A few of weeks ago, Shannon, Will and I drove down to the coastal town of Beaufort, NC to spend the weekend with my in-laws. We had a good time, although the Weather Gods decided that it was time for a weekend-long monsoon to slightly alleviate the months-long drought North Carolina's facing.
Early on, Shannon's parents complained bitterly about ants. There did seem to be a few crawling around the house. I got a little more concerned when they showed me a political cartoon in their local newspaper featuring swarms of ants and a pelican thinking, "We must be living on a giant anthill."
You're so right, Mr. Pelican.
We got there Friday night. On Saturday, after a night of torrential rain, the Ants of Beaufort abandoned their flooded homes for the interior of our car. All of them.
We engaged in chemical warfare with the beasties, which at least cut down on the number of ants crawling across our seats. But during the four-hour drive back I was constantly sweeping ants -- real and hallucinated -- off of me.
A couple of days later, after the ants had subsided, I took the car to the shop to have its heater core looked at, which requires a mechanic to get under the dashboard.
The next day, my office phone rang. "Mr. Sudderth? There's a problem." The counter guy patiently explained to me that they hadn't been able to isolate the source of the trouble, and would be very pleased to continue working on the car once I deal with the thriving ant colony in the mechanic's way.
The ants hadn't gone away, they'd just gotten comfortable -- under the dash, under the floor mat. The mechanic, who even now must be receiving therapy after an incident out of Stephen King, took off a panel and was engulfed.
It's now a few weeks later and I haven't seen an ant in the car in days. But I'm still afraid to take the car back in. I've done the poor guy enough damage.