The Agnes Marsh ditch was hardly twelve feet wide and two feet deep but in it you could sink over your head in mud so foul it could make you puke. Nobody seemed to know when it was dug or why, or if it was natural, or if not, why not. It slid and hissed under the industrial yellow and pewter toned sky, its banks jewelec with the rusted-out hulks of old cars, some which crashed there years ago and some which were simply abandoned. Originally a drainage canal for adjacent farms, with the coming of throwaway culture, the Agnes Marsh took on the function of a neighborhood dump. And it had always been a sewer. The water carried every imagineable disease the locals could conjure. Everyone thought so. If you accidentally swallowed some you retched for weeks simply because you wanted to.