853 Chronicles: Betrayal at 853

As they transitioned from college students to young professionals, a bunch of friends lived together at 853 N 26th Street. These are their stories.

In 2013, terror walked the halls of 853. Although the events below took place over the course of about ten minutes, they felt like an eternity.

It was late, irresponsibly late. Like most weekday evenings, Luke, Rob, and I had spent much of our time in the 853 living room chatting and watching TV under the vigilant eye of Tim’s portrait of Jay Leno. By the time we were ready to head upstairs, I was exhausted. I couldn’t wait to get to sleep.

Tim will never sell it.

I went into my room and closed the door. I was two feet from my bed. Sweet, sweet slumber was calling to me. Then, out of nowhere, a scream.

“HELP ME!”

I ran to my door and threw it open, expecting the worst. Did Lazo retire? Had Bobby’s car been broken into again?

Instead, I was greeted by Rob, standing in the middle of his room with a terrified expression.

“A cockroach just crawled under my bed. It’s big. You have to help me.”

I was not thrilled. One thing you should understand about Rob is that he is NOT a bug guy. I can’t say I’m much better. And yet, here we were.

Standing there staring at the darkness under the bed, we plotted our next move. We knew it was time for us 853 Boys to become 853 Men, but we couldn’t do it by ourselves. We had to call for aid from above.

Luke, on the third floor, was also still awake and getting ready for bed. We called up to him for help. Help we were certain would come. Being one of the remaining original members of 853, we thought Luke could never leave his friends behind…but we were wrong. As he silently looked on from the third floor landing, Luke backed into his room and shut the door. There was no help coming. We were alone.

Coward.

So there we were. Two 23-year-old men brought to their knees by an inch and a half long bug that lives off of old crumbs. Suspense hung thick in the air as we entered Rob’s room. We counted down from three to move the bed. As we pulled the bed away from the wall, giving our best war cries, we saw it. Disgusting.

We moved to strike, but heavily misjudged the cockroach’s speed. In an instant it was out the door, down the hallway, and CRAWLING UNDERNEATH THE DOOR TO MY ROOM.

I half laughed and half screamed, overcome with a mix of terror and frustration. But Rob…Rob rejoiced. He was free.

As I ran back to my room to take care of this once and for all, I started talking strategy with my brother-in-arms. The man I had fought alongside against this invading force. The man for which I had sacrificed precious REM sleep to help protect.

It was at this time that Rob told me good luck, but his fight was over and he could not continue. My closest ally had betrayed me.

Et tu, Rob?

The ending to this story is pretty uneventful, but it isn’t really the point, either. I went into my room, alone, killed the cockroach, and tried to ignore the crawling feeling in my skin as I drifted off to sleep. I did what had to be done. I handled it.

Years later, though, this story gives me a different feeling. The terror, companionship, and betrayal I felt at the time have washed out a bit, but I still remember every moment of the encounter. Like dozens of other days and nights we shared at 853, it’s a memory we’ve moved to cherish. Those years, and that house, really meant something, and even a happening as inane as killing a cockroach is a bit of a legend. We still talk and laugh about it years later, and I’m sure to remind Luke and Rob of their cowardice.

They owe me one.