Well, Today I got up at noon. This is practically the middle of the night for me since I work third shift. I had a simple mission. First, to my son’s house where I provide daily wound care pro bono. He has a healing abscess in an awkward place he cannot reach. Second, I drop a movie off at the video store. Then I could go back to bed.
Since I live in Florida it was a nice warm day. Those that live in the north might actually call it a hot day, but none the less, it was a typical day here in Tampa Bay.
I had the windows down as I drove. I don’t particularly like the windows down in the hot part of the day. It is way too humid and the air conditioner takes the moisture out of the air. Plus I have very thick long hair that blows every which way and becomes unruly, even when it is tied back.
I plan to rectify the problem soon; I am getting my hair cut. I have only put it off this long for two reasons. One, my aunt always use to say when a woman’s hair is long she is interested in attracting men. She called it the caveman theory. But when a woman is done with men she cuts it short. Until quite recently I was holding out for another man to come along and sweep me off my feet. Although my recent attentiveness to men has given me many reasons to stop believing in fairy tales, I never gave up hope…until now. I have grown tired of the games and found a new contentment with myself.
With this new leaf turned over, I started thinking about a haircut. However, I have had a love affair with my hair for over 30 years. This was not a decision to take lightly. Finally, after months of deliberation, I decided to donate my hair to the cancer society for wigs. They make wigs for the children who have lost their hair to chemotherapy and radiation. The perfect place for my hair to go. However, it has to be at least ten inches in a ponytail when dry. So, I have been waiting for the last inch or so to grow.
I have chosen a day, a time, a place, and my daughter to accompany me. It’s a very special day giving up my hair. But today it was still just blowing all over my line of vision while I drove. I hate it when it gets in my mouth. It makes me gag.
The other reason my windows were down is because I am a cheapskate. The pulley for my air conditioner squeaks terribly when the air is on. It sounds like my engine is sadistically killing small helpless kittens while I drive down the road. I find this completely and utterly embarrassing. It cost $165 to get a new pulley (plus the cost of labor of course). It is not that I haven’t got the money. It’s that I can think of a lot of other things I’d like to buy with $165. And worst of all, I would have to get up in the middle of my night like today and wait in a car dealership for way too long.
So, I drove to my son’s with the windows down. I pulled into his driveway. I left the windows down while I went inside. It only takes me three minutes to do his routine dressing. As a nurse for over ten years I could do it blindfolded, and since I have been coming every day for almost three weeks my son and I have a routine.
So, one task down and I’m out the door. I am all happy to be on my way with the traditional snickers bar. I say traditional because my son buys me a snickers bar every year for mother’s day. He has since he was a small child. Yesterday was mother’s day. Although I did see him yesterday my son had forgotten to give me my gift. Therefore, today I left his house with a snickers bar in hand. And I had every intention of eating it right then on my way to the video store. Everyone needs a midnight snack every now and then.
I, a snicker, and a video were now in the car driving the customary 25mph through town. After going across town, I turned right on an actual road where I could do at least 45mph. I was starting to sweat and I was ready for some wind. That is when I saw it.
It crawled off of my driver’s side mirror and into my car. It hung out a second on the little handle to adjust the mirrors and then in an attempt to get out of the wind I had just created it crawled onto the top of the dash. I was mortified, unable to move for a full five seconds. I felt adrenaline shoot like lightning through my body and I held in a scream.
It was about the size of a quarter when it stood still, but it would squat down spreading its eight legs out to a half dollar size. It was completely tan in color like a camel spider with thick legs and a huge round butt.
First, it crawled back and forth taunting me and I watched it closely. Then it headed for me so I swung at it with the only thing I had in my hand; the snickers bar. I missed. It retreated. This went on a couple of times. I was focused on my enemy.
“Beep beep” I was startled by the horn. Apparently, I was swerving all over the road as I now drove 45mph to the video store. I straightened myself in the lane and tried to concentrate on driving. I was barely able to keep my mind on anything but the spider.
I decided my next tactical move was to sweep it out the window. So, with the Snicker in hand, I ran it across the dash, leaving a smear of chocolate and out the window it went. Well, the snickers bar anyway. The spider stood on the dash looking at me. I swear I heard it laugh.
Now the battle was on. I had just given up my chocolate, and this was war. In almost a panic I looked around the car for my next weapon. The spider stood his ground. I turned left to head to the video store. That jarred my head out of panic and I grabbed the video from the seat next to me.
Whack! Whack! Whack! I slammed the video down on the dash as the spider dodged across the dashboard, missing every angry blow and slipping through a small crack and into the glove box.
