Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Around the World: Fauna

January 4, 1992

I have discovered that here, in our room, we are not alone. 

It's dark, being very early in the morning, and the curry I had for dinner has other ideas. Jeanette is sound asleep in the bunk below me.  Quietly, I make my way to the loo, only to discover that the bathroom has no light. The only source of light is the incandescent bulb sticking out of the wall by my pillow on the top bunk.  Not wanting to disturb my sleeping room mate, I drape a white bed sheet over the opening to the bottom bunk, which successfully diffuses the bright light that I must now inflict upon the dark room. 

As I'm minding my own business in the dimly lit bathroom, my attention is caught by a long wriggling thing sticking out from behind the shower curtain.  I'm fixated on it, curious.  The tentacle brushes the shower curtain slightly aside and I realize that the wriggling thing is the antenna of the biggest (cursing on all things holy) cockroach I've ever seen!  This thing is easily four inches long.  It suddenly occurs to me that I'm not all that comfortable sharing a bathroom with a bug that size.  Whatever it was I was doing, I'll do later.

I bolt for the brighter lit bedroom and search for an object of death.  I never thought of my big feet as a blessing.  Until now.  How terribly inconvenient for Roachie.  My search for lethal footwear produces a rubber flip-flop.   I had a feeling these would be useful!

This is not your everyday, common North American cockroach.  I've seen kittens that weren't this big.  I don't trust that one hearty whack with a hand held flip-flop will do the trick. I put the rubber sandal on my foot, while I track the bug's progress out of the bathroom and into the bedroom.  Stalking my prey, I carefully calculate my attack... and pounce!

Once it's under my sandal, I give it the obligatory, full-weight squish and twist maneuver, and the crunching sound is most satisfactory.  Unconvinced, the attack also includes stepping out of the sandal and jumping on top of it with my full weight, just in case it's not dead enough the first time.  I kill it again, and again, and again.  Believing that Roachie has been sufficiently murdered, I breathe a sigh of relief, still standing on the sandal of doom.  What was nature thinking when it created that thing?  It's obviously something prehistoric.  Alas, the curry I had for dinner has plans for me now.  I lift up the sandal to inspect the carnage.

There's Roachie, right where he should be.  Flat.  Squished.  Dead.  Roachie is also something else.


Roachie suddenly returns to it's normal shape and takes off in flight.  Around my head!

Janet Leigh Psycho shower scene
Courtesy Rex Features


I am witlessly terrified, defensively flailing and flapping at Roachie and in one lucky swat, I knock the Bionic Bug to the floor where it continues to scurry, unphased, under the bed.

Meanwhile, Jeanette is woken up during my flailing to a sound not unlike the shower scene in the movie, Psycho.  She's surrounded in white and believing I am being murdered, attempts to exit the bed through the wall, just as Roachie is crawling up the same wall and is now, a mere millimeters from her face.  Jeanette leaps out of bed, ass first, and lands in my arms.

I'm still holding her when she turns to me and calmly says, "Stop screaming."

Oh, I was wondering where that noise was coming from.

I put Jeanette on her own feet and we stare silently at the very large insect on the wall, which is now sunning itself by the light of the incandescent bulb above my pillow.  I foolishly think that we are working on a similar solution.

"Give me your shoe," Jeanette demands, holding out her hand.

Obviously, I was mistaken. "That's not a good idea!" I respond, "That thing can fly!"

"Just. Give. Me. Your. Shoe."

Well, I tried.

I hand her my sandal and move to the door, preparing the knob for a speedy exit.  By the time my sandal is barely out of Jeanette's hand, I am already out the door.  From within our room, I can hear Jeanette screaming, followed by the thumping and banging of the door as she tries to escape. The crescendo of footsteps in the corridor indicates that Jeanette is not far behind me.

We head to the front desk for help, where we blurt out the words, "attacked" and "bug" and "big".  The clerk disappears below the counter without a word, and eventually reappears with a large can wrapped in plain white paper and a rolled up newspaper.  He asks us to take him to our room.  When we arrive, he instructs us to wait outside.

He enters our room and the only audible sounds from within are the aerosol can spraying, Psssssst!, the newspaper smacking something, Phwap!, and the sound of the toilet flushing.  Phwap! Phwap! Psssssst! Phwap! Pssssst! Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssst! Phwap! Flush...  Phwap! Flush...  Flush...  Pssssssssssst! Flush... Phwap! Phwap! Pssssssssssst! Phwap! Flush... Flush...Flush... Pssssst! Phwap! Flush...  Flush... Psssst! Phwap!

The clerk finally emerges from our room, some 20 minutes later.  The newspaper is bent and tattered, and the aerosol can is dented.  He wipes the sweat dripping from his brow on his shirt sleeve and says, "It's under the garbage can.  Don't lift it up."

What? Seriously?!?  I can hear its footsteps as it races around the rim.  The metal bin moves with each twang of Rochie's body flying into the side.  NASA should build space shuttles out of these things! 

Don't lift the garbage can.... O! K!

I think I'm going to need some liquid courage to go to bed tonight.  Beer!??!?!!

• ¤ •
Never argue with a fool.  Someone watching may not be able to tell the difference.
~Mark Twain

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