Summer mosquitoes always found succulent skin to poke under papa’s porch. Even with the lights turned off, and Jimmy’s cigarette smoke hole-punching the air, they would dance around lazy eyes like distracting shadows and slumberous finger puppets. Sometimes a slap would pierce the silence, and under the misty moonlight, a shade of smeared blood exposed the victorious murderer, who smiled self-satisfied at his impeccable aim.
Now and then, Grandpa would try to catch one with his parachute hands, thinking he had squashed it into his sweaty palms. Triumphantly, he would open his fingers, only to see the bloodsucker fly dizzily into the free air.
Grandma couldn’t see well, but we knew when she felt them, “Moosekitos, moosekitos,” she would whisper, shaking one off her knee, another off her chin. But she would never kill them, or curse their unwelcomed presence, for bad luck would torment the family.
Betty liked to sing to them. “The music soothes their desire to attack”, she would say. I felt the more she sang the more mosquitos seemed to be hovering around us with a greater craving for our blood.
Night after night, during those scorching summers, we would summon ourselves to their torture; the price we paid for sitting outside gazing at the enchanted northern lights that stretched above us like woven carpets of stars.
In the morning, under the first rays of daylight, the red moles emerged; unmasked, and unashamed. A nuisance we never invited, invaded our bodies transforming our fingernails into weapons.