Sliding to the floor like poured milk, she attempted to get under the flying bats. And there were dozens. You see, a roomful of bats is a difficult thing to count accurately, considering all that moving and fluttering and screeching. Let us say then that there were uncountable many.
But the round-eyed woman was all at once thinking, stealthy, and consumed by her biology in ways that eluded the H&P, but that must certainly be easily understood by nesting bats. She crawled first to the comic book bedroom of the sleeping part-time son who, because he feared darknesses we can only imagine or prosecute, left his door wide open for safety. And the round-eyed woman wept as she crawled hand over hand, a moonlit commando for rescue, because she knew that he was old enough to remember the terrifying houseful of bats and would never, never, never forget.
Exactly what the H&P did or thought at this moment as it is unclear. The background music to the rest of evening is an inelegantly strung series of his epithets punctuated by household decor thumping and crashing. For the H&P, it was war.
With the whimpering part-time son clinging to her belly like a like a small blonde pregnancy, and the Tranfsormer quilt over the both of them, the round eyed woman continued her paratrooper crawl down the hall very quickly and in a sing-song voice. This is just quite an adventure, she told the boy, close your eyes and I will tell you the story when it is over and I’ve made a pretty end of it.
And because he did, he did not see the tired fliers fall to the Stainmaster Nine plush carpeting, catching their calcaria in the little twists of orlon that made them fast prisoners difficult to sling out of the way with her still bloodless hands.
The round eyed-woman did not begin to shake until she saw, by the sweetly pink glow of the dim nightlights, the seven brown and rolling bodies each grappling their way toward the thick, dark underneath of the lovely rose quilt; a place warm and holy from the sleepbreaths of the babygirl dreaming swingsets and pristine sandboxes and “E” shaped honey sandwiches.
So she covered the boy with a Transformer swoosh. She flung wide the delightful rose quilt, slinging heinous brown bodies, and she placed the toddling girl between her white satin nightgown and the terror beating through her skin, and tied a quick umbilical knot to hold her.
Then she formed a ragged whisper to all things heinous, unsafe and named them with one word best not repeated here.
Standing, the round-eyed woman attached the quilted boy to her thigh like a large, confused mitten, and they ran very, very quickly down the hall, through the dark rain of innumerable airborne living-room bats, skipping lightly over the trapped and writhing ones, sliding cleanly out the front door of the June-blue house and into the softest September night.
They took the long way around, through the fence picketed and white, beside the trained and twisted curls of the foot-long beans (which gave an audible green sigh of twisting, pushing into tomorrow’s picking) until they were at last, quilted and keyless beside the mountainous door of the ancient and seldom purring late 50s Belair. The round-eyed woman lovingly unknotted the satin, and breathlessly placed the little ones inside where they scooched and snuggled into a small fuzzy pile, all Rose and Transformer, in the cavernous back seat.
From the windows of the Chevy, the round-eyed woman could see the H&P’s heroic attempts to slice through waves of circling bats, as he danced like a fruit-of-the-loomed marionette with strange despotic gestures and stifled sounds of imagined triumph. It was suddenly obvious then that he might be forever swinging at his own carefully constructed evils entirely too late and all alone. She covered close the little frightened things she loved and hummed a wordless, vining song, to smooth the sounds coming from the open door of the lovely June-blue house all circled round in white pickets.
Yes, the bats did actually happen. They had been nesting in the chimney, and once the bottom and top of it had been sealed, we can assume they became frantic. The path of least resistance was the plywood-sealed fireplace opening.
When all was said and done my husband counted over 170 kills, escapees through the open front door notwithstanding. For days after, we found the odd one here and there behind books in the bookcase, hanging comfortably from ficus tree limbs, and crawling across the kitchen floor.
Thankfully, the children have no memory of the bats. The H&P, I understand, is still swinging at difficulties of his own making.