Fear and Loathing in Remer: CHAPTER 4
by T.H. Bear
After the worst round of golf I've ever had the misfortune of playing, we returned to Duke’s cabin and I went inside to take a shower. After I was all cleaned up, I grabbed another cold Hamm's from the fridge in the kitchen and then went outside to find everyone gathered in front of the garage. They all seemed very excited about something.
“What’s happening?” I asked everyone.
“Duke found a large wasp nest hanging off of that old storage shed,” Eric explained. “He said he’s going to ‘wipe them out’.”
I watched as Duke, bare-footed and bare-chested, grabbed a Black Cat M-80 from his collection of fireworks in the corner of the garage and then slowly began to approach the wasp nest.
Without getting stung, he was somehow able to lodge the firework in the nest while leave the fuse exposed. The wasps reacted with anger and confusion and began swarming around the nest, attacking the foreign object. “The missile is in the beehive!” Duke exclaimed as he retreated.
“Did you light it?” Steve asked. Duke shook his head. He was out of breath from his short sprint to safety.
“I’ll light it,” Duke said. “Chad, give me your lighter.” I knew that his chances of lighting the fuse without getting stung were improbable, but I laughed and gave him my lighter anyways. “Here you go,” I said. “Good luck.”
“I think we’re going to have to wait a little while and let them calm down before we can light it,” Duke said, apparently having reassessed the situation.
His brother laughed at the absurdity of it all. “We should be filming this.”
“Look at how they’re swarming,” I said pointing to the shed. “Look at ‘em. They’re going nuts! You’ll never get within ten feet of that nest without getting stung.”
“Indeed. They are truly unhappy,” Pete agreed.
“They’re gonna need a little time to calm down,” Steve said. “Let’s go have a beer and come back later.”
“Fuck that,” Duke said. “Let’s finish the job.”
“You can’t. There’s no way you’ll ever get close enough to light the fuse,” Steve laughed. “They’ll eat you for lunch.”
“Maybe you should go and light it,” Duke suggested to Pete, but his suggestion was met with a scoff. “I really don’t feel like getting stung,” Pete replied.
“I have an idea,” I said. “What if you take one of your Tiki torches and attach it to a longer pole of some type? Maybe use some duct tape. That’s the only way I see this happening.”
“That might actually work,” Duke said. “I’ll need to be careful so I don’t accidentally burn the shed down.” He put his finger on his chin and began to analyze my proposed solution for any potential flaws.
“I don't think that’s a good idea,” Eric argued.
“You won’t burn the shed down,” I assured him. “I’ll be right back.” I lit up a cigarette and walked to the back yard to retrieve one of the Tiki torches. I found one leaning against the outdoor fireplace, grabbed it, and jogged back to the garage. Duke was holding a branch cutter in one hand and a thin piece of rope in the other.
“The tip of this torch is capped,” I said as I handed it to him. “There might be some fuel in there so proceed with caution.”
“Just gimme that,” Duke said. “Let’s get this done.”
Duke knelt down on the ground with the Tiki torch and the branch cutter and began wrapping them together with the rope. “Is that gonna hold?” Steve asked, but Duke didn’t answer him and maintained his focus on the task at hand.
“It looks like something you might harpoon a whale with,” Steve observed.
“I am Ahab,” said Duke.
“That’ll definitely give you some reach,” Pete laughed.
“It needs fuel,” Duke said. “Hold on.” He walked to the back of the garage to retrieve a large bottle of lighter-fluid. “We need to fill up this canister.”
“I’ll go get the hose ready,” Eric said. “Just in case. We don’t want any accidents. We want to be prepared.”
“Let me know when you get stung,” Steve yelled out.
As soon as Duke approached the nest, the wasps began swarming around the edge of the torch and then began creeping their way along the wooden shaft and towards the rope that held it to the branch-cutter. Duke froze and then slowly backtracked in his footsteps. He raised his hand to his forehead to wipe the sweat from his brow.
“They’re following you,” Steve chided him. “They’re really agitated now.”
Duke gathered himself and made his way back towards the shed. He lifted the torch up to the giant wasp nest and tried to spread the flame to the fuse. On his third attempt, he finally lit the fuse, but the firework became dislodged from the nest and fell to the ground. Duke gasped and ran towards the lake to get out of the way.
“It fell out!” Eric yelled as he tried to seek safety by hiding behind a tree.
Everyone else took cover where they could, getting behind anything that might block the path of the rogue firework. Luckily, it exploded in a loud bang on the ground and no one was hurt, however, much to everyone's dismay, the wasp nest was still intact.
Duke was visibly disgusted, but undeterred. “I’m not giving up. I’ll be right back,” he muttered.
“Where are you going?” I asked him, but he ignored me and walked back inside the cabin.
We all stood there in silence maintaining a safe distance from the shed. When Duke returned a couple of minutes later, he was sporting a black oven mitt on his right hand and holding another M-80 firework in his left.
“Nice oven mitt,” Steve chuckled. “Why don’t you at least put a shirt on?”
“I’ll take my chances,” Duke said with confidence. “Where’s the duct tape? I need some of the duct tape.”
“For what?” I asked him.
“I need to wrap a piece of it around the M-80 so it doesn’t fall out of the nest again,” he explained as he held up the firework. “That’s the only way I think it’ll stay in place.”
“Alright,” I said. “Here you go.” I handed him a roll of duct tape and watched as he tore off a small piece of it with his teeth and attached it to the M-80.
“I think it should hold,” Duke commented to himself. "Yeah, it'll hold."
Duke slowly approached the shed again, protected only by the black oven mitt on his right hand. As he neared the nest, he used his left hand to help block out the sunlight coming through the trees from across the lake. When he finally got close enough, he quickly jammed the firework into the nest and then bolted back towards the garage as fast as he could.
Amazingly, he came away unscathed. “Time to finish the job,” Duke said, trying to catch his breath. “Gimme the torch.”
“Plan your escape routes everyone,” Steve advised us. “Eric, have the hose ready in case things go awry.”
“It’s right here,” Eric said. “Duke, quit stalling and get this over with.”
Duke grabbed the tiki torch from Pete, and then slowly made his way back towards the nest.
We all watched with great anticipation as he lifted the torch towards the shed and successfully lit the fuse.