Tuesday, June 29

It's real late at night when I wake up on the sidewalk curled up next to the fire hydrant. I wake up because someone poked me in the ribs with a shoe.

The balloon man in the red and white striped shirt is standing above me. I sit up and rub my eyes under my goggles. Mr. Happy Puppet Head is sleeping next to me, breathing loudly through his open mouth.

"Good evening, Henry." says the balloon man.

"It's the Midnight Mailman." I stand up. "Why did you give me that balloon of destiny and why did it make me do those things?"

He smiles and rubs his stubbled old face with his palm. "Every balloon of destiny is different, and they all have their reasons for doing various things. Sometimes what you really need in life is to find fifty bucks on the ground, sometimes you need a big goiter on your neck, and other times all you need is to become a crazy religious fanatic who takes famous morning talk-show hosts hostage on national television. But it's always for the best."

"I don't get it."

"Think about it, Henry. Think about all the great things that happened to you since I gave you the balloon. Remember how you stayed in your room for days on end without eating or sleeping? Remember selling your house and everything you own so you could be homeless for the sake of it? Remember how the balloon took over your brain and made you yell incohrent things at strangers and alienate your only friend in the world?"

I nod my head. I remember.

"Well," he says. "Wasn't that pretty great?"

This time I shake my head. "I don't think it was pretty great at all."

"In time, Henry. In time. You'll understand."

I hear something behind me and it's all those kids that chased me all those weeks ago.
"Charles." they whisper. "Charles. Charles. Charles. Charles." They pick up the sleeping Mr. Happy Puppet Head and carry him gently in their little children arms. "Charles."

"Go with them, Henry. They'll set things straight again." He tips his red hat, "Goodnight to you, the Midnight Mailman." And he walks off into the shadows of suburbia.

"Charles. Charles." A little girl tugs on my cape and I follow them down the street.

Friday, June 25

Howie the little girl holds up her pet old man head and looks at it. Really looks at it hard and tries to pretend she's never met her best friend in the world before. She wonders what he looked like alive, and is glad he doesn't look that way. His eyes would all be moving around and his mouth would be talking all the time. He might even have some dumb body that would make it hard for Howie to carry him around under her arm. And she would have to worry about dressing him and making sure his fingernails were clipped. And if he were alive, he might go wandering off. One of Howie's favorite things about her bestest friend is that she always knows where he is.

She likes his eyes all milky and vacant. She likes his face completely expressionless, slack, and a little puffy. She likes the green tint to his skin and the rotting smell that keeps getting worse no matter how much of her mom's perfume she sprays him with.

She loves her pet old man head exactly as he is, and she wouldn't have him any other way.

Wednesday, June 23

We've been running re-runs of the show for the past month or so, but our producers tell me we have to start doing new ones again. I'm not up for it, but the show is important. So here we are in front of the cameras and a live studio audience full of antsy children.

I stare at them for a long time after the opening applause. I can't remember how to do this whole TV thing. I say Hi and do a little wave. Then I stare at them for a little while longer.

"You should always brush your teeth." I tell them, and I do a little brushing-teeth motion with my hands. "And never kill anything ever. And stay away from any and all kinds of balloons. They destroy your life." I notice a small girl is holding a bright red balloon in the audience. I point her out and ask her to come down on stage. As she walks nervously onto the stage, all the other children clap and yell.

She tells me her name is Barbara. I shake her hand and smile.

"Where did you get that balloon, Barbara?"

"My mom bought it for me."

I nod my head and stare into the red depths of that hideous inflated latex. My heart starts beating and I kind of zone out. I grab the balloon by the string and yank it out of the girl's hand. I put it under my boot and stomp it real quick. It slides out and I have to do it again. The little girl screams as I successfully pop it with my heel. I throw the piece of red rubber accross the stage as hard as I can. I think I probably let out one of those primal grunts as I did that. I hope so.

And then we're back to staring at the audience. What was I talking about?

Mr. Happy Puppet Head comes bobbling out. He's drinking a soda and eating some cheese crackers. "Hey, what are we doing now?"

"Oh! Hey, kids! It's our friend Mr. Happy Puppet Head! He's here to tell us a joke! Yay!" Only some of them clap. They look scared.

"Nah, I don't have any jokes right now. Just that one about the nun I always tell."

This TV thing is so hard. How about a cartoon? Yeah, let's go to a cartoon.

**********************
Arpit and Bloodbath in "People Die for No Reason All the Time"

Arpit and his best friend Bloodbath the unemployed pirate captain are standing outside of their suburban apartment building.

