A Tale With A Sting(er)

This may be shocking to some of the youngsters out there, but I did not have a cell phone until I was twenty-one years old.  GASP!  I know, it was awful!  How did I ever survive!?!?!?

Well, I managed and even though all the cool kids were rocking them, I wasn’t in a particular hurry to get one.  Were there times that I could have used one?  Sure, there’s one night in particular that comes to mind.

It was a summer night, hot and sticky as most are on the Eastern Shore.  My sister and I had been hanging out at the beachfront with some of our friends.  We decided to take a ride in the car so we could experience a bit of a breeze and find somewhere to pee.  We headed out of Cape Charles and stopped at the cemetery.

Don’t you judge, I told you back in Graveyard Funnies that I had a problem differentiating what behavior is wrong and right in a graveyard.  This wasn’t the first time I peed in one, all though it may have been the last.

My sister was driving that night.  Her Mazda had been suffering from some illnesses including a tendency to run hot when it idled for too long.  This wasn’t going to be a problem though because we were going to pee like this was a NASCAR pit stop and haul ass out of there.

After we urinated on our respectable sides of the car, we both jumped back in and prepared for take off.  My sister pushed in the clutch, reached for the shifter and turned back on her headlights.

“Ah!  A possum family!”  We took a minute to watch as the two possums scurried quickly to get out of the way of the beaming lights.  As soon as they were off the path, my sister started to let off the clutch and we began to roll forward.

“Oh!  There’s a cicada on the inside of the windshield.  How strange is that?”  I leaned forward to  scoop it off the glass and return it to the wild.  Thank goodness, at the last minute I realized the giant insect on the inside of the car was not a cicada because it had a stinger.  That bitch was a hornet.

“Augh!”  I began beating my sister.  “Out of the car!  Get out of the car!”

She struggled to get the car in neutral and pull the parking brake.  She had no idea what brought on the convulsions I was having, partially because my words were not comprehensible and because I was probably giving her a concussion with all of my flailing.

We both scrambled out of car and met at the hood.  I pointed back inside the car, barely able to breathe.  “Hornet!”

“A hornet?  There’s a hornet in my car?”

This should be a relatively scary experience for anyone.  My sister though is highly allergic to the stings of the bee and his cousins.  How it was explained to me at one point was that if she experienced stings from five bees, three wasps or one hornet she might as well kiss her own ass goodbye.  She comes by it honestly, our family on our mom’s side has several members who have various degrees of allergies.  An added bonus:  I had never been stung at that point so it was unknown if I could have a reaction.

We inched around the car, investigating the windshield from every angle.  “I don’t see it.”

“Me neither.  I wish my interior light worked.  That would help.”

“Any chance you have bug spray in your trunk?”

“I have a can of air freshener.”

My sister slowly cracked her door and pulled the latch for her trunk.  The car was sprayed with the rich scent of vanilla death and we waited ten minutes for the fumigation process to work.  Hopefully, the hornet wouldn’t be able to tolerate the fragrance and would exit through one of the doors we had left open.  It was a long ten minutes to wait, listening to the fan kick on and kick off in quick intervals.

“My car is going to overheat.  I know it.”

Without an interior light, we had to improvise.  I stood in front of the car and stretched out my light colored tank top to reflect light in the car.  Go ahead, laugh.  It worked.

My sister inspected the windshield and finally gave my the thumbs up.  “He’s gone.”

“Thank God!”  I straightened back up and wondered if my tank top would ever be the same, it didn’t seem to be shrinking back to its regular size.  “I think my tank top is shot.”  I looked to my sister for some sort of reaction but was stunned at what I saw.  A hornet flew by her.

Before I could say anything, she said, “There it was by your head.”

I still couldn’t form words as the panic hit me.  The one by her, the one by me and then I saw that the one in the car was still in the damn car.  We were on a nest of ground hornets.

Now, I may have short little legs.  That night though, you would have thought I was a Track Fucking Superstar.  I drug my sister, who may I mention has a full five inches on me, behind me all the way out of the graveyard.  If I wasn’t so damn scrawny, I probably would have carried her ass out of there like Forrest did Bubba.

We reached the road and looked back at my sister’s car.  Headlights on, doors open, fan running.  “It’s going to blow up, Mel.”

“What time do you think it is?”


“We could walk to the gas station on the highway, call mom.”

“She turns the ringer off at nine.”

“Shit.  We could walk to Scotty’s.  Maybe someone is home there.”

We started hiking to my good buddy’s house, which was in close vicinity of the graveyard.   It’s bad manners to show up at a hours in the middle of the night unannounced, but we didn’t have any options.  Lights were on around the house and our hopes were high we had found help.

We knocked.  And knocked.  And knocked.  The door was unlocked so we opened it and peeked into the kitchen.  “Scotty?  Mr. Rittenhouse?  Mrs. Rittenhouse?”

