I believe it was August, or may be it was July. It was hot and muggy like it would be during any normal mid-Atlantic summer day and this was no different. The 3 of us, I, Brian and Mike were working on our bachelor’s degree in college and also worked full time, so the school was out, but work was not. I was married, but neither Brian nor Mike had tied the knot yet. I called Brian from work and suggested the three of us take an excursion to the beach the next day, a Sunday, to cool off and enjoy the summer heat! He immediately agreed that was a great idea and said he’d contact Mike to let him know. We decided to leave for the ocean (a two-hour drive from our location) around 8 in the morning.
Our destination was Assateague Island National Seashore that stretches from the lower shores of Maryland down to Virgina divided by the Chesapeake Bay. This island is actually a barrier island that fronts the Atlantic for the states of Maryland and Virgina. The most famous fact about the island is its wild horses. These horses are well known, even to many people who have never been to the island. The "wild" horses on Assateague are actually feral animals, which means that they are descendants of animals that were once domestic. These are tough animals who have survived the scorching heat; abundant mosquitoes, stormy weather and poor quality food found on this remote, windswept barrier island and have formed a unique wild horse society.
It is ironic that such enclaves of wild animals can actually flourish in a part of the country as congested as the eastern seaboard of the United States. I suppose it is because they are protected and their population is managed! Any visitor of this island is soon introduced to the flies that are attracted by these horses – the horseflies! Anyone who’s familiar with a horsefly knows how annoying and painful they can be. These little buggers have developed stingers (knife-like mandibles) which rip and/or slice the flesh apart to enjoy a drink of blood. The bite, as one might imagine is painful and makes a mosquito bite seem like a pinch given by a two-year old. While this is reserved for the horses and other poor mammals roaming the vicinity, they are not shy to try human blood. And, there are lots of them.
Being young and not too well-versed in the art of using bug repellents, we headed to the beach the next day. The cooler was packed with food and a variety of drinks, so we were ready for a day of partying at the beach. Although I asked repeatedly for my wife to go with us, she declined as there were no other females in the entourage and she felt she’d get bored with the three of us yapping away. Brian offered to drive his cool VW Scirocco, but asked me to drive as he was getting in a relaxed mode for partying and did not want to drive – I gracefully agreed.
The quick drive put us on the island in no time and in a matter of 15 minutes we were ready to hit the water and enjoy the sun and surf. We had already donned our swimming trunk before we left, so there were no need to waste time and change. It was a great day and as long as the horses stayed away from us, we did not have to worry about the flies, although we found out that some of the horses were less shy than others, but all in all, the day went real well and we had lots of fun.
By about 4 PM, we decided to pack it in and head for the town to cruise the boardwalk and maybe visit some of the establishments there. As we reached the parking lot, I reached into the “secure” pocket of my swimming trunk to hand the car keys to Brain so he could drive – I was tired and wanted to relax, not drive. But, destiny had something else planned for us that afternoon.- “Oh shit… where’re the car keys…did I give it to you already?” I screamed. - “Ehh, no you never gave them to me. I hope you didn’t loose them”, Brian cried. - “No, they gotta be here somewhere; I know I put them…..oh fuck, this pocket has no zipper. I put them in this pocket, but forgot to take them out when I went for a swim….oh shit….I think I lost them in the ocean” I said frantically. - “Are you sure? It’s Sunday afternoon and without keys, here on this island…we’re screwed”, Mike chimed in.- “I know that, I can’t find them, they’re gone!”- “What the hell do we do now?” asked Brain- “Do you have AAA?”- “ What?…No”- “ We are fucked ten ways to Timbuktu”, Mike said with a grim face- “Don’t worry, we’ll think of something."
As we stood there and talked a few of the more friendly horses approached us. It seemed that even though people are not supposed to feed them, they have been doing just that and the horses were looking for treats.- “Shit, the flies are gonna eat us alive”, Mike said- “Fuck the flies, what do we with no keys?” I said.- “Let’s call a locksmith, they can open car doors in a blink of an eye”, Brian suggested.Now, this is not the age of iPhone and smart phones, you’d be lucky if there was a payphone within a light year radius. We were lucky! I spotted a pay phone kiosk on the other side of the parking lot. There were a few horses loitering nearby – damn. We walked toward it and looked for a quarter to make a call.
- “Damn, this is out lucky day, there’s even a phonebook”, Mike said sarcastically.- “Shut up are you trying to be funny?”, Brian barked.
There were a few 24-hour locksmiths listed, so I started dialing, the horses inched closer. The flies were also gathering sensing that the menu was about to expand with some variety: Humans….Yum. They did not waste time and started biting us. It seemed like there were a lot of them, but I think there were probably only a few. A few was enough. They were relentless. Soon we all jammed in the phone booth and tried to close the bifold doors to getaway from the damn flies. I finally made the doors close – I was hurting on my arms and legs as the little bastards continued to bite us. Now there were three grown men in the summer heat and humidity jammed into a phone booth. A couple of the flies had made it in…For crying out loud. I dialed like nobody’s business. The first couple of places did not pick up. I cursed my luck and forgetfulness as I squashed one of the flies and saw blood smeared across the glass. That my blood you stole from me. Take that you motherfucker, that’s what you get for sucking my blood. I looked up the ceiling and saw that the phone booth was spinning and the glass seemed to go in and out of focus….is this what death feels like? Somebody save me……
I tried another number and this one picked up. Yay, I’m saved.-“Hello..…oh hi, we’re stock on Assateague Island locked out of our vehicle. We lost the keys and the flies are having their way with us, can you help us?”- “Oh my, we have one van on a call, but he’ll be freed up shortly”- “Great, can you send him our way?”- “Sure, there’s a surcharge for coming out there, you know, fifty bucks.”Fucking thieves taking advantage of people in distress – I thought. - “That’s OK, we need help here.”- “He should be there in 30 minutes”, the operator said as she hung up.Thirty minutes? Are you nuts? We’d be ground meat by then. Staying in the booth was no longer an option, of course. I even think one of the guys farted in there, but no one would own up to it. What do we do with these damn flies for 30 minutes?
“Hey, let’s go get cleaned up while we wait for the locksmith. We’ll get away from the flies too”, Mike said as he started to walk toward the park bathhouse. I wasted no time and followed him to the showers. The flies must have heard us as they too started to follow us. Maybe they wanted to try the blood of some other poor souls. May be they wanted to take a shower! Maybe the heat was getting to me…..
After what seemed like 30 hours, the locksmith showed up. He was a young guy in his early twenties, our age. I thought to myself that my well being, my very existence and sanity is in the hand of a guy I don’t know; A guy in a white van armed with tools and the magic to undo the dreadful barrier, the sealed entrance that exists between me and the cool and flyless air conditioned cockpit of the VW Scirocco. It took him about 5 minutes to open the door and another 5 to make us a replacement key. We paid him and thanked him for saving us. As we got in the car and drive off I thought I heard the flies say: “Bon Voyage…Come back see us again.”
|Recently by Cost-of-Progress||Comments||Date|
|The Real Iranian Top Gun|
|Aug 21, 2012|
|Jul 16, 2012|
|Work Sets You Free|
|Jul 16, 2012|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|