Leroy put down his toothbrush and watched a column of ants brave their way up to the summit of his bathroom faucet. They reached the top and milled around a little, slipping off to a watery demise in the sink below or trying to make their way back down to the counter. On the counter, another group seemed to be making a base camp around his mouthwash bottle.
Leroy hated ants, but lately he had given up. What was the point? He couldn’t kill them all and when he killed them they left messy smears everywhere. He had put down poison, but it had been roach poison, and apparently ants were stronger than roaches.
He went out and shut the bathroom door in an attempt to keep the invaders contained. As he walked outside, all he could think of was some way to kill the ants. The air was hot and near his building was a new street vendor. A huge sign read “Mango Slushies”.
“Hey buddy, get a free mango slushie!” the red-headed twenty-something behind the cart yelled. He even wore a slushie-looking grin. “Today only!”
How to kill the ants…how to kill the ants. Leroy’s mind was filled to capacity, trying to think of a solution.
“Don’t you want a free drink? Hey buddy, I’m talking to you.” Leroy kept walking, trying to block out the annoying noise.
“Yeah, keep walking, jerk!” the slushie guy yelled finally. “Ignore the best thing that will happen to you all day. It would probably poison you anyway.”
Leroy stopped. He turned around. “Did you say poison?”
The red-headed boy suddenly looked uncertain. “Yeah, I said it would poison you, probably.”
“Would this stuff poison ants?”
The boy gave a short laugh of disbelief. “Uh, yeah, sure. Why not. I’m sure it would explode their little heads.” With an effort, he pulled the grin back from the corners of his mouth.
Leroy gave him a long look. “Okay, I’ll take three.”
“Well, only one is free—”
“Then I’ll buy two more. How big are they?”
“Uh, they’re a liter each.”
“Sounds good. Can I get them to go?”
So it was that Leroy walked away a moment later with three huge plastic cups of mango slushie, perilously stretching out the plastic bag the boy had put them in. Leroy walked back up to his apartment and opened the bathroom door. The ants had scaled his small shaving shelf and had discovered half a sandwich Leroy had forgotten the night before when he had gone in to use the bathroom. They were busy disassembling it and belaying it down to waiting sandwich sherpas below. Leroy took it and put it in the tub, plugged the drain and waited for a crowd to form.
“See you in insect hell,” Leroy said, and poured all three liters of mango slushie into the tub, pausing only to shudder at the idea of seeing anything in insect hell.
The ants went crazy. Leroy shut the bathroom door to let the poison do its work.
Between work and going out afterwards with the guys, Leroy did not have an occasion to open the bathroom door until the next morning. He pushed it open a crack and peaked in.
The walls and sides of the tub were black with ants, but his elation soon crashed when he saw that they were still moving. Not only were they moving, they were busy. It looked as if thousands of ants had drowned in the slushie, but tens of thousands more were pouring down into the tub in ordered lines to drink at the shore of the slushie lake. They had apparently gotten into his toothpicks and dental floss and several tiny rafts were floating on the sticky yellow surface. He watched several ants float by in the cap of his toothpaste tube. He stared in dazed disbelief for several seconds before giving the whole thing a miss and shutting the door again.
He spent the rest of the day moping around the apartment and avoiding the bathroom. It felt eerily quiet. Outside of the bathroom, there was not a single ant in the rest of the house. When he went to check the mail, he heard other people in the building commenting on the sudden lack of ants and praising the landlord. He felt slightly cheated by this and printed up signs that read:
ANTS SUDDENLY ALL GONE? THANK LEROY GOOGLEHEIM IN APT. 5F! Several people did thank him and asked his secret.
“Special poison,” he said.
The only thing that was worrying Leroy now was the idea of the slushie in the bathtub running out. In his uneducated guess, there were now several hundred thousand ants in his bathroom, glutting themselves on mango-flavored slushie goo. If that were to run out, there would be a veritable wave of 6-legged sugar freaks rampaging around looking for their next fix. He went to visit the slushie cart.
“I need more of that slushie stuff,” he said. “A lot more.” It was only then that he noticed the red-headed slushie guy packing up the cart. “Where are you going?”
“I’m out of business,” the boy said. “It turns out I wasn’t far wrong when I said these were poison. The yellow dye— it causes cancer in lab rats. Are you feeling okay, by the way? You had an awful lot of that stuff.”
“Just peachy,” Leroy said quickly. “Listen, where is the rest of the slushie mix?”
“I guess I’m going to throw it all away,” the boy said sadly. “I couldn’t pay people to take it now.”
“That’s not true,” Leroy said. “You can pay me. You can give me ten bucks for the whole lot.”
Ten minutes later, Leroy was in possession of forty gallons of concentrated slushie mixture and ten bucks. He dragged the plastic jugs to the roof of the building and rigged up a tube that he fed down through his bathroom vent. A little adjusting and he could refill the tub without ever going into the bathroom again.
He sealed the bathroom door with duct tape and fervent prayers and abandoned it. As the days went by, people from buildings all around the neighborhood were dropping by to congratulate him on fixing the ant problem. He even got a commendation from the mayor and the title of official Neighborhood Ant Exterminator.
The only bad part was that now he had to use the bathroom in the McDonalds down the street.