Bats in the belfry

The essentials of bat whacking: gloves, a tennis racket, and a bag to dispose of the body.

The essentials of bat whacking: gloves, a tennis racket, and a bag to dispose of the body.

It’s midnight and I’m lying in bed, reading a book, when all of the sudden I hear the pitter patter of little feet scurrying in the ceiling above my head.

Dammit. There’s something in the attic.

Bandit sits up and cocks his head to listen, then jumps down from the bed to follow the sound around the room, eyes fixed on the ceiling.

Great. It sounds like maybe two somethings.

I call to my  husband, “David! Something’s in the attic!!”

He’s just gotten home from a long day at work, just taken a shower, and isn’t interested in whatever phantom noise I’m panicked about. Spring usually brings a procession of bugs and spiders and weirdo beetles I’m always calling for him to kill. No emergency, he thinks. I wait. The scurrying continues.

“There’s something in the attic!” I call.

When darling husband comes into the room, he cocks his head to listen, wearing that “there’s nothing there” impatient frown … and then he hears it too.

There’s a critter line dancing right above our heads.

We debate about what can be done at midnight. Darling husband stands quietly, mulling over options. I make a few suggestions. I could sleep downstairs. I could take another Benadryl and knock myself out.

We stand there waiting and listening. The scurrying picks up intensity. When I ask what might be up there, darling husband says it’s probably a squirrel.

I’ve never seen a squirrel awake at midnight, but I have seen a possum. In our backyard. Now I’m freaked out. Is it actually in the attic rooms, I ask him, is it in my boxes of books and photos and old clothes and books? Is it in my books?? His reply? “I don’t know.”

We stand quietly, neither of us sure what to do next. “How about a bat?” I ask. “Could it be a bat?”

A bat is a definite possibility, he says. We’re old hats at dealing with bats. For a few years our house seemed to be the meeting place for the neighborhood bats. They’d swoop through the living room, the bedrooms, around the yard. Bats, I know. I can live with a bat in the attic.


I go into the bathroom – and the critter follows overhead, scurrying and scuttling. “Seriously? It’s following me,” I call out.  I go back to the bedroom, critter follows.

I hear darling husband go downstairs. I stuff towels under the attic door. If there’s a bat or squirrel or ghost up there, I’d like it to stay up there.

When darling husband comes back upstairs, he’s suited up with long pants tucked into boots, a long sleeved shirt, gloves, a hat  and goggles. He’s carrying a tennis racket.

Darling husband is going bat hunting.

Bandit and I crawl back into bed and wait quietly. I hear darling husband go up the stairs to the first landing, hear him open the crawlspace doors and check the areas right under the eaves. I hear him creak up the rest of the stairs and slowly advance through the rooms, hear some slight thumps as he moves boxes. The scurrying gets louder directly over my head.

And then it’s all silent. Darling husband isn’t moving and neither is the invader. Bandit and I sit in silence for several minutes, breathing quietly, eyes locked on the ceiling.

Then I hear loud footsteps, something being slammed against the wall, more commotion. This goes on for several minutes. Then silence.

Darling husband comes downstairs. As he opens the attic door and emerges from the dark he says, “There’s good news and bad news.”

Several scenarios run through my head. It’s a possum and it got away. It’s a possum and it had babies and I’ll have more material for my other blog at Patheos. There’s nothing there and it’s all in my head. It’s a ghost.

“The bad news is that it’s a bat,” darling husband says. “The good news is that it’s dead.” And he holds up a grocery bag like a trophy. Fortunately, he explains, there was probably only one bat up there (as opposed to a whole nest of squirrels). But if there’s another one, we can deal with it. Bats we can handle. Squirrels would have been a major problem.

I settle back into bed while darling husband takes the bat corpse out to the trash. When I look up at the ceiling again, I see a giant spider, right over my head. I get up and whack it with a book. Darling husband’s done enough tonight.

This column originally appeared in Refreshed Magazine in 2014.

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