It all started with an arrival. Not the arrival of a train or the arrival of a baby but the arrival of a brand new car.
Now to most people, a new car means little. Sure when you first get it you brag about it to your friends, you make up excuses to use it and the brand new smell fills you with confidence when you get into it.
But of course, that smell goes eventually and the feeling goes with it. The car is just a car now, nothing more, nothing less.
My grandfathers first car was no different. It was just a car. It had one engine. It had four wheels and it was nothing special.
It was when my grandmother first fell pregnant that he decided to buy the car. He was getting tired of walking with her at a snails pace and a car seemed the perfect answer. So one morning while she slept he snuck out and came back with a dazzlingly red car.
As women are want to do though, she hit the roof. “We can’t afford this” she screamed and “we don’t need a car” she complained. My grandfather stuck to his guns though and the car stayed. “It just jumped out at me in the lot” he said “it looked so beautiful sitting there, I thought it would be perfect for driving our kids to school in.” The thought of children made her silent, the joy of a family ending her mood.
That night they went to sleep dreaming of their car filled up with children. The would bounce on the back seats as the car sailed along the coastline, the perfect summer holiday.
The next morning my grandpa woke up early as usual. He rolled over to my grandma and kissed her on the shoulder, “good morning beautiful” he purred before jumping out of bed.
He took a shower, put on his clothes and made himself a coffee. All part of his normal morning routine, preparing himself to go out to work in his DIY store. After breakfast he threw his shoes on, leaving the house and stepping into the front garden.
The new car was out in the yard, shining in the low morning sun, it’s body glowing red. He slid over and kissed the car and laughing said “good morning beautiful” before jumping in and driving off.
His day went by as usual. He sold nails. He sold paint. He sold a hammer. At the end of the day he drove back home, the car already starting to look slightly dusty.
That night he spoke constantly of the car. He spoke so much my grandma quipped “if you love that car so damn much, why didn’t you marry it instead of me?” He never spoke much of the car again after that.
Again that night they fell asleep and the next morning it was routine as usual. Roll over, kiss, “good morning beautiful,” shower, clothes, coffee and finally shoes. My grandpa walked to the front door and opening it he stepped out booming “good morning beau…” but he was cut off mid sentence when he noticed his car. No longer was the car new and elegant, it looked old and dirty.
Mud was splattered along the body of the car, grass stuck out from the lights and dark dust coated the windows.
His face grew red and he screamed in anger (to noone in particular) “DAMN KIDS! IF I CATCH WHO DID THIS TO ME I’LL MAKE THEM SO SORRY THAT I’LL…I’LL…WELL IT WON’T BE PRETTY!” The anger rose even more in his stomach and he kicked out at the cars wheel violently. As his body shuddered from the kick he gained his senses and he looked around, embaressed at how he had acted.
“Don’t worry, tonight you will be beautiful” he whispered to the car. He patted the cleanest part of the car before running out of the yard, hoping to catch the bus to work for the day.
After another day at the DIY store my grandpa came back home and as he entered the house my grandma asked sympathetically “what happened to the car, honey?” to which my grandpa could only reply “probably those troublesome kids from down the street.”
That night, after dinner my grandpa set to work. Using a bucket of soapy water and a sponge he wiped the mud off his car. He spent hours making the car spotless and afterwards the car shone. “As good as new” he said, throwing the sponge into his bucket.
Sleep came easy that night after the work of cleaning the car. Unfortunately the next morning things were the same. The car was splattered in mud, grass hanging from various recesses and dirt covered the windows.
As my grandfather stood in the front garden, staring at his beautiful car, dirty for a second time, his head filled with anger. With the anger came angry plans and over the rest of the day the thought of getting revenge never left his mind.
That night at dinner he told my grandmother his plan. “Well Deloris, my plan is simple. I’m going to wash the car like I did last night. I’ll get it spotless, it’ll be perfect. This time though I won’t leave the car. I’ll hide inside of it and I’ll wait. I’ll wait for those pesky kids and when they come to mess up my beautiful car I’ll jump out with a baseball bat. God damn those kids’ll get a beating.”
My grandma just laughed at the plan “you couldn’t fight a midget, let alone a bunch of kids. I’m not calling any ambulance when they jump you.” He shrugged her thoughts off and went out again, cleaning the car till it was spotless.
When my grandma was getting into bed that night my grandpa was getting into the car. He lay on the floor, hiding under a blanket and he waited.
