15 April, 2008


A girl moved in two doors down, and was the first friendly neighbor I had had in four years of living in my apartment complex in Downtown/Logan/Dupont DC.

We went out for a drink the first Wednesday we met. In the following weeks I would stop at her place to borrow her blow-dryer, which I used as a makeshift-iron when I needed to look decent (which wasn't too often). She called me whenever she had a spider or roach crawling up her wall.

The first time she called me I went over simply to tell her that, as a rule, I do not kill things. That, whenever an insect makes its presence known in my apartment I simply scoop it up with newspaper and let it our the door.

"And that's why this place is infested!"

Sure, she was right, but I don't like the thoughts that go through my head just before I kill anything sentient.

The thoughts I have before I eat anything (formerly) sentient are all about my taste buds' alacrity... But I don't kill things myself. I let others do it in massive murder factories, which makes me somewhat morally superior to those who do not, of course...

"Are you done already?"

I should have been. I rolled up the newspaper as I stared at the bug, asked its forgiveness (which I'm sure I did not get) and killed it simply because she wanted it dead.

She and I had a drink and a bug-killing session (not on the same days... We didn't toast the insects' extinction) about once a week until one night when she called me, frantic.

A roach.

I looked everywhere in her studio and couldn't see anything. Then I moved to her dressing room/bathroom and asked

"What should I do? It's gone."

"Check everywhere!"

"Uh... Should I open your medicine chest and all that shit too?"

"Do whatever!" she yelled from a perch on a stool.

I immediately went to her medicine chest, recalling when I had seen a cockroach climbing on my own toothbrush (immediately discarded -- with everything else that was in its vicinity) in my own medicine chest, and also recalling my days as a drug addict. On what had become instinct, I immediately went for where I knew pills would be.

I found a single brown bottle, the label facing away from me, more than half-full. Saliva flooded my mouth as I checked over my shoulder and, to make sure she was still in the other room, yelled

"I don't see the thing here!"

"Look harder!" Her voice came from the same spot in the same room where I'd last seen her.

I turned the bottle around and the label shouted VALTREX.

She had herpes.

I never had been afraid of catching an STD, even when I was fucking the sluttiest girl in Whatever State University without a condom every weekday, while cheating on her and being cheated on on the weekends (and sure neither of us was using condoms then, either). (I was in the running for sluttiest guy on campus.)

But fear got me then, cold and irrational.

I came quickly out of the dressing/bathroom.

"Look, roaches can go anywhere. The one you saw is on the sixth floor by now" (we lived on the eighth).

"Stick around for a while. I have some rum... And I can't stand the thought of..." She went on and I wasn't listening.

She thought she was more attractive than she was and interesting by virtue of being younger than me. I hadn't tried to fool around with her, however, because her face was pockmarked and she was a horrible tipper. And now the bottle...

"Look, I'm not killing anything anyway."

"Big Man!"

I was closing the door behind me:

"Naturally, I realize how my inability to find and kill an insect means I have a Tic-Tac dick.

"...Sleep well."

I went to my apartment and, still irrational, took a very hot, very long shower.

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