he had to tell. Nobody else in the world cared about him, only Bumblebee. He loved his it
like a proud parent loved a favorite child.                

Sometimes the old man would tell Bumblebee the sad truth of his existence: “The only reason I wake up each
morning is to come out here and be with you.”  

Bumblebee enjoyed the distinction of being so important to the old man, as it would sit on his leg and listen
attentively to the old man rambling on about his pathetic life.

One day as the old man sat waiting for Bumblebee, he saw a tabby cat slinking on the top of the fence. The
cat was completely focused; it had locked in on its prey and was setting up to pounce. At first the old man did
not see what the cat had so fancied as a prize. The prize moved slightly and the old man saw that it was
Bumblebee.

Frantic the old man threw his can of beer at the cat striking it flush on the side. Screeching, the cat fell from
the fence and sprinted past the old man.

Several days later the old man once again saw the cat in his backyard. The treacherous feline was making its
way to the fence. Rage boiled within him. That cat tried to kill Bumblebee and he would make it pay.

“Here kitty, kitty.” The cat turned and looked at him. “Here kitty, kitty. Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”  The cat slowly
began to walk toward the old man, seeking a little affection. When it was close to the chair the old man
stroked the cat’s fur, soothing it. The old man picked up the cat and began to scratch gently under the cat’s
chin.

“Oh yes, the pretty little kitty likes to be scratched.” The old man gently slid his hand from the chin to the cat’
s throat, slowly wrapping his hand around it.

“You tried to kill Bumblebee and now I am going to kill you!”

The old man squeezed the cat’s throat with all that he had, but the cat was a feisty one. The cat sunk its
teeth into the old man’s hand and used all of its claws to shred his arms. The old man screamed and threw the
cat to the ground. Rolling across the lawn, the cat found its legs and escaped over the fence.

After the old man went inside to tend to his wounds his determination to eliminate the cat turned into a plan for
action. He went up into his attic and retrieved an old 22 caliber rifle that his father had used for hunting. There
were no bullets with the gun so the old man dug out his car keys and went for a drive.

There was a Wal-Mart about five miles from his house. Only two near-accidents later the old man parked and
walked inside the store, making his way to the sporting goods department. Finding the ammunition section the
old man became agitated. What good would it do if he could find the boxes of bullets but he couldn’t see well
enough to pick out the right caliber?

“Hey, I need some help,” the old man said of as he yanked the young employee’s arm. “I want you to get me a
box of 22 caliber bullets.”

The kid did as the customer said (after all, the customer is always right) and handed the old man the bullets.
The old man started walking to the cashier when something else caught his eye: Rat poison.

Relaxing again in his chair, his arm still throbbing, the old man waited. Now he was the hunter and the cat was
his prize. He had come fully prepared. Next to his chair was the rifle, loaded with ammunition. But, he had
decided to change his plan. After spotting the rat poison the old man picked up some cat treats.

Upon reaching home, the first thing he did was to fill a bowl full of cat treats spiked rat poison. At the far end
of the yard, he set the bowl down next to the fence. Now it was only a matter of time.

It wasn’t until the next day that the cat made its return to the old man’s yard. Immediately the cat found the
treats left for it.  Making short work of the delicious morsels the cat licked its chops and walked off to look for
prey that presented a more suitable challenge.  

The cat did not make it far. The poison did the job quickly, although not mercifully. It was a painful death for
the cat, but fitting according to the old man’s way of thinking. Moving as fast as he could the old man stood
over the cat.

“That is what you get for trying to kill Bumblebee,” the gleeful old man told the cat. He laughed and thoroughly
enjoyed watching the cat convulse.

Once the cat breathed its last tortured breath the old man made certain that not one of its nine lives would
revive it. He crushed the cat’s throat with his foot and thought it odd that a squishing sound emanated from it.
Satisfied that the cat was forever dead, the old man went into his house.  

Rummaging around his kitchen he retrieved a pair of scissors and a paper grocery sack before going back
outside. The feline corpse still lay motionless; as he approached the old man chuckled because it looked like it
was smiling at him.

The old man slid the scissor blades between the cat’s neck and its collar, snipped it off, and examined the
identification tag. Johnson Veterinary Clinic, a phone number, and an ID number were imprinted into the metal
tag. Picking up the cat the old man placed it into the paper bag and then took it inside his house.

Steadying his hand the old man dialed the number to the veterinary clinic. A girl answered the phone. He told
her that he had found a cat in his yard and that it had an identification tag on its collar.

“I’m sure that they must be worried sick about their lovely cat,” he told the girl, “and I know the cat is just
dying to go home”.

Pulling his car up in front of the address that the girl so graciously provided, the old man used a magic marker
to write on the outside of the corpse-containing paper bag: This is what happens to bad little kitties that try to
kill Bumblebee.

He took the bag and placed it on the front doorstep. After pushing the doorbell several times the old man
turned around and went back to his car, ignoring the woman that opened the door.

