I am afraid of a spider. Not spiders in general, although I’m no great fan. They are the sharks of the itty-bitty world – I can’t say “insect world,” because they are arachnids, not insects – in that they live around us all the time but we never think about them until they take our leg off.
This one spider, though, is a behemoth. He’s about the diameter of my fist, seems to have stripes and horns, and might even be carrying a concealed weapon. He’s that big. With his ferocious appearance, he makes no attempt to duck for cover in a why-can’t-we-all-get-along world.
Spiderzilla lies in wait for me in the shed beside our house. I found him recently when, for the first time in weeks, our grass had dried enough to mow. I went to the shed to get our mower out but didn’t make it past the door.
There, suspended in midair on a huge web, Spiderstein’s monster was surveying his domain, which includes our mower, the gas can and other implements of yard work. He flitted around on his vast web.
I knew that at any moment, he could leap out, sail over to my neck, inject a lethal dose of some-species-of-spider venom and start dragging my comatose body into the shed.
“Why didn’t you just kill it?” my wife said after I went indoors to pray for spidey sense before proceeding with the yard work.
I wasn’t about to try to kill the beast, though. There was no need to infringe on him if he wasn’t doing me harm. Anyway, spiders serve a purpose by eating insects. Above all else, I didn’t know whether I could take him in a fair fight.
“Knock him down with a broomstick,” my wife offered.
“Then I would have an angry Spidersaurus rex out for revenge,” I said.
“I have some spray,” she countered.
“There is no spray yet developed for this guy – outside of Syria,” I said.
My wife believes the only good spider is a dead spider. Like snakes, they all should be dispatched to meet their maker. Recently, she came across a snake skin out by the garden and so is in no mood to grant dispensation to any creeping thing. When she works in the garden, she likes to know she’s alone.
I hesitated to tell her that a band named itself Ten Spiders after its members heard that the average person, during his lifetime, swallows 10 of them while sleeping.
Live and let live, though, I sometimes say. So, fortified by faith, I returned to the shed of the shadow of death and reached my gloved hand in for the mower handle. I slowly pulled the machine out, then dragged out the gas can, all the while keeping my eye on the Creature from the Garden Shed. He moved not a leg.
Safely around the corner, I gassed up the mower and got to work.
Spidey Krueger was still in his web when I finished mowing, so I pushed the mower halfway into the shed and backed away. Cowardice, they say, is the better part of valor.