An encyclopedic description of the garden-variety bite-and-run Black Widow spider is only partly accurate for Little Egypt who continually studied art, abnormal psychology, and had read all the classics. Being a self-educated spider-of-the-world, she stayed informed by watching the news on television, listening to NPR, or reading discarded newspapers and magazines that Stanley rescued from his alley. To do research on her self-published novel about human behavior, she crawled through the cracks of the old KittyKat building and eavesdropped on the happenings downstairs. Having eight eyes made voyeurism her favorite sport, and she considered her oversized abdomen responsible for turning her into an exhibitionist par none.
That and her tattoo, of course. Little Egypt had a quotation from daVinci's "Last Supper Sketchbook" tattooed in decorative script on her red hourglass that philosophized , "A life well lived is long ." Ascertaining beyond any doubt that daVinci was an Existentialist she converted from Catholicism without remorse. But it was really more than the tattoo, her habit of winking at prey, or her ability to do "hoochie coochie real slow" that inspired her first mate to nickname her "Little Egypt" from the old Coasters song. She could put on a show that rivaled Liza Minelli in "Cabaret."
Little Egypt welcomed Stanley into her close-knit web, even though Stanley's creaking metal-spring bed scared her half to death when he moved in. She bided her time with this odd newcomer and watched his every move. She thought it downright sweet that he used his mother's chest of drawers as his own, and that on top of this single piece of furniture, he neatly placed her embossed silver brush and mirror set in front of her photo. Little Egypt admired Stanley's devotion and loyalty, hoping to cultivate these traits within herself.
Stanley passed the open bedroom door of his father's room and saw Viktor talking -- no arguing --with himself. Tonight Viktor Cogswell vehemently disagreed with everything that Viktor Cogswell said, and made it plain that he found his own company highly offensive. Not an uncommon event, but tonight one of the Viktors seemed more sullen and sour than usual. It made Stanley feel sadder, and more alone. Sometimes, Viktor would snap out of his delusion and act normal, praising Stanley for taking care of him and asking him how his day had been. Then, more often than not, he would say something off the wall like "Where's your mother? " or "Are you going to school today?" School? Stanley's education had ended in the 8 th grade, unless you count the Denver "school of hard knocks."
"You around, Little E?" Stanley 's voice revealed his depression.
"I can't see you."
"Damn it Stanley! I am having a bad day--- just killed husband #5, so this best be important--
You know I told that man to never sneak up on me like that when I'm spinnin' ."
She looked at Stanley with six of her eight eyes, taking note of his nervousness and furrowed brow. Her other two eyes stayed busy tracking a moth that was flickering around a naked light bulb that dangled from the ceiling. Her voice softened almost imperceptibly seeing his slack-jawed-sad-ass face. (Little Egypt prided herself on being sensitive.)
"You done fixin' the Ladies hair for tonight? "
Stanley's enormous eyes gaped and blinked into the gloom of the room's corner until he spotted her. Little E always asked about his day, comforted him, and helped him forget the Dad problem.
"Yeah, mostly their blonde wigs -- 45.8% of Kitty's customers prefer blondes, and 88.7% of the ladies have dark hair ."
"For real? " Little Egypt kept the conversation going but turned another pair of eyes to the moth, which had landed on the photograph of Shirley, just out of reach.
"25% like red hair..."
"Well! Those KittyKat honkys don't know nothin' !" -- I read in Ebony last month that 90 percent of all men think that Black is Beautiful."
The moth bumped into the light bulb again, fluttering in nervous circles around and around and around while three pairs of spider eyes watched its every move. Little Egypt bided her time while Stanley carefully considered what she said, unaware that she could not possibly have a subscription to Ebony magazine -- or any magazine. He calculated a .03% chance that he'd left one around, because he couldn't remember having seen an Ebony magazine. A smile broadened his peculiar features, that looked both fleshy and bony at the same time.
"Black may be beautiful, but 100% deadly for all your men! " He grunted with pleasure, pleased with himself for making what he considered a funny joke.
"That's my nature Stan ," she drawled in a cutesy southern way while edging closer along the ceiling toward the bulb. After a calculated pause she cooed, " You know I can't help it, I ain't got no choice. It's just one-hundred-and-one percent who I am. You know I never meant them no harm ."
Less than a foot from the light bulb, she could feel its heat. The moth flittered by with dizzying speed, but she kept only two eyes on it, swinging the rest down to look at Stanley, who blinked up at her trustingly.
"Sweet Stan, you know you can trust me ." On the next circle around the lamp the moth came too close and with blinding speed Little Egypt grabbed, bundled, and hog-tied him in a silk lasso. She could now give Stanley her undivided attention.