The woman called to him, “Excuse me, may I help you? Sir? Excuse me, what is this?” Just as he pulled away
from the house he heard the woman scream.        

Ice cold beer relieved some of the misery brought on by the sweltering heat. Bumblebee flew through the air,
putting on a show, but finally it landed on the old man’s leg.

“Oh Bumblebee, I couldn’t let that evil cat hurt you.” The old man took another can out of his cooler and
opened it.

“I wish you could have been there when that stupid lady screamed at our little gift-in-a-bag! It was something
all right.” Bumblebee sat motionless. “Well, who knows? Maybe you were there!” The old man laughed at the
thought.

Finished with the beer the old man got another. “You’re my best friend Bumblebee. I wouldn’t have anything
without you.” Silence filled the air. Bumblebee remained still on the old man’s leg, no doubt saying thank you to
the old man.

And so the summer days came and went. Each day the old man would marvel at the sight of Bumblebee,
captivated by its activities. But, nothing as exciting as the epic battle with the evil cat came to pass.

Around the fence where Bumblebee made its home the old man planted a variety of flowers so that Bumblebee
would have food close at hand. The only time the old man ever really felt any joy was when Bumblebee was out
flying around where he could see it. Of course his favorite times were when Bumblebee would sit on his leg.

They would have such interesting conversations, the two of them. The old man would tell Bumblebee about
how he hated his entire family, about how he hated all of his neighbors, about how all of his friends had
betrayed him and that he hated them too.

Waking up each day before he had his friendship with Bumblebee was monotonous. He had nothing to look
forward to, except for an inevitable death that never seemed to come. But now, he woke up enthusiastically.
Each day was another day to be with Bumblebee.    

Nearing the end of the summer, the old man woke up on a sticky-hot morning. He hated the humidity; a
precursor to a bad day. Already in a horrible mood the old man showered and got dressed. Today he could not
go out and await the morning emergence of his friend. No. His stupid daughter had scheduled a doctor
appointment for him. She tried to force him to accept a ride from her, but he absolutely refused.

“I don’t want to see you and I sure as hell don’t want to see this crackpot doctor. If I have to go I will drive
myself. I don’t need you,” he told her.

Really what he planned to do was to drive himself to the doctor’s office, walk in there and if they didn’t see him
immediately he planned to go home.

Doctors are always late. They never see you on time. The old man believed his plan was flawless. I’ll go to
make my stupid daughter happy, but I won’t have to see the doctor and then I’ll have him to blame for it. It
was a brilliant plan!

But, the best laid plans of bumblebees and men…

The next day the old man limped to his chair. Usually he was in very good spirits when he first went to see
Bumblebee; however, this day he was somber. Like always just after sunrise Bumblebee buzzed out of the
fence. As it flew around the old man began to tell it about his bad day.

“I am so glad I have you Bumblebee. You are the only one that loves me,” the old man said as tears welled in
his eyes. “When I was driving to the doctor’s office yesterday I didn’t see that the stoplight had turned red. I
got in an accident and some people got hurt and I crunched up my car. The police came and they called my
daughter. They were thinking of taking me to jail, but Debra talked them out of it.”

He wiped the tears from his eyes and took the cap off his whiskey bottle. Bumblebee had landed on its usual
spot. “Well, now Debra thinks that I shouldn’t live on my own. She told me that she is going to look into a
retirement home for me. She says that my doctor agrees with her. I don’t want to leave my home. And I don’t
want to leave you.”

A large amount of whiskey was poured down his throat that morning. His mood swung between sadness and
anger. Through the whole thing Bumblebee was always there. Either flying around him or sitting on his leg. The
old man recognized that each time he began to feel sad Bumblebee would fly around him saying “Look at me
and don’t be sad. I am your friend”.   

Several weeks later the old man still lived in his house and on his own. His stupid daughter didn’t care about him
enough to bother herself with the hassle of following through with her threat to place him in a retirement home;
although, much to his chagrin she made daily visits to his house to check-up on him. She also was scheduling
weekly doctor visits for him. As a result of the accident that he caused, the DMV revoked his driver’s license.
That meant that he was forced to go to the doctor now because Debra was driving him there and escorting him
inside. He did not care though. All he cared about was staying right where he was, at his home with his best
friend Bumblebee.

With the summer winding down, the days were getting shorter and the nights colder. One day Bumblebee was
gone more than usual, the old man missed his friend and wondered where it was. It had been hours since he
had seen it and it was starting to get dark.

The old man was worried about where Bumblebee might be, but there was something else on his mind that was
demanding his attention. Today at the doctor’s office the doctor took blood from him, the usual routine.
Something was different with today’s results it would seem. Not exactly sure what it was, the doctor told the
old man some kind of nonsense about higher white blood cell count. Who the hell cares anyway?

As the crickets began to play their night time concerto, the old man worrying more about Bumblebee, a
streaking buzz sent a tingle down his spine.

