A spider has settled down in my washroom. It’s neither a black widow
nor a meadow spider, which is pale and long-legged but an ordinary grey
domestic one small and robust. I called him Gray because he is grey and
now we are on friendly terms with each other. I am coming in - How are
you, Gray? – he's silent but I see he has noticed me. He has blocked up
one of the corners with a cobweb and is waiting now. But there is nothing
to wait for, he is a stranger here and doesn’t know that there are no flies
at my place. He spent a few days there and then disappeared. I thought
he had given way to despair and gone to my neighbours but he turned out
to have made another web in another corner and is sitting there waiting
again. I feel sorry for him. What a life I am having! I can’t even feed
a spider. Then, I remembered cockroaches. Honestly speaking they don’t
live at my place either they can't find anything to eat here. I don’t keep
food at home, I have a snack down town and that’s enough. There is no reason
to cultivate filth and moisture. The house is for sleeping, that is my
idea of home, then you go out and that’s all. And now I have to muck about
with this creature. I feel pity for him but nothing doing he keeps sitting.
I recollected cockroaches again. Even though they don’t live at my place,
at night you can find them drinking water from the tap. You see, the tap
is broken, the water has been dripping for two years now. And at nights
they come to the watering place with their whole families. I often see
them because I am a bad sleeper. When awaken I lie and gaze at the ceiling.
Long ago I didn’t live alone. We even had lots of fun here. But that was
years ago… and now a new problem is burdening me - how to feed my spider.
I go to the bathroom on the sly and see cockroaches having a good time.
I take one carefully so as not to crush it /the spiders prefer them alive/,
carry it to the washroom and smash it into the web. At the first try I
didn't calculated correctly and the cockroach like an iron breaks through
the net, jumps down on the floor and runs away. I don’t run after (everyone
deserves some luck). Grown wiser with the experience I go on hunting for
cockroaches. Meantime as if they had been warned by the first lucky stiff
or in some other way, they have realised a danger and begun to rush about.
But I have managed to run one down and catch it. I have chosen a smaller
and weaker one and now I am carrying it. I carry it wondering: What am
I doing here what do I do here at nights?.. Am I an intellectual? If I
am, then tell, please, why I pity a spider and don’t pity a cockroach?
I’m standing in the hall, a cold wind blowing along the floor and I
feel it with my bare feet. Why has the life had this turn? I didn’t want
to be a cockroach but for a spider I lacked certain skills…No matter, now
I have my own spider. I don't pity cockroaches because there are lots of
them but there is only one Gray. Though he is a predator I sympathise with
him. Both of us are all alone. He lives by himself. Perhaps, he feels bored…or
lonely at nights… or in the daytime, who knows… I’m carrying a cockroach
to drop it carefully into the spider’s web.
This time I am lucky, the spider has started; in no time he found himself
close to the cockroach and very gracefully tied it up not to let it tumble
down onto the floor… He did it with the same gesture both careless and
elegant as the actor Philipoff had done it in a very old film. Well, I
think the name for you is Gray and now your last name will be Philipoff.
Gray Philipoff. Not too bad!
Meanwhile Philipoff has tied the cockroach and headed for the corner.
He doesn't want to eat it in my presence. A sophisticated creature he is.
And he is right, there is nothing pleasant in eating in public especially
if your teeth are worn out. But people don't look at each other in a canteen
or in a public washroom, I am already used to it but I can understand Gray.
They say that there are a great number of nations feeling very shy to have
their meals in public, their religion doesn't permit it, I don't know as
to it… I go out… and in the morning I can only notice a hardly visible
shadow of the cockroach in the net. And Sergey is sitting in the corner
Now, every day, on coming home, I go immediately to the washroom- "Hi,
Philipoff!"- He is in his place, naturally not having caught anything
by himself but it doesn't matter. We'll wait till night, cockroaches will
go to the watering place, and we'll have everything, Gray, everything.
Soon I will be retired and we are going to cook such food that it will
make your mouth water. We'll have flies coming and staying. What are cockroaches…
very rough food, but flies…oh, flies… Keep your chin up, Gray, it isn't
the half of the story yet.