Spider Bite

A tiny little bite, hardly noticeable. Uncle Sam felt it as a slight sting with no known origin. He brushed his right hand across his neck but encountered nothing. The spider was gone before he knew he was bitten. It rappelled down a thread of gossamer and moved unnoticed along the ground, toward its mistress. Spider grandmother watched through unblinking eyes, sad and still as if she had to die today. "Sit down," she said, and at the moment she said it he had the sensation of being very high above the ground, looking down an impossible distance toward his shoes.

"Drugs!" Uncle Sam said accusingly. But he did sit down. He was very, very careful and seemed to have to think out consciously each element necessary for lowering himself into a sitting position. That a movement so unconscious might suddenly become separated from him, and have to be coaxed back with such attention and effort, threw him into a state of anxiety. Suddenly he wasn't operating on automatic anymore, like a train rolling down the track.

"There's that train again," he said. He had dreamed about being on a train. When it got to the ocean there were piers leading out into the bay and men were building track so that the train could run out onto the sea. Engineers had come to him to report that they were at the limits of pier construction. "Why don't you just extend it out on floating tracks?" he asked.

Behind him he heard a stifled laugh, and as he looked around he realized the contractors were embarrassed to the point of reddening. "You can't float a goddamned train track on the ocean, no matter how much money you throw at the problem because the movement in the shifting waters beneath it will tear up the tracks in half a second." He felt a flash of murderous anger at the contractors. "Where there's a will," he said, "there's a way."

"Horse shit," one of the contractors said. "You've got a way or you don't."

"Am I shifting, grandmother?" he asked.

As he looked at her without the spider body he realized she was very attractive. She was about five seven, with the eyes of a woman who likes men in the same way she likes goats and dogs and other living things. She seemed to never need to blink her eyes, which was disconcerting because she appeared to soak in everything without having to go inside to process it. It came as a slight shock to him to realize that she didn't do anything to reality at all.

He felt fear. He was sitting on the ground now but still the ground looked to be a tremendous distance away from his eyes. "What's happening to me?" he asked.

"You're co-processing."


"That's right. The train tracks are an evolutionary dead end."

"You know my dreams?"

"I know my dreams," she said. "Here, try one."

It could have been the spider bite's effect or it could have been some organic problem. His experience was that she became suddenly more beautiful, and that she was doing it as a kind of theatrical effect that went with her suddenly being right in front of him, offering him an open box of chocolates. He automatically reached for a dark creme but it vanished. "I'm hallucinating," he said.

"Well, I call them dreams, but suit yourself."

"What's happening to your body?"

"Do you like it?"

"God, yes."

"If you want to get rid of those foreign women and come home, you might see the advantage to an Indian girl."

"I think I'm beginning to understand," he said elegantly, smiling widely. Spider Grandmother was now forming herself into a seductress. Her legs were long and perfectly shaped, her breasts round and full, her face compellingly featured.

"Until you invest your spirit in this earth where the bodies are buried," she said, "all your energy will be wasted on somebody else's holy land."

"We have a Christian tradition," he said. A chill passed between them.

"So do we," she said. "That's why we have our reservations."

Posted: Sat - August 25, 2007 at 10:36 PM