the short story project


Fred Rohleder

Spider Bite

Spider Bite


Fred & Peggy Rohleder



All Rights Reserved Dark Daydreams Press 2018©

Cover Art By Peggy Rohleder

Edited By Peggy Rohleder



            “City Desk?” I answered, picking up the very outdated desk phone. This piece of shit was so old it had a wire running from it into the wall. It looked like a prop for a movie like it belonged in The Maltese Falcon with gangsters,  gumshoes and good-natured officer O’Leary.

            “Is this Teddy Ransom?” a stern, no-nonsense kind of voice asked.

            “Ah, um…I guess it might be, depends on who you are?” I replied a little playfully, wondering if I had missed another alimony payment or something?

            “Look Mr. Personality, are you fucking Ransom or not?” some heat was in the voice and he was getting angry like a man who was not used to getting jerked around.

            “Yeah man, that’s me, how can I help you?” I tried to put as much of a smile on it as I could.

            “Mr. Ransom, this is Sergeant Jones at the state prison. We have a prisoner here who would like to meet with you.” the voice said.

            “And who might that be?” I asked with a trace of suspicion back in my voice.        “Jeff Sparro.” the sergeant said.

            “Are you fucking serious? That guy refused to speak to anyone, especially reporters, especially me! I had tried like 10 times. Why the change of heart?” All this spilled out at once, if it had been vomit, then it would be all over my shoes.

            “I have no idea, to tell you the truth, but his last appeal is going to be denied any day now. He may feel like getting it all out before he takes the needle. Anyway, none of my business, he wants to see you, I called you, you do whatever you want. I’m hanging up now.” The line went dead. Wow! this could be the big one! Maybe it could even pull me out of my slump? Truth be told, I’d need a dozen Jeff Sparros to pull me out of the current, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

            “What was his story again? Something about spiders I seemed to remember. Of course this fucker had to call right now, it was almost lunchtime and lunchtime was the best part of the whole fucking day. I liked to drink my lunch, it’s the only way I could get through the day.  A couple of shots of whiskey out of the brown bag in my desk drawer and maybe a hot dog from the cart out front if I had extra cash.

            “Drive up north or stay here for a hot dog and a couple of shots? My options seemed to have thinned out quite a bit last few years. I could sit here and pretend to not be asleep for a couple of more hours or go home and throw myself around my tiny apartment, drinking and crying until I was unconscious. Or I could go up there for an hour or so, talk to this wacko and then head home no later than three. The more I thought about it the better it looked. It was perfect, I could pretend to work while not actually getting any work done and blaming it on something or someone else for my failure. My kind of assignment!

            “Searching my desk, which was littered with old news copy, most of it my articles rejected by the editor, stacks of loose newspapers full of successful news reporters, and coffee cups, some more empty than others. I had cultivated this mess in order to cover the fact that I hadn’t put in a good days work in a long fucking time, shit barely a bad days work either.  After considerable effort, I laid hands on my mini tape recorder, I could have used my phone’s voice memo instead of the actual tape recorder, but I liked the old ways, never having trusted that new electronic bullshit.

            “Down in the garage, my Ford P.O.S. refused to start, as per usual, but after coaxing it, cursing it, and beating the hell out of the dashboard, it finally roared to life tires squealing on the slick subterranean concrete as I shot out of the underground garage and into the burning August sun. Steering with one hand on the wheel and one eye on the road I searched for the sunglasses that I knew were in the car and instead came across a pint of Old Granddad. It even had a few good swallows left in it. I pulled the bottle out and took a look, shit was on the upswing that’s for sure. The fucking sunglass had been hiding behind the bottle so it was a two for one score! I didn’t get many of those these days. Drinking with one hand and driving with the other, I pointed the old rusty land barge upstate. Put on my sunglasses and was on my way to the prison.


