I currently live in an apartment on the top floor of my building. Having lived in houses all my life, I find an apartment has a lot going for it. Take for example an unexpected knock at the door. In a house, you kind of have to open it and see who it is. It could be a friend popping by, or a delivery man mistakenly delivering food to your door, which you will of course take. In an apartment you can just ignore it. Anyone who wants to specifically call into you has to use the intercom outside the building. So, that knock at the door could be a tv licence inspector. I didn’t buzz you in Sir. Oh don’t worry about the obvious football game blaring from a TV inside, I’m out on an errand. You’ll have to call back to catch me.
I’m also on the top floor, so I don’t have to deal with people stomping around overhead. I am the stomper. There is a wonderful anonymity in the building. No one really knows anyone else. We might see each other in the lobby, or the elevator, but once we slink into our dens, we are safe.
The only neighbours I do know are a pleasant gay couple who own a pair of undersized yappy dogs. When I say I know them, I know where they live on my floor, and that they own small yappy dogs. I can’t hear the dogs from my apartment, which is why I’m not cursing them right now. But, those shitty dogs have given me about a half dozen frights over the past couple of years.
Being lazy and living on the 4th floor, I treat myself to an elevator descent every morning. As I wait for the elevator to get to my floor, I’m not paying attention to anything. I’m a zombie waiting for a brains delivery. The door peels open in one movement, from left to right, and once it arrives and the door starts to open, I begin to walk towards the opening. The last thing I expect is for a tiny bullshit dog to excitedly charge out through the first few inches of open door.
Every time this has happened I’ve literally jumped with fright. It’s like I can’t remember to remember the last time this occurred and steel myself against a repeat performance. Every time the dogs make me jump with unexpected terror, and every time my neighbours have a good old laugh at my expense. There was only one time I was ready for the dogs, and, delighted with my bravery, I lorded it over them, perhaps a little too much, “Not this time dogs! You thought you had me, didnt you.” My delight was in stark contrast to the neighbour’s worried expressions as they hurried passed me. Guys your dogs are small enough to be classed as cats. Get some real dogs and maybe I’ll be afraid to mock them.
An apartment also differs from a house in that it is generally free from spooky noises, or the worry that a murderer can get in the back door. There is no back door. Take that, murderers. I also don’t have to worry about an attic, which as far as I’m concerned is simply a breeding ground for spiders, who can, and I cannot stress this enough, go and fuck themselves.
To say I’m scared of spiders is an understatement. I abhor them. I hate every single one, from the tiny harmless ones to the big ones with faces and hair. I don’t trust people who aren’t scared of them. If I find one inside my home, I will not save it. I will not gently capture it and release it into the wild. I will destroy it. I will accept civilian casualties in the operation. I will use fire, golf clubs, magazines, cutlery and bottles.
If I had a gun, I’d shoot a spider.
I’m not a fan of any of the creeping crawlers, but I reserve a special place in Hell for spiders. The only thing that comes close are those giant millipede bastards they find in the jungle, but I am probably safe from them in the apartment.
A spider nearly killed me once. I was driving and I noticed a tickle on my neck. I tried to brush it off and noticed a large spider* (*It was a small spider) on my shirt. I had what you might call a fit. I bucked and thrashed and screamed. I was still driving. In the second that I lost all sense of the outside world I had driven wildly over into another lane and was dangerously close to the footpath. I stopped the car, got out, had another fit and then a cigarette. It was a Sunday and as such there was little traffic out. Had it have been rush hour, I would have certainly crashed the car. Would insurance have ponied up if I explained that I had momentarily gone insane with fear because of a little spider? Probably not.
So when I notice a spider in the apartment it’s a violation of my privacy and makes a mockery of the perceived safety of apartment living.
One night I went into my bedroom and above the head of the bed, on the wall, was a big spider. Looked like a tough guy, backwards baseball cap, fingerless gloves and chewing gum, hanging there without a single fuck to give. My heart began to race. This guy could be a jumper. I had to act quickly.
I had to prepare my kill room.
I pulled the mattress back a couple of feet from the wall the spider was now calling home. This meant that if he fell, he would fall on the bed frame, not the bed clothes, the upshot of which being I would not have to set fire to the bedclothes.
