My friends think of me as a gentle soul (right, friends?). But a killer alter ego lurks within. So it is that when I saw a gang of teenagers using a battery-operated bug-zapping tennis-racket-shaped flyswatter on the mosquito-infested Maine island where I vacation, I was desperate to get one.
The kids were sitting on a deck at dusk, idly waving the thing to and fro—not aiming—and the air was filled with the sound of ZAP! ZAP! ZAP! A faint odor of fried bugmeat burned my nostrils. I begged for a turn—and screamed with delight at my first kill.
It was a heady thrill—though I felt guilt about the pleasure I took in searching out insects in open nature and killing them. It did feel wanton.
But that didn’t deter me from ordering the thing on Amazon as soon as I got home to Manhattan. After all, I told myself, I won’t use it outside, where bugs have every right to be. I’ll just go after home invaders.
But here’s the rub. There really aren’t a lot of insects in my apartment, and they’re just as hard to hit with the sizzler as they are with my open palm. Still, there’s something about that zapping sound and flash of light and drifting speck of ash that’s intoxicating. Is this how serial killers feel?