An old man in a wheelchair wheels up to them. "I'm very old." he tells them. The two friends aggree. "I lived a full life and saw a lot of funny things. Like people falling down and getting hurt."

"Yeah!" Arpit aggrees. "I've seen that, too."

And then the old man dies, his head falls off, I think. Then a schoolbus full of children and their loving parents drives past and bursts into flames. Some birds from the sky drop dead at Bloodbath's feet. One of the birds is a bald eagle. A girl Arpit has a crush on walks by and chokes on a Hostess Twinkie. There is nothing they can do to save her. Arpit builds a memorial shrine made out of his tear-stained pillow case.

The End.

Tuesday, June 22

We're in line to buy ice cream from the ice cream truck. Me and Mr. Happy Puppet Head begged for money and some kids gave it to us. Three dollars. I wanted to buy a sandwich or a burrito or something, but Mr. Happy Puppet Head demanded an ice cream cone. He had this look in his eye, really intense and verging on crazy. So I acquiesced. And here we are.

I don't want to be street people anymore. My cape is getting all torn up and I smell bad. Mr. Happy Puppet Head keeps getting twigs stuck in his fur and he cries when he thinks I'm not looking. I don't know what to do next. The balloon of destiny told me that selling the house and living on the sidewalk was a good idea, the best posible idea. I haven't yet figured out why. Maybe that balloon of destiny was broken.

I get some fudge pop thing and Mr. Happy Puppet Head gets one of those big mega cone things with nuts and chocolate and almond ice cream inside. He's so excited about it that he eats it all in one big gulp before I even open the chocolate pop.

He looks sadly at his empty wrapper, then looks sadly up at me. I give him my chocolate pop, and he tries eating it at slowly as he can, which is still pretty fast.

"Hey," he says, chocolate smeared around his furry mouth. "Let's have a race!"

"What kind of race?" I ask.

"Like a running kind. Where we see who can run faster."

That sounds like a good idea. I haven't had a footrace in years and I'm genuinely interested to see who is faster, me or him.

"Okay," I say. I point to the stop sign at the end of the block, maybe a hundred yards away. "First one to the stopsign."

"I'll eat you alive and spit you out, shit bag." Mr. Happy Puppet Head yells. The little kids in line turn around and stare at us.

"You ready?" I ask. He nods his head yes. "On your mark, get set, go!" And we run. Or I run and he floats as fast as he can, bobbing up and down in the air, tongue flapping around in the air.

We're even so far. I'd be ahead if I weren't wearing these big rubber boots, but I might still win.

Mr. Happy Puppet Head suddenly jumps in front of me and I stumble a little, just a little, but enough for him to get ahead. I use the last little bit of energy to surge forwards and knock him out of the way. He's still ahead, but I'm catching up, using everything I have.

Closer and closer to the stopsign. I slowly pass Mr. Happy Puppet Head, who's breathing is ragged and wheezy.

Almost there, rubber coated feet pounding the hot black pavement, threadbare cape flapping in the winds, gloved hands pumping... and then I see him. The balloon man with the red and white stripped shirt. He's sitting on someone's porch swing smiling at me. The man who started all of this homelessness stuff. I trip over my own feet and fall down.

I roll a little bit and tear my cape pretty bad, but I'm not really hurt. Just some scratches and bruises. I look up to where the balloon man was, but he's gone. All I see is Mr. Happpy Puppet Head running past the stop sign and yelling joyfully.

I pull myself to my feet. "Balloon man?" I call out. But he's nowhere. That's who I need to find, that's who'll know why everything turned out the way it did. Maybe he'll even be able to set things straight. Or at least lend me some cash to get dinner.

Monday, June 21

A WEEK AT THE FILM FESTIVAL
(presented in Widescreen)

I wonder if Heather will sneak in and sit next to me in the movie. If she does, I'll put one hand on her knee.


Thanks for the drinks, Heather. I think I feel very drunk now.


We slept in the same bed several times. I saw her naked.

The End.

Sunday, June 20

My best friend Bradley's dad died today, on father's day, and I don't know what to write about. It's hot and I'm tired and he was like a dad to me. I can't remember the last time I cried so much, maybe when I was a little kid. I usually can't cry at all, not even when my grandpa died two months ago.

He came out to my shows when I played them, even when I wasn't in a band with his son anymore. He always told me I was getting better at the drums. And he didn't even get really mad when I put a hole in his wall by throwing Bradley into it during the knifey-chasey game.

