It has been a muggy, hot August night here in the attic where I sleep. My bed is on the right side of the attic with a huge blanket on a clothesline rope hung right down the middle marking my territory, because my two older brothers have claimed the other side. There’s a small window by the bed, which I can’t raise, but I can see what the weather is like when I wake. The roof is what it is. There is no ceiling and I can see nails protruding down over my head. It is particularly charming in the winter when frost gathers on the nails, bringing the cold even closer. There is a little blue bureau next to my bed that my great Uncle Elmer gave my mother.
The chimney comes up through the attic a few feet from the bed and there is space around that chimney as it goes through the roof..which leads me to the reason I did not sleep well last night. The space is like an entry to heaven for bats. I hate hearing the flutter of wings around my head and throw the blankets over my entire body because I have heard stories of bats roosting in a woman’s hair. I don’t know if this is true, but I am not going to do any research. There is more flutter of wings than I care to think about.
This morning I am thinking of presenting this problem to my folks. They are home from work this Saturday and perhaps my Dad can do something about the chimney space, but then perhaps not, since he has never been a master carpenter. I believe he designed our house which, if you can imagine, is actually shaped like a box. One enters the front door to face the stairs to the attic, which cuts the house in two sections. On the right are my parents’ small bedroom and a somewhat larger room where Curt sleeps. The kitchen takes up the entire left side of the house, which is fine since most people visit in kitchens around here anyway or slide a chair up to the table for a cup of coffee. There’s a big wooden box in the corner to hold fire wood and on the wall a rack for hats and coats. A big black wood stove serves as the instrument for warmth and its oven door is propped up with a stick. On the opposite side is a black iron sink with about two feet of counter space on which my mother must work to get meals. So when I remark my father is not a master carpenter, I am basing it on what I can see in front of me and am sure he was the master architect for this little house the six of us inhabit. If the truth were known, I am sure my father would rather live back in the days of his western paperbacks and confront outlaws.
The breakfast dishes are washed and wiped so I gingerly bring up the bat subject to my mother, who tells me to inform my father of the problem. Curt is playing with his trucks in the front yard and I find dad sitting on a stump, in back of the house, filing his buck saw. I tell him I think there are bats in the attic and he asks me how many. I reply that I didn’t count them because I didn’t have a flashlight but I know there must be more than one. In my mind, one is one too many but I don’t want to present too large a problem. Dad puts down the buck saw and walks inside to tell Ma we have a problem and she says there is nothing we can do until dark. Dad clomps up the stairs and we can hear him rapping here and there. Ma just sighs and rolls her eyes.
Clomp! Clomp! He is coming down the stairs, goes to the corner and grabs his rifle. Ma asks him what in the world he thinks he is going to do . He says he has stirred the bats up and he intends to kill them. I know he has been reading his western paperbacks again just the way he handles his rifle. Ma tells him he is going too far and he is not shooting his gun in the house.
Clomp! Clomp! Up the stairs he goes with rifle in hand. I think it’s a .22 or something like that since I am not good with guns. Pow! Pow! Pow! Ma is sitting in a kitchen chair , shaking her head and her lips are moving. I think she is praying. Curt comes in from outside and I put my finger to my lips so he just slides into a chair and waits.
Clomp! Clomp! Down the stairs he comes and declares that the little…well a word I can’t say…are dead. He will put on gloves, he says, gather them up and dump them in the woods. Ma asks him what on earth he is thinking of, shooting holes in the roof. Why didn’t he just fix the space by the chimney? He replies he could do that, but did she think the bats inside would automatically form a line and fly out by themselves? She’s rolling her eyes again.
Dad props the gun against the wall and allows he will fix the chimney space when he repairs the holes he just shot through the roof. Ma mumbles something about that will be when something freezes over. I am just wondering if he will do the repairs before we have the next rain storm. Boy, I sure hope so.