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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Friday
Oct282005

Cockroaches' Last Stand

"Go home early Monica. Your hacking is giving me a headache."
"Aww thanks Brad, I guess this means you like me, you really, really like me." I respond from my desk.
"Nope. Just don't wanna get what you've got." He sprays a cloud of germ killer from his ever present can of Lysol, grins at me and flaps his hand in a get outta here gesture.

Head throbbing, nose dripping, throat feeling like I swallowed a wad of sandpaper, I ride the subway home embarrassed each time I cough. Trying to suppress then exploding in a fit of hacking. People edge further away with every stop. A subtle shifting until I occupy my own little sick haze at the back of the train.

Faint with relief, I twist my key in my deadbolt and wait for the familiar pad of The Maxer's paws as he runs to greet me. Nothing. Uh-oh. That means trouble. I brace myself to be calm in the face of the favorite book or DVD he likely chewed. Although these instances are rare, they still occur when he's in a vengeful mood. Likes to get me back for being at work all day. With The Surge gone, he's doubly pissed.

But it isn't that. I step into the kitchen to find him crouched in the corner, head hanging shamefully, chocolate brown eyes inspecting my facial expressions, awaiting the wrath he's sure will come.
"Maxie..." I say in a reproving tone. "What did you do?" Then I spot a huge puddle of doggie upchuck.
"Oh.. I see. Awww, Maxie I'm not mad. It's okay." I administer Maxie Rubs to make him feel better then step over to clean up his welcome home gift. And I see it. Mixed in with Max's bile is the remnants of the poison packages I'd put inside the cupboards to kill the cockroach that was running the cockroach motel.
"What!? Max you ate this?" Fear balloons in my chest and I start to cry. Maybe he yakked all the poison out of his system. But what if he didn't? What if I wake up in the morning and he's dead?
I grab another package of the roach killer. DO NOT LEAVE AROUND CHILDREN OR PETS! Fuck! Well I didn't know my dog can open cupboards! I immediately call the 24 hour vet answering service who assures me a vet will return my call shortly.
"Now what?" I slide onto the kitchen floor, pull Max onto my lap and sob. And then I get mad.
It's all those goddamn roaches fault!" I tell him. I stand up and open the first cupboard I lay hands on. Immediately, dozens of roaches erupt to the top of the cabinet, disappearing in their little nooks and crannies. "Fuck!" I just had the exterminator spray the other day! A wizened, gray, little man who probably watched TV and ate snacks from our fridge while we shivered at the dog park with Max, waiting for him to finish his bug battle

I assemble my artillery. Rubber gloves..Check! Plastic bags..Check! Garbage can.. Check!
"It's on bitches!" I hiss menacingly and set to work.

For the next hour, waiting for the vet call that never came, I am a whirling dervish roach killer. Whipping open cupboards, yanking food from shelves, killing roaches with my rubbered hand and plastic bag. Tossing food away. The bastards took up residence in my box of Splenda. They were living in between stacked plates. Everywhere!

Max cheered me on from his vantage point on the floor. I'd chase a roach gang, swiping crazily, knocking a few to the floor where Max would pounce, slapping at them with his paws.

Finally, the killing stopped. Max and I collapsed amid battered cockroach corpses, panting but pleased. But the vet still hadn't called. I looked at my boy and knew there was only one thing to do.
"Get your leash, we're going to the Animal Medical Center."
It's a place we're well acquainted with, The Surge, Max and myself. A month after we moved here, Max was brutally attacked by a vicious pit bull belonging to one of the skinny hipsters that stroll the streets. It was a terrible, horrible, bloody scene that left Max with a complex. Two months and about ten surgeries later he was okay. Believe it or not the hipster paid for everything. A bill that totalled nearly eight thousand dollars.

I leak tears as I ready Max for the trip, knowing I can't afford what's about to happen. A car service to the hospital is fifty bucks. An emergency visit is 130 dollars, not including whatever treatment they give ol' Max which could end up being more than a thousand bucks.

When Max ate my Tylenol two years ago they had to pump his stomach with charcoal and keep him on liquids for two days. That was more than a thousand bucks. I'm screwed.

