(The snake incident and a comment from a friend reminded me of this ditty I wrote some years ago. It’s ridiculous. It’s in three parts. And like all fairy tales, it’s true.)
nce upon a time a lengthy long time ago there lived this round-eyed woman in a mid-sized, downtown (right side of the tracks, but only just) old blue house. It was the color of the this very June sky, just two shades lighter, and had been built at the turn of the century as something better than a diamond ring to attract the unending love of a woman (now dead) who wanted not the house at all, but the ring.
Several owners later, the round-eyed woman moved in with her little toddling girl, one very black dachshund puppy, a part-time son, and a handsome and powerful man (hereafter, the H&P). She planted a garden where she grew broccoli too late and buggy foot-long green beans in matted heavenward spirals. It was very lovely place to be, and the round-eyed woman spent all her free afternoons tape-recording the voices of the young children for posterity while they played on the Wal-Mart swingset (model no. 2345-77-92002). In the evenings they would all gather in the back yard and cook assorted grilled meats to eat with the beans, staying outside until the swallows could no longer tell the difference between the round-eyed woman’s hair and the high wall of bean tendrils. The whole summer passed by sweetly.
One night, late in a September when the sun was still hot as three forgotten hells, the round-eyed woman looked up in evening light to see a new kind of swallow dipping and flailing. It only took one very close fly-by (a wing-breeze, really) for her to understand that the swallows had been replaced by some creepier flying thing.
Bats, she said, and ran into the house with a little one under each arm like floppy laundry, singing “Moon Shadow” (the children’s only lullaby) in an failing attempt to create calm in a sea of bats.
Later that evening, just after the round-eyed woman had snuggled the wiggling children into beds Rose and Transformer, and before she balled up in the tapestry sofa with the excruciating rhythms of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there came an unusual sound from the fireplace, there, just to her left. It was some highly-placed screaming, almost a whistle.
And then a lone, wayward bat excused himself from the chimney’s esophagus and sailed through the open fireplace, afterward whooshing delicately about the room in uneven elliptical panic.
The woman quietly fell to the ground, Marquez still in hand, plotting in two and one half seconds just how long it would take to get the sleeping children and car keys free from the June-blue house. Before she could move, the reclining H&P deftly took three giant steps across the room (catching, of course, the only forgotten Lego squarely in the arch of his right foot), and as he fell his hand caught tightly one very collectible Billie Jean King wooden tennis racquet. A fortuitous weapon for such a moment.
Twenty or so increasingly violent back-hands and many freshly-strung expletives later, the bat lay in the floor, a flattened, fuzzy/brown, smallish thing. Much smaller, the round-eyed woman thought, than the drooling buzzard it had appeared to be just moments earlier.
To quiet the now frenzied round-eyed woman, the H&P promised to perch his life precariously on the roof the following morning and seal up the gaping and crumbling chimney so as not to let this ever happen again.
I’ll risk my life to save you from the bats, he said to the woman whose round eyes flicked tears of youth and motherhood into the new Stainmaster Series Nine carpeting.
Tomorrow, I promise, he said.
And as the round eyed woman calmly began packing enough clothes, diapers, and He-Man accessories for a week’s stay at her mother’s, the H&P found scrap plywood, gooey glue stuff and a gun-like instrument. He began to seal up the fireplace from the inside, and as a means to cease the packing and the frightening calm of the round-eyed woman, because he was most aware, suddenly, that he had said “tomorrow” perhaps one too many times.
Satisfied, the round eyed woman went to sleep and began lightly dreaming of angel-sized bats with very enormous wings and handsomely drowned and barnacled bats, because Marquez can invade even a June-blue house despite the application of epoxy sealants.
It was the irregular thumping that woke her, sounding for all the world like a madman playing rasta rhythms on the front door. Unable to arouse the sleeping H&P, the round-eyed woman crept a stealthy path down the hall, pausing only to lift the now loosely-strung and somewhat gory Billie Jean racquet from the elegant mahogany hall tree. Taking only the slightest moment to appreciate the contrast between the two, she continued to creep low, fingers bloodless for a two-fisted backhand…
To be continued tomorrow~