A tale of great courage


“Oh my, that’s a bat.”

I was staring at the ceiling in the front of my apartment in Scranton, Pa., in 2004. It was the end of the Summer of Starvation*, and my brothers were coming the next day to pick me up so I could spend a week home in Brooklyn, N.Y., before returning for my senior year at the University of Scranton.

I ran into my room and shut the door. Panic set in immediately. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “What, it’s just a bat.” Well, I had never come face to face with one before, damnit. And I knew two things about bats: They can fly. And they all have rabies. I know that second one isn’t true, but it is.

First I wondered, “How the hell did it get into the apartment?” Then I remembered that while I was sweeping the front porch, I had left the door wide open for some reason. Dope. Why was I even sweeping the front porch? Eleven college dudes were going to be living in the apartment, it would never be clean (and it was NOT). Then I thought, “Maybe I can just lock myself in here for the night, and it’ll be gone by the morning.” But what if it got in somehow? The raptors in Jurassic Park figured out how to open doors! And also, it was, at least while hanging from the ceiling, quite tiny. What if it crawled under the gap at the bottom of the door? Murdered while I sleep.

I opened my laptop and tried to search for info on bat removal. But since we hadn’t set up Internet at the apartment yet, I was relying on the weak wireless signal from the library and nothing was loading. It was like 2 in the morning, and while this was clearly an emergency, I didn’t think anyone else would consider it one, so I figured a phone call would either be ignored or end up with me being mocked.

I had to get rid of it myself.

I looked for things around my room that could help me achieve this. The broom! I had left it on the front porch. Damnit. I had a large collection of CDs, but Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” and Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave” were not going to be sacrificed in my attempt to drive this evildoer out. Wait, I had an old pair of shoes! Two chances to hit it. My hope was that a direct shot would cause it to explode into tiny light bubbles like when you die in “Mega Man.” Or at least stun it. Then I would throw my dirty bedroom sheets on top and throw it onto the front lawn.

Before I could put my shoe plan into action, I had to armor myself. That armor consisted of two pairs of socks, my winter boots, a pair of jeans, a pair of sweat pants, a T-shirt, fleece sweater and a bubble jacket. Plus a ski cap to cover my head, my glasses to protect my eyes despite the fact that I was wearing contacts, and a Jack Daniels bandana wrapped around my face. Note: It was 85 degrees out. I looked like a lunatic, but had convinced myself that rabies could not penetrate this shield. I wished that I had some type of booze in my room to give me some liquid courage, but sadly I did not. If I’d had the time or the right, I would have said a prayer.**

I opened the door of my room. The bat hadn’t moved. I had a shoe in each hand, and after a few seconds to find what little courage I clearly have, I ran underneath it and launched the first shoe at the ceiling. I completely missed the bat. But I hit the panel it had latched onto. The bat did not like this. It spread its wings, which were approximately 30-feet long, then shrieked and launched itself at me. Hellspawn! I dove to the ground, did a military crawl to my room, and kicked the door shut. After spending 30 seconds on the floor with my hands over my head, I got up, opened my front window, and climbed out onto the front porch.

While I had not got rid of the bat, I had rid myself of the bat. Success!

I took off enough of my “armor” on the front porch so that I could walk around without looking like a crazy person, then headed over to the library, which thankfully was open 24 hours, to calm down. When I returned an hour or so later, I slowly opened the door and peaked inside. I looked up at ceiling. No bat. I looked in my room. No bat. I checked every room in the apartment. No bat. It was never seen again.

But it’s still out there. And it will find me.

Brian Cougar

* When I arrived to Scranton as a freshman, I weighed 250 pounds. Because I do everything ass backwards, I actually lost weight in college. By the end of the Summer of Starvation, due to my job hauling kegs and cases of beer around Northeastern Pennsylvania, plus the fact that I was solely responsible for acquiring/cooking my meals on a limited budget, I had dropped down to about 180.

** A Batman reference was going to happen in this post, and this was it, from “The Dark Knight Returns.”

A tale of great courage