I'm headed to the ATM to withdraw the cash I don't have when Max began straining on his leash. Being the owner of an 80 pound dog in a big city is strenuous, to say the least. People scowl at you for having the audacity to walk your dog on the sidewalk. Every day legions of folks cross the street to avoid us. I have to be vigilant. The minute Max decides he wants to say hello I must immediately shout "He's friendly! Really! Friendly!"

Max drags me to a woman who crouches down and pets his wiggling body in a way that makes me want to declare her my new best friend. I love dog people. You can rob me, but if you stop to pet my dog and tell me how sweet he is I'll think good thoughts about you.
"Hey there big guy. What a handsome boy you are." Max's big, black, booty sways with the force of his wagging tail. The woman's companion smiles at me.
"She's a vet." She nods her head toward her friend.
"Oh my god!" Amazed that god had thrown me a bone, I explain my situation.
"He'll be fine. Look at him. He's just fine. It's such a small amount of poison. Just give him lots of water."
"I want to kiss you! Oh thank you so much! You have no idea." It's nearly two AM now so Max and I stagger back to the scene of the last cockroach battle A.K.A our apartment and fall into exhausted yet relieved sleep.

Reader Comments (11)

That is such a great story. Poor Max, but what a happy ending. Good things happen to good people, y'know :)
October 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAli
awwwwwwwwwww. that's awesome and so lucky.
October 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
AWW,.. poor Max!!! When I witnessed my kitty Stanley's first hairball, I just about called out sick from work and cried as I left him to go to my car.

MF

October 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMindy
glad the hear everything is ok with the puppy!!! having spent time in the ER vet i know what it's like.

good luck with the bugs. i am currently ISO pet-safe bug spray. shall let ya know what i find.

as an aside, anyone seen the raid commerical with the woman spraying the stuff right next to her dog DESPITE the HUGE warning on the can?

oh, and you haven't lived until you've seen the roaches that i saw in miami. i was awakened to a, no joke, 4 inch long sucker holding a ciggy with one hand and flipping me the bird with the other. took 1/2 can of raid to kill him.
October 28, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteranna
Have lived in Florida myself, Daytona Beach to be exact. I know of the roaches that Anna speak of. These things are HUGE!!

I was about 16 years old, laying in my "entertainment room". I was a lucky 16 year old. My mom made a compromise with me knowing that if I had tv, stereo and posters all over my bedroom walls that my bedroom would certainly be a disaster area, so the 3rd room that we had in the house we were living at the time became my "den". That's where I was allowed to put my hard rock posters of Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Trixter, Danger Danger and many others up. Where I could watch Headbanger's Ball on MTV at midnite Saturday well technically Sunday.

One Saturday night I lay on the floor of my own special lair. Watching Headbanger's Ball, when I hear this odd noise down my hall. It sounded of click-clack. Being that I was the only one awake, knowing that my deaf cocker spaniel was sound asleep at the other end of house I knew it wasn't him. I lay there a bit scared to look around the corner. I just lay there looking towards the open door in my room, still hearing the noise. Then all of a sudden there it was this mammoth of a cockroach. It was huge. As it starting passing my door, it stopped, then looked and looked as if it was coming towards me. I was horrified. I hurriedly closed the door, put whatever piece of dirty clothing I could find, under the little space from the door and floor. I wasn't going to let that horrible creature get in my room.

After the Headbanger's Ball I would usually go on to my bedroom to goto sleep. That night I took to sleeping on the floor. Woke up that morning to no sign of such horrifying creature. ICK! I hate bugs!
October 28, 2005 | Registered CommenterFiabug
wow that was intense!
October 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterChueb
"4 inch long sucker holding a ciggy with one hand and flipping me the bird with the other"..

Am laughing so hard I think I peed a little..
October 28, 2005 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko
That's nice.
October 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
The battle of the roaches. One I am all too familiar with. Keep up the great writing, I'm hooked.
October 29, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJAY
OOOh, man. I know that heart sinking feeling. I've called the poison control several times. They are always very helpful and (free). I've gotten a giggle out of a couple of calls when I say I'm calling about my dog...

Thankfully Max is a big boy! I'm glad he was ok.
October 29, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterTabatha
Poor Max!!! Thank God he's ok....but those bugs man....they'll live forever!
October 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

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