Next I had to choose a weapon. I went for a hard soled slipper. It is a versatile weapon, light and malleable, with a hard enough sole to squish. However in this instance I didn’t want to squish and ruin the white wall (the spider was large enough to have a significant quantity of goo inside him). I wanted to hit the beast hard enough to stun, then he would drop and I could finish him off with a volley of Thor Hammer like blows.
I stood on the bed, as close to the invader as I dared and went through the operation in my head. I realised that to hit him hard enough to stun, but not hard enough to squash, which would require a deft wrist flick action. A quick tap, with more motion on the backswing than the forehand. Tap and flick. Tap and flick.
You need to believe in yourself. You need full faith in your abilities as a marksman. I have a lot of experience, but every spider is different, and any mistake here and he could escape unseen somewhere in my small bedroom, which would mean a complete tactical search, and no sleep until the intruder was found and executed. What you cannot do, is doubt your strike, to falter in the execution. Which is of course exactly what happened.
Halfway through delivering the blow, my brain said I was hitting too hard, and forced my arm to back off 50%. I made some contact, but my brain panicked and screamed at my arm to flick the slipper back at 500% more than the pre agreed velocity. The original blow had taken care of the spider. It had stuck to the slipper and not the wall, but the backstroke acted as a catapult which threw the carcass which landed on my face.
I screamed, and scrambled backwards, but because almost half the mattress was merely hanging over the end of the bed, I lost my footing and crashed down off the bed against the wall. I screamed again, got up, and ran out into the living room.
Once I had collected myself, I went tentatively into the bedroom once again to find the remains. I couldn’t be sure that the spider was definitely dead. He could have been stunned. So, having mild palpitations, sweating and borderline hysterical, I went searching, slipper at the ready. Then there was a knock at the door.
It was around midnight, so I was intrigued. Perhaps the building was on fire. I opened the door to see a man I have never seen before. He was a foreign man who explained that he was my neighbour on my left, directly behind the wall in my bedroom. He wanted to know if everything was alright. He heard a commotion.
I didn’t know what to say. I was standing there, probably red faced, wild eyed, with a slipper in my hand and sweat on my brow. Essentially I looked like a madman disturbed mid frenzy. To save my blushes, he didn’t need to know that I was terrified of spiders, I explained that I had simply fallen off the bed and apologised for the noise.
He looked suspiciously at me and then said, “Is the lady ok?” I was confused. I said what lady? He said “We heard a lady scream. Is she ok?” It was at this point that full disclosure needed to be made because at this very moment my neighbour thought I was an abusive husband character, and I had just beaten up some lady in my apartment.
I was mortified and explained the story to him. As I did I opened up the door further as a sign of good faith, and then I realised that I still had the slipper in my hand. I held it up and pointed at it with a look on my face that said, I am not a man like you, and this whole incident is proof of that.
He seemed to believe me. What I didn’t do was invite him in. Whether or not he would have come in to inspect is another matter, as I was in full spider kill mode, and to anyone else, that simply looks like full kill mode. I wouldn’t have wandered in if I was him. He laughed, and I laughed awkwardly, as not only does my neighbour think I am a woman hating sociopath, but if that spider wasn’t dead, he could now be anywhere in the room.
I closed the door and went back about my search and destroy mission, finding the carcass of the spider quite quickly, remaking the bed, and, after a drink to calm the nerves, went to sleep.
It only occurred to me the next day that the neighbour may or may not have believed me. And I made a point to be extra nice to him next time our paths crossed.
Several months later, while trying to get to the cause of some water damage in my apartment, my father and I were in the corridor with a ladder, attempting to get into the attic, the entrance of which is directly outside my neighbours front door. We are arguing, and there is a lot of cursing going on. I am arguing that “the attic would not take the weight of a body” and my father, who looks like a lunatic at the best of times, was arguing that you could have “a couple of bodies” up there at any one time.
Yep. Neighbour was standing there, for God knows how long, waiting to get past us into his apartment.
I haven’t seen him since. He didn’t buy the water damage story either and now he thinks me and my crazy eyed murder partner are stashing bodies in the attic outside his home.