Sunday, June 24, 2007

Shannon and I went out for drinks, then at 2:00 in the morning, nicely warmed by our drinks, went over to Bob's Big Boy, a 24 hour 50's diner to settle our hunger. We were one of many who had emptied the bars and flooded into Bob's. I had pancakes and bacon, Shannon had a double burger. Beside us an old man replete with grandpa shorts, loafers, and calf-high ribbed socks sat by himself. We wondered about him, alone at a table at almost three in the morning. Perhaps he couldn't sleep, and couldn't stand the solitude so he went to Bob's where he knew there would be an abundance of activity. He looked too comfortable to be a one timer, but it was certainly curious.

After Shannon dropped me off, I entered my apartment and went to the bathroom. I was looking forward to a nice warm face wash and brushing my teeth, then settling into bed and letting sleep take me. I turned on the light, and movement above me to my right caught my eye. I looked up, and that's when I saw it.

An enormous cockroach.

No, not a little one. And not a medium one. This one was huge, at least the size of my thumb. It's inch and a half long antennae twitched back and forth as we stared at each other. Behind me, the cats looked at it, then at me like, "this one's all yours." I backed up, closed the door. Instead of getting to wash my face in warm water, brush my teeth and sink into bed, I was now dealing with man's ancient enemy.

My second week in this apartment, I'd forgotten something about California. One morning before going to work I was most rudely reminded of it. I fed the cats and looked to see them trying to eat from their bowls but flinching back from them. I watched them a few seconds and they kept doing it, then backed away from their bowls and sat back and stared at them, watching something that wasn't right with them. I picked up one of the food bowls to see that it was infested with ants. Aware of the movement, several ants marched up my arm and I quickly turned to the sink and dumped out the food, then blasted the water on my arm to get the little buggers off me. I turned back to the cats, and once again, that's when I saw it.

The ant superhighway.

I followed it out the door, hundreds of ants coming and going from underneath my front door, outside the apartment and into a plant bed. It was a scene out of It Happened at Lakewood Manor, except these ants weren't toxic and angry because of chemical dumping. They just smelled a buffet of cat food and wanted their take. Disgusted, I grabbed the Windex and went to work. After emptying the other dish and sending the food and more ants down the garbage disposal, I sprayed that highway and created one hell of a traffic jam. Then, I vacuumed up the carcasses. After work, I bought ant repellent and bait to put outside my door. So far, no more ants.

But back to the freak of nature in my bathroom.

Luckily, I'd remembered the Raid ant spray. I grabbed it from under the kitchen sink and entered the bathroom, still in my strappy heels, skinny jeans, push up bra, sparkly top and beaded shawl. I took a deep breath, aimed and fired. A forceful stream of insect nerve gas made a direct hit, and my adversary launched himself off the wall and landed on the counter with a thud. I cringed, jumped back, fired again. He flailed, climbed back up the wall toward the bath tub. He was so big he made the noise a mouse would had it suddenly gained Spidey capabilities. Scratch, scratch, tap tap. I fired again, he fell into the tub and I watched in revulsion as he scaled the other side of the glass sliding door. I waited for him to come out, but he went in between the two doors. I could hear him inside, scratch, scratch, tap tap. I feared he would hide there but I saw the long antennae stick out and feel around. I readied myself, arm extended, stance firm, Raid locked and loaded. A prickly arm emerged, then the fat big body. I fired, he launched to the floor and scurried under a clear plastic bag on the floor, thrashing around in panic inside. I can't describe the sound of it.I kept thinking that this was an insect making this noise. Not a mammal, an insect.

Though I'd wanted to avoid it, I decided to try and stomp on it. It was under the plastic, it wouldn't get on my shoe and toes. I just didn't think I could take the sound. It thrashed around some more, and without thinking, I covered my ears, stomped on the plastic and jumped back.

I'd missed. He still thrashed angrily inside. I wasn't up for another try.

Behind me, the cats watched.

Finally, the bug made its way out of the bag and limped toward me. It was finally showing signs of the effects of the Raid but was still moving fast. It turned a corner and hid behind a plastic storage tub, and I blasted it again. Finally, it rolled on its back and died.

Now, I had a whole other problem on my hands. I called Shannon. Told him of my battle. He spoke to me as I tried to figure out how I was going to get the roach off the floor and into the toilet. I wasn't picking it up. Oh HELL no. Finally, I found a padded envelope sturdy enough to support his weight. Shannon listened as I tried to get the beast onto the envelope. I was cringing over the phone. It's body was juicy, fat and had give, and wouldn't slide easily onto the envelope. It was like pushing against a big gummi roach. Finally, I got it and pitched it into the toilet. I flushed, three times. I didn't want it floating up and greeting me in the morning.

After that, I cleaned up a little, washed my face, brushed my teeth and sank into bed like I'd wanted. I wasn't worried about another one. I'd lived there for a month and not seen anything more than the ants, a couple spiders, and a cricket that met an unfortunate end in the cat's water dish.

The next day, I saw two of my neighbors in the courtyard and asked about my visitor. They nodded their heads, and said the roach came from outside. They said not to worry as they aren't from in the building, and told me to check for holes in my screens. Sure enough, when I went to my bathroom I noticed the screen in the window over the tub was loose. They also told me that the cats would get them. That is probably true. Atticus loves to bug chase, and now that he's seen one and my expert and calm finesse in handling one, he'll step up.

In the meantime, I'll be trying to get that screen secure.

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