The Time of the Cockroaches (Part 1)

The lustrous city streets late at night. Sirens blaring, streetwalkers hawking, and me trying to get home long after the busses and trains had ceased running.

This was the time of the Cockroaches. A garbage strike had paralysed the city and piles of putrescent waste had built up all over the footpath. Cockroaches covered the piles, obscuring the view of rubbish with their bodies.

During the early days of the strike the Cockroaches would fearfully, and I thought respectfully, scuttle away and hide as I approached. I found this response to my obvious human superiority mildly comforting.

After several days they no longer scuttled away but rather ignored my passage. This response unsettled me a little. As the days drew into weeks several hundred roaches would turn, as if a single individual, and face me while hissing loudly and rustling their wings. This response scared the crap out of me and I determined never to fall asleep on a city street again.

I had a long way to go to get to a relatively safe bed and many piles to pass. To settle my nerves I had planned a ‘Nimbin breakfast’ but unfortunately on this humid night, when the stench was damn near overwhelming, I did not have a light. Given the lateness of the hour and my natural desire to avoid street loons it looked like it was going to be a bloody long walk home.

Then I saw her across the city boulevard, a punk in tights, Docs and a blonde spike-hawk, leaning against a street lamp. I figured if she could help maybe we could share breakfast. I strode across the street and asked her for a light, “are you fucking joking! The whole city is alight” as I turned away I noticed a pillar of flame engulfing one of the garbage piles, a fire crew was battling to extinguish it trying not to spread garbage all around, further up the street I could see smoke rising from several other piles. The gutters were running with a foul brew of burnt plastic, garbage ooze and dead or dying roaches. “Those Cockroaches attacked me so I decided to burn their rotten kingdom to the ground, the firies have added flood to their woes”

“Oh K” I said “Still won’t kill the bastards.” “Least they’ll learn to be afraid of me, arrogant little creeps” she replied. “How bout that light” I asked lifting the J to my lips. “Sure, so long as you share”. “Yeah, yeah of course”

So we shared our little puff of paradise and watched while the city burned. The Cockroaches, alarmed by the fires and the rushing water, surged about our feet but I didn’t really mind. The streets belonged to me once more…

The Time of the Cockroaches (Part 1)


Nerang, Australia

  • Artist

Artist's Description

True story from my youth.

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