Now, I know when I moved into my apartment on the lake it would be considered by most to be, how shall I say, a bit rustic. For it was. It was an old log cabin thrown together to accommodate as many separate apartments as possible during the heyday of this Greenwood Lake resort area. Its is small, yet it has its own charm. High cathedral ceilings, a spiral staircase leading up to a small loft, and exposed logs on each wall. Yeah, it was like a mountain retreat, or as close as you can get to one in this area.
Anyway, when moving in to this apartment of mine several months ago in December, I had concerned myself with things like, “Will I have enough room?” “Will it be warm enough?” “I wonder what the neighbors are like?’ etc. It was not until my friend and moving help for the day had piped up when I had any other concerns. After getting all my stuff unloaded and into my small abode, we righted a couple of chairs and rested for a bit. From across the small space, I followed his eyes as they gazed around the walls, up past the ceiling fan and high into every nook and cranny that existed. A crooked smile appeared upon his face as he said, betraying his own deeply-rooted personal fear, “I bet you’ll have some pretty big spiders in this place!”
I laughed immediately, and continued laughing even though this thought struck a very terrified cord within me. I am not afraid of spiders, per se, this was not what struck me with fear. It was the rest of the thoughts which my mind shoveled upon me that had me terrified. ‘If this place is a haven for spiders, what other insects and creatures and rodents could be calling this home?” I continued laughing, chalking these thoughts up to, yet again, my mind wandering too far, too deep. I eventually laughed it off.
I saw my first spider about a week later. I noticed first and foremost its very impressive size and stature. It was sitting peacefully in its web just outside my front door. I spotted it as I was fumbling and doing the new-key-in-the-new-lock-of-my-new-door thing. It certainly saw me and I imagined eye contact with its eight beady little eyes, but it was not that big. I said hello to my new neighbor, and when I finally got the key into the lock, I bid it goodnight and went inside.
I had forgotten about him, and all insects in general, until a few weeks later when I was doing some dishes one night and noticed an ant on the wall next to me. Again, the first thing that I noticed about this black, solidly built insect was its size. It was half the size of a BIC pen cap. I quickly tossed all thoughts of its size away and bravely grabbed a paper towel and smashed it into the wall. As I heard, and felt, it crackle under my fingers, I spotted two more higher in the corner to my right, just below the ceiling. They spilt apart and scurried in opposite directions, as if they sensed I was on the attack and hoped at least one of them could survive and send news back to the others, but although it was a good idea, I was able to get them both. The paper towel was a bit moist as I crumbled it up and tossed it in the trash.
It was a few days later that I had gone out and purchased the rubber gloves, thick ones, like they wear in chemical plants. You see, the ants kept coming and they were getting bigger. I found them in the silverware draw, scurrying under the fridge as I snapped the lights on, gathered behind the coffee maker, etc. They had made their way into my cupboards, into my cracker and cereal boxes, which was puzzling for they were not opened. My gloves were getting worn thin and very sticky from the continual war I waged upon them. There were more and more of them. It seemed the more I killed, the more would return. And they continued to get bigger and bigger. And a bit less timid as well. A few days later occurred the climatic battle in this war. One Sunday morning I walked into the kitchen, still groggy with sleep, to find four of these fuckers standing on the counter shaking crumbs out of my toaster. I screamed in anger and one little bastard flung a sponge at me with its mandibles. Enough was enough. I admitted defeat, went to the local hardware store and purchased some reinforcements. It still amazes me just how well a few strategically placed, plastic packets of poison can wipe out a whole village of ants.
After the carnage of the war with the ants ended, it was peaceful in my little apartment. There were no more insects, no bugs, no spiders, flies or moths. Nothing. I was comfortable, relaxed. I was not prepared for my next and most recent encounter.
It was two o’clock in the am. I had just finally succumbed to sleep in an effort to escape the summer heat. This rustic little place of mine is not equipped with standard sized windows, so a standard air conditioner will not work, so I am stuck sweating like your standard stuck pig. Anyway, I had just fallen asleep, when I first heard it…very faint, barely perceptible…
I opened my eyes and stretched my pupils wide to gather as much light as possible. I have a electric candle in my window sill down in the living room, and it casts orange shadows around my room at night. I was attempting to absorb as much off this feeble light as I could…when I heard it again…
I thought I caught something out of the corner of my eye….my glasses lay on the floor out of arms reach, I would have to roll over to reach them. I did not stir. A shadow flashed diagonally across the wall opposite me.
‘Something was flying around my apartment.’ I was forced to admit.
It looked rather large. My mind raced with thoughts I certainly did not wish to entertain about what it could be. I attempted to conjure up images of a large moth. ‘I’ve seen some large moths in the yard and out by the dock, one could have gotten in here somehow.’ The plausibility of this thought diminished as sleep quickly left me. My mind cleared immediately and snapped awake and began to listen to the whispers of the background thoughts in my mind. In a last ditch effort to support the moth theory, I proposed the idea that the moth was flying and knocking against the small artificial flame of the candlelight and hence its shadow was cast larger than life upon the wall across the apartment. Before this proposition could be officially vetoed, I heard something hit the living room wall and saw something fly up over the railing of my loft and right at me.
It was a bat.
Again, size impressed me, but not until the situation was over could I process this thought. Upon realization it was a bat flying and flapping its leathery wings together around my head in the dark, the only thing I was able to do was scream like a little girl. I screamed, although quietly as not to wake any neighbors, for it was late, grabbed my pillow and thrashed it out before me. I was on my knees in my bed listening to the slap of its wings and its occasional knock into one of the walls around me, while silently screaming and flailing my arms and hands and pillow out before me like one of those Fisher Price sprinklers that had several flexible hoses which kids ran and splashed through in the summertime.
