Bar Fly

by Kirby Olson (February 2021)
Illustration from A Fly Went By, Fritz Siebel, 1958



Unlike most flies, I am an experiment by the CIA to create a micro-chip of a human mind and insert it into a bug, to create a miniature spy, to monitor industrial sabotage in Wuhan. I was frozen inside a box, and never employed, but let out after the Covid-19 pandemic petered out, and left to expire. Unlike the typical human, I do not have an eighty-year lifespan, but rather that of a fly, and would remain inside this body for only three days. I had only two days left to get out of this body. Thus, you can imagine my anxiety.

         “Damn flies,” the waitress muttered. She blew at us and we came apart in a perfect gliding roll. The mission had been completed. Soon, I had had children and grandchildren, and was sorry to see them spend their entire lives in the bar. My offspring could not, per Lamarck, garner my impossible engineering, and would not now spread throughout the world, to one day infest the legislatures, demanding human rights, because it would only come off as so much buzzing. As some of my progeny escaped out the door and went zinging into the outside world, I sent them a telepathic signal, “Become human!”

        On my second night of life, after crawling around the lip of a gin glass, I began doing 8s around the bar, my eyes glazed, not caring whether I bammed into anything. I went right out the door. I began to make out little lights on the roof and flew toward them for what seemed like hours. I was cold-blooded, and the lights were stars. My wings froze, as if the batteries had died. I fell like a machine and landed in a car full of kids watching a drive-in movie. The movie was Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. I crawled on warm fries. My wings started again. They put the canopy up on their convertible. I walked into the V-neck sweater of the mother. The mother of the family was my former wife! The children my own! I had had mixed feelings about leaving my family but had volunteered for the sake of the triumph of hygienic democracy world-wide. My wife rolled up a newspaper, and waited for me to land. as I did, she swatted. She missed. I flew in the snoring mouth of my eldest daughter and out and around the sleeping heads of our children. The mother swatted at me again, and then again. The step-father said, “Get the bastard!” The children woke up and joined in, humming, and said there should be a dollar for whoever got me.

         “Children, roll up the windows!”  My wife barked.

        It was the last I saw them, as I escaped back to my last day of life as a bar fly. You can’t imagine how difficult it was to type this. I got thirty fellow flies to help me type it out on a temporarily abandoned computer keyboard, and then we had to find a publisher, but we did it.

Table of Contents


Kirby Olson is a tenured English professor at SUNY-Delhi in the western Catskills. His books include a novel (Temping), about an English professor who starts a circus in Finland; a book of poems entitled Christmas at Rockefeller CenterFollow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


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