When I first saw the spider, I thought (hoped) it was dead. There it sat, unmoving, on the counter top in the Fair booth. I’d come, on this day before the Fair opened, to clean and set up for the week ahead. I hadn’t reckoned on the tiny, garden-variety spider sitting on the vast expanse of the center island. I walked around the booth and tried to figure out what to do with it (I have a bit of a phobia, unfortunately).
Suddenly, a small housefly landed on the counter top, and as I moved around, the fly quickly skittered away from me down the counter. The spider, which I then discovered was most certainly not dead, began to move. Quickly it tracked in the same direction as the fly but maintained the distance between them. A stalker. And his target was the fly.
I retreated to the far corner of the booth.
The fly skittered back down the counter with the spider continuing to track and maintain the distance between them. Yet again the fly moved and so did the spider. And then the fly stopped to rest, perpendicular to the spider and seemingly oblivious to any danger. Stupid fly. At that point, the spider began to move directly towards its prey. Smoothly it closed the gap to about a foot, and then it stopped. And it waited.
I remained in the far corner and debated about frightening the fly so it could take off and get away. But something insisted that I watch Mother Nature at work here. Plus I was chicken to approach the counter. So I stood still, shuddering slightly, as the spider began to inch ever closer to the fly. I’d never seen anything like it – the spider’s movement was nearly imperceptible. I watched the process in what can only be described as horrified fascination.
It took several minutes for that little arachni-stalker to maneuver itself to a position just about an inch away from the fly. At times during the process I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me; but each time it seemed that the spider had stopped for good, I could then see that it had actually gained yet another smidgen of ground.
Again I considered waving off the fly. And just as I made up my mind to move, the spider suddenly pounced with deadly aim across the last inch of open ground.
The two began to wrestle and roll around the counter top. Somewhat traumatized (did I mention that I have a phobia here?), I rushed out the back door of the Fair booth and nearly knocked over the woman who runs the booth behind us. We are old “Fair friends,” so she asked me what was wrong. I blurted out that a spider had just attacked a fly on our countertop, that they were locked in Mortal Combat, and that it was more than I could cope with.
Little ninny that I am.
My friend calmly picked up the fly swatter and marched into the booth. With unerring precision and a strong arm, she instantly whapped both of them flat. “Bad boy!” she said pointedly to the spider. Flicking the little corpses into the garbage, she handed me the fly swatter as she exited. “There,” she cheerfully assured me, “that’s over.” Indeed it was; for the Stalker and the housefly.
I got out the Clorox.