The blue ones were the easiest to blow up, so Owen saved them for last. When it was all over, he was winded, with floaters and sparkles undulating in his periphery. A few times, his oxygen-deficient brain had tried to convince him that an inside-out Liza Minelli was climbing backward down his dining room wall. Maybe I expelled too much breath, he thought, plopping down on the chaise.
Hallucinations and beestung lips aside, Owen stood back and basked in the beautiful array of birthday balloons ricocheting with static electricity and adding bursts of latex grandeur in otherwise naked corners of the room. It was worth the hours it took to blow them up on his own, even when a few naughty ones decided to pop in his face and leave welts that stung like souvenirs from a scorned lover.
Yes, Owen was very proud of his work and couldn’t wait for his mother to walk into her surprise party later that evening. Balloons reminded her of batting around blown-up condoms at summer music festivals so he was sure it would prove beguiling for her.
Owen found that he had devoted a little too much time to balloon bloating, and not enough to the soiree’s snacks. Inviting his brother Pierre over an hour early to finish draping streamers from the rafters, Owen slipped into the kitchen to begin deviling eggs and stabbing cocktail wieners with colorful plastic swords.
When Owen re-entered the dining room, a tray of hors d’oeuvres balanced precariously on each skyward palm, he was stricken to see that Pierre had penetrated every last balloon with the metal file that Owen had sworn was confiscated after Pierre mutilated that biker gang by the river last fall.
For a few seconds, Owen stood motionless amongst the latex carnage, shock rendering him speechless. And then, in a mad fervor, Owen banished Pierre from the party, swearing that what Pierre had done was irreparable.
The next day, Pierre stood on Owen’s doorstep and, with a lopsided grin, presented him with a potted plant.
“You think you can patch the popped pearls of my party with your puny potted plant, Pierre?” Owen wailed in anguish. Slamming the door in his face, Owen was unsure if he could ever forgive his brother. But the one thing he was sure of was that the metal file had been usurped once and for all.