It happened a few years ago on a cool 80 degree day while driving home from a fun huckleberry excursion. A day I decided to go el natural. That is, I rolled the windows down instead of using the air conditioner. A celebration of a day the temperature stayed below 100 degrees.
I drove the country roads with a smile. (I had a cup of huckleberries in the cooler. Not bad in a year everyone else came home empty handed.) Delicious wonders of huckleberry pancakes, huckleberry milkshakes, huckleberry shortcake and huckleberry pie filled my mind (although I had no idea how I would make all of these things out of a cup of huckleberries). Then something flew in the window and landed on my shirt collar. I swiped at it. Knocked it off my collar, down inside the front of my shirt. It snatched at my chest trying to get a foothold.
“Stay calm,” I told myself. It hadn’t stung or bit me and I didn’t want to lose my cool and have an accident–on the road or in my pants.
The narrow, twisting road had no place to pull over, so I gritted my teeth and let the thing inch its way up my bare chest. I waited until it wormed onto the outside of my shirt before I gave it another swipe. A giant, black stink bug flew across the cab of my pickup. I dynamited the brakes. The bug landed in the crack between the door and the dash.
“You’ll be fine right where you are until I can pull over,” I told the bug. I thanked God there wasn’t anyone behind me before driving on.
I drove through a mile of twists and turns before I finally found a place to pull over. The bug had disappeared by this time. I stopped anyway. I flung my door open, did a mini search and came to the conclusion it had crawled up under the dash.
“You better get out of my pickup before I roll the windows up,” I said loud enough for the bug to hear with a little hope he would understand. “Because when I get home, I’m parking this pickup and not driving it again for at least two days. You’ll be a fried, crispy critter by then.” I maneuvered the pickup back onto the road.
I made it to Bigelow Gulch (about ten miles from home) before I rolled up the windows and cranked on the air conditioner. “You’re out of luck, now,” I told the bug. “Tomorrow you’ll roast in here like a hot dog on the barbecue.”
I turned down Forker Road (two miles farther down the road), headed to Sullivan and drove onto Trent (three miles from home) where the bug decided to put a crimp in my plans and give me a another shot of excitement. He crawled up my leg. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had chosen the outside of my pants!
He made it halfway to my knee before I decided to give him a slight squeeze. Not enough to make him turn loose with his wonderful perfume, but enough to stun him to the point of stopping. It worked-for a couple of seconds.
I thought about pulling over but I was almost home so I kept driving.
I stopped at my mailbox, jumped out and stomped and stomped. My neighbors probably thought I had finally lost it. Why else would I do an Native American dance around my mailbox? Besides, they already figured me a nut short of a fruitcake.
The bug proved his sticking power. I gave up and drove to the house. He apparently didn’t stick as well as I had thought. He got knocked down to my ankle. Now he made a beeline for my knee, again.
I flew out of my pickup and did the dance all over. This time I felt him gripping to my leg. He didn’t budge.
“Okay, Mr. Stink Bug, I can play dirty, too.” I raced into the house, ripped my pants off, pulling him down with them and dashed to the wash machine. I threw them in, dumped in detergent, clanged the lid shut and turned it on. “Bye-bye, Mr. Stink Bug.”
I popped the lid open when the wash finished and found he wasn’t in the lint filter. If he didn’t drown, he’d bake to death in the dryer. I shoved my pants in and cranked the dryer to the maximum temperature and time.
Seventy minutes later, I opened the dryer and checked the lint trap. He wasn’t there, either. Then I noticed he had fallen out when I opened the door. He lay on his back with his legs suspended in the air.
“Gotcha!” I bent down to have a better look. One of his legs moved! I had to be seeing things. How could he still be alive? I watched closely. Another leg moved!
I raced into the bathroom and grabbed a wad of toilet paper. I gently picked him up, took him into the bathroom and tossed him into the toilet.
“Sayonara!” I flushed the toilet.
He protested, kicking wildly and fighting to get on top of the toilet paper. The paper swished down, but the stink bug sprang back to the top. He floated bully up on the water. All he needed was a pair of miniature sunglasses, an umbrella and a martini to appear as if enjoying a hot summer’s day floating on air mattress in the coolness of a local lake.
I flushed it again. This time he fought to get a grip on the inside of the toilet bowl. But the flush emerged victorious. I celebrated by giving it three more flushes.
For months afterwards, every time I’d go into the bathroom, I would check the toilet rim to see if the stink bug had fooled me, again. I’d check all the drains, too, in case he discovered another avenue of escape. After all, he came back from the dead once before!