Chapter 2

            “At the prison gate, they were all business. I thought about trying to be funny to ease the process, but these guys looked like they had their sense of humor surgically removed and a permanent stick placed in their asses instead.

            “State your name and business please.” guard number one said while guard two stood a little way off, fingering his gun. They looked just like fucking Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, from the nursery rhyme except they weren’t fat and round and they smelled like ex-military to me. Yeah, definitely ex-military with the close-cropped hair and dead eyes. Their uniforms were impeccable, and the general ease they showed with their guns said military. They both looked like they were ready to kill me on the spot if I made any suspect movements.

            “Um, ahh…Teddy Ransom, Daily Chronicle.” I said, fumbling for my press credentials. Tweedle Dum actually unsnapped the strap holding his weapon in his holster and now had his hand resting on the gun’s grip as I dug around in my car. My car was pretty much in identical shape as my desk was, and the imminent threat of death from these guys made me even more clumsy than usual. It took a bit of time to find the Chronicle id card and I hoped I hadn’t lost it. “Your business here, Mr. Ransom?” Tweedle Dee asked as I handed my paperwork and driver’s license over. Again looking at me like I was trying to pull a fast one somehow like a fat ass 50-year-old drunk could possibly be a threat to these trained killers!

            “I’m here to speak with Jeff Sparro, Sergeant Jones called me about an hour ago saying Sparro wanted to talk with me,” trying to keep the fear out of my voice and failing miserably.

            “Pull your car in behind the Transpo over there.” He said pointing to a prison transport bus up the long drive and parked next to a low stone building. A guard will meet you there and escort you in,” he said, handing me back my documents. “Do everything the guard instructs you to do. If you attempt to deviate from the standard procedure you will be ejected from this facility and your behavior reviewed to see if criminal charges are in order. Do I make myself clear?” I just nodded as Tweedle Dee finished. He gave a heads up nod to Tweedle Dum who then rolled back the gate just wide enough for me to drive through and waving me in. There was another guard already waiting at the curb when I pulled up the winding drive. Tweedle must have called ahead. This one motioned for me to slow down and pull in where indicated. Where did they get these guys anyway, Assholes Are Us? I would be hard pressed to differentiate between them in a lineup, they all looked like they had been cloned from the same dickhead.

            “Mr. Ransom?” guard three said as he leaned in the passenger window. “Please exit your vehicle leaving your keys in the car, and then follow me over to the visitors building. We can get you all checked in there before they bring Sparro up to see you.”

            “Thank you,” is all I said with a waver in my voice. These guys were fucking scary! Inside the visitor’s building, they poked, prodded, x-rayed and metal detected me six ways from Sunday! The only thing they found, of course, was the mini recorder. Which they thought was hilarious, they handed it around before eventually returning it to me. They were all pretty young guys, probably just finished a tour of duty in the middle east. Laughing at the old man with his outdated technology. Ha fucking ha ha!

            “I was led into the interview room, expecting to see cubicles with tiny windows reinforced with wire mesh with a telephone intercom on both sides of the glass like you always see in the movies. Instead the room looked like an interrogation room from the ‘Law and Order’ TV series. Block walls painted in that off-color lime green that makes you want to vomit. A stainless steel table with eye bolts on the prisoner side to secure his shackles to the table. It sat directly in the middle of the room with the two chairs, heavy wooden chairs, on either side of the table. There was also a window next to the door he had come in. It ran the length of the interrogation room behind him and the guards were making their presence very well known.

            “There was going to be nothing but air between me Sparro and I. I thought this as my heart raced, never having been this close to a multiple murderer before. I hoped this hadn’t been a mistake. They were bringing Sparro in just as I entered the room and  I stood at the door and said nothing, did nothing, letting the guards do what they had to do. I had been calling them assholes in my mind the whole time, but now I was glad they were who they were, just in case. Once he was settled in, I started over to my side of the table and one of the cloned guards turned to me.

