Sneak Attack
by Charles H. Keller
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After a great day of water skiing and wake boarding with some friends and family, we were finally on our way back to the marina for dinner and some relaxing conversation. My old houseboat rocked gently as we cruised into the harbor on my brother Joe's 24' deck boat. I had no idea what lay in store for me later.

Everyone was pretty exhausted so the party didn't last too long. My nieces and nephew gave me hugs as the whole family crowded into Joe's truck. We had pulled the ski boat out and tied it down before dinner so they were off toward home by 8:30.

It had been a hot day for June, nearly 90. St. Louis weather is known to fluctuate this time of year. But the forecast for the overnight low was around 60 so I opened a couple of windows, picked up the Louis L'Amour western I'd been reading, propped myself up on a couple of pillows and read for a while.

After a half hour, I had trouble keeping my eyes open so I put the book down, turned out the light and quickly fell asleep.

The temperature had dropped to a comfortable level and a very gentle breeze slowly moved the curtains. Deep sleep finally took me and I was completely unaware of the impending "sneak attack."

The first scout found its way in through the open window and I remained unconscious as it landed on my arm and enjoyed a little feast. I turned on my side and rubbed the site of the first attack but never woke up.

Returning to the squadron of its allies, the mosquito communicated the layout of my master cabin and guided them back through my open window. I've always been a sound sleeper but never realized how dangerous that could be.

As the squadron buzzed above me, the first two did a quick test run near my right ear. When I didn't move, they landed silently on my neck. A few others found an uncovered leg and began to feast on what they could find. It was still warm enough that most of my body lay exposed and available. It was as peaceful and quiet as that Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor as their air forces began the attack.

Without conscious effort, my hand found my neck and scratched a little. A foot found its way to the leg that was beginning to itch. I was still asleep and the enemy continued relentlessly to land, draw blood from me and take off without defensive action.

Soon it was more than my sleeping body could take. Hands scratched furiously at multiple attack sites. My legs, belly and arms were beginning to develop welts at every landing site.

The scratching grew more and more intense. Suddenly I was shocked into consciousness. Weak from the loss of blood and weary from an exhausting day on the water, I fought valiantly to fend off the marauders. Mosquito carcasses began to accumulate on my sheet. Slapping and scratching wildly, I was wide awake now.

As I gradually became completely aware of the damage which had been done to me by the vicious onslaught which the invading hoards had inflicted, I fought the battle for most of a half hour. After closing the windows and doing a search and destroy mission throughout my boat, I returned to my stateroom and fell on the bed.

Still exhausted and scratching occasionally I finally found my way back to dreamland. The nightmare over, the rest of the night passed quietly.

As I sat sipping my morning coffee on the fantail, I decided to leave this record of the "Sneak Attack" which happened on my old houseboat that June evening. And, by the way, ALL the windows now have screens!