I woke up early yesterday morning. I didn’t sleep well—maybe it was a bit of restlessness that got me up at first light. A dream that rocked me from sleep, perhaps. Could’ve been hunger. Or maybe it was the bat in my hair…
It wasn’t in my hair. But it was rocketing toward my face as my eyes fluttered open, like that last frightening scene before the screen goes dark and the character wakes up in a coffin. Not kidding, it's exactly how I greeted the day. Granted, most downtowners have bat stories. We know they're in our belfries, our chimneys, our attics, our treetops... That they rule our skies from dusk until dawn.
Still, it took me a moment to get my bearings. What's with the bird in my room? Where am I? Wait, is this The Lost Boys? What the f*%$ is going on?
After escaping twice to the living room (the first time was without my phone) and slamming my bedroom door shut behind me, I sat down and thought hard about what to do. Who do I call? Who do I call? Who. Do. I. Call.
I first attempted to run through a list of male friends who’d jump at the opportunity to swoop in and rescue me in the early hours on a Tuesday. But that ended in a fight. With myself.
> You have someone you can call, just think. Think, dammit…. There’s got to be somebody who’d love to get this call.
> Really, somebody’d love this? Name one.
(Cue me ticking off names in my head, ending with several who placed a distant second to just keeping the bat as a pet. Internal catfight continues.)
> You have a guy or two in your back pocket, you’re just not thinking hard enough.
> Maybe the reason you can’t call any of them is because you’re not all that nice to them.
> Not now, one problem at a time please.
> See, if you were a little softer, a little warmer, you’d have bat catchers coming out your ass.
> OKAYYYY, I get it. I’ll be nicer from now on. Can we just focus?
In the end, I did come up with someone to call. My landlords who live upstairs. They’re a fantastic retired couple who play golf and work in soup kitchens and enjoy happy hour on their porch. I explained the reason for my early-morning call, and after stammering around a little, the wife said this: “Well, you know, this is downtown Charleston.”
You’ve heard it before—locals’ go-to strategy for addressing anything mildly unpleasant in our city. No-see-ums. The poop smell when the tide’s out. Boozed-up Sunday brunchers who can't hold their liquor. Thomas Ravenel. It’s our way of glossing over our inherent imperfections, even forcing acceptance of these things as mere “peccadillos” of living here. Just cute, charming Charleston at it again…
Spare me. I’ve got carriages parading by my house like yellow cabs on Fifth Avenue and I witnessed a half dozen fainting spells when Rack Room Shoes brazenly set up shop on the corner of King and Beaufain. I know where I am. It doesn’t make waking up with a bat milling around your bedside any more normal.
That aside, fifteen minutes later Chris and Brad arrived from Creature Catchers. Bounded through my front door was more like it—they were pretty excited to find this bat. Few words were exchanged at first: They point to my closed bedroom door. I nod. They excuse themselves into my bedroom and close the door behind them. "We'll just be a minute," Brad says.
Then something else happened that I didn’t expect. They can’t find the little bastard. (I had my ear to the door.)
“Where the hell is he?”
“Can’t see him.”
Then I hear: “Try this. Go in the closet and squeeze some of the clothes together. If he’s in there, he’ll squeal.” (Gag…)
“Pick up the bed covers. See if he flies out.” (Note to self, burn the sheets…)
Just as I was starting to think it’d be easier to just move, I heard a victory whistle. “Got ‘eem!”
I backed away from the door just before it flew open. Brad and Chris hurried out and toward the front door.
Now this is where I feel bad. Just as Brad—a kind, jolly, eager-to-please gentleman—crossed the threshold, he turned, grinning ear to ear. “Wait! Did you want to see him?”
All I could do was stare back at him. An icy, confused stare so harsh that finally he slunk out quietly, bat in tow.
I looked at Chris, still standing in my hallway. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t realize that was a real question.”
He shrugged. “Some people wanna have a look… you know, see the little critter.”
I nodded, smiled. “It’s just that today started with the ‘seeing.’ So I’m good. Yeah, I'm good.”
And after the rabies shot I got immediately afterwards, I really was okay.