You ever get that feeling like you just saw something out of the corner of your eye, but you’re not sure if it was real or imaginary? I was just sitting at my desk when I swore I noticed some sort of movement, just right at the edge of my peripheral vision. I looked, and there was nothing. But what was it that I thought I saw? Was it real? I have no idea. I don’t want to say it could’ve been a bug, because to verbalize it might make it come true. So I kind of do a quick check behind the desk, alongside the wall. There’s nothing out of the ordinary.
It’s tough because there’s no reliable track record for this type of activity. I can’t go back and judge this experience based off of past encounters with roaches or spiders. It’s like, every once in a while, I’ll think I see something, and then a minute passes, maybe another minute and, yep, it’s a bug, it’s a roach and it’s running across the floor.
But then other times it’s all in my head. Like when I was a little kid and I still believed in Santa Claus, every now and then I’d swear I caught a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. So I don’t know what to believe. I do know that if I’m not careful, I’ll let my imagination get the best of me. If I too actively seek out every shadow or imaginary movement I think I see, it’s only going to increase the frequency at which I’m seeing these phantom blurs.
But I also know that I live in New York, that maybe half the time I catch myself looking behind the dresser or underneath that stack of plates, it’s because I actually did see something. And sitting back and ignoring it, pretending like I never saw it in the first place, it never solves the problem. Best case scenario, it just comes back out a minute or two later, and now I’ve definitely seen it, now I have to take action and kill it. Worst case, it disappears into the cracks and crevasses of my walls and flooring where it’ll spawn an entire generation of creepy-crawlies.
I hope I’m not giving the impression that I’m living in a bug-infested dump. My place is very clean. But I’d say once or twice a year I’ve got to kill a roach, usually a really big one that’s either trying to find a warm place, or that’s trying to get back outside now that the weather is nice. I definitely see bugs all the time outside. And mice. And rats. Luckily my block is overrun with feral cats, and so yeah, I’d much rather stray cat colonies to rats.
Several years ago I was living at this apartment by my school in the Bronx. That was the first time that I had an actual mouse try to move in. Those little guys are fast, much faster than any bug. And so that feeling of seeing something moving in the corner, once you actually get a mouse cohabitating with you, it becomes way more pronounced. You’ll see that blur of darkness every time you enter a room. And the worst part is, once out of every twenty or so times, you’ll actually see it, like for real, a real mouse.
Then you have to lay out traps, and worry that the peanut butter is going to attract bugs. And then you finally catch the mouse and you have to wipe up all of the guts and everything that explode all over the place when the mouse finally takes the bait. Like I said, I’ve been really lucky that the worst I’ve had to deal with here is the occasional roach.
And a silverfish every now and then. I don’t know why, but silverfish don’t gross me out as much. For some reason they always kind of blend in with the floor, and so maybe it’s just like an optical illusion, but I never see any imaginary silverfish.
OK, I just saw it again, the movement, something creeping around. I’m still not convinced that it’s anything real, because I’ve just spent the better part of a half an hour talking about roaches and mice. If anything, I’d be more concerned if by this point I hadn’t concocted some hallucinatory pests. But still, I’m having a hard time suppressing my urge to start stomping on the floor, kicking piles of stuff. If it’s hiding in there, I want to see it. I don’t really want to see it. I hate when it comes true, when it pops out from one hiding spot and immediately dives into another. I just … I just wish I had X-Ray vision, that I could see any bugs in the walls of under the floors. No, that would be a terrible super power. A curse really. I just want the phantom movements to stop.