Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern


Don't Blame me Blame the Roaches


            The roaches don't care anymore. They used to give a shit and scatter for cover when I turned on a light, but they have taken a decidedly you can kiss my ass approach to living in my apartment. I think they somehow learned they can survive a nuclear attack, and now they're not afraid of dying. It's my fault, really. I accidentally left my laptop open one night and the next morning there was a Google page up with search results for can roaches be killed?

            Okay. I may have been drunk when I typed that, and I don't remember, but it's the only way I can explain, rationally, their complete disregard for my presence. I've gotten up in the middle of the night and had to tiptoe around roach orgies taking place in the center of my kitchen floor. They don't even stop roach-fucking long enough for me to enjoy a glass of orange juice before I stumble back to bed. And I know they're orgies because suddenly there are hundreds of tiny baby roaches using my apartment as a playground. I wouldn't mind my place being used as a daycare if the adult roaches were responsible parents, but I don't know if I can take another morning of emptying dirty dishwater with dead baby roaches floating in it. I almost want to make a PSA informing them that baby roaches can drown in the time it takes to answer the phone.

            And roaches, surprisingly, can use the phone. It's amazing the number of long distance phone calls those little bastards have made in the past month. Okay. That may have been me drunk-dialing Jennifer, my ex-girlfriend, and hanging up when she answers, but it's easy to believe it's them when I pick up the handset and roaches fall out of the receiver.

            I've tried to kill them with roach spray. The only thing that accomplished was getting them high. They got the munchies and ate all my food in a day—all being a box of stale donuts. Nevertheless, it was selfish and unacceptable so I called an exterminator. He sprayed and dropped roach bombs with little success. He even set up roach motels, but they must not have free Wi-Fi because whenever I check them, they're empty.

            Delbert, the exterminator, said the roaches must be coming from my neighbor's apartments, and in order to properly get rid of them, they need to call an exterminator—preferably him. He handed me his card as he was leaving. I looked at it then asked him if he knew that he has the same name as the exterminator in the movie Arachnophobia. He did. He said that's why he became an exterminator. I asked him if his name had been Hannibal would he have become a cannibal. His response to that was enjoy your roaches, loser. 

            My next step in trying to get rid of the roaches was to talk to my neighbors. The Hispanic lady in apartment 32B doesn't speak any English. But she does. Fluently. I hear her through the walls all the time yelling at her two kids. In fact, she speaks better English than I do, but when I went next door to ask if she had a roach problem, she just kept repeating yo no hablo inglés as she shut the door in my face. I didn't even have time to walk back to my apartment before I heard her yelling it's nobody, just the drunk pendejo from next door.

            The neighbor in 30B is an old white guy who's blind. He doesn't know if he has roaches because he hasn't seen any. He said that last bit with a chuckle. I flipped him off with both middle fingers to see if he was telling the truth. He was. I offered to check his apartment for him, but he refused to let me in, which I can understand, because as he said, I might rob him blind. Two more birds for the pun and I grabbed my crotch for emphasis. It's not like he saw it, but 32B, along with her bratty kids, did. She just shook her head at me. Bitch. Her kids giggled as she led them inside. I went back to my apartment, out of realistic options.

            I could move, but I can't afford it. I lost my job. I lost my job because I got a DUI. My boss didn't fire me because of the DUI though. She fired me because I was constantly late, and when I showed up, if I showed up, I was hungover. I tried to explain to her that I oversleep because the sound of roaches rummaging through my stuff keeps me awake at night. Okay. I may have a drinking problem that causes me to get drunk every night, but my roach problem causes me stress and that causes me to drink. All of my problems are directly or indirectly the roaches' fault.

            Sometimes, like now, I just sit on the kitchen floor with a beer in my hand, case of beer at my feet, surrounded by the roaches and feel bad for myself. Tonight, they're crawling all over my eviction notice that I've sprinkled with Twix crumbs in hopes they'll eat it so I don't have to deal with what they’ve done. They're eating the candy but not the notice. Good-for-absolutely-nothing roaches. They don't do anything but make my life miserable. But at least when I'm living on the streets next month, I won't have roaches ruining my life anymore.


Travis Keys is a writer who lives in San Diego, California with his wife and five kids. He draws inspiration for his writing from everyday people who are fascinating stories unto themselves.