Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cats, Bats and A Hero Sister

For as long as I can remember, I've been "afraid" of fluttery things. Flying bugs, moths, bees, birds and even butterflies. My mom was never fond of birds so maybe I picked it up from her. I'm also deathly allergic to bees, so maybe it comes from that too. All I know is that when I come home at night, in the dark, and there are moths and those flying beetle things on the screen door and near the porch light, I have to take a deep breath, hunch my shoulders and open the door as fast as I can to escape into the hallway. I always do a quick shake and brush over my head and hair as well, just in case one of them jumped on for a ride... shiver... just thinking about it gives me the willies!

Living in an old house, there are tons of nooks and crannies. So my apartment is far from bug proof. I often have spiders, centipedes and even a few carpenter ants hanging around. I'm not crazy about them, but they don't freak my out like their flying cousins do. My cats, the brother/sister tag team of Bitz and Pieces, usually take care of the creepy crawlers and if a fly or a moth dare get in, Bitz the wonder girl takes off like a shot, leaving a disaster in her wake, but usually takes down the fluttery beast! Pieces' specialty is more the spiders in the tub. He's too laid back for the whole "look at me - look at how high I can jump, mama!" thing.

A few days ago, Bitz was acting particularly restless. She'd leave the room and I would hear her jumping around after something. I'd call her but she'd ignore me. Those of you owning cats understand this. Eventually she'd come into the living room, up onto the couch and paw at me but now it was MY turn to ignore her! Those of you owning cats will understand this. But last night, as she was jumping around after something I actually heard a noise I'd never heard before. Sort of like a hissing, but not a cat hissing and sorta like a squealing but not a pig squealing (besides, I don't have any pigs). From my usual spot on the couch, I peer into the dining room where my Bitty Bitz is and out of the corner of my eye, I see something "fly" in the air. But it's dark in that room, so I'm not sure what I've actually seen. I decide to ignore it, dismiss it as my tired eyes just playing tricks on me. but really, who am I fooling, right?

An hour later, Bitz is back in the dining room and as I look in there again, I see it silhouetted against the light of the next room (the kitchen). The full swoop of a black bird. And again, who am I fooling? It's a bat!!

Now, this house is no stranger to bats, unfortunately. I remember my little cousin Sean asking my mom when we got a bird. Turns out he spotted a bat sitting on the top of the living room curtains. Me, mom, Sean and the dog hid in the bathroom while my grandfather and brother took brooms into battle. And there's a small BB gun hole in the hallway from the time my brother pretended to be a bat sharpshooter. (Not really sure if he actually shot it!). So I can't say I'm surprised that there's a bat in the house, but I CAN say that I am now totally freaked out. My brother, who is my landlord and lives in the apartment upstairs, is in the hospital. My sister lives across town and I know she's exhausted. It's 9:30 at night, what do I do?

I call my sister and tell her there's a bat in the house. Her answer? So kill it! OMG - I can't even move off the couch and she wants me to hunt this thing down and somehow kill it? Is she crazy?! I tell her this and she asks me if I want her to come over. I meekly say yes. 30 minutes later she walks into the house as I see the squeaky sucker swoop through the air again. As she comes into the living room, I do what any other rational adult would do. I burst into tears. She does what any other rational adult would do when faced with someone bursting into tears. She laughs. But off she goes, with Bitz in tow, into the dining room and adjoining craft room in search of the bat. I remain perched on the edge of the couch, still teary, in case I need to make a fast get away. (Which of course is ridiculous because I couldn't move "fast" if you paid me!)

She's banging around out there, trying to rouse the beast, but it's hiding. Bitz gets bored and comes back to the couch with me. After lots more banging, moving, flash-lighting and waiting, the bat does not appear and I can tell she's starting to doubt me. Starting to think that I've been seeing things. I swear to her that I know what I saw.

It's almost 11pm now, so she takes an old sheet and covers the doorway to the craft room, hoping that if it's in there, it'll stay there. I also have a blanket covering the doorway between the living room and dining room for when the AC is on. (Damn old house with no doors!). So being in the living room or bedroom, I feel I'll be relatively safe for the night, and I was, except for the dreams. I slept about four hours and dreamed of cats and bats coming through holes in the walls. I dreamed of hospitals and running or escaping and I dreamed of saving lives. I was exhausted when I woke up and ended up staying home from work. There were no bat sightings all day. But I KNOW there's still a bat in the house!

My sister Jeannie arrives at 8pm with a huge butterfly net. No seriously, this giant net on a long faux bamboo stick. Where she got this, I have no idea but I'm glad she has it! Off she goes in search of the bat for a second night. At first, the same results - nothing. But then... Bitz to the rescue. Suddenly I hear the hissy/squealy thing again and Jeannie rushes to where my fighting feline is. The cat is staring at a picture on the wall in the craft room. Jeannie starts banging on the wall, and I hear the noise the bat is making. I yell into the other room "Do you hear it? Do you hear it?" And suddenly there's a crash, a swear and a squeal and then "Bitz, no!". She's got the damn bat in the net and Bitz is trying to get it! I call for the cat and guess what? She ignores me. But I'm not moving! It may be in a net but I know if I even get a glimpse of the thing in the light, I can just forget about sleeping tonight.

But now Jeannie is stuck, She has the bat pressed against the floor in the net and Bitz keeps trying to go after it. She needs my help. Son of a biotch! I get off the couch, squinch my eyes and go into the dining room. The bat was the size of an eagle!!!! Ok, I exaggerate slightly... maybe it was more the size of a pigeon. Umm.. a sparrow? Ok, it was normal bat size - but don't get me started on its 25 foot wing span!

I manage to get the cats into the bathroom and close the door. I open the kitchen door and the outside door as my sister drags the squealing fidgeting bat across the floor to the doorway. But now there's a problem. The threshold in multilevel and if she tries to "roll" the bat over it, it could escape again. I can't get any closer to it without starting to cry because my heart is already in my throat. Then I notice the neighbors across the driveway are out on their deck. I call to them and ask for help with a bat. English not being their first language, they think I need help with a RAT! No, a Bat I say, pointing to the sky. They get up and come around the fence to help. Anna, the leader of the brood over there, sees the bat in the net and simply reaches down with a paper towel she had in her hand and gathers the bat in the netting and tells my sister "Ok, you go". Meaning it was ok to lift the net up. (I was hiding in the hallway behind the screen door at the time). Quickly, Jeannie lifts the net up, rushes outside onto the porch and frees the bat into the night sky. My sister - My hero!!!

Thank you Jeannie - I love you!!!
(And now I'm praying that however it got it, it doesn't come back!)

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