He sat up straight in his striped pyjamas. The phone rang. It scuttled across the rug like some ravenous beast. Now he had no idea what to do.
The telephone rang again. It had stopped moving and seemed to be facing the telephone. Jack put his hand on the receiver and pulled his feet up to his chest. Across from him, three men in thick square suits high-fived as a guy in costume got nailed on a green plastic park. Everybody stood around watching the referee.
Halfway through the third ring, he picks up. The cockroach raced across the rug to the coffee table and began ascending at a ferocious speed. This fucker was out to kill, Jack realised. He had no idea why, but he saw stories on the news all the time. Men were shot for no reason. Why couldn’t a cockroach think the same way? The high-fiving had gone. A huge car raced out of the screen towards his empty orange plate.
‘Baby hold on. I…’
It’s running. Straight over the ashtray, but now… Relief washes through his racked body. It’s stuck in the ashtray. Gum has stuck its back leg together and it’s crawling feebly.
‘Sorry baby, the roach is in the ashtray.’
‘Never mind. How did it all go? I meant to call. I got sidetracked at work. A guy fell out of his chair.’
‘It was okay.’
‘Okay? Did you get his name?’
‘He’s called Mario Hardwood.’
‘Mario Hardwood? That’s his real name?’
‘That’s not his real name. Nobody uses their real names Jack. He…’
That roach is wrenching his spindly body over the side, and now the square suits are back.
‘Where are you? Is that a tannoy?’
‘I’m at the hospital Jack. It didn’t work out.’