Horace Carpenter has it all…a lucrative business as the only mortician in town, a home he can be proud of and a reputation of being one of the most popular men in town. Maybe he should be content with what he has. But he wants more.
Ada Hawkins, the daughter of the town’s only physician has lived a sheltered yet, privileged life. When she meets Horace at her 18th birthday party, the shy, physically plain girl is entranced by his good looks and suave manners. In six months they are married, and in less than one week Ada suspects she has made the mistake of her life.
And that is where the story might have ended…should have ended. Ada is to endure years of torment until her husband commits the most unforgivable act possible. From that day forward she lives for one thing only, not just to end the torment, but to do it in the hateful way possible.
She achieves her goal, only to discover true evil does not die.
“I had now discovered the joys of a new hobby—black widow spider farming. Night after night, I searched the darkest reaches of the basement for the tell-tale signs of my prey. The sight of the specie’s unique web always brought a smile to my lips. “There you are, my lovely little friend,” I would croon happily as I carefully lifted one of the beauties away from its home and gently deposited it in one of my canning jars.
“I only took the ones displaying the distinctive red hourglass, knowing they were the females—the ones that carried the poison. I hated the idea that these precious creatures might have to give up their lives for me, but knew they would understand I had no other choice. They were mothers themselves. Only a mother could know the pain I was suffering.
“I treated my finds with the greatest care, catching flies and other insects for their nourishment. I kept them alive and well fed for as long as possible. After all, I wasn’t a cruel person. If it were up to me I would never kill so much as an ant. But it wasn’t my choice anymore. I was at war and they were my weapons I grieved that they must die if I were to accomplish my mission, but knew deep in my heart I had no choice.
“Weeks went by before I felt I had gathered enough spiders to accomplish my goal. The sight of twenty jars lined up along the back wall of the basement storeroom made my heart skip a beat. It was time.
“With sadness deep in my heart, I carefully covered the air holes I had created in the jars’ coverings with tight fitting plastic wrap. Killing these beautiful creatures hurt me to the heart. Please forgive me, I whispered to each spider as I did what I had to do to take away the creatures’ oxygen. I hoped they wouldn’t suffer. Perhaps it would have been more humane, I mused, if I simply killed them outright. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
“Days later, when I was certain each spider was dead, I tenderly removed their still carcasses. All the while whispering my apologies, I carefully dissected each one, removing the sack that held the precious venom. I had had plenty of time to research the creatures, learning exactly where I would find what I needed.
“When I was finished with this step of the procedure, I had less than a teaspoonful of venom, but I was certain it was enough. In my research I learned that one of the spider’s bites would have been painful, yet most likely not lethal for a man of Horace’s size and weight. But twenty bites? Yes, twenty would surely do the trick!
“All the while I had been gathering my ‘weapons of retribution’, as I thought of the spiders, I was trying to decide exactly how I would administer the poison. I’d known from the moment I had conceived the idea that I would put it in his food. But in what dish? It had to be something he enjoyed well enough for him to finish the entire serving. And it had to be something complex enough to hide both its taste and its appearance.
“In the end I chose one of Horace’s favorite dishes—lasagna. My eyes sparkled with glee as I envisioned him eating the meal I had made just for him. I did not expect him to comment on all the work I had gone through to create such a sumptuous dish. That would never have occurred to him. But it was not compliments I was after—it was results.
“I had not eaten a meal with my husband since the day Joey died. So Horace did not question it when I did not join him at dinner later that day. With not so much as a ‘thank you’ he dove into the lasagna, devouring every bit of it. Still not bothering to acknowledge my presence, he scraped his chair away from the table and stood.
“I hope you enjoyed your meal, Horace,” I said as I took his dish to the sink. All I received from him was a “humph” and a glare. His lack of good manners did nothing to remove the smile I could not keep from my lips.