It was a hot and muggy evening, Friday night was. All the windows in the house were open in hopes of catching some stray breath of air. Not that it was working -- even with the hole the girls poked in the screen of one of my bedroom windows we couldn't get any breeze.
Even a cooling shower couldn't cut the heat. I emerged from the bathroom, towelling myself off, and then I saw it. Something large and leggy, perched upon the headboard of my very own bed. A roach. I gave an involutary shriek, and IT BEGAN TO FLY.
Darwin shoved me out of the room so my squeals would not further disturb the winged intruder or the sleeping baby (who, thank God, was in the cradle and not on the bed) and then retreated to the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth. I stood in the hall, shaken and wet and (having dropped my towel in the mad rush from the room) without a stitch on. Eleanor stood sleepily in her bedroom door.
"What are you doing, Mommy?" she asked.
"I'm just looking for clothes," I lied. She acknowledged this unquestioningly and went back to bed.
I sat on a bed in the girls' room, listening to the drama unfold in my bedroom. Shortly I heard a large crack and a steady mantra of profanity. A moment later, Darwin came out bearing the baby.
"The roach went behind the headboard," he said, "so I tried to shift the bed by the footboard so I could get behind it. And the bedframe broke. So I tried to pull it by the headboard. And it broke there too. And the roach has disappeared. So I brought you the baby so you two could settle down in here."
The thumps from the other room soon put Baby back to sleep, and my desire to get dressed was overcoming my dread of suddenly meeting the roach again, so I joined Darwin. Sure enough, there was the large wooden bed frame we'd bought a few weeks before our wedding, leaning drunkenly on a diagonal, the bottom right rail and the top left rail splintered off from their respective moorings. We spent the next hour disassembling the bed and cleaning underneath it (a monumental task) but the roach was nowhere to be found.
Finally the bedframe was packed away in the garage for future repair or reworking, the mattress and box-spring were laid on the floor grad-student style, and Darwin had searched under all the furniture with a flashlight. At that moment Eleanor once again appeared. She was oblivious to the disappearance of the major furnishing of our room.
"What is Daddy doing?" she asked. Daddy went into the bathroom and nudged the clothes pile on the floor and the roach flew up at him. There was a strangled cry and Darwin grabbed the first shoe to hand and slammed the door to do battle with the Thing.
"Daddy's killing a roach, honey."
Behind the closed door there were thwacks and battle yells and bangings, and then a suspenceful silence. Then Darwin flung open the door: flushed, triumphant, bearing his enemy in a plastic bag. A big brain confers evolutionary advantages over sheer ugliness.
So now the roach is vanquished, the window with the hole in the screen stays shut, and we have no bed. The girls still haven't noticed, but the room certainly looks cavernous without the comforting presence of the comfy bed. Perhaps it can be fixed. Perhaps the headboard and footboard can be bolted to one of those metal frames. Perhaps we'll have to buy a new bed, or perhaps our mattress and boxspring will remain on the floor, grad-student style.