Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spider Surprise in the New House

Story by Rachel DeBorde 

Maricopa, Arizona

We moved from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona in spring, just as the drywallers were finishing up our house. As I worked around them, I noticed something dark in a corner of the ceiling. When I asked the worker near it what it was, he squinted up and said, “It’s a wolf.”

I stared at the fist-size spot, picturing a large, wild canine. “A wolf?” I echoed. He smiled and explained, “A spider. A wolf spider.”

A wolf spider? The blood drained from my face.

His co-worker added, “We call ’em Arizona tarantulas.”

As if on cue, this wolf-spider-tarantula unfurled its eight long, furry legs and started skittering across the wall. I screamed, scooped up my toddler and made for the farthest corner.

Once I discovered I couldn’t pass through walls, I took long, deep breaths to calm down. Three concerned men stared at me. One softly asked, “Ma’am, are you OK?”

I squeaked, “Please, please, get rid of it! Take it outside!”

One of the men rolled over an enormous Shop-Vac and trained the hose on the monster spider. Nothing. The arachnid stayed put. We actually heard the motor chug. Finally—pop!—the spider disappeared down the nozzle. 

The gentleman operating it flipped the vacuum’s switch and, with a flourish, blew across the end of the hose, gunfighter-style. “All gone, ma’am. It’s dead now.”

I crept from my corner. “Are you absolutely sure?”

Proudly, he tapped the appliance and said, “This is an industrial Shop-Vac. No way it survived.”

With a deep breath, I pressed, “You’re positive? It’s really, definitely dead, right?”

“Blown to bits by the suction,” he assured me.

Another worker stepped forward to say, “Look, I’ll show you.” Unbuckling the lid, he said, “It’s nothing but mush now.” He flipped it wide open and confidently invited me to look inside. Before I could move, out bounced our hairy little friend.

Now it wasn’t just me screaming—I had three backup singers. Together the four of us belted out the loudest, girliest shrieks ever shrieked. Surely people heard us a mile away.

To their credit, the men instantly regained their composure. While I kept up the howling in my safe corner, they recaptured the beast and took it outside. When it comes to spider removal, it turns out my hungry chickens are more effective than the mightiest vacuum cleaner.

I gave my trio of heroes the rest of the day off, then took my child and a big glass of wine and lay down in complete humiliation. 

Eventually I would educate myself on all the local creepy-crawlies to avoid another spider surprise and thereafter give them a wide berth. After all, a spider that can take on a Shop-Vac and live to make three grown men sing soprano has my deepest respect.

Illustration by Kevin Rechin

“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck

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