I turned into the video store, jumped out and ran the video to the drop box and jumped back into the car. I was in a frenzy now driven by fear and aggression. I did not want it to come back out of its hiding spot when I wasn’t looking. Then the panic hit me again as I turned out onto the roadway to head home. I no longer had a weapon.
I picked up my cell phone and called my son. I needed reinforcements. My son was an insect guy. He loved the creepy crawlies of the world. He was going to college to get a degree in insects. He studied them, he watched them, and this spider came from his house. This was his fault.
My son loved insects so much that as a kid we didn’t kill the bugs that invaded our space we enrolled them in the relocation program. He wouldn’t kill them, he just took them outside. I don’t have anything against creepy crawlies, as long as they stay in their space and keep out of my space. I prefer to not see them at all.
“Hello” My son answered
“I have one of your spider friends in my car.” I was driving home as fast as I could while keeping a close watch on the glove box. My son just laughed. “He got in my car while I was at your house.”
“What does he look like?”
“He is quarter size, all brown.”
“Big butt or little butt?”
“Big butt!” Then he rattled off some scientific name like it was a household word.
“…They bite.” Was all I heard of his final statement.
“Just great, just what I wanted to hear.”
“Well, what do you want me to do about it, mom?” That was a very good question.
“I want you to call him home, and have him go out the passenger side window.” Again my son laughed.
“Where is he?”
“In the glove box”
“Well, it will get too hot in the sun and roast in there; next time put your windows up.” Yeah, why didn’t I think of that? I eyed the glove box the rest of the way home, rolled up the windows in my driveway and jumped out. It was perfectly logical that it would die in this heat. It had no way out.
Then I spotted my neighbor on his porch smoking a cigarette. That is all I ever saw him do day and night is sit on his porch and smoke. He lived with a heavy set woman in her thirties like himself, with short hair, but she was always leaving. The houses were close, we shared a driveway. We were divided only by my dodge Durango, Red.
Their side of the driveway was almost always empty but occasionally sat an old, dented, faded gray station wagon. It looked more like a battered woman than anything else. On my side of the driveway stood Red. That was just his nickname. He was a white dodge Durango that held its stance like a bouncer at a bar on the rough side of town. He was a good obedient truck that humbly sported tires just a little too large, decked out with black trim, and wearing a bushwhacker across the front grill.
Red stood there on guard with almost a smirk as I whipped into the driveway and hysterically jumped free of the cannery yellow mustang known to us as Caroline. She was under siege, so I spoke up to the familiar smoking man.
“Hey,” I chose this greeting because I did not know his name. “I have a spider in my glove box. Will you get it out of my car?” He smiled flicked his cigarette into the butt filled yard and walked over.
“Is it big?”
“Big enough….it is all brown.” He was in my glove box now searching for my adversary.
“It looks spider free.”
“He will attack me later when I go to work at midnight.”
“There are lots of small cracks. He’ll be long gone by then if he isn’t already.”
“Okay, thanks.” I hesitated but it made a lot of sense. It would run from the heat anyway I told myself. My nameless neighbor went back to his post on the porch. I went back to bed.
It took me awhile to put the spider battle out of my thoughts. Tons of little spots on my body would itch feeling like I was being crawled on. Just another member of the relocation program I thought to myself.
Several hours passed and I hadn’t given my mini camel spider any thought until I walked out into the dark night to get in Caroline and head to work. My awareness was heightened; my eyes were darting around looking at everything. I looked over the car before I climbed in. I set my bag on the passenger seat and sat down. But before I could shut the door I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. He was on the passenger seat's sun visor. Its legs wrapped around the small metal piece like the bony fingers of a skeleton. He sat waiting for me.
Without thought, I jumped out of the car, as I instantly started to itch and declared his presence. “That spider is still in my car.”
“Really?” I turned around startled. It was my neighbor standing on his porch with a cigarette in his hand.
“It’s on the passenger sun visor. Will you kill it?” No more relocation program. This had gone far enough. It was time for serious military action. Time to kill the spider once and for all.
“Do you have anything for me to kill it with?”
“No.” I started to panic. I had to go to work, this thing had to go. But my nameless neighbor was already leaning into the car with a drink carrier from some fast food restaurant. Oh, thank Heavens for a tea addiction.
Thud! Thud! He emerged with a spider squished to death. I stepped back.
“Hold on, I left a leg behind.” He trotted off toward his porch, stopped for a moment and returned with a wad of toilet paper. I passed up on the urge to ask him why he was sitting on his porch smoking a cigarette with a roll of toilet paper, and looked inside the car. I saw the leg as confirmation and he wiped it away. I had won the war.
“Thank you so much.”
“Your welcome. Now go to work.” He headed back to his post on the porch. I headed off to work.