A couple weeks back, a cockroach made its way past the invisible chemical barrier around the outside of our house, and into the hallway. When our youngest daughter Cozette (7) flipped on the light switch to identify the discoloration on the rug, all hell broke loose. 

I don’t like roaches, despite growing up around them. They called them water bugs, or palmetto bugs down in Florida. Whatever – they were big, ominous and could fly. The ones up here in North Carolina don’t fly, as far as I know. But I’m pretty sure this little fella wishes he could after the first blood curdling scream from our mighty-lunged daughter. 

Next up was Agatha (9), running in from the living room with her hands over her ears. When she spotted the brown beast, she flung her back up against the wall next to her sister. Each girl balancing on one foot. 

When Tina emerged, I guess she startled the roach because he twitched and turned in her direction, which elicited a high pitched “WOO!” from my wife. I arrived just in time to see her take a swift jump backward – eyes like saucers. When I finally got a good look at him, it nearly stopped my heart. He was the size of my one of my slippers. Ok, not really, but he was an impressive specimen. Too bad he had to die. 

I left the gaggle of shrieking girls and returned with a roll of paper towels. I’d dealt with these things before. You don’t squish them with a shoe or else run the risk of having collateral damage in the form of little roach parts stuck in your carpet forever (to say nothing of the yellow goo.) I decided to pop him with the paper towels hard enough to put him into shock so that I could scoop him up with a wad of select-a-size Bounty and send him on a Tidy Bowl ride. I raised the absorbent roll of towels and was ready to let loose a mighty blow when Cozette, who’d climbed down from the wall, shouted, “Stop! Daddy don’t kill him!” 

Our children attend Montessori school. 

I looked up at her with the fiery eyes of a killer to see her innocent face filled with sorrow. And hope. Great. Now I was left with the task of figuring out a way to THEN HE MOVED – EEEK – we all jump backwards to our respective spots far enough away from the beast so that he couldn’t spit poison on us, or something. Then he stopped. I had to do something. Quick. Every move he made caused glasses to shatter in the cupboard. 

“Ok, everyone get back. I have an idea,” I said. Then I placed my socked-foot on the backside of the roach and tried to lob him up in the air toward the kitchen where I could push him along on the tile and out the back door. It worked. Non-flying roach lands in kitchen and I quickly follow up with another swoop. It took three swoops total to get him to the edge of the backdoor without accidentally squishing him. Someone opens the door – I don’t remember who. Everything was a blur at that point. I go to swoop him one last time and he takes off across the threshold and into the utility room. Everyone screams. At this point, I realize that I hadn’t planned this catch and release very well. I flipped on the utility room light and we all see him standing there, right in the middle. Looking at us. Mocking us. He knew that we knew what he was about to do. And then he did it. He scurried across the floor and underneath the washing machine where we figure he probably continues to live happily ever after. 

The end. 


JIm Mitchem/@jmitchem


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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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