The Cockroaches of Stay More

The Cockroaches of Stay More by Donald Harington Read Free Book Online

Book: The Cockroaches of Stay More by Donald Harington Read Free Book Online
Authors: Donald Harington
other roosterroach of Stay More actually understood, and one of these was the name of the Man, which was Larry. Since the only roosterroaches who now inhabited Parthenon were Sam and his father, Squire Hank Ingledew, and since Squire Hank spent most of his waking hours hanging out at Doc Swain’s place, only Sam had been present on the one occasion when Larry had actually come to Parthenon, one night, and had talked with the Woman at length, had argued with Her, and, about the time the Clock struck “TUTTI-FRUTTI,” had removed the garments which covered Her body, had removed the garments which covered His body, and had climbed together with Her into Her bed, where, beneath the quilt required by the chill of autumn, He and She had made movements which Sam could only conjecture about. Then They had slept. Sam had remained awake beyond dawn, waiting for Them to awaken, but he had finally drifted into sleep and had awakened to find the Man gone and the Woman complaining loudly to Herself about Her stupidity and Her hangover and Her need for a cigarette.
    Now Sam watched Sharon, who had heard the calling of her name twice, followed by a long silence. Sam’s sniffwhips detected an unmistakable scent of yearning. The bristles on the lower tier of sniff-whip segments are especially sensitive to scents of yearning, wanting, inexpressible wistfulness, in either one’s fellow roosterroaches or in Man, and it is considered good luck to pick up, on one’s sniffwhips, such a pining smell. There is a popular saying, “More rare than pine is the smell of pining”—which is rare indeed, for there are few pine trees in this part of the Ozarks.
    Sharon pined. And because he clearly detected it, Sam grew excited, knowing that some good luck would occur to him. He was not ordinarily superstitious, certainly not like the vast majority of roosterroaches, who could not even turn around without observing some of the most ridiculous beliefs and practices, but Sam believed that superstitions are more credible rules of conduct than religion, for which he had no use whatever: he knew enough to conclude that Woman had not created him; certainly Sharon had not. He did not believe that Joshua Crust had been the son of Sharon or of Larry or of any of Their ancestors. He did not believe that Sharon would continue feeding him only if he sang praises to Her…although he felt like singing praises to Her anyway. He did not believe that when he westered he would go to live forevermore on Her right hand. She wouldn’t want him on Her right hand or Her left. And as for this Rapture business which that mountebank Chidiock Tichborne preached and extolled, Sam would love to be raptured by the Woman but not in the westerly sense, and certainly not by a firearm, which the Woman did not own.
    But he did believe that the scent of pining brought good luck, and the very best luck he could wish for, which sometimes he dreamed about in his daily sleep, would be some magic that would either transform the Woman into a roosterroach, or, better, metamorphose Sam into a Man. And yet, desiring this with all his heart, he realized that such metamorphosis was sheer fable.
    Sam stepped out from his Clock and crept to the edge of the mantelshelf. The Woman was picking up the black talking-instrument and cradling it against Her ear, while one of Her fingers twiddled the belly of the other half of the instrument around and around. Sam wondered if she was only calling Tel-Med, perhaps for a program with a name like “What to Do When Your Ex-Lover Drunkenly Yells Your Name in the Middle of the Night.” But she began talking into the thing, and one never talks to Tel-Med. Of course Sam could not hear what she was saying, nor could he, this time, even imagine it. Could he hear her if he moved closer? Very close? Say, right up the cheer-of-ease? Dare he?
    First he wanted to be sure that he was scrupulously clean, although he had already had his evening bath and it was too early

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