With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I'd do a little change of pace and present a very short story that hopefully has an appropriate amount of fun seasonal creepiness.
About a week ago, this story just told me that it wanted to be written. I didn't feel like writing a story, nor had I done so in years. I wasn't aware of thinking about anything even vaguely related to the story's subject matter. And why bother to write a story anyway?
Because I had to.
A favorite saying of mine is "people become writers because they can't help it." So here's a story I couldn't help writing. The setting is small town America back in the 1950's, and the story is about...
THE MAN WHO BOUGHT SPIDERS
BAM! The screen door slammed behind him as Davy Thompson exploded into the house.
“Mom! Hey, Mom!” he shouted, looking around eagerly.
“Not here!” called a male voice.
“I said she’s not here,” Davy’s dad repeated over the sound of rushing water. He was washing his hands in the bathroom sink. “Gone to the grocery store.”
“Nooooo,” Davy moaned theatrically as he rushed into the bathroom. “I need to ask her if we’ve got any empty jars!”
“Why don’t you ask me if we have any empty jars?”
“You don’t never know that kind of stuff,” Davy argued as he handed his father a towel.
“I don’t ever know that kind of stuff,” Dad corrected. “But maybe this time I do.”
“Do we have any empty jars?” Davy asked.
“I don’t know,” Dad shrugged - then chuckled at his son’s look of dismay. “Kidding. I’ve got a few of them on my workbench to put screws and nails in.”
“Thanks!” shouted Davy, already racing for the basement steps.
“Hold on, hold on! What’s all the excitement about empty jars, anyway?”
“I’m making money,” Davy explained impatiently, “and I need empty jars with lids on ‘em!”
“Well, I guess you can’t use them for begging if they’ve got lids on,” mused Dad, “so what’s your scheme?”
“I’m selling spiders to Old Man Haberman. All the guys are! That’s why I’m in a hurry!”
Dad settled into his chair in the living room, amused and curious.
“Mr. Haberman, the henpecked guy down the street?”
“Doesn’t matter. You say he’s buying spiders?”
“All he can get and a dime apiece!” Davy’s eyes glowed with the anticipation of great wealth. “And we must have a million spiders around here!”
“Quite likely,” Dad agreed. “But why would Haberman be buying spiders…?”
“Dad, I gotta get going!”
“Hold your horses, we’re having a conversation here. Why is Mr. Haberman buying spiders?”
“Heck, I don’t know. I guess he just likes ‘em!”
“Is he killing them? Putting them in his garden?” Dad prompted.
“No, he puts ‘em in his house!” The exasperation was clear in Davy’s voice. “Jar after jar. Shakes ‘em out and off they skedaddle. They’re all over the place and I’ve got to catch more spiders before he stops buying ‘em!”
Dad’s brow furrowed and he leaned in toward Davy, perplexed.
“So he’s filling his house with spiders? Did you see this?”
“Sure did! I saw Nick running over there with a couple of jars and followed him to see what was going on. All the guys were over there on Old Man Haberman’s porch and he was passing out money to beat the band and dumping spiders inside his house!”
“Well, I can’t imagine Mrs. Haberman is going to like that. Not that she likes much of anything.”
“She ain’t there,” Davy pointed out.
“She isn’t there,” Dad corrected. “Where is she?”
“Old Man Haberman said she ran off a few days ago and won’t be coming back.”
“Ran off where?”
“I asked and he thought for a minute, then he said she ran off to join the circus.”
“What, like a clown?”
“That’s what I asked! He said she’d be more like a Ringmaster so she could stand in a spotlight with a big megaphone and tell people what to do all the time!”
Dad leaned back in his chair, genuinely puzzled.
“That would fit her personality,” he conceded, “but it just doesn’t make any sense.”
“Dad!” Davy barked, “I’m gonna miss out if I don’t get going!”
“Okay, okay - help yourself to the jars and every spider you can find!”
Davy wheeled on his heels and again bolted for the basement steps.
“Davy,” Dad called.
His son’s shoulders drooped in frustration. “What now?!”
“What kind of spiders is he buying?”
“See, I asked him that too, and he said it didn’t matter!”
Davy dashed down the steps to the basement, his voice echoing up the stairwell.
“Didn’t matter at all as long as they can eat a lot of flies!”