At the last breakfast after I told her, we had steak and eggs. Bloody Marys. Three
pieces of toast. She couldn't cry she tried. Balloon Man came. He photographed the
event. He created the Balloon of the Last Breakfast After I Told Her -- a butter-
colored balloon. "This is the kind of thing I do so well," he said. Balloon Man is not
modest. No one has ever suggested that. "This balloon is going to be extra-famous
and acceptable, a documentation of raw human riches, the plain canvas gravy of the
thing. The Pin Lady will never be able to bust this balloon, never, not even if she
hugs me for a hundred years." We were happy to have pleased him, to have
contributed to his career.
The Balloon Man won't sell to kids.
Kids will come up to the Balloon Man and say, "Give us a blue balloon, Balloon Man,"
and the Balloon Man will say, "Get outa here kids, these balloons are adults-only."
And the kids will say, "C'mon, Balloon Man, give us a red balloon and a green balloon
and a white balloon, we got the money." "Don't want any kid-money," the Balloon
Man will say, "kid-money is wet and nasty and makes your hands wet and nasty and
then you wipe 'em on your pants and your pants get all wet and nasty and you sit
down to eat and the chair gets all wet and nasty, let that man in the brown hat
draw near, he wants a balloon." And the kids will say, "Oh please Balloon Man, we
want five yellow balloons that never pop, we want to make us a smithereen." "Ain't
gonna make no smithereen outa my fine yellow balloons," says the Balloon Man,
"your red balloon will pop sooner and your green balloon will pop later but your yellow
balloon will never pop no matter how you stomp on it or stick it and besides the
Balloon Man don't sell to kids, it's against his principles."
The Balloon Man won't let you take his picture. He has something to hide. He's a
superheavy Balloon Man, doesn't want the others to steal his moves. It's all in the
gesture -- the precise, reunpremeditated right move.
Balloon Man sells the Balloon of Fatigue and the Bal loon of Ora Pro Nobis and the
Rune Balloon and the Balloon of the Last Thing to Do at Night; these are saffron-,
cinnamon-, salt-, and celery-colored, respectively. He sells the Balloon of Not Yet and
the Balloon of Sometimes. He works the circus, every circus. Some people don't go
to the circus and so don't meet the Balloon Man and don't get to buy a balloon. That's
sad. Near to most people in any given city at any given time won't be at the circus.
That's unfortunate. They don't get to buy a brown, whole-life-long cherishable Sir
Isaiah Berlin Balloon. "I don't sell the Balloon Jejune," the Balloon Man will say, "let
them other people sell it, let them other people have all that wet and nasty kid-money
mitosising in their sock. That a camera you got there mister? Get away." Balloon
Man sells the Balloon of Those Things I Should Have Done I Did Not Do, a beige
balloon. And the Balloon of the Ballade of the Crazy Junta, crimson of course.
Balloon Man stands in a light rain near the popcorn pushing the Balloon of Wish I
Was, the Balloon of Busoni Thinking, the Balloon of the Perforated Septum, the
Balloon of Not Nice. Which one is my balloon, Balloon Man? Is it the Balloon of the
Cartel of Noose Makers? Is it the Balloon of God Knows I Tried?
One day the Balloon Man will meet the Pin Lady. It's in the cards, in the stars, in the
entrails of sacred animals. Pin Lady is a woman with pins stuck in her couture, rows
of pins and pins not in rows but placed irregularly here a pin there a pin, maybe eight
thousand pins stuck in her couture or maybe ten thousand pins or twelve thousand
pins. Pin Lady tells the truth. The embrace of Balloon Man and Pin Lady will be
something to see. They'll roll down the hill together, someday. Balloon Man's arms
will be wrapped around Pin Lady's pins and Pin Lady's embrangle will be wrapped
around Balloon Man's balloons -- even the yellow balloons. They'll roll down the hill
together. Pin Lady has the Pin of I Violently Desire. She has the Pin of Crossed
Fingers Behind My Back, she has the Pin of Soft Talk, she has the Pin of No More
and she is rumored to have the Pin of the Dazed Sachem's Last Request She's into
puncture. When puncture becomes widely accepted and praised, it will be the women
who will have the sole license to perform it, Pin Lady says.
Pin Lady has the Pin of Tomorrow Night -- a wicked pin those who have seen it say.
That great hug, when Balloon Man and Pin Lady roll down the hill together, will be
frightening. The horses will run away in all directions Ordinary people will cover their
heads with shopping bags. I don't want to think about it. You blow up all them
balloons yourself, Balloon Man? Or did you have help? Pin Lady, how come you're
so apricklededee? Was it something in your childhood?
Balloon Man will lead off with the Balloon of Grace Under Pressure, Do Not Pierce or
Pin Lady will counter with the Pin of Oh My, I Forgot.
Balloon Man will produce the Balloon of Almost Wonderful. Pin Lady will come back
with the Pin of They Didn't Like Me Much. Balloon Man will sneak in there with the
Balloon of the Last Exit Before the Toll Is Taken. Pin Lady will reply with the Pin of
One Never Knows for Sure. Balloon Man will propose the Balloon of Better Days. Pin
Lady, the Pin of Whiter Wine.
It's gonna be bad, I don't want to think about it.
Pin Lady tells the truth. Balloon Man doesn't lie, exactly. How can the Quibbling
Balloon be called a lie? Pin Lady is more straightforward. Balloon Man is less
straightforward. Their stances are semiantireprophetical. They're falling down the hill
together, two falls out of three. Pin him, Pin Lady. Expand, Balloon Man. When he
created our butter-colored balloon, we felt better. A little better. The event that had
happened to us went floating out into the world, was made useful to others. Balloon
Man says, "I got here the Balloon of the Last Concert. It's not a bad balloon. Some
people won't like it. Some people will like it. I got the Balloon of Too Terrible.
Not every balloon can make you happy. Not every balloon can trigger glee. But I
insist that these balloons have a right to be heard! Let that man in the black cloak
step closer, he wants a balloon.
"The Balloon of Perhaps. My best balloon."