Mosquito Hawk

· bodega

I noticed, without it registering, the neighbors’ garbage cans down on the curb this morning as I drove B downtown to her job. Lately we’ve been walking part of the way to her work together. We walk through our neighborhood angling down to Park Boulevard and then to her bus stop, where I turn around and climb the hill back to my home office. Just now I was writing a long-ish reply to questions from a writer I represent and hearing the sounds of the garbage trucks outside without really heeding them.
Suddenly, as I clicked the Queue button, I put one and two together and realized that I had not put out the garbage (or the yard waste) last night or this morning. I went out and saw that the truck was already a few doors down the hill. I grabbed my garbage can and started wheeling it down the street. The truck moved off quite a ways, not noticing or waiting for me. I didn’t want to slow them down on their route so I just kept trundling down the block and caught up with them at the next stop. The guy gave me a quizzical look but put out his gloved hands to take my can from me.
First he smashed his fist on the handle, killing and knocking off a wasplike insect that I believe was a mosquito hawk. (One of my favorite lines from Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly concerns the druggies killing a mosquito hawk for their frightened neighbor and then telling her that they are harmless: “If I knew it was harmless,” she replies, “I would have killed it myself.”)
He hoisted the can high and dumped our garbage in to the back of his truck and gave the container back to me.
Hey, that was my insect I was thinking, from the ecology of my house, but I also thought that of course the man was doing me a favor, and probably has to deal with spiders (which is what I thought he was crushing at first), slugs and snails, stinging insects and other slime. Let him do his job his way and I’ll keep doing mine mine.

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