David Bailey. He was 46. One of the absolute best people I'll ever know.

...

Tuesday, June 15

Howie the little girl doesn't understand what the term "disaster face" means. "What does 'disaster face' mean?" she asks Bermuda and Steve.

Bermuda scratches the inside of their left thigh as he ignores the little girl holding the severed head. Steve looks up at the clouds and whistles as he ignores her.

"What does 'disaster face' mean?" she asks again. "And did you mean me, or Head?" She holds up her pet old man head for emphasis.

After about thirty seconds of waiting for a response and getting nothing but an explicit view of inner-thigh scratching and a tuneless whistle, she shrugs and turns to walk away.

"Hey Disaster FACE!" shout Bermuda and Steve at once. Howie stops and turns again, and Bermuda and Steve run away. They trip over a shrub in someone's front yard and get stuck.

Howie walks up to the naked, blue, two-headed monster in the bush. "You're right, Head," she says. "I think they are the disaster face."

"Hey, help us up, huh?" says Bermuda.

"No one's ever going to help us with that tone of voice." says Steve.

"What tone of voice do you think would be better?" asks Bermuda.

"How about... supercilious?" says Steve.

"I don't even know what that word means. Maybe we should just offer to give her something if she helps us?"

"Like what?" asks Steve. But Howie is already gone. She's tired of naked, blue, two-headed monsters calling her cryptic names and then figuring out how to make her help them out of a bush. She's gonna go pawn her mom's jewelry to buy candy.

"I told you not to do that!" yells the woman from the back porch. Her hair is in curlers and she's wearing a green flower print dress. "What if the kids are out there?"

The man in the dirty white undershirt aims the pistol at his child's playset and fires. The crack of the gun drowns out whatever else his wife says after the part about the kids. He fires three more times, creating three more perfect little black dots on the shiny metal slide.

"The kids aren't out here." He says. He fires again, but misses.

"But what if they come out here? What if they get shot by accident?"

There's no point in arguing. He flips the safety trigger and lowers the gun to his side. "I'm sorry," he says, and steps past her into their tiny house.

"Sex later?" she asks.

"Yes." But he'd rather shoot at the slide.

So we're sidewalk people still, but now there's no balloon and I forget why we wanted to be sidwalk people so badly to begin with. I'm depressed. They didn't even let me keep the popped balloon remnants. At least that would have been something.

I don't know who shot the balloon or why. But I miss it so. My balloon of destiny. Like a big chunk of my heart was ripped off. With it I had all these ideas flowing through me... passion, intensity... now nothing. And we're homeless.

And those police really hurt my feelings. Like digging at an already deep wound with one of those small garden shovels. They didn't arrest us becuase we're sort of famous and work for the station, but they sure told us off.

Mr. Happy Puppet Head thinks it's funny. He's lying in the grass, basking in the sun, all smile. Every now and then he giggles a little.

"Hey," calls a voice behind me. I turn around. "What are you doing on my lawn?"

"I'm sorry." I tell him. I scoot down to sit in the middle of the hot white sidewalk.

"I don't want you guys in front of my house. Get out of here before I call the cops." He's fat and wearing a plaid shirt. He isn't bald, but his head would look much better without that awful haircut.

"Hey buddy," says Mr. Happy Puppet Head, eyes still closed as he remains on the lawn. "It's a free country, remember?"

"Yeah, but it's my lawn. Get off it."

"Come on, Mr. Happy Puppet Head. Let's go."

"No way, man." He gets up and bobbles over to the angry guy. "Like I said, it's a free country. And not only are we free to sit in front of your house, but I'm free to kick your dumpy ass."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah."

They stare each other down. I almost say something, but I hold it in. I don't want anyone to get hurt, but a little scuffle would take my mind off of things.

"Oh yeah?" the man repeats.

"Oh yeah?" Mr. Happy Puppet Head mimics.

"Oh yeah?" the man repeats.

"Oh yeah?" Mr. Happy Puppet Head mimics.

"Hey," says the man.

"Hey," says Mr. Happy Puppet Head.

"Stop that," says the man.

"Stop that," says Mr. Happy Puppet Head.

"I'm warning you, buddy."

"I'm warning you, buddy," and Mr. Happy Puppet Head, who has been trying to keep an angry face like the plaid man was wearing, bursts out laughing. The plaid man glares at the floating furry head in front of him. He wags a fat calloused finger at Mr. Happy Puppet Head before storming accross his lawn, getting out the hose and spraying us with cold water.

