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Mack Williams: Concern for a little brown bat

Mack Williams

The evening before had begun with rain, and an ever-increasing amount of lightning and thunder going through the night, becoming more the next day, even seeming to assume “Ranchipur” (“Rains of Ranchipur” (1955)) proportion at times.
My son, Jeremy was temporarily without car; and prior to picking him up from his work, he texted me to avoid Danville’s Memorial Drive; as there had been a mudslide there. I immediately thought of the fairly recently placed chunks of granite at that same site where a mudslide from Tropical Storm Michael had occurred. I then wondered if the power of sliding, the power of sliding mud is more powerful than lines of granite blocks.
Jeremy locked up the office, and as soon he stepped out of the office’s outer doors, his step faltered a bit, and he said “What the…!” (as I’ve told you before, I only write about fact, not fiction).
Lying on the pavement was a brown bat, looking even darker from it’s being wet (physics, you know). Its left wing was extended flat to the sidewalk, with its right wing drawn next to its body.Its rain-soaked fur stood up clumps, revealing sickeningly whitish skin below! But at least its nose was not white, and that was a good sign; as I had learned from a past guest bat lecturer at the Danville Science Center (google “Bats-white nose disease,” and you will learn too!).
When pictures of such creatures are Facebook-posted, they are usually accompanied by comments such as “Nowhere near me!” or “Kill it!” I did worry that the bat might be “crazed’ with rabies (but there also seem to be a lot of people “crazed” about something or other).
The bat appeared to quiver; but perhaps its rapid breathing just made it seem so. This was in stark contrast to a bat which I saw in Linville Caverns some years ago, as it “invertedly” slept. The cave guide had to point out the bat; as it silent “imperviousness” to its surroundings made for great camouflage.
Jeremy said: “We’ve got to help it! After all, it is a mammal!” (we must never forget allegiance to all members of our Phylum).
That little bat, one wing clutched to its side, with the other wing extended, made me think of “Free Willy” (1993) (a much bigger mammal).
With its mouth open wide, the bat also resembled some of those little bat caricatures on the upper part of the title page of “Varney the Vampire” (1847), perhaps the first published book of vampire lore, even inspiring Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”(1897), which I read as a twelve-year-old.

It then occurred to me that if Poe’s Raven might be from the “Night’s Plutonian shore,” then a bat might come from somewhere deep within the “Night’s Plutonian interior.”

Suddenly, the bat regained its vigor and flew away! And its fully opened wings were beautiful, despite what some people on Facebook say about those pictures of bats, o’possums, spiders, snakes, and such! I used to tell the school children at the Danville Science Center in my pre-retirement days: “Like you and I, these creatures about which we may be squemish are just trying to get from one day to the next! They are not inherently evil!”
It all happened so fast; but Jeremy’s younger, speedier eyes spied that the bat seemed headed toward refuge in a neighboring building which was under restoration.

I assume the little brown bat rested somewhere within the old, many-storied building’s open, stone-vaulted cavities in an effort  to “refurbish” itself before flying further into the much more vacuous “Great vault of night.”

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