Listen to this: it is dusk, I usually finish my run on the edge of our Island, by the water. To my surprise, I encounter a colony of bats clinging to a sea wall. I am tempted to surprise them, raise my arms, make noise and watch them fly away in earnest, in a formation. What makes them do that? How can they do it? Why do they do it?
After having chased them away, I see a lonely bat left over, hanging upside down, forlorn, well into bat middle age. He looks sad and hungover. I stop. I look at him, our eyes meet and I feel a connection. A sort of a detached connection, as if we both have come to the end of the road and, more or less, become reconciled to our situation, accepted it.
“Why the long face?” I ask.
“Look,” he says “we bats have been under a lot of stress lately. I spent most of my productive life raising my family, getting as many beetles, moths, mosquitos in order to provide dinner for the Mrs. and the little ones. For many years, she and I pretty much had one baby bat per year, we needed to eat well in order to feed them with our body milk.”
“So?” I say, “My life has been very similar.”
“But” he responds “they don’t hunt you for food and try to eat you. This is one of the main reasons why my ancestors moved to North America from the Far East. People don’t hunt and eat us here.”
“Isn’t that good? I asked.
“Of course it is”, was his response. “But, now, even here, they are blaming us for some, how do you say, catastrophe, cataclysm. Something called “pande” or “emic” or something like that. I don’t even know what they are talking about, but it appears it is serious and we are to blame. We used to have friends here: blackbirds, raccoons, mice, rats. Now, nobody will talk to us anymore, they go by here without looking up. They all seem to be afraid of us. I am getting depressed, starting to imbibe a bit more blood than usual. It is not good; it cannot continue this way for much longer.”
“What is it you want? What are you hoping for?” I asked.
“I just want life to normalize, to go back where we were, to continue in the same fashion,” he was almost in tears “I don’t want to be blamed for anything, be presented with some problems I can’t control or solve.”
“I know what you mean, buddy, I sure know what you mean”, is all I could murmur.
His last comment really moved me as it was very profound. Inspired me to continue my run but, to my astonishment, I realized I couldn’t move my legs. Did this bat do something to me?
I then realized I was still in bed, waking up to a dreary, foggy, rainy Island morning and thinking: do I even want to run in this awful weather?
Then I heard the ferry foghorn, clearing the path of ravens and seagulls in order to dock. I wanted to run out and tell the ferry to knock it off but, simply, let the thought go and went back to sleep.
by Mike Djordjevich