"Excuse me, but I wonder if you can take a few minutes to answer some questions?"
He raised his head and fixed me with his steel blue eyes. The bandanna around his neck and the sunburned complexion gave him the appearance of a serious outdoor craftsman. His light blue shirt and the pens and pencils clasped on to the shirt pocket added to the image of the Pyramid builder. The draftsman table and the rolls of blueprints completed the scenario.
"No problem. The Attorney General’s office called a few minutes ago about your visit. Fire away!"
"I know you are building a wall. We want to know if the wall is a federal project, a state initiative or is it financed by some private group. "
"It is really a combination of all three things, plus the Mexican Government"
"What? The Mexican Government?"
"It is supposed to be a secret, you know. . . "
This revelation did not surprised me. There are few situations of national import these days that are honest and straightforward. But before tackling what would certainly be a complex and subtle issue, I decided to wallow in the technical aspects of the session.
"Now, what sort of wall are you going to build?"
"Well, I prefer to refer to it as a multiuse containment structural composite. You see, each side has a separate function. Besides, we are using several European Consultants on this project. Professor Heinz Wandfreund, who you will remember designed the southern portion of the Berlin Wall has also joined our technical staff. We also have a professor from the University of Beijing, whose knowledge and expertise on the China Wall are well known. Then there is a Hollywood Special Effects guru, and F. Gordon Liddy as our stonewall mason. "
"It is remarkable" I observed. " I just thought that all that was needed was a simple brick wall extending from Galveston to Chihuahua. . . "
"That is where most people are wrong. You just can not build a simple wall out of brick, adobe, or reinforced concrete slabs. What we are trying to do here is to build something that will be the pride of the United States. We want a wall that will withstand the onslaught of time for generations to come. . . “
I could sense the enthusiasm in his tone. A real wall pro.
"Okay, but you are now talking about a monument, not just a simple wall. . “
"That is where you are wrong" he interrupted. “Ours is a useful undertaking. We plan a unique structure that will allow the installation of sophisticated electronic equipment, satellite transponder links, automatic reject mechanisms, self registration systems, photographic and audiovisual controls and very sensitive listening devices based on radar, sonar and lip reading technology. . . "
"How will it operate?"
"Very simply. It keeps illegal immigrants from entering the country as the wall is very tall and it is fully electrified. Incidentally, there is a system that will recover those immigrants that have been caught in the electrified field and can not move until daylight"
"But that is a cruel thing to do, by God!" I exclaimed, alarmed at the extent of the evil thoroughness of the project.
"Not really. The electric charge is a controlled input that all it does when an illegal enters the zone is drop him to the floor. He just sits there until daylight. Taco Bell, McDonald's, Chick Fil-A and others have applied for concessions near the wall so that they can serve those caught in the E-field"
"Amazing" I murmured.
"But, don't you think that if you build this wall, you will be forcing the illegals to try another way? Like boating up around Chihuahua, or swimming across the mouth of the Rio Grande in Brownsville or Matamoros? “
"Well, that is not my worry. I have just been hired to do the wall"
"Won't it keep people from the US from going across?"
"Well, that's where the Mexican Government comes in. You see, there are more than two million Americans living in Mexico, and probably another million itching to go. The Mexican Government fears that things in the US are liable to get worse. There are undeniably signs that the American dream is becoming the American nightmare. ”
“Well, that is an exaggeration as big as the wall you are building!” I retorted
“Think a bit” he suggested in a convincing tone. I put the pencil back in my shirt pocket and thought. I did not like what I heard. But just to be fair to no one, I asked our builder:
“What do you see that makes things unpleasant in this country?”
“Well, we seem to be going against the grain. We are the only superpower in the world and we are acting like the lone cowboy in one of those Tim McCoy movies, not giving a damn about the rest of the world. Our government acts is if this is a dictatorship. Then, there is mercury and arsenic in the water, pollution in the air, influential lobbies, crooked corporations, acting as an international bully, fighting a losing war, letting costs and salaries go any which way. Don’t make me talk or I will never finish this wall!”
“You sound as if you are about ready to leave the country”
He smiled, lit a Marlboro and with the familiar gestures of the Marlboro man, replied:
“Hey! That is an idea!”
He exhaled with a pleased look on his face and continued:
“You see, even in most of the big cities in Mexico, crime is not as rampant as in similar US cities. Americans are beginning to discover things about Mexico that puts ideas in their heads. You know, in most Mexican cities you don't have to carry an AK-47 if you go out at night, and that you can go out at night freely and safely. If you go to a doctor for treatment of an ingrown toenail, you don't have to mortgage your home and if you want to eat a full course meal in a five fork restaurant you don't have to put off buying that needed pair of shoes, a new car or a new washing machine. Or save for a couple of months. ”
He paused to answer the phone, gave some instructions in Spanish and continued:
“Also in Mexico you don't have to live in fear of lawsuits. If anyone sues you it takes about twenty years to get to a preliminary hearing. And the sun, the music and the smell of the flowers is always free in Mexico. You see, Mexico figures that in a few years the Southern states of the US will be hopelessly overcrowded. Florida is going to be the first to go as soon as Castro is out. Half of Cuba will resettle that state. Where will Americans go? Canada? You are kidding!”
"How about the rest of the country. The Northeast, the Midwest, the West coast?"
"Ah! You are dreaming, man. First, forget about the West Coast. A few more years and it will be a truly Oriental Coast. The Midwest will remain redneck America. And unless you love grits, collard greens and coon collars, it has little to attract the masses. The Southeast will likely end as a new Black Republic, and a bit distant for most whities who can never learn to dance the African American rhythms. The northeast will remain the private preserve of the lily-white establishment. They will have to figure how to govern themselves and how to buy food from Europe or from Canada because there won't be anyone farming, raising cattle or making noodles in the country. All the CEO's will bunch together in Rhode Island and talk about the good old days in their private golf courses. You see, I am not just a redneck builder. I also observe, measure, appraise and triangulate!"
I stopped to think. His assessment surprised me. With all the things that have happened in the US in the last few years, we might well be on the road to becoming a past glory. It bothered me. I asked:
"What are your next projects?"
"First, I will be doing a wall for the Canadian Government the moment I finish this one"
“Why would the Canadians want to build a wall between our countries?. Their people enjoy a life as good as we do in the old USA”
“You got it wrong. They want to keep Americans away from Canada!”
"Well I have some request for estimates from some quarters in Washington and New York about some portable furnaces to incinerate books. . . "
"Yup, books. But hold on to your jockeys! I have also requests for some suspicious ovens, facilities for handling poison gases and specially built showers that spew gas. I guess it must be some pest control scheme, don't you think?"
“ If you say so. . . . . ”
Varied writing based on extensive international experience and interesting assignments in TV and Movie writing. A corporate and technological background provides additional expertise.