             “No physical contact, not even a note or a pencil. He is to remain seated at all times. If you or he breaks any of these rules, this will be over and you will be shown the door. Mr. Ransom, Am I clear?” The guard seemed to ask of no one in particular. I wasn’t sure if a response was needed, so I said nothing and Sparro kept silent too. The guard then turned and left the room, but he was still keeping watch from the window, I could see him over Sparro’s shoulder and he hadn’t relaxed one bit. I guess these guys didn’t have an off switch. I imagined the slow pitch softball jerseys they wore on the weekends would have Dickhead, where Joe’s Meat Market or Stanley Chevrolet would have normally appeared! A little chuckle escaped me, earning me a stern look and a grunt from Tweedle three, who was apparently still standing behind me.

            “I returned my attention to Sparro and wondering what kind of man could do what he had done. Who kills their family? Well, who kills their kids? I can sympathize with a man who kills their wife, man o’ man could I ever! I had been married to one of the greatest bitches of all time; she got everything in the divorce and left me with a drinking problem. The fucking bitch was a drunken whore, she always had a bottle in one hand and a cock in the other! The problem is the cock wasn’t mine but the liquor was!

            “Looking over this guy, he didn’t look like he could hurt a fly, but he could and had done more that smash a fly. He was about 40ish, balding on top and with that donut of hair around his head at the ears that was the hallmark of middle age. He had those big black Buddy Holly frames with coke bottle lenses, forgettable features, and a small unimpressive physique. His eyes were calm, no fear or fire, nor was there any fidgeting or nervousness. Not a single indicator that this guy was a murderer. They say those kind are the worse, the ones you can’t tell, because they are so crazy, they don’t even see what they have done is wrong. If I had seen him on the street, I would have never imagined that he was a murderer.

            “Hello Mr. Ransom, I am glad you could make it,” Sparro said with a quiet, gentle, voice.

            “Um, ah… I still don’t know what it is I can do for you, sir? Would you mind filling me in on what’s the story here?” I asked.

            “Ah, right to business, what’s the story? I respect a man who gets right to the point, especially since my hours are counting down. My last appeal is being rejected as we speak. But enough of that, you are here because I want my story to be told. I know everyone sees me as a lunatic-monster-family killer, but there is so much more to this story than that.”

            “Well, then we better get started,” I said pulling out my mini recorder, turning it on and placing it on the table in between us. The guards tensed behind the window, then relaxed when they saw it was only my tape recorder.

            “I only have two rules Mr. Ransom, the first is that I want to tell my story, my way, without interruptions or questions. The second rule is that if you publish my story, then it is to be unedited and uncensored in print. If you are in agreement, then we can proceed?” he said.

            “Um, yeah, I guess that would be fine, I guess it would, yeah,” I replied.

            “Ok then, let’s get this started. As I said before, my time is short. My name is Jeff Sparro, formerly of upstate New York, now a resident of death row New York State Penitentiary. I’m just waiting for that last appeal to be denied before I go to the afterlife and get to see my family again. You see, I had it all, great wife, Marcy, who was a financial guru, good in bed and a wizard in the kitchen. Two kids, Jack and Tracy, both of whom got good grades and were never in any kind of trouble. A three bedroom colonial style home with a built-in swimming pool, two car garage and a fucking glorious, no bullshit, right up to the mother fucking house lawn that was the envy of all our neighbors. Not a brown spot anywhere. The secret, you see, is to fertilize three times a year and not two, but you didn’t come here for lawn tips. I had lost it all because of those little eight-legged bastards and I was about to lose my life as well because of them.

            “They say I killed my family in a frenzy of paranoia, but just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean I wasn’t being watched! You see, I’ve always had a fear of spiders. Even as a little kid my skin shivered at the very sight of the eight-legged creeps. It probably arose from a deep-rooted, built-in genetic fear. A fear from the times when mammals were very small and spiders were fucking huge. When insects ran the world and we scampered and scuttled into a hiding place if we could find one. I’m sure it didn’t help to constantly see stories on the internet and news channels about spider bites getting infected and turning into necrotizing fasciitis. I mean your limbs fucking rot off! They fucking rot off for fuck’s sake! People were losing their lives from tiny spider bites! The filthy little monsters would crawl into your ears and mouth and god knows where else while you slept. Just thinking about it makes me shudder now.

