Summer Songs from the Blimp Ruins
In the gloaming, the boy wearing a Charlie Brown shirt is on the mound. He’s pitching. He peers in for a sign. The girl who says the sky isn’t falling because it already fell is catching. She flashes a sign that reads They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot. The girl with the Hula Hoop is batting without a bat; she wields a transistor radio and the radio is singing “Don’t you ever ask them why — if they told you, you would cry.” The girl with the Hula Hoop spins her hoop, around it spins as she stands, motionless, a statue in the batter’s box, motionless as the spinning slows to a wobble, a wobble with a rattle, that huckleberry friend of a wobble, before coming to a rest. Clutching her radio, the girl picks up the Hula Hoop and runs toward first base, rolling the hoop as she picks up speed. “Safe!” she bellows, kicking up the dirt as she crosses the first-base bag.
Playing first base is the boy who draws comic strips featuring parents from the neighborhood. The dads he draws wear cadet blue Sansabelt slacks and his moms appear to be comfortable in Jif® commercial housecoats. He gives all of them supermarket scuff-mark eyes and each carries signs that say things like Put a tiger in your tank and It’s the real thing. He doesn’t give the parents ears. “You’re not safe,” he says to the girl with the Hula Hoop. “You can’t keep running! Do you hear me?” She hears him and she hears the radio sing “Ball of confusion — that’s what the world is today” as she dashes past four sisters who might not be sisters, but they sure seem like sisters. They do this clapping thing while chanting in singsong: "… twilight in heaven / sending my love to you / what is the mee-ee-EEN-ing / of flowers bloo-oo-OO-ming?" The girl with the Hula Hoop listens to the sisters who might not be sisters, but she doesn’t listen long. She rounds the bag, rolls the hoop and sets her sights on third.
In between second base and third base is the boy who stomps bumblebees and wedges them into the trunks of his Hot Wheels cars. His smile is a snarl that bites off the heads of Hamburglar puppets and his hair smells like SpaghettiOs®. His shirt is a message board for lung cancer, boasting I’d walk a mile for a Camel. He’s playing shortstop. “You’re anything but safe,” he says to the girl with the Hula Hoop, which is spinning itself into a frenzy. “I’m … as … safe … as … I … want … to … be,” she huffs as she slides into third, her radio struggling to keep up, sweating bullets as it testifies, faintly, “Tell it all, brother, before we fall.”
The girl who lost her Liddle Kiddles in a mysterious sandbox incident is playing third base. She’s also playing cat’s cradle and sporting a Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry Kool-Aid Fu Manchu. “Feel the night — it’s in my ears and it’s in my eyes and it’s in my heart and I’m frightened because it’s really only just me out here in the night and I don’t know but maybe it’s as close as we’re ever going to get,” she says to the girl with the Hula Hoop who, after dusting herself off, post slide, is making a break for home. “Yes, I feel it,” the girl with the Hula Hoop replies while she runs. She doesn’t look back. “It’s definitely only me out here.” The radio is a siren: “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming — we’re finally on our own.”
As the girl with the Hula Hoop heads for home, she feels the darkness — it’s falling. Hard. She slip-slides to a stop between third and home, and looks up at the suddenly bellicose night. It’s hovering, this night is, she thinks. Then she sees it. All the girls and boys see it. They hear it. The Goodyear Blimp, bumping along, bouncing, breathing and otherwise blimping. Above this baseball field. During this game. On this night.
“Hey!” says the girl who says the sky isn’t falling because it already fell.
The blimp beeps, it boops, it flashes a message that lights up the sky in the reedy reds and neoprene greens of late summer: Play Ball!
“It’s singing to us!” shout the sisters who might not be sisters.
“Let’s sing back!” says the boy wearing a Charlie Brown shirt.
“No — you might ruin it,” says the girl with the Hula Hoop as she slides safely into home, spinning the hoop like a Battling Top on the plate. “I think we should simply accept their song, their message, for the gracious gesture that it is. It is enough — more than enough — that they have reached out to us. Acknowledged us. Heard us. Reassured us. On this night. In this darkness.”
“Preach,” says the boy who draws comic strips featuring earless parents from the neighborhood. “Speaking words of wisdom … ”
“I hate that song,” says the boy who stomps bumblebees.
Down along the third base line, the girl with the Hula Hoop’s radio is doing deep-breathing exercises on the wheat straw grass. The blimp whirs and whimpers overhead. “O-o-h child things are gonna get easier,” the radio wheezes.
About the Author: Pat Foran is a writer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work has appeared in such publications as WhiskeyPaper, Bending Genres, formercactus, MoonPark Review, Unbroken Journal and FIVE:2:ONE #thesideshow. Find him on twitter at @pdforan