Mr. Happy Puppet Head instanty stops laughing and lunges at the man. He knocks him down and they wrestle around in the soggy grass. They yell and grunt a lot.

I hope he doesn't get beat up too badly. I'm already going to have to live with that awful puppet head smell he gets when he's wet, I don't want him crying and bleeding, too.

Damn I miss my balloon.

Sunday, June 13

The electronic broadcasting/recording mechanicals are trained upon my beaming vissage. Upon arrival to the television studio we had encountered problems of various sorts about entering during another programs shooting schedule. But my message can flame like the fires of Heaven in my meager body no longer.

"I will pull your tracheas from your vile throats if you don't shut yourselves up right this second!" I scream at the audience, the daytime talk show hosts, the stage manager with the headphones, and even Mr. Happy Puppet Head who's doubts about my actions are all to vocal. "You will listen with all attentive ears to my preachings, and your souls will become purged of all non-purity and you will fall to your knees thanking the God you have yet to even know about that I came to threaten your lives and ruin your daily talk show rubbish."

The room is hushed. Balloon of Destiny is in my left hand, my right arm wrapped tight around the neck of the old man, the one who hosts the talk show. He squirms and I tighten my grip.

"The world is not how your percieve it!" I point at their stupid faces. "Your eyes give you images of happiness and sadness, good and bad, rain and no rain, puppies and kittens, carpet and pudding wrestling, but they are all false idols. Cast your idiot eyes towards this floating jem of beautifying castillion! This marvel of the Universe, our savior of all saviors!" The Balloon bobs happily back and forth above my head.

And the people, this audience, they look at me, confusion casting a palor over their pupils, their jaws hanging agape. Mr. Happy Puppet Head looks embarassed. I can't hear what he's saying to the attractive co-host, but I assume it's mutinous.

"Do you mean that balloon?" calls out a fat woman in a floral print tunic. "Is that what you're talking about? The Marvel of the Universe is that stupid balloon?"

"Nay! Hold your toungue! To mock the Balloon of Destiny is a grave offense that will only cause your sould the painest of pains! What I hold in my hands is the answer to ALL!"

"Why?" another fat woman asks. "What does it do?"

And I look up at the Balloon. This Balloon of Destiny. My heart fills with pure love and happiness. My eyes full of tears I turn them to these fat women of floral and I speak, "There is nothing, my dear fat woman of floral, that this Balloon can't do. Nothing in this entire world worth asking can this Balloon of Destiny not do. Nothing. Nada. Zilch-a-mundo."

And that's when the sniper hiding in the rafters pulls his foul trigger, and pops the Balloon of Destiny.

Thursday, June 10

"To be alive is a beutifull thing," reads the first line in Howie the little girl's new novel. "The sun, the shining, all the prety good things. Its so great." Howie's older brother is reading it outloud. "That's not how you spell beautiful, there's an A and only one L. And you mean It apostrophe S, otherwise it's possessive."

Stupid brother. "Can I have my book back please? I'm not done with it yet."

"You wrote all this?" He flips through the fifty six pages of her book. He stops on a page near the back and reads it aloud, "The trees are real pretty, like the sky. I like to look at the sky through the trees and all the pretty green leaves..." he turns to the last page. "and flowers are so great, too. I like to smell them and look at the bugs that fly around them and I'm sad when summer is over." He slams the book shut and tosses it to the ground at her feet. "That's not how you end a book. You're a shitty writer."

Howie picks up the book and looks at her brother hard. "I'm not even done with it yet." she tells him, book hugged to her chest. "And when I am done you can't read it."

"Who wants to read it anyways? You write about stupid things that no one cares about. You need some conflict or action or something. There aren't even any characters." He jumps on his bed and takes out a comic book. "Now go away."

Howie shuffles out of her brother's room and down the hall into her own. She takes her pet old man head out from his hiding place under her bed and sets him down in the sunlight under her window. She opens the book to one of her favorite passages, the one about the stream in the woods. "I really like the way the water never stops, it's just always moving over those rocks and making them all shiny. Water is so great. And rocks. I just like to sit and watch the water. I wish I could hold it, but it just slips through my fingers."


"I don't care what he says," Howie the little girl tells her pet old man head. "I think it's a great novel."


Wednesday, June 9

The days just melt together now. The hotness, the nothingness, the empty void of day where responsiblities used to sit and twiddle their thumbs and bang on the cieling with broomsticks to make me do all those boring things I don't like to do.

The sidewalk.

