I should have never bad-mouthed the mushi. That’s what Tony (pictured below) came to tell me. I arrived at my apartment after a tiring day of fruit basket and football (that’s soccer to my American readership), only to find this seven-legged beast lurking in the corner of my genkan (doorway). Why he had seven legs instead of eight, I don’t know; but somehow it only added to his minatory demeanor.

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“You’ve got some nerve,” he said, his beet-red gaze leveled directly at me. “I got wind of what you wrote on that stupid little blog of yours, ‘Reading the World’. What was it you called us? Beasts? Hellspawn? Well let me tell you something, punk, we mushi have pride,we have feelings, and we don’t take kindly to some vapid foreigner such as yourself insulting us, when clearly you don’t know the first thing about mushi.”

I stood there in the doorway, paralyzed with an odd mixture of fear and amazement, for I was having a conversation with a spider, who, by the way, told me to call him Tony. Either the heat was getting to me, or I had just stumbled upon the greatest scientific discovery since Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It was probably the former rather than the latter, but I played along with “Tony’s” little game, all the while frantically thinking of a way to extricate him from my apartment.

“Look, ummm…Tony, I don’t know who put you up to this, but I stand by what I wrote in that fine online journal, and I’ll not be intimdated into retracting a single word, you hear me? You mushi are a disgusting blight on this world, unnatural even, and it’s by divine right that I wage war upon you and your creepy, crawly bretheren.”

In response, Tony arched his back, and slowly began to crawl up the doorframe, no doubt seeking higher ground should our encounter turn ugly. Venom dripped from his mouth like grease from a teenager’s forehead. Subtlety was clearly not one of Tony’s strengths.

After several moments of uncomfortable silence, he said, “We don’t want to cause you any trouble, Mr. Foreigner. But if you keep publishing those nasty articles about us, trouble is exactly what you’re gonna get. All I have to is tap this here door frame and an army of cockroaches will descend upon this apartment with a ferocity not witnessed since the time of Moses. You catch my drift?”

Ah, but our friend Tony had made a severe miscalculation, for not only had I caught his drift, but during his Biblically endowed speech, I had also managed to locate my trusty broom, the perfect weapon to make sure he never left my apartment. Mushi may enter Ellison’s humble abode, but rarely do they leave—alive, that is.

I immediately sprang into action, catching Tony off guard. With a feral battle cry, I slammed the broom into the doorframe. Tony, big and strong though he might be, was not able to withstand my onslaught, and fell to the floor with an audible thump. Dazed, he stumbled drunkenly to the wall, attempting to scale it to once more, but I had other plans.

Before he could launch his ascent, I drove the flat end of the broom downward, pinning him to the floor. A peculiar green fluid oozed from underneath. He screamed and thrashed, in a dramatic but ultimately futile attempt to escape his bamboo prison (Japanese brooms are made from bamboo, in case you’re wondering) into which I had sentenced him. He was strong, I must admit, and it was all I could do to keep him trapped. I applied more pressure; his screaming intensified. Suddenly, I heard a loud crunch. Tony’s struggling ceased almost immediately, save for a few twitches and spasms. I lifted the broom to suvery the damage.

It wasn’t pretty. Tony, his multitudinous legs writhing in agony, had seen better days. I shall spare you the gory details, but rest assured he looked less like a pernicious spider, and more like a serving of okonomiyaki. “W-why…?” was all he could utter before what small amount of life remaining to him was permanently extinguished.

The battle was over. I had won. I laid my bamboo Excalibur on the floor. I had won the battle, true, but the war against mushi would never end—at least not in my lifetime. I scooped Tony’s flattened, gelatinous carcass into a plastic bag, and threw him into a green trashbag. It was the moeru gomi (burnable trash) bag. He would receive a proper funeral for one of his kind: one of fire and destruction. And hopefully a bit of pain.

I am often asked if I regret me decision to exterminate Tony, and the answer is always the same: no. Tony was a brash fool, and hopefully his agonizing death will send a message to the other mushi foolishly contemplating avenging their seven-legged brother.

I’ll end this post with a quote from my dear friend George “Dubya” Bush: “Freedom isn’t free.”

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