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Monday, April 29, 2013

8 Balls and the House on Dana Part 6


The cockroaches become more abundant and bolder every day. I am taking a shower and there are six of them on the wall, completely ignoring the spray of water from the shower head, they run when I go to swat them but quickly return and bring two more with them. Looking around the bathroom I can see several cockroaches running along the fixture that is holding up the shower curtain directly above me, and another group has formed on the ceiling. 

I am afraid to kill them, we are afraid that they are waiting to just take over the apartment and kill us. They are everywhere lately; we have found them in the fridge, in the stove and in our beds. We are afraid to kill them with our hands and we joke that there must be a giant cockroach king hanging out in the basement, sending his minions to our house to do his bidding. Kim is no help and everyday returns with cockroach facts. “Did you know that a cockroach can walk in your ear while you are sleeping and live in your brain?” She goes to bed with cotton in her ears.

Kim and I are constantly being asked by our downstairs neighbor Ingrid, if we will babysit her kids. Ingrid is twenty four and already has three kids. The oldest is kid is five and the youngest is two. Every time we see the children they are covered in filth, either in their own or filth of their making. Their hands are always sticky with something grape colored.  Two of them are in diapers, and the oldest one has a magic marker line that has been on his face for at least two weeks now. Every time we get home, they are playing on the sidewalk in dirty clothes and the two wearing diapers have filled them to capacity. The children will run to us and touch us with their sticky hands. The smells that cling to them are just as overwhelming. The children never seem bathed, there is always dried snot under their noses and the corners of their eyes are filled with yellow puss that cakes on their eyelids. Their eyes are almost glued closed. I point this out to Ingrid who sits on the top step smoking a cigarette. “It’s gross right?” she says exhaling smoke from her mouth as she shoos the baby to get away from her.

I take to carrying a wet paper towel with me so I can wipe them down whenever they get close. They remind me of the children you see in those Save the Children commercials, except the flies have been replaced with cock roaches.

Ingrid on the other hand is glamorous, clean and extravagantly dressed. She stands 5’6 with a Barbie doll figure, big doe eyes and bleached blonde hair. She wears glasses but refuses to wear them because she thinks they make her look “too smart, to get a husband.”Ingrid tells us that she is legally blind without them. Ingrid has also never had a husband and believes that all the children have different fathers.

Today she is in a foul mood. Ingrid tells us that “someone in the neighborhood keeps calling child services on her and when she finds out who it is “heads are going to roll.” I know that when it’s not me calling child services, its Kim, Jackie, Billy or Michael; Kim and I look at each other and decide not to ever tell her.

We are about to go inside our apartment, when Ingrid asks Kim and me, if we can babysit tonight. Kim and I try to come up with every excuse not to, but our cable has been shut off due to lack of payment and Ingrid knows it. She reminds us that not only does she have cable, but more importantly she has MTV.

MTV is relatively new and plays the same six videos all day, but we watch them as if we have never seen them before. Ingrid lures us into babysitting with MTV, Cigarettes and Beer. Kim and I agree to watch the kids later that night and plan on coming down at 7pm.
Ingrid jumps, claps her hands ecstatically and runs inside, leaving her three dirty kids staring at us. The youngest has a permanent runny nose that he walks over and wipes on my pant leg. Kim gags.
At 7pm, Kim and I make our way down to Ingrid’s house and ring the bell. One of the kids, the oldest is naked when he answers the door. “Mommy is not here,” he says wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. Kim and I push our way through the door and the smell hits us like a frying pan to the head.

The house is dimly lit and smells like rot, death, poop and disease, Kim and I make gagging noises as we cover or mouths and noses with our hands. Everywhere you look the house is crawling with cockroaches; there are literally seas of them. Somewhere in the house we can hear that the baby is crying.

As we start to walk through the house we notice that every room has writing on the walls but it doesn’t go any higher than kid height. There is a bedroom to the right that has one dirty mattress on the floor that is the bed for two of the kids and a busted crib that has missing slots. Sitting in the crib in his own excrement is the baby. He has wiped the poop in his hair and on the wall and when he sees us, his little hands reach out to be picked up.

To be continued…..

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writing "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent.

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