Homeless Bob had a beastly itch. He shoved his hand down the front of his pants, not caring that he was standing at a crowded bus stop on a busy intersection. He began to scratch himself. The initial rakes from his bite-trimmed nails brought him some relief, but not enough, so he started anew with ferocious vigor.
His body odor alone was enough to keep people at least a foot away. This radius increased as the sight of his arm thrusting up and down into his trousers made those nearby take at least one step back and often two. Homeless Bob was unconcerned. He had lice and they needed to be dealt with. It was not long before the poppyseed-like bite scabs in his nether regions began to fetch loose and have the wounds bleed anew.
“Hoo doggy! I got me a Crab Nebula going on down there,” Homeless Bob said to no one in particular.
The bus pulled up and people crowded around its front and rear doors to board, hoping that Homeless Bob would not be joining them. They need not have worried. Although he often rode the bus and not pay the fare and sometimes would be confronted by a ticket inspector and given a fine, which he would also not pay, it was not going to happen this time. He had just pulled his hand from his pants and was too busy inspecting what was under his fingernails to bother with public transit.
There was uprooted pubic hair, dead skin, dried blood, not so dried blood, and a single louse that had gotten evicted by the scratching. Its tiny legs vainly attempted to gain purchase on thin air, but it seemed to be in pretty good shape for having survived a literal bloodbath.
“Howdy little feller,” Homeless Bob said to his newfound friend. “I think I’ll name you Buster, Buster Crab. Get ready for blastoff, Flash Gordon.” And with a flick of his finger, he sent Buster airborne. The trajectory carried the insect over several feet of concrete before landing on the head of the last passenger to board the bus. Buster held on for dear life and would soon settle into its new home where it would feed and lay eggs.
The bus pulled away and Homeless Bob was left standing there all alone. Though perhaps he was not as alone as he first imagined. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a bowel movement laying on the sidewalk. It was not terribly remarkable in itself, a single sausage-link deposit with a size and coloration consistent with having been produced by a human. It was an altogether typical sight in this part of the city except for one thing: It was not there just a moment ago.
Homeless Bob was certain about this. Life on the streets required a certain level of situational awareness just to survive so someone dropping a stool would not have escaped his notice. Besides, no one who got on the bus would have done such a thing. The only probable suspect was Homeless Bob himself and he was able to vouch for his whereabouts.
Yet the poo was right there plain as day. He could not deny its existence. It merely had no explainable origin, no past. Homeless Bob remembered this Sherlock Holmes quote:
“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
It stands to reason, Homeless Bob concluded, that something that exists in the present, but did not in the past, must have come from the future. This was not just a poo he was looking at. It was a future poo.
The question remaining was why. What possible reason could people have to send their poo into the past? When Homeless Bob was younger and not yet homeless, he used to hurl his feces at old people for sport, but he had a suspicion there was something more significant at stake here. There had to be something very wrong with this poo, something that required its total removal by any means necessary.
Homeless Bob crouched down and scraped a small amount of the poo onto his fingernail. He then waved the sample under his nose and sniffed. Not surprisingly, it smelled like poo. He poked at the sample with the tip of his tongue. It tasted like poo as well. The smell and the taste did seem a little off, but he couldn’t tell exactly how. To find the answer, he had to make use of his keenest sense, his sense of pain.
Homeless Bob, like most homeless people, did not have a dental plan. As a result, his upper-left canine had rotted and had half of it broken off, leaving the nerve exposed. When he pressed the turd dollop on his finger against that nerve, the effect was immediate. A white-hot arc of agony shot between his tooth and brain. It was the brilliance of that arc that shined a light on the truth about future poo and once illuminated, that truth became both irrefutable and obvious.
“It has no nutrients!” Homeless Bob cried.
What made shit worth a shit, he figured, was its being a natural fertilizer. We eat and make poo. That poo goes into the ground where it helps grow the food that we eat. And round and round it goes.
Until it doesn’t. Human beings are a greedy bunch who are always finding new ways to skim off the top. In time, we would no doubt find a way to extend that to the very food we ate. That had to be what happened here. After multiple laps around the track, poo would eventually be robbed of what made it good fertilizer and it would become as useless as unrecyclable plastic. Landfills would brim beyond capacity with the stuff and humankind might well be faced with its own extinction if no one had invented the time machine along the way.
The past would become their new landfill, but it too would fill up after a while. Homeless Bob decided then that he was not going to wait around until the city streets became nostril deep in future poo. He had to do something, but what? How do you stop a crime when the perpetrators haven’t even been born yet? Well, maybe some of them have. Seeing a woman pushing a baby carriage, he picked the poo up off the ground and made his move.
The woman stopped in her tracks and her eyes widened when she saw the shabby man approach her with excrement in his outstretched hand. Homeless Bob saw this and realized that despite his good intentions, he sometimes had an unnerving effect on people.
