Half past eight in the evening. The day has begun to darken into night. Number One Nephew and Mama Nut are on the sofa, Daddy Nut is on the chair, Three and I are sharing the love seat. Two perches right on the edge of the sofa beside big brother One. Three lamps cast their warm glow into the room.
The family (save for the little boys, who are upstairs 'sleeping' [ie. singing and giggling but contained in their room]) are gathered in the living room for night prayers. Daddy Nut leads us in a decade of the rosary and the five of us rather sleepily offer the responses. Until.
Until Two called out, with utter glee, "There's a bat in the house!" A sentence I honestly never imagined hearing within the walls of a house I live in. My first instinct was to scoff, "Oh, Two! It's not a bat... you're imagining things." Except.
Except he was right. It was a bat. In our house. It swooped from the hallway into the living room, turned around and swooped back again. Back and forth it went, again and again. Six of us crouched deep down into our respective seats, most of us whimpering, holding blanket, pillow, book, hat - whatever was close to hand - over our heads. It flew so close I could feel the whap whap whap of air from its wings as it skimmed over my head.
"I'm going to tell every body at my school!" an elated Two sang. He begged and pleaded for us to keep it. He, alone of all of us tried to get closer to it, sure that what it wanted most in all the world was to be the pet of a nine year old boy.
My brave brother-in-law, in a low crouching walk went to open the front door in the hope our batty visitor would take the hint of its unwelcome and depart into the night. No such luck. It perched itself on the bricks of our chimney, taunting us with its presence. I crept into the kitchen, thinking that our long-handled strainer might be just the ticket for trapping it against the wall. We could slide some slim but sturdy cardboard between it and the wall and then usher the bat outside. Only once I brought the strainer into the living room I realized my imagination had made it much much larger than its actual size. So I sat back down beside Three and held the tiny, useless gadget over my head.
Bil had gone looking for something with which to shoo the (insect? bird?) animal out. He came back with a broom and a tennis racket. He couldn't bring himself to get close enough to it to use the tennis racket, so he tried to wrangle it with the broom. That only encouraged it to swoop about more erratically and with even more speed. Except for Two, we were all squealing like school girls by this point.
Realizing that the situation could become dangerous (it was an unknown bat, after all. We didn't know where this bat had come from or what kind of parents it had.) the boys were sent to their beds - much to the supreme disappointment of Two who despaired that he never got to have any fun.
Bil was by now on the stairs by the front door and the bat decided to alter its usual course. Instead of flappng back and forth through the living room, it buzzed Bil at top speed on its way up the stairs, causing him to drop to the ground with a little scream reminiscent of Billy Boyd in Lord of the Rings when Merry and Pippin set off Gandalf's firecrackers.
Some time ago, my parents had a bat in their house in the country. The story of tracking then trapping the thing has entered family lore. After Pop's death, Mom had another bat visitor, and in a panic she called us. Long distance. I don't know that she really expected us to do anything for her from four hours away, but now, having a bat in our house, I understand her reaction. I never would have thought an opportunity to reciprocate would ever present itself. So while Bil was upstairs searching - carefully - for the thing, I called my mother.
As I write this, the bat is trapped in the bathroom between the (closed) window and the screen. We're not really sure what to do about it now, but at least we know where it is. Any suggestions?
Bats are cute in National Geographic photos; not so cute *this* close to your head. Just ask Bil.