“Thank heavens you are home now Bumblebee.” Fully expecting his friend to land on his leg and talk with him
for a spell, the old man was crushed when he heard no further buzzing about. Bumblebee must have retired
without saying goodnight.

“To hell with you too, then” the old man said. He went into the house where he emptied another bottle of
cheap vodka.

The cold winds of the coming fall got closer each day. And Bumblebee wasn’t visiting like it used to. Oh, how
the old man longed to be with his friend. He would call out, “Bumblebee, my friend, come here to see me. I miss
you Bumblebee.”

Another doctor visit preceded another really bad day. The doctor saw him and then spoke to Debra privately.
The old man became angry – they were talking about him and he was not included. When the doctor finally
came back into the examination room, as the door was opened, the old man could see his daughter.

“Why the hell is she crying?”

“I have some bad news that I have to tell you,” the doctor said.

“Well, what is it?”

“Two weeks ago when I saw the results of your blood test I found that your white blood cell count was
abnormally high. That is the reason that I had you scheduled for a CAT scan. I have the results of your
scan.”          

Anger flashed across the old man’s face. “So, what’s wrong with me?”

The doctor tried to smile his most comforting smile. “I’m sorry to tell you this. I have found a sizable tumor
located within the parietal lobe of your brain. We can’t operate...”

On the way home from the doctor’s office Debra cried while the old man sat in silence. Upon reaching his house
Debra told him that she loved him. He ignored her and went inside.

Armed with a cooler full of beer and a bottle of the best vodka three dollars could buy, the old man took up his
usual spot outside. He had missed Bumblebee’s sunrise rising; however, the bumblebee was waiting for his
arrival.

On that, the last day that the old man would ever see Bumblebee, they spent the entire day together. It
turned out to be the best day the old man could remember. Bumblebee was near the old man at all times,
landing on each flower the old man had planted for it, constantly landing on his leg and on his arm, his best
friend putting on the show of a lifetime.

Just after sunset, during the onset of complete darkness, Bumblebee landed on the old man’s arm and this time
it walked onto his hand and then onto his index finger. The old man lifted Bumblebee up to his face and said, “I
love you Bumblebee. You will always be my best friend.”

It was the closest thing to a hug that Bumblebee could give him. For one short moment the old man felt total
happiness. As Bumblebee flew away to its home the old man told it goodbye.

Fate, it would seem, does have a sense of irony – and it is cruel. Following the best day of the old man’s life
was the beginning of the worst three days of his life. The morning started off with the old man setting up in his
usual place. By the time the sunshine illuminated the entire landscape Bumblebee had yet to emerge. Perhaps it
wanted to get an early start today and already left, the old man thought. No matter, Bumblebee will come to
me. It always does.

As the day wore on, Bumblebee nowhere to be found, the old man was visited by his daughter. She must be
the reason that Bumblebee had not come around.

“Get the hell out of here,” the old man said. “Bumblebee won’t come around until you leave!”

“Dad I just want to spend some time with you.”

“Go to hell,” the old man said. “You only feel guilty because you think I won’t be around anymore. That and you
want me to leave you everything. I’ll just give you my will and you can make it out, you selfish brat. Now leave
me the hell alone!”

Debra left the backyard sobbing. The old man stayed in his chair the rest of the day awaiting his best friend.
His best friend never came.

It had been nearly three days since the old man began his vigil in the patio chair…waiting…forever waiting next
to a rotting wood fence. Before tonight he knew in his heart that his friend would return to him. Before tonight
his life had meaning, and a purpose. Before tonight he had something to love and something that loved him. But
the reality of the situation set in.

The weight against his chest was unbearable and his throat was tight. The world around him was crashing
down. If he did not have Bumblebee to love him then he had nothing. All that was left now was to accept the
inevitable. Like an official proclamation he admitted the truth to himself…Bumblebee was forever gone.

The old man could not decide which of the two possibilities were what really happened: Either Bumblebee had
flown off and been killed, or his best friend had simply decided that it no longer wanted to be with him and left
for good.

In the end the old man could not decide. It didn’t really matter why because the fact remained that Bumblebee
was gone. And so was the old man’s reason for living.

The old man went to the garage and got his rifle. The fifty-count box of bullets was next to it; he would only
need one. He placed a round in the firing chamber and went back out to his chair.

While he drank the rest of his vodka he hoped with all his might that his precious friend would return to him. He
begged Bumblebee to visit him, but his only answer was silence.

Opening his mouth as wide as he could the old man placed the end of the barrel directly flush with the roof of
his mouth. A tear fell from his eye as he pulled the trigger.

The next morning, just before his daughter found him, the bumblebee emerged from its lair and flew to the old
man’s body. Landing on his leg the bumblebee searched for the taste of spilled beer, some morsel of food, or
anything else edible. The bumblebee always found something tasty on the old man’s clothes; the old fool was
always spilling something. But this morning the bumblebee only found an unpleasant, sticky red liquid.

Not to its liking the bumblebee flew away…to do whatever it is that a bumblebee does during the course of a
day.     
THE BUMBLEBEE