This is the story of the midterm that will henceforth be known as bat-term.
I was upstairs in the office of our new house. It is a big, awesome converted attic space. I was up there taking a seminary midterm that I missed last week when we were at the hospital for Liam’s birth. I was fairly exhausted, but I was trudging through and making some progress.
Between question #6 and #7, I heard a noise. It sounded kind of like a squeak. I peered to my left and this black mass is heading right towards my head. Now this bat turned out to only be about the size of my hand, but I swear to you in that moment, it was the size of an eagle.
I duck and the bat keeps zipping around the room. The room is long and narrow and thus that rodent is bouncing around like an airborne pinball that might have rabies. I am not normally nervous around animals, but in this case, I was terrified. I will never again make fun of Bruce Wayne’s mode of striking fear into criminals.
So I here I am: trapped in a long, narrow room with a territorial, possibly sick, flying beast. After what seemed like ten minutes, but was likely about 30 seconds, the bat zigs over to the corner. I sprint the opposite way to the door and slam it shut. I’m safe, but I quickly realize that my computer is still in the room. A seven-inch flying rodent has seized control of my office and is holding my midterm hostage.
So I head downstairs to tell EA and her mom Marnie (who is staying with us to help out for a few weeks) about our new pet. In the process of trying to figure out what to do, Marnie informs us that she and her husband David found a bat in our bathtub before we moved in. This was news to us. It also made me worry I was going to open that door and a swarm of bats were going to tear out of the office into the rest of the upstairs, finding and biting my sleeping oldest son, and turning him into an emo vampire.
Obviously, we cannot let any of us this happen. I look in the bedroom for a laundry basket to wear on my head, but it then occurs to me that the bat could fly up inside the laundry basket at which point I might as well die. Eventually, Marnie and I settle on the most dangerous bat weapons on which we can get our hands—a beach towel and a broom—and we head upstairs.
We stand at the top of the steps in front of the office door. I hesitate, pray that I won’t have to raise a sparkly vampire offspring, and crack open the door. No swarm. No bat. So we slowly turn the corner into the room. I am holding the beach towel in front of me like a cartoon hunter with a net. Marnie is holding the broom up in the air like Gary Sheffield did a bat.
We slowly creep through the room as tension builds. Finally, Marnie spots my nemesis on the window. We pause because we didn’t actually discuss what we were going to do. We decide that I’ll toss the towel on the rodent and then she will make sure he stays in there with the broom.
So I toss the towel. It covers the bat, but it also somehow—defying physics—stays on the narrow one inch ledge of the window. If I pick that towel up, the bat is going to come out and it is going to be royally ticked. So Marnie puts the broom on top of the towel and we slowly guide the bat prison down to the floor. Now what?
We grab a small trashcan and put the bat on top of the towel. So we’ve properly contained the bat, but quickly realize that we have set up a poor scenario for getting it out of the house. If we flip over the trashcan, he’s flying out. And we certainly cannot slide that trashcan out of the office, over a door threshold, and down a flight of stairs without him escaping.
So we grab a lid to a box (ironically for my comic books). The plan is to slide that slowly under the trashcan and towel, effectively sealing the bat inside. Knowing, that all the bat needs is a big enough opening to escape, we nervously inch the lid underneath. I should mention that the entire time, my computer has been playing music and it is at this moment that it saw fit to start playing “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana.
We almost get the lid completely underneath, when I notice a squirming. The bat is breaking free as a choir singing in Latin is terrifyingly lamenting fate. Like lightning, Marnie brings the broom down on the side of the trashcan, trapping the rodent between straw and mesh metal. I hold the broom against the can with my foot. And we’re stuck.
To make a long story shorter, ultimately I unscrewed the broomstick off of the broom, and we put a large cardboard box over the trashcan, broom, towel, and lid. The we slide another, larger lid underneath all of that just to be safe. We slide this makeshift Alcatraz all the way over to the office door. At this point, there are so many moving parts that we know turning over the box and shutting it is going to give the bat ample opportunity to escape.
So Marnie heads downstairs to get a trash bag to put over the cardboard box, the trashcan, the broom, the two lids, the towel, and the bat. We shimmy the bag over the contraption and then start trying to tie the bag, periodically yanking our hands back at every squeak.
We take the trash bag outside. We open the bag and run. But the bag did not really open when we untied it. So I tentatively grab the bottom corners of the bag and shake everything loose as I keep hearing the squeaking. The pieces eventually come out, but no bat flies into the night. Now we have to investigate everything.
So here I am in my new neighborhood, standing in my front yard with my mother-in-law at 10:30 at night, poking through trash with a broom stick.
I investigated every part of the prison we built: the trash bag, the lids, the trashcan, the box, and the towel. I never found the bat. We know that it was in that bag when we took it outside. We hope that it flew off when we went back in the house to get a flashlight.
Yet I have seen enough movies to know when you do not find the body, the villain always pops up in the sequel. And if it does, I’ll be ready. Sort of. I’ll probably still be a little terrified, but a little more ready too.