The Greatest Wall
Our Founding Fuhrer
Why do prison cells always seem to drip? That's the funny thought flitting through my addled brain as I sit here, letting the words echo again and again.
Confess or die!
Confess or die!
That’s what he told me. More or less. It's hard to tell. I don't speak Spanish. But I think that was what he was saying. I'm pretty sure. But I'm so thirsty. Maybe he was saying something else.
The metal chair is hard and numbs my legs. Rusty bolts attach the chair's legs to the stained concrete floor. The kinds of stains I don't want to think about.
The room is cold and has a strange odor. Like dirty shoes, dust and tacos. And something else. Something dead or dying. I realize it's me.
On the scarred metal table in front of me, is a single yellowed sheet of paper. It’s blank. The paper has been there for a long time. It looks like an ancient prop. I screw my eyes up at it. The paper is not real. It is a prop. A facsimile. I blow at it. It does not move.
I have a pen in my right hand. The pen is trembling. The pen is also not real. It's a piece of plastic, like a child's toy. I drop it. It clatters onto the table, rolls over the fake paper and off the other side, where it drops to the concrete floor.
My left hand is restrained. The greasy handcuff is looped through a metal cable on the side of the table. The legs of the table are bolted to the floor, like the chair.
There is another chair across from me. It has a cushion and looks very comfortable. It’s made of rough polished wood, has wheels and it reclines. I want to sit there, but I can't. The other chair taunts me with its promise of comfort. I imagine myself there, leaning back, sipping a glass of water, ice cubes tinkling.
The man who was sitting in the recliner was taking a piss break. That’s what he said. But he said it like “Peeze b’dake.” He’s a Mexican Federal Official of some sort. He likes to rock in the recliner in front of me and make it squeak. And play with his mustache. Twist the ends and smile in quick little mustache covered grins.
“You make confession,” he said, repeatedly. Only it came out, “Jou meg confashun.”
I nodded to him. “Yes sir.” But I didn’t write anything. I couldn't. I played along.
“I’d like my lawyer.”
“Jou meg confashun!” He was exasperated. Then he took his break. That was hours ago. Or maybe it was yesterday.
Over the table, hanging from a cord, is one light bulb. It flickers and buzzes like an angry wasp. The bulb is one of those clear kinds and reminds me of where I am. I'm in some kind of interrogation room. But where or how I got here, I do not know.
The only difference between the four concrete walls, besides their cracks, is that one of them has a steel door. There is a mirror-window in the door at head level and a waist high food slot that appears rusted shut.
After the Mexican Fed left, two army types came in. They took my clothes then and left. They never said a word. Just yanked off my shirt. Cut off my pants. Took my shoes, socks and underwear. They were not nice about my underwear. I am still sore where they pulled and twisted. I screeched like a girl when they pulled.
I am naked and swollen now and I’ve lost track the time.
“Jou meg confishun.” I keep hearing that. But there is no one there. The cushioned chair is empty. Taunting. Squeak-less.
More hours blend into days that I cannot recall. Is it the same day?
The door opens again. Gives its signature squawk and clangs shut. I am disoriented. What time is it I wonder? What day?
A nurse enters. She's wearing a white nurse's dress and not one of those colorful smocks you see at most hospitals. She is Hispanic, kind of pretty, and has nice eyes. She is wearing an old fashioned hat as well.
Have they a stage somewhere I wonder? A place where they keep various uniforms and fake plastic pens.
In one hand the nurse, if she really is a nurse, because her uniform smells musty and is wrinkled, holds out one of those open-backed hospital gowns. Even it looks dull and ragged, but I take it with my free hand.
She helps me into it, having to cut out one arm, because I am attached to the table. I feel awkward, but thankful. I admire the flowers on the gown for a moment, then I look up.
“I am thirsty.” I say it slowly. Hoping she can understand. I remember then. "Agua?"
She understands. Reaches into her bag. A white bag with a big red cross on it. Yet another prop. She pulls out a bottle of water. Hands it to me quickly.
“Gracias,” I said. The water is refreshing, but sweet and chemically. The aftertaste tickles my throat.
She folds her arms. “Will you make the confession?” she asks in flawless English.
“Must I?” I say after a moment.
“If you want to remain in Mexico, Señor, you must. It is our price.”
