Spider in the Morning
By Andrew D. Ludwig
The coffee steamed as Jeff poured it into the white mug on the sticky table. He handed Anthony, who sat across from him while reading the small diner’s bleak menu. Jeff reached for his wallet to make sure he had enough money to pay for the drinks, knowing it was his turn. As he emptied his pocket, he set his badge on the table. While doing so, they discussed the chilling topic that had America in a state of shock and fear, the Spider serial murders.
“So, did you find the missing girl this morning?” questioned Anthony. Jeff drew in a deep breath before relinquishing another melancholy sigh carrying a, “Uh-huh,” on it.
“How many murders does that make it now?”
Jeff set his coffee down and then placed his elbows on the table and his head in his hands. Then he quickly replied, “Twenty-seven.” Anthony then murmured to himself cursing in astonishment, then drew in a deep breath and plainly said, “Jeez.” He scratched his left eyebrow for a moment and then said, “Do you mind if I keep asking about it? It just fascinates me, and the newspapers give less than minimum information about the killings. Or are you bound by law to keep it secret?” Jeff then gradually unsheathed his face from his hand and said, “Well, I’m not supposed to share information with anyone,” he ground his teeth in nervous contemplation. “Huh,…ok, but keep it quiet. Shoot.”
“Ok, first of all, the papers do mention that the killer leaves behind a type of letter with a poem on it. What do they say?”
Jeff took a packet of sugar and tore the top off, then poured it into his coffee before starting. “It always says the same thing. It is believed to have been an old poem about a certain superstition regarding spiders. It says…” He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved a small steno pad. He then flipped several pages into it and read,
‘A spider found in the morning is a sign of sorrow;
A spider in the noon brings worry for tomorrow;
A spider found in the afternoon is a sign of a gift;
But a spider in the evening will all hopes uplift.”
Then it goes on to say,
“But you will only find a spider in the morning and noon;
The only gift you will receive is a girl sent to an early tomb;
And never shall your hopes uplift;
Not till my body on the river Styx, but only a drift.’
Jeff then sipped his coffee and continued. “We know he added on the second part of the poem.. Also they have a carcass of a black widow spider impaled on a small sewing needle and shoved into the notes, keeping them folded. The macabre package is then placed in the palm of the victim.”
Anthony groaned, as his eyes widened. He thought for a moment and then asked, “What’s the River Styx?”
“It is a river in ancient Greek mythology that a dead soul must cross to get to the afterlife.”
“So, he is saying he won’t stop till he is dead…I’m guessing.”
“That is what we believe it’s saying,” Jeff shrugged.
“Hmm. Seems like he’s trying to be intellectual. Trying being the key word.”
They both sat in silence for a moment, listening to the sound of passing cars. Suddenly Anthony’s eye lid began to twitch with anticipation. He suddenly asked, “Is it true what the news says about the way he kills his victims?” Jeff paused, then slowly nodded while staring into his coffee. “But how? Does he somehow force an assortment of black widows to bite the victims?” Anthony abruptly asked, in a quick slur.
“No. We have found large quantities of syringe puncture marks in the corpse’s necks and arms. We also have found, as you know, a massive amount of the spider’s venom in their blood. So basically he puts the venom in a syringe and then…”
Jeff raised his left hand with his ring, and pinky fingers tight in his palm and his index and middle fingers curved under his thumb, so it seemed that he was pretending to hold a syringe. He then pushed his hand against his right bicep and lowered his thumb as if he were injecting the needles’ deadly toxins into his blood. “Yikes,” Anthony replied in a quivering voice and then cleared his throat.
Jeff then continued by saying, “And this hasn’t been made public yet, but a family in Texas has had a missing daughter since last week. Unfortunately, today at 12:10 p.m. a package carrying the note and a black widow arrived on their front door step.”
“That psychotic maniac! What is the girl’s name?”
Anthony took in a deep breath and rubbed his temple with his thumb. He then sighed and asked, “Do you know of any motive he might be seeking?”
“He hates women and loves spiders. Especially black widows. Makes no sense, none at all. The widow is an indication of a living woman. So down at the precinct we are baffled.”
There was a moment of silence. Then, abruptly Anthony looked at his watch and said, “I’ve got to be going soon but I have one more request.” “Okay, ask,” Jeff said before polishing off his coffee. “You will let me know if you find out anything new about the killings, won’t you?” Anthony asked. “Definitely,” responded Jeff.
“No problem,” Jeff said as he raised himself from the booth, leaving the bill on the table. “What fascinates you so much about this case Anthony? What is so intriguing.?”
“I’ve just have run out of mystery novels and suspenseful books to hold my interest. Just seems interesting, I guess.”
“You and your sick entertainment,” Jeff muttered. Then they walked out the door together and headed their separate ways.
Anthony walked quickly on the sidewalk. The sun began to set the moment he arrived at the doorstep of his little home. It was green and looked very old.
As he entered, the pleasant sound of Anne in the basement, trying to break down the door while hollering and shrieking for help, met his ears. It made an eerie grin spread from ear to ear across Anthony’s face. He let out a sigh of pleasure as he reached in his desk drawer and pulled out a pair of latex inspection gloves and a hairnet. These he quickly put on, and then pulled out a pencil and began to write:
“A spider in the morning…”