Don’t Dream It’s Over

20 Aug

—Go ask that man over there. He’s been re-educated.
That’s what the old woman with the scarf on her head says. And she goes back to beating dust out of her rug, hanging on the steel bar outside in the courtyard. The man she points to is driving a sliced-in-half Dacia around and around in circles, leaving trails of dust and dirt. There are no front seats, so he’s on his ass on the frame of the stripped half-car, switching gears and using the clutch. It looks macabre, the way this scene is unfolding. Like a severed animal, still pulling himself on his paws, the front end of the car sputters and hiccups and then spasms forward. He takes the car into second and enlarges the circumference of the circle. There are three men with mobile phones flipped open, recording this weird driving feat.
—-Him, him. He’s been re-educated. Go ask him what it’s like.
She screams her insults at the man over the revving of the engine: Iesi acasa, fire-ar ai Dracului de imbecil! He doesn’t hear her. He takes the Dacia round and round and round while the three gypsies with the mobile phones laugh.
—In ’89, a Jeep full of Arabs came rushing down the boulevard, the old woman says. She beats her rug. It’s futile. The car kicks up horrific dust and mud.
—Came down and turned right into here. Two men opened fire on the students. They took down those young men and left them in the streets like this. Like pigs slaughtered. Have you done your time in the Army?
—Reverse it! one of the gypsies yells, only the car has no back wheels. It’s cut right down the middle. It can’t roll backwards.
Revers, bre!!!
Nu se poate, pizda mamii matii de dobitoc, the driver yells back an insult.
—Arabs. What in hell would Arabs be doing here, the woman says. —Watch it.
She swings the rug beater hard. It’s futile. There is a cloud of dust in the air.
—I remember you from when you were a boy and living up there on the 8th floor, she says. You used to come out on the balcony and blow paper arrows out of your plastic tube.
Cornete.
She’s right. I’d launch them down at pedestrians. There was no harm done. They were rolled-up projectiles, made out of paper. White paper carrots.
—Mama mia, what beating I would’ve given you, the woman says. She smacks hard on the rug. It’s futile. The engine of the Dacia revvs. One of the gypsies has turned his phone on his friend.
Ride, ma, ride, he says and his friend laughs manically into the tiny camera on the phone, showing his bad teeth.
Round and round the half-car goes. It’s surreal.
—Wake up Sonny.
Wake up.
Sonny.
(Author’s Notes)

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