7:38 a.m. I don't particularly care for spiders. And that is why, as I lay in bed looking at my ceiling I give a start when I notice one, about 2 inches across, slowly crawl out of the air vent above my bed. Aaack! I watch it...knowing that if I move it will scream (yes, I said scream...leave me alone) and dive onto my head...at which point it will bite me until I die because it is probably a brown recleuse.
I slowly scoot off the bed and move into the other corner of the room. I CANNOT sleep with a spider above my bed. What if it crawls into my mouth? What if it crawls into the bathroom and makes a nest in the toilet where it will kill me by biting my butt?
I grab a phone book and move slowly back onto the bed. It takes me 20 minutes to maneuver myself. The spider is wary and it jumps with my movements. I am sweating. I finally close my eyes, aim (I know...wrong order), and slam the book into the ceiling while similtaneously jumping off the bed and scampering into the other room. I shake out my hair and brush off my shoulders just in case it landed on me.
Long story short, I missed. I look on the floor and the book and find no withered body as my prize. Instead, I am more paranoid than ever. Oh no! I pissed it off. Now it's really going to get me.
It's after midnight now. I've moved furniture and checked behind things, but still no luck. I finally move the bed into the middle of the room and remove all the sheets and pillow cases so that it can't sneak up on me. After an hour or so, I finally fall asleep.
Yes. I am aware I have issues.
Back when I was a kid, my parents had a dirt cellar in the basement under the stairs. They kept potatoes and onions and apples from our garden down there. You had to walk through to the back of a closet and then crawl through a port hole-type door (about the size of a car window) to get inside. There was one bare lightbulb wired into the four-foot ceiling. The walls were cinder block. The whole place smelled of earth and rotting wood, which made sense since the damp dirt floor was covered with wooden planks.
The room would have freaked me out even without the grubs, centipedes, and nests of spiders that crowded the doorway and the ceiling.
Every other day my mother would call me around dinner time and send me to fetch some potatoes or some onions. I would reluctantly take a bucket down into the basement and open the door. Webs would be crossing the entryway so that I was certain a big, fat spider would fall in my hair and crawl down my shirt and bite my bare flesh if I tried to pass through.
I would sit there and watch them. Black, beady eyes. Huge pincer fangs. Some were big and furry and still. Others were black and stout and the slightest breeze would cause them to jerk and jump. Ten minutes would pass and Mom would call down to me to hurry. I would look up toward where the voice was originating and huff. I was certain this constituted some form of child abuse.
I would take a deep breath and close my eyes as I passed under the webs. There I would stand...in the middle of a room overtaken with arachnids. I would crouch down and huddle close to the floor, again examining the room to see where all of them were. Up above me. Over in the corners. Crawling in amongst the potatoes and onions. Watching me.
An old, tattered web would brush against my skin and I would jump and yelp. Then I'd hear Mom's voice again calling for me. I would hastily fill my bucket and hesitate at the doorway again. Finally, I would jump out, slam the door behind me, and run upstairs as fast as my little legs would take me.
So, you can imagine how I feel when several years later I am at the ME's office and a body is brought in that has been decomposing in the forest for a week. The woman went missing from a local WalMart parking lot several days ago. It turned out her step-son and his friends murdered her because she wouldn't let them borrow her car.
What was left of the body was teaming with insects. There were bugs as big as my hand making their way out of pockets and shirt sleeves. Interestingly, there were also roaches...which are urban insects and indicate that she was moved there from another location. Turns out they stashed her in a basement for a few days before dumping her in the forest.
The Chief ME is there watching me as I double glove my hands and prepare to reach into the pockets and remove any valuables or identification. Just as I reach for a pocket, a three-inch-long centipede slithers its way out and plops down onto the tray, where it disappears under the body. I pull my hand back and scream. I close my eyes and curse myself. Oh, no I did NOT just scream. But I did. I glance up at the Cheif sheepishly and she narrows her eyes. "Well, go ahead!" she says. Ugh.
I thrust my hand into the pocket, ignoring the little bodies I feel scrambling to get out of my way. The pants are wet with broken down, liquefied fat...called adipocere. No valuables in that pocket. Come on, Polly. Hold it together. I move on to the next and methodically go through each pocket, trying very hard to control the urge to wrinkle my nose and say, "Ew, ew ew!". After I am finished, the ME leaves and I do the heebie jeebie dance for about 10 minutes before pushing the tray into the cooler.