The searing light of the sun beat down on the cracked ground of the borderlands. There was not a cloud in the sky nor a tree for miles around to offer momentary respite from the hateful glare. Only sand and salt spreading on into the horizon. Yet I soldiered on, because I am a builder. It was men like me who built the great wonders of this world. The Great Wall of China. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Trump Tower. The Colossus of Rhodes. All of them trophies thrust into the face of a jealous and spiteful god, unwilling to admit that his creations had surpassed him. I laid down another brick and spread a layer of mortar on top of it. I looked back, to millions of places where I had performed that same monotonous action. I could no longer see the end.
No. Not the end. The end still was still ahead. 1628 miles ahead. I wiped my face and got back to work. After a while a shimmering black pinprick appeared on the horizon to the south, growing larger with each second. There was no time to wait. I am a builder. Brick. Mortar. Brick. Mortar. Brick. Mortar. The clopping of the burro’s hoofs layered over the clanks of trowel on brick, a laborer’s ballad. I peered up, shielding my eyes from the setting sun.
“Hola, Paco. Whatcha got for me today?”
“The same as the last 7 months, Señor Trump.” Paco stepped down from his mule and untied the brick laden pallet that the animal was dragging behind it.
“Gracias, Paco. See you tomorrow.”
“Hasta Mañana, Señor Trump.” Paco and his companion, free of its burden, plodded back the way they came as they had done a hundred times before. I walked over to the delivery of bricks. Stuck between the top two layers was an offwhite envelope sealed with wax. I tore it open and read the letter inside.
“Thanks again, Donald. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, Enrique Peña Nieto,” the letter read. I placed the paper atop the bare brick and buried it beneath the mortar.
The sun set behind the mountains that lingered in the far west. The job hadn’t been easy up to that point, but I was thankful that the land was gentle and level. I was dreading the terrain that lied ahead, but I knew that it was coming since the moment I set the first brick at the mouth of the Rio Bravo. I threw my pack up against the wall, placed my head on top of the lumpy makeshift pillow, and looked up at the stars.
* * *
I awoke to the sound of steel on stone. Above my head stood a bespectacled man wielding a hammer in each hand.
“What the hell are you doing to my wall?!” I shouted at the man. He turned around and flashed a toothy smile.
“Oh, hey, Donald! I just saw your wall over here and thought that it might need some fixing!” Jeb! returned to beating the wall to dust.
“You aren’t fixing anything, Jeb!’
“Sure I am, Donald! I’m a fixer! Look what it says on my stickers!” Jeb! pointed gleefully at one of the thousands of bumper stickers that plastered the wall. “Jeb! is gonna fix it!” He said in a sing-song manner. He started bashing the wall again.
“Look, Jeb!, I don’t need your help. My wall is perfect and beautiful and valid. It doesn’t need any fixing ‘cause it isn’t broke.”
“No offense, Donald, but what does a builder know about fixing? This wall is clearly broken and I’m just the man for the job!” Jeb hoisted his hammers above his head, but I grabbed his wrist before he could bring them down.
“I may be a builder, but I’m also a deal maker. Are you ready to make the best deal ever, Jeb!?”
Jeb! hesitantly sheathed his hammers. “Go on.”
“Alright, so this wall? Definitely needs your fixing, but wouldn’t it be a better idea to come back later and fix it after everything is finished so I can’t make any new mistakes?”
“Well, I can just fix the mistakes as you make them! We can hang out and be wall buddies! We can make America great again with all his fixing and building and hanging out we’ll get done!”
“We sure would make wall buddies, sure, but you know what kind of team we would work even better as? Well, do you… Vice President Jeb!?”
Jeb! beamed. “Hey, I like the sound of that!”
“So do I, buddy. But the problem is, I’m so busy with this wall that I can’t focus on running a campaign. It would be a real help to Team…”
“Jonald? Deb? Uh… dang, kinda putting me on the spot here.”
I tossled his hair. “Don’t worry about it, champ, we can figure it out later. What I need you to do is go to Iowa for me and hold a big ol’ town hall meeting. I’ll meet you as soon as I’m finished here.”
“Sounds like a plan, Donny!”
And with that, Jeb! skipped off to the north. I let out a sigh of relief, but then I noticed my wall. As far back as I could see, the wall was pockmarked with hammer holes and Jeb! stickers. I looked ahead at the seemingly endless expanse of desert that laid between and Tijuana. A weight sat in the bottom of my stomach, some mix of fear and uncertainty. I took a deep breath and placed a brick on the desert floor.