The police cordoned off the area around the storm drain
out front my house
when I was ten
and would not let anyone know what had been found floating
a crowd gathered in the street
and with no yellow-tape-answers forthcoming,
It’s a child’s body!
It’s long forgotten stolen bank haul!
It’s the family dog that hasn’t been seen
Out of the way, it must be my dog!
The old lady in front claims she caught a partial glimpse
of an alien space craft down there
when she passed over it the previous day
That’s preposterous, says another onlooker
a city planner I know assured me our storm drains
were built to withstand an alien attack.
The shell shocked solider in a blue cap
and overalls begins waving wildly:
It’s the Communists,
or the terrorists,
no, it’s the Communists…
Or the Chinese…
The Chinese?, some other woman mutters in a panic
The woman ponders for a second
then whispers to her friend
and I can not make out the whisperings as they get more frequent
and make their way throughout the ranks
of the crowd.
I am ten
and excited by the ad hoc broken telephone game
that has sprouted up out of the uncertainty
of the moment.
I wait impatiently for the wild eyed whisperings to make their way
around to me
and by the time they do, the Chinese in the storm drain
have once again become Communists
and likely a few other incarnations
Although the man beside me says the Communists
are armed with red spiked helmets
and a cache of stolen grenade launchers,
I think his imagination lacking
and determine to correct his shortcoming.
a kid about my age
on a bike pulls up
Hey, what’s going on?
I lean in and whisper to him
that a reliable source had just confirmed
there is a man eating alligator on the loose
in the storm drain out front my house
and that he has a mouthful of Communist hostages
and is demanding a zillion dollars in unmarked bills
and a helicopter to take him
back to Florida.
The kid grows wild-eyed and cranes his neck back and forth
to get a better view.
When he cannot see anything,
he rides off excitedly to tell his friends
The next day at school
we are all asked to recount the story.
Only this time the Communists are gone,
and the overwhelming crowd consensus is
an angry weather balloon
in fishnet stockings.