Thursday, January 03, 2008
The Spiders Surrounded Him At Night
The first year I taught, I got stalked by a psychotic ex-Marine who kept making references to his abilities with firearms. Although he had been removed from my class, I still feared him and on days when I would be home alone, an untenable reality, I would go to the library on campus to wait on the long hours until my then-husband returned from work. I felt safe in libraries -- there were books and people and I could hide from the world without the ever-pounding drumbeat of fear in my my mind. Of the two libraries on campus, I'd often find myself in the science one because of its small size and large collection of psychology textbooks full of case studies. As a child, I had been obsessed with the margins of behavior and read all that I could about those who were disturbed. Tales of twins that spoke in secret languages, the coping mechanisms of the afflicted and alone, these were the pleasure reading of my days.
Of course, my story has an irony that would never work in fiction -- about a year after these long library days, I realized that my stalker worked in the very library I used as a refuge from my lonely apartment. And it reminded me of a story I had heard as a child about a man who had ventured into a little room out in the wilds of Australia, surrounded by funnel-web spiders, regarded by some people as the most venomous spiders in the world. The man slept on a cot, but was not bit. The spiders surrounded him at night and because he was deeply alcoholic, he thought they were the final symptom of his disease, the delirium tremors. He knew he was in danger, but thought it an illusion of an overtaxed mind. And so he felt safe and this delusion kept him so, at least from the present danger at hand, just as I had been kept safe from ever running into the man who sought to harm me. I suppose he never figured his prey would come to him.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"To a patient, no surgery is ever routine." Julia Cameron
Drinking music suggestion: St. Elswhere Gnarls Barkley
Benedictions and Maledictions