So I'm in Mexico, I think. Too late to wonder how I got here. I know the deal. Pancho Cesar Villa would accept you if you confessed. It was all over the internet. YouTubed to death. Colleges were dealing with riots stateside. “Tear down that wall!” they said -- from their dorm rooms. “End the Embargoes!” Graffiti was painted everywhere. Even on the dome of the abandoned U.S. Capitol Building.
The problem was that this was all a scam. Nobody wanted to defect from America. That was all bunk And only the insane wanted to destroy the wall. The wall kept us safe. Kept the hoards of Mexicans from entering the United States of America.
“I refuse,” I told the nurse.
She gazed at me for a moment, then took the chair opposite me. “This is a mistake, Señor.”
“No. Señor.” She paused. Her hand went into her bag and removed a syringe. “You must understand. Confession is not, how you say, "voluntary.”
“Then why not confess, Señor? Why not admit you climbed that disgusting Trump Wall into our paradise and tried to steal from us? Or were you escaping your oppressors?
"Or shall I use this?” She held up the syringe.
It was difficult to answer her. I knew any response would not satisfy Pancho Cesar Villa, the bloodiest Mexican Dictator since the likes of Fidel Castro – according to the news.
“Señor. Why would you not admit that you have escaped your American oppressors? That you seek to live in a Worker Paradise that is Mexico? That here in Mexico, you will be taken care of. Free education. Free doctors -- ”
“Because,” I interrupted. “Because it’s all a lie.” The handcuff was biting into my wrist. I was pulling on it, unconsciously. The nurse, probably just another Mexican Agent, had been sent in to talk sense into me before I was executed, and after I was recorded giving my full video confession. She smiled.
“You, know,” I said.
“I know what, Señor?”
“That you are a piece of crap.” I heard the keys rattling in the door and cursing in Spanish. "This is a sham." I looked at the fake pen on the floor. The yellow paper on the table that was not paper.
“I was kidnapped from my home…in Arizona!” It was the newest thing. Grab an American, get him to Mexico, then broadcast that another citizen “Escaped America!”
The nurse stood, rounded the table and before I could react, threw the syringe on the floor. It rolled to one corner. What? I was thinking.
Then she looked at the empty bottle of water, and I knew. More games. It was the water. The syringe, just another prop. I had been poisoned.
“No last meal?” I asked.
She turned and exited.
The fat little Mexican Fed from earlier, returned. He rounded the table. Twisting his mustache, he flicked one of his trademark grins and plopped into the cushioned recliner. It squeaked.
“Señor, how you are this morning?” He had on a fresh shirt and slid a leather satchel on the table in front of me. “I hope you slept well!”
His accent was thicker. I had to focus in order to understand.
"Oil," I said.
"You should oil that chair."
“Señor? Has the nurse given you a drink?” He looked into my eyes, but I was having a helluva time trying to focus. His greasy mustache seemed much bigger now, then it shrank. I was drugged and I knew it for sure now. How much time did I have?
He laughed. “Ah, you have. You have accepted our water! But it was not really water and don’t worry, it is not a painful death, Señor!”
“Now, back to business, as you Americano’s say. There is little time.” He pulled out a sheath of papers. Scanned them. Found the one he wanted.
“This one, Señor? Does it work for you?”
I glanced down. A typed confession. ‘I, Jackson Filberton, on the 17th of September, 2317, did on or about 10:00 P.M., ascend the wall, better known as The Great Wall of Trump and attempted to enter the Worker’s Paradise of Mexico, without permission...' I skipped down '…and I bequeath all of my internal organs to the cause of …' I quit reading.
“No.” But it came out slurred. More like “Nawh.”
“Nawh! Kizz my azz.” My tongue was numb. It felt like cotton. I probed my teeth, but I could no longer feel my tongue. Was it gone? I wasn't sure now.
The Fed picked up the confession. Put it back in his satchel. “You know, Señor, they won’t make it in time.”
I knew what he meant.
“Yes, Señor. I know all Americans have the implant. As soon as we leave this building, which was built in such a way as to hide it from the Americano scanners, they will see you. In fact, that is our plan, Señor – Filberton. For them to see you outside these walls.”
I didn’t respond. Just listened. I was amazed. His accent seemed to be fading.
“We are not that different, Señor. Me in my Worker’s Paradise, where everyone is equally poor and terrorized by the gangs. Or you.”
He stood, gathered his satchel and walked to the door, but turned after he tapped on the mirror-glass with his knuckle.
