I should have known that it was a trap. My inner warrior should have realized that I was being set up. But kids have made my senses dull my friends, dull like the scissors I give my daughter to cut up construction paper. I am ashamed that my lack of awareness caused us such grief.
The trading store owner said to just go down the path, just down the hills there and then he pointed nonchalantly, disguising his smirk as a smile. I should have known, I should have known.
At first this seemed like a good idea. I had planed well, I had brought my provisions of juice and gold fish crackers. I even brought sun screen. My Rambo stroller was packed.
We arrived at Fort Osage early in the morning not sensing the evil in the air. This was part of my “Appreciate America Week” that I was forcing on my 2 year old daughter and 9 month old son. There’s nothing like learning about history when it’s forced down your throat by a crazy dad. Included in this week was a trip to the library to find out about the civil war and topped off by our main event: Missouri Town 1855. This was the week of July 4th and I am an awesome dad.
However, I am an awesome dad without my killer instincts that I developed in the bush against Charlie. The bush of course being my backyard because I haven’t mowed and Charlie being the lumps of dog poop that ring my yard like stinky land mines.
The Fort was built in 1803 by William Clark, of the famous Lewis and Clark. We were soaking up Americana! Let the forced fun begin!
We were welcomed by first lady who is in character. Although she took our money in a modern cash register she kept asking what that “strange contraption” was that my son was in. The stroller of death and vengeance I replied, where’s the damn fort?
She pointed us down the rocky path and my family and I headed out, into the history of our ancestors.
That’s where we met the “Factor”, which is what they call the guy who runs the trading post of the fort and the defacto tour guide. You know the type, talks in a weird voice while telling you the ins and outs of the place while silently plotting the doom of you and your helpless children.
He is a devious bastard and I should have been on my guard when he picked up the red phone and greeted the other person on the line as comrade. Pinko Commie.
He did warn us about the abundant wasps in the fort which I see now was just a ruse to get my mind thinking about something else rather than his true plan.
Little Hoss, Bubba Hoss and I toured the fort and I proceeded to give my 2 year old daughter her history lesson. At only two she now knows what the Louisiana Purchase was and how the revolutionary war started. She’s very smart, genius level in fact. She pooped in the toilet today, all by herself. I rest my case.
The Fort is built right next the Missouri river. When I think of river, I really think of the ditch that we used to go craw dad fishing in, not this monstrosity. I thought it would be cool to let Little Hoss go down by the edge and tempt fate a little bit. There is a reason that Hossmom doesn’t go with us on these trips. All of her “safety” concerns about lime disease and strong currents. She’s a touch of a wet blanket.
The Factor offered to take us down to the river and that’s when he pointed down the two hills. I said sure, that sounded like fun, we would love to go. It’s a dirt path but my Rambo Stroller of death was packed for some hiking and American Discovery. All it was missing was the covered wagon part and we were pretty much ready to be pioneers.
Then he suddenly “remembered” that he had something else to do and couldn’t come with us. How convenient. He then gave us a bottle of mosquito repellent and said that they “might” be out today.
I wasn’t thinking anything was wrong, I thought he was just being nice. I mean, come on, we are a handsome family and people are always giving us free stuff like mosquito repellent and first prize cutest baby awards.
I wasn’t in my warrior mindset and I fully accept all the blame.
Sun Tzu’s art of war states that you should always pick your ground. Scout out your locations and pick your god damn ground. This should have been the first thing I thought of when we started heading down the two hills.
I was thinking that this was a bit of a weird set up at first. Why was there a hill on top of another hill anyway? Why was the path to the river so shrouded over with bushes and non-use. Why did I decide to wear flip flops? I’m just not that cool or hippy, so why the flip flops!!! I can’t pull off flip flops. A 260 pound man wearing flip flops is like an 18 wheeler on Tonka Truck wheels, it’s just not going to work out.
But we proceeded on. Me and my two kids in the double Rambo stroller of death. I’ve actually taken this bad boy hiking and I was sure I could muscle it up any obstacles.
We get to the path and it’s dark. Very dark indeed. I should have turned back but how often do we get this chance to go see a river. Besides, ya know, living right next to one and all.
