The depths of winter, another Groundhog Day passes, and shadow or no shadow in North Carolina here, we’d just as soon skin the little devil and barbeque him than wait to see whether he was right or wrong. With the cold, there’s less biking and more time to sit toasty by the fire and read. In my continuing effort to bring you the best reading experience possible, I’m exposing myself (don’t let this sentence end here) to some of America’s great writers (jeez, even ending it here doesn’t sound good). Right now I’m rereading Hemingway’s short stories. My goodness, how did everyone not see his eventual suicide coming. His stuff can be so dark and depressing, that I’ve stopped reading it in bed at night, for fear I’ll have nightmare’s. With apologies, here’s me trying to write like Hemingway.
The heat waves made Old Ten Highway squirm as Jewel peered down the road ahead. She’d been walking east, and the late morning heat continued to build. Covered head to toe from her broad, floppy, sweat-stained canvas hat to her woolen socks worn thin at the heels and black, leather garden shoes, you’d think she was suffering, but she’d dressed like this, walked like this, in fact lived like this for so long that whatever she felt, it did not register in any particularly distinctive way.
At an even pace she walked the berm and passed things she’d stopped seeing long ago: not the swamp with it’s dead, deformed trees protruding from black, oily, stagnant water, nor the blue flowers of the chicory plants along the road, not even the dilapidated frame house with it’s roof stove in, it’s door broken and askew and dark window openings bordered with shards of jagged glass. Without turning her head she would again walk by what was home to her decades ago.
As she approached the intersection with New Hope Church Road something did finally get her attention. A man, stood across the road next to a bicycle. It was difficult looking into the sun to make out much more than that, but something made her stop, add her hand to her brim for shade and stare intently. She could now see that the man was young, not really, but much younger than her. The two stood appraising one another for some time before the man spoke. “Are you all right, mam? Do you need some help? I’ve got a cell phone if you’d like me to call someone.”
Jewel heard the man speaking, but couldn’t make sense of the words. She didn’t want to admit to her confusion, but felt she should respond. So she just spoke right out, across the road in a thin scratchy voice she did not use often, “When I was a child, my parents died in a small plane crash in Africa.”
So, if your first feeling after reading that was “huh?” and then you said to yourself, well, that was kind of a bummer, then I’d say that I “nailed it.” Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you on that low note. We’ve got other ground to cover.
In the past I’ve written about chiggers, ticks, even bed bugs, but now it’s time to notch it up. A couple of weeks back, the Princess and I had been upstairs watching TV, and while she stayed to watch a bit more, I went down to the kitchen. After turning on the light, I was amazed, I mean absolutely stunned to see a roach on the kitchen counter race for cover under a plate. I was so caught by surprise for a couple of reasons. First, since we moved to the “South” and bought our place here I have from the outset and continuously had one or another pest control firm make regular visits. Then too, we are so fastidious with our cleaning that when our son comes to visit, he makes fun of us for it. And although I’ve seen dead roaches in the attic and down in the garage, to see one so alive and full of himself running around on my “sacred” counter top, it at once made me crazy and really mad too.
Shaking, I went over to the counter, moved the plate, and the little beggar shot right under the lip of it again. OK, I looked around, saw a pad of paper and set a plan of action. The next time I went to the plate, instead of just moving it I’d pick it up with my left hand and with my right I’d slap down the pad of paper and it would be lights out, Roach Boy. I executed the plan perfectly and still shaking picked-up the pad to reveal the squashed and gooey carcass of my nemesis. I’m not sure why, but I guess every hunter wants a souvenir, but before scraping the mess off the counter I got the iPad and took a photo. (1)
The next morning I was on the phone to “Anti-Pesto” so early that I think I woke them up. I probably sounded pretty excited, and most definitely, not pleased, and the guy that answered said, “Don’t worry, mam (I get that a lot), we’ll get Ryan out there today and there will be no charge.” Ryan truly is good. He’d been out before, but we had not seen him for a while. I could see him kind of “casing the joint” as he came down the hallway toward the kitchen, and I explained to him what I’d seen. When he asked if I could describe the “varmint,” with great pleasure I hauled out the iPad and displayed the photo.
With no hesitation, he said, “I thought so, that there is one of your good cockroachs. That’s an outside cockroach that has somehow gotten in, because he was cold and hungry. What you don’t want, he looked into the living room, is a cockroach the color of that chair over there,” and he pointed to a blond, wood chair that stood over by the fire place. “You get one of those in here, and he’ll call all his relatives, all his “aunties,” (he pronounced it ‘ahnties’) and they’ll just move right in and take over.” I’m telling you I was mighty relieved, but he said I had some work to do. He said that that guy had probably come up around some plumbing or electrical pipes and pointed out areas where I needed to caulk in order to keep out other unwanted visitors.
By that evening I’d been to the hardware store, got the caulk and filled the gaps. I feel better now, but with a new, more realistic view on the subject. I’m relating all this, I guess admitting to it, to hopefully make you all feel a little better. Roaches are one of the great unspeakables. No one wants to admit they’ve got ’em, but I know that if I’ve got em, most of you do too. What would be amazing, is if you didn’t have them. Roaches I find out have been around for 300 million years! You can freeze them, radiate them, you can even cut their heads off…they just keep on going. Well, with their heads off they can only keep going for two days, but come on! (2) For all intents and purposes, they own this place, and we’re just living in their world and at their mercy.
Moving on. One day last week while The Princess and I were driving over to the mall she said, “We don’t think much anymore do we?” I don’t remember why she said that, but I had to agree with her, and we both laughed. I said, “You know most times you can get away with that, but there are times when it can lead to unfortunate consequences.” When we got home after half a day at the mall, we found we’d left the garage door open and the house unlocked and just wide open to the whole world. And that very morning the police had caught a guy with a stolen dirt bike in the neighborhood. We used up one of our free passes that day I’ll tell ya.
There’s no Pony news this week, as the Pony is in hibernation until the weather breaks. I’m kind of rooting for at least one decent snow fall this winter, so I can see how he runs in the snow. No luck so far, but I suppose…be careful what you wish for. Thanks for reading.
(1) This photo is so disgusting that I have chosen not to include it. For those wishing to see it anyway, send an email and I’ll send the image. I don’t recommend it.
(2) This information, according to Wikipedia and various other internet sources, so, you know, “grain of salt.”