I recognized the familiar rhythmic pulsing anomaly disturbing the calm of my kitchen immediately. The darkened path staining the stark white pail stored within the dingy wood cabinet.
The constant swaying motion, rapidly traveling in their distinctive trail, in and out through the abyss of the garbage disposal electrical socket – under the edges of the fraying rug, along the dusty baseboard until traversing the width of a white picketed front porch to the dirt mound rising ever so slightly among the trees and weeds.
Momentarily I was taken back to all the summers of my childhood. As the heat settled within the hillside holds of the San Fernando Valley, we would wait. Prepared. And they would come.
In the markedly hotter Mediterranean season of the arid desert, the Santa Ana winds would blow. The hot high winds blew from the east, down toward the coast to the west of my valley home. Yet with their hurricane force speeds swirling through the dead and dying chaparral, the potential of wildfire flames licking at residential shrubs were merely a distraction from the enemy.
As the stoic soldiers march on in their monotonous forage for sugar and water, they invade our homes as the arthropod tenant farmers searching out sustenance from the despairing dust bowl tunnels of their own design.
But the momentary reverie quickly dissipated. My arms tingled with the phantom sensation of invisible ants crawling up my sleeve.
I had a war to wage.
Not even sweet Charlotte and her web are welcome in my home. So the mindless hoards descending upon scraps of food before the native canines even notice, shall be recipients of nothing less than my scorched earth policy against insects.
Bare-handed, I squished a scout scurrying toward the sink. Tell the troops; no one returns.
I turned my attention toward the masses. With three quick blasts the majority were frozen in their tracks. Literally. With an industrial grade beauty tranquilizer – hairspray.
A secondary contingent had lost their colonial scent trail. They made the unfortunate decision to regroup atop the stove. I flipped the power burner. Crispier than the evening’s attempt at a chicken dinner. Blackened. Stragglers en flambé. Dead.
“What are you doing?” asked two very intrigued toddlers awaiting a secondary attempt at an edible dinner. But I was in the zone.
“Mommy’s killing all the ants!”
With a gleeful precision only Showtime’s Dexter could appreciate, the invading invertebrates were eliminated. I used duct tape to secure the multitudes of dismembered carcasses, scrubbed down the walls with bleach and replaced the plastic bin liner.
In the war they are mostly dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive, so I know the invaders will continue to return when the Santa Ana’s blow, no matter where I live. But for now, the crime scene was clean. And those misfortunate enough to brave my walls are all dead.