I awoke to a high-pitched chirping and a cat’s aggressive “Raow!” last night, sure the two cats had caught a mouse and were torturing it. But the “Raow” had me a little baffled: as far as I know, mice are more like toys than hiss-inducing adversaries. Still, once I found a flashlight and tiptoed carefully out of the bedroom, I kept my eyes glued to the floor and any sudden movements. The cats scattered when I got into what we call the red room of our house, which is kind of like a foyer (pardon my French). I turned on the light and combed the area for signs of a crippled rodent. But then something fluttered silently through the air, nearly colliding with my face. I hit the deck. My heart rate shot up about 50 beats per minute. Bat!
Now at the cats’ level, I could see them tracking the movements of the animal like spectators at a tennis match. I opened the front door (which leads to a porch) and then crawled across the floor and closed the bedroom and bathroom doors. The bat circled the red room and then flew into the guest bedroom since I hadn’t yet closed that door.
I racked my brain for methods of directing it toward the porch and remembered the old tennis ball trick. If you’re ever outside at dusk, when the bats are flying around your yard eating bugs (at a very safe height of 30 feet in the air or so), you can throw a ball up there and watch them follow its descent a ways before deciding it’s not edible and fluttering back upwards.
We had several tennis balls on the porch, so I crawled out there and grabbed four of them. Back in the red room, I kept low and tried lobbing some tennis balls just inside the doorway of the guest bedroom. Each ball hit the floor with a thump and bounced to a dead, impotent stop.
I whispered the F word.
Then the bat flew back into the red room and commenced its very unsettling crazy flight pattern. I crawled to the guest bedroom, closed the door, and then crawled back to the corner furthest from the porch, cowering there as my dog held a stuffed seal and wagged her tail, oblivious to the flapping monstrosity terrorizing the house.
It absolutely refused to fly out onto the porch and instead alternated between the red room and the living room. I knew I’d have to block its access to the living room, which is separated from the red room by a large, eight-foot wide doorway without doors. So I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and exited, holding it in front of my body vertically so that it ran from my head to my shins. With a false sense of bravery, I emerged from the bathroom and tried to pretend I was a wall. Then I heard the bat fly really close to my head, and I freaked out. I dropped to the floor again and told myself to think.
I decided to try duct-taping some towels to the doorway separating the living room and the red room, so I crawled over to the desk and grabbed the roll of duct tape. I returned to the threshold of the two rooms and prepped the towel’s edge with a few pieces of tape. Then I had to psyche myself up to stand and adhere the towel to the entryway. The bat kept circling the red room, so the towel maneuver required perfect timing.
Once I got the first towel attached, I crawled back to the bathroom and got another towel. I prepared it, and spent another minute trapped in the same anxiety-laden timing dilemma I’d suffered with the first towel. I must have looked like a dog afraid to jump off a pier, the kind that bobs its head up and down ten times before half-jumping half-falling into the water.
With the second towel adhered, I crawled back to the bathroom, wondering why I hadn’t brought three towels out to begin with. But I eventually got the third one up, effectively creating a wall, albeit one that didn’t quite reach the ground.
And of course, the bat flew under the towels into the living room, where it then landed on a curtain rod and peered menacingly around the room. From the couch below, Pablo meowed at it. I had a moment to stop hyperventilating and try to consider my options. We don’t own a net. I could have tried a laundry basket, but that would require a proximity I wasn’t willing to approach. Really, the only option was to pull the towels to the side, get the thing back into the red room, and hope for the best. So that’s what I did once it resumed its crazy-ass flying.
As soon as it came into the red room, I released the towels and then speed-crawled into the living room and positioned a stool and two chairs below the towels to fortify my wall. Then I got ready to close the front door once the thing flew into the porch, which it finally did after a minute of circling the red room. I actually said, “Yes!” But by the time I got to the front door to shut it, the bat flew back inside.
I opened the door once more and tried to coax Pablo and the dog, who had both gone out to the porch, back inside. They wouldn’t budge, but the bat again flew out there, so I slammed the door and breathed a sigh of relief. I exited the house through the back door, circled around to the porch, and propped the front screen door open.
I thought I saw the bat fly out, but it was dark, so I crawled into the porch and turned on the light to confirm the batless state of the room. He was indeed gone. It was 1:40 in the morning. Eileen had slept through the whole thing. I ate a banana and drank a glass of water while checking my email (?) and went back to bed.