In order for one to appreciate my dilemma, one must first understand that I hate spiders. Not just some spiders, but all spiders. I think somehow the spiders hate me back. They seem to always be there when I least expect them and they always get in at least one good bite before I dispatch them. Because of this, I dispatch them in the most gruesome way possible.
It was about a year ago when I first noticed a spider had built a web in the corner of the doorway of our shop, The Mount Perry Office Supply Company, in Mount Perry, Florida. Not a big web, mind you, just a small corner kind of thing. It was just low enough to get me full in the face every morning when I passed through the doorway as I opened my shop for business. With this in mind, I placed a curtain rod near the doorway. First thing in the morning I destroyed the web when I opened the door. This assures me I won't walk into the web any more during the day.
This spider, however, was determined to make its web right there in the doorway, no matter how many times I destroyed the thing. Obviously, the spider and I were destined to cross curtain rod and web in a duel to the death, like the speeders sentenced to be paired in the Mount Perry Sports Stadium and Gladiatorial Arena. This was fine with me. I don't take my hatred of spiders lightly.
At first I thought that the spider must be a huge thing because each day the web was back right in the same place as the day before. The spider just had to be a large, hairy, crawly-looking poisonous spider. Let me clarify this; to me all spiders are crawly, hairy and very poisonous. Lately I noticed the web seemed stronger. The web resisted the curtain rod a little more each day. In my mind's eye I reasoned the spider was getting bigger. Yet where could such a huge spider live around that doorway. The door was brand new, and I had been very careful to seal everything around the frame, so no air could seep into the shop when it was closed.
I was determined to find some answers. I left the shop closed one morning and prepared to do a systematic search of the doorway. If the spider was there, I was determined to find and dispatch the thing. On close examination, I found there was a narrow space between the door frame and the steel drip edge I had placed over the wooden part of the frame. The spider just had to live in there. It was a very small space for the huge spider I imagined to be living in there.
As the darkness of night fell over the streets of Mount Perry, I waited in silence. When the moon was high in the sky; I went outside to catch the spider in the act of spinning a new web. The plan worked. However, much to my surprise, there in the doorway was a little tiny spider. The beastly little thing was working feverishly to finish the web and catch a meal before I destroyed all the spider's hard work again in the morning.
For a moment or so, the spider and I froze still in place, we just looked at each other, and the spider was obviously sizing me up prior to an attack. Then slowly and with great deliberation, the spider raised its fore legs in a defensive attitude and reared back in its web as if to strike at me. Instinctively I took a step backwards. Raising my curtain rod, I prepared to do battle with the beastly thing. The spider, of course, was ready for me. In my mind's eye I could see goodly quantities of venom dripping from its fangs, the black hairs bristling on the abdomen, legs poised to attack. The spider obviously intended to envelope me in the new web and consume me.
Slowly I moved the curtain rod to the left and prepared to strike. The spider followed my action. The spider's action puzzled me. Then, without striking, I moved the curtain rod to the right. The spider followed this move also. Each time I moved the curtain rod, the spider followed the move. An idea began to hatch itself in my head. Maybe the spider could be trained. This was an idea worthy of Yodar Hoopelhoffer, the Mount Perry town idiot. Who else would try to train a spider except possibly me?
I dashed back into the shop, found a suitable container in which to house the spider and returned to the doorway. The spider was still there. The spider seemed to be waiting for me. Using a small stick, I coaxed the spider into the container and brought it into the shop for a good close examination. I don't usually get this close to a live spider without a very good reason.
Sitting down at my desk, I tipped the container enough to let the spider walk out onto the desk top. Once out of the container the spider stood there in front of me looking up at me with all eight of those beady little eyes glistening with hatred. We were like two mortal enemies sizing each other up before a fight to the end. It was a brown spider about a quarter inch in diameter. Not terribly big, mind you. But by my standards, the vicious thing was large enough to do me mortal harm. The spider, however, now seemed more curious than hostile.
I poked at the beast with my stick, more out of curiosity than an attempt to injure. The spider reacted by moving away from the stick. By moving the stick back and forth I could get the spider to move in a somewhat rhythmic motion. Now this was getting interesting. Turning on the television, I tuned in on a Country Western music station. Then I began again moving the stick back and forth in time with the music. The spider followed my lead.
As soon as the song ended I jumped up and caught a fly by the front window. I gave my catch to the spider. The spider fell immediately to the task of consuming the fly, right there in front of me. It was a grisly sight, but I resisted the temptation to turn away. I wanted to learn a lot more about my new house guest.
Day after day I worked with the spider. It took many months and hundreds of flies, but in time the spider had learned to dance the fox trot in time with various Country Western songs. This was no mean task with eight legs to control. Yet the spider was now dancing to the tunes without being prodded by my stick It was truly amazing to watch. As the song started, the spider would leap from its container and prance about on the desk top in time with the music. When the song ended, the spider would bow and stand there waiting for its reward.
The spider hadn't grown very much, but all the dancing had given it a ravenous appetite. It was getting on into the winter season and there were less flies to catch for it. I decided, due to the diminished food supply, it might be best if I went public with my creation. After all, there were darn few dancing spiders anywhere in the show business world. There just had to be a market for this kind of an act. If the market could be developed, I could then buy all the flies I needed to feed my dancing spider.
I reasoned the best place to start my career, was locally. Carefully I sealed the spider into the box and headed out to the nearest bar where I could find any kind of music at all. Waiting until the next song was just about to start, I opened the container and motioned for the bartender to come over to me. The song started, the spider leapt from the container and began dancing to the tune. I pointed to the spider with great pride and said to the bartender, "Look At That!"
Without even a flinch the bar tender brought his hand down on my spider with a loud "SPLAT". He then turned to me with a rather apologetic expression on his face and said, "Sorry about that, sir. They come in here all the time. I'll be right back and clean this mess up." I slipped quietly off my bar stool and went home, my dreams of fame and fortune completely dashed.