A Fairy Tale with Teeth: Part Third and Final

No Telling

(A serialized fairy tale in three parts.)

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.

~The End


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.

A Fairy Tale With Teeth: Part First

No Telling

(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~