“The devil gets up to the belfry by the vicar’s skirts”
“If our condition were truly happy, we would not seek diversion from it
in order to make ourselves happy”
Let’s deviate today to a little humor shall we…
obviously from this tale, it has been needed…
Growing up I attended the Cathedral of St Philip…
the Episcopal Cathedral in Atlanta.
“St Phil on the hill,” as it has always been lovingly called by both member and local Atlantan alike,
has sat perched atop this particualr hill in Atlanta, acting as a sentinel and beckoning lighthouse looking out majestically over Peachtree road toward downtown Atlanta, since 1960…
The current very English, very Anglican gothic church replaced a small gray stone church that had moved to the present location in 1933 with the original St Philip having been erected in downtown Atlanta in 1848.
At the time, to my youthful mind, this church of mine, with that towering bell tower,
sans any bells, had to be full of bats, right?
When I was in high school and active in the youth group there at the Cathedral, a group of us decided to dub ourselves The Bats in the Belfry, or BITB for short.
Our hijinks and innocent shenanigans were well known to the reigning clergy at the time as we would often decorate the parking lot and various rooms, offices and the parsonage late at night..
or we’d leave little notes, balloons, confetti in and around the church grounds proclaiming our nighttime presence at church.
Given what we could have been doing during those disco psychedelic days of the early 70’s, I think the clergy was more than grateful that we wanted to “hang out” on church property….
It became a personal quest of ours to figure out how to climb up to the bell tower,
up to the very tip top…as bats always needed their bell towers…
To finally put to rest our / my persistent clambering about the bellower, bats and why were there no bells in a church bell tower, one of the priests, with permission of his superior, my godfather the then acting dean of the Cathedral, took us on a late afternoon climb. A feat most likely impossible today given insurance regulations and safety codes…
but this was in the good ol days of ignorance….
We had to climb up a back set of stairs leading to the back upper choir loft…next through a hidden door in the paneled wall leading to the organ pipes for the small adjacent chapel.
Then it was through another hidden door in the rich wooden panelling into a tall narrow opening complete with metal ladder welded to the long shaft.
Upon climbing the ladder we reached another metal door attached to the stone wall that our priest and guide had to unlock with a key
Finally clamoring out of the shaft we found ourselves standing in the vastly
expansive and very empty bell tower itself.
But our journey was not yet over.
Along one wall of the bell tower was another long ascending metal ladder.
Briefly forgetting my fear of heights, one by one, we began climbing upward.
At the top of the ladder, high above the floor of the empty bell tower,
we reached once again another metal door.
As our priest and guide unlocked this final door,
our motley crew emerged out into the balmy Atlanta night sky.
We had finally reached our destination.
The very tip top of the Cathedral’s towering bell tower—
as we were rewarded with a beautiful vista of a 1970’s something glistening skyline of Atlanta…
Now let us fast forward 40 years or so to last night in my den.
You remember that story from a week or so ago about the bat right?
The bat that decided to make my back deck his daytime bedroom?
The post retelling how I had to wait for the bat fly out in search of a nighttime meal..
all the while as I sprayed said bedroom with hornet spray…
just so he’d decide not to come back….
Well it worked.
He didn’t come back.
So back to last night…
Here it was, about 10:30 PM last night…
My husband was dozing sweetly in his recliner,
as I was perched on the couch watching football…
One cat nestled placidly on my lap as the other lounged on the back of the couch.
I was in mid debate as to whether or not I should head to the shower and then off to bed…
as it had been a very long day with Dad and the CT scans and our son’s apartment….
when suddenly Percy,
my oh so faithful watch cat,
swivels around in my lap, cocking his head upward at a 90 degree angle.
Thinking he’s spotted an errant wasp that often escapes from the fireplace having come down the chimney,
I cast my gaze upward.
Our’s is a den with a cathedral ceiling…with a brick fireplace and chimney that reaches the
full height of the room.
