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The cockroach murder
Short story

By Majid
September 10, 2001
The Iranian

It was quite unnerving to see its dark ugly head before my eyes as I opened the door to my flat. The very thought that it had sat there anticipating my arrival disgusted me.

The horrid expression on my face did little to discourage it; almost nothing did. It did not budge an inch. It stared at me intensely, sizing me up like a prizefighter measuring his opponents before a fight.

 I locked the door behind me and walked pass by it pretending that it was not there. I rushed into the walking closet and symbolically pulled the curtain behind me and went about disrobing out of my work clothes.

I had just taken off my panties when I noticed its antennas peaking out beneath the curtain. It stood there shamelessly salivating as its eyes crawled over my naked body. There was no escape from those piercing eyes. They haunted me, invading my every thought.

I turned my back against it and quickly put on my pajamas and sandals. I stormed out of the closet; almost toppling it over. It must have felt the rush and the odor of disgust rising from my passing body, for it next took flight and disappeared.

I went directly to the bathroom and locked the door behind me. I leaned back heavily against the door. My body melted into the door changing its contour into some wild twisted edifice.  I took my hands to my face burying my sharp fingernails into my skin. I could smell the blood collecting beneath my nails as I pulled them down slowly across my face and then down to my bare chest. 

I wanted to scream -- to cry out, but I couldn't show any fear, any weakness. I couldn't allow myself to look vulnerable; give it the satisfaction that it had rattled my nerves.

I had to be strong; otherwise, it would have crawled all over me; devouring me alive.

I suppose it was my own fault. I had left the door to my flat open too many times. Too many cockroaches had walked freely in and out. It was inevitable that something like this would happen, inevitable.

I could sense its neurotic presence behind the door. Its loud thoughts aroused a sense of revulsion. I was too terrified to decipher its thoughts, knowing too well that they were base, beast-like and violent in nature.

It would have crawled under the door, but its head and belly were too fat to get through.  Still I felt its antenna stuck out under the door; barely touching the back of my sandals.

Suddenly I discovered my reflection in the mirror. The marks from my nails have become quite pronounced; the rest of me looked invisible. I looked unnatural, ungraceful. I was tired of this look; this look of the stranger within; this lost ghost of a soul.

I think I stood there in a time span that equaled an eternity staring blankly at the fainting shadow before me. Eventually the maddening sound of the water dripping from the old faucets brought me back to reality; that impossible sound that tortured the remnants of my patience.  

I suppose it was my own fault. I had left the door to my flat open too many times. Too many cockroaches had walked freely in and out. Most of them left after an hour or two and the rest after passing a night. But this one, this one never left. It probably had some sick notion that there was some sort of bonding between us. This above everything else disgusted me most, this thought alone.

Even when it was not there I could feel its impossible presence. I would find its tracks everywhere; all over my bed sheets, my underwears -- my notes -- all over my life. It had invaded me entirely, taking hold of my serenity with its unbearable existence.

I was helpless. Besides, what could I have done about it? I was always too tried, too exhausted to run after it -- to force it out of my life. The best I could do was to ignore it; to pretend that it did not exist.  But it had become accustomed to my cold indifference stares. It would blend in smoothly with my ever-changing moods; with the shades and colors that constituted my memory, my past and my present.

I washed my face and hair with cold water allowing the water to run down freely over my body. I felt a rush of cold throughout. For a brief moment, I felt alive and forgot  that feeling of longing between my legs. But the moment was interrupted when I noticed its two beady eyes forcing themselves on me through the keyhole. I looked frantically for something sharp that I could run through the keyhole. I wanted to blind those ever pestering eyes; make them bleed. But the only thing I could find was a key, which I finally forced through the keyhole after several missed tries. I must have startled it for I heard it fall hard on its back. I then stormed out of the bathroom hoping to find it in a compromising position and crush it with my sandals. But I could not find it. It had vanished.

I suppose it was my own fault. I had left the door to my flat open too many times. Too many cockroaches had walked freely in and out. It was inevitable that something like this would happen, inevitable.

Some nights I would wake in cold sweat sensing its soft belly pressing against my back.  I would find it nibbling on my ears, on my toes, or its hands caught in twists of my locks. It was never too far, never.

I fell exhausted over the sofa, but before I could relax it appeared out of nowhere.  It always came around when I was in a compromising position or when it found me in better humor. I saw it inching its way carefully over the sofa.  It looked at me with its hungry eyes. It knew when to approach me, when I was defenseless, when I was most vulnerable. I couldn't take it any more. It would have gotten closer yet had I not protested. I lifted one of the sandals and threw it forcefully at it; I missed.  It disappeared into some dark corner.

I knew what it was after. They all were after the same thing; they wanted to crawl all over you, to feed on your being. They were all identical. They looked and crawled in the same disgusting, creepy way; always poking their heads into places where they were not welcomed. They forced themselves on you and lived on one's excesses and substance.

I suppose it was my own fault. I had left the door to my flat open too many times. Too many cockroaches had walked freely in and out. It was inevitable that something like this would happen, inevitable.

I know I should have run after it, dragged it out of its hiding place and finished it off. But as always, I was too tired, too depleted; too consumed by my own endless dreams whose faces had been bent into that of the weary strangers. I chased after that perfect moment of silence into which I could dissolve their ossified looks.  I was too tired to fight this irksome pest that had come to feast on the carcass of my dreams.

Exhausted and burdened with heavy thoughts, I headed straight for the bed. I disrobed and lay naked against the soft sheets; all exposed. I don't know how much time had collapsed before I woke in cold sweat. I had a dream that it had crawled into my mouth nibbling on my tongue. I screamed when suddenly I felt something falling from my mouth.

There it was. It wasn't a dream. I was dazed; I could not move. It too remained motionless; paralyzed by the force of my scream. Enraged, I raised my fist and struck it again and again and again until I felt nothing but the dampness against the sheets.

The next morning the sun had penetrated over and through the sheets turning the dampness into a disgusting stain that no amount of water could wash away.

I had survived another night. It was all I could murmur under my quivering lips... I had survived the night.

I suppose it was my own fault. I had left the door to my flat open too many times. Too many cockroaches had walked freely in and out. It was inevitable that something like this would happen. Inevitable ....

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