            “It got to a point where I couldn’t go a single night without some kind of dream about them. In my dreams, they flooded over me and my family. Huge migrating swarms of eight-legged monsters. Call my arachnophobia unreasonable! Tell me again how it’s all paranoia, but by the end of my story, I think you will understand! You will understand and fear spiders like I do! His voice rose to a shriek and one of the guards tapped on the glass with his nightstick. He motioned with his hand to keep it down. Sparro couldn’t see the guard but seemed to know what the tapping on the glass was because his voice went back to normal as he continued.

            “I spent thousands each year trying to eradicate the fucking things from my home. And yet they always returned.  Even after all that money, I continued to find dead spiders in my home, not a bunch, but one or two here and there. In the hall bathroom, they would turn up behind the toilet, dead of course. Sometimes in the lamp shade and occasionally in my closet, showing up yet again. They would all be dead and yet still clinging to my favorite polo or a pair of Dockers. I found them in my shoes and my underwear drawer. I bought toothbrushes by the gross so I could use a new one each day, just to make sure it hadn’t been crawled over by them.

            “Yet they always seemed to find a way in. No matter how much I tried, no matter how much I spent, I couldn’t keep them out! It was like I was using spider bait instead of spider poison. I’d show my wife the dead spiders with a triumphant ‘TA-DA’! just like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat! Marcy would tell me that they were just dust bunnies and that I should throw them away. She would admonish me about my preoccupation with them, telling me it was becoming an unhealthy obsession. Secretly, I retrieved a few from the dustbin and began scouring the internet trying to identify them, but they didn’t match any of the pictures I was able to pull up. Fuck! How can there be an unknown species of spider that only resided in my house? You can see how I was starting to question my very sanity. I visited the local college in an attempt to try and get a handle on these things. What were they? Where had they come from? Just what the fuck was going on? I met with an associate professor who was very excited, on the phone, to see what I had, but in person, he sounded just like Marcy and suggested I get a hobby or see a shrink! Everyone I showed them to seemed skeptical, even if they did believe me one day, then the next day they wouldn’t. I needed some real proof, a live one or some video of them, something to show I wasn’t losing my mind.

            “I purchased several security cameras and installed them all over the house. Of course, they showed nothing…8 hours of the drapes another 8 hours in the garage, nothing. Marcy was no longer being understanding, especially when the credit card bills started arriving for the recording equipment. Maybe I was insane, chasing a wild goose that I would never truly lay eyes on. Previously I had set the cameras up before going to bed, letting them run all night on their own. Marcy complained that she felt like she was trapped in some weird reality TV show and begged me to end this crazy quest of mine.

             “After many nights and hundreds of hours of blank tape, I was getting ready to pack all the cameras and recorders up; maybe I could get some of my money back by selling this stuff on eBay? Standing in the middle of the living room thinking about better times, times before these fucking creeps had started tormenting me. I decided to take some No-Doze, drink some coffee and try and stay up. I would watch with my own two eyes. Three hours in and even I was convinced that I was on a fool’s errand. Marcy and everyone else had been right, there was nothing to see! I resolved to call the doctor in the morning and get a referral for a shrink, but since I was up now, what would the harm in just riding this last night out? I went to the kitchen to make some fresh coffee. As the coffee brewed, I scrounged around the kitchen for something to read. That’s when it happened!

