She was, however, terrified of spiders.
When her mother pointed the fallacy of this to her, Mitzie scrunched up her nose and turned her head. ”Bugs are not spiders, spiders are not bugs.” That’s all she would say about that, and her mother threw her hands up and went to make dinner.
As one afraid of spiders, there were many places Mitzi Matterhorn did not dwell. Stairwells were out, particularly dark and shadowy ones with lots of dusty corners perfect for spiderwebs. Closets, unless well lighted and walk-in, were off limits. Pantries, laundry rooms and the coat room at school also made the list, and her exasperated friends grew quite tired of fetching her boots and her snacks daily. ”Why can’t you get your own crackers?” they would whine, and Mitzi would scrunch her nose and cross her arms over her chest, glaring her best glare. ”Do you WANT me to be bit by spiders? Do you want a black widow to crawl into my left ear and out my right? Do you want a tarantula to tap dance on my skull?”
At this point, yes, her friends rather did, but one never said such things aloud. Instead they’d hand her the boots and crackers and grumble under their breath as they chewed. Mitzi would pretend not to hear them, and everything would start all over again the next day.
Of course, there was no way this could continue forever. At some point Mitzi would grow up and have a home of her own, and unless she married the world’s richest exterminator, her future husband couldn’t spend his every waking hour scouting spiders for her. Her friends would have jobs or children, and as much as she tried, she couldn’t train her pudgy pug Priscilla to search for spiders. Instead of pointing out the spiders, Priscilla would slurp up their webs– and sometimes, much to Mitzi’s disgust, the spiders as well. After the one incident with the jumping spider, she’d scrubbed Priscilla’s tongue so hard she was sure the pug couldn’t taste her kibble for a week. After that, Priscilla ignored every spider– particularly the tasty looking ones.
So, there was only one thing to do. Mitzie Matterhorn would have to develop the world’s best, 100 percent foolproof spider away spray. Oh, sure, she could just get over her fear like her mother suggested, but what would the fun of that be? Why would she have to change? It was the spiders that were the problem, not her. As Mitzie tended to enjoy art and writing more than science, she didn’t just need the world’s best, 100 percent foolproof spider away spray, but a scientist to create it.
That’s how she ended up on Herr Vempkauff’s porch at nine on a Saturday morning. Everyone knows you never disturb a mad scientist that early, particularly on a weekend as they’ve been up creating chaos all night, but Mitzie didn’t care. There was a tiny web in her kitchen right by the fridge that morning. If she didn’t act fast, she’d have to throw everything out for fear a spider slipped inside and stamped their sticky eight feet all over everything and if she did that, her mother would have to go to the store. Her mother hated going to the store. This was not a good situation for anyone. ”Herr Vempkauff?” she shouted, knocking. ”Herr Vempkauff, hello?”
The door flung open and a wild-haired, bug-eyed, lanky old dotterer thrust his head out the screen. ”Grasshoppers! Can’t you see I’m sleeping?”
“It’s nine in the morning.” Mitzie was unimpressed. Actually, she was downright judgmental.
“Fine. I’ll march over to your home at four in the morning and we’ll call it square.” Herr Vempkauff started to slam the door.
“Wait!” Mitzie cried. ”I have a job for you.”
“Can you pay?” Herr Vempkauff was unimpressed. Actually, he was downright judgmental.
“I can pay you in love and endless appreciation.”
Herr Vempkauff started to slam the door.
“And coupons!” Mitzie howled.
The frizzy head poked back out. Mad scientists, as a rule, were frugal. Herr Vempkauff was downright cheap. ”What’s the catch?”
“No catch.” Mitzie’s mother was a champion coupon clipper. If she had to go to the store, she wanted it to count for something. Mitzie extended the envelope of coupons she’d swiped from her mother’s box. It was a hefty price to pay, but sacrifices must be made in the name of science. Herr Vempkauff peeked inside and whistled. ”Ok. You got me. What’s the job?”
“I need a spider-away spray. One that’s 100 percent foolproof.”
Herr Vempkauff smirked. ”Are you scared of bugs?”
“No, spiders. And I’m not scared, I just don’t appreciate them. Particularly anywhere near me.”
“Bugs are spiders,” Herr Vempkauff pointed out.
“No, they are not.” Mitzie gnashed her teeth together. ”Spiders are not bugs and bugs are not spiders.” She scrunched her nose and stuck out her hand, determined to seal this deal properly. ”Deal?”
Herr Vempkauff tucked the envelope under his arm and closed his callused hand around hers. ”Deal.” This time, he gently slammed the door. ”Come back at two!”
Mitzie rolled her eyes. She was going to have to train this mad scientist to work on proper hours and not burn daylight. ”Isn’t this exciting, Priscilla?” she asked her faithful pug, lounging in the sunlit steps. ”Soon, we’ll have no spiders.”
Priscilla’s stomach rumbled in sympathy.
To be continued….
Thanks for your kind words on my last post! I’ll come visit everyone this weekend!
For more fun, visit my sister blog, Words n'Whimsy or sign up for my newsletter (both buttons on sidebar!)