Whenever I get a mosquito bite, I think about a story I used to read in an old set of children's encyclopedias that sat on the bottom shelf of the massive white bookcases in our living room. The 5 ft wide and 7 ft tall shelves were homemade, but well crafted, and they were a source of endless wonder for me as a child. Besides the dual treasures of the World Book Children's encyclopedia with its colorful covers and intricate illustrations, and the burgundy, gold bound Encyclopedia Britannica, there were hundreds of other books on everything from World War Two to LDS Church History, to self help books on raising boys (There were, after all four in our home). Most of the books I never opened, but I remember their bindings. There was the Fourth Thousand Years by W. Cleon Skousen. I never could read the title quite right, the "TH" in "fourth" always tripping over the "TH" in "Thousand." Even at seven or eight years old, I knew something wasn't right about that title.
There was a set of full color, hard cover picture books about famous Americans like Jim Thorpe, J.C. Penny, and George Washington Carver. the set came with audio tapes and in the winter, I used to lie out in the living room in front of the bookshelf with a tape recorder and one of those books, and I'd lay my blanket over the heater vent, letting the air fill my blanket as I read.
One entire shelf was dedicated to war books--hard cover with glossy dust jackets covered in black and white photos of battleships, tanks, soldiers marching--decades of father's day and Christmas gifts to my Dad, a man who would be happy to live the rest of his life in front of the history channel.
There were other books, two old Books of Mormon, identical, hard bound, and dark blue, printed in double columns with a several color page in the front showing artifacts, artwork, and architecture from mesoamerica. One picture showed an elderly man in a suit stepping down into what appeared to be a stone baptismal font, his elderly wife watching on. Another picture showed an ancient mural of dark light skinned natives enslaved by dark skinned natives.
On the very top of the bookcase were two desk atlases, both too large to fit on the shelves, and both too old to be of any real use. By the time I was in high school many of the geopolitical boundaries of Eurasia, middle east, and some parts of Africa had changed so much that using the Atlas was problematic, not to mention they each weighed twenty pounds and was kept on the top of the bookcase, seven feet in the air.
The children's encyclopedias were my favorite, and there were certain stories I always went back to. A fact that makes my inability to remember the details of the following story somewhat embarrassing . . . so there is a story from, I think, Roman or Greek mythology about an evil monster of some kind who drank the blood of his victims. The good guys succeed in killing the monster, but then from his wounds spill out swarms of mosquitoes. That's the story I think of every time I get a mosquito bite, and that's the story I thought of the other night when Callan, Melissa, and I went outside to light a few fireworks (one pack of ground bloom flowers and a 36 pack of sparklers). Melissa lasted about two sparklers and two ground bloom flowers before the Mosquitoes found her and she ended up going back in side and letting Callan and me finish ALL 36 sparklers. Mosquitoes don't bother me much, and Callan must be too young to care for the most part, so we lit all the sparklers off and took some fun pictures.
Then later that night, after Callan was asleep and I was in the living room reading, Callan woke up and came out into the living room scratching his back. He hadn't gotten any bites during the fireworks, but a mosquito had gotten into his room and had his fill of Callan while he slept. He had two huge bites right in the middle
of his back where he couldn't scratch them and he was very sad.