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An Attic Adventure (by Gary Anderson)

If you have an attic in your house, you may be able to identify with this story, since there are things that happen in attics that wouldn’t seem possible anywhere else. If you can relate, you have my deepest sympathy.

Back when I was married, my wife’s rich Uncle Wayne was coming to visit one day, so we thought it might be in our favor to display a picture he’d given us the Christmas before. We thought about where we might have stored it and seemed to vaguely recall seeing it in the attic. Then we drew straws to see who’d go up and look. (Actually, she showed me a straw, broke it two, then handed me the short piece, saying, “Just bring the picture into the kitchen when you’ve found it so I can clean it up.”)

Truth be told, I didn’t mind. I was the man of the house, after all, and dealing with scary stuff was my jobóexcept door-to-door salesmenómy wife always handled them.

I squeezed through the tiny door that led to the attic, and since there was no light fixture in there, I was carrying one of our “black hole” flashlightsóyou know, the kind that has a huge black spot in the middle when you shine it on the wall, which meant you could never point it straight at whatever you wanted to see. You had to shine it slightly to the side.

I swung the flashlight back and forth, slapping it every few seconds with the palm of my hand to keep it from dying altogether. My resolve was weakening by the moment, running neck-and-neck with the flashlight, when I heard a noiseóyou know, the kind of noise the idiot movie hero hears when he ventures into a dark place only an fool would go by himself.

I listened closely, then turned toward the sound. I put on my bravest face, until I remembered that no one could see my brave faceóor any other kind of face, for that matteróin the darkness.

Suddenly I came face to face with a pair of beady eyes, staring blankly into mine. It was a bat, hanging from a rafter. I froze in my tracks, and to my surprise the bat froze, tooóbut for different reasons. I was frozen with fright, but he was frozen from being dead for I could only guess how long. I looked around to make sure I was really alone, since my wife and kids had already gathered enough “idiot moments” to compile a book on me that would rival Gone With the Wind.

Once I started breathing again, I reached out and was just plucking the mummified little creature from its perchówhen I heard another noiseóthis time the eerie sound of someone calling my name from somewhere in the stifling blackness. That was itóUncle Wayne’s picture would have to wait. I wasn’t going to spend another moment in that attic. I headed for the little doorway and thrust my head out into the hallway, gasping for airóonly to see my wife, holding Uncle Wayne’s picture and smiling.
“Look, hon!” she said happily. “I found it behind the hamper in the laundry room.”

I was tempted to produce the bat and concoct a whopper about how I’d braved the threat of rabies to subdue it, but I decided against it. Instead, I just nodded and said, “That’s wonderful.”

As I write this story, I can look to my left and see a reminder of that attic adventure. It’s the mummified bat, still frozen in the same poseómuch like the picture of Uncle Wayne, wherever he may beóand it makes me smile. At least that was one idiot story that didn’t make the family albumóand of course you won’t tell anyone, right?

Freelance writer and editor Gary Anderson has published four books of Iowa humor and inspiration. He also owns and a publishing company, Paradise Creek Books.|

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