Phil stole cautious glances beneath the desk of his boss’ secretary as he waited to see what this impromptu morning meeting was all about. She rearranged her legs, briefly exposing a floral pattern that reminded Phil of his daughter’s childhood bathing suit. Then he realized the secretary was probably the same age as his daughter. This epiphany stunned him like a cockroach caught under a kitchen light.
Phil immediately lost interest in the secretary’s undergarments, but not before she traced his gaze to her nether regions. He snapped out of his trance to find a look of disgust on her face. He did what any man would do in that situation. He stared down at his dark-leather dress shoes.
For the record, Phil has never let his bouts of lust spill into the real world. He always felt the effort was greater than the pleasure, so he satisfied his sexual needs through monthly rendezvous with his wife and the privacy of his evening shower.
Phil ran all of life’s little decisions through a similar cost-benefit analysis; affairs, meals, children, you name it, he crunched the numbers and came to a logical conclusion. This created a complacent life for he and his family. At least it did, until Pam, his wife, found Facebook.
Their marriage was quite comfortable before Pam discovered that “God-damn-mother-fuckin website,” as Phil referred to it. They had sex at least twelve times a year. They slept in the same bed. They ate breakfast together every morning. Compared to their circle of friends, they were John and Yoko. Then Pam began her virtual high school reunion.
Their nightly dinner conversation shifted from discussing current events to Pam rambling on about her long-lost friends. It was a barrage of pointless information and dangerous comparisons.
“Becky married a lawyer,” Pam would say.
“Good for her,” Phil would respond.
“The Johnstons went to Paris last Christmas,” she would say.
“Good for them.” he would respond.
It went on like that until Pam’s dissatisfaction grew too large for Phil to ignore. He ran the figures and decided it’d be better to give Pam a more enviable life than face their impending divorce. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fit to climb the corporate ladder, and that is exactly why he was summoned for the impromptu morning meeting.
Pam scoffed as she scrolled through Samantha, her high-school nemesis’, vacation photos. She spent last Christmas in Paris, the previous summer in Peru and the spring before that in Jerusalem. God had been good to her, and Pam hated him for it.
“How does a preacher’s wife get to travel the world like Carmen Sandiego?” Pam would ask herself, completely overlooking the fact that Samantha and her husband were doing more evangelizing than vacationing.
When she failed to gain a sense of superiority from her former frenemy, she decided to find the boys who brought her into womanhood. The first who came to mind was the captor of her virginity. His name was Ed Redfield and he checked every box of the high school heartthrob stereotype. He was athletic, charismatic and classically handsome. He embodied everything Pam had stopped looking for by the time she agreed to marry Phil, and judging by his profile picture, he still had “it.” What he didn’t have was a wife.
“Single!? That’s shocking,” Pam wrote in her first private message to Ed.
It became the first of many once Ed responded, “I know, RIGHT!? I used to be irresistible!”
Pam conveniently left out Ed when she relayed her Facebook findings to Phil. She stuck with pitting Samantha’s family against her own. She could tell by the tension in Phil’s shoulders that these passive suggestions were getting through to him, but his attempts to improve their family’s financial and social status couldn’t keep up with Pam’s Facebook Feed.
As the weeks progressed, so did Pam and Ed’s virtual flirtations. Their distance made it as harmless as Phil’s panty peeks, until a fortuitous business trip brought Ed within a $20 cab ride of Phil and Pam’s doorstep.
The cockroach emerged from the kitchen drain and sought shelter beneath an overturned cereal bowl. It gave a ten count before sticking its antennas out to survey the terrain. Satisfied with the noise level and lack of lighting, it began its ascent to the kitchen counter.
The roach was on a standard reconnaissance mission. Its objective, find a food source and leave a trail of pheromones for the rest of the colony to follow. Like all members of the animal kingdom, aside from humans, survival was its only concern.
The roach bounded from ceramic dish to metal utensil until it successfully breached the rim of the sink. Without a moment of hesitation, it scurried perpendicularly to the floor along the stained-wood cabinet doors.
The kitchen became illuminated by fluorescent light once the roach landed on the faux-mahogany gel mat, as if it had tripped an alarm. It remained motionless as articles of clothing began sailing through the air, sporadically covering the ceramic tiles below.
The roach darted between the shirts, pants and delicates, attempting to reach the living room undetected. It stopped beneath the thin veil of a satin thong after a pair of dark-leather dress shoes appeared in the entryway.
The roach stayed completely still until a nude middle-age woman flung herself off the equally unclothed male she was straddling. Her force sent the man and his chair crashing to the ground in front of the roach.
The roach made a final break for the carpet-lined room. It saw one of the dress shoes lift high out of sight as it passed the fallen man’s head. The roach kept its eyes down and sprinted towards its destination as fast as its legs could carry it.
The roach was lucky to be in motion after the dress shoe returned to Earth. As for the man on the floor, well, he looked up.
Photograph by: Jaemin Riley
Written by: Mark Killian