Trouble With a Capital `S'
(Page 2 of 3)
``Are you sure, Robert?''Skip to next paragraph
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He told her he was, and a minute later, suitcases in hand, Birdy and Neecy went into the bedroom. I've never seen two girls look happier.
The middle of the night
I was sleeping on the cot in the living room, a sheet pulled up under my chin. Robert was snoring away, loud as a rock band, on the nearby couch.
Suddenly - maybe this has happened to you - my eyes o-p-e-n-e-d, and I said to myself, ``Why am I awake?'' Sometimes it's a noise; unfortunately not this time.
Outside the sheet I felt it on my ankle - a pushing in, a wiggle, ever so soft. I don't have to tell you that I was scared. Spider ... THIS LARGE! Up it came, ankle to shin, shin to knee, knee to ...
I lunged backward and snapped on the light.
The spider was gone.
My feet hit the floor in an instant. So did Robert's. He looked the way anyone would who'd been screamed out of sleep: dazed and in shock. My heart was a punching bag.
Two bedroom doors slammed open at the same time, and Mr. and Mrs. Mack, Birdy, Neecy, bathrobes and pj's, came running into the living room.
``What on earth is the matter?'' Mr. Mack growled. He wasn't happy to be awake. No one was.
I blurted out, ``That spider was crawling on me.''
Everyone looked confused, even Robert.
``Spider?'' Mr. Mack said. ``What spider?''
``Oh,'' I said, recovering. ``A spider.''
``A spider?'' he scratched his head. ``Well, let's look for it.'' You could tell he wanted to go back to sleep.
We looked and looked ... to no avail.
``Back to bed boys,'' Mr. Mack ordered. ``It was all a bad dream.'' Birdy and Neecy made faces at me. Ugly faces.
Bathrobes and pj's disappeared; bedroom doors slammed shut. Robert got back on the couch. I did what anybody'd do: checked the cot. Whew! No spider there. ``That was no bad dream,'' I said to Robert, climbing in and pulling the sheet up to my chin.
``Turn out the light.''
My answer: ``No way.''
Don't look now
The next thing I knew it was morning. Sunlight. Strange noises. Bangs and scrapes coming from the kitchen. I put on my bathing suit, went to check it out, and found Robert cooking bacon. He was jiggling the frying pan back and forth across the stove. Metal on metal. Noise and grease flying every which way. Did he think it was popcorn?
``Where is everyone?'' I asked him.
``Beach. They're all working on their tans.''
The bacon smelled good, but just as I was about to ask him to make some for me, too, something caught my eye. Making its hairy way up the side of a desk in the back bedroom, black and huge, was the spider.
His reaction surprised me.
Bang! He slammed the frying pan down on the stove, switched off the burner, and wheeled on me, fire in his eyes.
``I'm so sick of hearing about that stupid spider,'' he said, spitting the words out. He pushed past me and on into the living room, threw open his suitcase, and took something you're not going to believe: a rubber flip-flop. Color red. One of those things you wear on your feet in the summer, a small one.
Flip-flop in hand he headed for the bedroom.
``W-Where're you going?''
He gave me a hard look. ``Gonna kill that thing!''
``With that little flip-flop?''
Then I knew. He was so afraid of spiders that any spider would scare him - any. All this time he'd been thinking it was the size of a marble or a ... golf ball, and that I'd been lying. But I hadn't, not at all.
``Where is it?''
I was watching Robert from the kitchen. By now the spider had come to a halt halfway up the underneath side of the desk, sort of where your knees'd be if you'd pulled in your chair.
``It's on the desk,'' I told him.
Which it was. But he must've thought I meant on top, because with a gulp! he went right up to the desk and stood there, eyeing the blotter, flip-flop ready to strike. ``I don't see it,'' he called out after a moment.
``It's not on the desk exactly,'' I told him. ``It's sort of ... under the desk.''