Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Mouse that Soared

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Riddle me this, riddle me that, who's afraid of the big, black bat?

I've realized living in the country, in a rehabbed farm house, you are not hermetically sealed and occasionally the space(s) you think of as your own is (are) not. Bugs get inside; sometimes mice; once a snake crawled up alongside the plumbing into the bathroom--these things happen. And they're temporarily freaky and I handle it and I feel itchy and skittish for a couple of weeks; I am at the very least very very cautious when I open drawers and cabinet doors.

But nothing really had me prepared for last night.

It had been a lovely lazy day and since I'd been grilling on the back porch that afternoon, I just left the door open. The cat appreciates it and doesn't need to yowl so much to let me know it's time to come in or go out (and anything that stops him from yowling is A-OK by me.) It's also been delightfully cool and keeping the door opens seems to help fight the mid-day heat. It's an odd feature of the house...once it gets cool or hot it holds it in really well.

So I'm at the computer last night, chatting with Brian online and surfing the web. I heard something thunk the one leg of my computer desk. I assumed it was the cat coming in for the night--it was about 10:00, I was ready for bed. I snapped my fingers for the cat, no cat. I did the kissy noise/tongue click thing that he responds to (no "here kitty kitty kitty" for me), no cat. So I turn the light on. No cat. But I see the shadow of something fly past.

First I think--o maybe it's a bird. Then when I realize that it's not flying into windows or making noise I know what it is and it becomes "holy shit, mother of fuck, it's a bat." I cuss some more (mainly about getting rid of my tennis racket a few years ago) and try to figure out how the shit I'm going to get this damned bat out of the house. I'm also thinking: rabies, plague fleas, that scene in Cujo where the future-meth-faced Danny Pintauro is dehydrated in that Pinto and trying to remember if they drink piss from a thermos in the movie like they do in the book. I open the front door and try to chase the bat out that way. No soap.

It flies upstairs. I figure this gives me time to come up with something to swat and shoo the bat away with. I arm myself: a ceiling tile left over from a repair job, my largest aquarium net, and a fly swatter. I get the banking chittering hideous thing back downstairs amidst much ducking flinching and profanity. It's at this point the cat comes in to watch. I think, great. He'll track it and try to catch it. Nope. He runs. Eventually, I get de fledermaus into the laundry room and shut the door. It's trapped and I'm trapped with it. I just start swinging at it wildly trying to exhaust it and hoping that just maybe I can hit it hard enough to stun it.

Ultimately, the bat became exhausted and lit on the floor where it began chittering and hissing at me. I realized that this thing looks less like a mouse with wings than it does a hamster--and it reminded me of a singularly unpleasant russian dwarf that a friend of mine owned. It is approximately the size of a young adult hamster and the fur looked suspiciously similar. It was larger than any brown bat I've seen around here. I got my aquarium net over it and it's fighting to get out, flipping itself around, pissing all over the floor. (I never knew bats peed as a defense mechanism and frankly I never wanted to know. Also--bat piss smells just as bad as you might imagine.)

I got it outside and slammed the doors and proceeded to scratch and tremble for the next hour. I got back online and filled Brian in, googling for info on bats in west virginia and discovered that it was a Red Bat. Funnily enough, according to this PDF I found, "Red Bats rarely come into human habitations."

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Peter said...

Wow. What a story. Talk about going batty!

I think this is why I always have the screens on doors and windows. I love nature, but not in the house. hehehehe

Brent Goodman said...

A bat in the bedroom was one of my first welcoming omens to northern wisconsin. Aparently there was a small tear in the window screen . . . one of the first nights I awoke to a slight wind on my cheek and a strange *thu thu thu thu* flapping noise circling around the room, with the wind on my cheek corresponding to each time it passed by my head. Long story but it ended with me under the blanket and my other wrangling it out of the house!

Pamela said...

But when he brushes up against a screen,
We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:

For something is amiss or out of place
When mice with wings can wear a human face.

Theodore Roethke's "The Bat"

Substitute computer screen and you have your soaring mouse!

RJGibson said...

Peter: Ironically enough, someone was supposed to install/hang a screen door for the back porch last weekend but hurt his shoulder.

Brent: O dear gawd.

Pamela: Indeed! This reminds me--I really need to brush up on my Roethke.

Premium T. said...

Jesus this is funny. I mean, your blog entry, not the fact of the bat. I am going to use "holy shit mother of fuck it's a bat" tomorrow at work. Bat or no bat.

RJGibson said...