“You killed it!” I hear a shocked and offended voice say. I look around and see another tenant glaring at me through thick glasses. Looking at him you’d think I just committed a heinous crime like genocide, mass murder, statutory rape, or pushed the button to launch a nuclear strike instead of killing a cockroach scurrying across the stovetop, where I am trying to cook a bacon omelet. 

“Cockroaches don’t bite,” his buddy says by way of explanation. “They’re nature.” It is apparent he doesn’t believe in killing cockroaches, either. But he says it without rancor or ideological zeal, a patient teacher instructing a slow child.

Both defenders of the maligned and persecuted cockroach have hair so dirty it is matted and tangled and wear the same dirty, soiled clothes day after day. Neither one has had a shower in recent memory. Otherwise they are not much alike. My instructor in green ethics is unobtrusive and sticks pretty much to himself. The other naturalist, who is still glaring at me like I am the Genghis Khan of the Downtown Eastside, is a worse pest than the cockroaches.

He hangs around in the hallways so he can accost everyone who comes into the building for a cigarette and goes from room to room asking for cigarettes, papers, weed. He will do almost anything for money and spends every cent he gets on pot and cocaine. 

Whenever anyone goes into the community kitchen it isn’t long before he comes in pretending it’s for a glass of water, but really it’s to see if he can cadge a meal or a few tokes or get a spare smoke, whatever. More than once he has been caught eating with his fingers from pots or pans left unattended on the stove, and cockroaches look like a healthy source of protein compared to the dirtiest fingers in Vansewer.

He is a morally superior plant killer, so I always make sure I cook meat. He finds it offensive, and glares at me while complaining that he can’t eat it. I just smile contentedly, knowing it keeps his dirty, dictatorial fingers and values out of my food.  

A cockroach crawls out of an element and heads in the direction of my frying pan. SMACK. Point made. 

© 2010 Allan B. Regier

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