The Mosquito

The mosquito is a small nefarious bug that will literally suck the life out of you. Well, not actually….they do though suck blood out of you. However, back in the mid ‘1980s’ I had an encounter with the little blood sucking midget that changed my life forever. Heck, it could very well have saved my life. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was at Crystal Beach along the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas hanging out for the weekend for what was an every weekend event during my youthful days of growing up in Port Arthur, Texas. I am quite sure it was a Saturday morning when my friend and I started our “beer walk” up and down the beach. You see at Crystal Beach you can (or could at the time) park your car on the beach and stay forever. You could pitch a tent, put up some chairs around your fire pit and lay claim to own little piece of the Gulf Coast. How sweet! Of course everyone was jockeying for the best spots to lay low for the weekend. Now down the center of the beach was a never ending parade of cars and trucks cruising the beach so that everyone that wanted to be seen or heard could travel all day to what was considered the end of the “drag” back to very beginning of the proverbial madness. The beginning of the spectacle had a name; Swede’s Road. This road was named after the little Podunk grocery store that was at the corner of really nowhere and Highway 87. The 87 is a stretch of highway that (at one time) ran the entire length of the Texas coast. I am not real sure it ran the whole way from Port Arthur to Padre Island (the end of the Texas coast) but when you are just a small town Texas Gulf Coast kid the possibility that it did was endless. Really who cares, I was a Texan that lived on the coast and that was a big deal to most young folks growing up during those times when everything seemed possible. That Saturday morning was glorious for a beach day. The sun came up over the belly of the Gulf and shone big and bright early that morning. It was going to be hot and crowded at the beach. After probably getting stoned and eating whatever we could get our hands on that morning we took off down the beach bumming beers. We knew almost everyone on the beach. It was like family. We strolled to a spot where I am sure horse shoes were being thrown and flopped down after raiding the campsite’s ice chest for a couple of brews. That was the way of it for the day basically. Walk, stop and chat, have a beer and repeat the same process throughout the day. Man I remember most of that day like it was yesterday. It was baking hot; even for a Texas summer day…it was hot! You could feel the warm breeze blowing down the beach and you could smell the salt in the air. Man it was such a fun time to be right there on that day. I do remember there being talk of some idiot the night before driving over people’s left out lawn and beach chairs. Once in a while some dope thought doing so was funny. Still, the day was young and the beer stops were everywhere. The beach was packed and the crowd was being very cool. No fights and now one’s car and/or truck getting stuck in the sand. So many people were there that not only could you smell the salt in the air but inevitably the cigarette smoke as well. Heck, if you passed the right camp you could even smell the reefer’s being burned as well. Damn it was a great day. All good days do have to end. So as the moon rose over the Gulf of Mexico and moonlight glimmered over the waves rolling into shore…we made our way back to our own camp. There were a group of us there that day and we all eventually made our way back to where we would either drink and talk the night away or flop out on a cot next to a fire and crash for the night. Well we decided to crash for the night. My friend and I pushed our cots as close to the fire as possible. Getting close to the fire had a two pronged reasoning behind it. One was you wanted to stay warm and number two…you wanted to stay close to the smoke coming from the fire so that it would limit the amount of mosquitoes that possibly annoy you to the point of keeping you up all night. You see, on the Gulf coast if the wind shifts to the West and starts’ blowing through the marsh grass it stirs up swarms of the little freaking flying vampires. Wouldn’t you know it but the wind shifted to the West that night. So my friend and I eventually had to just throw our sleeping bags all the way over us and try to hide from them. The hiding part wasn’t working that night so I bumped my buddy and told him I was jumping in the backseat of our car and that he could have the front seat if he wanted. As I snuggled into the backseat I looked at my watch and it read roughly 3:00 am. I fell asleep quickly as I wasn’t being used as a blood donor for what seemed like a million mosquitoes. For some reason I woke up just a few minutes later and looked at my watch….it read 3:15 am. As I looked down the beach I could see a pair of head lights zig zagging down the main drag. What an *******, the idiot was at it again. Driving down the beach and running over people’s chairs. I gazed at the lights as they got closer to me. Still the lights zigged and zagged. As it came up to our little humble campsite it turned in and ran over our chairs. I could hear the crunch of the aluminum under the tires of what I could see now was a truck or SUV of some kind. I thought…what a ****! Maybe tomorrow someone would find out who it was and then I could join in on the possible fist of cuff that would surely ensue. So I just laid my head back down. In a split second I remember my friend was still slumbering around the fire. I dashed out of the car and tore a straight path to where 15 minutes before I had been sleeping next to my buddy. It was a sickening sight. The cot I was sleeping in earlier was crushed up into a ball of aluminum and padding. It was about the size of a large beach ball...not very big. I looked frantically for my friend’s cot and as I looked down the beach I could see what remained of his cot shining in the moonlight. I ran calling his name repeatedly. As I was hollering at the top of my lungs I could only hear the waves crashing on shore. A crowd of our other friends had gathered and as they did I could hear a faint audible sound emanating from down the beach. I ran to it and found my friend splayed out on the beach like a rag doll. As I sat down to lift his head up his head slipped out of my hand. Whatever had run him over had basically scalped him. So as I tried to lift his head the flap that was his scalp kept slipping loose. I grabbed his head with both hands and as he looked up at me, he asked, “Is my face messed up?” In reality his face was just as recognizable as ever. It was his body that would never walk upright again that horrified me. His legs were all turned and disjointed into almost a pretzel shape. All I do was cry out for help. My friend and I had a very innocuous conversation as our other friends gathered and went to get help. We talked about what a great day we had and how much of an ******* the person was that had run over our campsite. My buddy just wanted to get up and head back to the fire. He said he was cold. Someone got him a blanket. A Life flight helicopter from a local Galveston, Texas hospital flew in and picked him up. I answered my friend’s question again and made sure that he was comfortable knowing that his face was not messed up. Then the helicopter flew off. All I could hear was a loud churning of helicopter blades as I looked around at the nightmare that was taking place around me. Red lights from the helicopter, blue and red flashing lights from the local police force that had gathered and the tears streaming down so many dazed and confused faces. As another buddy of mine walked up to me I just broke down and sobbed. As the night became dawn and the sun rose red over the Gulf of Mexico I sat down in a mangled lawn chair. Immediately I was swarmed with mosquitoes. However now…it didn’t bother me. The years have come and gone. Unfortunately my buddy’s friendship has come and gone as well. Several years later I moved to California. My old friend has never taken another step. He is in a wheelchair for the rest of his natural life. I was sleeping not two inches from him at 3:00 am that early morning. A mosquito had slipped under my sleeping bag and was playing hell with my face. So I got up and because I got up my body was spared the cruel twisting of my bones under a moving vehicle. And then I think that because I got up that my life was quite possibly saved as well. I am not sure why I woke up and looked at my watch. It did read 3:15 am. In 15 minutes two lives changed forever that night. The catalyst that sparked that change is small in stature and is considered by many as a pest. To me a mosquito is an almost Olympian sized reminder in my head that I need to redeem the 15 minute heads up I was given by the creator of my life and of that damn mosquito as well. Peace and Love.
Longhorn1962 Longhorn1962
46-50, M
May 16, 2012