Scoundrel Time

How It Ends: The House

The sponge on the counter reeks faintly and the kitty-cat clock is stuck at 10:05, such a non-time, morning or night, it doesn’t matter. The whole house is like a bad belly, swollen with gross nostalgia: the old-timey radio, the Formica table, the retro refrigerator. You can’t, you think to yourself, borrow an aesthetic, without also borrowing its context. Where they see “vintage flair,” you see Jim Crow. The kitchen should be modern, and it should mirror the world. A single hive blooms across your chest and you scratch at it to make it worse. The whole point, now, is to make everything worse. Make it as bad as possible, as quickly as possible, so that the new, better thing can begin. A cockroach appears like they always do—suddenly, silently, shockingly, tottering beneath the weight of a primordial revulsion, a disgust that pre-dates time, striking cold fear into your body which now tingles against the heat of your skin. Eve’s apple, you think to yourself, should’ve been a cockroach—then she would’ve known not to eat it. But that’s the whole problem, isn’t it, how the bad apple rarely announces itself as bad. And then weirdly, even when it does, some people will still choose to eat it, because maybe they’re starving. You watch the cockroach move across the floor, its luster the patina of an ancient self-hatred, and you realize that this is perhaps the most tragic aspect of the cockroach—it too wishes it were dead. You watch it disappear under some cabinets into a crack you can’t see and the entire universe, for a brief second, makes sense.