I was composing a new blog post on my computer when I heard a clunk, chunk coming from my outdated air conditioner. Because the wall AC unit faced the outside, occasional bugs would appear in my living space. Sometimes a random bird would fly into the unit, but they were too big to break through. What came through the vent now was not a bug or a bird. A bat with a wingspan of about 12 inches had somehow squeezed through a small opening and was now speeding in circles around my living room.
Now, bats are not my friends. Even as a child, I cringed and ran if someone mentioned bats flying through the trees on a summer night. As an adult, I become comatose if I even see a picture of a bat. Now one of those vile creatures was spinning over my head. I felt my heartbeat accelerate. My hands began to sweat. What to do?
I called the apartment management and screamed into the phone. “There’s a bat in my living room. It must be gone NOW!”
“We don’t handle varmint removal, dear. You need to call animal control.”
“I don’t think I have the strength to call them,” I said as the bat hovered over my head. “Isn’t there any other way?”
While we were talking, the bat swirled into my bedroom and crash-landed into a basket of extra clothing stored at the bottom of my open closet. “Get me help, now!” I shouted into the phone and hung up.
I ran to see what the bat was doing, imaging droppings deposited into my clean clothes. Will it chew up my garments? Does it have rabies? Will it jump out of there and bite me, and then will I have rabies? Everything evil I had ever stored in my brain about bats came pouring out.
I left the closet door open, hoping the critter would at least decide to vacate my clothing basket. But then what would I do? By now, I’m shaking. Did I want him to vacate the basket? Then he might fly into my hair and flail around. I covered my head with a pillowcase.
The phone rang.
“Ms. Curren,” the office attendant said, “I’m sending Frank over to help you with your bat problem. He offered, and we have decided it’s OK for him to help out.”
“First of all, who is Frank?” I asked.
“Frank is one of our custodial staff here at the Pines. He seems to think he can help.”
Well, OK,” I said. “Tell Frank to hurry.”
I threw on decent clothing, not the braless ancient nightgown I was wearing.
I heard a knock at the door and flew to answer it. I did not expect what I saw.
“Hello there, ma’am. I’m Frank. I hear you have a bat problem?”
I first had to catch my breath and close my open mouth as I took all of Frank in. At about six-foot-three and 170 pounds, Frank was, to say the least, “a long, skinny drink of water.” With full beard and hair to his shoulders, it was a challenge to find his face. He wore a cut off tee shirt and his muscular arms were covered from top to bottom with bat tattoos. Big bats, little bats, creepy bats, mean looking bats, smiling bats. Frank did not need a Halloween costume to go trick or treating.
I recovered enough to say, “Thank you for coming, Frank. I have a bat in my clothes basket, and I am terrified of bats, and I’m afraid it might come out and fly into my face or something. Please help!” I ceased babbling as Frank looked around my living room.
“Lead the way, Ma’am. I’ll help you solve the problem. I’m kind of a bat lover myself.”
What the hell is a bat lover? I asked myself. I debated right there whether to throw Frank out or have him solve the problem. I was too scared to let him leave.
I led Frank into my bedroom and pointed to the clothes basket. He rummaged ever so gently through the clothing. As he did, he crooned, “Come on out, now little one. Papa Frank’s here to save you.” After some poking around, Frank held the bat by the wings securely in his hands if it were a porcelain doll. “There you are, you sweet thing,” Frank said. With that, Frank gave the bat a kiss.
“Frank,” I said, “Thank you for coming to help. Now, get that filthy varmint out of my home. And take your bat tattoos with you.”
Frank smiled, cuddled the bat in his arm, and sidled slowly out the door. As he headed down the stairs, I could swear one of those bats on his arm sneered at me.
Kaye Curren writes essays, book reviews, and guest blog posts for various blogs and magazines. Her writing is featured on humorwriters.org, LiteraryMama.com, and GRAND Magazine and on her website/blog at https://www.writethatthang.com