Sometimes as an artist I feel like it’s natural to occasionally question everything you’re doing and ask yourself if you’re doing it the best way you can. I guess I’m having one of those moments where I’m wondering if I’m on the right path, if I’m writing about the right things, if I’m choosing the right projects, and if I’m putting myself out there in the right way.
I think these moments of self-doubt make us stronger in the end. So I’m just going to ride this out and wait until I feel strong in my art again.
Please enjoy the final installment of The Cockroaches Waltz at Midnight, and this picture with my funny mask.
With Screams and Axes,
The Cockroaches Waltz at Midnight
Art looked at the guitar in his hand, feeling the places where the strings should be. He looked it over searching for any other damage. The strings were gone, but they had been taken off clean, and nothing else had been broken. It was just irritating, really. Art told himself that the old couple was just doing this to fuck with him, that it was probably some stupid joke, but he felt the despair well up inside him. He was unemployed and he didn’t have any strings. What did he have left?
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He looked at the time and saw that it was only 5 a.m. He dialed Marta’s number. He knew that he shouldn’t, he knew that she was asleep and there was a good chance she wouldn’t answer, but he needed to talk to someone. Maybe she would talk to him.
“Hello?” She picked up just as Art was convinced it was going to go to voicemail.
“Hi” he said, relieved to hear her voice.
“Art? What time is it?” She asked. She sounded sleepy and confused.
“It’s five in the morning. I’m sorry I’m calling so early,” he said.
“Are you okay?” She sounded more coherent now, and Art felt pleased by the hint of concern in her voice.
“Some people robbed the gas station tonight and I got fired,” he said, starting to tell her the whole story (but omitting the scary thing he’d seen in the woods). “And then my landlords fed me cockroach meatloaf.”
“That nice, old couple?” She asked, not believing him. “Are you sure it wasn’t an accident?”
“I don’t know, maybe. But they did seem to think it was awfully funny.” Art grumbled. “And now I was just checking out my guitar and all the strings are missing. Someone took them.”
“You think they took your guitar strings?” She asked.
“Someone did,” Art said. “Anyway…” He wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Are you okay, Art?” Marta asked.
“I guess,” Art said. “I just think this is a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.”
Sitting on his bed, Art noticed five cockroaches crawl into the middle of the floor. They stopped when they reached the center and seemed to wait. Art tried to ignore them. Then Art heard a knocking. Like someone was pounding on the front door of the house. He wanted Marta to say something that would make him feel better.
“I’m sorry Art. You knew it was going to be hard being out on your own without your parents.”
“Yeah,” Art agreed. “And I miss you.”
From the living room, Art heard the grandfather clock strike six. The chimes sounded louder than they usually did. At the sound of the clock, the roaches on the floor began to scurry in tiny circles.
“Art,” Marta sighed. He was afraid of what she would say next. “I miss you too.” She admitted, as though he had forced her confession.
From outside his door, Art heard a creaking on the steps, as though someone was walking up to his room. More cockroaches gathered in the center of the room with the others. There were so many that Art picked up his feet off the floor to give them room. What were they all doing? Why were there so many?
“Can I see you soon?” Art asked, keeping an eye on the roaches. “Before you go to school?”
“I don’t know if that would be a good idea,” Marta said.
The clock downstairs struck seven. The chimes were loud and the discordance hurt Art’s head. He thought the clock must be broken.
“We could just hang out,” he said, shouting over the noise. “We don’t have to go on a date or anything.”
“Wouldn’t it just turn into a date though?”
The clock struck eight, made a loud clattering noise that sounded like someone dropping china plates inside a piano, then struck nine, ten, and eleven. The cockroaches were moving across the floor in a frenzy. Art could hear someone running up and down the stairs outside his door.
“Art, what’s all that noise?” Marta asked.
A knocking started on his door. The cockroaches began making a high pitched hissing sound. The room filled with a sour smell.
“Who is it?” Art shouted at the door. “What?!” He screamed. The pounding continued. “Marta?” He shouted into the phone. But she wasn’t there anymore. Maybe she had hung up.
The clock struck twelve and everything went quiet. The cockroaches stopped hissing, the pounding on the door stopped, and the house echoed with the soft chimes of the clock. There was a moment of silence where Art found himself holding his breath.
Then the door to the attic creaked open. In the doorway stood a dark figure. The cockroaches scurried towards and around the figure, crawling everywhere. The figure took a step into the bedroom and slammed the door behind him. The cockroaches took this as a sign and ran towards Art, engulfing him in their tiny bodies. He tried to scream, but they entered his mouth the moment he opened it. The dark figure laughed and laughed.