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Who should you be?

The Exterminator or The Roach

By Ruben De EscapadoPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
4
Generated by Starryai

You go to the grocery store because people go to the grocery store. All you need is ketchup, burger buns, and string beans. Maybe a case of beer. Just a six-pack.

Produce section is front and center. As soon as the doors slide open. You grab string beans with a sniffle. Is it a bit chilly in here or are you coming down? You grab a small bag of oranges. Some Vitman C will do you some good.

Next, you make your way over to the opposite end of the grocery store. Toward the bakery. Along the way, you cut down one of the isles. Assuming you will find ketchup. Ketchup was found next to a man lingering behind his wife. She is pushing the cart. He is weighing two of the same size bags of rice with his hands. To see which is heavier.

There is some sort of music playing but it is inaudible compared to the unquiet dred. Everybody here is a slave to obligation. The one owed to the belly. Everyone wishing they were somewhere else.

Actually, some people enjoy the grocery store, but not you. You understand why people might enjoy it, you have even found yourself basking in the absurdity. But it still isn’t your favorite chore on the to-do list.

You have turned right at the end of the aisle. You are here and doing what you must. This is life and you accept that. It is a thing encapsulated by mini sacrifices repeated over and over. For the sake of persistence. An unwavering resolve that life in all of it’s monotony is worth living. An existential declaration of the resolve produced by love of obscurity.

You find that when you leave the grocery store that you feel quiet zen. This accompanied by the smell of warm bread makes you one with the fluorescent bulb. You grab your burger buns, turn back around with all of you groceries cradled in your arm.

You make your way to the register like a silent running back, bursting through the invisible defensive line. Arrive at register six.

There is an older man trying to pay, but his card keeps getting declined. He doesn’t have much so you consider paying for it. As much as you might enjoy the idea of being charitable, you are able to infer that he is not someone who proactively appreciates help. So you remain a silent passenger upon someone else’s train.

The situation escalates as the old man accuses the cashier of trying to embarrass him. Knowing with absolute certainty that he has sufficient funds in his account. The old man was getting angrier by the moment, but when the manager came over to assist there was a brief pause in the old man’s throat.

He typed in the right pin and the transaction went through. He grabbed his bags and shuffled out after apologizing to the kid.

“Seems like it’s been a rough day.”, you say to extract the awkward and connect. Nothing wrong with being kind, you tell yourself.

“Oh, that. That happens at least twice a week. Bare minimum.”

You think this notion over and it makes you think of your grandma. When you would split a bowl of cashews. Just to talk a little bit. Did she ever forget her pin? Of course, she has. She is your grandma this is so new to her. You forget your pin sometimes. Everyone does. You are forgetting your pin right now.

You shake your head in disbelief. Quickly entering the correct pin.

“I’ve got the bug.”

“It’s going around.”

The young man handed you the receipt and you grabbed your things. The sliding doors open. You don’t like sliding doors because no matter what direction you approach them from they just slide. Not opening and closing. Just sliding. This makes you feel like you're sliding. Then you remember your connection to the fluorescent light. Walking into the day, but it's a cloudy sky.

You stare at the Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Gas Station across the street. You’re just looking out. The cars pass by between you and them. You think white, blue, silver, blue, red, beige, silver, grey, silver, black. Wendy’s, but your burgers will be better. Taco Bell, never blends well with work in the morning. Gas Station, it’s better if you don’t smoke.

You get in your marvelous car. It turns on; most of the time. Other times you need to just hit the connection of the battery with a hammer. Not too hard. It has loud enough speakers and a good radio.

You back it out and make your way down the highway. You are thinking about the fluorescent light and the old man. Now your grandma and yourself. Then you are thinking about the last time you had an orange. You are starting to get more excited for the desert than the meal.

Before you realize it, you never turned on the radio and you are outside your building. You parallel park as close to the curb as it can get. You get out of your marvelous car and grab the groceries.

Tomorrow is going to be okay. You cross the street. Make your way up the stairs. When you enter the building, the guy with the ponytail is smoking his joint.

“Did you watch UFC?”

“Nah, I’ve been missing them recently.”

“Get back into that shit, man! This weekend was real as fuck!...You wanna hit this?”, he extends his joint out to you. You put the groceries on the floor and take a nice drag.

“You can take more if you want?”, he says as he continues to hold out the joint.

“Chillin—”, you say with a heavy exhale.

“Why you always in that suit?”, he asks as he pulls on the joint.

“Work. And people take me more seriously. So I don’t mind it.”, you say.

You pick up the groceries from the stoop, thank him, and tell him to have a good night. You both fist bump. You make your way up the stairs. Down the hall to the right. When you put the key in the door, you need to lift it. With some shaking it became undone.

Before walking in, you see a cockroach on the peeling white walls. You watch it’s spontaneous and erratic movement. You think, maybe I...am a cockroach. You are spontaneous and erratic. Then you think you should kill it, but that almost feels cruel. Because killing one isn’t going to change the problem. You need to eradicate them all. Then you think, if you are a cockroach and you want to wipe out all your brothers and sisters, then what does that make you? Why not just kill one and feel like you are fighting back? Why does it have to be all or nothing when you are...nothing? Is killing one even worth it?

You slip off your shoe. Instead of going fast and stomping it out, you go slow. The moment you feel the resistance against the shoe, you go inside and shut the door. You’ll save it for the exterminator.

As you cook your burger, you boost your confidence about the cockroach fiasco by recalling all the memories of you killing other cockroaches. Maybe you are the exterminator? The fat falling off the burger looks strange to you. You’d rather not question it.

You sit at your table with your burger, diced potatoes, and string beans. You dump some ketchup onto the plate. You put a comedy special on your iPad. You get this eerie feeling you’ve been here before. You check the name of the movie and you can confirm you’ve never seen it.

The burger goes down quick, but you’re angry you didn’t go for the six-pack at the grocery store. The dishes go in the sink for later. You decided to pour a whiskey to make up for not committing on the beer. You sit back at the table with your orange. The ice clinks.

You sniff the whiskey, then throw it back. You remind yourself you’ll want more so you go and get the bottle. You refill your glass. Throw it back. Then refill once more.

You take your knife and thrust it into the orange. When it splits open, where an orange should be, you find a red ruby grapefruit. There is a knock at the door.

Short Story
4

About the Creator

Ruben De Escapado

Most know me as a poet sitting on a park bench in Central Park. Writing poetry for strangers. Before that I lived a life and learned a few things. Now I listen to what the world had to teach others. Believe in yourself and be honest. Okay.

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