It was dark. It was humid. It was March (I think).
I had just finished playing a two hour game of ultimate frisbee with my friends. We said our casual goodbyes and they walked in groups to their cars. I lingered.
Two others stood nearby, talking in hushed tones. We were waiting. We needed to be alone.
Finally, the last straggler departed. I walked over to my colleagues.
“Are you ready,” one asked. The girl. This was her plan.
“Almost.” We headed to my car where I slipped on a long sleeved black shirt and a black beanie. It wasn’t stealthy, exactly, but it helped me blend in with the night.
My friend handed me a paper bag. She carried a brownie tray. Our third friend, a guy, was empty handed.
We left our cars in the parking lot and headed down the street. We were about a quarter mile from our destination. In my gut fought feelings of panic and euphoria. I had never done anything like this before. If we were caught…no, I wouldn’t think about that. We had one goal in mind. One destination, one job to do. It was going to get done, no matter what.
We reached the garden too quickly. Cars rolled quietly by in the night, their headlights illuminating our silhouettes. But we couldn’t be seen.
We dropped to the ground and hid in the brush. Luckily, this garden was filled with tall weeds, sunflowers, and other plants that provided good coverage. We squat-walked until we reached the fence. It was the tall, chain-link type. Perfect for climbing quickly, but easy to get caught on.
The cars would drive by sporadically, and with the sharp curve on one side of the garden and the clump of trees on the other, there was no forewarning. Any car could have been the enemy. The UFPD.
I’m not the type to wait. I jumped halfway up on the fence and was on the other side before my friends had even made it halfway. Being slight, but strong had its perks.
We stood there. The three of us. In the dark. In our chain-link cage. Staring at the prize.
It lay before us in heaps and mounds. The rich bat poop that would provide nutrients to my friend’s vegetable garden. Above us stood the bat houses. High on stilts, attached to the rafters, hung our benefactors. Some watched us, I’m sure. I couldn’t see them in the darkness above, I only prayed they wouldn’t venture out.
We dug our bare hands into the guano, filling our tin and paper bag with the Milk Dud-like excrement. I can’t remember if it smelled. I only remember the feeling of danger as we raced to steal the bat feces.
Getting back over the fence with our prize was harder than it looked, but we made it with barely a spill.
On the ground, we crouched our way back out of the garden.
Now for the difficult part: getting back to our cars without raising suspicion.
Looking back, three people wearing all black carrying an unidentifiable substance would trigger most alarms. At one stop sign we passed right in front of a police car. I felt my heart stop beating and my breath catch in my lungs. Would he stop us? There was no way to hide the proof. I was carrying the brownie tin filled to the brim with the guano. How could I deny that?
But he let us by. No honk. No sirens. Just silence.
I don’t think I breathed again until I was back in my car.
That night my friends spread the guano in their garden. I went home. Showered. Laid in bed. I now shared a secret.
The next day we pretended like nothing had happened.