After hours of waiting his eyes started to droop. Trying hard to stay awake he started to hum but the gentle hum just hypnotised his senses further and soon enough he was asleep on the car floor.
What seemed like moments of sleep passed when suddenly he was jolted awake as the car shook violently. It took him a few moments to realise he was in the car and not in bed but when he realised he grabbed his baseball bat and stared out of the car window to see who was wrecking his car.
The problem was though, he couldn’t see out of the windows. They were covered in what he could only guess was a black cloth.
Peering out of the front window he could just see his house in front of the car and an idea came to him immediately. He decided he would shock the kids. He would start the car, reverse out of the garden and twist the car violently around, throwing the kids from the car in the process.
He slipped into the cars front seat and clicked his seatbelt in. Quickly he placed his car key into the ignition and turned it, as soon as the engine has started he was at his controls and almost immediately the car was reversed out of his drive. In the space of the road he accelerated grabbing his wheel and throwing the car around in a doughnut shaped circle. From above him he could hear a squeal of delight, a squeal which brought forth my grandfathers rage.
Stopping the car he lined it up. He could still barely see out of the front window but he managed to point the car down his long street. He hit the gas, speeding down the road, gears changing quickly and as the car hit 40 miles per hour he jammed on the brakes, his body flying into his seat belt and his wheels skidding along the road.
Light suddenly shone in through the cars windows and something hit the bonnet of his car before rolling off into the road.
What my grandfather saw in that moment was almost impossibly freakish. It’s body was just smaller than the car he was driving. It’s eight legs the size of elephant trunks. A thick black fur covered it entirely and it’s eight eyes blinked at him in surprise. Standing in the middle of the street was a spider the size of a car. Later my grandfather decided to call him Henry, in that moment though my grandfather could only say one thing “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!” and in true hysteria he bashed the cars horn while screaming.
The flash of the headlights in Henrys eyes and the loud sound of the car horn scared Henry and he scarpered into the woods on the other side of the street.
When finally my grandfather was sure of his safety he looked out of his car onto the street and he fainted, his head landing on the steering wheel.
Later that night he drove the car back to his house and checking the coast was clear he sprang from the car. Running up the stairs he pulled off his clothes and jumped into bed. Hiding under the covers he crawled to my grandma and held her, waking her up. Sleepily she asked “did you teach those kids a lesson” and he could say nothing, he just held her tighter and he closed his eyes, trying to forget the night.
Now my grandfather wasn’t a fearful man, although it might not seem that way. If anyone had seen a giant spider they would have acted the same way, I’ve no doubt of that. Once he was used to the idea though it no longer worried him. For around a week everynight he would go out to his car after dinner and clean it only to wake the next morning to find it was dirty again. He hoped he’d dreamt up the spider but one night he woke from his sleep and headed to the toilet. As he slipped back into bed he heard a squeaking from outside and looking out of his window he seen the spider again.
The spider was lying on top of the car. Six of it’s hairy legs wrapped around the car and the other two gently stroking the bonnet. The car rocked slowly from side to side and the spider purred with delight, from time to time it squeezed the car tight and groaned.
Straight away my grandfather knew what was happening. The spider was in love with his car. He didn’t understand it, but just from the way it held the car he knew that could be the only explanation. He went to bed storing the information in his brain and giggling at the spider in love with a car.
After two weeks of cleaning the car everynight my grandfather finally lost his nerve and after constant questions from my grandmother he gave up. After cleaning the car he drove back to the car lot where he bought it. “I’m sorry” he said to the manager “but would it be possible to get this car in another colour? I don’t really like this one.”
The manager was only happy to oblige…for a small price. My grandfather handed the manager some money and drove back home with a shiny new blue car.
That night he stayed up, watching the car from his window, scanning the trees across the street for the spider. After a few hours the spider emerged from the woods and started to walk over to the other side of the road. Halfway over though it stopped. It looked over at the new car and blinked. A groan of sadness came from the spider and it’s body flopped down. It turned back towards the woods, sobbing as it slowly walked back.
My grandfather told himself he was a monster. He thought about himself coming back from work one day to find my grandmother missing. He thought about the heartbreak and with this thought he promised the next day he would go back to the lot and ask for his old car back.
“Of course” said the manager “for a small price.” So again my grandfather handed over some money which the manager pocketed with a smile on his face.
As my grandfather drove home he tried to think up another one of his amazing plans. How could he keep his car clean but also not break the spiders heart? After scheming for a short time he came up with a solution, a solution which he put into action that night.
That night he waited by his car, scanning the woods for the spider, knowing it would turn up to see if it’s love was back.
