A little over a year ago, we ran an article in which we pitted a friend of ours against some cockroaches (it ended with several of their heads in his mouth—remember?). To make it somewhat of a fair fight we ordered a bunch of these enormous hissing buggers from Madagascar that cling onto your hands like giant ticks when you try to pick them up. Those that didn’t end up taking part in the competition moved into a big rectangular aquarium on the interns’ desk where they could serve as a constant reminder of their position in the company and teach them a little responsibility at the same time.
Unfortunately, our office is no Madagascar, and despite a steady supply of food, water, and hiss-inducing pokes, starting in October our little buddies began curling up in the dry indoor heat and rolling onto their backs one by one. By the middle of February only two were left, and their sluggish movement and penchant for wedging themselves beneath the treasure chest in the aquarium for days on end didn’t bode too well for the future. Finally, we came to the conclusion that as hard as it’d be to break it to the interns that their beloved pets were slated for a date with the Gross Jar, it was better for them to go out in a final blaze of filthy glory than slowly rot away before our eyes—you know, like that song by the Pearl Jam guy.
On the day picked for our little buddies’ last hurrah, one of our writers brought in a little Tupperware bowl containing a thick brine of headcheese and eye-juice in which were pickling the charred-yet-still-slimy remains of a cow eyeball and two slippery pink testicle skins. He told us they’d only been out of the fridge for a couple hours, but just cracking the lid a centimeter to look in completely filled the room with one of the most unimaginably pungent stenches ever—think homemade wine if you ran out of grapes and switched to month-old eggs. It is the only thing that any of us has ever smelled that genuinely comes close to matching the stink of the Jar.
Ever the thoughtful souls, we decided the cow-brew would make a fitting and hearty last meal for the roaches. So after moving the whole operation into the better-ventilated hallway, we scooped each of the condemned out of their home, deposited them in the roachfeast to end all roachfeasts, then rested the lid on top to give them a little privacy and our throats a chance to stop involuntarily clenching. After a good hour of chowtime, two
staffers took the bowl out to the roof, popped the cap, gagged for a couple minutes, then grew a pair and got to work.
In the course of stretching out and acclimating to its new domicile, last month’s yeast displaced a good quarter of the liquid present when it went in, coating the entire outer surface of the Jar in a sticky yellow film that by all logic should have dried weeks ago. Also, mysteriously enough, despite being lodged in a little cranny where no wind should be able to reach it, the Jar’s lid was clean on the other end of the roof, just a-sitting there like it weren’t no thang. Freaky shit.
Compared with February’s debacle, this month’s transfer went down seamlessly. While the first staffer cleared a bit of space from the top of the Jar, leaning waaay over to be sure his legs were out of the splat radius, the second let the more active of the two roaches sink his tiny pincers into the finger of his glove and gave him a loopy little plane ride over to his final destination. After some initial reluctance, Roach One let go and slid on his abdomen into the sludge, swimming happily for about 30 seconds before going under.
Next in went the nutskins, which floated together like a pair of fleshy lily pads before being sunk by the incoming eyeball. The eye came back to the surface in time to make a little raft for Roach Two, who, in a stunning display of nimbleness and resolve, launched himself backward out of the staffer’s hand and plummeted a full three inches down into the Jar. As the eyeball slowly submerged beneath the waterline, Roach Two extended a single leg upward and kept it gently waving until he vanished in full into the noxious brown pap. A somber and touching envoi for two old and faithful friends.