It was becoming later and later in the evening. And so he thought, “What should I do? Where should I go?” Although he was pretty much booked for the next several weeks, he did have two vacancies; today, and next Tuesday.
Two weeks earlier he had gone to China. It was just one of many places he had been and he did enjoy it. But he had accidentally wandered into North Korea while trying to find the famous Wang Pang Zi Donkey Burger in the Hutong District of Beijing. It was easy to do since Pyongyang (as he recalled) was just on the outskirts of the city. It seemed there was a river that he’d managed to cross somehow. But he wasn’t certain. It could have been an ocean, a small one. On that unfortunate occasion, however, he had been imprisoned in North Korea for eight months for trespassing until our government finally paid money to get him out.
He had a clear recollection of the long solitary months of imprisonment. Yet, oddly, he had only just left for China two weeks ago and seemingly returned by the following day. But he could have been mistaken.
He had visited many places and once spent several weeks traveling through Venezuela. He didn’t speak any Spanish beyond a cumbersome ‘Buenos Dias’. Yet he had so endeared himself to the local people that just before he left he was asked to run for president. He was naturally quite flattered and felt highly honored by the offer. But in light of the upcoming baseball season at home, he politely declined.
Despite his travels, there were still so many more new places yet to see and it was difficult to decide where he should go. But he had to make up his mind. After all, it was getting late.
He remembered as a kid how enamored he was with space travel. So much so, that everywhere he went it seemed he went by rocket ship. And those memories of childhood triggered a sudden thought; a surprising realization that in all of his travels he had never been to the Moon. He most certainly must have past it many times on his way to other places. This realization was even more startling due to the fact that he had always been particularly fond of the Moon. He felt that it ornamented the sky so perfectly. But it was more than just pretty, it was also useful; a huge dependable night light for the world, to guide you safely home from Finnegan’s Bar or wherever it was that you happened to be late on a Saturday night.
Without any further deliberation, he decided. He would go the Moon on this very night. ‘Better late than never,’ he thought. Now, all at once he found himself to be completely excited about the prospect. And why not, he loved sandy beaches and he had heard that the Moon was very sandy indeed. He imagined that he would take long leisurely walks up and down the lunar hills and valleys. And when he got tired of walking, he would stop and sit on the soft rim of a crater, with the inky dark sky and a million twinkles of starlight all around him. Then he would twiddle his bare toes in the powdery sand and watch transfixed as the entire lunar landscape all the way to the black horizon shimmered in radiant earthlight. There would be no words to describe the incredible pleasantness of that moment.
With those thoughts fixed in his head, he quickly prepared for his trip. After all, it was getting late. He turned out the lights and climbed into bed, pulling the covers up to his chin. Then he squeezed his eyes tightly shut and thought, ‘Moon, Moon, Moon, ’and repeated those words, ‘Moon, Moon, Moon’ over and over in his mind until he finally drifted off to sleep.
While he slept he traveled quickly across the black emptiness until he awoke in a barren and desolate place. It was silent and devoid of all life and he smiled as he slowly began to explore. He almost didn’t believe it. But it was true. He was actually there, walking barefoot along the great sandy beaches of the Moon. Although at first blush the air seemed pure and sweet, he almost immediately realized that he was, in fact, wearing some sort of oxygen thing.
Of course, he remembered, there is no actual air on the Moon. Everybody knows that.
He continued to walk along the lunar beach, effortlessly with a lightness of foot that he had never experienced before. Instead of feeling like he weighed his usual 160 pounds, he felt as though he only weighed about 26.666 pounds (just a guess). And so within moments he was hopping and bounding recklessly through the treacherous lunar landscape as if the ground beneath his feet was not sand and stone at all, but a long continuous bouncy trampoline. The feeling of such superhuman agility was amazing. And when he finally paused to catch his breath and take some time to gaze about his surroundings, he was completely enthralled.
It hung serenely in the black star-studded sky, accenting the night like a great, magical disco ball; Earth, that radiant blue disk with its swirling white clouds and delicate patches of green and brown. From where he stood on the barren lunar surface it seemed that this enormous low hanging planet was unmistakably the center of the entire universe.
He started to walk slowly along and was all at once lost in his riveted gaze at the bright imposing Earthscape above and its halo shimmering stars. And so for a time, all was well.
But soon, as he strolled along the sandy rock-strewn hills and rolling beaches of the Moon, things began to change. He recognized this phenomenon from past experience in other places. Now, the lunar sky was quickly evolving from shoe polish black to azure blue, and in the near distance, there was water. But it was not just water; it was an ocean with waves and ships on the horizon, floating like toys. Then suddenly, there were people all around, tanned and smiling. And his oxygen thing had altogether disappeared. The temperature now (as he imagined it to be) was exactly 75 degrees and he had the sense that it been that precise, very same temperature for the last 5,000 years. And it was then; in that crystal moment that he realized (for sure), he was no longer on the Moon.
LEONARD HENRY SCOTT was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and is a graduate of American University. He was on the staff of the Library of Congress for many years and presently lives in National Harbor, Maryland. Scott’s essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in Crack the Spine, Corvus Review, The MacGuffin, Foliate Oak, The Evansville Review and various other literary magazines.