I was walking to the grocery store a couple of weeks before the end of the year when I made a discovery that was odd at the time, and would become more perplexing later.
There is a fenced-in parking lot that I pass on the left side of the street when I go to my usual supermarket. As I approached it that day, a patchy tortoiseshell cat trotted across the street from an apartment building and went under a car. I love cats but don’t have one, so when I got to the parking lot, I knelt down next to the fence to say hello.
The cat was there and the cat was cute. The cat also had a friend. Just behind it, nestled up next to the right rear wheel of the car, was someone’s sex toy.
It had a rough-around-the-edges DIY vibe to it: a pink plasticine protuberance that had the disconcerting appearance of having been faithfully based on a young child’s drawing, one in which they regularly overran a shaky outline while coloring it in with a mauve crayon.
I took a picture of the scene and sent it to a friend who I thought would enjoy it, then continued on to the store, chuckling to myself as I went.
The car and the ersatz appendage remained where they were for the next two weeks. The car was the first to go, leaving its little companion looking particularly forlorn without even a shadow in which to hide its shame. It sat there cold, alone, and exposed in the winter air for a few more days before also disappearing.
What had been its provenance? How had it even wound up there? These questions circulated in my mind.
It couldn’t have come from an actual sex shop. It seemed to clearly have been molded by hand in something like a thin plastic sandwich bag that left a strange webwork of ridges and grooves on its shiny surface. It sported an anemic-looking suction cup on its base that could have easily been borrowed from some dusty old automotive accessory.
Its girth was ambitious.
If it really had been handmade, under what circumstances? Who would put such an effort into crafting a homegrown phallus in a city with numerous multiple-story shops specializing in adult goods? And then only to discard it in a public place? Why not in the trash?
I constructed various origin stories for it.
A weary middle-aged salaryman, whose secret daydream fantasies took hold of his overtired mind one evening on the train and compelled him to craft this personal accessory in the small hours of the night as his family slept. He and his wife had slept in separate rooms for years, owing to the consistent late nights of his working life, so the glow of his lamp aroused no suspicion as it leaked under the bedroom door.
He regretted making it almost as soon as he finished it. What if someone found out he had done such a thing? He couldn’t so much as look at it straight, let alone test it. He wanted it to disappear. There was no way he could keep it at home, it could be discovered by his wife as she cleaned, or worse, by his teenage daughter looking for something. Nor could he just throw it away. It might become visible thorough the clear plastic bag as its contents shifted, and further, he feared it being discovered in the burnable trash some sunny morning when a crow liberated it while in pursuit of food scraps.
So it traveled with him in his work bag for several days, wrapped in a sad old hand towel and buried under a tattered sheaf of redacted legal papers. The excitement he felt when creating it had fully congealed into paranoia and dread, the unmentionable object turning from blushing pink plastic into the leaden tones of shame in his mind as his enthusiasm evaporated totally.
At the end of the third day of the object being shuttled about in secret, lint steadily accumulating in its crevices, he found himself on an empty street well after midnight. He had taken the last train and debarked at Musashi Urawa. He noted a dense tangle of brambles taking over the side of an abandoned home.
Without even a fully formed thought, only an impulse, he rummaged for the thing and identified it by touch. In a single motion, he withdrew it from his satchel and flung it at the thorny mass. In his mind, it had been a perfect shot. In reality, he had terrible aim and it ricocheted off a nearby utility pole. It wound up being redirected into the parking lot to his right, landing on its side and rolling under a white sedan as if it were a bald rat with a swollen head scurrying into the darkness.
Just then, another pedestrian rounded the corner, headed his way. He immediately abandoned any remaining intention and quickly turned towards home, walking as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself. He could not allow the other man to overtake him. He might see his face, and in doing so, he might know the truth.
This was one possibility.
Wherever it had come from, it was gone. Had it been retrieved by its remorseful maker? Or had some enervated attendant from the lot management company come by and dealt with it? There was no way to know. The only apparent truth was its absence.
Until it came back.
In early February, a white sedan was again parked in the same corner space. It appeared to be the same car as before, but I couldn’t be sure. A few days later, the phallus too reappeared, with roughly the same placement as before.
It was the same strange object, of that I was certain, just as I was sure that it had actually disappeared from the parking lot in the interim. It hadn’t drifted over into the weeds or been rolled under an adjacent car by the wind. It had gone. And now it had come back.
Was someone deliberately dicking with the driver? Trolling with a tadger? Who stalks a car with a dildo?
Since then, other cars have come and gone, and the curious object has stayed put, appearing quietly resigned to its resting place. The last I saw, it was still sitting there under a heavily overcast sky, looking pitiful and inert in a way that maybe only an abandoned homemade sex toy can do.