I awoke just before the clock showed four in the morning. Sounds of feline mischief beside the bed drew me from slumber.
In that place of being awake enough to hear and see without being so awake that I might as well get up and start my day, I rolled over and looked for the troublemakers.
Grendel and Kazon both sat intently beside the bed. Grendel appeared to be leading the effort to subdue a shoelace that dangled tauntingly from where I carelessly had tossed some work boots the night before.
I reached down and gently pushed Grendel’s paw away and said something akin to “Please stop doing that.”
Without thinking about it, I grabbed the shoelace, curled it in my hand, then pushed it down into the boot so it could no longer vex The Kids—or my sleep.
But the shoelace had not been the problem.
While I tucked the suspected toy down as far as it would go, something climbed out of the boot and onto my hand. Perhaps not so much climbed as scampered, skittered even. And up my arm it came.
Before I could react, it circled back down my arm and around my wrist before climbing down the other side back to the floor, but behind my arm where the resident predators couldn’t reach it.
Needless to say I quickly left that semi-awake/semi-asleep place where I had been, quickly rushed forward to fully aware, and I bounced out of bed with—well, let’s be honest here—I leapt out of bed with a rather unmanly squeal.
It had been large, that much I knew, something moving too quickly to recognize by touch alone yet all too familiar in the worst possible way. I knew it was a large roach or, as we call them here in the south, a Palmetto bug.
Behemoths no matter how you define the word, these “water bugs” easily reach the size of small cars—like the Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade. They can be saddled and ridden cross-country alongside other beasts of burden. They can stand as tall as a professional basketball player and be as strong as an eighteen-wheeler.
And they fly.
Did I mention they fly? Not very well, I know, and that’s worse than if they could fly like Air Force fighter pilots.
I turned on the bedroom lights and cranked them up as high as they would go. The room filled with harsh brightness that caused me to squint.
And thereby lose track of the invader.
But Grendel and Kazon hadn’t lost track of it. They both had moved down the length of the bed where they stood staring with killer intent.
They stood staring at a pile of laundry.
Damn it! Can this get any worse?
Unless pushed from its hiding place, the ghoulish creature would have remained hidden, only to creep out into the darkness once I had gone back to bed.
Assuming I’d even get in the bed knowing a demon of ungodly proportions still lurked around that very spot where I would entrust myself to sleep.
So I set about carefully picking through the clothes hoping to roust the devil from its lair. All the while Kazon and Grendel circled, pawed, watched intently.
When I dislodged a shirt and held it up for a quick shake—in case the doggone villain was trying to hitch a ride out of danger—it rattled loose and flew by my head like a giant projectile weapon forged from disgust.
I leapt. And it’s possible a wee bit of a scream escaped my lips as I tumbled backward trying to escape.
Yet Grendel immediately jumped into the hullaballoo and came to my rescue. He had seen where the roach landed. He masterfully pinned it to the carpet with a strategic placement of his paw.
I reached over, lightly pressed down on his leg and whispered, “Keep it there, Grendel, and don’t let it get away.” With my other hand I groped behind me until I set my fingers upon the very boot from which the fiend had attacked me.
Boot in hand, fully cocked and loaded, I caressed Grendel out of position long enough for him to lift his foot from the ogre’s back.
And I walloped the bastard several times until all it could do was flinch its legs and try to look peaceful, as though I would fall for such a ruse.
I happily ignored entreaties from The Kids begging me to let them have the toy, let them play with it until it broke. No such thing was going to happen.
A bit of tissue to protect me from the toxic freak accompanied it into the toilet where it quickly swirled its way into oblivion.
And I was left completely awake, not in any way interested in going back to bed or being in the dark, so I ultimately resigned myself to my fate of being up at four in the morning on a day when I would have to work until ten at night.
I still don’t know if I can go back in the bedroom, let alone sleep in there. I feel quite certain the leviathan had friends who may well think it their job to avenge its death.