Chapter 11 1995 - Ants Marching

“Ants!” screamed Merry, “there are ants marching on my bed!”

I ran into his youngest daughter’s room to check out the situation.

“Look at this!” he scolded Merry, “There’s a sucker in your bed. What have I told you about eating candy in bed!” Merry flinched as I’s temper was rising, and he caught himself before he completely blew up.

“But daddy,” Merry explained, “it wasn’t me. I didn’t eat any candy.”

“And you think the candy just got there all by itself?”

“Tyler did it. He wants me to get in trouble. Tyler’s mean to me.”

“And why would Tyler want you to get into trouble?”

“Tyler’s mad at me because I told on him. He was eating candy before dinner and mommy said not to. Mommy got real mad at him.”

“Well, you were right to tell your mother. Tyler needs to follow the rules, and if he put the candy on your bed, then he is the one who is going to get into trouble.”

“But don’t tell Tyler what I said. He’s going to be mean to me again.”

“Don’t worry, Tyler will not know it’s you. But there is trouble waiting for him.” I left the room and went to Tyler’s room.

Upon hearing Merry’s scream, Tyler knew that his father was going to pay him a visit. In order to prevent the impending punishment, Tyler closed the door to his room, and sat down with his back to the door.

I reached for the handle, and sensing resistance on the other side, pounded his fist against the door. “Tyler! You open up right now!” He pounded again.

Tyler feigned absence. “Nobody in here!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at Tyler’s attempt at safety, but kept his warning tone. “You’d better come out right now, Mr., or there will be trouble.”

Tyler meekly opened the door, and I held out the ant covered sucker for Tyler to see. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked. “Your sister’s bed is covered with ants as a result of your prank.”

“I’m sorry daddy. I didn’t mean to.”

“You didn’t mean to. That’s about the lamest excuse that I’ve ever heard. Well now you are going to help us clean up the mess. Come with me.” He grabbed Typer’s hand and dragged him, protesting, to Merry’s room.

“See what a mess you’ve caused?” indicating the marching ants. “It’s going to take some time to get rid of this mess. Now help me take this bedding off, so we can get it cleaned up.”

I grabbed a corner and pulled the bedding off on one pull, careful to fold the ants inside the bundle so as to not allow them to escape.

“We’re going to have to get this outside and shake them off before we try to clean the sheets.

They went outside and shook the sheet, freeing the ants from their sweet prison, and then quickly returned inside to stuff the bedding into the washing machine. Pouring in a cup of soap, I started the wash cycle before returning his attention to Tyler.

“Now let’s go into your sister’s room and clean up the rest of the ants. I’m sure they didn’t jut start there. The candy attracted them but there’s sure to be a few stragglers left behind.”

When they returned to the room, I traced a line of ants back to the window sill, where they disappeared into a crack below the sill. “Here’s where they are coming in,” he claimed. “If we don’t take care of this now, they are going to turn up in other parts of the house. See what trouble your mischief has caused?”

Tyler hung his head in shame. “Daddy, I’m sorry.” He started again. “Don’t be mad.” He turned up eyes of innocence that cracked I’s icy stare. I relented and brushed his hand over Tyler’s head.

“Ah, I can’t stay mad at you. But no more of these shenanigans, I tell you. Now help me clean up these ants.”

I and Tyler worked together to clean up the ants. “Normally, if this were outside, I’d use some ant spray and that would be it,” I instructed Tyler. “But since it’s in your sister’s room, I don’t like the idea of poison all over.”

I continued, “First, we’ll patch the hole under the window where they came in.” He used some spackle to fill in the hole, then took a putty knife and smoothed it over. He let Tyler touch the wet spackle, and play with a little bead. Tyler began to take some up to his mouth, and I quickly stopped him.

“I don’t think that will hurt you,” he said, “but I wouldn’t recommend eating it. It’s not going to taste very good.”