We enter the path underneath the hanging tree limbs and my daughter climbs out of the stroller. She loves to hike with me and she was ready to have a good time. We get about 10 feet into the tree line when my senses finally start going off. Something isn’t right here. Something smells devious. I know it’s a trap but I can’t see how.
I feel a bite on my elbow and swat it without looking down. Then another. And another. And another. What the hell?
And that’s when they came.
I tell you, there were a thousand if there was one. The term “swarm” usually applies to locusts or bee’s or skanks at a Kid Rock concert. But this…………….
I had never seen this before.
The mosquitoes came out of now where and there were thousands of them. There were so many of them that they actually obscured my vision. Fucking mosquitoes. And they were angry, so very angry.
I looked down at my son and his entire head was covered with them to the point that it looked like he was wearing a wig. It was gross, I admit. But gross does not stop me from action.
I start swatting his head. He thinks that I’m just popping him and starts to cry. I can’t get them off him, I can’t get them off me. They are everywhere. Normally, I consider myself a pretty tough guy, but this was to much, to much for even me and the Rambo Stroller of death. We must escape.
I look around for my daughter, she hasn’t noticed that she is covered in the beasts. I yell at her to get her little butt in the stroller. This is the moment that she decides to dick around and instead throws a rock at me. Great. Insolence on the battle field. I’m letting my army slip. I run over to grab her and she starts kicking. She doesn’t want to sit in the god damn stroller, no, she wants to walk around. I drop her on her butt, one leg is in and one leg is out. That’s good enough. We have to escape.
I turn the stroller around and begin to actually run. I consider ditching the kids and just taking off by myself but that would leave a lot of awkward questions that I would have to answer so we power on. We bust through the tree line and are in front of the first hill. That’s about the time that my daughter notices the legions of blood sucking evil on her arms and face and loses it. Both kids are screaming and crying and now starting to swat at each other. I help them out but it’s no use. The mosquitoes got the taste of man flesh now and have followed us out of the trees. They are daring the open field, it’s a feeding frenzy.
I remember that the guide gave us the mosquito repellent, my secret weapon. Disaster can still be averted. I take it out of my trusted cargo pants, point it at my daughter and scream “Vengeance shall be mine!” as I press the trigger.
Nothing happens. It’s a god damn dud. That mother fucker gave us an empty bottle of mosquito repellent. What kind of sick and twisted shit is this?
There’s only one way out and I don’t want to take it but we have no choice. I have to run the hill. I have to run the hill while pushing a double stroller up the 60 degree incline. Crap. I now hate Taco Bell and any other fast food restaurant that has done this to me.
But before we can begin my daughter screams “Daddy! Daddy!” I look down at her checking for obvious signs of injury. Have they fashioned bows and arrows, maybe spears? How advanced are these little fuckers.
“Daddy! My shoe!” she yells and then points down the path. And there it is. The little orange Dora the Explorer sandal that she loves. It appears that she lost it when I chunked her in the stroller.
In my best fatherly voice I calmly explain fuck Dora, Daddy’s not going back in there. We have to get out of here now and some men have to be left behind. Daddy’s not a marine and honestly I considered leaving you two dead weights back there so what makes you think I’m going to run and get your 4 dollar shoe?
But she starts climbing out of the stroller, while she’s crying, showing more bravery than her old man. I’ve got no choice. I race back in and grab the cursed shoe, fighting off those that I can and letting the others munch on my abundant belly.
I get back to the stroller and we start again up the hill, up the hill, up the hill. They are still following us but the further we get up, the less of them that there are. We come to the first plateau and I stop, gasping for breath. I swat the more vicious members of the mosquito SS and prepare to head up the last hill, to freedom. I take a step and that’s when my own flip flop slips off and I go down on my knee. I decide to take them both off of the final push so that I can dig my troll like toes into the soft earth.
I don’t know how but I find the strength. Myself and the kids are fine, we have made it with all the Dora shoes and flip flops in tow. I collapse into a pine bench while picking off any that are still with me. It’s not a pretty site. I have bites up and down my arms and legs. One little bastard even got me in the middle of my back, coward. The kids and I even have numerous bites on our face.
The tour guide comes over and looks at us. I hand him back his empty mosquito repellent.
“It’s empty” I say. As empty as your soul.