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Black Widow (standard:other, 3945 words)
Author: RavenwoodAdded: Feb 27 2012Views/Reads: 1721/872Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
The black widow spider seduces, conquers, and destroys. In this human counterpart, will love interfere this time? And what of the widow Jacoby’s purported destiny of death-by-drowning?

The widow Jacoby was certain that drowning was to be her fate, an
oft-occurring nightmare, she said: trapped underwater and unable to 
escape. At each telling she shuddered, and I held her hand, caressed 
her arm, but too uncertain of our relationship to do more. Yet, we were 
again on Holland's lake, waves unsettling the worn and weathered 
fishing craft beneath us. I dreaded water - could hardly swim. Tempting 
fate?  Inexplicably, fishing lured her. Her beauty and character lured 

Her voice floated toward me, sounding above waves that splashed the
boat. She was seated at front of the “Old Crab,” and I was at the 
stern, near its fussy Mercury outboard. 

“Al,” she repeated, still looking forward as seeing something besides
water, “Are you and I to burn out here all day for nothing?” She held 
the fishing basket aloft to emphasize its emptiness. “It's near 
lunchtime... near leaving time.” 

We'd fished most all day the other times, and the usual snacks were
aboard. We'd endured waves before. Had her nightmare come in daylight? 
Joy was absent in her voice for first time. 

She was wrapped in long-sleeved shirt and a hat that drooped onto both
shoulders. Perhaps she always had; that could explain the almost 
child-like texture of her skin. She confessed to forty-two birthdays, 
but she could drop the number by half, and few would doubt her - not 
one of the men in Judd County who were so attentive. 

She waved the basket again. “Well?” 

Without answer, I twisted to the outboard. If Mercury had ever made a
dud, this model must be it. Tilt the motor upright. Set the choke just 
so. Prime. Pat it. Pray. And pull the non-self-recoiling rope. Nope, no 
start. Rewind the rope. 

I wasn't complaining. The outboard was my ticket aboard the Old Crab. 

Mr. Jacoby had owned the boat for years. He'd owned the motor since he'd
found it, almost like new, abandoned at lakeside, the widow said. 
Others had passed without taking it: that should have been a clue. 

The widow placed a request in May 3, 1971 Juddville Gazette for a
volunteer Mercury outboard mechanic, and guys responded like kids 
lining up to be taste tester at an ice cream plant. But not a one of 
them could get it to run. That's what was told at Barnaby's Beanery, 
where I sometimes went for lunch. Not even Clyde Gilstrap over in 
Pankin County, they agreed. Not that he was one who tried—him being 
married—but if there was anyone on planet earth who could have done it, 
it would have been Ol' Clyde. 

I didn't know a spark plug from a can of worms. Well, perhaps from the
worms, but I didn't know a plug from much else. I made and refinished 
furniture in my home shop. But chatter at Barnaby's gushed so over the 
physical makeup of the widow, whom I'd not seen, that I got most 
interested in Mercury outboards. Interested enough that I acquired a 
box of old magazines with articles on the long-ago out-of-manufacture 

When the ad next appeared, I made an appointment with the pleasant voice
that answered my call, and I drove over. The widow's daughter answered 
the door, I surmised. But it wasn't. The crowd at Barnaby's hadn't 
exaggerated – hadn't done justice to - the youthful face or the 

My research had me prepared to identify the engine's front from its back
and top from bottom. Not much else, I discovered upon actually seeing 
it. But I ran my hands over it knowingly and murmured “Umhumm” as 
though I'd diagnosed an ailment. 

“I'll need to take it to my shop,” I assessed. “I'll leave a deposit, as
you never saw me before,” surprised at my glibness. My knees were 
threatening to knock like they had in high school when the football 
queen glanced my way. I slipped off my wristwatch and handed it.  “How 
about this? Now, I will trust you, and you will trust me.” 

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