this story stems from: The Tunguska Event - "Balloon" by Dr. Maximilian Tunguska so you may want to give it a look see first.
44,986... 44,987... 44,988...
i held up a finger to silence the man who had cleared his throat for the third time in an attempt to garner my attention. men, it seems, are always demanding something that isn't theirs.
44,989... 44,990... 44,991...
44,991! i said triumphantly throwing the last hay straw up and over the rim of the balloon's basket.
"and now", i said to the ever impatient evil eyed waiter; "what is it you want?"
he drew in a great amount of air and with his upper lip askew and his eyes rolled toward his brow in disgust he issued forth one very overly exaggerated sigh. he then raised the white paper napkin he had draped over his arm, drew out a package wrapped in a plain brown paper and pushed it toward me; "this was sent to you next week. it arrived here for you yesterday."
"who sent it?"
"your comrade Dr. Tunguska"
"is is ticking?"
another roll of his eyes ensued - this guy is really pushing it if he wants a tip, i thought, he hasn't even taken my order yet. "no madame it is not ticking. would you expect that it should be?"
"no. but if it were i would ask that you open it for me... somewhere in the next block."
"madame, if it were ticking i would have been instructed to open it tomorrow before you arrived."
"so true." i smiled, waving him into the basket. "how is it you know those two so well?"
"it is my job to know, and anticipate, everything. i am paid quite well for it too i might add..." much to my own irritation he was able to climb into the balloon basket i could not get out of with ease. "...and to answer your next question; it's genetics. plain and simple. you just got the short end of the stick." he smiled ever so slightly so as not to offend.
"thank you for not telling me that height is a state of mind. i've tried that. it doesn't work."
he smiled, wider this time; "but have you ever tried heels?"
now it was my turn to try his eye rolling gesture.
i took the package from him and proceeded to remove a checkered picnic cloth from his left front pocket which he flipped smartly out onto the floor of the basket. from his right front pocket he pulled a single spoon and a single crystal goblet. "i have also been instructed to deliver your meal."
"i will take that to mean my package does not contain a ladder..."
"madame would be correct."
"may i also assume the crystal goblet means i won't be eating curry."
"correct again." he said, motioning for me to sit on the cloth. once i did he began filling the goblet with soft vanilla ice cream. where he pulled that from i have no idea, and i didn't ask, i was however more than appreciative that it wasn't chocolate...
he then expertly sparkled my spoon with the paper napkin and handed it to me. "would madame be needing anything else?" he asked, after straightening the napkin back over his arm.
"no, thank you."
"very well then. i shall return to your comrades." he climbed easily out of the basket, again irritatingly so, but turned back to peer over the side. "i understand how the hay needles came to be in the basket, i have seen the way Indigo drives, but why were you were counting them?"
"i thought you were paid well to know everything?"
"true. but i am no mind reader... actually come to think of it, mind reading pays better... ah but then..." he sighed. "it also requires more training than i am up for at my age..."
"age. yes. that i understand. stifles the best of us... well. the truth? i got bored after i wore myself out trying to jump high enough to get out of this damn basket. i decided then to see if the hay would give me a leg up. so, first, i stacked it into a pile, but it kept tumbling when i stood on it. so after a puzzled a bit more i decided to bundle them into a hundred small bales which i secured with rubber bands and stacked them. i made a grand set of steps i did. but, again, they tumbled. the third attempt then caused the contents of my purse to spill out..."
"which would account for the steering wheel being covered with slick red lip tint" he remarked.
"exactly. it was the first thing i recovered from the hay. didn't want all that searching to go to waste and besides" i said with an evil glint. "i can't wait to see Indigo slip off when he..." i stopped myself there. after all a lady knows when, and when not, to use her evil laugh. ...anyway, after that i started counting the needles..."
"madame is quite... is quite... em... " he searched for a word which i happily attempted to fill in; "creative?... inventive?... beautiful?... stunning?... smart?..."
"actually in a 'whole heap o' trouble' i'd think."
"nothing new there then." i said, finishing my ice cream. "why is it i didn't get curry?"
"your comrades ordered everything from the menu but the ice cream."
"let me rephrase that: your comrades ordered and have nearly completed eating everything in The Euthanasia Curry House. the ice cream, which we actually don't have, i had to retrieve from the parlor on the corner. evidently your comrades have a...."
"plan." we both said at the same time though in very differing tones.
immediately i tore open the package and revealed a pink fire retardant HAZMAT suit, a box of long stemmed fireplace matches and a note which read: Dearest Eolist, next week i stumbled upon an entirely new fuel source. Suit up!
there was sudden sound of gunshots and the waiter instinctively ducked as a cork flew over his head at such great force it singed his hair in its wake. the smell that followed was fierce.
"didn't i tell you the corks wouldn't hold?!"
"we don't have time for this discussion again Indigo! especially now! just run!"
the waiter and i again spoke the same words in unison, this time in the self same tone; "oh hell.....!"
i fast suited up while he covered his face with the paper napkin and disappeared into the green fog that was beginning to surround The Euthanasia Curry House.
i was zipping the last zip on the HAZMAT suit wondering if greasing the fake steering wheel with lip gloss had actually been a good idea when Indigo and Max swung themselves into the basket using my newly installed holy shit handle.
"brilliant!" Dr. Tunguska remarked looking at me; "the package arrived on schedule."
"and the suit fits like a glove too! told you it would." Indigo added. "do i know short or what?!?"
"that you do, my friend." he answered, handing Indigo a gas mask. "and a good thing too. anyone taller would not have been at the correct trajectory line..."
"and anyone without that suit wouldn't have a fighting chance."
Dr Tunguska snorted a laugh; "speaking of, did you happen to notice the new part in our waiter's hair as he passed us?"
"that i did mate. gives new meaning to the term 'wind blown' doesn't it?"
"doesn't it just?" he grinned as he pulled a series of tiny chained tubes from his back pocket and fashioned them into a chair which, after licking his finger to check the wind direction, he sat next to me cocked ever so slightly toward the west. "Ms. Petite, if you will." he said, motioning for me to sit. and i did. "wonderful! now, when i give the signal i want you to light one match and hold it just here. got it?"
"yes i got it." i answered trying out the position he'd just placed my hand in to be sure.
he corrected the turn of my wrist a bit; "just here. remember. any closer and this entire experiment could be a disaster." he then pulled a stethoscope from his front pocket and began to insert the tubes into his ears. Indigo, already in his gas mask, stood at his back mimicking his motions. "don't be a monkey Roth, there isn't time! besides you have already wasted precious resources parting hair." he put the stethoscope to Roth's belly.
"parting hair was nothing! just wait a while and i'll part the sea!"
"quiet Roth! i'm trying to read the rumbles... good. good. oooh very good!" he then put the scope to his own belly. "brilliant! i think we're brewed and ready. now remember Roth, bend just this way and stay in this zone. any further ahead or back could be a disaster."
"got it." Roth said.
both men turned their backs to me and i began to feel just the tiniest amount of fear.
"Okay Eolist, on the count of seven light the match." Tunguska said, before applying his own gas mask. "One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Sevennnnn..."
Indigo and Max bent forward and farted as i lit the match...
and slipping just a little Indigo reached out to catch himself on the steering wheel...