Went Up the Drain Again

I saw the movement in my peripheral vision and snapped my head around to see what had attracted my attention. It was a huge spider. It’s carpace was the size of my thumb and its legs were long –perhaps an inche between the joints. It was one big spider. “Holy crap!” I shouted and scooted away from where it had dropped down, repelling on its own thread to land on a model of a tower crane I’d built.  It took a position on the latticework of the boom and looked at me with its many eyes. It sighed audibly.

“I hate it when people do that.” it said, “I mean, we have feelings too, you know.”

Showing the sheer intellect of my more powerful human brain, I said “Huh?”

“People. You. You always react with revulsion when you see one of us. It gets old, man. Really old. Personally, I think I’m a pretty good looking guy. I’m not all hairy like some of the others of my kind out there. I don’t have an uppity attitude, no aggression. At least, not towards you. I mean, I admit that a lot of insects have every right to be alarmed at my presence, after all, they’re what I eat. Which, by the way, you should show a little appreciation for. You remember that mosquito that was driving you crazy the other day?” I nodded in the affirmative. That thing had driven me batty with its humming and buzzing in the dark as I was trying to fall asleep. The spider pointed toward itself with a leg and said “It’s right in here, baby. At least, it’s life juices are. Mmmm-m. Good eatin’.”

“Uh, thanks?” I sat on my bed and stared at the spider and then shuddered. I couldn’t help it.

“See? There you go again. C’mon man. when we’re hanging out behind the porch lamp, me and the guys got nothing but good to say about you. We appreciate that you left so many great spots to hang out for us when you built this place.” I thought to myself that I needed to start stuffing insulation into anywhere that created a protected open space, and then call the assassins from Orkin. “Yipes!” shriked the spider. “Orkin? Did you just say Orkin?”

“Whoops. Did I say that out loud?”

The spider shook its head. “Oh, man. You’re one sick, homicidal puppy. I’m trying to be friendly and here you are plotting genocide. I got about six hundred babies in pouches all around here. You can’t possibly be serious about laying waste to them all. Or can you?”

“So, uh. Where exactly are all of these caches of spider babies?” I asked.

“Oh no you don’t.” he replied. “I’m not tellin’ you squat. I let on where all my kids are and whoosh! You’ll be out there like Saddam using chemical warfare.”

“No, no!” I said. “Scouts honor. I just want to know where they are so I can, um, you know. Drop by an occasional bug or something. A little gift of food.”

“Yeah, right. An’ there’s more than three working synapses in all of Washington, DC. Forget it, pal. I ain’t telling you nothin’.”

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s talk about something else. How did you get in here? I mean, we just had this place renovated. You come through an open door or something?”

“Heh, heck no. Those workers left all kinds of brand new ways to come on in here. I mean, just look at the baseboards… there are gaps between it and the floor you could drive a Kenworth through. And never mind those, all around the windows… Hey! You tricky bastard. Now you’re gonna start stuffing all those gaps and closing them off.”

“Nah. I wouldn’t do that.” I had my fingers crossed as in my mind I thought of clouds of Raid wafting through the nooks and crannies.

“Raid? You’d spray us with Raid? Why you cold blooded son of a bitch. Here I am trying to be nice and you’re plotting arachnid armagheddon.”

“Whoops, was I thinking out loud again?”

“Yeah, you was, and may I add, you gots some really evil qualities goin’ on. I mean, you see me over here plottin’ to bring all o’ my Hobo and Recluse buddies over here for a picnic? No, you don’t. But here you are sittin’ there thinking about trying to wipe out all of my kind. Man, you suck.”

“Suck? I suck?” I reached down and grabbed a spray can of Lysol springtime scent and hissed a cloud of perfumed anti-bacterial astringent at the spider. “Suck this!” I snorted.

The spider hacked and coughed, holding up a leg and waving it in surrender. “Enough! Holy crap, does that ever stink. And the freakin’ droplets, hell, I’m lucky I didn’t inhale one of those. It’d have choked me to death for sure. And …eeew! I got that junk all over me. Pee-yooo! What is that stuff?”

“It’s called Lysol. My wife makes me spray a few puffs in the bathroom wherever I eat Mexican food.”

“What is that? Negative conditioning? Eventually you won’t want no more o’ that Mezikin stuff or whatever?”  I remained silent. “Okay, whatever. But now I gotta go find a way to get this junk off me. I go in to a hangout to chill with my buds and they’ll run my spinner right back out. Man, that stuff is nasty!”

I gave him another squirt for good measure. “That’ll teach you to make stealth drops onto my toys.”

The spider looked down at the lifting boom he was sitting on. “Actually, I was gonna ask you about this stuff.” He waved a leg around, indicating the collection of motorized toys; aircraft, vehicles and walking devices of all sorts. “Just how old are you, dude?” 

“What’s it to you?” I answered petulantly.

“Well, I mean, I figure you for bein’ kind of up there. You’re what, a couple hundred years old?”

I started looking for something to hit the spider with that wouldn’t break the tower crane it sat on. “That’s no good way to ingratiate yourself to me, you skinny octopod.”

“You’re just jealous of my exoskeleton.”

“I’m jealous of anybody’s skeleton –look, never mind that. I want you to get off of my crane and go outside. Aren’t there just scads of things to eat out there, just waiting for you to catch and eat them?”

