I’m sitting on the couch watching TV. I just came back from the hospital. I spent two whole days there so that they could keep me under observation. The report is that the splitting headache was caused by a concussion. I now have thirteen stitches and a bald strip about a half inch wide and four inches long just right of the top of my crown. I also broke my left pinky. I’m right handed so that won’t affect me much. Other than that, all I have are bruises and sore muscles. They say that I was extremely lucky. It’s hard to appreciate that fact when I feel like I got the crap kicked out of me. Every menial task say, trying to get to the bathroom, makes me feel like I’m being beaten with a stick. To make matters worse, nobody saw me being thrown down the stairs and they think that I’m losing it. I heard my “supportive” parents talking amongst themselves — when I was pretending to sleep in the hospital — about sending me to a psychiatrist. And I thought all I had to worry about was Papa making jokes about my fall. You’d think that if they didn’t want me to hear anything they’d at least have enough sense to leave the room.
Psychiatrist, sure, like that’ll help; like I would actually talk to a shrink. If I started telling him the truth, before I finished, I’d be surrounded by orderlies while the Dr. advises me that the white jacket with all the straps they are holding is for my own safety.
I’m resting on the couch; my head on a pillow, a warm blanket strewn across me, the remote in my hand. This is where I plan to sleep for the next few days. It’s easier to get around. The bathroom and the big screen TV is down here. And, with the fact that I was nearly killed twice upstairs, I feel much safer down here. An added bonus is that I can sleep with the lights on without bothering anybody.
My family has been treating me to whatever I want. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that they were talking about me like I’m schizo. Mama and Papa have given me as much ice cream as I want — that only helps for tonsils, but who cares. Ice cream is ice cream. Sweet little Sunshine has been at my every beck and call. I try not to ask too much of her. Only the essentials, like a glass of water or another blanket. I don’t even have to lift a finger.
Having my own personal slave should be enjoyable, but I am so highly medicated that I’m practically comatose. The upside is that it eases the pain; the downside is that I have trouble thinking straight. I have to take the medication every four hours. I’m only lucid for the last half hour before my next pill.
“Ay Dios mío!” Mama screams, causing me to jump.
“Ooh.” What happened? “Mama are you all right?” I turn my head by habit. The slight movement leaves me writhing in pain. I let out a quiet whine.
Marisol runs towards her while shouting on a continuous cycle, “What’s wong, Mama, awe you all wight?”
“Yes, I’m all right. Don’t anybody use the downstairs bathroom.”
“Why?” I ask.
“I’ll tell you when I get back.” I hear her rushing away. Tick-tock, tick-tock. I hear her light tread past the living room. Two minutes pass. After another minute passes, she returns. I hear the shuffling of feet heading towards me. Mama stands in front of me blocking my view of the TV. Her face is as white as a sheet; her eyes are dilated in fear. Yes, finally someone else saw something!
“What happened, Mama? What did you see?” The questions bring her somewhat back to life.
“I was in the bathroom washing my hands when a cockroach dropped from the ceiling into the sink. Then several cockroaches started to pile out of the drain. I looked up and there was a swarm of cockroaches on the ceiling.”
“And?” I ask eagerly.
“And, they were everywhere! On the walls, filling the sink, around the toilet, and then they started coming towards me!” She shudders at the thought. “So I ran and closed the door behind me. I blocked the door with a towel to try to keep them inside. I haven’t seen any come out. I checked the whole house and all the other rooms were fine except for the downstairs bathroom.” That put a damper in my enthusiasm.
“I’m going to go call your father; nobody open that door!” she says.
“Sure, where am I going to go?” I mumble. I’m immobile, remember?
I hear the rustling of her dress as she scurries over to the phone. The button’s beep as she presses speed dial. The phone starts its connection — not fast enough apparently for Mama, her worry lines are showing. Papa finally picks up.
“Wally, the downstairs bathroom is infested with cockroaches!” Mama spews her words in a rush. She pauses to listen. Her words come out firm, “You need to come home now!” Silence. “Come home and see it for yourself.” My bet is that he’s asking if it can wait. Why couldn’t she put it on speaker? I wish I could hear what he’s saying instead of hearing only part of the conversation. “You know what, you’re right, you can’t do anything about it. So you know what? I’m going to call the exterminator. I’m not going to wait for you!” Pause. “Fine, but get over here!” she retorts.
Mama roughly hangs up the phone, she grunts in frustration. Uh-oh, I hope she’s not going to take her frustration out on us. I hear her briskly walk over towards us as she states, “Girls, if you guys have to go to the bathroom you’ll have to go upstairs.”
I sigh. “Guess I’m holding it,” I mumble.
“Well, sorry,” she says with fain concern. Good, going Papa. Piss her off and let us deal with her temper. Well, me anyways.
Twenty minutes later … we hear Papa pull in and the van door shut. Trevor’s yapping wildly, his paws cut the air as he tries to break free from Marisol’s grasp on his collar. Mama runs over to open the door for him. I get Marisol to let go of Trevor so she can help me off the couch. I want to see this. As I walk into the hallway Papa is just stepping through the doorway. He gives Mama a quick kiss before asking, “Which bathroom is infested?”
“The downstairs; the girls and I will stay here while you take a look.”
“I might need some help.”
“Fine,” Mama says, upset that she has to go near the bathroom.
I follow behind Mama and Papa in curiosity. When we get to the door I take my place to the side of the entrance with Mama and Marisol, just in case the cockroaches start to crawl out. Papa hesitantly grabs the doorknob. He pulls the door open.
“Holy Crap!” Papa yells as he jumps back and slams the door shut. I only had a chance to catch a small glimpse; there were so many cockroaches that I couldn’t even see the floor.
