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The Web

Zelia Morris simply did not love Dudley anymore.  He could not stop his drinking, could not hold a job for very long.  He stopped painting—his one passion had slowly slipped away.  He wasn’t the Dudley that she had married years ago.

A strong woman, some might even say that Zelia was cold; it wasn’t that she was cold.  She did love Dudley at a time.  But love changes—she would not continue being drained in this relationship.  She did not however expect that Dudley would change even further as he did; he climbed down into his dark dungeon, never to come out into the light again.

They had found Dudley Morris, bottle in hand, sprawled out on the concrete in a dark alleyway, yelling nonsense to the wind, to the shadows.  He found himself in and out of institutions, but this time he would spend the rest of his days alone, enclosed in a world on the  inside, damning himself, damning anyone he could, especially the voice in his head.

“If you come too close, I will take you and squeeze the life out of you.”  Dudley Morris walked the streets aimlessly through the suffocating fog.  Little did he know that his whole life would be different after that one winter eve.  His jacket flaps were pulled up high to cover his neck from the brisk wind that chapped his face.  He walked and walked on those lonely stone streets, wet from the hard rain that poured hours ago. 

“I will intrigue you with the pretty things that I have to offer, then I will come close as if I want to be your friend, reach out to you and quickly spin you into my web:  This intricate, detailed design—we are all part of it!.” 

Earlier in the day after a fight with his landlord, Dudley began talking, and then yelling to himself, he took a long swig from his bottle, wiped his mouth sloppily, and shoving the bottle back into his deep jacket pocket. He would run the incident through his mind over and over again.

“God damn landlord—the jackass!  Unreasonable bastard; can’t he understand that I’m barely making ends meet.  I didn’t have the god damn rent!”  Keeping his hands in his pockets, he would let the filth spew out of his mouth as though anyone cared.  He spoke to the dark and lonely street; to the scraggly cats rummaging through the putrid dumpsters.  Dudley continued his rant: “But No!  He wouldn’t hear it.”

Dudley usually kept to himself but the Landlord, Hue Bedford, picked the wrong day to push Dudley.  Dudley started pounding him.  Hue yelled, pleaded for him to stop but he couldn’t.  The spit sprayed from Dudley’s mouth as he yelled at him “You son-of-bitch!” 

After Zelia had left him, Dudley rarely left that dim, claustrophobic room; the only light filtered through the tiny round window facing the street and the candles on the nightstand.  Cobwebs hung in every corner.  Dudley would kill the spiders, fascinated at watching their bodies shrivel up in the candle flames, sometimes he would take a fuzzy body between two fingers, bring it right up to his eye, examine it with great wonder, then squish it tightly, watching the life drain out of it. 

Every time he heard a stir, he would flinch in fear.  He would look all around him as if someone was in the room with him.  Occasionally rodents would scurry across the room in search of crumbs. 

A loud thud woke Dudley; he shot right up in bed, sweat pouring down his face, dripping down his dingy, brown shirt.  He rubbed his hands on his rough sandpaper face. 

“Where am I?” Dudley mumbled to himself, looking around.  He walked past a mirror, his attention whisked away by a beautiful web that was up high in the corner of this unfamiliar room.  He walked over to the web with wide eyes; a chill went down his spine.  He jumped back, knocking over a small worn out pocket watch from a strange—unfamiliar end table—the spider seeming to watch his every move.  He watched the spiders many hairy legs moving slowly along the web, seeming to move toward Dudley.  The harder he looked back, the greater the chill became.

Pinching himself hard, Dudley was trying to make sense of this strange familiarity.  “Ouch!”  A large red mark appeared.  Dudley bent over to pick the watch up, turned it over in his hand.  It looked familiar, yet it didn’t.  He placed it back on the table.

“Mrs. Morris, I’m so glad you could make it,” the Head Psychiatrist said.

“I really don’t want any part of this anymore—he’s not part of my life—it’s done!” Zelia said, trying to stay composed, looking ahead with tired eyes. 

“How would you like to handle this; you’re his only living family.”  The nurse jotted down a few notes in her file.

“I don’t know if I can handle this anymore—can’t he stay here?.”  Zelia’s voice was shaky.  She started sifting though her purse, looking for her cigarettes.  She found the empty pack and threw them back in her purse.

“Mrs. Morris, if you leave him here, there’s a chance he will never be released.  This is becoming a common occurrence and we think it is in Dudley’s best interest that he stay, but that decision is up to you, Mrs. Morris.”  The Doctor looked sternly at Zelia.  “Are you sure about this?” After a long pause, “Yes, I’m sure.”

It pained Zelia’s conscience, but she had no choice.  She was the only one left in his life and now she too would vanish, leaving him to himself.  She knew it was the best—the only answer that made sense to her.  Dudley had become unreachable.

Dudley screamed so loud that everyone in the hospital could hear him; they heard him two floors up and two floors down—so much anger poured out.  After many more episodes, Dudley would spend much of his time in solitude, yelling, screaming himself to sleep.

“I didn’t ask for this—.”  Looking up to the high ceiling, hands secured behind his back in the white cocoon that he would never break out of.  He let out a howling scream, looking up at the ceiling again.  “You!—You, did this to me.  The people!—they stare in awe.  I spin—I spew myself out aimlessly in circles.  They look on in fascination but if only they were I, they would see how meaninglessness this existence really is. Damn You!!” 

There was not one tear in Dudley’s face.  He rested his head on his knees, unable to do anything but rock back and forth, wishing he had never left his dingy little room that cold winter eve, wandering the streets, seeking his doomed fate.  Zelia’s image quickly passed through his mind.  Dudley slowly lifted his head; out of the corner of his eye, he saw something move.  He froze at the sight of it and went into hysterics.  He saw black and red swirls, he couldn’t move, his whole being, mind and soul entered a deep abyss.

The next morning, Sunday, Dudley was gone.  The police were unable to find any clues as to the whereabouts of Dudley Morris.  On Tuesday while the cleaning person was dusting away a cobweb, she saw a large black spider.  She was about to swat it, but could swear it was smiling at her, and decided to let it live.