Lord of the Cockroaches

Lord of the Cockroaches

May 22, 2020


The storage locker was a decrepit cell housing your family’s holiday decorations and misfit furniture. Each unit in your fancy Chicago apartment building had one, in the catacomb hidden behind the gilded lobby, with its uniformed doormen and polished brass.

There, was the liter of warm vodka, waiting in an old urn that you had once used for plants. There, you fell into an old loveseat, and drank, grimly watching the cockroaches as they emerged from their nest under the boxes of ornaments, beneath the ruptured concrete. The fancy people in your building called them water bugs. But you’d studied insects in school, collected them as a child, and you knew an American Cockroach when you saw one. The adults could grow two inches, especially in warm and fetid places with ancient plumbing and moldering plaster. You no longer tried to kill them. What was the point? Like you, they would always return.

You do not share this story at group level. Not because it’s too painful, it wasn’t. The memory of that storage locker, you collapsed in your chair, the Lord of the Cockroaches. Ugly as that picture was there were lower places you might have gone, and did. The descent from drink always picks up where it left off. And it begins with forgetting.