The Boston police were nice enough, telling me there had just been too many complaints and that when they went into my apartment apparently my best buddy in the whole world had attacked them. It was a mess and they apologized but they really feared for their lives. So I stand over his grave and toss in his favorite toy, a big squeaky fly and nod to the District Salesman of LabSpyder Incorporated. He offered me a 20% discount on another Cambodian tarantula with Plant DNA.
In a flash of sentimental wonder and panic I am recalling opening the electronically sealed lid marked SPECIMEN. There he was, cute as a bug. All eight legs big enough to wrap around my palm. I named him Hank after a childhood Terrier. Hank roamed the empty aquariums and bookshelves of my apartment for a charmed 7 to 8 weeks. That's when the patented growth cycle kicked in, and maybe because Hank got into the growth stabilizer bottles, well, he really grew. I mean like 4 times bigger than advertised. Instead a vacuum size spider I had a Volkswagen. Hank.
Walking a 120lb spider in the park got a lot of attention and Hank always liked chasing the dogs. I mean, he'd shoot out a silk strand thicker than log chain and walk backwards 20 feet into tree boughs carrying me up as far as I was willing to hold onto his leash. That’s why I only took him out at night. There were occasional screams but in the Blue Hills it echoed across 4,000 empty acres.
But screams bothered my neighbors. Julie, my girlfriend refused to come into my apartment until I got rid of him. When Hank was there, well, she lost it as he brushed by my boxer clad morning tossed self-yawning at the door. If you could have seen her eyes. It matched the Scientists eyes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when I told them all that silk came from one spider. The scientists just paid up, Julia, however, screamed “Jerry, my GOD, BEHIND YOU!” “Yeah, that's Hank. I scratched my belly. She screamed again.
Someone actually called 911, but it was dismissed since the whole floor hung out of their doorways in un-complaining morbid curiosity. Hank was never any trouble, really. I swear. People who got past that usually asked, what did I feed him? Oh, you know, the same thing we're all eating now-a-days. But Hank would get rambunctious on just one nano-fiber-pill a day, so I used to split a steak with him once a week. It required an intricate system to get my half. I couldn't keep it in the freezer so I wheeled up a BBQ onto my Fire escape and had delivery boys dump porterhouses into a tree house line and pail. Hank went bonkers in the windows watching me handle raw meat, yeah, Hank, coming right up.
Sometimes, especially when I lost my job for a couple weeks, and Hanks silk was spoiled by beef enzymes, he got distant. He'd pull himself into the living room web-hammock and hang their in the corner ignoring me. Some nights my skin crawled with nightmares of being rolled like a cigar and sucked dry but I'd wake up and flip through the channels and shrug it off. Then one time I woke up, waiting for my new job's check to clear, and all the late night Red Socks vs Heat was reflected in Hanks 18 eyes, like he was sizing me up. I must have been imagining things.
My ex-girlfriend Regina, I call her Gina, still called, pleading with me to never buy a giant saleable precursor producing spider. She said they're predators and that's never going to change because some kind of flower is in his DNA. I didn't believe it. I liked watching the wooly bum crawl around, but maybe she was right. Hank did change after I started working again. Gina drove down from the turnpike every day and decided to leave her dog in my house once we were going steady again.
I worked all day so I let Hank and Fluffy do what they wanted, run, play, play dead. Returning home I called both their names into chilling silence. Upon searching the house I found Hank spinning a tight wad of silk in his hairy legs. Fluffy's tail wagged outside of one end, spanking Hanks salivating mandibles. Hank didn't want to share either, he chased me for 15 minutes and I had to crawl onto the fire escape trying to wrestle fluffy away from him. 911 got called again when bystanders witnessed 120lbs of Cambodian tarantula burst from my 14 story waterfront apartment. He scampered along the bricks and disappeared over the roof with Fluffy.
Gina didn't speak to me, not even to argue. She simply picked up the mummified bones and cobwebs, shot a burning look a Hank, who I believed sensed her hatred since he ducked is head back into the living room until she had smashed my last aquarium. She said he was worse that the Boston Massacre.
I'm regarding the Salesmen over Hanks grave and decline. Like all bad memories, its best to forget them completely. Back at the apartment it feels so empty. I had to rent a power sander and get approval from the landlord to remove the webs, but after a few weekends I cleared it out. Julia stays every once in a while but she can't stand Hanks scent which I let her believe is the cause. Truthfully, not all those memories of Hank are bad, don't tell Julia, but Hank Jr. is a real softy, he loves Extreme Sports Fuel too, 30% cheaper than nano-fiber.
Anthony Tinsman is a PEN award winning author, and the designer of Take a Load Off, a re-entry program taught in federal prison. He serves a mandatory minimum 35 year sentence for Armed Bank Robbery. He is a first-time offender. He lives in Arkansas. Tinsman's published work includes Hungry Robot a children's bed time story on eBook available on Amazon.com.