The season of the big cockroaches had begun.
I sidled into the pisser
for a slash. It was one of those things where you don’t realize how badly
you have to go on the subway ride and walk home but suddenly do once you’re back and starting
to get your suit off and hung up. I stood in the doorway of my tiny Japanese toilet and out of the corner
of my eye I saw this great brownish-black thing creeping down the
doorjamb at about the level of my knee, right next to me. I let out a “Boah-ahh!” and a
start worthy of Danny Thomas or other such Golden Age giant of
“Cucaracha…” I mumbled as I carried on with business,
never taking my eyes off my unwelcome visitor and his long, waving
antennae, during what was to have been “me time”. He seemed to sense that
the game was on. I, the pale, florid, and flabby middle-aged gladiator, clad only in boxer shorts, chose my weapon, a can of spray air freshener, my one stone with which to slay the twin avian harbingers of ultimate decay: stench and cockroaches.
rained down ineffectual blows upon the villain roach who fled to, and
then behind, the small credenza supporting a disused toaster oven and a
roll of toilet paper. Jockeying the small faux-wood pedestal,
upsetting the toilet paper to the floor, perception dawned that it opened
only to the back and that Pancho Villa was now holed up in box canyon.
Drawing upon my years
of dealing with Japanese vermin and their strategies for evasion, I
again seized up, not unlike Isildur, the hitherto impotent sword of my
deodorizer can and sprayed point blank and copiously into the gap under
the toaster stand. I pondered a next move during the lull , until, lo, the beast tottered out, visibly
shaken, and attempted to crawl a couple of inches up the side of the
pedestal. Sensing feverishly that I must strike while the iron was at
least still lukewarm, I snatched up a handful of the junk mail lying on
the floor, rolled it tightly into a lethal bâton of unsolicited
advertising, and whacked the hapless Pancho where he clung, and again on
the floor below.
Now he lay supine and twitching slightly, utterly
vanquished. Returning victorious to my pile of junk mail, I selected a
postcard ad for a 24-hour plumbing service and scooped Pancho up from
the grimy faux-wood vinyl field of his final humiliation and bore him
back to the dingy porcelain and plastic altar where our feud was first
sworn and joined. He lay upon his litter, one wing draped around its
top edge, like some mortally wounded hero carried from the field of
battle towards a watery Viking rite, a funeral at the flick of a
cheap chrome lever.