I sat on the rocking chair on my front porch. The chair was left by the previous owner of my home. I kept it because my porch doesn't feel whole without the rocking chair to break the monotony of empty space outside my front door. When I moved into the house six years ago I discovered the chair atop the asbestos floor in the finished basement room—what is now my den—facing a large painting of an unfamiliar village on an unfamiliar hillside that hung crooked on the wall. The painting could've been perfect yard sale bait between a framed velvet Elvis, and another framed velvet Elvis. Anyway, the basement room was otherwise empty. I imagine the old fella', whose memories must linger in my home like arthritic ghosts I unceremoniously stomp daily, sat there rocking dawn to dusk and fixating on the painting until he was overcome by double vision or legal blindness.
Sunday morning I sat on his rocking chair. I stared at the gorgeous morning like I imagine the old man stared at the painting.
I could see a slice of backyard behind the duplex across the street. A young girl—too young to color in the lines—was dawdling about. She was holding a helium filled balloon. Something happened that caused the balloon's string to dislodge from her weak grasp. Perhaps she stepped on a bumblebee. The balloon ascended skyward like a Mylar Jesus who'd rethought the second coming and figured "Screw this place. I'm going home." The girl began wailing. I watched the balloon climb until it became swallowed by the sun's brilliance, as were my pupils. Darkness momentarily overcame me. She continued wailing. As the gorgeous morning returned to focus it occurred to me that there is nothing else in the little girl's world at this moment besides the tragedy of the escaped balloon. That is it. Nothing else.
I considered what was going on in the adult world I inhabit, the world supposedly mature enough to color within the lines? What vile headlines raced leftward across the ticker to disappear off screen only to reappear from behind like a rabid Pac Man chasing his tail? Behold cackling warlords waiving semi-automatic weapons and directing amateur beheading porn somewhere on the dusty side of the globe. And international dignitaries as deserving of being heads of state as Justin Bieber being a life coach, despite wearing lapel pins and flashing credentials permitting access to the shiny toilets at the UN Headquarters. And school girls kept under floorboards in an African dessert, awaiting god's command to be hawked to Jihadist pimps. And a rampaging virgin leaving bodies like breadcrumbs on the Santa Barbara streets, marking the trail back to a rejected kindergarten kiss. And evangelical missionaries exorcising condoms from the shanties while gleefully marking down the days until the rapture, using AIDS babies as counting beans. And knucklehead politicians believing 99.9% of climatologists are puppets to renewal energy companies that years ago paid-off the CIA to shoot Kennedy brainless so the Hollywood elite could film the lunar landing in an underground soundstage to instill a "can do" attitude among millions of Americans including a young David Stern who pursued the NBA commissionership solely to rig the 1985 entry-level draft enabling the New York Knick to select the "Hoya Destroyer" Patrick Ewing while the Indiana Pacers front office wept for a better tomorrow.
My senses returned to the sobbing girl across the street. Somehow the balloon's escape was more harrowing to her than the totality of every desperate headline. But the balloon had disappeared long enough that her spirits gradually rose back to a naïve sea level.
I leaned back into my rocking chair and took a deep breath. Some peeling varnish stuck to my bare back. When I leaned forward and exhaled the varnish specs ripped from the cracked wood. I returned to admiring the gorgeous morning like I imagine the old man admired the painting. Aw yes, the balloon is gone.