8: Bee Movie

A film by Len Acnob

[Exterior. Day. An extremely attractive woman who looks to be in her early 30s, blond, wearing khaki shorts, has great legs—go ahead, imagine the rest—is watering a beautifully appointed backyard garden that she has designed and nurtured with the love and care that one might bestow on one's children, which she has, children, two of them, boys, 5 and 3, who are in the house right now, and you can see them through the back windows, playing with Legos and pirate action figures, fine strapping brilliant tykes she loves so hard that she's sometimes too tired to love them hard enough—it's a paradox, but there you go: motherhood. She's so tired, in fact, that it takes much more time than it ought to for her to notice that there's a brown stain on the back wall of her house, there near the corner, and I mean a big brown stain, about 3 feet high and a foot and a half wide, and what's especially weird is that it's a perfect oval, and it actually has a thickness to it, it swells toward the middle, and oh, man, it's moving—the stain is alive!]

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE WOMAN [drops hose, gets spray of water all over her great legs, which are now shiny and look even better than they did when they were dry but also more vulnerable because of the moving stain that's alive and ominous, and that makes her say . . .]: Oh, God! Bees!

[. . . and then she runs, first to the spigot to turn off the water because she's responsible to a fault and hates to waste water—she's got a drought-resistant garden, by the way—and then in through the back door, which is French, which she shuts and locks behind her and leans her back against while she tries to not look panicked in front of her two children, who tend to see their whole world through the emotional atmosphere provided by their mother, not to mention their father, who is me, who hasn't come home yet because I'm at Vons buying hot dogs for dinner.]

FIVE-YEAR-OLD SON [sensibly, rationally, which for him is a mood, and believe me, it'll pass]: Mommy? How come you look like you have the heebie-jeebies?

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE BUT INCREASINGLY NERVOUS WOMAN: Um, I don't have the heebie-jeebies. But there are bees outside, sweetie. Lots of bees. I wish your daddy would come home.

THREE-YEAR-OLD SON: Daddy's getting me my hot dog.

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE AND NOW DEFINITELY NERVOUS WOMAN [in only moment of weakness you're going to see because she's going to read this, obviously]: Oh, shit.

FIVE-YEAR-OLD SON [to brother, whispering delightedly]: Mommy said the "s" word!

THREE-YEAR-OLD SON: Heebie-jeebies. Bees. Heebie-jeebies. Bees.

NERVOUS MOTHER GETTING A GRIP ON THINGS, NOT TO MENTION HER ATTRACTIVENESS, BECAUSE PEOPLE IN CONTROL ARE ATTRACTIVE, YOU MUST ADMIT [moving swiftly to the phone and the phone book, which she opens to the yellow pages and looks up "bees"—what else do you look up?—and picks about the first one she sees, which is Bee Busters, which is lucky because they're the Best Removers of Bee Swarms in Orange County and the subject of this fake little documentary screenplay thing that Will Swaim and Steve Lowery insisted would be a good way to do the Best Of issue because It's All Been Done Before so maybe this will keep the reader awake, though obviously this isn't even close to the way you really do a screenplay. She dials the number, and while she's explaining to the lady on the line what the problem is, the two boys stick their noses up against the windows of the locked French doors, looking for the bees. But since the bee swarm is against the back wall, the kids can't see them, and the eldest reaches his hand up to unlock the door. She sees this and shouts]: No! Sorry, no, not you. I was talking to my son. I have no idea if they're Africanized. Yes, as soon as you can. Yes. Thank you. Don't worry; we won't.

[Woman, who has regained her attractiveness and poise—plus her legs are really nice, which I only mention again because I can't believe I've been married to a woman for 12 years whose legs still make me crazy; I'm a lucky man, and not just for the legs because there are a thousand reasons—puts down the phone at the moment the front door opens.]

ME: Honey, I'm home! I have the hot dogs!

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE WOMAN [rushing to the door not so much to welcome me home, which would be nice, but to inform me about a terrible problem in the domestic sphere, which she has a bit of a tendency to do, even when it's not a real problem like a bee swarm but a kind of melodramatic one, which I could give you a hundred examples of but which I won't because she's going to read this. In any case, she grabs me by the sleeve and pulls me toward the back French doors]: Boys, get away from the door. Let Daddy see. There are thousands of bees stuck to our wall! Go out there. Look.

ME [who, to put a fine point on it, doesn't like bees and resents like hell the occasions when, being the man of the house, I have to be the man of the house and go out and look at things like bee swarms in the back yard. But which I do. I open the door, peek out, see a few dozen bees looping next to the back wall and then the stain—the thick swarming fuzzy brown stain—and shut the door]: Call the cops!

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE WOMAN: I called some bee people.

ME: When are they coming?

EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE WOMAN: In two hours.

