Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. It is the only time that I can be proud of the copious cobwebs hanging around my house. Instead of denouncing my terrible housekeeping, people compliment me on my realistic decorations.
Other traditional Halloween decorations are a little harder to portray realistically. I just don’t have authentic witches, goblins and ghosts lurking around the house. A couple of gremlins, maybe, but that’s another story.
One year, though, I almost had an opportunity to bedeck my home with another living icon of spookiness. The story begins: One dark October night around midnight…
I got home late after working a swing shift and was greeted by one of my three cats. I think the cats drew straws to determine whose turn it was to welcome me home. Cats don’t like to invest a lot in a relationship, and this spared wasting redundant affection. Bonnie must have drawn the short straw, because she dutifully hopped onto the couch with me and began kneading my legs to shreds, all the while purring loudly so I would interpret this torture as unaffected love.
In addition to Bonnie and her brother Clyde, I was housing Cricket, a long-haired furball with the color scheme of vanilla and orange sherbet. I always left the kitchen window cracked open so they could come and go as they pleased while I was out, but they were all at home on this night.
Presently, Bonnie stopped kneading my leg in mid-scratch, her eyes riveted to the top of the window behind me. I turned around and there, like a freaky version of Kilroy with its little fingers curved over the top of the curtain, and its beady-eyed, pointy face peering down at me, was a bat!
I had seen enough horror movies such that the bat’s ensuing flight through my apartment evoked the only appropriate instinctive reaction: I screamed hysterically and covered my hair. It’s a well-known myth that bats like to entangle themselves in screaming women’s hair. I wasn’t taking chances.
The bat completed its maneuvers and swooped up to the living room ceiling, attaching itself upside down in the corner of the room like a big black spitball. All three cats were duly impressed by this aeroBATic display and they paced the floor, trying to calculate how to propel themselves to the ceiling. Either unable to make the necessary calculations or unable to make the necessary jump – I’m not sure which – the cats turned to me and began whimpering for some sort of decisive action.
I opened the door to a walk-in closet located in that corner of the living room until it jutted from the corner at a 45 degree angle. Snagging Bonnie, I lifted her to the top of the door. I envisioned her crawling along the edge of the door until she reached the bat in the corner, then disposing of it tidily. Maybe a farfetched plan, but what do you expect from a hysterical woman?
Bonnie perched atop the door as if we had rehearsed the whole thing just in the eventuality that we should ever find a bat hanging from the living room ceiling. She swatted the bat to the floor, fell off the door, and recovered in time to race the other two cats to the spot where the bat had landed. The bat was nowhere to be seen. Bonnie and Cricket sniffed frantically at the baseboard along the wall, and Clyde sat nearby with a confused look on his face, a not altogether uncommon expression for him to wear.
I gave Clyde a nudge for motivation. He stood up, unruffling himself like a hen being ousted from her nest of eggs. But instead of hatching eggs, Clyde’s backside had been incubating the bat! This was turning into a feline version of The Three Stooges.
With two cats lunging in hot pursuit, and Clyde slinking away in well-deserved embarrassment, the newly exposed bat crawled behind a bookcase. Bonnie finally flushed the critter out and grabbed it in her mouth. I booted them outside to let them fight it out amongst themselves, figuring whichever one came back would be the one who got served the Kitty-O’s in the morning. Bonnie was the victor, so I never got to try my hand at training a bat to use the litter box.
In retrospect, I don’t suppose a live bat would have made a good Halloween decoration anyway. With all that flapping about, he probably would have destroyed all my carefully cultivated spider webs.
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Cat owners: Don’t try this at home! I’m fortunate that the bat wasn’t rabid, and that my cats weren’t injured. I don’t know that I would have come up with a better plan if it happened again, though. With the cats I have now, they would probably be screaming and covering their hair, just like me.
Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.