Cyrus has done a myriad of jobs including selling umbrellas and caps during sunny days and rainy night. Cyrus retails toys for both kids and adults on a playful day and a romantic night. He sells torches and screwdrivers for screwed up days and darker nights. He trades padlocks and duplicate keys to owners and express access to others. He can sell anything, anytime to anyone. Cyrus could even sell his mother on a bad day.
At the start of this New Year, Cyrus moved into a bedsitter in Zimmerman together with his friend Otero. He is a diploma holder and a D.D.O (Daily Drinking Officer) like most of the hustlesufferers. Otero hates being broke. He saves some of his pay and use the rest in drinking to celebrate his work and thank himself for surviving the week. Only that he does this more regularly. From his savings, Oterorrist as they call him, he is able to raise an extra two thousands shillings for shopping. This makes their lives better since they are safe and able to cook in their house to remain healthy. The other hustlesufferers always skip supper; get breakfast from Pombe na Maroho (Wine and spirits) in order to survive the day’s hunger.
Otero does not earn his name from the bedbugs that are terrorizing them in their bedsitter. He whispers to girls in the streets, blows a whistle at others and calls them some names. He is known for making some noises at girls like those that a dog does. In bed, he terrorizes them with a high appetite for sex with his well-endowed central system.
“He is a man and a half,” they would say.
False promises are his best tool in terrorism. He promises an Evoque instead of mkoko (handcart). He undertakes an Mshwari accountinstead of okoa jahazi. However, he is not able to terrorize bedbugs that have taken shelter in their house. On such an evening, Oterorist would ignore the bedbugs while on fire and incur an extra cost by asking this girl to have tea with him at a nearby kiosk.
Cyrus was the one who noticed small dark sand-like droppings that occurred in patches on their bed sheets. He observed blood smears on sheets especially on the lower side of bed where they laid their legs. He also spotted empty moulted exoskeletons; it was hard for him to interpret what they were. Other hustlesufferers laughed at him before informing him that bedbugs were in love with his blood. They told him to check their bed between ten at night and six in the morning. The time that the nocturnal blood thieves come around, ready to suck blood from their sleeping bodies. They are too daring to an extent of sucking his third arm.
Oterorist is lucky, due to his terror reins on the girls, so far none of them noticed their other companions in the bed. On this day, they risked their newly acquired mattress by putting it on the roof. Cyrus came back to turn the mattress during lunchtime. It was annoying to Otero that bedbugs still come into sight despite heat – treating their mattress in sun to Cimex lectularius thermal death point of 45 °C (113 °) from morning. Even after hours of sun bathing the mattress, it is unfortunate that the bedbugs have not yet left.
Oterorist is a tall dark and strong man but light brown, reddish – brown, flattened, oval-shaped bedbugs are troubling him. Cyrus taught him how to differentiate bedbugs from cockroaches; he said that bed bugs have segmented abdomens. Despite having an alcohol shaped one pack abdomen, Oterorrist bends down and measures four to five millimeters long and two to three millimeters wide bedbug to know its generation.
Cyrus and Otero do not know where the bedbugs come from. Their house was renovated and had fresh wet paint when they moved in. Maybe, the bedbugs travelled from nearby dwellings through ductwork or false ceilings. Could they have entered their house on a visiting person’s clothing? Cyrus never had any visitors in the house. Oterorrists’ visitors have minimal clothing mostly two items that are carefully inspected by Otero’s hand. In preparation of his central arm that touches on all corners. Better known as terrorizing arm other than third leg.
Cyrus blames Oterorrist for the bedbugs; he accuses him of bringing them from their friends’ house in Githurai. On the other hand, Otero has an embarrassing answer to his accusations. According to Oterorist, his friend wets his bed. His urine has high content of spirits and odours that continuously chase the bedbugs away. The spirits that they took are believed to kill all insects and worms that come across them in the stomach and outside.
Bedbugs spend only a tiny fraction of their life cycles physically attached to Cyrus and Otero. Only while feeding on their blood. Once feeding is complete, they relocate in clusters of adults, juveniles. Although they are strictly parasitic, they congregate to harborage areas once established. In Oteros’ house, they conceal even inside their electrical socket. At night, these two housemates have to remove their clothing and sleep in their original suit. To avoid having bedbugs in their clothes. However, while undressing, Otero may find a bedbug hiding in his navel.
Each Cimicosis (Bedbug bite) makes Cyrus to scratch his arm then legs and goes through the thigh before going back to the arm. When attending to some other job, he scratches his skin out until the left over blood comes out. This leaves prominent blisters visible Cyrus’ and Otero’s body. The blisters are turning into scars as the bites increase. Nevertheless, none of them has a bedbug related disease or infection. Even if the bed bugs had minimal number of health effects, their implications were straining their pockets, image and digging deep in their pockets.
