Monday, July 26, 2010

In Which a Boy Becomes a (Bat)Man

This is the story of a bat.
This is the story of a man, his wife, a boy, and a bat. Two of them were very frightened.
Before our story can properly commence, it is important to know some things:
1) bats love our house...especially our bedroom
2) my husband is deathly afraid of bats
3) I'm not
4) neither, apparently, is Jonah

This is the story.
Last night, a girl named Kir was sleeping peacefully in a bedroom blessedly free of humidity. The windows were open, a breeze played with the curtains, and all was sheer summertime bliss.
Then, her sleep was rudely interrupted by a dire shaking. Someone was cowering and whimpering beside her. That someone was her husband. Sometimes, Kir's husband has bad dreams about chasing bad guys, and she has to wake him up from them. Sighing, Kir rolled over to wake him up so they could both go back to sleep, but she quickly realized this wasn't Clint's bad dream. This was real.
"A bat," he whispered, his voice muffled by the sheet over his head. "There is a bat in our room."
Sure enough, Mr. Bat took that admission as his cue to swoop low over their heads.
"Do you want me to get the bat out?" Kir asked, sighing again.
"We can't," Clint replied, his voice desperate and sad. "The door (we have a balcony off our room) is blocked (Clint's been roofing and the debris has mostly landed on the balcony)."
The bat swooped low again. Clint moaned. "I need to get out of here."
"Why don't you go sleep somewhere else?" Kir asked.
"What about you?" he replied.
"I'll be fine," she said, pulling her bravery britches up nice and tight. "Bats don't scare me."
So, Clint scurried out of the room, hunched over with his pillow over his head. Let me tell you something: a man scurrying in his underwear is a funny, funny thing to see.
Kir snuggled her pillow and prepared to sleep.

Here is something true: The Thing that Secretly Scares You a Tiny Bit becomes much more terrifying when you are alone in the dark.

It was hard to tell for sure in the dark, but that Durn Bat sounded like it had started mucking about on the floor. She could distinctly hear his little claws scratching the wood, and she was pretty sure she heard the rasp of his leathern wings on the floor. What is that creature doing? she wondered. Reading Larry's Kidney? It's not very good... Then she thought about what it might feel like if he decided to crawl up the wall and flop down on the bed next to her. She will freely admit, she was not shivering in anticipation. That was fear shaking her. Pure fear. In principle, bats are interesting creatures. When said Bat is snuggled up close to a girl in the place of her husband, it becomes not so interesting.
Kir turned on the light and stood up, ready to do business. First step, glasses. Second step, try to get that blasted door open. (Here is something else you need to know: old house move and shift in odd ways. Humidity + old door = difficult thing to open.) She couldn't budge it! Kir needed to call in reinforcements. That or give up.

At this point, you might be wondering what the title of this post has to do with anything. Fear not, brave reader. All will be revealed.

So, fearing rejection, Kir tromped downstairs to Clint's escapist bed on the couch, where she admitted defeat. He offered to let her share the couch; she pretended to consider. Then Kir proposed her request: if he would come up and jimmy the swollen door open, she would shoo the bat out and we could both sleep in peace. After brief hesitation, he agreed.
It took some wrestling, but Clint got the door open and then promptly ducked back toward the door, nodding at Kir to commence with bat removal. She stood in the center of the room, her arms raised above her head in the posture all bats recognize as utter bravery and defiance. It is possible that Clint may have chortled (hard to tell when his teeth were chattering so) and he squeaked something about going to look for a Thing to Get the Bat Out. He left.
Just moments later, the bat decided to take a breather, collapsing spread-winged nearly at our heroine's feet. Poor little guy was just exhausted from swooping over their heads. Kir was so surprised to see him there right in front of her that she just stared at him for a moment. By the time she realized she could trap him on the floor with the towel that was dangling just in arm's reach, he must have sensed her motives for he recommenced his swooping.
That's about when Clint returned with his Thing to Get the Bat Out. It was an inflatable soccer goal (with nets, of course) about 5 feet wide and maybe 2 feet tall. You're probably thinking what Kir was thinking: What fool would use a butterfly net when he can use an inflatable soccer goal. Right? Exactly.
She might have looked at him with a tiny bit of disdain, but maybe because he was using it more as a shield than a Bat Shoo-er. That's when the door opened and Jonah stepped in. "What's going on?" he asked. Maybe he was surprised to see his parents cavorting about the room at 2:24 with an inflatable soccer net. Maybe not. He's pretty unflappable as a rule.
"We have a bat," Kir said.
"Oh," he replied. "Let me go get something." And he left in a hurry.
Now it's go time, Kir thought. Surely this boy genius would return shortly with a Real Net. Ten seconds passed and he came back into the room with this:

This is Nathaniel. At this time, the author is not sure whether Nathaniel has Bat Catching Abilities. All he did was sit slumped in Jonah's arms while the kid watched his dad duck and weave and watched his mom calmly track the flight patterns of the bat. Then Jonah set Nathaniel on the bed.
He watched unblinking as the bat landed on the curtain and clung there, quivering with exhaustion. Then, Jonah stepped toward Clint and took the inflatable soccer goal from his father's unresisting hands. Kir knelt, poised but motionless, on the bed, watching her son step into (bat)manhood. He crept toward the window, the soccer goal raised toward the bat. He crept softly, as only a boy accustomed to tracking helpless animals, such as squirrels and salamanders, through the forest can move.
The bat hung motionless and Jonah trapped it there in the inflatable soccer goal. Somehow, it must have realized it was trapped for it began to flutter about, turning then and clutching at the net with its tiny batty fingers.
"Get it to the door! Get it to the door!" Clint shouted, holding fast to the trim around the bedroom door.
With a grace that defies written expression, Jonah danced that bat across the room, his arms certain and his feet steady, in a path straight for the door. Maybe it tasted the free air of the night sky, but a few feet from the door, the bat turned, winked at Jonah, and fled into the darkness.
That is how a boy became the man he is now, on a night so fresh in the my memory because it was only last night, and how he assumed my mantle of fearlessness. Hail him, for he is brave and worthy. Jonah, the Bat Catcher of the Genthner Home. His mettle will likely be tested very soon.


alli/hooray said...

I promise I'm not stalking your comments section, but...
Best blog post I've read ANYWHERE in a long time.

my2fish said...

I won't lie... Nathaniel is a pretty freaky looking hippo. I don't blame the [vicious] bat from being scared.

good stuff.

word verification: allitonk
is that Alli's Tonka truck name?

Kir said...

Thanks, guys. It was all sorts of fun to live through. Who knows what tonight will bring?

Quentin said...

Good job, Jonah!