The Cockroach

By SCW Member Betty Halstead Moss

Suffering from writer’s block for several months, or possibly just finding other interests to steal my writing time, I found my way back to the pen this week, and following is the result.  I should preface this article with the fact that my daughter is a “clean freak” who runs the vacuum cleaner almost as often as she brushes her teeth. But this is Louisiana – the tropics – enough said.

In the beginning, God created the heavens, the earth, and all living creatures. These are facts, and I believe them to be true as I have the highest regard for the Bible. I understand that God gave man the freedom of choice, and for that reason, we master our own fate. Things would be different if not for my great-grandmother, Eve, who chose to eat the fruit and gave it to Adam, who chose to do the same, although he blamed Eve when God questioned him.

“Trim and tend the garden and don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” God said, as He placed them in a perfect environment. However, they disobeyed Him and managed to be exiled from the beautiful garden where no thorns or weeds grew and no critters crawled about the land.

Having said this, I now set the scene later – in fact – thousands of years later in the present. After a harrowing day with several crises having stressed my 84-year-old mind. Technology tried my patience with AOL malfunctioning, and with the Geek Squad unable to help, aggravating the situation even more. But, I digress.

With several projects to complete before Saturday, Wednesday evening found me behind schedule and wondering if I will survive. As a wannabee artist, my goal is to please those who have commissioned (artists love that word – makes one feel important) me to paint projects to their specifications. After Bible Study, I sat down at my easel to work on a painting for a new young barber who is opening his shop. The scene, a barber chair with shelves, spread before me on a large canvas which blocked my view of the table where my tools were located.

Engrossed in painting a canister on the shelf, I turned to dip the brush in red paint and looked back at the canvas. As I raised the brush to the image, I froze. My hand wouldn’t move. Looking straight at me from beside the canister image sat a huge cockroach. At least two inches long, his shiny wings tucked back, he switched his antenna back and forth and steadied himself like an airplane revving up its engines to take flight.  He jumped at me. Screaming with panic, I batted him away.

On my feet like a flash, yes, even at 84-years-old, I moved quickly trying to see where he landed. Searching around the art table among the paint, brushes, and various paper items, I knew he could be hiding anywhere.  After a few minutes, I decided he may be rooms away by now. With this thought, I returned to my painting project, cautiously looking about all the while.

The sound of paper moving ever so softly brought my attention to a container where I disposed of several paint-ridden paper towels. Peeking around the canvas at the container – you guessed it –his tail sticking out of the paper wiggled as he rummaged among the towels. I picked up a towel nearby and smashed into the container. He must be dead. I looked through the mess, but couldn’t find him.  He got away again and may be in the next parish by now.

More cautiously than before, I returned to painting, but every little sound kept my eyes moving back and forth checking. Several minutes passed in which I moved around the room working with my project. As I sat looking over my work, something moving on the table caught my attention. This creature crawled at top speed toward me, paused for a moment to look straight at me, and before I could react, he leaped to my arm. Again, I jumped to my feet screaming at this possessed critter from Hades and finally knocked him to the floor. He ran along by a drawer while I gave chase trying to kill him, but he got away under the chest of drawers.

In the wee hours of the morning, I wondered where he is hiding just waiting to jump on me again. I hear little tiny crackling noises coming from everywhere. I know he’s here. He may be in the drawer with my nightgown. He went under there when he ran from me. Do I want to open that drawer? Do I want to turn the light out? It’s 2:45 am.

I blame Eve for my evening of misery. If she had told that serpent to get lost, I wouldn’t be sitting here looking for that cockroach. You see, I believe God created the cockroaches to plague Eve for disobeying Him, and I intend to question her about such stupidity when I get to heaven. Of course, I have a long list of other culpabilities to discuss with her too – such as childbirth and such like.

As to the illusive cockroach, history tells us it’s believed he survived the flood. I don’t doubt that. I admit the one – I hope there’s only one – hiding in my room tonight is clever, aggressive, and more resilient than I. In my view, he has an even chance to live until the earth is destroyed by fire. God has promised nothing will survive that event.

The following evening, I reached to open my sock drawer. There he sat stretching his head upward as if to say, “I’m still here!” Shocked again, I screamed and jumped back. He ran and finding no traction on the rolled edge of the dresser, he fell to the floor. He ran like a streak of lightning under my bed. The bed is on wheels and I moved it out so I could see. There he sat waiting for me. I tried to hit him with my slipper, but I must have swept him out of sight. Gone again, but still in my room. I sat down almost in tears. How can I be so disturbed by this creature?  In a few minutes, he brazenly crawled out and stopped in front of me. I swiped at him again and missed. He ran behind the piano.  So very tired, I fell into bed trying to put him out of my mind.  I hoped I had hurt him as he seemed injured when he crawled behind the piano.

The next evening I entered my room to find the cockroach sitting in front of my chair. You rascal, you have beaten me, Then I remembered I have nice strong shoes this evening. So I, carefully, stepped forward and came down on him with my foot. I felt him crunch, and I shivered as I stepped back away from him. He appeared dead. I grabbed my phone and took his picture. Proof I had won.

He moved; his antenna swept back and forth. Refusing defeat I grabbed a paper towel, picked him up, and quickly dropped him in the toilet. He began to swim vigorously and almost made it out before I could hit the handle to flush him down. I admit I checked to see if he had returned at least twice before I accepted my victory.



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