BATS 2018 -Forty new pages with forty new outrages! Buy your copy on Amazon!

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Something dark fluttered by Jonathan’s taxi window and grinned and flipped him off with both third fingers at the tip of its wings, startling him. “Whatever it was” had disappeared in a blink. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), by Johann Strauss, played jauntily on the taxi’s radio as the driver tapped the beat with his long nails on the steering wheel. The evening’s thunderclouds began to settle for the night. Ridges of towering cliffs bookmarked by waterfalls began to unfold. The monumental pages of the old Carpathian Mountains, ghostly white and empty, were wide open in expectation of a new chapter. Young Jonathan decided that he needed to write to his willowy Mina. Oh, how he missed her. Within the shadow of the mountains, he expected the phone signal to be weak. Jonathan texted Mina: “I am near Poenari and closer to learning the truth about Huthbert and Penelope. I’m so happy. I can’t think of anything else as exciting. ”

Mina responded with a simple photo which only hinted to Jonathan that she may, or may not, be wearing any underwear.

Ahead, at Poenari, the ancient butler Huthbert’s remaining ear perked up as Jonathan, a teacher of Elizabethan literature, picked up his copy of Great Love Letters for inspiration, and read aloud the tragic, incomplete, war correspondence between two eighteenth-century lovers known as Lord Huthbert and Lady Penelope.

April 32, 1779

Dearest Darling Penelope,

The artillery has stopped momentarily. As I lie awake in my muddy foxhole beneath the night sky of Ghoolkhamish, gazing upon your portrait in my hand—alas, my angel, I can only think of you.

When I come home, my dearest, though it may be five years from this day, I promise we shall marry. Your father hates me, I know, as does your dog (a part of whose jaw is still attached to my buttock). Despite what your husband thinks, I know that we can make this marriage work. Though I lost half my face, one-third of my manhood, and a nipple in the bloody trenches of Dyfthphedif, I promise that the cottage I have purchased will be a happy one, surrounded by the warm laughter of children, or—at the very least—very immature adults.

How is your cough, my angel? I was distressed to find that your last correspondence had a small bloody piece of your lung stuck to it, sweetheart. Please hang on to God’s precious gift of life until I can limp to your side.

Your precious letters warm my heart, darling. I smell your perfume and, with a shield between my mouth and the envelope, kiss the lipstick on the seal before I dream my happy dreams every night.

With my good arm, I long to hug you and keep you warm, even when you cough (though, alas, I regret, there will be no deep intertwining of tongues).

All my love, yours forever,

Huthbert

Poenari Castle’s broken silhouette passed hundreds of feet above Jonathan, framed by the rising moon and the black branches reaching out in “velcome.” The handsome laid back, mellow, and easygoing smasher-of-heads-against-breakwaters-and-pavement ex-lifeguard peered through the glass, breathless. The rain, thick as plasma, began to block his view from the taxi.

Despite the increasingly narrow passages, looming mountains and biblical weather, he texted Mina another time.

Bună ziua! (Good evening!) I am now in Romania near Poenari Castle. Up until now there has been no actual Wi-Fi. Earlier the driver, who wears a black  mask, told me about a free service called Si-Fi that has to do with antennas placed on, of all things, bats! I am well. In fact, I am even cooler than I was last month…and that’s pretty cool!

Cele mai bune urări (Best wishes),

Jonathan

Due to the inclement weather, Mina’s attempt to answer Jonathan’s  ‘panty’ question, with another photo, that either failed to send or was intercepted by Interpol. 

The driver looked into the rear-view mirror and wondered, Is my passenger still…alive? He turned his head 360 degrees around, then another 180 degrees toward Jonathan and asked, “Are you there…sir? Let it be known, young sir, that breathing may attract a variety of…undesirables.” In the Prince’s hemorrhaging neck of the woods, breathing was regarded as overrated.

A long exhalation of foul human breath rushed from the backseat.

What the heaven has this kid been eating? Plants? “Look, young sir!” said the driver. “Ve’re almost home! Ve’ll get you something real to eat. Something varm that vill grow hair on your palms.”

“I’m a vegetarian, sir. I won’t eat anything with a face.”

Oy. Vun of those! The driver thought. “No problem young man. We can alvays rip off the face!”