It took a long time before he noticed. Not even his mother ever accused him of letting something like fantasy get away with himself.
And she was not squeamish.
He was used to cleaning his apartment every Saturday: dusting his way through bedroom and living room, wiping kitchen and bathroom with three different sorts of A.P.C.s and special cloths. Then he ran his vacuum cleaner over every spot he could reach, wiping the floor afterwards just to be sure.
And ate his supper somewhere else - no need messing everything up straight away.
That was his Saturday.
The spider boom this year didn't bother him, it was rotten weather: for every two rays of sunshine came enough rain to switch off any old sun. When even two-legged people looked for a dry place until the flood was over - why not eight-legged spiders?
The smaller eight-legged ones were getting bigger though...
Of course: fat cells as the result of less danger and stress and movement plus more food - and anyway: spiders were clean and ate the others.
Okay, that little "tock!" from the inside of his vacuum cleaner made him wonder sometimes, as if he'd sucked up a larger piece of wood instead of a teeny-weeny spider, a "Tock!" that seemed to get louder every Saturday...
Maybe he needed some vitamins.
It started getting, well: sort of funny one morning when he opened his eyes at six thirty, his usual time: In the left corner of the ceiling opposite to his bed sat a gray and brown striped spider with short fat legs and such an enormous body, that it made his eyes pop: that was too much! Jumping out of bed and fetching the vacuum cleaner seemed a mere reflex: the "TOCK!" in the vacuum cleaner sounded a little different this time, more "PLOPP!"-like - as if something had gone through there with effort. Not that he was scared or had a bad conscience - his sense of order had been disturbed and was now restored - it was his home and his right to do whatever he wanted in here.
No problem there. The point was: from that day on he had to repeat the procedure every morning - even after closing the tiniest hole of the vacuum cleaner. Was that normal?
With all the diplomacy he could force his tongue to use, he started asking around if anybody else had those same funny pets that got fatter every night - he had a secure and good paid job and didn't feel like changing that. And there was no use inviting someone to come and see - who would come at seven in the morning? In spite of all of his rationalism, by this time he suspected it to be the same spider all the time, so the only solution he could find was to leave Bob - as he called it by now - in his corner in the morning and be very surprised to see the old chum when he came home with somebody after work.
Good idea? Of course.
It was the most embarrassing moment he ever had in all of his thirty-one and a half years. He had lured the colleague in his bedroom somehow to show her something that was not there, after enjoying two movies and a lot of music, although he was a miserable dancer, but it wasn't Bob's time yet and... oh boy, he was so stupid, had been admiring exactly this woman from afar the last years - hadn't dared ask her until now ... She had gone off without another word, seemed to think he was rather... HELL!
Next morning there was Bob again in his private corner, grinning at him.
"PLO-OPP!" stammered the vacuum cleaner as if in slow motion. He filled all of it's openings with wet toilet paper, put the cleaner in a plastic bag and this bag in another, dumping it all in a paper container on the other side of the city - a heroic act for someone who loathed wasting things. The new one he bought after work was not cheap either: a high-pressure cleaner, designed to cope with floods and post-war debris and that sort of stuff.
For some reason he woke up earlier than usual next morning. And stared upwards. There he sat - that same fat, gray and brown striped creature, slightly larger but with the same short fat legs, seemingly wanting to hypnotize him from his stupid old corner: Bob...
Grabbing the new cleaner and switching it on was done as if he'd been practicing all year. Through the transparent plastic bubble window on top of the cleaner he saw the foam with sparkling eyes - as if he'd never seen anything so fantastic before - and cleaned the living room carpet and the bathroom rugs as well, rather proud of his never failing sense for practical things. Before he went to work he carefully closed the only opening of the new super cleaner and isolated all doors and windows with the expensive isolation tape he had bought the day before.
He came a couple of minutes too late. - For the first time in nine years.
All day he stared very hard at his monitor, obviously somewhere else with his thoughts. He didn't notice the lunch break, he didn't see the astonished colleagues shaking their heads - they had to poke him or he would have missed going home.
The couch in his living room was a great temptation, his bed looked hard, cold and inhospitable, and it took ages to get asleep and then he had bad dreams. So he should have been rather happy when the alarm clock woke him, but he kept his eyes closed tight as if trying to postpone something as long as possible: life maybe...?
It was no use. Slowly opening his eyes and grabbing under his bed for the cleaner at the same time, he froze in mid air when he saw it: the corner was empty.
He wanted to jump up and dance and scream and sing. Instead the hand that had automatically grabbed for the cleaner shuddered, the message of something round, hairy and warm under his bed had been successfully delivered... Swallowing hard to keep his guts inside, his hand somehow found the cleaner and vacuumed and sucked and vacuumed, then he was on his feet and saw it: the short fat legs were inside all right, but the rest was too big. It made his inwards creep up again, at the same time reminding him of a fictive bear called Winnie the Pooh, who was stuck in a tree after eating too much honey...
The memory made him want to laugh in spite of himself, this eased his tension and got his brain and the rest working again: clutching the cleaner he maneuvered it to the bathroom, careful not to pull the plug. As soon as Bob's fat hairy body fidgeted directly over the toilet, he switched off the cleaner and flushed the toilet at the same time, hitting the foot of the cleaner hard on the toilet edge because Bob seemed to be very stuck or was perhaps clutching... Oh my God! Sweat was running in his eyes as he dumped all the chemicals he could find in the toilet, flushing about half a dozen times and stuffing several plastic bags in the downwards hole, determined not to use the toilet for at least a week.
Even then he didn't relax - he didn't dare.
This time he came seventy-six minutes too late, but didn't even notice it. He was glued to his computer, seemed to want to jump inside. But he was okay, not even scared, really.
Of course not.
There was no need to be, the creature didn't come back. He was free... had several dates with that attractive colleague - as if he was suddenly aware he had all sorts of joints and other things and could even use them.
Actually that creature had released him, yes: he was free.
He sang and whistled, inspecting the delicacies he had bought on his way home: champagne, salmon, pralines... Wasn't this a wonderful world? She would come tonight, tralalala - wasn't life simply great...
The evening was perfect, the night - their very first night, in fact - even better.
Next morning was Sunday, no need to get out of bed - why? He smiled, admiring the naked woman that slept on her tummy in his bed, the forms of her lovely backside looking like modeled under the sheet. Still smiling he pulled the sheet away slowly, almost playfully, as if to get his blood pressure up even higher...
He lowered his face to kiss his way down and then felt his blood freeze. There it was: a gray and brown striped hairy body with eight short fat legs as twin tattoo on the downward extension of the loveliest back of the world: Bob.
Just a little bit fatter...
© 2005 hexandthecity