Mosquito Drill – (excerpt)

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Once the softball game got underway, business
slowed and the night was quiet except for a spider
that Victor, one of the produce clerks, had found in a
banana box. The South American spider looked big
and mean, hairy all over, and he had fangs that were
almost as long as his two front legs. Victor decided
to keep him in a glass jar with holes in the cap. By
the time I saw him, Victor and my closing checker,
Kwan, had already named him and tried feeding him
bits of lettuce and a couple of dead flies they had
found under the plastic wrap machine. But their new
pet, who they’d named ‘Tom’, showed no interest.
Kwan bet that it was because the things they had
put in the jar weren’t living anymore. That’s when
I offered up the Band-Aid I’d been wearing over
the mosquito bite on my hand. All night I’d been
scratching at it, not because it itched but because
it was there, and when it started to bleed I went to
the first-aid kit behind the customer service counter
to get a Band-Aid. But the kit was close to empty
(people get cuts in grocery stores all the time); there
were no good Band-Aids to choose from. The one I
ended up wearing didn’t fit quite right, so it was easy
to give up for the sake of science.

We all hovered around the glass jar, anticipating.
Victor had me wrap the Band-Aid on the end of a
long plastic straw that they were calling a ‘feeding
stick.’ Then he pushed it through one of the holes
and scraped it off at the bottom of the jar. We
couldn’t wait to see what the spider would do next.
Kwan, at first, was sure the spider could smell my
blood, but there really was no evidence of that. The
spider, or Tom, just sat there. Like all he needed was
a desk. Then Kwan wondered out loud if spiders
hunt only at night. None of us knew the answer so
we all went into the produce cooler that was pitch
black when the lights were off. We stood in the dark
for a minute, not a word spoken. Then we went back
out to see if anything had happened. Nothing had
happened. So we kept brainstorming ideas until the
time came that we HAD to get back to work. We
left it with Kwan saying he would bring in a live
grasshopper tomorrow. We all smiled and nodded
at this. Like it was something to look forward to.
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