            “I heard the faintest tearing sound like someone was slowly and methodically ripping pieces of toilet paper in two. I went searching for the source, accidentally spilling my coffee on my feet and letting out a yelp and thought to myself ‘that’s gonna’ leave a mark’! I hoped my sleeping wife wasn’t disturbed. I knew she was at the end of her rope and I didn’t need a four-alarm family fight just now. The tearing noises led me back to the living room. Standing there with my jaw slack, I stared at what appeared to be a glowing spot in the living room wall, up high near where the wall met the ceiling, just below the crown molding. Enraptured the spot got longer and wider. The spot seemed to swell and bulge outward until finally, it burst open in a flurry of tiny glowing spiders! Holy fucking shit! The spiders I had been searching for all this time were now coming out of a glowing rip in my living room wall! None of the dead ones I had found were glowing, but these ones sure as fuck were! This was, of course, happening in a room I had not set cameras up in. I had only placed cameras in bathrooms, closets and the garage all places I had previously found dead ones.

            “The rip in the drywall was on the same wall shared by the garage. I ran into the garage, almost tripping over my own feet. I searched the wall that should be the other side of the living room rip. Turning on all the lights, there wasn’t a single sign of an opening of any kind, no sign of what was going on inside the house just a few feet away. I even climbed up on the riding lawn mower and felt all over the blocks up there, not even warm. Where were they coming from? What the fuck! Not just spiders but, fucking inter-dimensional spiders! FUCK ME! FUCK ME! FUCK ME! I screamed!

             “I ran back into the house to the living room and encountered a living, glowing, flood of spiders, covering everything and still pouring out of the rip in the wall! I followed the river of them up the stairs, revulsion filled me as I gingerly placed my foot down, anticipating the squish that would accompany it. But instead they seemed to part for me like the Red Sea for Moses. That was pretty strange considering in all my dreams they were covering my body as I slept, covering everything. Now they seemed repelled by me, unwilling to touch or be touched by me. Maybe they didn’t like the taste of humans? Maybe they didn’t like the taste of this human? I hadn’t had any bites in the mornings after the dreams. This had caused me to doubt my dreams from the beginning, but the dreams had been so vivid. In them, a tiny sea of invaders engulfing me completely.

            “I followed the sea of arachnids to the first landing and then to the upstairs hallway. Past our wedding photos, and pictures of Jack and Tracy in their little league uniforms. The spiders streamed under the bedroom doors, where my family was blissfully unaware of this onslaught of tiny invaders. The scene inside the master bedroom was something Clive Barker or Stephen King would imagine. I stifled a scream as I watched the little fuckers cover my sleeping wife, completely. They were going up her nose and in her ears. The blankets writhed around on top of her like she was thrashing about in her sleep. Terrified, I pulled the covers loose, and the horror show was revealed; she was completely entombed in spiders. I was afraid to try and brush them away not knowing if that would cause them to bite. A regular spider might cause a welt or infection, what would an iridescent spider from a glowing inter-dimensional rip in my living room wall cause? Were they radioactive? Were they poisonous? I didn’t know and I was unwilling to experiment with my family at stake, yet.

            “Suddenly a cold hand gripped my heart. These fucking things had been going under my children’s door’s as well. I moved quickly, trying not to smash any of the fuckers, but every time I put my foot they seemed to avoid me like the plague. I would put my left foot down and they would scramble out of the way. The right foot would be the same. They filled in where my feet had been like soft mud or perhaps quicksand! Opening Jacks bedroom door first, as it was closest, I saw the same horrific scene I had seen with Marcy. He was covered head to toe in these fucking things. I stopped with my hand on Tracy’s door. Did I really want to see what was behind it? I just couldn’t bear to see my baby girl covered in these pest. I took my hand off the doorknob and backed away.         

            “What was going on here? I had been having these dreams for months, had this been going on for months as well? I had been so consumed by these dreams and my attempts to validate them. Had I failed to noticed any ill effects on my family, or maybe I just hadn’t been paying enough attention! Was this the reason my wife was so quick to discount the physical evidence I was bringing her? Was she being influenced by the spiders? Had the spiders gotten to her?

