The woman is washing dishes for his mother who’s just home from the hospital. She picks up a plastic container and underneath is a spider. A brown spider. She knows the man doesn’t kill insects or spiders though he has no trouble offing armadillos or raccoons. Come here, she says, and tell me what kind of spider this is. It’s your house and your spider to deal with.
He comes. He looks. It’s a brown recluse, he says. Don’t worry, I squirted it good with detergent.
She goes back to the sink, and the spider is laboring to the sink’s edge. She has trouble breathing, the spider is struggling that hard. She wonders if the spider will hide under some other dish, one day recovering to bite his mother. When she cleaned out her dead father’s shed, it was lousy with brown spiders. Her entomologist son-in-law said they were brown recluses, he had been bitten by one once, it had rotted a hole in his skin. Even though she was paying him, she said he didn’t have to help her clean out the shed, and he found something less risky to do. She nuked the shed twice, donned gloves and hauled everything out on her own. The hundreds or maybe only dozens but plenty at that of brown spiders looked nothing like this one, nor did the tiny brown ones in her bathroom that her friend thought were recluses, or the larger brown ones on her porch, one of which she suspected of crawling in her pants legs to bite her, causing a raging infection that required two mega doses of antibiotics to heal, and itched for over a year.
All those different spiders, and all brown. Because she cannot tell them apart, her philosophy is if it’s brown and a spider and inside a house, it has to die. Besides, this one looks like it is in agony. She wonders why the man can kill animals but has an insect catcher to transport creepy crawlies from inside to out. Why would such a man leave this spider to die such a difficult death? She grabs a paper towel, apologizes to the spider whether it’s a brown recluse or not, then squishes it.