This award-winning short nonfiction story appeared last fall, though not directly here on my site.
The passing shadow had me absolutely convinced that I should be checked out by a medical professional, believing that once x-rayed I’d be diagnosed with a butterfly-shaped brain tumor, much as had been Debra Messing in the thriller movie ‘The Mothman Prophecies’. Fleeting though it may have been, I should have known exactly what was that blur whizzing overhead as I worked in front of my computer late that evening.
It was only on the tiny vermin’s second pass that I was fully aware of what had vaguely caught my attention.
There was a bat taking laps around my living room ceiling.
It’s difficult to determine which of us was more freaked out – me or him – though our mutual anxiety stemmed from appreciation that the little thing was just not where he was supposed to be.
‘Little thing’. Huh. Miniscule as the winged rat may have seemed scaling over treetops or my rooftop in the great outdoors, the mosquito-catcher could as well have been a pterodactyl in the enclosed space of my house’s interior.
Not someone easily rattled by creepy crawlies and having squashed more spiders, millipedes, and mice in my day than I’d care to admit I jolted into the nearest room where the bat wasn’t. Screeching and screaming with no other soul present to witness the embarrassing spectacle, my first thought was to grab my tennis racket.
What I’d do with the implement once in hand remained to be seen; I certainly didn’t want to hurt the thing, nor could I be bothered with its disposal should I smash the poor lost creature. But I knew the bat’s rate of speed would far outperform my swinging accuracy.
So I grabbed my broom. I held the bristles in front of my face. And I stood in my kitchen as his keen radar detected movement. I squealed again as the furry stealth drone came straight toward me only to veer sharp left and disappear with mesmerizing speed.
Hoping to limit his access to the better part of my domicile for increased possibility of catching him and exiting him to his rightful place outside, I shut every door to every room and pensively awaited the next fly-by. Ridiculous exercise as that was considering his mousey ability to squirm into or out of any crevasse a fraction of its size, the night progressed with no further sighting of my bat friend.
As I’d experienced previously living in a house with a fireplace, bats will occasionally lose their way down a chimney but luckily retrieve their same way out as had they entered.
I could only hope that this would be the case and I awoke the next morning to conduct a cautious examination of my house, relieved that I’d not been some vampire snack overnight or finding myself swooping through the clouds as the undead intent on the exsanguination of my own hot-blooded victims.
The sigh of relief I breathed was held in lieu of twilight when, if still stuck indoors, the winged fiend would instinctively begin his nocturnal scouring of his surroundings once again.
Sure enough as early evening descended, I caught sight of the edge of his wing peeking out from behind the wood of my fireplace’s mantel. Not moving a muscle I watched for the next flight pattern he’d assume, readying myself with a blanket in hopes of him flying into the middle of it and me trapping him for release.
No such luck.
He whizzed to the lower portion of the house and settled himself into a corner of the hallway where he rested near an outer door long enough for me to conduct my examination.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” I thought to myself, finding the teeny critter no bigger than a walnut. “All that for a varmint whose head is no bigger than my thumb.” Guh.
Next he moved, I jumped and he spread his wings to an impressive span, possibly eight inches from tip to tip but he pulled them back in just as quickly.
With similar rapidity I moved to the door next to him, flinging it open to assure his immediate retreat and with broom in hand, I swept at him to hustle him back out to his own domain.
Scared and defiant to stand the ground he wrongly believed he now claimed for his own, he opened his fuzzy little face and hissed viciously at me, bearing miniscule white fangs. The infinitesimal mammal wasn’t even big enough to be audible.
Cheeky little bastard.
Being a bucker of windmills and a rail against most authority, I couldn’t help but admire his take of David against the mighty broom-wielding Goliath and I softened to the adorable thing knowing I still needed to get him back out into the wide open.
As much as I wondered what it would be like to keep a pet bat, I convinced myself that he must have family that missed him and he’d find a great deal more comfort in being back in their flying fold.
One final sweep launched him over the threshold and I quickly closed the door…him splayed on my sidewalk, continuing with his contentious hissing, and I breathed a sigh of relief – happy that he was out of my space and gratified that I’d not been resorted to bat-o-cide.
No doubt in my mind he was just as relieved to be minus my company as I was to be less his.
I stand in my yard at twilight now and watch the multitude of bats scan the sky for unsuspecting insects on which to dine, having confidence that my baby bat is just as content in his outer world as I am in my inner sanctum.