Moon Dust, by Jason Makansi

On a long stretch of Indonesian highway between the cities of Surabaya and Paiton, Omar Bradley Jordan finally found the third world. He sang to himself, the words escaping his lips softly, “how did I get here?”
“Sorry?” the driver of his taxi limo answered.
“Nothing, nothing. I was talking to myself.”

Maybe the third world found him, five years after the Berlin Wall came down, reclaimed him from his ancestry on his way to the construction site to write an article for his magazine. Coming to life just beyond the glass was the stuff of the nightly news, scenes in James Bond movies, and the subject of his regular readings of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. The visuals for some of his father’s stories, too, from his childhood in Egypt.

“This is what has to be globalized,” he thought, but again said the words aloud.
The driver looked into his rear-view mirror, but this time did not respond. He only smiled.
“I talk to myself too often. But at least I know someone is listening!”
The driver looked at him in the mirror again, puzzled.
“I no listen, sir.”
“No, I meant I listen, to myself. Never mind. It’s a poor joke.”

He had uttered the question, sang it, like David Byrne of Talking Heads in that video. Then he remembered seeing Byrne strut into The Prince Street Café in Manhattan’s Soho, at least a decade ago. This image was then followed by hearing in his own head the pounding of the tribal drums from the band’s album and video, Stop Making Sense, and finally, the line, spoken-sung by Byrne, "…and you ask yourself, How did I get here?"

Omar wondered if the answer to that question rested in a mini-Ziploc bag that he had been carrying around in his pocket ever since he traveled to Berlin in the Spring of 1990 and bought pieces of the wall, his small souvenir of global liberation. Then he remembered from the news reports how Pink Floyd’s The Wall album, one of his all-time favorites, was played as the wall came down. Omar began humming, “We don’t need no education…we don’t need no thought control,” his torso bobbing to the tune. The fall of the wall was one of those big events, he thought at the time, like astronauts walking on the moon.
The little memento meant a great deal to Omar. He’d never carried anything like that, wore jewelry, believed in charms. Something about that bag, though. He imagined it filled with the aspirations of the oppressed. People like his father, who immigrated to America from backward countries. His father, who arrived shortly after World War II, gave him the name of a famous army general.

“Besides, Omar is an Arabic name, too” his father explained to him many times, with pride.

The uniformed gangs of children looked like schools of fish. Omar’s heartbeat paused every time a family of four motored by on a moped. He wanted to roll his window down and yell, at least wear a helmet, to the older kids weaving in and out on their motor scooters with their girlfriends (or maybe sisters?) in tow. All of them appeared un-phased by the double-hitched tracker trailers, tanker trailers, the long lines of cars of all makes and models, or the dump trucks carrying gravel, garbage, or scrap metal. All shared the narrow width of this two-lane road plus shoulder. Beyond the shoulder, the woods were as dense as any he had seen. And his friends from Tennessee, where he grew up, thought New York City was a jungle.

Berlin wall, Pink Floyd’s Wall, walls of buildings, walls of people outside. Before the jet lag caught up with him and he nodded off, his last thought was that it, globalization, did make sense. No more economic walls.

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Stéphanie DeMontalk