Kenny named her Miss Roach. He named her that because of the stiletto heels she always wore.
Look at them—he’d always point at the heels first, as if she were an extension of the heels and not the other way around—those things are fucking cockroach killers.
Her real name was Kathleen. She was married to a mustached bulldog of a man, Tommy, who sported tattoos and thick gold chains. His muscular arms were usually on display as he often wore white tank-tops, even in winter.
Kathleen and Tommy had two children, Tommy, Jr., and Janine, ages eight and four, respectively. My mother and father were friends with Kathleen and Tommy, who lived several houses down from us, and the four of them would often hang out on our stoop or theirs, shooting the shit and smoking cigarettes.
I was twelve and hadn’t really thought of Kathleen in sexual terms until Kenny christened her Miss Roach. Then I began to see and feel her through Kenny’s hormonally empowered eyes.
Here’s a snapshot illustrating Miss Roach’s trademark look: asphyxiatingly tight denim jeans, Aqua-Net-petrified tower of teased-up platinum hair, oversized gold hoop earrings, a kaleidoscopic blitz of make-up, sequin-studded blouse, and stiletto heels.
Tracking Miss Roach became a thing, a kind of peripheral past-time among me and my friends. Sometimes we’d see her sitting on the stoop, smoking menthol cigarettes. True was her brand. She smoked nervously, rapidly, like a bird pecking at savory air.
If Kenny were there, he would usually spin a colorful narrative as to what he wanted to do to her, and have her do to him.
Other times she’d take off for the avenue to shop, and we’d watch her heel-totter along the sidewalk, with a sort of palsied seductiveness, her denim-puckered ass as the magnetic satellite to which our eyes were drawn.
When it came to the world of sex, Kenny was light years ahead of us, his friends. He had fingered several girls, received a number of handjobs and blowjobs, and had had sex with at least one real girl, perhaps two. Plus, he was the proud owner of an expansive porn collection.
Kenny had been watching porn since he was nine. He was one of those early bloomers of degeneracy.
Porn-viewing at nine, smoking at ten fingering girls by time he was twelve. The rest of us had, at the most, made out with girls, and I hadn’t even done that. It was my secret, burning shame. Demonstrating courage when playing war with my friends was one thing, intimately probing a girl’s mouth with my tongue required a bravery which I seemed to lack.
Anyway, Kenny’s porn collection became the neighborhood lending library for wayward boys. Kenny loved dispending porn to peers in need. I think it made him feel like a mentor or sage, a deprived Obi-Wan-Kenobi to our Jedi-vices.
Through Kenny’s porn I learned about French-fucking, fist-fucking, double penetration, rim-jobs, cum-shots, and more. While I wasn’t able to apply any of this knowledge to my twelve-year-old life, I filed it away for future reference.
The privilege I possessed that none of the other boys possessed—actual contact with Miss Roach. Sometimes she and Tommy would go out in the evening and I would babysit Tommy, Jr. and Janine.
Do you realize that you’re the luckiest motherfucker in the universe, Kenny told me. You get to hang out in Miss Roach’s house. Do you understand what that means?
The blank look Kenny must have read on my face, caused him to squint his eyes and tilt his head, and spoke as if enlightening a mental defective—It means panties, man. Dirty panties. You have access to Miss Roach’s dirty panties.
There he paused, rubbed at the edge of his mouth which had been claimed by a twitch, and his voice grew low and serious when requested—I need you to do me a favor, man.
I knew what the favor was and wasn’t sure I could do it. Kenny, sensing my reluctance, launched, with a great sense of urgency, into a narrative. About how he jerked off to Miss Roach just about every night, and sometimes, in his fantasies, Tommy was tied up and gagged and forced to watch his wife get railed in the ass by a thirteen-year-old. There Kenny stopped, expectancy lighting up his eyes.
And what does that have to do with dirty panties, I asked him.
Kenny scrunched his features together, and again struck the tone reserved for retard edification—Dude, dirty panties could take my masturbation fantasies to a whole other level, get it? I’d have the smell of Miss Roach, the taste . . . I’d be that much closer to the experience of actually fucking her.
The hungry look in Kenny’s eyes and in his voice made me realize that Miss Roach was who and what he wanted more than anything else. His desperate plea for help, for my help, gave me a sense of power. As an avid reader of comic books, with Spider-Man being my idol, I thought of his mantra—With great power comes great responsibility.
It was my ethical obligation to steal Miss Roach’s dirty panties for Kenny.