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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Julie Ann Shapiro

Julie Ann Shapiro is a freelance writer. Her story collection, Flashes of the Other World, is available from publisher Pulp Bits. Stories and essays have appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune, North County Times, Los Angeles Journal, Pindeldyboz, and others.

The bees get around. They move a whole truck. This I saw with my own eyes. Out on my run, a swarm of them evacuated a toy truck from one side of the road to the other. If you wonder why, then you best ask; did the sky fall or did it rain, did a bee buzz or did you think it buzzed, is that a bee in your shorts, or just you jumping up and down?

Bees, they know it all. They see life between the sweetness of honey and the sour sting of death. Yes, the sting hurts them more than you. The pain today in your shorts is their death. Did you not thank the bee for giving up its life so you could dance a jig on the street? I didn't think so. You saw only your pain, a bee sting in your private parts. The bee saw a hive, yes a hive being built and you, curious man threatened the bees' path.

If you look closely at the truck, yes stop your jig, and look. You'll see the walls; yes walls they're making with honey comb in a toy truck that someone left out for trash with the sign "for free".

Yes, the bees can read. Now they're carting the truck up a tree. The queen mother needs her view from the palace. She can't very well have a court waiting in the gutter where they found the truck; now can she?

What you say? It's nonsense. The plastic truck is not bees' business. Suit yourself. They're going to get mad. Ouch, ouch, you scream as a dozen or more bees sting you in the head; yes the head this time. The crotch bit didn't stop you. They figure they'll go for the brain. It's their only hope; their queen needs her truck, or rather her hive.

You lie in the gutter screaming. The truck slowly inches up the tree above your head. The bees look down at you: "Pity the fool who interferes with the bees' path." You scream for help. I take you to the hospital; you die a bee's death, you tell me in the admitting room, tasting honey on your lips. I tell you, you're crazy. Remember, you hate bees? It's why you insisted on moving their truck.

When you wake up in the hospital bed I don't hear words from you, just the buzzing of the bees. But there are none that I can see in the hospital, just you underneath the white sheets with your arms squirming.