After much waiting the spider emerged from the woods and as it walked over the road my grandfather walked towards it. “Listen he said, I’ve got a…” but the rest of his sentence was lost to the excited squeals of the spider. The spider pounced over my grandpa and landed on the car, rubbing it’s muddy legs along the metallic body.
Almost immediately the car was dirty and my grandfather ran over shouting at the spider “For God sake! Look at how dirty you’re getting my car! I HAVE TO WASH IT YOU KNOW!” The spider just continued to purr with delight, rubbing it’s fur along the windows, blacking them out.
“IF YOU WANT TO SEE MY CAR YOU CAN SEE HER BY MY RULES” my grandfather screamed “OTHERWISE I’LL TAKE HER AWAY!” The spider continued and he cursed to himself. Why did he think a spider would understand English?
Instead he tried another method. He tapped the spider on it’s leg and one of it’s eyes turned to look at him. Pointing at the spider and the car my grandfather shook his head. Then pulling some dirt from the spider and throwing it on the car my grandfather shook his head again. The spider moved the tops of it’s legs up and down, my grandfather knew it was a shrug. The spider didn’t care if he was getting the car dirty.
“You will care though” said my grandfather and he motioned with his hands to tell Henry that if he wasn’t clean then he would take the car away again.
All of Henrys eyes turned to my grandfather and suddenly they started to water. My grandfather patted him on the leg, feeling his soft fur. “Don’t worry he said. We’ll get you clean” and he pulled the spider by the leg and the spider moved with him.
He led the spider into the back garden and pointed “there we go” he said “perfect.” The spider followed the direction of the finger and noticed he was pointing at a swimming pool. Jumping back the spider squealed.
“Don’t worry” my grandfather said softly “it’s only a swimming pool, you won’t drown. Look.” And my grandfather removed his clothes and jumped into the pool, splashing the water around him.
The spider edged slowly towards the side of the pool, scared of the water. My grandpa stood in the middle and waved his arm. “Come on in….erm….Henry.”
Henry lowered one leg slowly into the water and touched it, quickly reeling back. “Don’t worry” my grandad said “it’s not deep.” Soon enough the spiders whole leg was in the water and it was moving back and forth, the mud sliding off. After the first leg came the second and after that came the third until eventually the spider had enough confidence to get into the pool by himself. At first he panicked, splashing the water around all over my grandad. Eventually though he calmed down, realising the water came no higher than his legs.
My grandfather stood in the water staring at Henry. “Do this” he said and my grandfather held his nose and plunged his head until the water. Moments later he came back up, his hair flattened to his head.
Hentry followed suit. His whole body falling into the pool and the water displacing over the sides. He stood straight back up and the water fell from his body. The dried mud was getting wet and muddy water was slowly emerging from Henry in clouds of dirt.
“Right, time we got you sorted out” my grandfather said walking to the side of the pool and picking up two sponges. He walked back over the pool to Henry and he slowly started to sponge his furry body. The spider purred, obviously enjoying it.
My grandfather stopped and held out the sponges to Henry. “Your turn” he said and he handed the two sponges to Henry. As he handed them over he fiddled with the sponges in front of Henry, showing him some straps which he had attached to the them. “Thats so you can hold them” my grandpa said showing Henry how to put them on.
Henry slid the sponges onto two legs and began scrubbing himself. As he scrubbed my grandad went over again to the side of the pool and picked up some more cleaning things. In both hands he held a giant bar of soap strapped into a holder.
Again he scrubbed these on Henrys body and showed Henry how to use them. Pretty soon Henry had four legs at work. Two with soap and two with sponges.
Once more my grandfather went to the side of the pool but this time he got out. He walked over to the back of the house and picked up his hose. He whistled to grab Henrys attention and Henry turned in the water, continuing to scrub himself.
“This is a hose, it shoots water!” my grandfather called and he twisted the tap making water spray from the end of the hose. Henry jumped as the water spurted out and my grandfather laughed. Walking over to Henry he sprayed the water over his body while Henry scrubbed.
Again, after a short while he handed it to Henry and Henry took it up with another leg.
My grandfather clambered back into the pool and watched as Henry cleaned himself. He pointed out spots the spider was missing and the spider would nod, learning how best to clean itself with it’s many arms.
Eventually it’s body was free of mud and dirt and the water of the pool was dark brown. The tap was turned off and my grandfather placed the soap and sponges next to it. “Right, a few more things” said my grandpa getting the spider out of the pool. When the spider was standing on the grass he pointed at it before shaking his head violently. Drops of water flew from his hair.
