02 April 2011

The Scorpion's Husband

I knew it was only a matter of time before I met one.  But it's been six weeks without a single sighting, so I was beginning to think I would be able to make it until September 2013 without ever having to see one.  But, as they say, all good things must come to an end . . . and I'm still shaking.

I'm told they're harmless, but anything with that many legs, who runs that fast, and jumps that high, and is that ugly should be considered armed and deadly.

It all started with a neighborly check-in to make sure the dog that lives next door who's been limping was okay.  His owner, L. and I live in a duplex . . . we share a common main entrance and a hallway where her front door is on the left and mine is on the right.  As I was leaving her place, two steps from mine, I glanced at the screen door of the main entrance.

If I could go back and do it all again, I would have glanced and kept walking, closed my door, locked it, and gone to sleep under the safety of my mosquito net.

I glanced at the door and noticed a big spot on the screen.  'What's that?' I asked L.  She came to the hallway.  'Oh, that's a Majsalksndg Kaksgjelk.'  'A WHAT?'  'A Husband of a Scorpion.'  'OH!  One of THOSE!'  We mutually agreed that the only option was to kill it.  L. didn't offer, as I had hoped, so I picked up a sandal that was outside my door and slipped on my crocs, just in case . . . not a good time to be barefoot.

I inched closer to the door, armed with my Birkenstock.  Still a few arms lengths away from the door I stopped and began telling L. the story of that one time when I had a bat stuck in my apartment.  When I got to the end I confessed, out loud, 'Can you tell I'm stalling??'  'Yup.'  'But if I smush it it's going to make a mess . . . a big mess.'  L. agreed . . . I think from experience.

Time for Plan B: use a really big stick.

Or, since I was inside and the spider was between me and all sticks, I grabbed my broom.

Being sure she was at a safe distance, L. cheered me on.  My plan was to open the door a bit, drop him to the ground and sweep him outside.  That was of course before I knew he could jump like a kangaroo and run like a gazelle.

As I inched the door open, he leapt upward and scurried to the far side of the door, giving me a brilliant idea . . . open it wide enough to squish him in the door jam!  But there was a ladder in the way.  Juggling the door and my broom, all the while keeping one eye on my nemesis, I reached for the large metal ladder and turned it.  Spidey the Grotesque stayed put.  L. swept in and put a stool in front of the door to keep it open so I'd have both hands free.

From this point on the details get a little fuzzy . . . you know how it gets when you're in Fight or Flight mode.  I pressed the door backward, trying to end his monstrous life between the wood frame and the cement door jam.  And then I waited.

The hesitation came from not wanting to see his mush all over the place . . . what I wasn't expecting was for him to come RACING from behind!  I think I may have screamed, or at least yelled.  I remember trying to slam the door shut, but because of the wooden stool in front it didn't go too far.  And then I ran.

Now, you need to know, that when I am terrified I laugh uncontrollably.  So there we were, the pair of us, me and L. laughing: myself out of fear, L. at my ridiculousness.

In the end he took off out the door and disappeared with a flying leap.  Needless to say, I will never, NEVER sleep without my mosquito net again!  Could you imagine waking to find another one of him?!?!  (There's got to be a 'MERCI SEIGNEUR' in here somewhere!!)


Sean said...

Nice Berruti! You worked in north Philly and you couldn't handle that? I don't know about you. Lol! :-D

Deborah Berruti said...

HA HA HA!! Yeah, well north Philly doesn't have jumping sprinting insects!

Megan S. said...

Deb, as I was getting to the climax of the story, Justin throws a small object into my lap from behind and I screamed bloody murder almost dropping the laptop! Scary, super story. So glad my 'attacker' was a kid's toy and not a monster!

Deborah Berruti said...

HA HA HA!!! Nice one Justin!! Megs, I think if I had been in your shoes, I would have peed my pants!!

Sarah Fountain said...

I'm trying to figure out exactly what this animal is! Is it actually a kind of scorpion? I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, you would rather never think about that bad boy again! However, the biologist in me wants to know what the heck the thing IS.

Deborah Berruti said...

The name is Hausa is 'Midjin Kanuma' literally: Husband of the Scorpion. But I've googled it dozens of times, even on the google Nigeria page in Hausa, and NOTHING. When I google 'spiders of Niger' I think the one that fits the description best is the camel spider. Apparently they aren't technically spiders, but are closer linked to scorpions. And they eat the lining of camel stomachs . . . hence the name.

Regardless, they are big and ugly!

Seth Montgomery said...

it is commonly known as a Camel spider. they only live in desert-like climates. they are one of my favorite things in niger because they evoke extremely humorous reactions in all parties in the vacinity.

Deb. said...

HA! Yes, they do 'evoke extremely humorous reactions'!! I've never seen college boys move so fast: 'Hey, what's thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!!!!' :)
(and I think I may have woken your parents up last night [they live across the street] as I shrieked with laughter as a locust the length of my forearm attacked me as I was trying to lock the front door!)