It’s the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen. Its black body and wriggling antennae jolt me out of the stupor of taking a two am pee.
I can’t scream. If I scream, it’ll scuttle away into my apartment and I might never see it again. But I’ll know it’s there, watching me.
I need to finish peeing and not make any sudden movements. Not taking my eyes off of it as I stand slowly and pull my pyjama bottoms back up, I watch it walk on the edge of my bookcase, just past the bathroom doorway.
It must be aware of me, but contentedly moves its feelers about, possibly eating the press board at the back of my bookcase: apparently they eat everything. Pressing myself against the opposite side of the door frame, I move as fluidly as I can to get out of the bathroom.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen cockroaches in my apartment. From what I understand – and in Korea, this sometimes isn’t much – the building is infested. Before this, however, the sightings were rare and the bugs were tiny and yellowish.
Tonight though, this bug is as long as my thumb and looks capable of biting or procreating. Wanting to keep the biting and the procreating in my apartment to a minimum, something will have to be done.
Once through the doorway, I walk quickly toward the bottle of RAID that Michael, the teacher who lived here before me, thoughtfully left behind. I creep back to the cockroach, half-afraid it’ll be gone.
I shudder, then aim the RAID and spray. The body drops to the ground, its legs moving wildly and I shriek once, but keep spraying. I don’t stop until its legs stop twitching.
Its overturned body appears half the size it did two minutes ago. Staring in disgust, I can’t bring myself to pick it up, not even with tissues. It could be playing dead. Hesitating, I leave the light on as I go back to bed.
Spending the rest of the night reading about the habits and life cycle of Asian cockroaches, I go back every twenty minutes to make sure it’s still there.
After the sun comes up, I finally fall asleep, exhausted. Letting it serve as a warning to others, I decide to leave the body there. Let all cockroaches know: if we’re going to share this apartment, they’d better be a lot better at hiding than this fool.
What kind of vermin have battled at home? Are you braver than me?
When not battling the creature in my apartment, I was relating to my foreign coworkers. Read more in English is Crazy: Full Stop
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