The Dark Side of the Moon
    Mark Budman
When I was six, I waded into the Black Sea until the water reached my cute belly button. I asked my father, "What's on other side?"

"Bulgaria," he said. That sounded mealy, like an arid bagel.

"And after that?"

"Western Europe."

I knew what a Western was - a movie where they ride horses and fight Indians.

"And after that?"

"The Atlantic ocean."

"And behind the ocean?"


I knew Americans wore top hats, smoked cigars, exploited workers and wanted to bomb everybody, especially my Motherland. But I didn't know they were that far.

"What is closer, America or the moon?"

"Spanking," my dad said with his usual half-smile. "That's the closest thing to you." He thought for a second and added, "Violence determines conciseness."

I didn't know he was making a Russian language pun on the Marxist maxim "Environment determines conciseness."

Many years later, I stood at the New Jersey shore and watched clouds eat the pale moon by the Eastern horizon. The cell phone rang.

"It's better be good," I said.

"It's done, boss," was the reply.

I hung up and stuck my cigar back into my mouth. If you blow the whistle in my company, you won't last long.


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