William Fitzgerald Meets the Bat

Room, kitchen, room, and all of the windows were nailed shut, and all were boarded over or painted black, and the sound of hammering came through the walls. He dumped one of the rusted pots out on the dead man and smashed a blacked out window with it. The window did not break; the pot bounced back and wrenched his shoulder. He hurled the pot at the window and went into the kitchen. Table, country sink, cabinet; in the cabinet were more pots, dozens of them, all rusted and splotched. He turned on the cold tap in the sink — it was a metal wheel — dark and stinking water poured out. The sink slowly filled with water. It did not drain. The hammering stopped.

William Fitzgerald was angry. He wanted both coffee and scotch indiscriminately, he wanted his freedom, he wanted most destruction. The doors in the rooms led nowhere, led only from one to the other, so he began searching the walls, slowly, painstakingly, tap tap tap with his knuckles. He listened for echoes, hollow spots, denser portions of wall; he felt for changes in texture, differences in paint; he listened for a response. He found a closet hidden in the kitchen, behind the cabinet, filled with cobwebs and pieces of wood. A bat lay dead underneath all the wood, corpse half-grown into the floor, mouth open and sunken.

The hammering started again, arrhythmic, distant, mad.