Welcome To The Neighborhood
It was a great relief to get away from our rented apartment where pesticide techs would suddenly arrive and spray the poor helpless vinegaroons in the lawn, so we would have to go out and terrorize these toxic hired humans until they left in fright.
Our new landlady was a friend of a friend, surely she’d treat us right.
Our new house was a little larger. There was more room for the tarantulas.
My bedroom was a largish, elongate, doorless space off on one end of the house. I had a bed, and I had some of the tarantulas. Specifically the Texas Tans. Up on shelves.
Bob came from Texas, and he had a fondness for invertebrates, especially spiders. The Texas Tans were South Texas tarantulas of a species he’d named himself, and at this point he was periodically traveling back to his home digs, collecting them and bringing them back here to Carlsbad for us to sell, because we were broke.
We had our usual collection of tarantulas, but moving into tarantulas being inventory required some adapting. Whole rooms were required. Containers must be acquired.
I wound up sleeping, or trying to, with sixty-odd Texas tan tarantulas in plastic shoeboxes on shelves along the upper walls of my bedroom, singing to each other, that spring.
The female spiders would drum on the bottom of their plastic spider kennels with their pedipalps, and the newly mature males would hiss back, rubbing their legs against indeterminate parts. This went on and on during the late spring, when Bob would bring me these spiders.
Then we’d advertise them and mail them to people.
Meanwhile, we had these new humans to deal with. Our landlords lived in a house that was famous because some outlaw died in it. Meanwhile, these humans had a way of sitting around and littering.
I spent a lot of time picking up trash. But also there was the well. We noticed the well after a bit. That place up by the road with decaying pieces of wood suspended over it. The one where if you poke around, you discover that there is this thirty-five foot hole there, about twenty feet across.
Bob, being the social sort of person that he was, addressed our new landlord and lady about this here well. The landlord was not too communicative. The landlady let us know that the well was indeed a sorrowful thing, that in fact they’d lost a dog down it once.
We were however somewhat familiar with the landlord because of his proclivity for collecting things. The largish property of our landlords had many of these things acquired and left in many places, along with the vast quantity of other, smaller trash, that all these humans and their relatives left everywhere, endlessly, blowing in the wind. Usually into our yard, what with us being downwind.
Meanwhile, we were busy trying to educate people about tarantulas and other arachnids, trying to keep the bills paid. Bob worked to fix the rental house endlessly. I gardened, and Bob fed birdseed to the harvester ants, and complained that the birds were stealing the ants’ food.
And eventually he took to creeping out at night and collecting all of our landlord’s endless accumulation of crap and pitching it down the abandoned well. Eventually they noticed. A young son informed him that they’d been planning to use that well again soon.
Last I saw of that well was after Bob planted it in arundo, a kind of drought resistant cane that does well here. I like to think of it as a kind of memorial. Some years later, a little boy fell into another such abandoned well locally, and died. Not our well. Not that one.