It hung high in the white painted rafters, a half-deflated balloon, shiny and taught when new and just-inflated. Now it clung just outside of gravity’s pull, like some blue and silver ghost’s remains.
A narrow, red ribbon trailed from it, pointing to the many individuals below who were arranged in rows and rows of their own special and specific chairs. All had wheels. Most had four. Some were the same size while some had two big and two smaller. Large pizza or small, anyone? No. Not likely. No pizza had been eaten here as of late. You had to have teeth for that, or at least an appetite. Few did in this place.
Their clothing varied as much as their chariots, but one commonality existed–warmth.
Hair styles? Quite a few. But another commonality existed– their hair was gray–and it was all shades, from steel, to lead, to fake from wigs, and, of course, to bare scalps, some covered with scarfs.
Some eyes were open, clear, attentive, while many were closed. Heads were either up or hanging on necks that seemed to weak to support them. But they were only sleeping, or waiting, perhaps to become a balloon.
The list continues. Some were amputees, feet disfigured from surgery, likely due to diabetes. Most were old, but not all. Imagine waiting to float free from this place at fifty–or even younger.
What makes them smile? Sometimes a hello. A child works miracles. Sometimes music, especially when played live. A five-string-banjo perks them up and I am glad, for I am the banjo player.
We sing and play and some sing and some move slightly in their chairs, testing the brakes as if their souls were runaway balloons. If only, I’m sure.
Each face has a story, a life that has been lived, a love that has been lost, family that can’t find the time to visit. Some moan. Some tremble in their naps. Some are still, like that half-deflated balloon’s corpse barely floating overhead.
But I hope to make them stir. I hope to raise distant memories of music, of dancing, of holding loved ones close, of tender kisses in the moonlight, of joyous visits, of weddings, of babies, of laughter, hugs, puppies, the smell of spring that rides the sparrow’s wings.
Of balloons held in wonder when they were children.
For I am the banjo player, and I am glad.