They are, of course, familiar (who is not?), in spite of their state of destitution, with all the theories (scientific and pseudoscientific) which theorize about the chaos that preceded the creation of the universe, about the Big Bang thing, about the divine intervention gimmick, and so forth.
However, as the two bums sit on a bench in a park (yes, they have moved out from under the bridge where they spent the night, and are now trying to warm themselves under the bright afternoon sun) next to an old oak tree which rises majestically into the sky, an oak tree inhabited by birds, bees, and other lovely creatures of the universe, they are discussing today how the human race somehow managed to perpetuate itself.
Bum One explains it this way to Bum Two, for it is Bum One's turn that day to speculate: Supposedly the first man on earth, and the first woman too, I mean the very first man and woman (I'll not go today into the question of how the man got there and how he acquired a female companion) managed to progenitate themselves with stones.
To progenitate? With stones? Bum Two, seems puzzled.
Let me explain. The man went with his woman -- I have forgotten their names, but let's call them for the sake of the story A & B ...
Why not A & E? Interrupted Bum Two.
Okay, A & E, if you prefer. I don't care. Or X & Y. Doesn't matter. Their names are of little consequence in this story. What counts is how they ensured the continuity of the species.
Alright, go on.
Well, this is how the story goes. They climbed to the top of a mountain ... Oh, I forgot to mention that on that day there was an incredible flood on earth and everything was under water, except for the high peaks of the mountain ... and that's why they climbed to the top of the mountain.
Was it the Deluge? Inquired Bum Two.
I don't know if it was THE Deluge, but let me tell you it was pouring cats & dogs, yes a real deluge. Unbelievable the amount of rain that came down from the sky that day.
Must have been something to watch.
Yes, I suppose. But let me go on. When the man and the woman reached the top of the mountain they heard a voice.
Whose voice? A human voice? A divine voice? The voice of Jupiter, of God? And which God? Or just a plain voice out of nowhere?
How do I know, and what does it matter? Let's call it A voice, a disembodied voice, and leave it at that.
Fine. A voice.
And that voice realizing that the man and the woman were the only two survivors of the flood told them that when the deluge would stop they would have to renew the human race.
Hey, wait a minute. You said before that the man and the woman were the first ones on earth, and now you say that they were the only survivors of the flood because all the others had drowned, then they were not the first ones, they were the last ones.
Sometimes you really get on my nerves you know with your screwed up logic. First ones, last ones, what's the difference, they were the only ones.
Okay. I'll go for that. So, according to you, the voice told them that they would have to renew the human race, but did it explain how? Didn't the voice tell the man to fuck the woman and that would solve the problem?
You know, you really have a filthy mind. Not everything in the universe is resolved with sex.
Maybe not for you, my dear old fart, but for me it remains the most viable and most potent means of solving most problems, especially the problem of ensuring the continuity of the human race.
Well, that's another story. Mine is different. So listen, and please stop interrupting.
Alright, alright, go ahead, finish your dumb story.
The voice said to A & B ...
A & E!
Okay, A & E, that soon the flood water will recede and they will be able to come down from the mountain. Everything down there will be barren, full of corpses. Each of you must find the corpse of your mother, and then you must take her bones, cover your faces with a cloth, and walk slowly on the earth toward the sea casting behind you the bones of your mothers.
You're kidding. That's what the voice said? The bones of their mothers. How strange. But let me ask you something. Why the veil over their faces?
I don't know. That's what the voice said. I do not question voices. Oh, also, I almost forgot, the voice said to A & E that they will have to undress completely before throwing the bones away. Yes, the voice explained that the act of casting the bones of one's mother should always be performed naked.
That makes sense to me. But what doesn't make sense is how the casting of the bones would renew the race.
Be quiet. That is the great mystery of the voice. So I cannot tell you how the casting of the bones would renew the race. What I can tell you is that, at first, the man and the woman were disturbed by this, and they objected. They said they could not obey such a command because they felt that it would desecrate their mother's bones to throw them away.
What did the voice say?
It said that it was the only way. Otherwise it would be the end of the human race.
Wow, that would have been terrible, and you and I would not be here, and you could not be telling me this story.
Stop kidding around. This is serious. Anyway, after a long moment of reflection the man asked (only the man spoke, the woman remained silent at his side) if instead of bones they could throw stones.
Yes, stones. This is how the man put it to the voice, for as I said he was the spokesman for the two of them, and quite eloquent, yes, quite a beau parleur:
Dear Voice, either my sagacity deceives me, or the command is one we may obey without impiety. But the earth is the great parent of us all. Our mother. And stones are her bones. Why can't we cast the earth's stones behind us instead of our mother's bones?
Hey, that guy was smart for a caveman.
Who said he was a caveman. There you go again, always distorting everything I say. Anyway, the voice was silent for a long time, and then it said in a thunderous, angry tone:
You humans are hopeless. I give you the possibility of renewing yourselves with a most simple little trick, and you have to complicate the problem. I am fed up with you. You can go fuck yourselves and leave me alone. I shall speak to you no more.
This was the end of Bum One's story. That's all he knew. That's all he told.
Bum Two reflected upon what the voice said to the man and the woman. Could it be that the voice did not realize the implication of what it had said, and inadvertently had given to the man and woman the solution to their existential dilemma?