Bat hunting

It’s 4 a.m., and I didn’t realize I was awake until he pulls the comforter over my head. “Be still,” he tells me. “Keep your head under it.”

Bleary eyed, I can’t decide if I’m hiding from someone or something, or if he’s playing a silly game. He thinks it’s funny that I hate breathing stale air, can’t sleep with blankets covering my face, but these early morning hours are not his usual goofy time.

He gets up, and for a long several minutes I think he’s getting the shotgun, loading it, preparing to meet the intruders.

The toilet flushes. Ok, not intruders (or else he really, really had to go, burglers be darned). But for the next 45 minutes I can’t sleep because he’s hunting something. There’s the stealthy steps, then nothing, then something clatters downstairs in the kitchen, then silence again. I keep the blanket over my head for as long as I can stand it, kick it off, and listen. The creek across the road is gurgling; frogs are calling. At some point a pre-dawn bird starts to sing.

Finally he comes back. The red lights on the clock read a quarter of five. He closes the bedroom door; we never close that door, the room is cooler when the breeze can pass through, out the other open window across the hall.

“What in the world?” I ask. He doesn’t answer.

“What were you doing?” I’m way too awake at this point to go on guessing.

“There’s a bat in the house, but I lost him,” he tells me. He is proud because the flutter of tiny bat wings woke him up; I am disturbed because the creature is still in the house. He lost it somewhere between the kitchen and the living room. The ferrets wouldn’t look for it, they thought he was up to play with them and wanted to catch the kitchen towel he was carrying to flush the bat out of its hiding spot.

But the day comes early on Monday mornings and somehow I found sleep again, for the last hour before the alarm.

The bat is gone now, found clinging to a curtain rod in the dining room. It fled to the basement when he tried to knock it free of the curtain; he scooped it off the cold, damp wall in a cardboard box and tossed it out into the morning.

But I’m still missing my hour of sleep. Listening to 4 a.m. bat hunts makes it an extra coffee kind of day.


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