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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Monday, November 15, 2021 @ 11:21 AM

There’s a fly, just one, that lives in the bedroom. He’s there on and off during the day, particularly at siesta-time. He will land on your arm and pace up and down, performing those essential fly-moves that are designed, apparently, with the sole purpose of pissing you off. I make what to a fly is a laughably slow swipe at him. He effortlessly dodges by hand.

Perhaps he’s a she. It’s hard to tell. One thing I know, however, is that he's impervious to sprays. He laughs with an eerie little chuckle, almost a buzz, as he wings through the poisonous mist. From his position upside-down on the ceiling, he practically twirls his moustache in a debonair manner as he watches me settle again. A hiss from me and a buzz from him. Rightback attcha!

He makes another pass which I ignore for the moment. He lands again and begins to amble up my leg.

The latest spray I have, from the House of Bloom, claims to be effective even against moscas persistentes. Persistent flies. I blast half a can straight between his eyes and return to the bed, attempting to focus on my book again, which I can’t remember if I’ve read before.

I turn the page and find a note there written in pencil. It looks a bit like my handwriting.

It’s our own fault. In other times, the light over the door would attract insects at night, fireflies, damson flies and shield bugs (those green ones that buzz loudly and smell agreeably of pine). It was a bucolic, earlier age, which has now passed into history. We insisted on our comforts and moaned because the plug-in pest killer wasn’t working any more. We scratched. Finally, our patience gone, we complained so much earlier this summer about the flies and the mosquitoes that the town hall spent some of their hard-earned firework-money on massive fumigations, with the result that few insects survived. There’s no more butterflies, beetles, dragon flies or Golden Splendour Beetles left. No thrips, coleoptera, fritillaries, mantids or Death’s Head Moth to soothe our souls with the wonder of Mother Nature. Just the toughened survivors: flies, fleas, mossies and cockroaches…

Of course, there are those poor humans who hate all insects, just because they once got stung. This is like hating all aliens just because you were once kidnapped, transported and indecently probed by Martians, as I believe recently occurred to one of our councillors. There’s something about it in this book I’m holding in my hands as I drift asleep-

The fly is back, it loops an impressive turn through the mist of falling woodworm from the beams before it returns to wash its feet on my nose, running its tiny fingers through my eyebrows and drooling spitefully on my cheek. Fully alert now, I seek cover. I try and continue reading under the sheet, but fail on several counts.

At night, it comes back, and if the moon is full, it will have switched into a smaller, faster shape; a shrill whine and a taste for blood.

I’ll stay awake, fearful and alarmed.

Frightened, you see, because he can metamorphose from one kind of insect to another. From mosca to mosquito. He is that most terrifying of creatures, half one thing, half the other.

He is, of course, a were-fly.

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