Moving to Freedom, .Org

Itsy Bitsy Fritsy 11: Operation Fiery Fred, Part One

by Fritzi Webber
(go to the beginning)

The man is home from work, but my plan has been foiled (temporarily!) by an unexpected event. The man is a creature of habit. I was counting on him to reliably follow his normal routine. On Fridays, he always has tea after work. He likes to make it in a kettle on the stove.

Do you remember those old PSAs with the cartoon barbecue grill named Fiery Fred? Fred would appear to be sleeping peacefully while unsuspecting spiders crawled on him, but then he would wake up and flames would shoot out of his “mouth.” The announcer would say in a deep voice, “Be careful, kids. Gas grills might look like fun places to play, but remember Fiery Fred. You never know when he will wake up!”

And of course the news always has stories about idiots moving into a grill’s venturi tubes, thinking they will be safe there, away from the mouth part. Sometimes they cause a fire, with occasional spider fatalities. It’s sad, tragic, and unnecessary, but it happens.

Anyway, the call to shelter on Wednesday reminded me of the emergency shelter PSA, which got me thinking about the Fiery Fred PSA, and then about the gas stove in the kitchen. If I rigged up the burner there, I might be able to take him down again, whether from a stumble and a fall (that has to work one of these times), or a small fire. Fire is obviously dangerous, but with everyone still on high alert and in the place of refuge, we’d be able to escape out of the house if necessary. With the fire, there is hope for death or injury, or further distraction from spider problems.

So I slipped away early this morning and spent the day stuffing dried-up beetle parts around the front stove burners and wrapping everything in silk. For good measure, I even got one of the garage spiders to hook me up with some sawdust. Those things are powder kegs now; ready to blow. And it’s all completely out of sight. He won’t suspect a thing!

I retreated a safe distance to watch.

The man came home from work at his usual time and fed the cat. Then he told the cat he had a date tonight. A date! (The cat did not like the sound of that.)

I had been staying out of site all day to avoid community interference, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to bring this news back to the others huddled in the shelter. (They could follow me around now, for all I cared. The trap was set.) Everyone agreed this sounded favorable: he’d be too busy to worry about spiders.

Boris pointed out that if the man planned to have a woman over, he might go on an extreme cleaning jag. Dammit, Boris. Always the downer, spinning up trouble for me. And there was Liselotte, nodding emphatically in agreement, preying on everyone’s fear for her own political gain.

But I didn’t care. I was high on the anticipation of my plan’s success. I guess I was smirking because she became suspicious and asked what I had been doing all day. Afraid they might detect the vibrations of my plan and undo my work, I mumbled something about hunting and “thinking about things.”

I hung out by the shelter opening, waiting expectantly for the tea time conflagration, but… the man didn’t have his tea. The stove and my trap just sat there, unused.

Oh, come on! The odds are so high against me, I need some predictability to have any chance at all. These human social rituals are really throwing things off around here. (Although maybe just as well if he’s not thinking about spiders much.)

Right now, the man is walking around getting ready. He’s picking out clothes, babbling to the cat about how much the cat will love this woman, and singing.

Despite my frustration at justice delayed, at least I can enjoy the sour expression on the cat’s face.

Dumb cat.

I’ll be monitoring the situation closely, and hoping he uses the stove tomorrow morning.