Way up on the top where brick meets moulding sat a brown object…
hunkered up tightly between brick and moulding
Immediately I hear a familiar voice screaming
“GREGORY THERE IS A BAT!!!!!!!!!!!”
as in it was my voice…
My husband who has now been jolted from his peaceful snore-laddened slumber,
thinks there’s been a home invasion or the start of WWIII…
He jumps up looking for intruder or war…
“IT’S A BAT!!!!!!”
Are you sure???
“HELL YES I”M SURE!!!!!!”
This as I’m scooping up two wide eyed cats and throwing them in the bedroom slaming shut the door,
keeping them locked away from what I’m assuming is rabies with wings gracing my den….
I hear myself scream as my husband just stands there mumbling something about
“how in the world did that get in here?”
Whereas I am not concerned with the hows of the moment,
I am however more concerned with rabies and parasites and bacteria, and poop,
and sharp little teeth flying down on my head.
I flip on every light in the house—they hate light right?
I’M GETTING THE HORNET SPRAY”
I hear myself shout.
No you’re not!
You’re not spraying a can of poison all in the house.
“BUT IT SHOOTS 20ft”
I again hear myself scream.
GUN!!!! GET A GUN!!!!!!
again with the out of body screaming.
“Shoot it in the house?”
I hear my incredulous husband ask.
I continue hearing panic controlling the situation as I think we are all
about to have to endure $50,000 rounds of rabies shots that insurance will not cover.
My husband goes to the basement to find my grandfather’s century old 22 rifle
while I grab two crab nets…
You know the nets used to grab crabs…
I also grab the BB gun…just incase.
I did teach riflery at a girl’s summer camp 100 years ago….
My husband climbs the stairs to our second floor where he positions himself,
with trusty century old gun, up against the opening to the den below
in order to steady his shot.
He is now just slightly below said bat…yet at a slight distance.
This is were the PETA folks must turn away—
if there had been any other alternative,
I would have sought it as I don’t like hurting any living creature—
but the thought of bats and rabies in my house with both my husband, me and our cats…
left no other recourse….
mortar shards shoot outward as a brown lump drops like a brick to the floor below.
I hear coming from somewhere out of my mouth….
My husband yells for me to throw the net over it.
I survey the victim and it appears to be sufficiently deceased.
My husband scoops it up using my two nets asking where I want it.
Are you freaking kidding me????
Take it outside to the other side of the driveway in the grass at the pasture.
I can carry it off to the woods tomorrow or maybe a coyote will find it tonight.
What about your nets? my husband asks.
I’ll spray them with Clorox and leave them out ’till morning.
Early this morning, as my husband was about to leave for work, we walk over to where
the body of the victim was to be found…
yet, we find nothing.
My nets were still sitting in the driveway but there was no body, there is no bat.
“I bet he flew away” I hear my husband grouse.
“No, no” I counter, that thing was dead as a hammer.
As my husband goes to get in his truck, I amble over to the side of the driveway
to take a gander over at my lone potted tomato bush when something wiggling
by the side of the house in the pine straw catches my eye.
“GREGORY ITS THE BAT!!!!!!!!”
I hear myself scream.
Bless its heart, that bat scampered 50 feet from one side of the yard all the way back to the house….
and was now baring its fangs at me.
“GET THE NETS!!!!!”
I hear myself scream.
“Knock it in the head” I hear my husband holler.
Knock it in the head????
Are you freaking kidding me?
It’s not a bug!!
I’m not about to club anything in the head.
That would be cold blooded murder….
I think we already tried that murder thing.
I scoop up the bat gingerly into the two nets as my husband readies a box.
My head is turned as not to see this unsightly sight.
I throw bat and both nets into the box and slam the top shut.
“What about your nets?” my husband asks.
“I don’t want them…”
“Now will you please take this box, bat and nets to the dump” I hear myself calmly demand.
This as I now wonder how I ever had such a fascination for bats….
as find myself somewhat relieved for this latest slight diversion to my otherwise crazy life….