Bats in the Brownstone.
So far, I’ve been lucky when it comes to wildlife encounters. They mostly avoid me.
I live in the land of a million rattlesnakes, yet I’ve never once encountered one. I’ve had wild hogs tear up a lawn, but they’re bullies and did it in the middle of the night while I slept. I’ve hiked through stands of berries in a mountain valley where bears come to feast. I spoke the words Hey Bear with authority as I rounded every blind corner, and I suppose they feared me because they never made an appearance. Most recently, I rode a bike through a forest in Germany where a sign warned parents to keep children close because of wolves. Nary a one did I see.
See how lucky I’ve been?
Until last Wednesday night.
The night the bats swooped in. Bat Number One and Bat Number Two.
As my husband and I were about to call it a day, they appeared out of nowhere, swooping down, frenetically batting those creepy little wings and turning our peaceful domicile into a chaotic and germ-ridden hovel–one where I imagined the horrific possibility of bat guano droppings on my kitchen island.
We stood frozen for what seemed like a solid ten minutes–each of us trying to determine our plan of action.
What do we do? we asked each other at the exact same time.
Todd was the first to move, quickly ducking and dodging his way out the back door, only to return with this.
A push broom for a toddler.
Are you kidding me? What are you going to do with that? I asked, the strain of the moment beginning to chip away at our relationship.
I’m going to get those stupid bats, he responded incredulously. He took his best batting stance with the broom, and with a look that said, You want a piece of me? he waited for the bats to fly near.
Now let me say we live in a loft in an old stone building. The ceilings are fourteen feet high. Still, it did not keep my man from swinging for the moon–with a thirty-inch kiddy broom.
Air ball, I cried. You have a better idea? he said. Yeah, lots of them, I thought. I can be sassy.
One of my better ideas was to call two friends who are married and have some experience with wild things. For the purpose of anonymity, they will be called Gopher Man and Laughing Girl.
Gopher Man assisted us with the extraction of a gopher in our yard a year or so ago, and so I thought he might also have knowledge of bat-removal. He’s married to Laughing Girl, who happened to answer the phone when I called.
We have bats in our house, I said in a panicked voice.
Then, with cat-like reflexes, I dodged a bat, dive-bombing so close my hair blew in his breeze. Laughing Girl could hear shrieks from both of us. It’s when she began laughing. She didn’t stop, even when she asked Gopher Man if he knew how to get rid of bats in a house.
The Wrights (laugh, laugh, laugh) have bats (laugh, laugh) in. their. house! She could hardly get the words out because she kept tripping over her own laughter.
Turn on some loud music, Gopher Man said. I pictured him sitting comfortably in his chair, in his jammies, maybe having a glass of wine before turning in for a good night’s sleep where he would dream of sweet things, not bat dreams.
Okay, yes. Wow. Thanks so much for the help, Gopher Man. Sleep tight. We’ll just be over here, jamming to some tunes, keeping watch so these blood-sucking nasty things don’t attack us in our sleep.
I turned the music up as loud as it would go, just in case his tip had any credibility at all. We borrowed a tennis racket from our neighbor for added protection. We were desperate! It was way past our bedtime and we weren’t thinking clearly.
Here’s what I now know. Friends will come round and help you rid yourself of all kinds of vermin–because, you know, the whole “hunters and gatherers” thing. Unless the vermin are bats. Those little, beady-eyed creatures cause even Navy Seals to tremble in their boots, so of course regular people are not coming anywhere near. No siree.
No one comes to your aid when you have bats in your house.
We opened the back door, hoping they’d fly out. We didn’t open windows, because more might come in. There’s an entire colony of them living in an old building across the street from us. I feared they were looking for better accommodations. I imagined whole clumps of them gathered together behind our walls during the daytime and I shivered.
Lord help me. Anything but bats.
I remembered the long brush I use to dust the light fixtures, and in a flash Todd happily traded his minuscule broom for something with some serious reach.
You go, Big Guy! You know you can do it, I said with every ounce of pep and spirit I’d learned at cheerleading camp forty years ago.
The struggle went on for an hour and a half. Bat Number One escaped out the back door, it seemed. We hoped. Fingers crossed. And Bat Number Two? Let’s just say he will not be terrorizing our small town ever again.
When it was all over, Todd quickly drifted off to sleep after expending so much energy in the battle. I tried to sleep, with the sheet tucked tightly under my chin, but my eyes kept staring into the darkness darting toward every creak and every moving shadow. I would dose off, only to wake thinking I felt a bat on my head.
I suppose there’s always something to be thankful for, though. The silver lining. I thought and thought and this is all I could come up with.
I’m thankful for rabies shots and that they are no longer given in the belly.