"See anything new in there, buddy?" says Mr. Happy Puppet Head. He's floating over me looking down where I'm lying fetal position on the sidewalk. His mustache looks funny from this angle. "Maybe something about where my dinner's coming from tonight?"

He's talking about how all I do now is stare into the balloon. Kind of like a habit. For hours and hours I'll just gaze into that bottomless blue that is my balloon of destiny. It just goes on and on, like the reflection of a mirror, on and on and on and on. I love it so.

"I hate you, you know." He's looking the other away. I can tell he's holding back some tears, his voice is shaking a little. "You're... You're... I hate you so much." He's just sore that I gave his smooth jazz collection away.

"Shhh." I tell him. "Shhhhh."

"I hate you..." he sobs. He's full-on crying now.

I stand up. "Shhh... fret not. The balloon told me something. It's so simple, so beautiful... a revelation that will jar the world from its axis... Mr. Happy Puppet Head, soothe your woes." Tears now stream from my eyes. "A new dawn is upon us, the light glimmering down from the heavens will blind us to any and all that is not of the upmost purity. We are born again! My friend, we are born again..."

"Wait..." Mr. Happy Puppet Head sniffs. "What?"

"The balloon! We must gather a crowd, a mass of people so that I may preach mine epiphany to their starving ears, their hearts, their very immortal souls! But how? How does one raise a mass big enough to learn unto them this divine prophecy? How? Oh Ultimate Most Supreme of Beings, grant me but a sliver of your infinite wisdom and I'll invent for us a method to gather such a crowd!"

"Wait..." Mr. Happy Puppet Head looks confused. "What? Why are you talking so weird?"

"Oh! I almost forgot our electronically broadcasted television program! Fortuna! All is not lost, my dear, dear compatriate, for we have at our disposal that which is the most powerful tool of communication this world has yet to witness!" I swish my cape with pinache, style, elegance, and power as I turn away from my floating puppet friend and yell over my shoulder, "No! All is not lost! All is not lost by quite a ways! Follow me!" And I trollop down the long and twisting sidewalk, mine evisceraly ensconced heels clolopping hither and thither down said pathway, their echoing melodically traversing from one prime surface to the next such a way immenseley reminicent of the beat of one's heart. Like a really big heartbeat. While holding my balloon.

"Wait..." Mr. Happy Puppet Head calls after me. "What?"


Tuesday, June 8

So things are good now.

We sold the house. The balloon told me to. Now me and Mr. Happy Puppet Head are street people. Living on the street, nowhere to go and nothing to do anymore. No more responsibilities, worries, problems, etc. We just sit on the sidewalk and chill with the balloon of destiny. At least I do. Mr. Happy Puppet Head just sits on the sidewalk and complains.

"God dammit," he says. "It's hot." I nod my head in agreeement. It is hot. And there's no shade on this particular sidewalk. My balloon waves back and forth in the wind.

I feel freer than I've ever felt. Sometimes I'll worry about a credit card bill, then remember that those suckers got nothing on me now. I have niether a phone nor an address they can reach me at. This is great.

"Yo, gimmie your sandwich!" Mr. Happy Puppet Head yells at a woman sitting in her car at a stoplight. She looks over at him, a dollop of ketchup on her chin. "I'm hungry! Gimmie your sandwich!" She turns to look the other way, and drives off when the light turns green.

Street People is the life for me.

Friday, June 4

Bermuda and Steve get kicked out of a pizza restaurant becuase they're naked and let their junk all hang out for the kids to see. the sign on the door should say, "no shirt, no shoes, no large dangling genitalia, no service." but it doesn't. how were they to know.

Bermuda and Steve will one day run for mayor and change these crazy laws. one day everyone will appreciate the beauty of two-headed monster junk.

Thursday, June 3

I have a plan. The balloon lurks in the corner, bobbing this way and that. I haven't moved in hours. My back hurts. My eyes are all dry, I blink, but real quick. I don't want it to think I'm not alert. Because I am. I don't want it to think these past days of no sleep have worn me down to the basest of instincts, with parts of my brain shut down and motor functions left to a minimum... because they haven't. I show it that I can still touch the tip of my nose on the first try. See that, balloon?

But I have a plan.

Okay... go. I stand up real slow, eyes locked on the balloon. It watches me as I take a step to my left. Long pause. No, I'm not doing anything. Another step left, closer to the window. And another.

"Hey!" Mr. Happy Puppet Head Yells. "I'm going to the store for some toilet paper. You need anything?"

"No," I croak, "I'm okay."

"Okay. I'll be back in a little while." And the front door slams shut.

