The events described in this story are fictional. The author makes no assertion about the lives or characters of the real people whose names and identities she has used in the writing of this story, and makes no money from it.

Bat Care for Beginners

Dom keeps baby bats under his jacket. Their names are Esmeralda, Ivan and Commodore Stevens. He feeds them on specially prepared bat-mix, and sometimes sandwiches. Occasionally Skittles.

When Dom hears Elijah's car outside in the street, he scoops up the bats from their place above the kitchen sink, and ushers them into the darkness between jacket and shirt. They attach to the shiny fabric with their sharp little claws. They try to bite his fingers with their nippy little teeth. He buzzes Elijah up and leaves the door open for him.

"Hey," says Elijah, handing him a horse. "I brought you a horse."

"Hiya," says Dom. He wriggles slightly.

Elijah looks worried. "Do you really think you should bring the bats out tonight? How do you know they're going to stay still? Don't bats like to fly around at night?"

"Don't worry." Dom smiles. "Everything's fine. Everything's under control."

Elijah takes Dom's wrist and holds it up, pushing back the jacket cuff. He rolls his eyes and sighs in irritation. "Yeah, I thought so."

"What?" Dom pulls his hand away and shoves it in his pocket.

"Get the bat book."


"Just g-- you gave them sugar again, didn't you?"

Dom looks at the floor. Esmeralda scratches gently at his chest.

When he looks up, Elijah is sitting on the couch, flipping through "Bat Care for Beginners".

"See?" he says, stabbing at a passage with his forefinger. "Sugar causes aggressive tendencies in bats! You made them high, Dom! High and fucking evil. Keep them off the sugar and they'll stop biting you."

Commodore Stevens flips out from the bottom of Dom's jacket and up onto his hand. He strokes her delicate body and suede-soft wings, nudges her gently back into the darkness.

"I didn't give them much," he says.

Elijah looks at him.

"Anyway," says Dom, "they're not your bats."

"Whatever." Elijah stands, dropping the book back onto the couch cushions. "Anyway, come on, or we'll be late. And don't forget your horse."

Elijah taps his fingers on the wheel, lets a cigarette fly in a shower of sparks from the window. Dom looks at him out of the corner of his eye, as Ivan shuffles under his jacket, flutters against the inside of a pocket.

"Maybe I shouldn't have brought them," he says.

"Hey." Elijah shrugs. "They're your bats."

"Yeah, but..."

Elijah reaches out, eyes still on the road, and takes Dom's wrist in his hand. He runs a thumb gently over the skin.

"You should probably put something on that," he says.