November 13, 1967 (sometime after midnight).
Lovie nudged me.
“What’s that noise?”
“Turn on the light…there is a noise in here!”
I tossed back the covers of our bed, steam rose from the birthday suit in which I am accustomed to sleep.
Our second-floor rented bedroom was an estimated 40-degrees inside. Landlady, “Apple Annie” (as we had grown to call her) dialed down her thermostat each night. When the rising heat hit that gauge, it shut off the radiators. It never reached us upstairs. Ergo, body steam in the literal sense. No problem usually, we were newlyweds.
Just home after a 376-mile drive from an overnight stay in Center Harbor, NH, we had quickly emptied a few suitcases and Lovie’s “train case” sat open and empty on the slat bench beneath the bedroom window.
Amid the steam and cold air engulfing me, I came to my senses and also heard the fluttering sound. I reached for the pull-chain and 75-watts of illumination from the bare ceiling bulb filled the room. My pupils constricted so fast, I could almost hear them slam shut.
“It’s a BAT!!” I yelled.
Lovie screamed and pulled the covers over her head.
What to do? Naked, steaming and now scared, (the bat and I were on equal terms) what’s this neophyte to do? This was not covered in our premarital counseling with Pastor Schrum.
I ran into the corner of the kitchen and grabbed the straw broom. Back in the bedroom I began swinging wildly at this critter that was now just as upset as me.
“Crazed naked man, swinging a broom” could have been an award-winning painting by Ivan Albright or a scene from a Sam Peckinpah film.
First casualty was the four-foot high split-leaf philodendron plant that adorned the corner of the room.
I emulated a master class’ final performance in the profane.
My unsuccessful swings, were like a hung-over Mickey Mantle on a bad day at Yankee Stadium, and just like the Mick, I filled the air with highly audible unmentionable words of despair that were never taught in Sunday School.
The bat began attack runs at me like Zeros over Pearl Harbor in ‘41. Bats in the hair? Rabies? Myths or realities? – No time for that kind of pondering. I wanted desperately to join Lovie under the protection of the covers. But I am the (new) MAN of the house and from what I learned in the remedial class of Man School, that was not an option.
I swung the broom once again over the bed. My wild follow-through broom-whacked my dear cowering Lovie under her blankets. “Oops!” or something less printable was yelled.
Then another swing.
The room went instantly dark and shards of paper-thin glass from the bulb spewed over the bed and across the floor, around my bare feet.
The bat made another dive-bomb run. I tried to not move a bit for fear of ending up in the ER with the overnight intern picking shards from my bleeding feet.
Alas and alack, I got lucky.
Contact!! I finally made contact!! It was literally a shot in the dark. I’d swung not so wildly and whacked the bat – to where, I didn’t know but it got quiet and that was good enough for me. Cold sweat dripping, feet afraid to move, I gingerly tiptoed to another light and saw where I could step. I gathered up the blanket and swept up the glass. I searched around the room. Where was Mr. Bat? I found him dead or stunned in the train case. I flipped the lid and felt triumphant.
Man – 1, Nature – 0.