Although I did not have my glasses on, my eyes adjusted quickly enough to see the bat fly out over the railing again and down into the living room. I became immediately still so as to listen to each beat of its demonic wings. I was too afraid to move. I saw its shadow pass along the wall several times and even saw it itself, through the iron railing as it flew circles around the running ceiling fan in the living room, apparently in search for a safe place to land. I kneeled in bed with eyes wide open staring at the railing and the large open space just above it where the bat, in my mind, was surely going to fly up into again. I was too frightened to even lean down and grab my glasses, I could not tear my eyes away from the entrance to my loft.
Now please note, that the loft I mentioned earlier, is only about the size of my mattress. It is not large. And, another of its often times charming design features, a ceiling that sloped down towards where my head usually lay so I could not stand, rendered this little loft even smaller.
SLAP SLAP SLAP…
It flew up at me again, this time quicker. It seemed more frantic, possibly angry. I yelled this time, in fear yes, but at it as well. It flew down again and must have landed somewhere, for I did not see or hear it. I was covered in sweat. My comforter, sheets and mattress pad were torn off the bed and spilled off onto the floor. I remember a thought that I had very clearly, it was ‘I wish this was not happening right now’. I did not know what I was going to do.
All was quiet for nearly twenty minutes. I had not shifted my position a bit. My muscles sore from staying clenched in a kneeling position holding my pillow out before me. A small surge of courage moved me, and I quickly scrambled to find and don my eye glasses.
‘What is my next course of action? (Next, that is, if you can define any of my movements up until this point action?)’ ‘What do I do?’ ‘I have to upgrade the web server first thing tomorrow morning.’ ‘Will I be able to sleep tonight with a bat in my apartment?’ These and many other thoughts were yelled out into the dark landscape of my mind. I had no answers for any of these questions. I would have to act.
I got out of bed. Armed with only my pillow, I spiraled down my staircase into the fray. I flicked on the light, and the first thing I saw, after the blinding flash of light to fully pupil-expanded eyes, was the face of the bat swooping down towards me. Without hesitation, I swung my weapon with both hands at the bat and heard and felt a thud against the cotton fill the pillow. I batted it across the room but it recovered in mid air and regained his altitude and low-swooping flying pattern around the living room. Every other pass near me, it seemed it swoop a bit lower, as if to let me know it was aware of my presence.
It came to a rest upon the sill of a window high up in the front wall. It looked like a some kind of flying dust bunny hanging there on the brown wood of the sill. Most of my fear had subsided at this point, and I was fully awake, but I still did not know what my next move was going to be. I figured I’d try to shoo it out the front door, so I walked to the door, never taking my eyes from the dangling doppelganger, and managed to pry it and the screen door fully open, providing a neat and clean means of escape. I hoped he would gracefully take it.
I moved back slowly to the opposite side of the room and sized up the bat. It had the body of a very large mouse, it was the biggest bat I had ever seen in the wild. I had this thought then and somewhere deep within me, it cracked me up, for ones place of residence should never be considered ‘the wild’ should it?
I stood there, at two thirty four in the morning, facing the bat and the dilemma of how to get it out of my apartment. It hung motionless, until it opened its wings a bit and readjusted himself within them. Although it did not leave its roost, I jumped nonetheless, dropping my pillow. I had to get it out. Bending down to retrieve my pillow, I noticed a sock lying on the floor. I picked it up, rolled it into a ball, and tossed it at the bat. My aim was true and I hit it square on. It did not budge. ‘Is it dead?’ I hoped. Looking down and not seeing the other sock, I grabbed a small piece of paper off my desk, crumbled it up, and tossed this at the bat. The balled up posted note actually landed on the sill directly above the bat, where it still lies today. The bat did not move, but I was not taking any chances.
I walked over to the corner of my room and, being an apartment on the lake, etc., etc, I reached for the canoe paddle propped against the wall of my living room. I grabbed it by the handle and raised the business end of it up towards the bat. When I was within reach, I brought the paddle down and rapped it gently. I held back my fury for did not wish to have bat entrails splattered all over my wall. I felt the soft thud at the end of the paddle, then saw the bat drop directly onto the floor. Wasting no time, I scooped it up with the paddle, noted that its body stretched from one side toe the other, then tossed it out the door. As it landed, it rolled about on the stones and appeared to be about ready to unfurl its wings and fly back into my apartment to keep me up and terrified all night, but I ran and slammed shut both doors, thus closing, and ending, the situation with the bat.
Yes, this event has raised plenty of questions. Typical ones like; ‘Did I handle that Okay’, ’Should I really have been that afraid?’ and ‘When was the last time I peed myself?; to fearful thoughts like, ‘Was it alone?’, ‘Would it remember me?’, to more practical ones such as; ‘What does not kill you can only make one stronger.’, ‘Was this why I did not see any other insects in my apartment for a while?, ‘and ‘How did that thing get in here?’
This last thought was, for me, is the most unsettling. And, believe it or not, I have yet to fully investigate the answer to the question. It could have come through a window, or the door, one day, but I think not. I know this rustic place of mine could potentially have many nooks and crannies and tiny insect and winged creature portals into one of the many little buggy dimensions that exist on this wild planet of ours, but I have not confirmed this, for I am not yet prepared.
Knowing myself, and knowing this apartment, I know I will need to accumulate a few things first….namely some new rubber gloves, bigger and thicker, a bee keepers mask, an oversized tennis racket, some way to fly poison around the room, a few harrier or bat hawks, ….