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Sunday, Jul. 28, 2002
Stu came limping into the pool tournament at the Watering Hole yesterday with a pained expression. Once he had a beer in hand he recounted his early afternoon adventures in farming.

I've told some tales about Stu's backyard but probably have left out his passion for vegetables. He has a garden, some 15 x 50 feet in size, which is encased in creosote timbers laid flat on the ground with much goodly dirt between them. His tomatoes and peppers thrive there, and so do the odd weed or two, and from thence the story began.

"I was out there with the weedeater", he told us. "Just minding my own business and edging the weeds along the timber line. Sipping on a beer."

"Wait a second", one of the regulars interrupted. "How can you operate a weedeater and drink a beer at the same time?"

I've often wondered that myself, but I've seen him do it and actually look fairly graceful while the tool is in motion. Stu is not the sort who operates yard implements with long pants and safety goggles as shown in the instruction booklet. When the notion hits, he jerks the cord and proceeds, and what he happens to be wearing or have in hand at the time comes right along with him. Which is possibly where his trouble began.

"I was just about done when I felt something crawling up my leg", he continued. "Looked down and it was a bee. A ground bee. And the little bastard stung me, too. Problem was, there was about 50,000 more coming out of that creosote timber to help him out."

At that point, he drew up the leg of his knee length shorts and displayed his shank for the crowd. "I stopped counting stingers at forty."

Apparently, the only mistake he had made was stopping long enough to argue with the bees about territorial rights. He swatted, they swarmed, and within seconds Stu took flight, parting ways with both his beer and his weedeater at some point. "I just tossed the weedeater, figured it would run outta gas sooner or later. Kinda hated to let go of that beer, though."

Witnesses reported that Stu, at high speed, proceeded directly to his house but the bees did too. One even managed to hitch a ride inside. Covertly, under his shorts. Fairly high up under his shorts, if you get my meaning. "Oooh, that was a nasty one", he said.

The bar was alive with bee talk for a while, incidents with bees were re-told, ancient memories of bees and stingers and unusual places in which the stingers had been implanted. Eventually, someone asked Stu which exterminator he was going to call out to deal with them.

"Exterminator? Why should I call an exterminator? I've already been dealing with the sons of bitches myself. Used up all the fog in my insect fogger already, they just sorta ate that and came flying in for more. So I got the lighter fluid and some matches."

The same witnesses reported a blaze some 20 feet in the air as the creosote timber fed the fire that spelled doom for the bees. Stu stood by, nonchalantly chewing on a cigar and periodically hosing down the nearby tomato plants. After an hour of this he hosed the entire thing down and came up to the bar for pool and tales of bees, who were by now most certainly encased in charred wood. Victims of the Revenge of Stu.

Having a quart of bee venom in his veins didn't seem to affect his pool shot. He whipped my ass and proceeded to string together a half dozen victories on his way to the championship round, where the beer finally caught up to him and he settled for second place. We all gathered up our sticks and herded over to his house for the traditional post-tournament lounging session in his backyard.

"Yep, they swarmed right over here", he pointed dramatically. "Chased me around the yard for a while and followed me right in the house." One end of the garden, a soggy mass of blackened leaves and vines, gave mute testimony to the firestorm which had befallen it. "They came right outta this hole in the timber over here…..oh what the hell?"

He broke off in mid-anecdote to stoop and peer at the bees' entry hole. Two or three of them buzzed around, then crawled determinedly inside. A few seconds later, another patrol flew in and entered in the same way. Stu straightened, grim faced, and strode rapidly to the big garden shed for armaments and battle gear. I arraigned chairs on the nearby patio in theater fashion as the crew began to gather, sensing further drama.

And as far as I know he's still out there, flashlight in hand, nursing a smudge fire deep within the timber, cackling as yet another bee staggers to the exit and falls vanquished to the earth. Various offensive bee strategies were suggested, including the use of a D-8 bulldozer, but Stu was not deterred.

He wants them by fire. He wants to face the ground bees in a ground war. They might have taken the first round in an air assault, but he's in there for the long haul. It's a territorial thing, not to mention a payback thing. It's a question of which side might be the more stubborn, Stu or the bees.

In all matters of stubbornness, my money would have to be on Stu.

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