A Very Big Bed Bug (or An Annie Hall Moment With Keyser Söze)

There’s a four-inch-long scorpion on your bed. What do you do? My guess is that you say, “Screw karma,” and kill the thing.

Maybe it was Lake Atitlan’s relaxing effects, or maybe it was the beer before bed, but that wasn’t our first response when we recently found this guy moseying along my side of the mattress.

Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to bugs, especially indoor ones, we are neither merciful nor brave. Our house was filled with wolf spiders when we first moved in a month ago. Black and ominous against our stark white walls, they appeared at night to terrify other insects–and me. So, I made it my mission to get rid of every last one. There was no catch-and-release. They all died. And not by humane methods. A quick hit with the back of a magazine would have required agility and an accurate aim (both of which I lack), so I used Raid, sprayed from a good five feet away. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. And while Shon didn’t like the toxic cloud in which we lived, he tolerated the massacre.

All that to say, we had no intention of letting this scorpion survive. And yet, it did. Its first saving grace was our foolishness. Its second, our camera. And its third? He was Keyser Söze.

I should have just killed him (yes, him, obviously, he was Keyser Söze) when I had the opportunity. I was putting on pajamas when I spotted him on our bedspread beneath our mosquito net. Though approaching him was the last thing that I wanted to do, I pushed some of the excess net around him, so as to slow his progress toward my pillow. Then I used the type of voice that you reserve for fire, rape, and, well, scorpions to yell for Shon.

This wasn’t the first scorpion that we had seen in Guatemala. A few days earlier, one had walked nonchalantly across the living room floor before ending up under a boot. I had found another on the bathroom sink. This scorpion, though, was different: Not only was he the largest, but he had also found a way to penetrate our protective mosquito net and to enter what was supposed to be our one safe, bug-free sanctuary.

Shon appeared, ascertained there was no fire or rape, and saw the scorpion on the bed. The bug hadn’t gotten very far, but he was slowly forcing his way out of his semi-contained space toward the bed’s northern regions. Despite this, the situation seemed under control. “Get the camera!” I said. “Scorpions are slow, right?”

What followed was a series of truly idiotic events. They began with my decision to loosen the net from around the scorpion so that he could better partake in an Annie Hall-style photo shoot with Shon. Alright, stand next to it! It’ll be great! It’ll be wonderful! This is Shon next to the scorpion on the bed! Click!

(Annie Hall, 1977)

The scorpion, to his credit, remained surprisingly still. Unfortunately, though, when I tried to snap his close-up, the camera, which I had set to automatic, couldn’t decide if it should focus on the mosquito net or the scorpion.

“Chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk,” it said, as it took its time going back and forth, choosing the bug, no the net, no the bug, no the net. It finally settled on the bug and took a photo. For insurance, though, I thought I should get another.

“Chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk,” said the camera.

“What are you doing?!” asked Shon.

“Ugh, the camera’s not working,” I said. “The mosquito net’s in the way.” I lifted the mosquito net entirely from the bed, liberating the scorpion in the process. He immediately started to make his move toward my pillow. I picked up and shook part of the bedspread, and he tumbled down towards the bed’s center.

“Give me the camera,” said Shon. He took a quick photo, just as the scorpion began to bolt for the bottom of the bed.

“Ah! Kill it!” I said, as I forced a shoe into Shon’s hand. The scorpion stopped on the bed’s edge.

“I think it’s upside down,” said Shon.

“It’s not upside down. We just watched it walk across the bed.”

“It looks like it’s upside down.”

And then Keyser Söze moved, and like that–poof–he was gone.

(The Usual Suspects, 1995)

Shon was certain that he had crawled under the bedspread. I swore he went under the mattress. We yanked off the bedspread, the sheets, and removed the pillow cases; we shook out everything. We lifted the mattress and the box spring, but we found nothing. Keyser Söze was gone.

This is the bed that we have to sleep in each and every night. To say it’s terrifying is an understatement. But I guess it’s what we get for telling karma to screw it. We killed the spiders, so karma gave us scorpions, including one Keyser Söze in the bed. I’d prefer the spiders.

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