Oterorist is never worried when terrorizing girls. He knows that they will not communicate until each has a share of him. They only speak when he picks the next one. They partially hate him after finding out that each of them is told the same nice words. Due to their brown and slim bodies, all of them are handled in a similar way. Unlike Otero’s girls, bedbugs use pheromones and kairomones to communicate regarding nesting locations, feeding and reproduction. The girls later smile at Otero as memories of his expertise come back.
Whenever a bed bug dies, a characteristic smell of rotting raspberries alerts the others to go back to harborage area. This makes it hard to kill them using mere hands. Cyrus and Otero know it is pointless to run away from their house in order to starve the bedbugs. They can survive still without eating for one hundred to three hundred and sixty five days. Whether drunk or sober, it is out of question for Oterrorist to pay house rent for an entire year just to starve bedbugs to death.
Today’s heat treatment is not the first attempt to wipe out bedbugs. In the past, Cyrus and Otero had to boil water and pour it on the mattress. They borrowed an emersion heater to heat the water faster. In addition, they request an electrician to ensure that they were exempted from the cost of boiling water. They had to buy him a drink as he was helping a brother in deed. Conversely, the rate at which they were boiling water was one third compared at the rate which female bedbugs were laying eggs. This is because the number of eggs they produce does not depend on the sperm they receive but on their nutritional level. Therefore, Cyrus and Otero managed to kill the bedbugs on the mattress but some still survived. In spite of this treatment, the ones on their clothes were still strong and arrive. Moreover, they still lay eggs that have kept bedbugs on their mattress to this day.
Cyrus is very inactive sexually but the bedbugs mate by traumatic insemination. Neither Otero nor other hustlesufferers know why he is not interested in girls. Oterorist suggests that they come up with a shortcut that would help him. They suggest that he could be allowed to pierce the female’s abdomen. Just like bedbugs use their hypodermic genitalia and ejaculate into the body cavity other than using the reproductive tract. Many support this idea, as all the hustlesufferers want an alternative especially when the girls’ reproductive track was not accessible.
A loophole slowed down multiplication of bedbugs. The male bed bugs attempted to mate with other males and pierce their abdomens. This behavior occurs because sexual attraction in bed bugs is primarily based on the size of abdomen. Male bedbugs will mount any freshly fed partner regardless of sex. This kind of behavior is being suspected on Cyrus.
It is hard for Otero to discover newly hatched nymphs that are translucent, lighter in color and become browner as they moult. He only notices the tiny bedbugs after they consume his blood and have a bright red translucent abdomen. Within a few hours of his sleep, they fade to brown. His unnoticed companions are mothers, older and younger sister bedbugs.
Oterorrist is willing to give bedbugs his spirited urine like his fellow hustlesufferers. Instead, of doing it on the bed, he decides to collect his urine in a bottle. Later in the night, he would ask Cyrus if they could sprinkle it on the mattress. He successfully his trousers and underwear but his efforts were terminated since the bottle was too small for him. He opted to go to the bathroom and fill the bottle. He was still too big and his speed governor was loose. He managed to collect a few milliliters and ended up throwing the bottle away though the toilet window.
Cyrus is almost sleeping when Otero suggests they use biological pest control. His idea is put out of their mind by the implications of bringing cockroaches to the already infected house. It will be double trouble for their bodies. It was just a matter of time for them to come up with an up to the minute solution to do away with bedbugs. Nevertheless, they are not patient to wait for the fungus Beauveria Bassiana that is being researched for its ability to control bed bugs.
The feeling of hunger in Cyrus and Otero stomachs had been replaced by their psychological desire to terminate existence if bedbugs in their house. Unlike them, who require a meal at least twice a day, bedbugs only feed once every five to seven days. Therefore, they search for food in shifts. For Oterorist and Cyrus, this meant that the few bedbugs visible on their bed are a small representation of the thousands of bedbugs that were hiding in their house.
Just as bedbugs are afraid of photo phase, Cyrus and Otero fear that the bedbugs would multiply if they allowed them to stay comfortably in the house for one more night. Cyrus and Otero are aware that there are two reasons why the bedbugs would return to their shelter and aggregate after feeding. One of the reasons is to find a mate and the other is to find shelter to avoid getting smashed after eating. For these reason Cyrus and Otero agreed to destroy the bedbugs before they reproduced on this particular night.
While Cyrus was lighting a fire Oterorrist was busy folding the bed sheets and other clothing items that they were going to smoke. When the fire was ready, they helped each other to carry the mattress just like they did when they were going to hot water it. The cold water poured on the fire made produced a huge smoke enough to kill the bedbugs. They only run away after realizing the huge hole at the center of the mattress. It was like the ogres eye with fire coming out of it. Back in the house Oterorrist told Cyrus, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”