Obituary for a cockroach

The deaths of both Larry and Lenny force the Cathedral community to examine what place the invertebrate held in their hearts.


Lenny, since deceased, but here still a half-dead dehydrated invertebrate with one antenna.

Liam Eifert, Executive Editor

Lenny and Larry are dead.


The details in a moment, but first, a recap is in order. Larry and Lenny were two Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches kept by Zoology Teacher Ms. Sarah Woelfer. They had a tendency to escape their cage. It is believed that on two separate occasions they lifted the lid of their cage up (in a “bench press” type of motion according to Ms. Woelfer) to escape to the outside world. Both times Larry was found residing in the same room within a few days. The first time, Lenny was found with Larry, but the second time he evaded capture for a full week until he was found by an unsuspecting Math Teacher, Mr. Meyers, as he ate lunch. Lenny accumulated significant injuries in that time, losing an antennae and looking “pretty rough” according to Ms. Woelfer.  

I’ve never seen him that active. It’s because he ate the cockroach. He’s probably so happy”

— Sue Mills

The hope that water to cure Lenny’s dehydration would restore him to bountiful health did not prevail. He… well actually she, but how about we just go with Lenny went into labor soon after their return which proved too much for their addled body. They died of a miscarriage with their up to thirty babies unborn. 

If one may allow an honest seeker of truth to dip into some sultry gossip, it is noted by a few of the honorable sources cited below that upon examination of Lenny’s corpse, the babies did not appear to conform to the Madagascar Hissing cockroach morphology. There is some speculation that Larry was not the father of these children, with Lenny perhaps instead hooking up with a common Irish bathroom cockroach (whom screaming freshman girls claim to be yet larger as the 2-3 inch by 1 inch Madagascar variant). Please do not let this information taint your memory of Lenny. I offer this only to illustrate what Larry may have been going through.

Larry’s death was perhaps inevitable after what transpired. Everybody knows that cockroaches get terribly lonely by themselves. Pair that with the double whammy of Lenny’s affair and death and the outcome seems obvious. 

However, Ms. Woelfer virtuously refused to let Larry slip into a slow death of despair. Biology Teacher Ms. Sue Mills recounted Ms. Woelfer’s words to her on the day of his death: “‘Yeah, I just fed the cockroach to the bearded dragon, it was just kind of a whim.’”

Walter Spike, with Larry somewhere in his stomach.

Yes, a lizard of unusual size named Walter Spike helped complete the circle of life. Walter Spike is a relatively new addition to the classroom, only added a week prior. Ms. Woelfer said, “It was (science teacher) Mr. Elliot Grey’s nephew’s and they let me adopt him.” On the decision to sacrifice such a treasured member of the Cathedral family, Ms. Woelfer explained, “Larry was just there in his pen, he wasn’t living a great cockroach life.” She added, “Cockroaches are great foods for bearded dragons as well.” The crucial moment was over quickly. Ms. Woelfer said, “(Bearded dragons) have sticky tongues so he shot his tongue out and grabbed him. The cockroach was big so it took him a while to swallow him, but (bearded dragons) swallow their food whole.” That quick dispatch, along with Ms. Woelfer’s assurance that Larry probably did not understand what was going on, should reassure readers worried that Larry was subject to any unnecessary cruelty. 

This whole scene captivated Ms. Woelfer’s A period class. Junior Reilly  Gilmore was there to witness. She said, “I think everyone was just kind of in shock.” Regrettably no video evidence survives due to their alarm. According to Gilmore, Ms. Woelfer, for some reason, told the class “if she put Larry in Walter Spike’s cage then they would be friends.” From comments from her including some above, it appears that Ms. Woelfer was in fact fully aware of the eventual outcome. Likely, Ms. Woelfer merely wished to keep the class calm and perhaps avoid the riots that some misguided fanatics surely would have formed to protect Larry. 

Ms. Woelfer evokes Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus with Walter Spike often clinging to her in lectures as shown.

Gilmore said, “(Larry) did not put up a fight when Walter Spike grabbed him, he just let it happen. He didn’t try to fight or crawl away. He didn’t run, he just sat there.” Still, despite Larry’s acceptance, his death still garnered some understandable sympathy. Gilmore said, “I mean I don’t like Larry but I thought it was really sad that he was eaten.” She later confessed, “I think about Larry’s death a lot. It replays in my head because I watched the whole thing.”

Gilmore narrated the scene, “She put him in (Walter’s) cage and at first they were chill. Walter was on his little tree branch and Larry was just on the ground. They were both fine until all of a sudden you hear this loud bang and you see Walter jump across the cage and have his tongue stuck out and grab Larry. So Larry was split in half inside of Walter’s mouth and you hear the crunch.” Walter reportedly left a leg untouched in the terrarium, perhaps as memorabilia. 

Walter Spike relished the win. Ms. Mills said, “I’ve never seen him that active,” as he scampered with Larry likely not quite digested in his stomach. Ms. Woelfer respond, “It’s because he ate the cockroach. He’s probably so happy”

The school reacted to the immense loss of both Larry and Lenny. Freshman Sam Funk said, “They were loved by the Cathedral community.” He added, “That’s very sad, my heart goes out to the cockroaches.” He did understand Ms. Wolfer’s actions, however, saying, “If Larry couldn’t live without Lenny, getting eaten might have been better for him.”

Senior Anya Rearick referenced their well-known antics, saying, “They brought joy in a dark time.” Senior Ben Jones echoed those sentiments. He said, “I think of the twenty people who knew they existed, they really meant something.” The outpouring of grief from every student I interviewed suggested that the number was perhaps a bit of an underestimate. Their impact was truly incalculable.  

Gilmore attempted to inhabit the mind of Larry in his final moments. She thought they might have been something like this: “Oh, oh dang, I’m gonna get eaten.” Gilmore saw something else there too though, “I also think he was happy he was going to die because Ms. Wolefer said he was really depressed and not himself any more after Lenny’s death so I think he was kind of excited to be dead and killed. So, it’s definiltey a case of euthanasia, assisted suicide.” The Vatican has not yet gotten back to me on its stance on cockroach euthanasia. I expect it to be the subject of Pope Francis’ next encyclical, Blatta Dignitas

In English that means “cockroach dignity” because if even cockroaches deserve obituaries, then what beauty might there be in each of our stories? More than a half-dead dehydrated invertebrate with one antenna, I can tell you that.