I've told a lot of spider stories on the blog. There was the one about the spider I found crawling up my pants when I was out mulching, which caused me to put on quite a show for our neighbors as I danced and screamed around the yard trying to get the darn thing off. Then there was the infamous Bathtub Spider, which was so hairy it rendered me speechless and made me worry that it was going to carry my toddler off in the night. Finally there was the gang of spiders that came out of the grass when I was cleaning Scout's litter box outside at Mom's; it gave me one of my favorite Mom quotes ever: "Wonder what they've been eating...probably kittens."
My spider stories take on a mythical quality with each retelling. Like a good fish tale, the creatures get a little bigger and the fight to net them a little more dramatic. In my mind, the Bathtub Spider has grown to roughly the size of a Volkswagen; the spider battalion numbers around a million and fought bravely until Mom and I vanquished every last one by bravely stomping them into that good night.
But just as every fisherman has The Big One, I now have a showstopper. The One That Got Away. A creature so huge in real life that it needs no embellishment in the retelling; reality is impressive enough. Plus, I have photographic proof that will forever back up my claim.
This is the spider I found in our laundry room last night. This is no exaggeration: I've seen tarantulas smaller than this. Not in real life, but on TV. But still.
It was spread out on the wall behind the dryer as if it were a specimen in a child's insect collection, straight-pinned to a piece of foam board. It stayed there, unmoving, wanting us to be both horrified and awestruck by what an excellent specimen it was. When I first spied it, a mere foot from my face as I threw a load of laundry in the dyer, I of course screamed. But then I couldn't look away from it. I fought the urge to capture it in a jar and take it to a scientist. Perhaps it is a new species of wolf spider; I'll get to name it, and it would be called The Cranky Arachnid.
So far as we know, it's still living somewhere in the walls of our laundry room. After making excuses for why he didn't want to get close enough to it to kill it ("There's too much stuff in the way, like a cord and electrical stuff and the cabinets and things with molecular structures...") Jason swung away and missed. The Shelob crawled back to the portal of hell from which it came, which is the hole where our inside AC unit connects back to the outside unit. I can tell myself that it probably went outside, but it was cold last night, and I have a feeling it was looking for some man flesh. A spider that size can't just be living off of flies.
"Maybe it will help keep mice out of your house," a friend said. I know she was joking, but like Mom's irrational fear that the spider family out in her yard possibly had a small feline wrapped in a cocoon somewhere, I can't help but picture a small rodent caught in a web, squealing for its life while facing a grisly death by fang. This does not make me feel better about having the thing in my house.
I'm behind on laundry, so I've got to spend a lot of time in the laundry room over my upcoming fall break. I am being completely and totally sincere when I tell you I don't know how I'm going to get through it; my heart races from more than my cup of coffee as I write this. Will I find it by accident when I reach down into our hamper of dark clothes? Will I spy it on the same wall as last night and just be forced to pretend it's not there while I toss a load of clothes in, all the while freaking out inside and never taking my eyes off the thing? (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...) Will I think it's gone away, only to feel prickles on the back of my neck and know, "He's behind me, isn't he?" like in so many horror movies?
Until it's dead (and I am a realist enough to know that we may never find its body and it may just live the rest of its freakish life in the comfortable warmth behind our dryer) I won't be able to really rest. I've felt imaginary spiders crawling on me all day today, and just knowing that it's down there makes me want to pack up and sell the house. But I don't know how to kill this thing; it's too fast to smoosh, and too big to go down with a shot of over-the-counter bug spray. I've had much smaller spiders than that just crawl away laughing when I spray them with Raid. I've thought of arming myself with a blow torch, but something tells me that might create an even bigger problem. I like having a roof over my head, even though said roof might be harboring dessert-plate-sized wolf spiders.
So I know that The Big One is still out there, and I may never catch him. But at least I've got a good fish story to tell.
If any of you have a solid recommendation for how to hunt and kill this thing, I'm open to suggestions.