The Backyard Zoo
by Jim Dunlap

Jim Dunlap     "Whose turn is it at bat?" A person carrying a plastic pet box asks that question as he entered the break room here at the center. There were confused looks coming from Schlotski's, Fang-Fang, Burger King, and McDonald's tainted faces of those of us eating our lunches around the table. Not being a baseball fan I just said, "What?"

     Chuckle, chuckle. Thousands of comedians out of work and then this. He got a laugh. I'm jealous. He put the critter box on the table. Peering from under a flap of baby diaper in the box was a tiny face covered with dust bunnies. It was a very small bat and of course I wanted to know where he came from and where he had been. The bat worked his way into a business building and had become trapped. He was noticed hanging from the acoustical tile in the corner of the ceiling. That explains the dust bunnies.

     An evening bat, not to be confused with the morning bat or the midnight to three-am bat, is one of the most common bats in the area. He is crepuscular; he likes to forage for food early morning and late evening. He dines upon bugs, flying ants, June beetles, and moths.

     I think I'll name him "Bat-At." There were two or three people later in the day that came by and asked, "Where's the bat at?" I spoke to one of those people and informed them that around here we never end a sentence with a preposition. He came back, "Ok, where's the bat at wiseguy?" I took Bat-At into the meadow at twilight and set him free. Parting is such sweet sorrow. I'm so full of compassion. My colleagues hear me say that and I hear them say yeah, I'm full of something but it trails off and I can't make out that last word.

Jim Dunlap,

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