Before I tell you about the giant spider, I have to reiterate something I know I said before, but humor me: I swear I don't do drugs. And I stopped drinking three years ago, so this can't be a case of the DT's, although I'm not a doctor, so maybe the spider was a result of belated withdrawal. But I do know this - I know that I saw him and I know that he was really the ceiling fan.
Most nights, I sleep like a coward. I fall asleep lying on my stomach, hugging the pillow with only the top of my head sticking out of the covers. But the night before last, the night of the spider, I fell asleep on my back with the lamp on. It's like I was an action movie hero, allowing myself to rest but ready to spring into action, which I would detect with my keen, warrior-like sense of "something's fucked up" and I would snap out of a deep sleep and into a me-against-evil reality where I would be the victor who saved the world. All I needed was a gun under my pillow or a ninja sword.
But I wasn't armed with anything when my eyes snapped open to find a giant spider lowering itself from my ceiling fan down to my bed, like an eight-legged mountain climber hanging from a rope. Its brown body was as big as a microwave, and it had long, thin golden legs that reached for me like fingers. I screamed, and it scurried back up its thread toward the ceiling.
It might seem like I cried out like a scared little girl, but I think what really happened is I hollered like Xena Warrior Princess and this spider thought, "I've watched all six seasons of Xena and I know this will not end well!" and decided to bail. Then I blinked and it was gone. This freaked me out more. Where had it gone? It was too big to disappear in a second.
My ceilings are high, so when I stood up on the bed to inspect the ceiling fan, it was still a good two feet above my head, and I was nervous that the giant spider might be hiding behind a fan blade. I looked frantically along the ceiling, thinking that it was crawling away from me and maybe I could catch it before it disappeared into another room. There was no way I could go back to sleep with that thing in the house. What if it bit the kids? What if it snuck back in and bit me? It couldn't have been poisonous, there are only two poisonous spiders in Louisiana and they're....
It was when I was trying to remember what I knew about spiders, when some other rational thoughts began to pop into my mind. The first was that spiders don't get that big here. Maybe in the Amazon where they eat jaguars and cattle, but not in New Orleans. The second was that there was no way a spider THAT BIG could disappear in one second. Third, there was no trace of webbing, and I distinctly remembered that it had spun its way down from the light fixture, which incidentally has brown fan blades like the color of the spider's body and golden chains, like the spider's legs. Most likely, I thought, I had a very real-seeming dream about the spider, and the memory of me blinking was actually me waking up.
I was still looking for it while I thought all of this. My mind was moving slowly but my heart was pounding and I was wide awake. And ready for what? What exactly was I planning to do if I had found the spider that was three times as big as my face? Wrestle it? I didn't even have a rolled-up newspaper on me.
I would like to think that I was brave to seek out the giant spider that was really the ceiling fan, but instead I was just like one of those extras in a B-movie who are killed in the first five minutes. You know the kind.
"Look, there's a giant ant in the street. I'll go have a look," I would say.
"I don't think that's a good idea," the main character would warn.
"It's ok, I'm sure it's nothing," I would say, as I'd step outside and be eaten by Godzilla.
Or I'm like those people in horror movies who you yell at to not go down to the basement to see what that noise is. And they ALWAYS do. And they ALWAYS die.
So the fact that I am seeing spiders that aren't there is only worsened by the knowledge that I would be dead by now if they were real. I'm really not sure which of those two things is worse. If I wake up tomorrow morning and my dresser is a Gila monster, I'm leaving the room.