“There’s another Amazon box on the porch, Clem.” Arleen stood at the sink, scrubbing cat bowls. She watched the blue-swoosh truck drive off, gray diesel-cloud billowing. “Wha’d you buy this time?”
“Clem?” She dried her hands on her daisy apron and went looking for her husband. Once outside, she could hear banging from the detached workshop. She let her hands glide over the tops of the white and purple flowers that Clem meticulously maintained along the path. “Clem?” She creaked open the workshop’s door. “What are you up to now?”
“Come hold this 2×4 for me, will ya?”
In the middle of the concrete floor stood a tripod contraption sporting a solar panel with a metal hook hanging from the central joint.
Arleen stepped over tools and wood trimmings to hold the board as directed. “What kind of bird feeder is this?”
“Did they deliver it?”
“Johnny-T delivered something.”
“You didn’t open it up?”
She paused and tongued an eye-tooth. “What, and catch your ‘was that addressed to you‘ wrath again?”
Clem tapped the carriage bolt through the hole and twitched his head. Arleen let go.
“I apologized for three days for that, Arleen. Besides…” he spun the nut on and began to tighten the bolt with a socket wrench. “The only reason I got pissed was because you spoiled your own damn birthday.”
“Well, it ain’t my ‘own damn birthday‘ this time. Wha’d you order?”
“Battery powered bug zapper.”
“Why is it out in the garden? It’s the mosquitos here that are the trouble.”
“I told you. It’s not for mosquitos.”
The couple sat in deck chairs on the back porch. Arleen held a glass of Chablis, her second, Clem a plastic cup full of limeade. The dusk’s stillness had transformed to evening crickets and tree frogs, owl hoots and the occasional crackling-buzz of the electric zapper electrocuting unsuspecting insects.
“Must have been a moth,” Clem said after a many-second blue light glowed from the distant rig.
“I think it must be those Taylor boys stealin’ your mini-kiwis.” Arleen’s languid speech flowed with her childhood’s Georgian accent. “The bats around here only eat, hiccup, bugs.”
“I’m not going for bats, bugs or Taylor boys.”
The luminous glow from the zapper, reminiscent of some Amsterdam sex-district sign, brightened and the startling sound of some creature being tortured then burned to a crisp answered for him. The buzzing went on for a full thirty seconds.
“Damn, that’s one big one. I think it’s gonna drain the battery.”
“A big what?”
Clem took off across the yard, flashlight in hand. Arleen followed the light as he opened the gate to the vegetable garden, walked to the end where the kiwi vines grew on a head-high trellis, and fiddled with the glow-diminished zapper.
Arleen heard him whoop. Back he came, flashlight bobbing erratically.
“What is it?” she asked.
Under the porch light Clem unfurled his fist and revealed a body. A tiny human form, its skin charred, and its wings burnt to stubs, lay blackened, its obviously female form shameful and a little sickening.
“Ha!” Clem cheered. “A thieving faerie.”