The Palmetto Massacre (Short Story) - Extra Chill


The Palmetto Massacre (Short Story)

The Palmetto Massacre

The garage door is open, and you sit in the best lounge chair to enjoy a warm summer evening. Empty beer cans and bottles are scattered all around. There is a broom, a dustpan, and a pair of crutches in the corner to your left. Leaning against the wooden wall to your right is an impressive pyramid built using only Budweiser cans. It has rained for a week straight, but tonight the sky is clear and bright. A full moon soars overhead, his eyes looking a few minutes ahead of you with excitement. 

You sip an ice cold Busch Light and begin listening to the sounds of night. There is the hum of crickets and the lovely voice of a nightingale. The Budweiser pyramid to your right buzzes with life, but your trusty ears recognize it as irrational noise and ignore it. The buzzing keeps growing louder, as if a million tiny fingertips drum continuously on the sides of the cans. You think there there might be something living inside one of the Budweiser cans. The moon takes this time to make buttered popcorn.

You watch and listen for a few moments, considering the possibilities. You look up at the bright smiling moon and hear the steadily amplifying scream of tapping on tin cans. The moon sends a solid ray of light directly to a glistening Corona bottle lying on the ground by your feet. The sight of the sparkling bottle powers a lightbulb in your head, so you rise to your feet and grab the the bottle.

The top part of the pyramid collapses when the bottle strikes. A few cans fall to the ground while some startled cockroaches scatter to get back inside the cans. Your heart sinks deep as the roaches settle back into their Budweiser can homes. They are invisible again, but louder than ever. You have awoken the whole brood, and the moon winks at your demise. You look to the pair of crutches in the corner.

Chugging the last bit of your Busch Light, you drop the empty tin can before going to grab a crutch from the corner. When the can hits the ground there is a bang and the roach colony goes quiet, as if listening for what comes next. They huddle together for a feeling of security inside of their tin can bunkers. You lift a crutche like an oversized baseball bat and wind up to take a big swing. You sweep the bottom row of cans with the crutch, sending a violent storm of Budweiser cans crashing to the ground. 

Hundreds of roaches sprint, hop and dive from the mess of cans to cracks in the wall that lead to safety. You can feel the cold beads of sweat forming on your brow as your heart pounds so loud it’s all you can hear. You are overwhelmed by the frenzying horde of cockroaches trying to avoid the wrath of your heel. You toss aside the crutch and begin stomping your feet with vigorous precision. The pathetic insects are an easy opponent for your rubber soles. 

The flow of roaches eventually slows to a halt. The last trickle of stragglers leave the cans to meet their ends with a healthy crunch. Crazed, delusional, and foaming at the mouth, you think it’s finally over. You look around you to admire the scene, complete with twitching deformed roach bodies and trash from a party that happened a month ago. Then you see her — the slow, hunkering, rounded body of Queen Roach. She’s the last to abandon the sheltered haven provided by the Budweiser pyramid.

You allow her to wobble along with high hopes until she’s about a foot from the escape crack. You raise your leg high over her, taking care to cover her with the shadow. Just when she thinks she can taste safety, you use all the force you can muster to mash your heel into the floor and crush Queen Roach. Her green guts splatter in a blast radius around your shoe. The moon did not expect you to be so aggressive about this.

You flatten each Budweiser can to ensure that no living roaches remain hidden inside of them. You reach for the broom and use it to separate the cans from the roach bodies. You take a head count, just to be sure: 

28 crushed Budweiser cans
57 dead roaches

You sweep the dead bodies out the open garage door onto the driveway. Outside you can see that your neighbor has been watching you from the window directly across the street. You see an amused smile as the shades close and it disappears. The moon sports the same grin, and tears of laughter fall from his omniscient eyes. You trash the Budweiser cans and sit back down in the best lounge chair with a fresh Busch Light.

Carbonation pours over the rim of the can as you take the first sip from your victory beer. Serious casualties were suffered to the army of roaches inhabiting your precious land. Many hours of roach time must be spent training and impregnating a new Queen Roach. Your reward is a quiet place to sip beers and enjoy a warm summer evening. It has rained for a week straight, but tonight the sky is clear and bright. A full moon soars overhead, his eyes hanging low as he peacefully nods himself to sleep.