“Could they all be gone?”

“I don’t know.  Hello?”

My sister pushed me to the side.  “Move out of the way.  I’m going to see if they have any bug killer under the sink.”  Minutes later she confirmed that there was nothing to wage war with under the sink.

“We are going to have to walk back to town and find help.”

We headed down their driveway with about an hour and half walk in the pitch black of night ahead of us.  “Wait.  Scotty has a bike.”

In the garage, we found Scotty’s mountain bike and his mom’s beach cruiser.  There are perfectly reasonable times to steal a bike and this was one of them.  “Jackpot!  Which one do you want?”

“You can have the beach cruiser, Mel .  I’m taking the mountain bike.”

“Are you sure?  Scotty and I are the same height.  You are probably too tall for his bike.”

“I’m not riding the beach cruiser, Mel.”


We biked silently in the dark, the only sound being my sister’s knees hitting the handlebars of Scotty’s bike over and over and over again.  About half way there, the bike ripped a hole in her pants.  I pedaled along on the beach cruiser, giggling at every negative event that occurred from her choice.  Sure, I looked like Debo from Friday.  My ass was comfortable though.

We knew that our friends had planned on moving from the beachfront to the town’s other late night hangout, the harbor.  We were losing steam, but getting closer to our destination.  We just had to make it around this last turn and we’d be right at the road to the harbor.

Thump, thump, thump went my sister’s knees, picking up speed the closer we got.  Suddenly the thumping stop and I heard her say, “What the hell?”

There were orange road cones lined up and blocking the road.  “Dammit!  We are going to have to take the hump and go the other way.”

The ‘hump’ as locals call it, is an overpass that allowed the train traffic to come and go into the railroad yard and not interfere with cars.  In a vehicle, this was nothing but a molehill.  On a bike, where my thighs were reaching the consistency of pudding and my sister’s knees looked like they had been assaulted, this was no damn joyride.

Once we cleared the hump, we headed into town to get to the other road to the harbor.  Finally! A bit of luck!  Ned was at the firehouse.  He was just walking out of the building as we rolled up on ‘our’ bikes.

“What the hell are you two doing?”

“We need help.  We were at the graveyard and we parked the car on a hornet’s nest.”

“Where did you get the bikes?”

“We stole them.”

“Good Lord.  Alright, put them in the back of my truck.  We’ll ride over the harbor and find someone to help us.”

I shook my head, “We can’t go that way.  There’s construction work or something.”

“No there’s not.  We put those out there earlier to screw with people.”


We rounded up the assistance of Casey.  My sister was to ride in the car with Casey.  He was going to park outside of the graveyard and he would walk in.  That way, my sister had a bit of distance between her and the hornets.  If the mission was successful, she was to drive Casey’s car to the firehouse.  He would drive hers as long as he could get in it.  Ned and I were going in as backup.

We pulled up behind the car and Ned said, “How about you stay in here.  Just in case, you know?”

“No arguments here.”

Casey and Ned circled the car.  They looked in the backseats.  They used a flashlight to peek into every obvious crevice.  The car was clear, so Casey shut the passenger side door and got in on the driver’s side.  He drove away with no problems.  I watched as Ned shrugged as if to say, ‘We didn’t see anything.’  He was about three feet from his driver’s side door when I saw one of those damn hornets crawling up his shirt.

A good friend would have calmly let their friend open the door and would have relayed to them in a monotone voice, “Hey there, bud.  You got a bug on your shirt.”

Me = Not a good friend in the face of a hornet’s nest.

I slid over and locked the door right as he was about to open it.  “Mel!”

“Your… your.. .your shirt.”  I stuttered.

“What?  Let me in.”

I pointed with a shaky finger.  “Your… your… shirt.  Hor… hor… hornet on your shirt”

“What?”  He glanced down and started screaming like a little girl.  “SHIT!”  The dance that followed the discovery looked much like a combination of an angry leprechaun and a person trying to put out a fire on themselves.  Once the stinging creature from hell was off his shirt, I unlocked the door and he drove us away, kicking up dust the whole way out of the graveyard.  I could barely get him to stop long enough to unload Scotty’s bikes in the front yard.  Ned wanted us to be as far away from those damn things as possible.

We sat around the firehouse for a few hours with the doors and trunk wide open.  Casey and Ned did one more shakedown of the car and we were given the A-OK to leave.  The whole way back to our mom’s house, we rode with the windows down in the hopes that any straggler hornets would be sucked out into the night.

My sister’s car survived the ordeal.  This was a surprise since it was left running for over an hour, waiting patiently for our return.  The next morning, she opened the trunk and one last hornet zipped by her and flew away, never to be seen again.

My sister and I don’t speak anymore.  Time changes people and sometimes DNA isn’t a strong enough bond to hold two people together.  I will always look back on the times when  we were crazy, when we were pals, when we were sisters.


The Moore Sisters – 2001


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