Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Rules

“Peanuts?” A little boy called to the crowd watching the soccer match. On his hip, he balanced a plastic laundry basket filled with cashew nuts. “Fresh peanuts!”

“Don’t move.” A man on the top bleacher boomed the message to the crowd while pointing into the distance - toward the ocean.

“What?” My friends looked around. Heads turned towards the field.

The referee gave a man from our team a yellow card.

“Don’t move.” More people shouted at the same time. A combination: order and plea. All the players in the field lay down. Blue uniforms mixed with green. Face down.

“Are they protesting the yellow card?” I asked. “What is this? Is it some kind of time out? Just when I start to understand a game, they change the rules on me. Are these international rules or something?”

“Don’t move.” The order came from the loud speakers.

The drummer stopped. A mother next to me covered her child with her body. The gaggle of boys behind us stopped making crude remarks about the girls sitting in front of them. The soccer players made a checkerboard on the field.

“Killer bees. Sit down and try not to move.” My friends were trying to disappear into the wooden benches.

“Killer bees?” The words didn’t register. What did bees have to do with soccer? I hugged my knees to my chin and wondered what I was doing.

Losing count of the cigarette butts on the ground under the bleachers, I raised my head. Peeked out. No bees. People huddled over children. Most had their knees drawn up as we did, as if preparing to somersault. No one moved. The men who had been standing near the fence were now lying down on top of discarded beer cups, orange peels and plastic wrappers. They were trying to hide between the blades of grass. No one was moving. From punta rock music to silence in seconds

“I don’t see any bees.” I twisted my head.

“Goddamnit. I told you. Don’t move. They swarm over anything moving.” My friend was angry. “Trust me. They’re there. You’ll probably hear them before you see them..”

And then I saw them. The entire field was covered. The entire soccer field was filled with bees. Bees were spread out - buzzing over the entire field and flying toward us. I was too surprised to be afraid. I watched them through what appeared to be a screen – a slightly pink screen. I felt like I was watching television. The bright sunlight went behind a pink fog.

There was a low drone.

“You'll never forget that sound.” My friend mumbled. The air around me got heavy. I felt that something awful was about to happen in the movie I was watching. The hair on my arms rose and swayed. I could hear an orchestra playing scary music. If touched, I would have jumped a mile.

The boys in the top row used swear words that were new to me.

Then the referee blew his whistle. The soccer players stood and did warm up exercises – stretching cramped muscles. A mother knocked a dirty orange from her young child’s hand. People everywhere were just as they had been before.

“Killer bees. Really?” I stared after them. The bees had moved over us toward the parking lot. A cloud of bees swayed on waves of air. They didn’t turn back. They just swept forward or floated with invisible wind currents.

“The game clock will be reset for five minutes. Delay of game.” The referee blew his whistle.

“That’s all?” I asked. “That was longer than five minutes.”

A guy in blue kicked the ball. The men up front dusted off grass and dirt from their T-shirts and shorts. People yelled advice to the players. Children ran in circles.

“Peanuts.” The boy carrying the laundry basket called out.