Emotional horror show: Killer, the bee – and my brush with eternity

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They call it andrena gardineri at the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab. I call it Killer. Wikimedia Commons

You really can’t make this stuff up.  Check it out.

Around the time the Manchester-based rock band Scalawag was wrapping wires and breaking down Rob Richard’s brand new set of kick-ass drums last Saturday night at Memorial Field in Pembroke, I was over near the electrical box, shutting down the power on what was a glorious night.

And, I don’t say that lightly. The evening was a delicious, savory night with the mood set on soft winds, orange dusky skies, and the wiry, infectious sounds of the band, rocking somewhere between the Replacements and Southside Johnny.

The concert was one of a series being held every other weekend throughout the summer at Memorial Field. Dusty Gray kicked things off a few weeks back. Two weeks later, Green Heron delivered a transcendent set. And Scalawag owned the stage this night.

Back to the electrical box. I hated that thing from the minute I saw it. I’m not very good with that stuff. I know, “What stuff, meat? You flick the switch. That’s it.”  Again, I know, but there are just so many switches, at least seven. I’m always certain when assigned the task to power-up that I will shut the entire village of Suncook down with one false flick.

Still, it wasn’t even the box that haunted me, it was those damn bees hovering inside, outside and everywhere around the electrical box. We don’t have much of a past history, me and bees. Few stings here and there as a kid, a few more as an adult.  Nothing beyond a tasty welt and a touch of pain. But when a hornet or a wasp caught me on the cheek with one of their stingers last weekend, well, I did more than just wince and curse this time. I almost died.

This is no joke.

Bees are public enemy No. 1 this season, out on the hunt, not just for blood, but for lives. Two weeks ago, a young man from New Hampshire who was in his 30s died after being stung by a hornet. His system shut down, as did his brain, and it was over. Just like that. A fucking bee ruined so many lives!  Unimaginable.

Unless you’re me.

Less than 10 minutes after being stung I was fine, running my mouth, sitting with a friend on a blanket, checking in on the night. Her 3-year-old son, Sir Wyatt, came barreling over, cute as can be. I got up to chase the little man like a monster, Brando-style, as in The Godfather, when Vito was monster-mashing with his grandson before he had a heart attack in the garden. But I wasn’t in a garden with an orange rind in my mouth. I was in the middle of a park, a place that was emptying out of attendees after the show


Wyatt had his hustle on, so I gave chase. That didn’t last long. Five steps in I went to my knees, then my face went crashing into the grass. Thump!  Right on my nose, hands free. I was later told by a group of friends who were standing not far away, leaning against my newly rediscovered Dodge Dakota, that I stood up, took one step and face planted 207 pounds of Dad girth back into the earth.

Crack!  Right on my face again. Madness ensued.

The rest is recall by my friends, who were frantically trying to keep me from slipping to the other side. I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t blame you:  “Every story needs a little zest. And he’s shaking it on pretty good here.”  I’m not. Things got ugly.

I was in a full seizure. All from a bee sting. My lips were bloody from my piercing teeth and the broken nose I suffered from collapsing left me with even a larger orb attached to my face than previously endured. I began a full-on slide into the unknown. I was convulsing. I proudly pissed and shit myself. My entire body was cold sweat. This, I am told.

What irony, I later thought, that it was quite possible I was going to beat my own mother to the grave.  And she was lying in a hospice house in the Bay State, rebirthing (I am told) her way into a new life.  What circumstance.  What odds.

Someone shouted, “He said he had got stung by a bee!  Who has an EpiPen!?” Silence. Then someone called 911.  Others ran to me and turned me over, revealed a slumping, gurgling mess of a man. Someone held my back, encouraging me to breathe, which I wasn’t doing with any consistency. My face was wiped clear of blood. My eyes were swimming in the sockets – leaning, leaning, leaning ever so closely toward a full slumber.

Yet, even unconscious, I felt my friend, Jimmy, giggling to himself as he chowed down on a cigarette, saying under his hot breath, “Ha!  So a bug bite killed him.  That’s so lame.”


Ten minutes later I awoke in an ambulance after one of the medics hit me with an EpiPen. I came through in a halt, like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Dazed and ugly, my new jeans were tarnished on both ends and my nose looks like I had really pissed Ronda Rousey off. I had grit on my teeth and my mouth tasted like I had gone to town on a patch of sod. But, I was fully functional – fingers, feet, neck, everything. Close call. I went to the ER, got a CAT scan, got cleaned up and was home by midnight – exhausted and sore in the face, but relatively at ease with what had taken place.

I said to myself, “If the last thing I remember before dying is chasing a cute little boy around a field with a dozen people who I truly love surrounding me, I’ll take it.”

Floated like a butterfly toward the great beyond after getting stung by a bee.

Actually, one of my mother-in-laws (Not a typo. I’ll tell you about it later.  Long story, but a beautiful one.) who is very hearty in the soul, explained the experience as the universe deciding it was time for my life to get rebooted, a total shut down and restart. I’d been running, maybe, too hot.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, and I’m not asking, but it sounds as good as any other reason for me almost dying from a bee sting.

I went to the basement later that night, took it down, played some Tyler Childers and considered the evening.  My friends and wife were messed up emotionally, some more than others, some unexpectedly revealing in their concern for my wellbeing.  It was awful to witness for all of them, and for that, I am most sorry.  I suggest full-on warfare against the buzzing enemy as retribution for their sufferings. Look what they have done, look at the emotional horror these little shits bestowed upon all these fine people.

The heathen on the ground, well, he likely deserved it. Not them, though.

But then again, “Even the losers get lucky sometimes.”


Rob Azevedo covers the NH music scene and is host of Granite State of Mind on Friday nights at 9 p.m. on WMNH 95.3 FM. He can be reached at onemanmanch@gmail.com