“I just love this place…” Maria said to her fiancee, Paul. They had just stepped over the threshold of their new apartment, and Maira looked impressed.
“I knew you would. Look at the downstairs…”
Paul led Maria down the windy set of metal stairs that led to the bedrooms and bathroom.
“Look at the ceilings! They’re so high, I knew you’d – ”
Paul stopped. Maria hadn’t followed him into the master bedroom like he thought. He turned around, and saw her silhouette in the bathroom.
“There you are, why didn’t you – ”
But Maria was staring, transfixed at the bathtub. A big black cockroach was scuttling around. Maria’s eyes were popping slightly, and she seemed unable to make a sound. Paul stepped forward and saw what Maria was looking at. The moment Paul stepped forward, Maria turned her head. Paul peered down into the tub and saw the roach.
“BLAHHHHHH!” he shouted at the roach, as if to shame it to death with it’s own disgustingness. The porcelain was ringing with the sound of Paul’s exclamation. And Paul was just deciding how he wanted to deal with the little monster, when he saw the bug curl up, and stop moving.
“What? Did it -”
Paul turned to see if Maria had seen what he had. She was still turned away, with her face in her hands.
“Baby, did you see that? I just watched that roach curl up and die.”
“Good! Now get it out of here!” Maria screamed, face still buried in her hands, and a curtain of hair standing guard over the unwanted visual.
“But it was incredible! I mean, I don’t like the things either, but what are the odds of watching a roach die a natural death?”
“Who wants to see a roach do anything! Just get it out of here!” Maria was sounding close to hysterics, so Paul decided not to push the point any further. He grabbed a wad of toilet paper, picked up the roach, and flushed it down the toilet.
“There, it’s done. I took care of it.”
Maria looked up. Here eyes were wide and watery. She looked like she was either about to cry, or had just finished. Paul wasn’t sure which.
“I’m sorry, you know, it’s just that I can’t even look at them. The thought of even being near one makes me want to throw up.”
And then she started to cry. Paul cradled her head on his shoulder and patted her back. After a moment or two, they separated and went to look at the rest of the house.
Paul woke up the next day, one minute before his alarm was set to go off. Paul smiled, turned off the alarm, and threw the covers off himself. But the force of this celebratory gesture carried far enough that Maria was also suddenly exposed to the cool morning air. She squirmed for a moment, before opening her eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“Sorry honey, I just got carried away with the moment. I woke up before my alarm again, you know I love it when -”
“I’m cold. Where’s the blanket?”
“I’ll get it. Sorry. Here let me -”
Paul scrambled around the bed to the corner where the blanket had landed. He picked it up and spread it over Maria. She curled up under it’s warmth and fell back asleep. Paul tiptoed out of the room, and closed the door.
An hour later, Paul was eating breakfast and reading the classifieds.He hummed tunelessly to himself, and smiled every few seconds, inevitably amused at one thing or other in the newspaper. He sat with a glass of juice on one side of his plate, a black magic marker on the other. Every so ofter he would pick up the pen and circle an ad. By the time he’d eaten his breakfast, the paper was littered with little black ‘o’s. He got up to put his dishes in the sink, when he saw another roach scutling across the floor. He stopped dead, terrified of the scene he’d have to endure if Maria came up starirs right now. He sighed to himself, and muttered another “Blahhh” to himself. The roach stopped, twiddled its antennae and then disappeared under the fridge.
“Yeah, you stay there for now. Don’t let Maria see you out for another walk.”
Around noon, Maria climbed up the stairs to find Paul talking on the phone.
“Paul, P-A-U-L, Edwards, that’s E-D-W-A-R-… Okay, I was just trying to make sure you had it down correctly. If you could just -” Paul looked up as he was hung up upon to see Maria watching him with a scowl. He set the reciever on the cradle, and asked her what was wrong.
“You woke me up this morning.”
“I know, I’m sorry -”
“I couldn’t get back to sleep.”
“I said I’m sorry, what do you-”
“I just want you to promise that you’ll never do that again.”
“But I didn’t mean to do it this time. I can promise that I’ll never try to do it -”
“So you’ll just do it without meaning to again?”
“No, I mean, I hope not, it’s just -”
“I want you to promise that you’ll never do it again!”
“I’m sorry, I’ll try harder. I was just so eager to get started with the job search.”
Maria crossed her arms and pouted for a moment before responding, “How is it?”
“It’s going great! I called 15 places this morning, and no takers. But there’s bound to be some better offers in tomorrow’s paper.”
“Don’t worry baby. It’s all going to be alright.”
The week went by, and every morning Paul would look for a job, while Maria slept in. But luckily, it was a completely roach-free week. Friday afternoon, Paul had already finished his morning calls, and was busy cleaning up. He was sweeping the kitchen floor, when he saw it. Another big black roach was scuttling from under the fridge, trying to escape to another dark sanctuary. Paul didn’t even think about what he was doing, or that Maria was still sleeping, he did exactly what he did when he saw the roach in the bathtub.