“You, Señor Filberton. You with your wall, your embedded barcodes, your 100% tax, your…what do you call them…your tracking devices?”
The guard opened the door. “Slaves both, we are” he said. He departed.
I lost consciousness then. When I awoke I heard drums. No, helicopters.
I was on my back. The choppers barreled through an aperture in the wall, perhaps 1000 feet up.
Jets streaked by, as missiles launched into the forest behind me. Missiles responded. The low hill on the Mexican side opened up, but those missiles went wide. Choppers and jets filled the sky. Trails of smoke. At such close range it seemed impossible to miss. The Mexican missiles traced lazy arcs into the sky and were picked off by buzzing guns from emplacements along the wall and bright orange balls of fireworks rained down into the Rio Grande River.
I looked at the Trump Wall in all its grandeur. One of the largest public works projects in human history. A wall fully 5000 feet high and over 1000 feet thick. Steel, concrete and missile batteries. It made the Great Wall of China look like a Lego collection. It stretched not just along the border with Mexico, but along the Canadian border as well.
I recalled a documentary years ago about how the Trump Wall was manned by five million soldiers, had its own farms, airports and shopping malls and even a supporting civilian population. It was not the “Walled City” but the “Country Wall.”
Work was currently underway to wall off Hawaii and Puerto Rico. There was even an entire Reality Television Series devoted to planning stages of the new Sea Wall Projects, designed to close the rest of the ‘gaps.’
“Keep America Safe!” That was the mantra. “The Pure Tax is Patriotic!” That was what the Mexican Fed called the 100% tax.
I faded again.
I was in a Harvester, in America, when I awoke. I’d heard about them, but never believed they existed. I couldn’t talk, couldn't move, but I could see. Oddly, my mind was clear. But my eyes were frozen in their sockets. All I could do was stare and blink. Stare at the American Flags draped over thousands of coffins with the word 'RePat' painted on their sides.
What did that mean? RePat? Repatriated? Brought home -- to be harvested?
On a screen above my face, red letters were flashing. It was my name, Social Security Number, height, weight – all my personal data. Scrolling by. Then three dimensional views of me. My feet, bones, groin, internal organs and even my brain were all represented on the screen. Behind my stats, a stylized American flag flew, waving in a solemn breeze.
Little blinking green lights were everywhere behind the screen. Monotone sounds. Saws and drills? It was difficult to make out. But that hospital smells were not. Rubbing alcohol and an odd burning scent permeated the open building.
Long snake-like tubes clung to the ceiling. They looked like crazy vacuum cleaners, except they were wet with gore and had small hooks along their sides. Hooks that held things which dripped and dangled.
It took a moment to understand the things that dangled were organs. Human organs and human parts. Bones, livers, hearts and eyes all parading by on thin green stings and conveyor belts. Robotic arms with nozzles, spraying the organs as they were moved along. Other robotic arms that lifted the organs and scanned them with flat beams of light, then returned to them the belts, tubes and hooks.
I seemed to be on a conveyor belt of some sort myself. Something was tugging at my hair.
“You suppose they are awake?” The voice came from nearby.
“Nah. They are comatose, Harry. Don’t worry. The blinking is just a reflex. Just remove Filberton's heart, the Mexican Fed said we only have eight hours max – after that the organs are no good. And he's a perfect match for the recipient it says here."
“Yeah, that Mexican bastard is making a ‘killing!’ Heartless!"
"You're pretty funny, Harry. But don't quit your day job!"
"Hey!" It was Mr. Scritter, the super. They both looked up.
Behind the dark glass of the monitoring station, Scritter was leaning forward, staring. "Get that one prepped now. His heart is going to the big boss this afternoon."
"Crap, Harry. Let's get this show on the road. This'll be Trump's tenth!"
"Tenth heart? For Trumpess Maximus?"
"You bet. But careful with the descriptive titles, Harry. The air has ears, you know." He pretended to look over his shoulder at the rows of bodies moving along an impossible number of conveyor belts. All for Trump's family and friends.
"What is he now 400 years old anyway?" Harry asked.
"Hell, I dunno how old the Founding Fuhrer is," he replied, as he lifted the circular saw. Gave it a squeal. "Sorry Buddy, Trump said their would be consequences if you left the country..."
A fine mist settles over my eyes from the spinning saw. I drift somewhere else.
A photograph fills my mind. Something from a textbook, I read as a child. A decayed wall. A vanished empire.
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© 2016 jgshorebird