As the Spider Patiently Waits
by Steven P. Servis
He was still irking about the situation, Mansur Matai, as he pounded the keys on his keyboard bitterly, a look of despair threatening the computer screen with the very calamity he felt in his aching chest. Even his protagonist felt his pain as Mansur murdered him, then deleted the page, and then accidentally murdered him again. He cursed out loud. There were fifty pages to be written, and America hated him and his anti-union message.
He took a seat on the single plaid futon positioned in the middle of the bare oak floor of a studio loft spread. A spider waited patiently near the ceiling light for a dancing moth. Mansur had watched the spider grow from a little tyke to a healthy daddy long-legs, though he had little attachment to him. He would kill him eventually, if the spider ever stepped out of line, became a nuisance by catching Mansur in its piddly webbing. And Mansur was in no mood for such annoyances.
Mansur’s book was carelessly thrown about the coffee table next to an opened envelope and an impersonal letter. He wished he could take back what he’d written about the restaurant union, but it was too late; Harper-Rowe had published twenty thousand copies and the books were selling like crazy. He could feel the regret in his chest as he rubbed it relentlessly. He was angry when he wrote the book, and he didn’t feel the same about the union; his waitress wife still a member.
Mansur diligently watched, despite his pain, as the moth flew through the spider’s webbing, only for the webbing to break, tripping the moth up and causing its descent to the floor, and the spider quickly pursued. Mansur searched with minimal movement for a sandal to swat the spider in case he decided to take the plunge into murdering the pest, but there was nothing. He hadn’t worn shoes in days.
The pain in his chest persisted, grew more apparent, his heart palpitating. Mansur thought he might be having a heart attack, and he was fine with that. It would be fine if he went to hell. He didn’t like being a writer, and he wished he could go back to being an overpaid line cook, his girlfriend a cute waitress. But his cute girlfriend had become an aging wife, and Mansur had gone to college and pursued his dream of being a novelist.
An ancient clock hung on the wall, ticking loudly as he watched the second hand round the Roman numerals. Time had passed quickly as he raced against the speedy hands to meet the deadline for his published novel, Slackers, about a man who joins the union in a scheme to slack off for the rest of his life.
Upon publishing, Mansur was promptly expelled from the union, something he had learned in an impersonal letter, and Mansur was failing to gather his thoughts beyond that of revenge and vindication.
The clock no longer raced against him; rather, it seemed to slow to a crawl as he stared at it, mocking his very existence, as he massaged his sternum. He slipped off the futon and rolled on the floor, as the spell persisted, the pain suddenly greater than anything he’d ever felt. Mansur felt the labor of each cell working relentlessly, selflessly for the greater organism. His heart cramped as if running on empty, and Mansur curled on the pain, as if he could smother it into the floor.
Black and yellow, the moth squirmed in the spider’s webbing on the hardwood, the spider descending its web in pursuit, Mansur watching resentfully and pulling himself closer despite his painful handicap. He fell on the hardwood floor of the kitchen, his face planted beside the moth on the floor, as he struggled to reach for the moth and save it.
The spider made a landing near Mansur’s nose and webbed the fickle moth, hoisting it to the ceiling. The spider was conniving and deceitful, Mansur thought. It should have died by his hands.
But it wasn’t the spider that was dying, it was Mansur, and as his vision narrowed, he searched within himself for motivation to live. His wife had left him, and the world had seemingly forgotten about Mansur the man in the shadows of Mansur the writer. Even the union had disowned him after reading his book, his fate to die alone, to die in pain, in disaster, in utter blasphemy.
Mansur’s eyes fixated on the shackled moth in the webbing near the light fixture as the spider waited diligently for the moth to die. Mansur’s head rolled to the side, and his last breath stirred the dust from the neglected hardwood floor.
And that’s the way Sandra found him, not long after, when she barreled through the front door in red anger after he’d failed to show at the divorce hearing. His eyes were hidden in his head somewhere, and she attempted to wake him from the assumed alcohol poisoning, Mansur a ridiculous drunk.
It had been her job, as his wife, to allow him to drink only one or two drinks, because once Mansur started drinking he couldn’t stop. In such a state, he would tell outlandish, dirty jokes about sex, midgets, and bodily functions — things that embarrassed her.
However, as she shook him, she noticed something peculiar about his apartment. It lacked open beer bottles. Even the trash lacked the typical stench she associated with Mansur. And his body was cold, room-temperature cold.
In her confusion, she pried opened his eyes and slapped his face, but her boney hand left no prints, no red marks. And at that result, she rose, stepped back, and scratched her head, wondering if he’d died somehow. Mansur had a fortune now. She was aware that in only a week his book had reached the New York Times bestseller list.
She started for her car, where she had a cell phone to call the police. But as she turned, something occurred to her, and she stopped. She looked back at his cold, unwashed body. Her eyes teared, a slight pity smile easing across her made-up face, and her extended eyelashes blinking one long blink.
It was true Mansur was the newest enemy of her beloved restaurant union, but there was something different about him now, as he lay there cold, dead. He looked sexier, his skin a porcelain white, his face bearded brown in patches. And Mansur’s teeth that she had once found a repulsive, yellowish brown were complimentary and distinguishing against his rough beard.
Sandra knelt beside Mansur; she would be the beneficiary of his estate if he were to die. She could cancel the divorce proceedings; fire her blood-sucking lawyer. She could do a lot of things with Mansur’s money, and she was sure he had signed a nice, hefty contract with Harper-Rowe.
She touched his wrist. Still cold, she thought. Her fingers ran up his veinless skin, her manicured nails finally resting back on his wrist; she felt for a pulse. It was there, ever so slight, but he was still alive. Sandra wisped her brown hair over her shoulder and placed her ear to his gaping mouth. Nothing.
Sandra touched her face as it blushed, and her mouth gaped in astonishment at the images playing through her thoughts. Her eyes wandered to his defenseless crotch, a slight bulge protruding beneath his sweats. She carefully reached for his waistband and took a gander beneath the purple pants. Her suspicion, the old wives’ tale, was confirmed.
Again, she leaned over him and placed her ear to his mouth; then she delicately kissed his upper cheek where his face was smooth. She placed her forehead on his dry lips, and rubbed her head against his stubble. She slid both hands under his college t-shirt, and worked her fingers through his burly chest hair. Sandra subtly pushed her breasts to Mansur’s torso, descrying the distant patter of his faint heartbeat.
The spider was preoccupied with the moth, sadistically watching it suffer in its web fetters. The moth thought it was better than the spider, not having the limitations of a web, seemingly defying gravity, yet now in the spider’s web, it was nothing more than a hearty meal. The spider sank its seething fangs into the moth and released venom; then watched as the moth leisurely died.
As Sandra’s large batting eyes gazed into the flickering whites of Martin’s, her hand held his to her perspiring bosom, her horny body spasming, her faint voice moaning, “Mansur.”
Copyright © 2011 by Steven P. Servis