There were a series of horrible thumping sounds. Dull and hollow. I looked around. Large clumps of something were falling from the sky, crashing onto the pavement and parked cars with sickening thuds and bonks followed by splat noises. These were gruesome, rueful splats. Wet splats. Sloppy, unorganized, random splats – as if sent from the collective unconscious. They might haunt me forever. A loose, wet splashing sound as if something released from the soul – a warning, an omen. I crouched and frantically looked about, for we were under attack. But by what and by whom? What was their purpose, their objective? Who could ever imagine to release such absurdities?
As I looked around I saw others running, crouching, praying. A large clump landed by me with a heavy whump. I crawled over to it, on the side of the street. It was a large clump of dung. Fresh, wet dung. Maybe it was brand new dung, or maybe it was days old, only someone, someone clever, had reconstituted it with water, bringing it back to life, making it heavier, more dense, making it sound much much worse, the type of sound that would invade your soul and come back to remind you in those quiet moments when everyone has left you. It was the kind of sound that reminded you that you were born to die alone. All alone.
I couldn’t tell what kind of dung it was, but obviously from some large animal – a cow, elephant, hippo, or moose. Probably a beast of burden. I looked up and around, bucket-sized splats of the crap lay heaped here and there – on the sidewalk, on an awning of a storefront, against buildings, on several cars – splats in the street which splashed up onto cars, splats on the sidewalk which splashed onto people and buildings. It was a terrifying sight – the enormity of it all, the randomness, the arbitrariness. It was too much to fathom. Who would do this? Teenagers? Naw, I doubt it. I didn’t know of any who had such ambitions or follow-through. Backwoods hillbillies? Maybe. They always seemed leery of us city folk. The unheeded bellows from an apocalyptic cult? Could be. College students out on a lark? Quite possible. Perhaps as part of a fraternity hazing ritual.
Then came the second wave, as if a reminder – as baffling and mind boggling as the first – a rain of old children’s toys – dolls, stuffed animals, cheap plastic toys – items we had abandoned, notions we had discarded. Followed by (what I assumed was) more dung – fresh, wet dung.
I saw a woman crouching against the side of a car, as if to cover herself. Mathematically she was probably in very little danger. Though the assault was quite thorough, persistent, and impressive in scope and volume, it was unlikely that a target as small as a person was in direct danger of being drenched completely in fresh, wet dung.
I crawled over to her as the horrible splat sounds rang out.
She was quivering, squirming, curled up, trying to cover herself. “Why? . . . Why?” she whispered and sobbed, as if some random, minor failing on her part had brought this on.
“It’s okay. It’s okay,” I repeated softly as I covered her protectively, sitting close and holding my jacket over her. “It’s only dung. . . . That’s all, just animal waste. . .” I tried to reassure her, “Organic matter. . . Biodegradable. . . Natural. . . Organic. . .”
She looked over at me and our eyes met. And it was as if it were meant to be. I wanted to turn away as her eyes were so green and perfect, with golden rings in the center in a slight sunburst pattern. Perfect. But I was too fascinated or captivated to turn away, or to run and hide like I usually do in these heavy moments, in moments too big to hold. I looked into her eyes in the most impolite of manners. Really, you should have pulled me away.
“R-R-Really?” she stammered.
“Yeah, sure, of course,” I shrugged. “It’s just dung, that’s all.” But my nerves betrayed my false bravery. I winced and flinched as each sickening, heavy, wet splat pierced my mind, penetrating into the very depths of my being, sinking down into my soul. I wanted to cry. I wanted to call my mother and have her reassure me, tell me everything was going well, that I wasn’t a complete and total failure as a person, that even though I couldn’t stop such crap storms, at least I could have the courage and dignity to face and weather them, see them through. I thought of this and rose from the pavement, gripping the woman’s hand and pulling her from the ground. “Get up,” I whispered, as if a suggestion, as if a call to action, “Let’s go,” I nodded. “Whatever happens, happens. . .” I shrugged. “Maybe it’s a sign, . . meant to be.” And we walked off, down the middle of the street. I didn’t take my eyes off of her eyes, I just couldn’t, as sharp, wet splats of dung echoed in the brick canyon around us.