I can honestly say that I have had more than my fair share of bizarre experiences. My life isn’t a complete madhouse or anything but there have certainly been moments that are worth a mention. One in particular ended up becoming inspiration for a character in my first novel and while that character didn’t end up getting showcased as much as I would like, I think he’ll be making some future appearances.
These events occurred on a day when I was helping a friend rake leaves in a condo complex that he was maintaining. We spent the morning working hard then at around noon we stopped for a lunch break, heading towards the nearby convenience store to grab a sandwich. On the way there we’re having a debate about politics and I manage to hit him with a point he hadn’t considered before, so he stops walking while he considers it. As he’s standing very still, deep in thought, a tiny spider takes that moment to descend by a thread from behind his right ear. That was the creepiest thing I’d seen in a while, so of course I had to explain the expression on my face. We had a good laugh about it, grabbed our lunch and then went back to work.
After laboring for another few hours, we finished up and then I went to catch the bus home. What I didn’t yet realize is that I’d picked up a few critters myself. When I got on the bus I was exhausted so immediately picked the nearest seat available. It was at the front of the bus; the first forward facing seats behind the inward facing “courtesy seats” reserved for the elderly and disabled, all of which were full. I was surrounded by people who, while not directly facing me, were all within easy viewing distance of the spectacle to come.
Not too long into the bus ride I noticed a little brown critter on my left sleeve that I thought was probably a tick. Any other time I might have jumped and shaken it off but being so exhausted from my day’s work I couldn’t really be bothered to put that much effort into it. Instead I simply leaned forward and brushed it onto the floor. Soon after, I felt a little tickle at my right ankle and watched with mild interest as a large brown centipede crawled out of my pant leg, down my boot and away towards the back of the bus. A few minutes later I feel another tickle, this time on my arm, so I give my sleeve a shake and out drops a white spider. Contrasting starkly with the black floor of the bus, the spider skitters towards the other passengers, many of whom lift their feet up off the floor until it had moved past them. Next the flutter of wings near the back of my neck drew my attention. Tilting my head forward and pushing my shoulders back, I created a space between my jacket and upper back, and whatever was back there flew out to freedom. I never did see what it was, I was far too tired to bother turning my head to look, assuming it was a small moth or perhaps a grasshopper.
Half way into the bus ride, and four insects lighter, I finally look up to see the faces of the people around me. Now at this time in my life I was in excellent physical shape, was clad in black from my leather jacket to my steel toed boots, and had a shaved head. I was already a scarier than average looking individual, more so on that particular day because I was also wearing the pissed off facial expression everyone gets after a hard day’s work. Adding to this image the fact that I had spent the last few minutes casually shedding insects, the faces of the people looking back at me were masks of horror and disgust, each shrinking down in their seats and looking away when I made eye contact.
When I realized what had happened, I didn’t apologize or even really react. The first thought that came into my head was to pray. I said to myself, “Dear Lord, I have never asked you for anything before and I will never ask you for anything again. All I want right now, more than anything else, is the power to cough up some beetles right now. Or to be able to pull a handful of cockroaches out of my pocket. Something. Anything to be able to really push this to the limit.”
Sadly my prayers went unanswered but at least I will forever remember the terror I inspired by being creepy bug guy for an afternoon.