Barret Dreams of Electric Spiders: Week 158

'Barret Dreams of Electric Spiders' by Barret Thomson

“I’m going to sleep on the couch.” Barret declared Tuesday night after brushing his teeth.

“Are you worried about giving me your rash?”

“No, I think there’s a poisonous spider in the bed.”

“Ok…” I wasn’t sure where he was going with this but it made me feel responsible, like I had negligently let my pet poisonous spider share the bed with us.

“So,”Barret continued, “I’m just going to take the couch tonight.”

“Should I also not sleep on the bed?”



“No, you’re fine on the bed.”

“I’m fine on the bed but you’re not because of poisonous spiders?”

“Yes,” Barret paused. “They didn’t bite you.”

I couldn’t really understand the rationale but I pointed out that he looked perfectly healthy.

“It might take a few days to kick in.”

“That was Sunday.” I counted back on my fingers. “I don’t think it would be a very effective survival technique if the spider’s poison took three days to activate.”

Barret apparently didn’t agree with me. He found a black and white checkered blanket and placed a pillow at the end of the short red couch. While he did this I swept my hand across the sheets and shook out the comforter and pillows.

“I don’t see any spiders.”

“I think we should wash those sheets again.”

“We just washed them,” I reminded him. “Are you sure you want to sleep on the couch? It’s not comfortable.”

“Yes. I just want to see what happens.”

“What will happen is a crick in your neck. Remember that time you were cutting those hedges and you had to wear a mask because you couldn’t stop sneezing? I think you are just having an allergic reaction from working out on the grass in the park.”

I thought the matter was settled, but two days later Barret’s body was completely covered in small red dots and his lymph nodes were popping out of his neck like gumballs. He left work early and found a doctor who agreed that it was indeed caused by a bite on the back of his earlobe.

“Does the doctor know what it was?” I asked.


“Well, I bite your ear. Are you allergic to me?”


“Hey, you know what? For a rash, your skin has a nice reptilian texture. At least it’s not scabby or leaking pus.”

“Thanks. I feel better now.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “No worries.”

While Barret’s rash spread between his toes, so too did viral videos reminding uninsured US citizens to sign up for Obamacare before the March 31st deadline. Considering Barret’s out-of-pocket doctor visit, I looked up our Australian health care plan while the sheets tumbled once again in the washing machine downstairs. Barret popped a few anti-histamines and looked miserable lounging on the couch.

We were on the most basic plan to cover our visa requirements and I realized that for only $10 more a week, our plan could cover outpatient visits. That was a pretty big oversight on both our parts, so I guess the silver lining to Barret’s awesome rash was that it caused us to pay more attention to health insurance. We immediately emailed the provider to upgrade our plan.

Now I just had to convince Barret that the bed wasn’t a spider breeding ground.

About: the artwork of Barret Thomson


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