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To Bee or Not to Be (standard:other, 4710 words)
Author: Tom SoukupAdded: Feb 21 2003Views/Reads: 2120/1587Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A very finnicky gardener finds that he's met his match with some very nasty bees.


By Tom Soukup 

Silver threads glistened in the midmorning sun.  They crisscrossed in
almost perfect symmetry, and honey drops of dew hung at each 
intersection of the fragile thread.  The tiny moth struggled, but the 
sticky grip of the trap had done its job all too well.  The remaining 
bits of energy had been hopelessly drained from the prey and there was 
little doubt that the silent predator rested somewhere nearby, neither 
in abandonment nor attack but just waiting . . . lying low and waiting 
for the right moment. 

Nestled in the corner of the web was a small black sphere, maybe a
fallen seed from the withering flowers that towered above.  It too 
appeared caught among the tacky strands and, though not a part of the 
dietary wishes of the currently vacant spider, it was trapped as 
completely as the moth who approached its last breath but inches away.  
And then it moved.  One leg uncurled, then another to be followed by 
the rest until the sphere became the spider and it sat as motionless as 
it had been in its earlier form.  It moved again, cautiously at first, 
one leg after another finding skillful purchase along the tightrope of 
the web, approaching the dying moth.  Its meal. 

Jeremy watched in wonder, his face no closer than he needed it to be to
witness the event.  He pulled back for a moment thinking that the 
spider had stopped to look at him as well, maybe to plan some different 
kind of attack on this leviathan intruder, giving up on the 
insignificant moth to tackle a more challenging prey.  He felt a chill 
travel down his arms and a flush cross his cheeks as anger of that 
indignity pushed away the fear.  The spider ignored him though, and 
positioned itself next to and above its meal.  The moth shuddered for 
the last time as the spider covered its body, bridging the slender 
form, dividing its legs neatly on each fluttering wing, and crouched 
low for the murderous sting. 

"You son of a . . ." Jeremy whispered. 

And he pushed the button on the spray can, flooding the air with the
pungent odor of the insecticide, bringing a rainstorm of the deadly 
chemical down on the web and its occupants, causing the spider to dart 
helplessly to the edge of the web, across a leaf and, at last, to 
return once more to the shape of the tiny black sphere but for the last 
time.  It tumbled to the ground dead.  The moth, already at death's 
door just moments before, was spared the insult of becoming a meal, 
replacing it instead with the nervous twitches of toxic chemistry. 

"That'll teach you both," Jeremy hissed and he pushed the cap back on
the can.  He stood up and surveyed the length and width of his garden 
and knew that it would all be okay for today.  There were strong smells 
of insecticide everywhere. 

Seeing the spider had done something special to Jeremy.  Surely he
labored in every one of his spare moments to treat his garden against 
insectile pests.  Certainly he prided himself on roses and mums and 
carnations free of bothersome gnats and ants and the like.  Without 
question the brilliant shades of green leaves went unknowing of ragged 
chewed edges, tattered holes and clinging egg sacks.  But seeing the 
spider had done something special today. 

Two years ago . . . two years, three months and seven days ago to be
exact . . . Jeremy was bitten by the spider.  No, not the spider that 
built the web and died in the garden today, but the spider that had 
chosen to share Jeremy's house back then.  It wandered mistakenly 
across Jeremy's arm that fateful evening, no intent of course, and when 
the giant moved, the tiny spider bit him because it was scared and 
didn't know what to do except to bite him.  Jeremy barely felt it, 
didn't even let it concern him (although that spider ended up being 
every bit as dead as the one who hit the ground in toxic shock today) 
and didn't give the whole affair another thought until the next day.  
That was two years, three months and six days ago.  He awoke that 
morning and found that his elbow was as thick as his thigh, the joint 
locked in painful position.  The skin was drawn so tight that he was 
beginning to lose feeling in the tips of his fingers.  He called his 
doctor even before he got out of bed and was given an emergency 

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