That Fly

The moment That Fly landed I turned to my wife and declared, “there’s a fly on Pence’s head!” From then on, I knew, the Internet would be abuzz with comments and reactions and a new meme had been born. Within minutes, images of Biden and Harris holding fly swatters appeared online, accompanied by new hashtags like #imwithfly.

Flies occupy a special place in human thought, a maggoty place filled with death, pestilence, decay and destruction. In classical art the presence of a fly was used to symbolically convey a counter narrative, placed in context with items of luxury or decadence. In more contemporaneous times, flies play a starring role in horror films, streaming out of mouths of mummies, zombies and the denizens of hell. Their progeny, maggots, have always held a special place in my catalog of creepiness.

Flies eat shit, of course, and are strongly attracted to it. And perhaps they like heads of white hair as well. What’s undeniable is that the dark body of That Fly stood out so strongly against Pence’s silvery-white mane I couldn’t take my eyes off it; nor, it seems, could anyone else. I expected the moderator might alert Pence to his companion, or perhaps Harris might have done it, but neither did. Like the rest of us, they may have been transfixed on That Fly and wondered just how long it would remain comfortably nesting on Mike’s head. As it turns out, over two minutes went by before it had heard enough and flew off.

Cadavers attract flies and Mike Pence looked plainly cadaverous. Perhaps it was the lighting or the darkness of his suit, but his face exhibited the pallor of death and his demeanor did little to dispense it. Showing few emotions on a face devoid of lines of character — no smile creases, no forehead lines of worry — I never did see if Mike Pence has any teeth behind his perpetually pursed lips and tight jaw. His eyes looked sunken and his sullen demeanor only came near softening when he tried to convey care for others and their suffering. At that, his comments sounded leaden and false.

From time to time a large fly enters our home and flits noisily from window to window. My inclination is to shoo it out of the house, but with all the windows and doors closed, that’s no easy matter. What I’ve discovered, however, is that I’m quite adept at catching flies and releasing them outdoors. I speak to the fly in a calm and reassuring voice, explaining that my intent is not hostile and there’s no reason to be afraid while I reach for it with my bare fingers. More often than not, although not without some loud buzzing, I gently catch the fly between my thumb and forefingers. “There you go, little friend,” I say, “now you can fly free,” and I release him out an opened door.

If reincarnation is real, and without doubt the life energy of this planetary system (what Buddhists call the Saha World, meaning “endurance”) is a repository from which all living things emerge and return, then its possible That Fly knows Mike Pence, or at least the energy that Mike Pence embodies. In Buddhist terms, the energy of That Fly might once have been Mike Pence’s mother, and rather than looking for a place to lay her spawn, she was kissing dear Mike on his cute little head.

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