Orville wasn’t the smartest. He was the first to admit it. He had made a lot of mistakes, though he would honestly tell you it wasn’t always his fault. His dad was partially to blame. There were a few things his dad never told Orville. Like don’t eat the bar food. Yea, now that would have been good advice. But Dad never told him and now Orville was hooked on the stuff. It was like his own personal drug. Not that Orville was into drugs, mind you. He wasn’t.

It all started one gloriously muggy night. He’d been scouting the area looking for a meal when the hum of the neon light above a bar door caught his attention. The light had that funny eerie glow that he liked and the sound of the humming bulb was like a siren’s song. It beckoned him, called him onward in a way that he couldn’t resist. He would tell you in his own way that that night had been a turning point for him. That summer night would always be with him.

The people outside the bar smoked their cigarettes and laughed obvious to what was going on. They paid little heed to Orville that night. Later, he realized that many of them might not have even noticed he was there. They were so high on alcohol he thought even a flying cow might have escaped them, much less a little brown bat.

Orville happily ate his fill that night of the mosquitoes humming about outside the bar. They tasted oh so good. In fact, they were the best tasting he’d ever had. His stomach that night was very happy and he went to sleep at the crack of dawn with a smile on his little face. He had found a new hunting area and he planned to go back the next night.

All that week Orville returned to The Drinking Shamrock and ate his fill and every morning he returned to his cave happy as a, well happy as a bat. He wanted so desperately to tell his family and friends about his new discovery but he didn’t dare. What if they joined him some night? There wouldn’t be enough mosquitoes for everyone. And while the people were so drunk they didn’t notice him fluttering about above them, he doubted very much that a swarm of bats would be unnoticed. Someone would look up, they’d scream and all the people would run away in terror and then those sweet mosquitoes would disappear forever. He couldn’t let that happen! So, Orville kept quiet.

Then one night something happened. He didn’t understand it and he found himself in a lot of trouble. He’d never had this kind of problem before and to say he was confused would be putting it mildly.

He remembered going to The Drinking Shamrock and eating the mosquitoes as they came off the people standing outside the bar. There was nothing unusual about that. Then he remembered flying away and heading home but the entrance to the cave seemed to have shrunk. He thought it odd at the time but he was so tired he’d decided to investigate it better the next night when he woke up. Only when he woke the next evening he found that he wasn’t in his cave as he’d thought. He didn’t know where he was or even what it was that he was roosting on. It felt squishy and his claws seemed to be stuck in it. He’d never been scared in his life before but he was scared now.

Orville tugged and wiggled this way this way and that until he finally got his claws freed but there was still something stuck between his toes. It was long and soft and skinny and he knew it would be a long time before he got himself free of it. The darn thing tickled too when he moved.

He circled, looking for the entrance to the strange cave he found himself in. Everything he bounced his radar at came jumping at him faster than he could register it. He was lost and confused. Something was very wrong. This new cave was not to his liking. Then he caught a signal and followed it out to what appeared to be another cavern in the cave. He thought it funny how the shapes of this new cavern was the same as the last.

Orville flew and flew but he remained confused. He couldn’t seem to find his way out. He’d never had this trouble before. Then, all of a sudden he found another a tiny exit. Actually it was more like a crack in the cave but on the other side he registered that he’d be free of the strange bouncing radar signals. Hurriedly he flew to the crack and wiggled his way to the other side. Everything was normal again. But where had he been? What was that confusing cave? He knew he never wanted to go there again.

He grabbed a quick bite to eat at the bar and headed home early. His stomach was still in knots. Whatever that place had been he never wanted to return.

This, he was not afraid to ask of the elders. “Where was I?” The answer he got was a scary one. “You were in a house,” they told him. If he wasn’t scared before, he was now. Suddenly he was  a little bat again and he could vividly hear his mother warning him to stay away from houses. She’d harped at him as many times as the mosquitoes he could eat in five minutes and Orville could eat a lot in five minutes. “Those are the most dangerous things in the world,” she’d told him. “Some of your cousins have gone into houses and never come back. If houses where good they’d have come back and told us and perhaps we’d all live in them.”

He shuddered just thinking where he’d been. It was the most dangerous place a bat could ever go. After all, it was light at all hours of the day and night in houses. Sleeping in a house could be very difficult. There was a decided lack of food too. A bat could starve in a house! And then there was the humans. Humans tended to hate bats. He couldn’t understand this part at all since his kind ate the mosquitoes that the humans hated. He would have thought that they would have been happy to see a bat but his mother warned him that humans didn’t think with logic. “Stay away,” she’d warned him. “They are dangerous. The humans killed your Uncle Hubert.” As a kid he’d never quite believed her but then Uncle Hubert never did return. So maybe she was right?

Orville went hunting again at The Drinking Shamrock and everything was fine. Nothing happened and he arrived home to his family cave, stomach full and ears dancing. Whatever had happened the night before he decided had been put behind him.

That’s what he’d thought. Until the next night when he again woke up inside a house! Fluttering here and there looking for the way out he suddenly found he had a new danger. The family who lived in this house had a dog and the dog was barking and chasing him. Orville was scared out of his wits. Things were not going well. He flew and flew until he thought his wings would fall off. His radar kept bouncing back too quickly and he was confused and the dog kept chasing him in erratic zig-zags and alternated between yipping and growling.

Then he heard the sound of a car door and the dog suddenly vanished. Orville gave up trying to find his way out and quickly hid in the folds of what he now knew where curtains. He’d be safe there. He went to sleep that night tired and hungry. Every time he’d lifted his head above the top of the curtain and thought it might be safe to try and escape the house he’d heard the dog enter the room and Orville burrowed deeper into the material that smelled of stale mothballs and wilted flowers. He vowed he’d make his escape as soon as the dog fell asleep.

When Chester, as he’d discovered the dog’s name was, finally fell asleep Orville slowly peaked around the curtain. No one else was about and the dog’s loud snoring confirmed that he was indeed asleep. Orville flew and flew until he found the exit and just about dropped from the sky in shock when he broke free and the sun hit him in the face. He was instantly blind and he lost all sense of direction. He hadn’t an antenna of a mosquito’s clue which direction he was headed in. He hoped the cave but his luck wasn’t good these days. For all he knew he was headed straight into another building. Quickly he found a tree and roosted there. It was safer. At night he would get something to eat and head home. At the moment he didn’t have any energy. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to focus his dreams on happy thoughts but all he could see was Chester barking at him. His little ears hurt and it was a long time before he fell asleep.

Orville wasn’t sure what to do when he woke that night. He flew around in a few quick circles until he got his bearings and knew where he was and then he headed back to The Drinking Shamrock. There was a huge swarm of mosquitoes and he thankfully gobbled them up. He hadn’t eaten in over a day and he was starved and lacked much energy. He decided to head home early. He’d be one of the first to arrive back to the cave but that was just fine. He didn’t really feel like talking to anyone.

For the next month everything was normal again. No more houses. No more barking dogs. No more waking up to confusion and not knowing where he was. Everything was normal. He got up at night, ate his mosquitoes at The Drinking Shamrock and headed back to his beloved family cave. Everything was as it should be, except for some reason there were less mosquitoes at the bar. He still was the only bat hunting there, so that was good.

Then one night he woke up and knew something was wrong instantly. His first hint was that he wasn’t sleeping upside-down. He wasn’t even in the folds of a curtain. He was outside, thank God, but he was sleeping on his side. His wing was stiff and when he moved to get up he almost rolled off the ledge he was on. How he’d gotten there he had no clue and where was there? He remembered going to The Drinking Shamrock and getting his full but he couldn’t remember anything after that.

Once in the air he did a circle and found he was still at The Drinking Shamrock. He’d never left. Somehow he’d slept on the windowsill. By the soreness in his shoulder and wing joint he knew that he didn’t want to do that again. Flying back to the cave he tried to remember the night before but he couldn’t. He decided that something was wrong but he couldn’t put a claw on what it was. He didn’t used to have this problem. So what had changed?

Orville went back in his mind to when the problems all began trying to learn what was new. The only thing he could think of made him sick. He prayed that what he was beginning to suspect was wrong but he had to know and he didn’t want to ask anyone just in case he was wrong.

The next night Orville didn’t head to his beloved Drinking Shamrock. Instead he headed to another bar and flew around. He was the only bat. His ears flicked with tension and he headed across town to another bar. Again, he was alone. There were plenty of mosquitoes but no one was there eating them up. He checked two more bars to find the same results, loads of mosquitoes present and not a single bat in sight. Here, he was afraid, was the answer. It looked like all his recent problems where related to his food.

He went home that night feeling rejected. It appeared that bar food was the problem and yet no one in his cave had ever talked about it. This he couldn’t understand. His family talked about so many things but not this. Orville went to seek out an elder. In minutes he finally understood. So many of his brothers, sisters and cousins had already discovered the side effect he hadn’t noticed and didn’t talk about it because they too had done strange things and didn’t feel comfortable talking about it.

“Bar mosquitoes make you drunk and when you’re drunk you do funny things,” the elder told him. “It’s okay to go for special occasions from time to time but then you simply eat responsively.” Orville was happy to hear this. He’d fallen in love with those sweet tangy mosquitoes and he couldn’t bear to give them up forever. He decided to eat only a swarm or two but not every night. That way he’d be safe from houses, dogs and apparently humans who set you outside on windowsills where you could roll off. Orville would be all right now but he would no longer be a drunken bat.

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