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by Judy Barat

In a now defunct genre of magazine,
called a horror comic book, though in
truth there was nothing remotely comical
involved, there once appeared a fully
illustrated story of a beautiful, mysterious
dark-haired, woman who seduced
handsome men to her home where
for hours she made passionate love
to them, and afterward playfully tied
them to her bed creating a silken web
around them as she slowly morphed
into a giant black widow spider, then
hovered high above the bed and
prepared to feast on her terrified prey.
This was a most harrowing tale for an
impressionable teenager to read.

So long suppressed in memory it was
a shock to be suddenly reminded recently,
in the middle of the night, in the dark,
as I wandered through my house en route
to the kitchen for a drink of water.

Dim light from a street lamp
in the alley behind the house,
filtered through the curtains
creating a shadow on the den wall
which made my heart pound and
the breath catch in my throat.
A huge spider hung on a thread
from the ceiling about midway to the floor.
Aware these nocturnal creatures
can be dangerous and will hide from light,
I dared not cause it to flee; on second look,
I was somewhat relieved to note it was not
nearly as big as its shadow.

Cautiously I stepped a bit closer,
close enough to see it was black—
shiny black—patent leather shiny black.
There was no need to look for
a bright red hourglass on her belly;
we both knew what she was but,
clearly, to me, there was only room
in this house for one of us.

She had to go.

But how? I weighed my options:
Trap her in a paper bag? Too risky.
Smash her? Not possible; she was
too far from the wall. Shot gun?
Messy—and I might miss. Vacuum
cleaner—the only viable option.

With no choice but to leave her dangling,
I hauled the vacuum cleaner from the hall
closet, plugged it in, attached the long wand,
and flipped the switch, then headed back to
the den, the contraption at my back while
holding that 4 foot long wand in front as if it
were Excaliber. I pointed it at that abhorent
arachnid and sucked her in, sucked her in
for a full 10 minutes, terrified she would
somehow survive and retaliate.

Finally satisfied, I wheeled the vacuum
cleaner outside, dislodged the dust bag
and sealed it in the trash container for
pickup. Back inside I roamed from room
to room looking in the dim light for anything
that moved before I dared to turn on a light.
I made coffee and turned on the tv—hoping
for a late night/early morning comedy.
Sleep this night was no longer an option.

My sleep habits have changed since then
My days are spent asleep
I sit vigils in the dark of night
When the widows choose to creep
So friends feel free to call me
any hour of the night
I'm here, my shotgun on my left
Trusty vacuum on my right


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