Greg Sullivan

Coach Roach’s Problem

When Steve Roach was hired as a gym coach at one of the local middle schools, he went by Coach Roach, which was something you just couldn’t make up.

He had a friend in college who had something like that with his name. That guy’s name was Mike Hunt, and he actually went by Mike, and he owned up to it, cashed in on all the laughs that came along with it. Although Coach Roach supposed Mike could have just gone by Michael and mostly glossed by it. That’s what Coach Roach would have done, the coach thought, had he been Mike Hunt.

But Coach Roach wasn’t Mike Hunt.

But he could say this about pussy. Having the last name Roach surely cost him quite a bit of it and also some pieces of ass, or whatever the kids were calling it.

Sometimes he’d listen to the kids talk when they’d line up for their layup drills, to see what they were calling it, pussy and ass.

But those were just more names for things, he thought, as captivating as he deemed them all on an anecdotal level. (Kids would say crazy shit.) Coach Roach was a name, too. It zeroed in on an image of a black beastly insect, which would squirm and hiss even as you stomped at it with a steel-toed boot (not allowed on the gym's floor) and twist it into the wood.

Basically, it was chick repellent. You know. They start thinking of the preacher or priest or whatever saying, “And now, everyone…may I present…Mr. and Mrs. Roach!” They would gesture a finger into their open mouths, and say, “Honey, yuck! I’m sorry, he’s sort of cute and all, but I ain’t about to be no fucking Mrs. Roach.” And the sorts of women at the school Coach Roach would have been most interested in fucking were also, let’s face it, the shallowest. The sorts who bought the glossy magazines from the grocery checkout aisle and wore too much makeup.

That was the battle he was fighting. That’s why he decided one night after a slew of tequilas that he was going to at last change his name. He was pissed at himself a little. He thought of all the pussy already foregone. He thought of his father, who had said it takes a real man to be a Roach. But he decided, fuck it. God had been twisting his steel toe in him for all those years, and he wasn’t going to just squirm and hiss anymore. No sir! He was going to undergo some kind of metamorphosis down at the courthouse. Going to go for something as simple seeming as a new name (just a word, really), on a simple document. That would do it!

But first he was going to walk out to the middle of the bar he was in. He was going to raise his shot glass as the big hoss that he was and say, “Which one of you girls in here wants to give the last blowjob to Coach Roach?” He would say it as though there had been a damn good many. He was going to hope none of the girls were going to think he was a suicidal pussy when he said it. Chicks were always mixing up his words. He hoped one of them would say, “Coach, something about you is doing something to Mike Hunt. Come over and give it a workout.” Or something like that.

Greg Sullivan

Greg's literary writing has also appeared recently in Saw Palm and Writing on the Edge. He currently serves as founding editor of Cooper Street, a new online literary journal published by graduate students at Rutgers University-Camden, where he's pursuing his MFA in fiction.