The Story of Twitch the American Cockroach
It was very dark and wet in the sewer lines in the southern town of Pageland. It had rained for weeks. This wasn’t at all typical for the month of June. Normally June was a very hot month but alas climates change as well as ones living quarters.
The smell of the sewer could make one cover the nose and run for cover. It was not obnoxious to the American Cockroach though. They loved this smelly damp home. It was here that Selma and Twitch had chosen to make a family.
“I do declare. It seems that every time I run down the pipeline I see humans with all sorts of chemicals. I’m afraid they are going to start spraying that stuff in here. This is the third time we have had to move. Things just aren’t the way they were thousands of years ago when our forefathers lived.”
“Oh Twitch! Get yourself back down here. If you are not careful one of those tall fat men will step on you and you will be nothing but gunk. I’m about ready to have my babies and I really need you around to bring food to me.” Selma wiggled her whiskers back and forth. She was a bit frustrated with Twitch.
“All you think about is yourself.” Selma hissed. “It is best to think of others and leave yourself until last. This is what my father told me and my grandfather was one of the most giving cockroaches in the world. He always put himself last in every situation.” Selma said as she rubbed her face with her long front legs.
“Yep I guess you are right but I am disgusted with all these chemicals. Those big humans have tried for thousands of years to get rid of us. They just don’t know how tough we all are. They are just now learning how tough we really are.” Twitch squealed in a loud burst of noise.
“Well honey, we have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. They have nothing on us. We can live without food for a month and two weeks without water. Some of us females mate with only one male cockroach and stay pregnant for the rest of their lives. I’m not so sure that is what I want to do though.” Selma frowned. She looked at her slender body and smiled proudly.
“My Uncle Smore lived for a week without his head! Can humans do that?” Twitch boasted.
“Well I can hold my breath for over half an hour. I think my record was about 40 minutes. Then my face began to turn all sorts of colors.” She snickered.
“I have never had to do that but I can run up to 3 miles an hour. I was in a race with some of the other cockroaches. Boy did I leave them in the dust. I flew past them like a 747 airplane. There is nothing slow about these handsome legs. I think cockroaches need to get lots of exercise because you just never know when you are sleeping and some human lifts up the cover you had been resting under.” Twitch announced. He was so proud of his speed that he told everyone that came around.
“Humans just do not like us at all. They think we are disgusting insects just because we secretly invade their homes during the night. Although there are several different sorts of us, we the American cockroach has really been given a bad name. I’d say we are the largest ones. Why my father measured easily over 2 inches in length.” Selma replied turning her eyes in the area of the opening of the sewer pipe.
“Our breed lives in all sorts of places. I’ve lived in basements, steam tunnels, drainage systems, big garbage cans, and even in folk’s compost piles in their back yards. That is really a hoot when they stick their hands down in that compost and pull up twenty five cockroaches. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life as the time I ran up a woman’s leg. I thought she was going to have a stroke right there in her back yard. She was dancing up a storm.” Twitch laughed bending over and wrapping his legs around his waist.
“Oh what a laugh I got from that time.” He continued.
“We are not picky eater either. We eat most anything that is in nasty places. People are just now seeing that we can eat their poop and move from there into their big fancy homes. I just love running over their food and kitchen utensils leaving my droppings on them. It just gives me a charge knowing someone will eat it.” Twitch rolled over and over laughing uncontrollably. “Their poop is not the only poop that smells bad. I expect to live over 1000 days at least and I plan to leave my spit everywhere. I hope to outlive my dad. He got his head cut off, God rest his soul.” Twitch stopped laughing. It was a sober moment as he remembered the good times he had with his father.
“Some folks think that we started in America just because they have named us this name. Actually we came from Africa in the early 1600’s. We spread like wildfire and now we are everywhere. I’m sure the American’s are not fond of having their name linked with us. They are beginning to know that we are getting out of hand just about everywhere. They are so famous for their baseball games and their yummy apple pies. Now they are famous for all of us COCKROACHES!” Twitch chuckled loudly.
“I guess we are the frosting on their pie every 4th of July!” Selma giggled. “I’m proud to be an American cockroach but I will eat their flag in a New York minute if it falls off those poles.”
“You are ruthless Selma!” Twitch said pointing his long front leg in her direction. “You are just a ruthless female. Females of every kind are just plain ruthless!!”
“Oh stop it Twitch! Just because my reddish-brown body shines like new money doesn’t give you the right to defame me or all females.” She snorted loudly.
“Well the light brown band behind my head is much less yellow than yours. You look like you are wearing a hair band like the human women do. Ah! We do have much in common with the humans. If they only knew how much we had in common.” He said shaking his head.
“Oh well I can hatch up to 150 babies and they can only have two or three at a time. When I became an adult and got my wings, boy did I feel good. No more walking everywhere. It gave my poor feet a rest.” Selma sighed. She looked at her six slender legs inspecting every single inch with her antenna.
“Well I had better get the move on. I need to shed some of my skin and other things so I will pay a visit to the first human’s house I find. I’ll leave them something to remember me by. Their allergies and asthma will give them a fit especially the little humans. Yep, I will impact their home with a vengeance.” Twitch echoed as his legs ran as fast as they could go toward the opening of the sewage pipe.
As night began to fall and darkness blanketed the estates in Pageland, the cockroaches moved hurriedly along the sidewalks hoping to find food that had been left on the kitchen counters. It would be one happy night for the American Cockroaches and a really bad year for the humans.
If only the humans would remember to clean everything well. If they would use some of their famous Roach Away in the round plastic container with the bright red top, they might put a small dent in the Cockroach infestations.
Question: Did the American Cockroaches really come from America?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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