March 16, 2010

Storm Drain

by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

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


Within minutes

a crowd gathered in the street

and with no yellow-tape-answers forthcoming,

speculation begin.

It’s a child’s body!

It’s Hoffa!

It’s long forgotten stolen bank haul!

It’s the family dog that hasn’t been seen

in weeks!

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

in between.

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.

Just then,

a kid about my age

on a bike pulls up

and asks:

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 news.

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.


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