“Run and grab some duct tape, it’s under the kitchen sink,” Papa says to Mama. Mama turns, hustling towards the kitchen. She returns seconds later, duct tape in hand.
“Here,” she says as she hands it to him.
“Thank you,” he says, before turning his attention back to the bathroom door. He goes to work taping all of the sides of the door starting with the bottom.
“Double tape it, Papa. Just in case,” I suggest. Even the thought of the roaches going under the door makes my skin crawl.
“I know,” he snaps. I don’t blame him for being angry. He should be frustrated with the thought of how bad the exterminator bill will be.
“That should hold it until the exterminator gets here,” Papa says as he wipes his hands together, indicating his job is done. “I can’t believe that they didn’t crawl under the door, that’s unnatural,” Papa mumbles to himself. “Okay, now the upstairs bathrooms.”
Papa and Mama go upstairs to look and I make my way back to the living room — at a snails pace — to go search through the phone book for an exterminator.
I hobble over to the coffee table and grab the phone book before I plop my butt back down on the couch. The minimum exertion was so extremely excruciating that I take a moment to recover before flipping through the contents of the book. I find the number for the exterminator in less than a minute.
“Thank God! the upstairs is all clear!” Papa’s voice drifts down from the hall.
“Here, I found the number for you,” I say as he walks over to me. I point to the number.
“Good, saves me time. Thank you,” he says as he dials the number on the phone.
The exterminator arrives an hour later. He’s short with a beer belly and he has black-beady eyes. What little hair he has left is the color of dirt. He looks to be around his late thirties.
“I’m Nick, I’m here to relieve ya’ll of your bug problem,” he says with his heavy Southern drawl.
“Nice to meet you Nick, I’m Walter,” Papa responds as he courteously reaches out his hand for Nick to shake. Nick doesn’t take it, so Papa drops his hand and introduces us. “This is my wife Alena and my daughters, Marimar and Marisol.”
“What part of the house is infested?” Nick asks, not acknowledging our presence in the least.
“The downstairs bathroom is really bad, the cockroaches are —”
“Sir, I’m sure I can handle this,” Nick says, arrogantly cutting Papa off mid-sentence. He’s lucky Papa’s in a jam or Papa would have kicked his cocky ass out of here.
Smoldering, Papa leads the way to the bathroom, trying desperately to contain his temper. I follow behind them not wanting to miss Nick’s reaction — my pain killer is already starting to kick in. Not wanting to be anywhere near the bugs, Mama and Marisol decided to stay in the living room.
Nick walks over and pulls off the duct tape to get the door open. As he rips the tape off, he gives Papa a look like he’s an idiot. I bite my tongue to restrain myself from saying, if Papa was an expert we wouldn’t need you, but I don’t think Papa would be too thrilled with me pissing off the only person that can help.
I stand a little way behind them incase one of them jumps back. Nick opens the door. “Roaches all over the walls, huh?” Nick scoffs.
The room has completely gone back to normal. It actually looks spotless like the massive swarm of cockroaches never inhabited the room. Papa sticks his head through the door looking all around.
“That can’t be possible! The whole bathroom was covered with them,” Papa says.
Nick and Papa both head in and look around, but they find no trace of them. Not even a crack on the wall or ceiling they could have crawled back into. They just vanished.
“I don’t see any roaches or even any sign of them. The little critters must have magically disappeared into thin air,” Nick says cynically.
Papa walks out of the bathroom astounded. He either ignored Nick’s comment or is too bewildered to respond. He usually doesn’t let people’s rude comments like that slide.
This oddity didn’t just happen to occur out of nowhere. This just so happened to occur the day I signed out of the hospital, this has the ghost’s, whom I dubbed “Casper from hell”, name written all over it. And something tells me that more unexplained events have yet to come.
I follow the men to the door.
“I guess your services are no longer required,” Papa says vacantly as we reach the door.
“Yep, well, that’ll be seventy five dollars. I’ll take checks but no credit cards,” Nick says eyeing Papa like he’s delusional.
“You didn’t even do anything!” Papa exclaims. His veins in his temple are popping out. As he steps out onto the porch Nick turns and says, “You had me drive all the way out here to send me on a wild goose chase. You’re paying me or else!” he retorts. I’ve never heard someone talk to Papa like that. Papa’s eyes turn black and seem to glow red.
Nick’s eyes widen as he realizes his insolent behavior won’t be tolerated. Papa follows him out onto the porch and is about to give him a piece of his mind or worse when Nick quickly blurts out, “I do have a cash discount!”, before Papa gets within arms length.
“And what would that be?” Papa retorts, obviously about to explode.
“Fifty would be fair for my troubles, sir.” Papa curses under his breath. Taking a deep breath, Papa fishes into his pocket for his wallet and pays him. Nick doesn’t hesitate on getting into his truck. Papa stomps back into the house, swearing.
“What’s all the commotion?” Mama asks, entering the front room.
“The bugs are gone,” Papa says through clenched teeth. I remove a vase from a table beside the door in case he … SLAM!! Yep, I was right. Papa gives Mama a look that keeps her from yelling at him for slamming the door and tells her she needs to think of something to diffuse his temper.
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Mama asks puzzled, in a calming tone.
“No, I mean they left. I went to show him the bathroom and there was no trace of the cockroaches. I even had him check the hallway.”
“I’m still not seeing the problem.”
“The problem is that little pecker-headed- f**ker charged me.”
“How are they all gone?”
“I don’t know. They just are. Go take a look for yourself,” Papa says frustrated.
Papa heads to the bathroom with Mama and I behind him. He stops at the door, gesturing for her to take a look inside. Mama walks over hesitantly and peeks in.
“How could that be?” she asks in disbelief.
“That’s what I want to know,” Papa says, shaking his head as he walks away. Mama and I just stand there staring into the bathroom, shocked by the unexplained phenomenon.