“Cool your tits, lady. You’re too old for what I’m after. It’s your baby I’m interested in,” he said, hoping these words would calm her.
Homeless Bob saw the baby as an ambassador to the future and a possible connection between the present and the posterior of posterity that will one day birth this future poo. He knew it was a long shot. The dawning of the future-poo era might be centuries away. However, it was a chance he had to take.
He looked at the sleeping infant in gender-identifying blue pajamas. This was an ugly baby, uglier than most, but Homeless Bob needed a messenger, not a model. The trick was getting the baby to understand. He couldn’t simply explain himself, not to a kid who was too young to know how to talk. He needing him to reach that as he had, through profound discomfort.
Tooth decay on a par with Homeless Bob was out of the question, but the kid was probably the right age for teething pain. That would have to do. He scraped a fresh sample of future poo onto the tip of his finger and stuck it in the baby’s mouth.
“What the hell are you doing?” the woman screamed even though the answer was quite obvious.
“Back off, bitch. I’ve got a gun,” Homeless Bob said. He disliked having to lie to her, but it was a fib told in the service of imparting a greater truth, which made it OK.
The baby was awake now, wide eyed and vainly trying to force the finger out of his mouth with his little tongue.
“Ah ah ah, not until you’ve seen the light,” Homeless Bob said and pushed his finger in deeper. Tiny tonsils contracted involuntarily around the fingertip, which prompted him to remark, “Way to shake hands with it, kiddo. You’ll make a fine altar boy one day.”
Homeless Bob made eye contact with the baby and it was clear that the point had made. There was such seething hatred in those young eyes. It was obvious that the baby loathed future poo as much as Homeless Bob did. There could be no other explanation. Feeling satisfied, Homeless Bob pulled his finger from the baby’s mouth and wiped a shit-and-spit “V” for victory on the blue pajamas.
“Just one more thing,” Homeless Bob said. “Both you and this poo belong to the future. You’re going to have to take it with you.” He drove his finger into the future poo and dug out not just a sample but rather a big, thick wedge. He changed hands this time because he thought it would be more sanitary.
“Hey lady, you want to help getting the diapers off? I kind of have my hands full here.” He certainly did. Most of the future poo rested in the palm of one hand except for the freshly dug wedge on the crooked finger of the other. This finger had a hangnail that looked fully capable of slicing through any piece of sphincter that refused to yield.
When the woman did not answer, Homeless Bob looked around and saw that the woman had flagged down a police car and was was gesticulating wildly at the two officers inside.
The cops emerged from the black and white. One was a policeman who was built more or less like Rosie O’Donnell and the other was a policewoman who was built more or less like Rosey Grier. Officer Grier moved off to the side out of Homeless Bob’s field of vision while Officer O’Donnell stood front and center with one hand raised in the air.
“Stop what you’re doing,” the policeman said. “I just want to talk.”
“Well that’s splendid,” Homeless Bob said. “I appreciate it when law enforcement is willing to listen to reason. It benefits you as well. It will save you the embarrassment of arresting me when you’ll just end up letting me go. Now I’m sure there’s a law on the books about shoving things up a baby’s ass and it’s probably is a very good law. The problem is that it doesn’t apply here. Poo is defined as a substance that has come from pooping. Am I correct, officer?”
“Sure,” the policeman said.
“Well then, what I am holding is future poo. The pooping has not yet happened ergo the poo does not yet exist ergo any laws involving this poo are not yet enforceable. I’m sorry this woman wasted your time. Maybe you can arrest her for crying wolf.”
Homeless Bob smiled and nodded at the policeman, who smiled and nodded. Well that wasn’t so hard. Homeless Bob congratulated himself for being a veritable Perry Mason, which continued until Officer Grier came up behind him and put him in a chokehold.
He struggled in the policewoman’s grasp, but she was too strong for him. Saliva bubbled from between her clenched teeth as she tightened her grip. He grimaced. She grunted. He passed out. She belched out a chuckle.
Officer O’Donnell took a brief statement from the woman while Officer Grier loaded an unconscious Homeless Bob into the back of the police car. Soon the cops and their suspect were gone, leaving the woman to take deep breaths and try to regain her composure.
The next sound heard came from the baby carriage, but it was not the sound a baby would make. It had a deeper voice. It sounded gravely from years of drinking and tobacco use.
“What the fuck was that shit?” it said.
“Not another word, Time Dwarf,” the woman said. “You know you’re under orders not to talk.”
“But you saw what he did to me.”
“But nothing. I swear to Christ if you blow our cover, I’ll make sure you’re brought up on charges and executed by the High Command. Now shut up while I report the situation to HQ.” She began talking into her wristwatch. “This is Field Agent Dietrich. It looks like our operation has been exposed. You’ll have to suspend fecal transfer until you get the all clear. Fortunately, the arresting officers were two of ours. They’ll make sure he dies in custody so you shouldn’t have to wait too long.”