I take another step to my left, and now I'm directly in front of the window. I reach behind me, not turning away from the balloon for a moment, and slowly slide it up. People open windows, people need air. Nothing suspicious. I reach into my pocket and take out the philips head screwdriver I've had for the past 34 hours. There are four screws holding the bars to the windows. Safety bars. I find the first screw by feel, insert the screwdriver in, and slowly begin turning the handle. The balloon bobs back and forth a bit faster. It knows.

It takes about half an hour to get all the screws out, the metal grate of saftey bars falling with a dull thump into the uncut grass below. I gather my cape in my left hand and swing my legs out the window, neck craning to keep an eye on the balloon. It begins floating towards me. I slide quickly out the window and run. Run fast without turning around. Run down the street, turn the corner, turn another corner and run run run. Heart pounding, breath breathing, cape flapping crazily, etc.

I get to one of those big strip malls and stop, leaning my hand against a streetlamp. I turn around, no balloon. But I realize I should have closed the window. It'll be after me soon.

"Hey, man, what's up?" It's Mr. Happy Puppet Head. I realize I'm standing in front of the grocery store. "You remember something you needed?"

"No," I gasp. "I just... had to run... go for a run."

"Bullshit, man. You're running away from your balloon."

"No."

"You can't run from it, buddy. You can't run. Like that lady I told you with the goiter." And with that he bobbles away into the store. Bobbles like the balloon. Everything looks like that balloon. The cars, people's heads, their body's like deformed strings with legs and boobs and arms and fat stomachs and stuff.

And behind me is my balloon. My real balloon of destiny. Floating patiently a few feet from me. It doesn't look mad, but it isn't happy either.

The sun beats down on us standing on the sidewalk. I reach out and it floats over to me. I take it's string in my hand, its perfect smooth string with no boobs or arms or fat stomachs or anything.

And everything goes black.

The Mountain Climber That Was Too Old
************************************

Two mountain climbers stand at the base of a very tall mountain. One mountain climber is very young and handsome, the other is old and whitered. The mountain is far taller than either of them, even if one were to stand on the other's shoulder.

"You are too old to climb that mountain," says the young climber as he adjusts the collar of his red turtleneck shirt.

"I am not," says the old one.

"Uh huh."

"Am not. I can climb. Like that one time with Mount Everest."

"That was when you weren't too old," says the young climber. "Now you're too old."

"Fine, I'm too old. I'm going to climb it anyways."

And he fell and died.

Wednesday, June 2

Contest!
*********

What am I thinking of? I'll give you a clue, it's an ABSTRACT CONCEPT, and I associate it with GLAMOR.

As a prize, you'll get something awesome. I'll figure out what exactly when you win. But there'll be a prize if you can guess it.

okay go.

"I woke up and was like 'what's that awful smell?' and it was my face melting!"

that's what Desire' said. i think it was about a bad sunburn she had recieved. maybe from some sort of sunburn gun an angry child had shot her with. i forget the details.

"I'm so tired," says Howie the little girl. her pet old man head lies on the floor accross from her. They've stayed up late playing games and talking. "But I want to stay up and have more fun with you, Head."

Head agreees that they've had a great time. They played card games and watched a scary movie and it rained for a little while so they ran around in it. They had to be real quiet because Howie's mom and dad would get mad. But rain is so much fun, except that Howie slipped and scratched up her ankle, but she's OK. It just stings.

And now she just takes a deep breath and sucks in that deep marrow of life. The crickets and her bestest friend and an evening well spent.

"Yes," she says. "That was a good movie." And she takes the rotted old head in her arms and curls up next to her bed on the floor.

I've locked myself in my room for the past two days. I yell for Mr. Happy Puppet Head to bring me food, and he does. He makes the best sandwiches. He even cuts it diagonal, puts the little toothpicks in, and puts a pickle on the side.

I just sit on the edge of my bed and watch the balloon, the balloon watching me. It floats from side to side, but never comes towards me. We keep our distance.

What do you want, balloon of destiny. Balloon. Of. Destiny.

?

Why do such strange things happen around me when I'm holding you? The Charles', all that burned toast, the toilet overflowing with shrimps... one of the strangest things is the occasional loss of physics. I'll drop a pen and it'll do a little dance, change colors a few times, then slip neatly into my back pocket. Neat trick, but creepy.

Things like this never happened before the balloon. that balloon of destiny. should I pop it? should I sleep, then pop it? I've been sleeping very little, just light dreamless naps. I don't trust that balloon.

I just don't trust it.

that balloon.