Short Story Saturday: Cockroach in the Louisville Zoo

“Ew. Ew!! Ew!!! Get… that…thing…AWAY FROM ME!!” Lily leapt on the couch and squealed.

“It’s just a millipede. Look at it. It’s sorta cool,” Jana teased.

“Just squish it! Please!”

“Fine.” Jana stepped on the crawling critter, then scooped it up with a scrap of paper towel and tossed in in the trash can.

Everyone in the college apartment settled back into their seats.

“Speaking of bugs,” Lindsay began, “one day in Animal Behavior last semester I spent two hours at the zoo observing the Komodo dragon. Eric Franklin was in the same glass room kinda’ thing observing crocodiles,” she added, proof that the story could be verified if doubt arose.

“I would have picked more active animals…like monkeys—” Jana interrupted.

“Those were taken,” Lindsay responded bluntly. “We were in the Louisville zoo—a shady place known for its rats—when this happened.”

“Ew! Really? Rats? I didn’t know that,” Lily shuddered.

“Yep. Luck just didn’t seem to be on my side. First of all, the Komodo dragon was seriously BORing! And the observation time was rotten, too. We were there from, like, one to three, and the animals were fed at, like, at noon, so they were full and sleeping—just like I would want to be doing,” she added, at least partially excusing the poor animals for the terrible monotony they had inflicted upon her.

“Anyway, I was sittin’ there, takin’ “notes” on my sleepin’ Komodo dragon, when this… huge… roach crawled out from behind my backpack. It surprised me because I thought it was a rat—it was huge—but after I realized what it was, Eric and I looked at it more closely and it was neat. It had a really pretty speckled design on its back like there was something special about it. You know, the kind you might see in a bug display exhibit, not in your kitchen. Well, it scurried up the wall and just kinda’ sat there.” Her scurrying hand mimicked the meeting. “I didn’t pay much attention to it after that. A family came through once, pushin’ a big stroller—just like all families walkin’ around the zoo are pushin’ big strollers. Well, that speckled roach musta’ scurried back down the wall at some point, cuz’ the stroller wheel almost ran into that…thing… and naturally everyone made a big fuss about it.”

“So the afternoon went by. We were still just sittin’ there, talkin’. I was staring at a giant lizard that didn’t move once the entire time. It was thrilling. After a while, a Barbie-looking blond and a big…burly…black guy walked through. Barbie took one look at the roach, freaked out, and ran for the door. Apparently the guy wasn’t too impressed either because as he walked out he turned and looked back, and in this…gruff…eerie…voice he slowly said, ‘that’s disgusting.’” Lindsay’s voice deepened as she strung out the words and followed them with a pause. “Then they left.”

“Twenty-five minutes later our professor came by to see how things were going. ‘By the way,’ he said, ‘I hear O.J. Simpson is at the zoo today, so keep an eye out for him.’ Of course I thought he meant there was some…guy…” she shook her fingers out in front of her as if trying to shake off water drops “who looked like O.J., but nope! He said O.J. himself was really here at the zoo, just walkin’ around. I said we hadn’t seen him, but all the sudden that pretty specked roach flashed through my mind, and the eerie voice and the look on that man’s face as he glanced back, disgusted. ‘I bet that guy was O.J. Simpson,’ I thought.”

Lindsay paused for a few seconds, then continued, pensively. “It was kinda’ scary, if you think about it,” she mused. “I mean, if you talk to people, pretty much everyone agrees that he was guilty, that he killed them, but all day people were apparently still goin’ up to him, takin’ pictures together, and gettin’ autographs.” She shuttered. “We think he’s a murderer, but we still want his autograph.”

Another pause. She shrugged.

“I woulda’ gotten it.”

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