            “A sudden thought occurred to me that now I had a video of these monsters. Not of the rip, but of their tide like movement as they raced up the stairs. I had to go check that footage and be ready tomorrow night at the scene of the rip to get footage of that too.

            “Oh my God! What was I doing? I needed to save my family before I did anything else! But how could I save them? I couldn’t go to the authorities, they had already pegged me as a bit on the loony side. Who could blame them? If I tried to wake my family, would the spiders hurt them? I could always try and approach them during the day and then we could try and make a break for it. That wouldn’t work. After all, would you leave your home because your husband had an irrational fear of spiders? Marcy would probably have me committed. I imagined that they were having the same dreams I had at night, dreams of these micro terrors, but perhaps not? They never seemed to mention anything about it and all three of them looked at me like I was losing my mind when I spoke of them. Maybe I was the only one who really knew what was going on? That doesn’t sound paranoid does it now?’

            “I stood there in the dark agonizing over what to do. Wake them up? Leave them be? Standing there I decided that, if they were being nested in already, then what could it hurt? I went over to my wife’s side of the bed and tried to rouse her by calling her name gently. No reaction. This was a surprise to me because she had always been the light sleeper in the house, especially since the birth of our children. I tried a little louder until I found myself shouting at her WAKE UP! WAKE UP! Wake up, you stupid bitch!” I knew that bitch part was uncalled for, but I was getting frustrated and scared, very fucking scared! I turned on the bedside lamp and reached down, parting the spiders with my hands, and grasping her by the shoulders. Shaking her gently at first and then with more force. Still, there was no effect. Terror stole over me as I realized this wasn’t working, then without thinking, I reached back and open hand slapped her in the face as hard as I could. Before that day I had never, ever raised a hand to Marcy. I was hoping again that they would pull back, but they parted where my hand struck her face then re-covered her faced once I pulled away covering the red mark I had just left there.

            “All of sudden, Marcy sat straight up in bed, maintaining her cocoon of spiders. Her eyes never opened but her mouth did and it started issuing strange sounds. The closest thing it sounded like was an old shortwave radio that was between stations. Lots of static and that weird warbling noise like those 50’s science fiction movies. I stood transfixed listening, horrified, unable to move. The static gave way to a voice, not her voice for sure, but a voice all the same. It sounded like it was from very far away. I wasn’t able to make it out. But it was the most horrible voice I had ever heard. Kind of like a million tiny legs rubbing against each other, a million tiny spider legs! This whole time Marcy was sitting bolt upright with her eyes closed, she didn’t appear to be aware of any of this. It seemed to be in stereo, which took me a minute to understand, there was only one voice coming out of her mouth, how could it be in the hall as well. Trying to figure this out and watching Marcy. She had become some kind of inter-dimensional PA system. Just then it came to me, I knew exactly what could make a broadcast stereo, it took multiple speakers. This hellish voice was coming through my kids as the other channels. Only it wasn’t in stereo, but in triplicate, just one speaker short of a quad system. Even knowing what I would see, I had to take it in with my very own eyes. Jack would be sitting up, just as Marcy was, with the exact same sounds coming out of his mouth, completely covered in glowing spiders. I couldn’t even imagine what condition my baby girl was in. I kept trying to, but my mind would barricade it from me, not allow the images to appear.

            “I didn’t need to know what the voice was saying to know exactly what I needed to do. I moved quickly now that I had a plan, half running, half sliding down the stairs. Out to the garage in my slippers and robe as fast as possible. I grabbed as much spare lumber and nails as I could hold. Fourteen trips in all. That is what it took to board up and nail shut every window and door in the house.

