Obviously the bats have read my blog. And they took my relaxed stance to mean total acceptance of their presence. Which I did mean, when they were bunking down in the attic. But it became a different story last week when Jesse and I were having coffee in the morning and his eyes slowly lifted above and behind my head. I took his expression to mean that there was someone with a hockey mask and chainsaw standing behind me and whipped around, ready to throw scalding hot coffee on the intruder. But his gaze was on the mantel over the living room entrance. Hanging by his toes from the corner of the ledge, wrapped snugly in his little wings, was a tiny bat. Sleeping. In our kitchen.
I looked at Jesse, looked at the clock and said, “Gotta run to work babe. Love ya!” I was out of the house in record time, leaving the poor guy to capture the bat with a kids butterfly net he duct taped to a broom. I congratulated him on his manly hunting skills when he called my cell to tell me about it. Obviously, I would have helped him, had I not needed to go to work that very second.
I thought nothing further of it until last weekend, on Friday night. Jess was closing at the restaurant, so he wouldn’t be home until 1am or later. I’d already put Belle to bed, and was sitting on the couch, reading a book and thinking of going to bed soon when I heard a noise. A noise IN the house.
This house, let me remind you, is well over 100 years old. It is on top of a mountain where our neighbors houses are barely visible through the trees. There are no streetlights. Just stars and darkness. Very, very dark darkness. So when you hear a noise outside it is more than a little creepy. When you hear a noise inside the house itself, you might feel inclined to wet your pants. (I didn’t, by the way. We can’t afford a new couch.)
So this noise was coming from the hallway, and the hallway, coincidentally, is where the only exit out of the house is. There’s a side door there that we use on a daily basis. The front door is in the oldest part of the house, which is unfurnished and full of power tools and stacks of wood, and you’d have to walk through the hallway to get to the front door anyway. So I immediately know that both doors out of the house have been blocked off to me. Whatever is inside the house is between me and the doors. Not that I could go anywhere, because my child is asleep in the next room. SO. I must confront this noise.
I look around for a weapon, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing useful to be seen. I fleetingly recall that in the old part of the house there is a machete (don’t ask me why a guy needs a machete, I don’t know). I make a mental note to keep this very handy weapon under the couch for future use, should I survive tonight’s encounter. The best thing I come up with is a tee-shirt. Seriously. It was that or a magazine. Come to think of it, the magazine might have been a better choice, but my heart was pounding with terror at that point, and I guess I was thinking I could suffocate or maybe trap something with a tee-shirt. So I have that in my right hand and grab my cell-phone with the left. Slowly creeping towards the kitchen, I call Jesse at work. It was late enough that he was able to pick up the phone, and in a strained whisper, I rasp, “There is SOMETHING IN THE HOUSE!” the minute he picks up.
“Is it the bat?” he asks right away.
“I thought you got rid of the bat last week!”
“I think there was another one in the house last night. I heard squeaking in the bathroom.”
Dimly I realize that every so often, the noise I am hearing, mostly a scuttling, flapping noise, includes some squeaking. With a sinking heart, I take a step further into the kitchen, through which I can see most of the hallway. There’s an open doorway into the hall, and two low walls on either side of it.
“Well what do I do?” I ask desperately.
“Go open the side door, maybe it will fly out.”
“Whatever it is is IN the hallway,” I hiss. “I can’t get to the door!”
With cold dread, I suddenly see something black scuttle across the hallway floor. “Oh sweet Jesus!” I gasp. It flops over and reverses its direction and my brief, sweet hope that it might be a bird is crushed. It is indeed a bat, and my best hope now is that it’s crawling around because it’s injured, and won’t be able to fly around.
“It’s a bat! It’s a bat! What do I do?” I am up on a chair now, not wanting it to venture into the kitchen and crawl towards my feet.
“Block the doorway, and I’ll let it out when I get home,” he suggests, but this is not going to work. To block the doorway, I’d need to hang up a sheet across the entire wall, and that would involve finding a sheet, finding tacks to hang it with (where does he keep those, anyway?) and getting close enough to the hallway that the bat would easily be able to get at me.
I tell him as much, and then add, “Well at least it’s not fly…” Before the word can even escape my mouth there is a sudden flap of leathery wings and there is a bat, a real live bat, flying in mad circles in the hallway, from the bathroom door to the side door and back again. I give a scream and retreat back about five feet, off my chair now, and crouched to about half my normal height. I am gibbering at Jesse through the phone, though what I expect him to do for me I have no idea. “Flying! Flying! It’s flying!” I think I am screeching, and then, without warning, it changes course and comes right at me.
I can see it in slow motion, its wings unfolded, its little bat fangs bared, zooming straight for my face. With a reflexive roar, I whip the tee-shirt I nearly forgot I was holding up at it like a whip. A sudden surge of battle-rage overcomes me as it shrieks and wings back the way it came. Jesse is still shouting suggestions on the other end of the phone, and I only dimly hear what he is saying. The cold focus of the hunter has fallen on me.
“I’m going to take care of this,” I say calmly into the phone, and snap it shut.
“Ok bat,” I say out loud. “It’s you and me.”
It has gone back to swooping back and forth between the doors and I snap my tee-shirt at my side again in frustration. I don’t really want to kill this bat. I just want for it to be gone. I don’t want to charge for the door, in case we collide and it has rabies and bites me and I die in agony. I have a young child to think about, here. Plus, I hate agony. So I must trap it somehow.
I move closer and snap the tee-shirt at it as it passes by. It drops to the floor close to the bathroom door, even though I’m sure I haven’t touched it. Maybe it ricocheted off the door? But I’m excited because now if I can just open the door to the bathroom and get it to fly in, I can trap it there and pee in the woods for the rest of the weekend. I look around for something long to push the door open with, and my eyes fall on a level. I lean over the half-wall, stretching as far as I can, and manage to nudge the bathroom door open. I had figured on this movement making the bat get up, but it’s still laying there, so in a burst of inspiration, I toss the tee-shirt on top of it and sprint for the butterfly net. I grab a sheet of cardboard too, and armed with the net, I flip the shirt off the bat and bring the net down on him just as he is lunging for me.
It’s a rather unsettling sight, this bat hissing at me and flapping all around inside the net. As gently as I can, I slide the cardboard under the net and, at arm’s length, turn and bring him to the side door, which I manage to get open with my foot. Once safely out in the garden, I overturn my net and dump him unceremoniously on the ground. I don’t stop to make amends or say farewell, but rather, beat a hasty retreat back into the house. I slam the door behind me and permit myself a roar of victory. A quiet one, since Belle is sleeping and all.
I pick the phone back up, dial Jesse’s number.
“Are you ok?” he says in a rush.
“The bat is gone,” I say with quiet pride.
There is a moment of silence. “He flew out the door?”
“He flew into the bathroom?”
“Oh no. I caught him, and took him outside.”
A longer pause. “You… what?”
“Oh yes,” I say as nonchalantly as possible. “I caught it with a net and your tee-shirt.”
“You… you did? Really? YOU caught the bat?”
“I did.” Huge silent grin.
“You’re…” he pauses again. “You’re awesome.”
“Yes. Yes, I am. Could you bring me home a very strong drink, please?”