Henry followed suit. Lifting each leg up individually to shake it then finishing with one last shake of his entire body. For a moment it felt as though it was raining as water pelted down.
“Oh and one last thing” said my grandfather pulling out two brushes. He moved over to Henry and slowly started to brush his fur, pulling as each brush was caught in the messy hair.
Henry cried out and grandpa handed him a brush which Henry used to brush the hair above his eyes. Henry received the second brush a few moments later after my grandfather had taught the technique to him as well as he could.
After 20 minutes of brushing Henry placed down the brushes and he stood in the garden staring at my grandpa.
Henry was a new man…or rather…a new spider. His coat of hair and fur was neatly combed back with not a speck of dirt in sight. My grandfather smiled and pointing his thumb to the front of the house he spoke “go get her.”
As quick as a flash Henry was gone and a gentle squeak could be heard from the front of the house.
My grandpa sighed with relief and finally went off to bed. Beforehand though he checked on Henry. Looking down out of the window he could see his plan had worked…the now clean Henry was rubbing himself against the car and the car was getting cleaner. The dirt sticking to Henry.
That night my grandfather slept well and the next morning he woke up to a beautifully clean car. He kissed it “good morning beautiful” he said and every night from then on my grandfather would go to bed and wake up the next morning to find his car was still beautiful, looking as good as new.
From time to time he would wake up in the night from the sound of splashing but not too often, Henry was always as quiet as possible.
After almost a year had gone by my grandpa found it curious that my grandma suspected nothing, but then he wondered why she would. He was sure the last thing that would pop into her mind was that a giant spider was using their pool everynight and he was happy there was no complications.
Another year passed and another year and still the car looked as good as ever…but while the outside looked great the inside wasn’t doing so well.
As the years went by the car would enter the garage more and more. Each time less and less of the original car would come back.
Then on an especially cold winter morning it happened. My grandad turned the key to the car and it wouldn’t start. He knew right then that that was it. That the car had died and it would never start again. He sat in the drivers seat holding the wheel and he cried. Tears fell down his cheek and it was then that he realised that it wasn’t just Henry that had loved the car, but he had loved it as well.
Over the years he had told himself he was keeping the car alive for Henry, but he was keeping it alive for himself too. He loved his car because it was always new to him. It greeted him everyday when he left the house and everyday he said good morning to it. By that time he considered it a on-running joke but deep down he knew it was serious.
So he cried until everything was gone from him. He believed himself stupid for loving a car so much and convinced himself that “it’s only a car” so immediately he went into the house and phoned the scrapyard, arranging for them to pick up the car the next day.
Throughout the day he tried to come up with a plan, some way to stop Henry from getting hurt, but he could think of nothing and that night he waited beside his car until the silence of the night hit the street and the spider came from the trees.
When the spider noticed my grandfather it knew there was something wrong immediately. It walked up to the car and with one leg it shook the car. To my grandpa the shake looked like the normal, but to the spider the shake was different and the spider knew the car had died.
It moved it’s leg from the car slowly and it patted the car door before moving into the backgarden, no noise coming from it at all.
My grandfather waited for the spider to come back to the car but when an hour later it hadn’t come back he checked the back garden to see where it was.
There, floating limp in the middle of the pool was Henry, his legs bobbing with his body.
Grandad jumped into the pool and splashed over, pushing Henrys body towards the side of the pool.
Jumping out of the water he struggled to pull Henry out onto the grass but finally he managed it and he kneeled down by the body and moved his ear to the spider. No sound came from Henry and his body hung dead. My grandfather wept again, putting his arms around Henry and feeling his cold fur against his face.
“Thank you” he said to the spider “for making her more than a car. I won’t forget either of you” and my grandpa kissed the spider before dragging him into the woods to be in his home.
My grandfather went back to his home and showered, wiping the dirt from his body. Each stage of the shower reminding him of Henry.
He got into bed knowing that sleep wouldn’t come, but he tried. His mind was full and sleep never came and the next morning he got out of bed late and rang the scrapyard again. “Sorry but I don’t need you to pick up my car” he said “I think I can find a better place for it.”
That night he stood in front of the car and pushed it out of his drive and over the road, pushing it between two trees into the woods. He pushed it through the darkness for a long time until his energy was all drained. Catching his breath he looked down at the car. Bending down to the car he kissed it on the bonnet and walking off into the night he called “goodnight beautiful.”