My wife rises first in the morning, a system I endorse as long as she's quiet about it.
''There's a bat in the kitchen!''
She wasn't being quiet.
I clamped the pillow over my head but still heard her: ''I said, there's a bat in the kitchen!''
We need thicker pillows.
I poked my nose from beneath the foam. ''Then stay out of the kitchen!'' Do I have to think of everything?
''The coffee's in there!''
I sighed. There'd be no peace before she had her coffee. I rolled out of bed and thumped down the stairs. Sure enough, a furry, winged critter flittered across the kitchen airspace.
''Yep, it's a bat,'' I said and turned to go.
''Oh, no, you don't.'' She spun me around. ''Go open the back door.''
''But there's a bat in the kitchen,'' I said. She just doesn't think without her coffee.
I looked under the dining room table. ''Ducks, too? What about the chipmunk? Did it get into the basement again?''
''Get back here. It's just the bat. And maybe a mouse in the garage. Now go.''
I chicken-walked across the kitchen floor and flung open the back door. ''I love living in the country, but why can't the great outdoors stay there?''
I crab-crawled back to the archway between kitchen and dining room and huddled with my wife to watch bat aeronautics. ''Did I tell you about the time Cousin Ollie pushed a cow into their farmhouse?''
Her eyes never left the open door. She wanted our bat to leave, not call its friends. ''Only 23 times so far.''
''Ollie thought it would be a neat trick to hide a Holstein in his sister's bedroom.''
''Right, because of the chicken she stashed in his closet.''
''See, the week before she stashed her pet chicken in his closet. We think it made a horrible mess, but it was hard to tell. Ollie's closet always was a bit of a pigpen.''
''So you said. Only 23 times so far.''
''Anyway, Ollie tugged the old milk cow up the front porch, through the door and into the bedroom. By the time his sister came home, Bessie -''
''You called the cow Bossy last time.''
''No, Bossy is Ollie's sister. Anyway, Bessie had grazed through a pillowcase and half a pillow, slobbered all over her shoes and, well, messed up the rug. It was great.''
''Not for Bossie. I mean, Bethany. Your cousin's name is Bethany.''
''You know how people think cows can't walk down stairs? Bessie runs down porch steps pretty fast when Bossy, uh, Bethany chases her. Ollie already was hiding in the hayloft and didn't come down for three weeks.''
''What about the bat?''
I shook my head. ''Bethany's kind of horsey and Ollie's a loon, but there's no bat in the story.''
''No bat in the kitchen, either. And it didn't go outside. I was watching the door.''
''Oh, well, you get your coffee. I'm going back to bed.''
''Wearing a baseball cap?''
I tugged the hat more snuggly over my ears and skittered to the stairs. ''Thought I'd give it a try.''
Later, Terry trapped the bat in a butter bowl and turned it loose outside. It reminded me of how Uncle Elmer trapped Ollie and Bethany's guinea pig with a milk pail when it got loose in his pickup truck - but I'll have to tell her about that later. The neighbor's goose just waddled through the front yard.
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