It all started with the unfortunate wasp incident.
Joe had been hunting mosquitos when Jake stepped on a wasp.
The wasp, mistaking the villain for Joe, promptly stung him on the arm causing extreme pain, followed by tears and bandaids.
Joe, surprisingly, had never been stung before. Sure, he’d had other injuries, but never one this painful and traumatizing.
After his mom cleaned, treated and bandaged the wound, Joe sat at the table, refusing to hunt bugs for the rest of the day.
The next morning, he woke up feeling a little better and decided to take Jake on a hunt for blackbirds.
Although not a member of the insect family, blackbirds were known to hunt and eat wasps on occasion.
After hunting for half the morning with no luck, Joe decided to look for frogs instead.
It was unlucky that, while looking in the strawberry bed, they encountered a damselfly which, if looked at sideways or by a person who had recently been stung, bears a striking resemblance to a wasp.
Joe was terrified.
Jake tried to reassure him.
“Look Joe,” he said pointing to a picture of a bug in the bug guide Joe had given him to study. “It’s not a wasp, it’s a damselfly.”
“No, it’s a wasp! It’s going to sting me!” Joe screeched.
Jake read a little be more about the damselfly.
“No, it only looks like a wasp. It says here that they eat mosquitos and gnats. They are good to have around.”
Joe didn’t believe him. He looked closer, convinced it was a wasp. He backed away and bumped into a plastic bat from a t-ball set they had gotten for Easter.
With a wild and terrified glint in his eyes, Joe picked up the bat and whacked the poor damselfly over and over again until Jake wrestled the bat from his grip and assured him that the bug was dead.
“Joe,” he began quietly. “Look at the picture, it really is a damselfly.”
Breathing heavily, Joe took the bug guide from his little trainee’s hands.
He felt like a fool. It had been a damselfly and they were great to have around. Not only did they eat mosquitos, they ate gnats and aphids as well.
Joe sat down on the steps, feeling embarrassed.
Jake felt bad for his brother. He had learned so much over the past month and he was afraid this experience would turn Joe away from bug hunting.
“You can’t let this ruin bug hunting for you. You’ll move past it once you’ve had some time.”
Joe looked at his apprentice who was now almost just as good a bug hunter as he himself was. Or, as he had been.
“Joe, you are still a good hunter. This was just a fluke.”
“No. No, it was a sign that I should retire,” he said, hanging his head in shame.
Jake sat quietly and put his arm around Joe. There was nothing left to say.
Gripping the bat, Joe suddenly had an idea. He had taught Jake all he knew. He looked down at the discarded bug gun, picked it up and handed it to his trainee.
“Jake, today you are graduating to full-time bug hunter.”
“What? No, no I’m not ready. I’m not as good as you are yet.”
Yes, you are. You are just as good, if not better a bug hunter than I am.”
Even though Jake felt bad for his brother, what he had said made his chest swell with pride. Maybe he didn’t have as much experience as Joe had, but it made him feel wonderful that Joe thought he was just as good.
“But what will you do? Will you still hunt?”
Joe twirled the bat and thought about Jake’s question for a few minutes.
“No. At least, not until I get over this fear and put the wasp incident behind me.”
Jake looked at Joe sadly and wondered what he would do should he have a similar experience with a wasp.
As if reading his mind, Joe smiled.
“Don’t worry buddy, I’ll still go with you on your hunts and help you identify bugs.” He stood, holding the bat high. “If you’re the Bug Hunter, then I’ll be the Bug Wacker. I’ll protect you from any harm.”
And with that, Jake graduated from apprentice, to master.