The pest control guys had been around. We knew this because they left a card to say they’d been here and that they’d sprayed for bugs. After 7 years of vacationing in the Sunshine State, we’re used ot it; Florida means bugs. It means bugs that would freak you out if you met them anywhere else than Florida; bigger, stronger, faster.
Where I come from, cockroaches mean you’re a shoddy housekeeper. They are something of which one should be utterly and exquisitely ashamed, but I come from Bucks County, people there are funny that way.
The night after the bug guys were here, we were routed from a sound sleep by a manly yelp coming from the other side of the house. It was only the one yelp, so we rolled over and decided not to investigate. Most likely, we thought, it was the result of an unfortunately barked shin or stubbed toe. Little did we known that there was an epic cockroach safari taking place yards from where we slumbered.
Having yelped (just the once), Joe College hightailed it from his bathroom, slamming the door firmly behind him and rushed to Imp 2’s bedroom. There he promptly shook his brother (who is a bit of a ghoul) awake and uttered the words “Cockroach, big, my bathroom”. It was all Imp 2 needed to hear. He was on the case in a trice, armed with a plastic cup and a sheaf of paper, ready to dispatch the beast.
Sleep must have dulled Imp 2’s normally lighting speed reaction time. His first attempt at capture was deemed abysmal and the roachanista, dubbed Ché for the occasion, ran into Joe College’s bedroom, taking refuge in a conveniently located pile of laundry. The same pile of laundry I’d requested be deposited in the proper receptacle earlier in the day.
Undaunted, Imp 2 went about his task with gusto, throwing a flip-flop at the pile of laundry to flush Ché out of hiding. This effective move brought the cockroach into the open. Joe College slammed the Polk County phonebook onto Ché, jumped up and down on it a few times and called the “All Clear”.
This thrilling adventure was being recounted to Vince at the breakfast table when I stumbled out of bed and onto the sun-drenched lanai for breakfast.
“Oh, by the way,” said Vince, pouring me a delicious cup of coffee, “one of your “beetle” friends is on our bedroom ceiling. Now you’re awake, I’ll go get it with the vacuum cleaner.”
“Just what do you mean when you say “beetle”?” I wanted to know, “And how could you just let me snooze away with the “beetle” apt to drop down on my sleeping little self at any minute?”
Vince was very busy configuring the vacuum cleaner hose and extension rods and appeared not to hear my query.
I decided to go and have a look at the “beetle” in my bedroom. It was a roach, who I’ll call “Fidel”, obviously on a recon mission to see what might have happened to unlucky comrade Ché.
Vince, weilding the vacuum cleaner as though it were Excalibur, dispatched friend Fidel toute de suite.
Since then the cockroaches have been keeping a blissfully low profile.
Last night however, I came out to the lanai with a book and a nice cold drink. I swung my legs up to the stool opposite the one I was sitting on and halfway through the first paragraph of “A Year In Provence” I felt a horrible pain in my left calf.
“Something stung me!”
Vince made soothing noises and assessed my calf. He couldn’t find anything, not even a scratch. Then he leaned over to retrieve a section of newspaper that had dropped to the ground and he saw it. One helluva fugly old spider. Without a second’s hesitation, my protector whaled the creature into kingdom come with his sandal.
“It wasn’t a black widow, was it? ” I didn’t really want to know.
“Nah, some wispy brownish thing.”
“Oh God! I’ve been bitten by a recluse spider!” I watch Animal Planet, I know all about the dreaded recluse spider. There is no known anti-venom and it’s bite is deadly, painfully deadly. It would serve me right to meet my end this way. I was going to die.
I went to bed in the certainty that this was my last night on this mortal coil, and was woken the next morning by Vince feeling up my left calf. I’d forgotten that I wasn’t supposed to make it through the night and mumbled something to the effect of “Behave yourself”.
“Not even a mark on you,” he said, “no swelling. Guess it wasn’t a recluse spider after all.”
My spidey sense started tingling: If that spider bite didn’t kill me, my other super powers could kick in any minute now.