They grow ’em big down here in Texas. Cockroaches, that is. Which explains why I sat at home at ten o’clock on a Friday night, feeding my six month old son, shushing our two dogs and four cats, and waiting for my husband to ferry our friend and her three dogs to our house.
Earlier that evening, two of our friends had come over. They left before nine — she to go home to her dogs and sleep, he to go to his job, a sheriff’s deputy at the county jail. We cleaned up the debris and had just settled in for the night when the phone rang.
Jennifer, who had expected a quiet night, was panicking. There was a cockroach — a huge one — in her apartment. Being from Wisconsin, she hadn’t seen many Texas cockroaches. Her husband couldn’t help her. The jail, he said, was going crazy — there were a thousand prostitutes, and he had to process them. So she called us.
My husband offered to kill the cockroach, but it had retreated into the walls. She couldn’t stay knowing the cockroach was there — in the past, she had slept in her truck, but tonight her husband had taken it with him.
Out into the dark and cockroach-filled night my husband went. My son and I waited in expectant silence.
The canine invasion was heralded by barking and whining on the parts of our dogs and mass chaos on the part of our cats. Jennifer’s dogs, weighing, all together and wet, less than twenty pounds — had expected a glorious night of cockroach hunting. Now they were corralled into a small room, full of smells of other animals that they weren’t allowed to awe into submission.
The Chihuahua, a true marksman, claimed most of the furniture within his first five minutes. The Pomeranian spun in circles. The miniature Doberman barked incessantly to defend his new territory against cats and imaginary challengers. My son, not pleased about the barking, added his own crying to the din, my cats scratched at the carpet that peeked out from under the door, and my dogs desperately surrendered their water bowl to the vanquishers.
Somehow, we all got to sleep.
The next morning, bright and early, Jennifer’s husband arrived. He snuck their dogs out before our dogs knew what was going on, then stood in our living room, circles under his eyes, stains on his uniform.
“Rough night?” his wife asked.
“How about those prostitutes? The ones that overwhelmed your booking abilities? What was the final count?”
He shrugged, his face taking a slight red glow under dark stubble. “Three,” he finally admitted. “There were three of them.”