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Good night, sleep tight....


Dublin Ireland, 2000 —

On one of the first nights in my North Strand Road flat, I saw a tiny bug walking on the white sheet of my bed. I watched it for a second and — this is true — it dropped a tiny round turd. I flicked both off my bed.

A later night, I saw another bug — a bit larger. I smashed it. It smeared blood on the sheet. Red blood, red like mine. In denial, I didn't think about this.

I started to notice bumps on my skin — the nape of my neck and the backs of my elbows. By the time the bumps started to itch — and grow — I had been bitten extensively, and it was bad, bad, bad.

I found a colony of the little pests folded in the sheet between the mattress and the box-spring.

I vacuumed the room. But that didn't give me peace of mind, no way. And I continued to see a bug or two. The old bites grew and their itchiness increased for several days. The tops of my feet, the backs of my elbows — absolutely torturous itching.

I told Olivier, the landlord. He said "I'll have to take a look at it."

Yeah, right.

Anyhow, I knew what to do. I set off a bug-bomb of my own device, the old chlorine-bomb fumigator.

I've killed other bugs this way too. I don't know where I got the idea the first time, but where do ideas come from? Bleach and ammonia, combined, produce chlorine gas. This fact has killed plenty of housewives.

I got some bleach from work, and tracked down some ammonia at a local "chemist" — Euro-English for "pharmacist."

I sealed the room, blocking draft from the window. I'd set my mattress and box-spring on edge, to make sure the fumes circulated in them. I had a towel ready, with which I would seal the door from the outside ("seal it" in a manner of speaking; I estimated that the small leakage of fumes would do no harm.)

I had a bowl with bleach in it, about 6 ounces. I poured about the same amount of ammonia into the bowl. I left the room, and laid the towel across. I waited. An hour, maybe. [I don't know what ratios or quantities would be correct and I don't recommend mixing ammonia and bleach, ever. This was for an average-size room, 12 or 13 feet square.]

Later, I went in — holding my breath — and opened the window. I left the room and resealed the crack under the door.

I let the room air out for a long period.

I didn't leave the flat during any of this time, staying to make sure nobody entered my room until the air cleared.

I don't recommend this method — it's too dangerous. But it worked, and it was cheap.
— Dublin, Ireland, Summer 2001

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