            “The home I had spent the last 14 years in, went up like a Roman Candle firework. I stood across the street watching it burn with my neighbors. By the time the fire department and police arrived my infested family had already stopped screaming, stopped clawing at the windows and boards I had nailed there. I was across the street in my bathrobe, trying to convince myself that it was the only way to free them. I told myself over and over again that they didn’t feel anything. In the end, watching the house burn and hearing their attempts to get out will haunt me forever, but knowing those spiders were incinerated as well, that made it all worth it.

            “Well, Mr. Ransom, that’s my story and it’s come to its end. Please remember you gave your word and publish it like I told you” he said. As I sat there a minute trying to digest this tale of insanity a guard came into the room and whispered into his ear. I wasn’t sure if it was Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum or even Tweedle Three…they all looked alike to me. Sparro listened attentively and a look of relief spread across his face as the guard went back to his post behind the glass.

            “My last appeal has been denied and the date of my death scheduled. At my trial, I had wanted to use the footage from the cameras, but the little bit of tape that had survived showed nothing more than me running around preparing to burn my family alive. That was of course what I expected, but worth a try all the same” he said

            “Thank you, Mr. Ransom, for coming out. It looks like I will be executed on Monday of next week. I would like it if you attended? Yes?” Sparro asked me with tears in his eyes, this was the only real emotion he had displayed during the whole interview.  Yeah, this one was on the crazy train.

            “I’ll clear my schedule and see you then,” I replied, “Is there anything else you would like for me to include?” I finished

            “No, that’s all I have to say. Thank you again for coming out.” He said while waving to one of the guards that he was ready to go back to his cell. The guard entered the room silently and released him from the table. Over my shoulder, the door I had come in through opened and another guard waited to escort me back to the parking lot. As I walked to my car, I wasn’t so sure he was insane, but I wasn’t so sure he was sane either. He had been so earnest and his story had felt honest to me, or at least he believed it to be the truth. It was too late to try and do any more digging on his behalf, to try and help him. I’m pretty sure that’s why he waited so long to call me. He was ready to die.

            “Once I went through the reverse procedure that had admitted me to the prison, I got back on the road as fast as possible. Not because I was afraid of the prison and their automaton guards, but because I needed a fucking drink! A big one! Fuck it, I needed several drinks! This was going to be one hell of a story! I hoped the editor at the Chronicle thought so as well. I hoped he did so I wouldn’t need to peddle it to one of the other tabloids. Either way, this was going to print!

            “A few days later, I was back at the prison, sitting in the gallery of the execution chamber this time I looked around the gallery at the other death witnesses. There was the DA who had prosecuted him. His parents were there, Mom crying and Dad stone-faced and Marcy’s parents were there as well, telling everyone in the gallery that they had never liked him, and had warned her against marrying him. There were even a few folks from their neighborhood. I recognized them, having gone to the neighborhood where the Sparro family had met their demise over the previous weekend. Almost everyone was doing their best to pretend like it hadn’t happened, but I kept at it, doing the whole reporter thing. According to the few folks who had been willing to talk with me, Marcy had always been the social butterfly, helping to plan block parties and always keeping up with the neighbors and community news. Sparro had been the homebody in the family. Mostly the neighbors remembered him as the quiet fellow with thick glasses and the kick-ass lawn! Imagine that, on your headstone.


Jeff Sparro

Kick Ass Lawn



            “The gallery was full, each of them there for their own reasons. They gazed upon him as if he was a disease they were afraid of catching it. Through the glass the warden leaned in to ask Sparro a question, I couldn’t hear it, but I was pretty sure it was one of those do you have any last words kind of things. Sparro shook his head no and the warden nodded to the guard by the murder switch. I watched the plungers go into the syringes of liquid death noticing the liquid wasn’t clear as I had expected it to be. In fact nothing, in this case, had been as I expected it to be. Damn if something didn’t seem to be moving around in the syringes! Sparro started trying to break free from his restraints as the shit hit his bloodstream. Rushing to the window between the gallery and death chamber  I saw them squirming in the liquid! The liquid being pushed into Sparro’s veins.


That night I dreamt of spiders…










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