Horsefly

Aug 02

I am at an isolated homestead near Horsefly, BC. I am in a basement apartment, trying hard to sleep after a long drive and an outdoor performance this evening. I don’t believe in ghosts, but the place feels vaguely haunted — haunted by friendly, disinterested spirits — each suffering in their own way, but not malicious.

I drove 8 sweltering hours and followed a long, winding gravel road through dense forest to arrive at this picturesque property. The home is situated at the edge of a well-maintained piece of land about two acres in size. There is a lovely, albeit marshy, lake beside the house. Looking across this lake I could see clouds and lightning; I could see smoke rising from a distant forest fire.

The homeowners tell me that the place was once owned by some Hell’s Angels. There was a big grow-op here that was shut down nearly a decade ago. The current owners bought the property eight years ago and transformed it into something far more livable and beautiful. They grow food and make music; they generate and store their own power; they live off-grid.

There is big, blue, wooden stage stage surrounded by lights and speaker cabinets. Tonight was the very first show on this new stage. It had been threatening to rain all evening. The event was punctuated by impressive flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder that seemed to grow closer with each instance. Fat, urgent drops fell briefly as the first act — One Below — was finishing.

By the time I began performing, the rain and lightning had stopped and a cooler air rolled over the property. This was a refreshing antidote to the heat of the day. As I began, a cloud of mosquitoes swarmed the stage. They had been drawn out of the forest by the rain, by my incessant metabolizing, and by the carbon in my breath.

I had to contend with these little furys throughout my entire performance. Between songs I joked about my predicament and someone threw a can of mosquito repellent at me — the deet kind. I covered myself with the stinking, poisonous grease. This helped a bit, but they were determined little fuckers. The mosquitos seemed to increase in number, hovering around my face and my moving body as I fought through my songs. They waited, searching, smelling for any corner of skin that had not been thoroughly drenched in toxin: the inside of my right elbow; my left eyebrow, a spot at the nape of my neck; under my untucked shirt. I swerved and ducked awkwardly as I sang, taking moments to swat and clap furiously, killing a few of the bastards at a time. It was a promethean effort.

After my show, I learned that the audience too was being attacked. Noone was actually enjoying the experience, but we all felt powerless to stop it. I was obliged to perform, and they to attend, no matter our collective torment. We were all suffering equally and some unspeakable social convention kept us from making any collective decision to cancel the concert, or to move it inside the house, away from the onslaught. This lack of collective executive functioning just might end us.

I’m sleeping now. The deet is making me dream strange dreams.