Iron & Bass

Curtain Call

Joe Parker - Aug. 1, 2001

At one time, Sheila Olsen's kitchen served as a bustling metropolitan center for house flies, rats and roaches. It was there that most of the major cultural events on the rodent and insect social calendar took place. Over the course of her two-year lease, Ms. Olsen unknowingly played hostess to amateur gymnastics contests, fine arts festivals and short performance operas, as well as professional athletic tournaments and popular theater circuits.

One summer marked the arrival of a particularly exceptional performer, an attractive and skillful young insect named Rodney Roach. Rodney's popularity stemmed from his "stand-up philosophy" act, described as the perfect blend of magic tricks, social commentary and metaphysical insights. Critics considered Rodney the greatest solo performer of his time. Needless to say, the kitchen inhabitants were buzzing and scratching in anticipation of Rodney's arrival.

Rodney's first appearance happened to fall on the second Thursday evening of June, which was also the night that Ms. Olsen hosted the Scrabble club. Rodney's performance was superb - some say his best - and as the curtain went down, the audience erupted in applause. Enthusiasm soared so high that parties broke out under every countertop and behind every appliance in the kitchen.

Late that night, the festive mood turned sour as a horrific rumor worked its way through the kitchen underworld. By morning, the report was confirmed: the greatest insect performer of the modern era was dead. Shortly after 2am, while preparing toaster pastries for her intoxicated, snack-craving guests, Ms. Olsen had knocked her convection off the counter, squishing Rodney against the kitchen tile beside the refrigerator.