“In this weather? What’re you, frickin’ nuts?”

“Welllll.” I said. “I am talking to a spider after all. Now that I think of it, it’s not particularly reassuring that I’m doing that.”

“Ah ha!” said the spider. “Now we be gettin’ down to the nitty gritty!”

“The what?”

“Nitty gritty.”

“What the hell are you talking about? ”

“I am,” said the spider, “speaking to the existential aspects of your communing with an insect and the ramifications of the involved elements.”

I swept up a slipper from next to my bed and slammed it on top of the spider. Plastic pieces of what had moments before been a tower crane flew like shrapnel everywhere. I looked at the ruin of the crane, looking for the corpse of the spider, reciting to myself one of my consistent mantras: Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Spider to Live. Look as I might, there was no spider corpse to be found. It suddenly came to me that the spider might have jumped at the last moment, and even now be clinging to my pajamas or crawling in between my bedsheets. I leapt out of the bed, shaking as though I’d been stricken with Saint Vitus Dance, tearing my PJs off and slinging them across the room. I then yanked back the blanket and sheet on my bed and searched the white expanse for an escaping arachnid. Huffing with exertion, I yelled “I’ll find you, you son of a bitch!”

The door to my room crashed open and my wife filled the void. Her chest rose and fell withe the angry snorting of her beaths. Her bloodshot eyes shot daggers at me. “It’s three o’clock in the morning!” she growled. “What the hell are you doijng?” Her eyes broke from my face to scan the ruin of plastic shards scattered everywhere. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh, uh, sorry.” I mumbled apologetically. “I was having this discussion, well, argument –I dunno, debate… with this spider. It was saying…”

“You what?” she shrieked. “Can you hear yourself? You were talking to a spider?”

“Well, put that way.. I guess it sounds a little funny. But…”

“But nothing! I was sleeping! I was all warm and asleep and comfortable and the next thing I know it sounds like the Jolly Green Giant just stomped in the roof.” She stood pensively for a moment and then sniffed audibly. “Have you been eating burritos again?”

“No, uh, I squirted Lysol at the spider.”

My wife balled her fists and stomped her foot. “Arrrgh!” she steamed. As suddenly as she appeared she was gone, only the echo of the slammed door remaining. I knelt down and started to pick up the ieces of broken crane –keeping a sharp eye out for the spider. Search as I might, I didn’t find it.

My oncologist chukled as my wife told him the spider story at my next appointment. “Heh,” he giggled, “I hear stories like that all the time. But I like this one especially. The thing is, some of the drugs we have Bob on to help him sleep are known having somnambulism effects. Sleep walking.”

“Sleep walking?” I said, questioningly.

“Oh sure. At least you stayed in your room. There have been incidents where people woke up after driving long distances, even stopping for gas and to use the rest room. They wake up in the seat of their car and wonder how they got where they are.”

“Oh my God!” said my wife. “That’s so dangerous!”

The doctor shrugged. “Maybe. There’s a lot we don’t know about the way the brain works. We learn more all the time. In fact, lately there have been some tremendous breakthroughs in brain science. Bob and I,” he nodded towards me, “have had a number of conversations about reality –or perhaps the lack of reality that we humans experience.”

“Well,” I injected, “I have a personal stake in it. What I mean is, I believe that the same aspects of treatment that cause neuropathy have a much wider impact than screwing with hands and feet, and I wonder about the effects of all of the different medications and supplements on the brain soup.”

“Brain soup?” my wife had a confused look.

“Yeah, the fluids around the old noodle. I mean, sure, we have the blood brain barrier and all of that, but all of the compounds we put into ourselves just have to have an effect on the set of things that the blood brain barrier passes without even checking for ID. Proteins. God only knows how we’re refolding those things, altering their effects.”

My wife flew a hand over her head. “I have no idea what you just said.”

“That’s okay.” I answered. “I’m not so sure I do either.”

“So, did you ever find the spider?” asked my doctor.

“No. I never did. But I did go around and sprayed Raid into every crack and crevice I could find.”

“The house stank for three days.” said my wife. “It made me worry about the cats breathing that stuff in.”

“I wouldn’t be too concerned.” said my doctor. “You don’t want to set off bug bombs and then stick around, but the poisons for home use, usually pyrethrins, tend to settle and cling to surfaces. The perfumes they use to make the presence of the chemicals known is much more airborne. Unless your cats are sticking their tongues into the cracks I think you’re in pretty good shape.”

My wife nodded. “Thanks for that. I feel better. So, you don’t think that Bob’s hallucinating is reason to be concerned?”

“Well, he wasn’t hallucinating. At least, not in the conventional sense of the word. He was just dreaming. It may have had nothing to do with his medication. Where they may have had an effect is permitting more of a twilight state rather than sleeping or waking. One night I had a, well, uh, very vivid dream of an interlude between my wife and I. I got wakened when she hit me with a pillow thinking my moan.. the sounds I was making… well, she misinterpreted what was happening and so she hit me with her pillow to wake me out of my dream.”

“Yeah,” I said. “At least I wasn’t making love to the spider. Although, I wonder what the ramifications of that dream would mean.”

“You can shut up now.” snapped my wife. 

“Hey, I’m just sayin’…”