We Love to Watch Zee Cockroaches

by Chrissi Sepe

(illustrations by Laura Kerr)

illustration laura

“We bore so easily,” Karina said in her Austrian accent. “Last night, we go to Red Lobster, but we don’t feel like staying. So as soon as zee food arrive, we take in doggie bags, and we leave.”

“That’s true, we did,” Tomas said in his Spanish accent. He and Karina sat together on their black leather couch across from the black leather couch Denny and I sat on. “We bore so easily,” Tomas continued. New York City is sometimes boring. That’s why we just booked a flight. We’ll be in Paris by this time tomorrow.”

“Paris?” Denny asked, his eyes widening.

“Yes. We booked last night.” Tomas placed his hand on Karina’s knee and looked lovingly into her eyes. “Right after we left Red Lobster. Boring, boring, boring!”

Karina nodded in agreement. “More vodka?” she asked.

“Yes, thank you,” I answered.

“You know, we never drink vodka zis way till we meet you. We never have straight. Wiz ice and juice before.”

“Really?” Denny asked. “We thought you introduced us.”

Karina shook her head and refilled my glass. “I don’t know. Somehow, we drink.”

“May I use your bathroom?” I asked.

“Sure. Second door from zee left. Just past closet.”

The hallways were filled with Karina’s paintings of multicolored squirts and squiggles. The only photographs on the walls were of her and Tomas together. Some were of their faces painted in tribal make-up. In others, they wore long gowns and gold bangle bracelets and were kissing. I turned on the bathroom light and saw several cockroaches zip under the mirror and along the wall, scurrying into the cracks. After the bathroom, I took a wrong turn and wound up in the kitchen. There were beautiful, shiny, copper pots sitting empty on the counter, and several jars of spices lined the top of the stove. Stacks of dirty dishes were piled up in the sink even though our dinner tonight was gourmet pizza on paper plates. Suddenly, I saw a roach running along the top of one of the plates. How could Karina bear living with so many roaches when she’d inherited millions of dollars from her dad? She could afford to live anywhere!

I hurried out of the kitchen and sat back down on the couch beside Denny. Karina was still talking about Paris.

“I will buy as many dresses as I can carry back on zee plane.”

“Yes, and it is my job to pack all the bottles of wine we can fit into our suitcases. I wrap them inside of our clothes.”

“Oh yes,” Karina said, suddenly laughing. “Remember last time we fly, one of zee bottles broke? It looked like blood bath! All my socks, zay turn red!”

Tomas found this story so funny that he slapped both his knees in delight.

“And I wore zem just like zat,” Karina said. “Za stains, zay never come out so I just wear zem. Zay a little stiff, but —.”

I listened and tried to imagine myself wearing wine-stained socks. Sometimes, I wore socks with holes on the heels. Actually, Karina could afford an entire store full of socks!

“I love those socks,” Tomas said. “Because they are yours.” He kissed Karina gently on the cheek. I turned to Denny who just watched them with his head titled to one side.

“Let me play you a little song Karina and I wrote together,” Tomas said. He popped a CD out of its unlabeled case and put it into the huge stereo system that lined one of the living room walls.

“Ah, yes. I play keyboards and sing a little. Tomas did guitars, drums and every zing else.”

Denny and I listened to several minutes of Tomas and Karina’s ‘song.’ Karina’s keyboards were really just her playing the same two notes over and over again. She’d hold one down first and then add the other. Tomas played a heavy metal guitar solo while several programmed drum beats played behind it. It was hard to make out the lyrics behind his Spanish accent. Karina’s singing sounded more like a deep and quiet groaning than like background vocals.

“What do you think?” Tomas asked.

Denny nodded his head. “It’s good. Good. I like it. Your guitar sound is very 1980’s.”

“1980’s?!” Tomas exclaimed. “No! This is the music of today!” He patted Denny’s shoulder, playfully.

“Zis song could be a hit!” Karina said, suddenly standing up. She grabbed Tomas’ hands, and they started swaying to the electric guitar sounds. Tomas leaned over and lifted his half-eaten slice of pizza from the end table while two roaches ran around the half-empty vodka glass sitting beside it.

We Love To Watch Zee Cockroaches - Pizza by Laura Kerr

“Oh, look! Zee roaches! Zay are dancing!” Karina said, laughing wildly.

Denny and I looked at each other in horror. It was one thing to have roaches crawling around in a dark bathroom but another thing to have them ‘dancing’ on the living room furniture!

Tomas saw Denny and I slightly squirming in our seats. “What? The roaches bother you?”

“No, not at all,” Denny said, unconvincingly.

Tomas bent down and gently slapped his hand on Denny’s knee. “They live here too,” he said. “They are like family to us. We love them because they are ours.”

Oh, yes,” Karina said, still spinning slowly to the music. “We keep zem in a tank sometimes. We pick out who is muzer, bruzer and uncle. We love to watch zee cockroaches.”

“Yes,” Tomas said. “We bore so easily.”

We Love To Watch Zee Cockroaches Art by L. Kerr (1)


(This story was previously published in Howls from the Underground.)

Chrissi Sepe is the author of two indie novels. Her short stories are in “A Café in Space: The Anais Nin Literary Journal” and its Anthology, available at Sky Blue Press and Amazon.

An excerpt from Chrissi’s upcoming novel is featured in our new print-zeen, ZEENITH.

Innovative Canadian vispo artist Laura Kerr can be reached at @LauraKerrArt.

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