It was the middle of the night. Our bedroom was dark and still. My wife lay beside me, her breathing restful and rhythmic. Dim shadows from the open window played across the walls and ceiling, making abstract shapes that morphed with each gust of wind that rustled the curtains.
Then..... something. Something was there.
At first, I thought, without my glasses, my astigmatic eyes were forcing me to see something that wasn't there. I sat up. Something whizzed past my head in the dark. Then, it whizzed past in the other direction and lit on the curtain rod above the front window.
My wife stirred. "What?, " she whispered, still mostly asleep.
"I-I think there's something in...."
I was interrupted by the horrific shriek issuing from my wife's throat. She retreated to the woolen sanctuary that the bed covers became. The shrieks continued, although they were now muffled under several layers of quilts.
There was a bat in our room.
I bounded from the bed, and crept along its perimeter, keeping my head low. The nocturnal creature flew in wild circles around the ceiling. It flew out into the hallway and the adjacent den. Using uncharacteristically clear thinking, I closed and secured the door to each room leading from the hallway - starting with the door to our young son's room. I managed to confine the flying vermin to the den and I closed that door, too. Then, I darted down to the basement and grabbed the first thing I saw that I could wield as a weapon. I grabbed a broom. Two at a time, I ascended the stairs again and slowly, cautiously, opened the den door and slunk in. Immediately, the beast swooped towards me. I swung my broom. The bat dove again. Again, I swung in the manner of a delinquent hockey player just asking for a "high sticking" penalty. I continued my parry with the airborne rat until my household armament finally connected. My winged adversary fell to the floor of the den. I instantly observed that this critter I had perceived as being roughly the size of an Airbus A320 was, in reality, a little bigger than a Brillo pad.
Using my arsenal for its intended purpose, I swept the offending creature into an old shoebox. I hopped down the stairs, traversed the darkened living room, opened the front door and deposited the box into a trashcan waiting out on the porch. I locked up the house, stopped in the kitchen for a drink of water and to wash my hands, then headed back up to sleep.
I could see the silhouette of my wife, still quivering under the covers. I explained to her that I "took care of things," but those were hardly calming words. I believe she didn't emerge from her protective fabric shield until morning and many months had passed until she set foot in our den.
Twenty years later...
I had just returned home from dinner with my brother and his family. My wife was out of town for the week and my son had moved to his own place just fourteen days earlier. I unlocked the front door and entered my dark, empty house. I tossed my keys on a table in the living room and proceeded up the staircase. When I reached the top, I fumbled for a light switch.
Then..... something. Something was there.
In the dark, something whizzed past my head and into the direction of the unlit den. Frantically, I flicked the light on to reveal a bat flying in mad circles around the ceiling. It was huge, brown-black, with a wingspan of at least forty feet. Maybe fifty (at least!).
"Motherfucker!," I muttered aloud, in assessment of the situation at hand. I repeated the expletive several more times, adopting it as my mantra. I ducked low, pulling the door closed behind me, thus sequestering the aeriform mammal. I ran downstairs to the basement and grabbed my trusty broom (possibly the same one from two decades earlier) and returned to the second floor of my house, prepared for combat. I slowly pushed the door ajar and slipped into the battle arena. The room was eerily still. Suddenly, the curtains rustled and the bat flew toward me. Hyperventilating, I swung the bristled sweeper recklessly above my head. The bat caromed off the wall behind me and came back for assault number two. I spun around, heart pounding ferociously in my chest, and swiped at the thing a second time. The bat momentarily landed on the curtains and, then just as quickly, descended for the kill. The bat soared right at me and I hit him square, as though laying down the perfect sacrifice bunt. The winged fur ball hit the floor and lay motionless. Now that it was immobilized, I had a better gauge of its actual size, which was that of a small child's mitten. I retrieved a piece of cardboard from a nearby trashcan and swept the late varmint up. Once downstairs, I deposited my spoils into a plastic shopping bag and deposited that into our outside trashcan. I came back inside, washed the filthy memory from my hands and collapsed on the sofa.
I surprised myself with my own turns of bravery twenty years apart. If I get a bat in my house every twenty years, the next one is due when I'm seventy-one. By then — fuck it — let it get me.