Sometimes I really wish I could draw because sometimes…a picture really is worth a 1,000 words. I can’t begin to draw the image of my mother in her pink nightslip, knees bent and eyes raised, perfectly framed in the doorway and poised with the broom to defend her family (the same broom she used to kill the smoke detector).
We lived in a red brick Victorian house on the top of Piety Hill. It was 3 stories tall, including the basement, and in 1992, I lived in a very small “apartment” in my parents’ basement. We also had an attic with some uninvited guests.
B is for Bats.
I’ve had more than my fair share of encounters with bats in the house. Usually at night. Often when Dad was working night shifts at the fire hall. Just like one Friday night in the Spring of 1993.
Dad was working the night shift, so Mom & I planned a PJ party at “my place”. After I put my son to bed, we built a roaring fire in the woodstove, popped popcorn and watched a chick flick. Just after 11 p.m. (because my Dad always called mom to say good-night)m we crawled under the covers (of my fold-out couch) and flipped off the light.
30 seconds later I heard the tell-tale, familiar, incredibly distincitve “flapping” sound overhead. I screamed and pulled the covers over my head.
“What’s wrong?” Mom angrily whispered.
“There’s a bat in the room. Listen!” I whispered back (because whispering made perfect sense at the time). It flapped over us again. Mom squealed and dove under the covers with me. The cat knocked something over and thundered across the room.
We huddled under the blankets for several minutes, listening in the darkness. All I could think about was how we were going to survive under the covers all night (what if I had to pee?) All Mom could think about was how to escape.
After more whispering, and fearing the cat would catch it and bring it to us, Mom decided to make a break for it. We counted to 3; she bravely dashed from the bed, up the 3 stairs to her left and out the door, slamming it behind her. All the while she was making a high-pitched, choked squeal.
“Is it still in there?” she asked, her voice muffled behind the door. I lay still in the dark, straining to hear. Something flapped by and the cat growled.
“I’m going to flip the light on and you look around.”
I slowly pulled the covers down to the bridge of my nose, blinking in the brightness. I had just spotted it hanging on the light over the table, next to the stairs – just as Mom peeked around the door. I pointed and whispered where it was.
“Stay there and watch it,” she said as she closed the door and went upstairs. Where did she think she was going? So I stayed and I stared, unblinking at this foreign creature. I’m pretty sure it was staring back.
She returned a few minutes later, and stood poised on the threshold in her nightgown, broom in hand, ready to defend her family.
“Go get Big Guy. If it moves, I’ll whack it”!
I slid from my bed and slithered across the floor to Big Guy’s room, my eyes riveted on the bat. I scooped my child into my arms, and slithered through the room and past my mother. I carried him up the stairs and tucked him into my old bed on the top floor. But Mom didn’t join me. So I went back down to see where Mom went. Maybe it ate her?
She was still standing by the closed, basement door, still armed with the broom. Something crashed on the other side.
“Now,” she said, “I’ve got you covered. Go get the cat!”