“BLAHHHHHH!” Paul shouted, dropping the broom in his gusto. But then the broom was the furthest thing from his mind. Once again, Paul watched the roach stop moving, and curl up, dead. Disbelief was all over his face, and he looked up to see just as much in Maria’s face too. She had come up the stairs just as Paul noticed the roach. She had stopped transfixed in her disgust. But then she saw it happen. Paul screamed, and the roach died.
“Did you do that?” she asked uncertainly.
“Um, yeah, I guess. I don’t know….”
“That’s what you said happened before!”
“Remember all that about, what are the odds, and whatever else you were saying?”
“I know. But you don’t think – I mean, come on, I didn’t really -”
“You screamed, and that roach died. You screamed in the bathroom too. That roach is dead…. Baby, how do you do it?”
“I don’t even know what I’m doing! It’s just my reaction. I see the filthy things, and go ‘Blahhh’.”
Maria looked at Paul, and Paul looked at her. Both seemed unable to move.
“Hold on. I think I see one.”
“Just don’t let it get near me!” Maria shrieked. She was curled up into a ball on the chair, hands over her mouth, and both feet off the floor, waiting for Paul to do his thing. Paul was lying on his stomach on the kitchen floor, holding a flashlight, and his face screwed up in concentration. He was sweepng the floor under the fridge with the light, hoping for some sign of scuttling. After 20 minutes or so, Paul was getting tired. Maria was looking bored, and even forgot her fear long enough to put her feet back on the floor. Paul clicked off the flashlight, and stood back up. He walked over to Maria.
“I just couldn’t find one baby. Sorry.”
Maria looked at him and smiled, she pulled him toward her, and gave him a hug. Paul looked happier after that, and he stood there for a moment just holding her hands, and looking at his beautiful wife to be. Then suddenly he dropped her hands and ran into the kitchen. A big black roach was once again wandering across the kitchen floor. Paul squared his shoulders and shouted as loud as he could.
The roach shuddered once, and curled up dead.
“I did it! I Killed one with my voice!”
Paul jumped up and down in triumph and marvel at his newfound skill. He ran over to Maria to bask in his success, but as soon as he rounded the corner he saw her scream in horror. Paul faltered, the triumphant grin sliding from his face. Then he realized she wasn’t looking at him, she was looking behind him. Paul turned around and jumped back in horror. Dozens of roaches of all sizes were coming out of the woodwork, and zigzagging all over the kitchen floor. Some appeared to be limping, or scuttling in circles, others appeared crazed, running into walls, and making strange low hissing sounds. Paul was so disgusted that at first he forgot all about his ability, but after the initial shock, he took action.
“BLAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” Paul shouted, even louder than before. The roaches stopped as suddenly as if a key had been turned. They all curled up dead. Paul stood still, unable to believe that it was all over so easily. He looked and waited for more roaches to appear, but none did. After a moment, he went to the cupboard to get the broom and sweep up the mess.
“You have to see a doctor.”
“Why should I go to a doctor?”
“It’s not normal.”
“And what’s a doctor going to do about it? No, I’m not going.”
“But it’s just so creepy!”
“It’s just creepy knowing that you have this connection with those nasty things.”
“But I’m killing them! I thought that’d make you happy!”
“Nothing that has anything to do with those things could ever make me happy.”
Paul continued to look for work, but to no avail. And the days went by much the same, except for the mounting unspoked dread of their dwindling bank account.
“You need to be more aggressive.”
“What? I’m aggressive.”
“No. You’re not. I’m much more aggressive than you are.”
“What? That’s crazy. You’re so sweet.”
“Ha ha. But seriously, you just can’t take no for an answer.”
“How do you do that? Insist that someone give you a job? That’s ludicrous. I’ll find something.”
“You always say that.”
Maria paused for a moment, and sniffed the air.
“You know, I’ve been smelling something funny all day. Do you smell it too?”
“You know, now that you mention it, I do. But what is it?”
“I don’t know, but it’s getting stronger. It smells like something’s died.”
“Maybe there’s a mouse in the walls or something.”
But it turned out it wasn’t just a mouse. There were 4 dead mice, and hundreds of dead cockroaches lining the insides of the kitchen and living room walls. Paul and Maria had to move out for a week while the Realty company had the place fixed up again. But by the time they returned, Maria was insistant.
“Don’t you say a word. Don’t you so much as think bee-ell-ay-aich-aich-aich.”
“I know. But I never mean to do it, it just comes out.”
“I’d rather live with the things in the walls, as long as I don’t have to see them! I just NEVER want to see anything so horrible as we saw the
other night.” Maria said on the verge of tears.
And Paul was as good as his word. He kept his mouth shut, and kept looking for a job. But it didn’t really matter, as he hadn’t seen a single bug or mouse anywhere near the house. But one day, as he was combing the newspaper for more jobs, an ad caught his eye.
No experience neccessary
Good money, easy work
He hesitated for a moment, wondering what Maria would think, then picked up the phone to call.