It all started with a simple act of mercy while doing laundry in my basement. I took the last item of clothing from the blue Tupperware tub and threw it in the wash machine. When I looked back in the tub, there was a black spider, with a body about the size of a quarter, racing frantically around the curve where the floor of the tub becomes the wall of the tub. It couldn’t get any traction to climb up the wall, so it just kept up its pattern of mad dash, stop and try to climb, resume dashing, and repeat over and over.
I shuddered a bit, imagining the burst of explosive activity that might have ensued had she clung to a piece of clothing and found herself deposited onto my arm while I was transferring clothes from basket to wash machine. Now, I had a decision to make. I could kill her, or push the tub in the corner and leave it, thereby punishing her for the foolish decision of napping in a plastic tub full of my dirty laundry, but she wasn’t technically in either of my arachnid-kill zones. I don’t allow spiders anywhere that I sleep or get naked, so my bedroom and bathroom are kill zones, but this was the laundry room, even though it involved a spider (shudder) in my clothes.
With a heavy sigh, I admitted to both the spider and myself that there really wasn’t a choice, if I wanted to keep my integrity intact. She ignored me and continued her frantic attempts to find a gate or a door or just some rough spot on the plastic in order to grip and climb. I grasped one side of the tub’s upper rim, and slowly tilted it toward the side the spider was on, planning to give her a ramp to the floor. At this, she outright panicked, and began trying to defy gravity in earnest, actually flipping herself briefly onto her back in her attempts to climb the rising floor of the tub. When I finally had the tub lying completely on its side, she took note of the new situation and ran straight to the rim, leaped to the floor, and scrambled around the side and beneath the tub.
I spoke encouragingly to her while sliding the tub sideways to show her a path to freedom in the dark place under the basement stairs. She made three desperate attempts to retain her cover beneath the jerkily moving tub, before dashing briefly in the right direction and then making a sudden and complete u-turn around the tub and toward me. I used to be an athlete, remember, so I quickly zigged right a half-shuffle, to keep the tub between us. She reversed course again, and caught me off guard, I had no choice but to step back from the tub or seriously risk spraining something.
As she rounded the tub and saw my retreat, I’m pretty sure I heard a tiny voice screaming “Cowabunga!” and what might have been something about “Cowardly serial killer!” as she came at me with all the speed her eight legs could generate. I was cornered, with no place to go, it was going to come down to her or me.
I pleaded with her to remember that I could have left her in the tub to die a slow death of starvation, or that I could have squished her with a paper towel and left her to bleed out in the trash can next to the dryer. It worked. She stopped a full thirteen inches from my left foot, shrugged, and dashed under the dryer.
For the last two hours, every time I walk past the dryer I hear what I could swear is multiple tiny voices raised in mocking laughter. Maybe I should go for a ride, and let them get it out of their systems before I go back into that room again.