Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Bee glue

The workshop was quiet.  Michael was working at his bench, standing slightly left of centre to avoid the bright rays of sunlight that had penetrated the wooden slats nailed across the high windows, and little motes of dust danced around lazily near his head.  Jordan was sitting on a tyre reading a magazine and occasionally shaking his head as he read yet another fact that he disagreed with.  Behind him was a pickup truck he was supposed to be fixing, but he was waiting for Daniel to return with the toolkit before he could get on with disassembling things and getting inside the engine of the truck.  When Daniel walked in five minutes later, he put the toolkit down on the oil-stained concrete floor with a jarring jangle of hardened steel and stared belligerently around him.
"Trouble, Dan?" asked Michael after a few seconds.  Jordan looked up from his magazine, the look on his face making it clear that he would go back to reading if he thought the conversation was boring.
"Yeah," said Daniel, his voice deep and throaty.  "Yeah.  There's a woman outside trying to picket us."
"Trying to?" asked Michael, his voice rising a little with doubt.
"Picket us?" said Jordan almost simultaneously.  "Why?"
"Yeah, well, there's only one of her, right," said Daniel, shifting his weight from one foot to the other and then back again.  "So she's not really a picket line, per se...."
"Right," said Michael.  "She's more of a tent peg, really."
"Yeah, something like that.  Anyway, I was pretty much ignoring her, since she can't really stop people coming in without throwing herself in front of the cars, right?  And then... and then... that's what she did."
"Did what?"  Jordan's face had already turned back to the magazine, but he held himself as though ready to leave his reading and rejoin the conversation if it turned interesting.
"You ran her over, didn't you?"  Michael sounded resigned.
"Not deliberately!"
"You killed a woman to save our business.  Dude!"  Jordan sounded awed, and Daniel looked uncomfortable.  "I didn't kill anyone, right?" he said.  "Right?"
"Well, where is she now then?" asked Jordan, his face a sudden picture of angelic innocence.  "Is she, like, plastered all over your bumper like a Sistine chapel painting?"
"Like a bloody what?"  Daniel's face conveyed a deep disgust.
"Sistine chapel, dude.  Is her hand all stretched out like she's reaching out to touch God so he can take her into heaven, only it's just coincidence because she was really trying to stop you as you stamped on the accelerator and bore down her, grinning like a maniac and screaming 'Die, harridan whore!'?"
"What have you been eating?  Or smoking?"  Daniel turned away from Jordan, his nose wrinkled and his tongue poking pinkly out of his thin white lips.  "Talk some sense into him, Mike."
"Later," said Michael.  "When he's calmed down a bit.  Why was she picketing us then?  Doesn't she like spark plugs or something?"
"Bee glue."
"Bee glue.  She said we used bee glue and it was wrong."
"What is bee glue?"
"I know," said Jordan, causing both the other men to stare at him.  "We've got some in the cupboard over there.  It's got a big label on it.  Bee glue."
Daniel and Michael exchanged looks, and Michael went to check the cupboard.  He rummaged inside for a few moments, clattering pots and rattling screws, and then pulled out a black-and-yellow striped tin.  "Well I'll be," he said.  "Bee glue.  We've got some."
"What's special about it then?" asked Daniel.  "Is it made from bees or something?"
"Made by bees," said Michael, slowly reading the label on the back of the tin.  "Seems to be some kind of glue made by bees.  Dunno what the problem is there.  Probably tastes a bit like honey."
"She seemed a bit upset," said Daniel.  "She was screaming a bit."
"Before or after you ran her down?" asked Jordan.
"What does it glue?" asked Daniel.  "Is it unethical or something?"
"Bees," said Michael slowly, still reading the back of the label.
"Bees' what?"
"No, just bees.  It glues bees together."
Now both Daniel and Jordan were staring at him, mostly in disbelief.
"Why've we got it then?"

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