It was the perfect night to sit on our porch and enjoy the first evening with hints of summer in the air. The weather has been perfect the last week, and we are finally able to enjoy all of the perks to our new house. As the sun set, the bats started to emerge, invading on our nice perch on the veranda. They flew so close to the lights that suddenly we were ducking and we reluctantly decided to retreat, leaving the doors open so the warm air could still seep its way inside. I resumed my seat on the couch, sending a few late night emails for work, when I heard George’s quick steps running back outside.
The light over my head was flashing, and I assumed it was just the shadow of one of the giant moths that usually sneak in at night, but then I saw it. A big black bat was circling the low ceiling of our lounge– but wait… not just one, but two! I grabbed the blanket from the back of the couch, and quickly covered myself, yelling to George, “ get it out!”. His reply was a simple, “i’m not going in there!” followed by the chancing remark, “come out here.” As I sat on the couch, under a blanket, I wondered, if he isn’t brave enough to come in, how am I going to get out?
The bats continued circling, like vultures around their pray, clunking wildly against the ceiling, and bouncing off the lights. Eventually, they found their way upstairs and I could uncover to investigate. Now i’m not scared of bats per-say, I realize that they too were just looking for a way out of our house. BUT as you know, I do not have the greatest track record with birds of any kind, so before I could make a plan, I grabbed a jacket with a hood, tied it tightly in a bow under my chin and armed myself with the broom. George grabbed the mop, and as I took two deep breaths on the bottom step, George said, “ you know those things will suck your blood…” I looked back at him, trying to figure out if this was paranoia or if he knew of some vampire species of bat belonging to southern africa. Before I could find my answer, he handed me a dustpan, “ here is a shield.”.
It took about 15 minutes for us to climb two stairs. The bats were circling the second story, sparactcally, each time coming a little closer to the bottom of the staircase. When they established a ryhthem, I decided I would run half way up and open the windows and then run back down, hoping they would find their way out. I ran, praying that these things wouldn’t clock me in the back of the head, opened the window, and then ran back down again. We waited…. but nothing came. We waited still… but nothing could be seen from the bottom. We would have to move our stakeout further up the stairs, past the bend in the middle, so we could see what was happening on the second floor. We crept slow and low, up the stairs. Me armed with my broom and “shield”, and George with his mop, two steps behind me. We made it to the top of the stairs, and I could see one of the bats struggling behind the curtain in the guest room. I quickly slammed the door, trapping it inside. We stood straight for a moment, laughing at our fast beating hearts, and how ridiculous we must have looked creeping up the staircase. We were so lost in the relief of trapping one bat, we completely forgot about the second bat! We were reminded suddenly when it shot out of our room, across the small passage we were standing on. I took a swing, so did George, coiling our weapons together and breaking the mop in two. We fell to our knees as this flying beast knocked against the ceiling with little place to go. It happened in a second… the swing, the breaking of the mop, the split second on the floor, but I remember clearly thinking of my two choices. 1. I could baseball slide on my stomach down the stairs to get to lower ground, or 2. I could craw quickly into the bedroom before the bat finished his circle. I took option 2 for fear of broken ribs, and hesitated as slammed the door, thinking George would follow my lead- but he never came. Behind the closed door I screamed, “ YOU LEFT ME?!” . From the bottom of the stairs came a meek, “sorry….”
we stood at our separate posts, panting, and trying to calm our thumping hearts for about 5 minutes. I shouted through the door, “ see anything?” trying my best to get a handle on the situation on the battle field past my bunker. “no…” comes the quiet reply. I picture George in the kitchen, making a sandwich, while i’m stranded in the upstairs bedroom. I decide to open the balcony door and somehow lour the bat into our bedroom, hoping it would eventually fly out. But then I hear Georges foot steps running up the stairs, and suddenly he is in the room with me. The bat had stopped to catch his own breath on an open windowsill above the stairs. I peaked my head out, to gage it’s location. Watching the bat struggle for breath, his little fury chest heaving up and down, mouth open, wings spread. It almost made me feel bad as I took my broom and with one tiny shove, he went plummeting to the tin roof with a heavy thud.
We stood for a moment, bumped fists to celebrate our amazing teamwork, and George started to head back down stairs. “Wait…” I say, “ what about the other one?”. He sighed, unready for another battle. We had been going at this for an hour at this point, and I too was tired, but our job was not yet finished. “ Just leave it, and the maid will take care of it on Friday.” he says. I can just imagine Lungilie coming in for work in two days, and opening the door to a bat flying over her head at 8 o’clock in the morning. She would not be happy, and feisty as she is, she would probably kick George’s butt. This problem had to be dealt with tonight.
We huddled in the passage outside the guest bedroom, still armed, and planned to open the door, and flail our weapons vicariously, directing it into our bedroom, where it would be trapped and eventually find its way out through the balcony door. I counted… 1….2….3 and George flung the door open. I was waving my broom on the count of 2, and carried on until 15 before I noticed the bat was still struggling behind the curtain. George turned on the light, and within a second the bat was back at the ceiling, and then made a dash for the door. There was no time to wave our weapons, we both hit the floor screaming. But it found its way to our bedroom on it’s own. We shut the door, and then opened it a crack to see. It was still circling the light. Stupid bat, the door is wide open!
We watched for a few minutes,and then bored, and convinced it would find it’s way out eventually we went back down stairs. When we were back on safe ground, we realize what dorks we were. I laughed until I had tears running down my cheeks, unable to catch my breath. If only someone, somehow could have been here to witness this epic reclaiming of our house. It would’ve been a sight worth paying for.
PS. a few hours later, we went back upstairs to make sure the bat had gone, and found no traces of the thing, under the bed, in the closet or in any of the drawers. Although even now, a few days later, I still expect it to reappear.