[A montage now, meant to suggest the passage of time, composed of domestic shots of me and the extremely attractive woman doing things like reading to the children, cleaning up juice stains, accompanying the 3-year-old to the bathroom to make sure he doesn't miss the bowl, asking the children to keep their hands off the lock of the French doors, and having little arguments about how little free time they've each had today and asserting the need to take just half an hour to escape into their bedroom and read something adult for a change. Most of these shots end with one adult or the other turning anxiously toward the back yard to have a look at the bees' progress. Then there's a knock on the front door.]

ME [going toward and opening the door]: Thank God!

BEE BUSTER [extending his hand with a yellow calling card in it that says, "Bee Busters" and has a picture of a worried bee inside a red circle and a diagonal line stamped across its thorax]: Hey, how you doin', man? Has it been a busy day! We just got done with this huge job at Anaheim stadium and another one in this tree at Mile Square Park. I don't know what's going on.

[He's way younger than me, probably in his early 20s, and wearing a cap with the anxious bee logo on it; he looks like a partier.]

BEE BUSTER: Whadda we got here?

ME: In the back. I'm not going out there again. I'll just point.

[Bee Buster, now accompanied by two assistants, one in a full bee-remover suit with a head net and everything, trudge through the living room toward the French doors. The children look awed. Bee Buster says hello to the extremely attractive woman, looks down briefly at her legs but doesn't linger long because he's a good guy. The extremely attractive woman offers them all something to drink, which she does automatically when anybody comes into the house because it's what her mother taught her. Bee Buster and his assistants decline nicely. Bee Buster swings the French door open casually and exits with his assistants into the back yard to examine the situation. I look on from the doorway.]

BEE BUSTER: Oh, this is easy. Just a swarm. They're not killer. No problem. I hate to even take your money. Carlos, go ahead.

FULLY SUITED ASSISTANT BEE BUSTER: Okay, boss.

[He and the other assistant—who doesn't have a suit but who seems perfectly comfortable around bees and around whom bees seem perfectly comfortable, too, which is ironic because he's going to kill them—go back to the truck and eventually return with a big jug with a whiteish fluid inside and out of the top of which extends a long black tube with a sprayer at the end. They also have a sort of scraper and a vacuum cleaner.]

BEE BUSTER [explaining to me through the three inches I've opened the French doors]: It's just soap and water. When we spray 'em, they'll just clot up on the wall. We'll scrape 'em off and suck 'em up with the vacuum. What looks like what happened was the queen left the nest 'cause it got overcrowded and all these workers followed her out. Your back yard's like a way station. If you want, we could leave them alone, and they'd all probably be gone in 72 hours to find a real nest.

ME [thinking for half a second about this possibility]: No. Just get rid of them.

[Closeup on the swarm stain as it's sprayed with the soap-and-water mixture. As predicted, the bees clot up, and with the help of the scraper used by the assistant not in a bee suit, the bee clots splat to the ground in big clumps. As the camera backs up to midshot, we see dozens of looping bees flying around quite friendly-like, seeming to have no clue what's happening to their fellow bees or their queen.]

BEE BUSTER [still talking to me through the three-inch gap between the French door and doorjamb]: Believe me, this is nothing. A few weeks ago, we got a call to go out to this old Victorian house in Anaheim with a huge attic. The old couple who lived there saw a few bees in the back yard and called. But when we got there, the whole house was buzzing, literally. Loud. And the walls were warm from all the bees inside. The attic was dripping with yards and yards of honeycombs. And what was funny was that this old couple was deaf and had no idea about the buzzing. That took a couple of days.

[Meanwhile, the two children have decided they want to be bee busters when they grow up and have ransacked their closets and their parents' closets for boots, coats, hats and/or paper bags to put over their heads so they will look like real Bee Busters. For the sprayer, they use plastic pirate swords, and for the vacuum cleaner, which the assistants are now employing to scoop up the bee clots, the children drag the vacuum cleaner out of the closet. The extremely attractive woman facilitates, trying to make this a worthwhile learning experience.]

ME [to Bee Buster, still through a three-inch space]: How did you get into this business anyway?

BEE BUSTER: I got laid off at my other job. I was desperate. I just went through the yellow pages and kept calling everybody. I went through all the A's without any luck. When I got to the B's, I called Bee Busters and said I could drive a truck, I was young and healthy, and I'd do anything. And they hired me on the phone.

ME: Looks like your guys are all done out there.

BEE BUSTER: Yup, sure are.

[Turning directly to camera, voice growing more formal as the speech continues.]

BEE BUSTER: Yes, Bee Busters is a fine operation, bonded, insured and licensed (#OPR9409). Bee Busters offers safe removal and disposal of bees from any location in Orange County and is proud to be the recipient of OC Weekly's Best Removers of Bee Swarms of the Year award. Thank you for your patronage, and now you can return to your active life with your two brilliant tykes and wife with the, I must say, great legs. And, by the way, dude, you've been holding hot dogs in your hands the whole time. So long!

The festivities continue...

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