He found the bottle of People Repellent at a health food store. The package was right next to the all-natural bug sprays and fly papers and anti-mosquito incense. It cost $24, emblazoned with a stick figure logo that raised a scrawny arm in a “talk to the hand” gesture. He thought it would make a funny gift for his girlfriend, who always complained about the people in her office, so he blew what was left in his wallet for the novelty spray, along with his usual assortment of herbal extract supplements and offbeat teas.
At home, he started wrapping the gift. He chuckled at the logo on the bottle again, but then found himself questioning his choice. Maybe she would read between the lines and accuse him of calling her anti-social. Or maybe she’d assume that all the gifts in their relationship from that point forward would be juvenile pranks. She might conjure an image of fake doggie doo in her Christmas stocking or a squirt ring surprise during their marriage ceremony, and then quickly remove him from her speed dial.
He didn’t want to “repel” his own girlfriend, after all. So he grabbed the bottle and opened the lid of the trashcan. Something liquid sloshed inside. He shook it. Wondered what it really was. Took a whiff of the sprayer.
It smelled fantastic. Like flowers fountaining inside of other flowers. But it was still musky enough to be called cologne. He decided to try it out. He sprayed People Repellent on his neck, then his arms, then his chest, and then inside the waistband of his jeans…spritzing copiously until he was sure he could keep inhaling it like a floral cloud descended from heaven, floating around his body.
Immediately a number of houseflies stirred inside his trashcan and zoomed up from the refuse to glom onto his flesh. More flying gnits zipped across his house and landed on his skin, fizzling in the still-wet sheen of People Repellent on the back of his neck and on his arms. Mosquitoes followed, whining around his ears before dipping their beaks into their newfound nirvana.
They itched, and he was surprised by just how many flying insects were living in his house, but he also understood what was happening with perfect clarity. He went outside and walked slowly down the sidewalk, heading towards his girlfriend’s house just a few blocks away. A thousand thousand more insects joined their brethren on his flesh. His body became a living block party for the local gnats. Moths landed on his eyelids. Honeybees buzzed and nuzzled into his belt line. And people quickly got out of his way.
He was a living coat of writhing wrigglers when he rang her doorbell, waiting to see what kind of person she’d turn out to be. Beneath a mitten of mites, he still clutched the spray bottle in a free hand, which he held behind his back like a lover’s bouquet.
If you like stories like this, you’d like my collection, 100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories