a roach by any other name

Reads: 78  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 02, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 02, 2018



A Roach by Any Other Name


"A roach can hold its breath for more than 40 seconds!".That's what I heard over the radio yesterday.  It was the ear-getting beginning of a commercial advertisement for a pest control company. Can't tell you for the life of me what the particular message was and or what it had to do with water.  I got to wondering if it is common for homeowners to run through the house,  with a streaming garden hose, chasing roaches.  Or maybe it was a caution to those who wash the antenna-headed vermin down the sink or flush them down the toilet, to make sure the water runs upwards of 40 seconds to insure termination of the skittering vexation.  What a thoughtful public service announcement!  Picture one of your kids or a special house guest, seated in a place of rest, in the family's bathroom.What chaos and trauma could result from the surprising discovery of a wet roach, emerging from the deep (where the current lasted less than the requisite 40 seconds) as the surviving creature makes his escape through what he thinks is a manhole


Don't know exactly what that commercial was about because at the mention of a roach, "holding its breath", I was taken back a decade, to a night when a roach had me all but out of breath.


The hounds were treed about 1/4 mile behind the Green Bros. Mill.  We were parked next to the parsonage, leaning against the pickup, listening to the dogs. 


"Billy Ray, they're treed!Let's go to 'em."


"Okay Mark, you lead the way; first time I've been in here."


We made our way slowly in the glow of our walk-lights toward the calling hounds.  The undergrowth was dense.  We took our time, stopping now and then, to listen to the tree-music of the dogs' voices ringing in the night air, up and down the river.  Once in to the tree, we tied our hounds back and began shining the bows, in search of a coon.  The crown of the tree was thick with tangled vines, Virginia Creepers, known to us folk as "grape vines".


"Mark, take aholt of 'at grapevine and shake on it.  See if you can get that coon to look down where I can see his eyes."


Often, especially an experienced coon, will tuck his head and cover his eyes.  I don't think it is actually a strategy against the humans below but an acquired-behavior when trying to be inconspicuous.  To nocturnal creatures, especially on a clear night, even the slight glint of stars or moon in the eye could give him away.  You know how an animal's eyes will shine back at you in your car headlights.Well, that's what the houndsman is trying to see when he shines a tree with his hunting lamp.  In a competition, find the eyes looking back, show them to the cast of three handlers and plus points go on the scorecard.  The coon is not shot.  It is shined in order to score.  Often, when a coon is hiding in clumps of leaves, on a squirrel's nest or in a mess of vines, pecking on the tree trunk with a rock or pulling on vines can create enough interest for the coon to look down. I began pulling and rattling the vines, while Billy Ray did the shining.


"Here that joker is!  I got him located....come on over and see, Mark.  The dogs done good!"


While I shined to see the coon Billy Ray had found, I wiped my hands on my jeans.  One of the dogs had been pulling on that same vine and had stripped enough bark off, that the sap was oozing out.  There was a bright-white section of peeled-vine exposing nearly two feet of raw woody material.  I'd gotten the sticky sap on my hands and was doing my best to clean them off.


"Yeh, Billy Ray, the dogs did some good here.  We weren't out of the truck more than ten minutes!  Wish it could happen more often like this in the money hunts!"


"What do you say we walk the dogs from the tree and cast them here again?  I'd be bett'n there was more than one coon that climbed when all this hound racket started. Let's see if we can tree another one real quick."


It's not uncommon while out in the nights of spring and summer, to have an occasional moth or other flying insect be attracted to our lights.  Rather than wearing a miner's cap, with the lamp attached above the bill, some guys will simply loop the light's cord over the shoulder and let it hang to illuminate the ground as they walk and then use it as a handlight when searching a tree.  This helps a bit to keep the bugs out of face during the warm months.  In August, when the flying legions are teeming, we often use colored-lenses, red or yellow, over the lamps to cut down on the appeal of the white light.  This particular night, it was still spring and we were toting no lenses, just open white lights.  I prefer using the miner's lamp, on the head.  I had my dogs on leash and had just started moving away from the tree when I saw a flutter of wings in my light and so reflexively turned my head to the side, to avoid a direct-hit in the face by what I thought was a moth.  The insect came headlong, striking me directly in the ear and clung to the lobe an instant.  Before I could change the leash to the other hand, to swat it off....it scrambled over the lobe and made entry for a journey down my auditory canal!


Evidently, this bug realized he'd made a mistake and spelunking this part of my anatomy was not going to be a scenic tour!  It immediately began to claw, scratch and flutter, but NOT in reverse until I suppose he hit, "Fat Man's Misery" (that's a narrow, pinch of a rock pass on one of the tourists' hikes in Mammoth Cave).  This critter would have been one of those in the party that was asked by the park ranger to take a seat on a rock, while they waited for the smaller folks to squeeze through the passage to explore a tiny room of stalactites, concealed therein.  But he didn't sit on any rock and wait!  He was wriggling and writhing and scratching in a frenzy.  It was as if he knew he'd found my ear's tympani and was now demonstrating a continuous drum roll!


"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh............HAH............AHHHHHHHH!" I exclaimed in pain and panic, as I pulled hard down, on the very lobe he had first scaled.  I was doing my best to make that ear-hole bigger.........like holding the door wide open to your dog when he's having a bad fit of "vapors" or just running, skidding on the slick floors, anxious to get to a corner of the yard or at tree trunk!  I wanted that thing to see he wasn't trapped and that "HERE, HERE........IS AN OPEN DOOR..........NOW GIT OUT!".


"What the heck...Mark, did you git snake-bit?"


"No...But I think I'd trade for it...AHHHHHHH!  It's a MOTH!"


"You got bit by a MOTH?"


"No,  Billy.......AH!.....Ray, it's a moth and it is scratching and clawing away inside my ear!"


"Well, just flick it off!"


"It's DONE PAST  FLICK'N...........It's down to DIGG"N AND PICK'N!...... ....AHHHHH.....Ahhhhhhh!................there, it's stopped....... ....but he's still in there......QUICK...Billy Ray, come over here and shine your light down my ear..... .......maybe he'll see that light and come out  and get away...........yeh, come shine your light, on high, down my ear!"


Billy Ray tied his hounds back and came to my assistance.  He did have his light on high beam!  It was so hot, I wondered if my earwax might begin to melt.


"Turn down your light...AHHHHH............He's clawing again!"


"You told me to put it on high!"


"Yeh, well I didn't know you had such a flame-thrower...I don't want him

cooked...I want him cleaned-out of my head...AHHHHH!"


With each flurry of wings and legs in my head, I'd pull harder and harder on that ear lobe until it felt I was about to detach the thing...........doing a Van Gogh without the knife!  I don't know if I was making the former-entrance, I wished was marked "Exit", any wider but at least the self-inflicted pain to that side of my head, was a temporary distraction from the torture this terrorist-bug was subjecting me to....it was so intense that I would have given up any secret to the security of our nation, in exchange for relief.


"Billy Ray, get a green stem and see if you can fish 'em out, or spear him or jab him

..........just kill him at least for now and we'll worry about getting his carcass out later....

I have got to 'get some relief''....Ah...there he goes again...AHHHHHH!"


"I don't see noth'n....he either has come out or he's gone around that bend in 'ere....I cain't see noth'n."


"Then please take and lead my pup, the old dog will follow us out...We gotta get to the truck and get me someplace where they can pull this thing out!"


Well, I took the lead, walking toward the parsonage, a little stooped, pulling on that left ear lobe and trying as much as is possible to not disturb the resting intruder and Billy Ray stumbled along behind, with three hounds on lead.  Walking into the tree from the parsonage might have taken us 15 minutes but I wasn't stopping every few minutes with a bug fluttering and scratching around in my head and having to let off pressure by screaming and pulling on my ear lobe!  I finally realized that Billy Ray was gonna have to take the lead when after all this wandering in the wilderness, we had arrived right back to the tree we'd started from.


"Hey, Mark, ain't this the tree where we treed 'at coon...There's that vine the dogs tore up!"


I shined my light in the direction and sure enough....we had been stumbling around in a big circle and were no closer to the parsonage or the truck or to getting this torturous insect out of my head!  I suppose I was like a ship that lists to the port or starboard side...if not righted, or corrected at the stern, it will continue to sail in a great circle...I was listing to the left and under the brief internal attacks, was likely pulling myself by the lobe, like plow-reining a mule with a bit in his mouth.....this dang bug was turning me on my ear!


"Billy Ray, you're gonna have to take the lead."


"I don't know where I am......."


"It's harder going, but let's just head to the river....that way...then follow upstream toward the sound of the falls.  You'll know where we are then and we’ll just walk up the road to the parsonage."


It took twice as long to walk along the riverbank.  There were piles of flood-left logs and debris as well as the several deep drainage ditches to be traversed.  It was a victory to step out on that road, knowing we were a short walk on pavement and a quick drive to town to an emergency room, where surely they'd have some drug to knock me out while they did pest-control in my ear!By this time, my nerves were so frazzled that if we had a can of it in the truck, I would have willingly taken a fogging-blast of Raid, down the auditory canal, if I thought it'd stop the painful outbursts.  I was sure he was lodged up against some wiring of my brain causing sparks and short-circuiting.  We were at the truck and had just slammed the tailgate when something changed.


"Billy Ray ...quick, shine my ear again...something's changed.... it's like my ear just got plugged up....quick, look!"


"I GOT IT!” he exclaimed as he pinched the thing between his fingers and brought it around in front of me for a look..."I thought you said it was a moth?.....This ain't no moth....It looks like a roach!"


"What?...Well here, give it to me so I can stick it back in my ear.  You're right, 'this ain't no moth!'.....we were looking for a MOTH...he must STILL be in there!....let's stick this thing back in there and apologize for having disturbed him. Get me to the hospital so they can find 'THE MOTH!......What we want is THE MOTH!  Imagine that, of all the bugs flying around in a guy's head, we couldn't catch a little ole moth!  WE couldn't tell the difference, in a flash of its flight and with all the digging and scratching and fluttering around for the past hour...WE couldn't tell the difference between a MOTH and THIS INNOCENT RED ROACH!"


What a relief to get that thing out of my head!  But shortly in the aftermath, I had a recollection of a story from the library of "The Twilight Zone" that was cause for uneasiness.  A man, on the verge of insanity, called for a doctor to prescribe something to stop the nightly torture in his head.He'd been having terrible head-pain that kept him up in the night scaling the walls and howling in agony.  By day, the pain would subside.  At night the horror would return.  After examination, the doctor informed the man that there was nothing he could do.  His problem was an insect called an "earwig" and the pain he was experiencing was the result of the earwig eating its way through the man's head.In time, the earwig would exit the opposite ear.  Until then, the man would have to bear the unbearable.  Rod Serling did the story well-enough that he had us kids squirming on the couch at the echoes of the screaming man, in the great mansion.Finally, one night, the screaming stopped and the man emerged from his torture chamber with the tiny insect in a small jar.  His tired-expression was one of relief.  He handed the jar and specimen to the doctor and collapsed with a sigh, on a sofa.  The story ended and the "Twilight Zone" music started with this final scene that went something like this:


"I can't believe that tiny thing could cause so much pain!...I'm not sure I could have endured another night of that nightmare!  Oh, I'm so glad that is over!"


The doctor was holding the jar up to the light and examining the creature closely.  The doctor had a look of concern and then dread.


"Well....I don't know how to tell you this...but...this is a female

and it appears that it has laid eggs."


The show ended with the man running down the hall....screaming.


Well, I don't know what the incubation time is for roach eggs but it's been a decade now and I can't recall any apparent hatch taking place.  I don't know either whether or not a roach can hold his breath for 40 seconds, or 40 minutes or 40 days and 40 nights but I do know that Billy Ray would tell you,


"A roach can waller around in a man's earwax for over an hour and still survive!"

© Copyright 2018 grady. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments: