ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT
AND SOME THAT AIN'T
Howdy folks! This here's ol' Pete and Rosebud comin' at you again!
The strangest thing happened to me last week. I don't know what made me do it. I wasn't thinkin', I guess. I was goin' out the back door on the way to the barn when I seen this bat on a rafter up next to the roof on the back porch. It was just hangin' there, upside down like bats do, and I retch up and took ahold of it.
I hadn't no sooner touched it than I thought to myself, why did I do that? What am I doin'? I shouldn't be doin' this. They say bats carry disease. Bad stuff, like hyderphobie. People don't live over hyderphobie. Hyderphobie is the old name for it. They call it rabies now. It used to be hyderphobie but they changed the name some time back.
Whatever you call it, they ain't no cure for it if you take it. The only thing you can do is take shots to keep from catchin' it if you've been bit by somethin' that's got it. If you don't, and you get it, you start foamin' at the mouth and go mad. You try to bite everbody. And they have to tie you up to keep you from bitin' somebody else. Then you die.
Takin' a bat in your hand is like pickin' up a poison snake. It would be like if you was walkin' along and seen a copperhead layin' on the ground and stooped down and picked it up. That run through my mind. There ain't no way I would do a thing like that. Pick up a snake? Not me. But there I was, holdin' this bat in my hand.
I could see it had a mouthful of little sharp teeth. What if this thing bites me, I thought? I'll have to take them rabies shots to keep from goin' mad.
Even if they wouldn't bite you, bats is creepy lookin' little things. This one was. Dark brown fur all over it, beady little black eyes and them leathery-lookin' wings. It looked like somethin' the devil would raise up, somethin' he would use to herd the wicked along on their way to hell.
And here I was, holdin' it in my hand.
I couldn't help but notice how light it was. It was like there wasn't really anything to it. Like it didn't weigh nothin'. It was just . . . well, it's hard to explain. It was kinda like it was there but at the same time it wasn't really there atall. I could see it and feel it, but it was like if I turned it loose, if I dropped it, it was so light it would just float away on the air.
I held it cupped in my hand so it couldn't wiggle around and get me with them teeth. And it felt good to the touch. That surprised me. It was real soft and furry, like a little baby mouse or somethin'. In fact, it sorta reminded me of a mouse, a mouse with wings. Except for the nose. A mouse has got a pointy nose but this bat's nose was more squared off on the end, more like a pig's nose. It was ugly as sin. But ugly or not, I sorta liked the way it felt.
It fluttered a little, tryin' to get away, and I had to be careful not to squeeze it and hurt it. I didn't want it to bite me but I didn't want to hurt it either. It wasn't doin' me no harm. It was just hangin' up there on the back porch.
I wondered what it was doin' up there. They say bats live in caves, but they ain't no caves around here. Maybe if there ain't no caves for 'em to get in, they try and find a dark place up in a barn loft or, if they can find a way in, up in somebody's attic. I guess most people wouldn't want bats livin' in their house, but I didn't care. If you don't go 'round takin' ahold of 'em, they won't bother you.
You hear these stories about vampire bats, the kind that swoops down on your neck and drinks your blood, but I don't put much stock in stuff that. I ain't never heard about a bat botherin' anybody up here in Gump Holler. If they was bats bitin' people up here, word would get around purty fast. I was purty shore this one wasn't no vampire. In fact, the only vampire I ever heard about was that Count Dracula feller and he lived plum across the ocean, over there in Pennsylvania.
I doubt if there's any of them blood sucker bats anywhere around here. I think the ones from up in these parts eat bugs. They fly around in the dark and catch skeeters and junebugs and things like that. And that's a good thing. Anything that eats bugs has got my vote.
He was still ugly, still scary lookin', but I decided I liked this little bat I had in my hand. Lord knows I ain't one to go pointin' fingers 'cause somethin's ugly or scary lookin'. If I did, I'd have to start wearin' a sack over my head. But I still had the same problem. Now that I had taken ahold of it, how was I gonna turn the bat loose? If I just opened my hand, it might bite me and give me some disease. I couldn't turn it upside down and hang it back up on that rafter. But I couldn't just stand there holdin' it all day either. I had to do somethin'.
I was tryin' to think it out when Rosebud come up behind me and snorted. I was already tensed up and when she let out that snort, I jumped and let it go. He went flutterin' away. I stood there and watched him till he got to the woods and went out of sight. Kinda hated to see him go.
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