I'm on my way to meet people. They're looking for somebody and believe I may be that somebody. I may also be somebody else's somebody. Or I may be nobody's somebody. Nobody's somebody doesn't hold a lot of appeal. Unless nobody were really somebody on the downlow.

On the corner of Avenue Road and Bloor, at a red light, a little girl offers me her balloon. I take it, of course. It's a little girl. I'm not going to turn down a little girl. I don't want that on my conscience. She smiles, "Watch my balloon. I'm coming back for it." The light changes, she walks on with her parents.

What does she mean, "I'm coming back for it." Sounds very Damien-ish.  Like if I don't have the balloon when she gets back, I will fall off a balcony and it'll look like suicide. I don't want to fall off a balcony. It will hurt. I better hold on to the balloon.

The balloon's bright orange with a smiley face on each side. I don't trust a smiley face especially one on a balloon. A glance into a bank window tells me my meeting with the people who think I might be their somebody is in 10 minutes. What do I do with the balloon? I can't go into the meeting with it. But if I let it go I'll probably fall off a balcony.

Maybe if I let somebody hold it until I get out of the meeting. Who? Of course, another kid. In front of me I see another kid. He's running in a circle like he's attempting to transverse time and space. I approach him, "Hey, do you want a balloon?"

Unwise, in retrospect.

"Get away from my kid, you perv."  His dad looms and he's not pleased.

"Whoa! I'm no perv. It's all cool. Everything's cool. Another kid gave me this balloon. I've got a meeting. Can't take it into the meeting. Thought your kid would like to hold it for me. He's a kid... the kid who gave it to me is a kid know...the brotherhood of kids..."

"So, you're working another kid," he says. "Cops'll like this." He pulls out his iPhone.

"Wait! No cops."

"Makes you look even more guilty not wanting me to call the cops."

Now I'm having images of being somebody's somebody in prison. They treat somebody's somebody very differently there.

"Okay, look, man. Maybe we can settle this," he says.

I'm so relieved I feel like pissing myself. I think I just did.

"Whaddya have in your wallet?" he says.

"Thirty-five dollars." He snatches it. "That'll do. But next away."
"Yes, not even my nephew and niece. Thank you. Thank you." Whew did I ever dodge a bullet.

And then I hear, "Hey Frank, thanks for looking after Donald." And then I see the Dad that I thought was the Dad wave at the Dad who really is the Dad as he grabs his circle running son. False Dad  shrugs, smiles and moves on.

Man's inhumanity to a man holding a balloon.

I'm fast walking, still holding the balloon, hit the building, scoot up the stairs, into the office, sweating, breathing hard. The receptionist eyes me and the balloon like I were a 16th Century Theory of Cosmology. "I've got an appointment with Terry Arnold at 11." "Mr. Arnold has left." "But I'm only 20 minutes late. I bet he's still in there." "Mr. Arnold doesn't like to wait. No, he has gone." "C'mon, can you just call him?" "No." She looks at me, then the balloon, then me. "Smiley face," I say while bobbing the balloon in front of her. "Stop that. It's not going to work. You are not going to wear me down with that smiley face," she says. "What if I show you the other side?" And I show her the other smiley face. "I'm calling building security." "Really?" "Yes, really." There's a long pause. "For showing you a smiley face balloon," I say. She picks up the phone. "Hello, Jim." "Okay, okay. I'll leave." And I shuffle out, with the balloon.

I call Violet. Because in times like these I need to hear her reassuring voice.

"What now?" Violet says.

Violet's having a good day. She picked up.

"I'm holding a balloon a kid gave me. She asked me to take care of it until later. Because of this balloon I'm out thirty-five bucks and I blew a meeting."

"Okay here's what you do. Are you listening? Bust the balloon, dump its carcass. Move on." she says.

"This isn't one of your relationships, Vy. I can't do that. Just think about it. That kid might've been testing her faith in human kind by giving me the balloon. And why me? Maybe I'm being tested to affirm that kid's faith in human kind."

"You're soft. That's what I like about you." She hangs up.

So I head back to the corner of Avenue Road and Bloor and wait. What're the chances? And I wait. The sun lowers. Shadows lengthen. I should've never taken the balloon. I blew the meeting and now I'm making a fool of myself. The lesson? Don't take things from kids.

"I'll take that."

I turn around. There she is, her parents stand behind her, all smiles.

Awed and amazed, I hand her the balloon.

"Thank you for taking care of my balloon."

"Hey, uh, it was nothing."

She lets go of it. We watch the balloon soar high into the late afternoon sky.


Mike The Writer Guy said...

Nice on. I had something almost exactly similar like that happen with an errant goat and a peasant’s child. Except my adventure took place in Bulgaria and in the 20th century. And I didn’t take care of the goat the way you did the balloon. I milked the goat then, uh, ate the goat. It was delicious. Had it barbecued and smothered in goat cheese – which I got from it. The goat, that is… Hmm, actually, when I think about it, it wasn’t really all almost that exactly similar. So, forget it. Moving on…