Sunday I was assisting Boyfriend in the very unenviable task of replacing the engine in his 1992 Ford truck. I won't go into how things progressed, but more than once I was reminded of Darren McGavin repairing the furnace in 'A Christmas Story'.
It went on like this for hours. We were in the Valley – and it was becoming overheated. I was manning some sort of hydraulic mini-crane lift thing. But I was careful not to complain – Boyfriend was really having a miserable time of it.
Still, vehicular sympathy was not keeping my interests from roaming. Across the alley a single orange was lying on the asphalt, separated from its tree mother by the machinations of one of the local squirrels. A pair of doves were resting on the telephone wire – undoubtedly scouting out the unused nest in the garage, but also fascinated by the un-dovely racket racket emanating from the large stationary metal object in the driveway.
And then I saw it. My glance had wandered upwards, to the hot, blank sky. And like something from Duchamp, from Magritte, from a poem by Seymour Glass…solitary, pointless, surreal: a yellow balloon scaling the heights, so high that if it had been evening it could have been punctured by the crescent moon we had been featuring all this past week.
I wondered vaguely from where it had come; from what party it had escaped; or maybe it was ascending on the food fumes of a picnic at one of the local parks. But the sleek little daub in the sky was so removed from earthly matters, it seemed to have slipped all traces harnessing it to reality. If I had looked up a moment sooner, I probably would have witnessed its spontaneous, emergent birth from the blue ozone. There was no child standing on the sidewalk, crying at the loss of an inflated toy. No one had missed it. No one probably knew it was there.