Have you ever met a tarantula? Up close and personal? I’m not talking metaphors – I’m talking big, black, hairy and scary TARANTULA.
A few years back, I lived in a little cottage – they call them guest houses out here – but truth be told they are simply converted garages in somebody’s backyard. I really liked this place, it was just enough room, had a private entrance and even a garden plot behind the house. The landlords lived in the front house, Sue & Bob – they were nice folks and became surrogate parents during the years I lived there. The nicest people you’d ever want to meet. We co-existed in residential bliss until Sue’s mom passed away. Suddenly, they were stuck with two homes. It was too much on their limited income, so they opted to move to her mother’s house and rent their house to their son, Fred and his wife Ethyl.
What a culture shock. They were the epitome of weird. No class, no sense and they didn’t have two IQ’s to rub together. Let’s put it this way, Zelda started calling them the Clampetts.
Residential bliss chucked out the window, I was left to my own devices. If the A/C broke or the plumbing backed up, I would have no landlord coming to my rescue. They had no interest in me or anything I might say or do or need. Rather, they decided they were going to ‘fix up’ the place. They started (but never finished) all manner of projects. The one for this story was the ‘pruning of the fruit trees.’
While I was at work, Jed & Ellie-May whipped out the ol’ chainsaw and massacred the fruit trees. What were once trees in full bloom had become pathetic sticks – sad & distraught. Okay, it bugged me but I knew eventually they’d grow back. What really got me was that for reasons known only to them, they piled the branches and debris at my front door. Naturally, since I didn’t anticipate a 4×6 pile of tree limbs on my doorstep, I tripped and cussed my way into the house. I called but of course, no answer, nor did they answer the door. Screw it, I would deal with it the next day.
The house was stuffy, so I propped the screen door open to get a little breeze going. I sat down at my computer and started to work on my latest piece. Eventually, I craved a snack – so I grabbed a bag of cashews and a diet coke from the kitchen. As I made the short trek back to the living room, something furry grazed my ankle. I screamed. Nuts flew up into the air and scattered, soda saturated the shag carpet. I froze.
I saw something dark and rather large scurry. Mice don’t move that way, I thought. My stomach knotted. I inched toward the black shape. It moved a little. I moved a little. I squinted in the low light and bent down to get a closer look. OMG! It was the biggest spider I ever saw. We faced off, my two eyes to his forty-two eyes – neither of us wanting to blink. I eyed the extra large Webster’s dictionary on the shelf – I knew I could take him out with it. But I didn’t want to be scraping bug guts off the carpet for weeks and truth be told I didn’t have the heart to squash the poor guy. Creepy as he was, I was sure he’d simply made a wrong turn into the house, since the Clampetts had chopped down his home in the apple tree.
I had to do something though. I couldn’t let him just hang out. I tiptoed to the kitchen and grabbed a can of RAID. I knew it wouldn’t kill him but maybe it would dope him up enough for me to get him out of the house. When I came back, he was gone. I turned on more lights, I looked, I squinted. No Mr. Spider. Damn! So, like a fool, I fired up the RAID and sprayed in and around the bookcase. I knew he must be hiding in there and it was all I could do.
I forced myself to return to my work, reasoning he’d come out eventually. Not five minutes after I sat down, there he was slowly crawling up the wall in front of me. I grabbed a computer disk box, emptied it and coaxed him into the box with a ruler. I closed the lid. I had him but what the hell was I going to do now?
Again Jed and Ellie-May refused to answer their phone so I went outside and called out to my neighbor. “It’s a tarantula,” I screamed. “Aaaarrrggghhhh!”
Marti, being the mother of two sons took the box and quite calmly and opened it. “Well, what do you know, it is a tarantula,” she said mildly amused.
“Get rid of it!” I insisted. “Please get that thing away from me.”
Marti shrugged and walked across the street and let it out in the open field. I was relieved to be done with it and went back into my house. I heard Jed and Ellie-May, now totally interested – yakking about the big old tarantula. A lot of oohs and ahhs. But I was done with it.
By the next day, thoughts of the big spider were gone. Order had been restored to the universe. As I made my way toward my house, I noticed something on their porch. I stopped, squinted and moved in closer. It was a terrarium, sitting on the porch steps in the full sun of course. And what do you know, Mr. Spider was in there. Of course he looked different now. He had essentially become spider jerky. Guess Jed and Ellie-May were looking forward to some real home-cooking.