It turns out that if you shovel up a bunch of dirt right in front of a forest and plop down a brand new house with delicious wood and dark nooks and crannies, you are begging to encounter at least one or two scorpion families.Much to my chagrin, Dad told me, in the same tone he would use to inform me I had a message on the answering machine, that he saw a scorpion in the master bedroom.
After screaming and running around the room with my arms in the air I shouted, “Did you kill it?”
Dad proceeded to demonstrate how he pinned it down with a broom handle and how the scorpion was squirming and then stopped squirming. Of course, the intruder, belonging to a species more intelligent than humans, was just playing possum. In a scene reminiscent of just about any horror movie, Dad said that when he lifted the broom and leaned in very, very slowly to get a closer look at the still corpse, the scorpion leapt back to life, flipped over and scurried away as the violins played a quick and shrill chord. And I jumped in my seat and gasped at the terrible thought. Dad chased and killed it.
“I’m calling the exterminator first thing in the morning,” I resolved.
You see, the exterminator comes back for free to touch-up his work from before for the next two months. Before, he did spray the attic with Boric Acid… It seems that scorpions love the attic, what with all the new wood and dark, enclosed spaces and such. So, that was that.
Or so I thought.
Later that night, as I was unpacking some boxes, I turned to leave my bedroom. Something, perhaps Divine intervention, caused me to turn around and survey my room.
After scanning the boxes, bed, and paintings to be hung, my peripheral vision caught something odd. Something not right.
My gaze adjusted to a pile of nick-nacks and clothes. In a split-second, the irises in my eyes flared to focus on my find.
Then I saw.
There he sat, like a little prince mulling over his next conquest.
At first I don’t think my mind registered exactly what he was. No, that’s not it. My mind REFUSED to accept what he all facts told me to be true. 2 pinchers, six clicking legs, a curved, arched tail with a bulbous, apostrophe-shaped tip.
The hideous, alien thing made a sudden turn and started to creep towards me… up and down the little valleys created by my possessions. I began to hear plucking violins.
That’s when my own little horror movie began.
Petrified, as if my shoes were superglued to the floor, I stared at the awful beast as it inched closer and closer, mesmerized by the perfectly synchronized mechanics of its legs.
It was headed straight for my feet.
In a shout-whisper I called for reinforcements, “DAD! GET THE RAID!!”
Dad didn’t respond… he was on the phone, oblivious to my peril. I was on my own. They say in dire situations, adrenaline will allow people to perform superhuman acts… Somehow, rabidly I tore my soles from the ground and ran, faster than lightning, to the garage where I knew there was some bug spray. A quick look at the label showed a silhouette of a Spider, an Ant, and YES! YES! a Scorpion.
Back in my room, with the potion that could help me vanquish my foe, something very horrible happened in my mind. Somewhere, a neuron or two fired that caused me to recall the picture-perfect image of my friend. Every detail forever burned in my grey matter. His size, the proportion of body to tail, his color… OH NO. HIS COLOR…He was brown, the same shade of brown as my carpet.
While I could visualize him clearly as he crawled across my things, my friend was now nowhere to be seen. He could be anywhere.
I gulped once. Then twice. And the violins continued to pluck.
I worked out his last known trajectory and started executing a search-pattern focused on the areas where he was most likely to be creeping.
There was NO way I was going to do anything else in that house until I removed this live scorpion. I began to think divergently.
Can scorpions climb walls? Can they morph their form? Do they shoot lasers from their eyes?
Focus.. FOCUS, David. Resume my search pattern.
THERE! That movement by the bed. What was it? Look closer… It moved again. It’s him. OH NO! He’s going under my bed!
I immediately crouched down to get a better look, but it was too dark under there and I couldn’t get a clean shot… I searched for at least a full minute. I needed to push over the bed.
I moved to the foot of the bed and I had a close call. He emerged about 2 feet from my toes, and I yelped and scrambled to the top of the bed, hoping he didn’t see me. He continued moving about 6 more inches when I realized that from up high, I had a clear shot. Breathlessly, so he wouldn’t hear, I lifted and aimed the nozzle at my target. I remembered I needed to pull the trigger slow and steady, not jerky and scared. I braced for the recoil and then FIRED. AND FIRED AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.
I emptied 1/4 of the bottle’s contents, soaking the carpet in a 2-inch circle and drenching the monster with the stuff.
Stunned, he quickly retreated and walked backwards and sideways to the bed.
How did he know to do that?
I had him on the run, so now it was MY turn to be the aggressor. I jumped to the side of the bed and pushed it over 5 feet.
He was there all right, but he was no longer proud. My poison was acting quickly. He drunkenly staggered about, his tail instinctively jabbing in front of him, his pinchers clicking and swinging.
He was dying, and I had delivered the lethal blow. Now, only a solo violin began playing its sad ode to a scorpion.
Perhaps, as I transfixed on his 30-second death dance, this was the moment when I felt a little pang of guilt. After all, he was forced out of his dirt home once before, now he was forced out of his precious attic space by the boric acid, and now, I killed him.
I realized that my friend was not a little prince, after all, but a poor little refuge from a war he couldn’t comprehend or even know existed.
I took his picture for the memorial, and I placed him in a plastic ziplock bag to show the exterminator tomorrow and to show Dad and Richard why they should shake out their shoes before they put them on.
I also created a little moat of poison around my bed to protect myself during the night, (needless to say, I slept with one eye open last night, regardless).
Before I went to bed, Paul, our neighbor, came over to talk with Dad about something, and Dad mentioned my encounter.
I showed the bag.
Paul, contrary to the reaction I was secretly hoping for, simply said, “Oh, that’s just a baby!”
“Just a baby?!?! How big was the one in your house?!”
I am not sure whether he was serious or was just pulling my leg, but it seemed to me that when Paul used his hands to estimate the length and girth of his houseguest, he was claiming that his scorpion was the size of a cat… and there were four of them.
I began to run around the rooms screaming with my arms in the air.