The Bat

     I like bats. But not in my kitchen at a quarter to four in the morning.
     The little bastard was flying in quantum loops near the ceiling – dipping miraculously from one altitude to another without ever occupying anyplace in between.
     You know how bats are.
     The problem was not just to catch the bat, using implements I normally have around the house, but to do it without waking up Jane, and before I had my coffee.
     Jane is not at all the help!saveme! type, but still …
     The tea strainer didn’t work because I did not actually want to catch the bat in the tea strainer.
     I tried a kitchen towel, but that didn’t work because the bat refused to fly into the towel, as I held it up like some demented matador.
     Through echolocation, bats can find and intercept a mosquito in flight. The chances that this bat would miss a dish towel were not good.
     For the record, I am a friend of bats, except for this one. I like their horrifying little faces, like little old Jewish men fallen into a trap from a strange dimension. Bats would do themselves a big favor if they dressed in green polo shirts with a little alligator insignia. Then they would look like a typical little old man in Miami Beach, only smaller.
     Also for the record, that was not an unkind crack about little old Jewish men. I could have said that bats should wear a keffiyeh, like little old Arab men, but I find that prospect unsettling. Bats look like Yasser Arafat already. Donning a keffiyeh would merely alarm and alienate even people like me, who want to be their friend.
     So there I was, swinging a towel over my head, craving caffeine, stalking the crafty Fledermaus, and trying to do it without waking Jane, in the bedroom whose door opens directly onto the kitchen.
     The bat flew into the dining room. I followed it in there and turned on the light. The bat flew near the ceiling in those quantum circles, over the big dining room table, which made the chances that I could snag it in flight even more remote.
     By now, I had awakened a cat. When she had arrived here, five weeks old, abandoned by her mother, this kitty was smaller than my hand. I fed her with an eyedropper and she grew up for a while perched on my shoulder, copyediting stories for Courthouse News. Now she is a full grown, very small cat.
     She jumped onto the dining room table and watched the bat, ignoring my pathetic and ineffectual flag-waving.
     I gave up. I backed away from the table, useless towel in hand, and asked the cat, “What do we do now, Kit … Whoa!”
     The cat jumped straight up into the air, nearly to the ceiling, snagged the bat in two paws and batted it to the floor.
     “Good kitty,” I said, as I draped the towel over the stunned bat. I carried it out the kitchen door and dropped it on the stone walkway.
     The bat lay there, staring at me with glazed beady eyes in its little bald head.
     “You’d better get out of here before the kitty gets you, Mr. Bat,” I said.
     The bat dragged itself toward the nearest tree, to climb it, drop from it and then violate the laws of physics in the moonlight.
     Back in the kitchen, I put the kettle on as Jane emerged from the bedroom, still half asleep. “Robert, what’s going on?” she said.
     I knew the answer to that one. I looked her straight in her sleepy eyes and said, “Nothing.”

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