Despite his warning, Tyler continued the spackle’s journey and put it into his mouth. “It looks like gum!” Tyler said, but the look on his face soon belied that fact. “Ooh, ick,” as he spit it out. “That’s yucky!” He continued to spit out the foul substance.

“See, I told you. You really ought to listen to your old man,” I warned.

After cleaning up the minor mess that Tyler’s experimentation had caused, I moved on the cleaning up the remaining ants that still climbed on the wall. “Here’s something safe that will stop the ants marching for the time being.” He sprayed a little blue glass cleaner and the ants stopped dead in their tracks. He handed it over to Tyler, who looked curiously at the blue liquid, wondering whether or not to taste it as well. I stared him down and told him, “Remember what I said about the spackle. This will be ten times worse. And, it will hurt you as well.”

Tyler turned the bottle on the remaining ants and gave it a spray. “This is more fun,” he said. “I can watch them stop when they try to drink the blue stuff.” He spray again for good measure.

“I think that’s enough for now,” I indicated. “Now we have to clean up the mess.”

They grabbed some towels and started wiping away the spray and the ants. A few stragglers still survived, and Tyler took up the spray one last time, making sure they were gone for good.

“Good job, buddy,” I said. “You killed ‘em real good!”

Once the inside mess was taken care of, the two decided to deal with the ants marching on the outside wall as well.

“This ones going to take a bit more ammunition,” I said. “We’re going to have to go for the real stuff this time.” He held out the can of ant spray and took out a line of them climbing the wall. He continued all the way down to the ground, and tracked them back to a small hill they had opened in the yard.

“I’ll spray inside here, and that should be the end of that. Now whatever you do,” he said, as he turned to Tyler. “Don’t touch anything out here. This stuff will make you real sick.

Tyler, watching the ants struggling and expiring, had no choice but to agree.

Inside the house, despite their efforts, the job was not complete. Although Merry’s room was ant free, the problem had been transferred to the laundry, where the ants wrapped in inside the bedding had escaped and were climbing the walls around the washer and dryer.

“This is going to take the full ammo approach as well,” he aid to himself, and he grabbed the ant spray and gave every inch of ant-covered trails a good soaking. Before long, fumes were beginning to rise, and I began to feel a little sick. He quickly opened the door to vent out the room. A rush of air from the outside only serve to blow the ant spray fumes back into the house, where the mist began pervading all of the living area.

“Abandon ship!” I cried, as he perceived the danger to his family. “Everybody outside. It’s going to blow!”

Angela rushed in to see what the problem was, and chided I. “You’re exaggerating a bit, I think. It’s going to smell for a bit, but I hardly think it’s that dangerous. I’ll open a window, and it will blow out. In the meantime, I think you’d better take some time to wipe up the mess you’re made in this room. And while you’re at it, how about stuffing those sheets and blanket into the washer. They are going to need a long hot bath before I’m about to put them back on Merry’s bed.”

Once everything got cleaned up, I breathed a sigh of relief. His family was safe from harm, safe from the advance of the marching ants. And the war against the ants seemed to be over.

The next day, yet another trail of marching ants was crawling along the kitchen counter, oblivious to the events and battles of the day before. I was at the end of his rope, and did not want to keep spraying ant spray everywhere the ants would materialize. He finally gave in, grabbed the yellow pages and looked up exterminators. The ad read “Ants marching. We’ll take care of them, under the table or wherever you find them. Dream easy tonight. Call Matthews’ Exterminators for the solution to your problem. Don’t let another ant spoil your day. Wasps, mosquitos, termites, spiders and all sort of creepy crawly pests are our speciality. Call today!”

I wasted no time calling them. By mid-afternoon, the exterminators had arrived and the ants were history. What began as a simple prank had turned into a major fiasco, with expenses running over fifty dollars, and the whole house having to be evacuated while extermination was in progress. I made sure that Tyler did not forget the lesson he had learned this day. “Don’t put candy in your sister’s bed. Understand?”