Joseph Farley

The Great Turd of Babylon

It fell from the sky and landed in the center of town.

Everyone could tell it was shit. The smell alone made that clear.

It was too big too have fallen from the ass of man or bird or elephant. After investigation of the turd, prodding with sticks and much debate it was agreed it must have come from the gods – all or one of them that had recently eaten a big dinner.

Since the source was divine the turd needed to be protected. A wall was built around it. The wall evolved over years, through add-ons and public works projects, into a temple, the Great Shrine of the Turd. 

This was in the early years of the town, before it became a city.

The temple continued to grow, as did its fame and the number of pilgrims who came to take a whiff of heaven. A second story was added. Then a third. The temple towered above the date trees.

Centuries passed before the odor dissipated. Once the stink was gone, and the turd had broken down into a pile of mud, the population began to forget why the temple had been built and to what purpose. New legends grew and became myths woven into local religion and culture.

Pilgrims still visited out of habit. It was something you did. Mom had done it and grandpa and grandma and generations of sandalled and barefoot ancestors before them. It was tradition after all. 

Besides the garden was nice. It grew at the center of the temple where the ceiling was open to the sky. All kind of flowers and fruit trees blossomed there. The priests had to water the plants every day, it was a hot climate after all, but they never had to add fertilizer. That was the miracle of the thing. The big draw. That undying garden in the desert, inside the ancient temple, hidden away in the old section of town, between the goat market and the used camel lot.

The entry fee was reasonable. Offerings of any size were also welcome, whether feathered or scaled or covered with fur.

For a small piece of copper or a chicken egg local artists will, with charcoal on a piece of broken pottery, draw a picture for a pious visitor. A keep sake. The pilgrim, with a big smile, and the garden behind. Something to put on the mantelpiece when they get back to the village. Something to show the grandkids and great grandkids. 

The temple is a must see when you visit the city. It says so on all the guide stelae. Good for the economy too. Check out the food stalls in the area while you are there. You can taste local delicacies straight off the hoof with lentils on the side for a reasonable price. There are discounts if you get you hand stamped at the temple.

On rare days when a priest or acolyte leave the temple their bodies are covered in sheep skins. When asked why, they can’t give a full answer. The reasons are lost in the past, wrapped up now in the current mysteries, which don’t make a lot of sense when you think about them. The best response you will get from a priest is along the lines of ‘in case something falls from the sky.” Makes sense really if you know the whole story. Who wants to get shit on them? Even if it is holy.

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