A JOB THAT BLOWS
by Mark B.
Mario was a simple balloon salesman of humble means. Each day, Mario would push his cart up and down the street, and sell balloons to whoever wanted them. The Italian immigrant didn’t discriminate.
Roxanne was a high-powered advertising executive. She walked past Mario’s cart each day on her brisk walk to work. Every morning she barked orders into her cell phone, coffee in hand.
This morning was no different from any other. Mario heard the “Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack!” of Roxanne’s high heels against the pavement seconds before she came into view. As she drew closer, the tapping of her high heels was covered by the piercing shrillness of her brusque business calls.
“Listen, I don’t care if the orphanage does need money to turn their heat back on! My firm doesn’t work for free! If you sympathize with those sad-eyed brats you can go join them in the cold!”
Mario wanted to cross the street before Roxanne reached him, he couldn’t stand to listen to the witch berate her exasperated employees before she even arrived at work! He shuddered as he thought of what hell they must endure for their meager pay.
Unfortunately, he had just finished tying a big red balloon to the wrist of an adorable pig-tailed little girl, and didn’t have the time to cross the street and avoid Roxanne’s impatient wrath. Mario turned around, preparing to push his cart away from the approaching beast, and saw the limp chestnut hair of the sharp-chinned demon clad in a grey business suit, inches from his face.
With a solid “whump”, Roxanne crashed into the timid balloon salesman, spilling her boiling coffee onto him in the process. Amidst the searing pain of the steaming liquid on his uncovered forearms, a sharp cry permeated Mario’s eardrums, “Oh you smelly little mongrel! You made me spill my coffee,” Roxanne hissed, “Now I’m going to be late, and it’s all your fault! I expect full compensation for this tomorrow, you dirty monkey!”
With that, she resumed shouting at her poor employees, clacking off down the block, until she faded from Mario’s sight, enveloped by the throngs of people that commute through the New York streets every morning.
“Oh,” thought Mario, “You’ll get what you deserve tomorrow morning. You’ll get what’s coming to you.”
The next morning was again, an average April morning in New York City. Well, that’s not entirely true, the temperature would rise a few degrees above the average. But that isn’t important. Mario was at his usual street corner, with his balloon cart, as he did every morning. The difference was that today, Mario awaited Roxanne’s arrival with sinister excitement, instead of the usual dread.
“This is the day that Roxanne’s body will finally match her blimp-like ego,” thought Mario.
His anticipation did not go unsatisfied for long. Only moments later, the sharp “Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack!” of Roxanne’s high heels pierced the silence of the New York morning. The newsstand owners shouting headlines at passerby, the conversations of commuters, and the angry honks of the daily traffic jam, nothing but a hum to the native New Yorker- like cicadas in an Indian Summer to any New Englander.
The black-hearted ghoul was upon him. “Well, plebe? You owe me four dollars for the coffee, and thirteen fifty-eight for the thirty six seconds of work time I lost because of your inability to monitor your surroundings!”
“Ma’am, you really ought to think about putting something other than coffee into your mouth,” suggested Mario.
“What are you getting at, you undesirable little cr” Roxanne was unable to finish insulting the poor old balloon salesman, as he had already thrust the nozzle of the helium canister into her mouth.
The stunned Roxanne did not even think to pull the nozzle out from between her lips, pumped with collagen the week before. With lightning speed, the portly old Italian man turned the dial on the helium canister to full release. Slowly, Roxanne felt her body begin to expand. She first felt it in her stomach; it felt as if she just ate a large meal, something she hadn’t done in years. Her eyes grew wide in terror as one-by-one the buttons of her business suit popped off, unable to take the pressure. Within seconds, the street grew dark under a shadow ten feet in diameter, and Roxanne began to drift away!
Luckily for the naked Roxanne, there was a telephone pole to her left, and she grasped it to keep from blowing away. Cell phone still in hand, “Roger,” she barked, “Come get me! And bring a tarp…” She then screeched her whereabouts into the mobile device.
Mario couldn’t help chuckling to himself. “I always thought that bitch was a bit of an airhead,” he said to himself before shuffling down the street, pushing his balloon cart, an empty canister of helium the only evidence that he’d ever been there at all.
Roxanne had her towncar come and retrieve her. Unfortunately, she had to be tethered to the fender of the car, as in her bloated state, there was no way that she could fit inside. The drive to her penthouse apartment was the most humiliating seven minutes of her life.
Roxanne began to work from home, and only a few of her most trusted secretaries and interns heard from her in the first few weeks after “the incident” as it came to be called. Rumors of death circulated around the corporate headquarters of Roxanne’s advertising firm. But, after making the necessary arrangements, she was back at work two months later, much to the chagrin of her employees.
Life as a human zeppelin was difficult. But Roxanne refused to let herself be held back by such a trivial inconvenience. In an effort to adapt to her inflated state, she ordered two overworked interns to anchor her to a wheeled cart with cinder blocks and tethers used on floats in the Macy’s Day Parade. Her balloon-like state did not humble her one bit. After all, it was her intuition and ambition that got her to the top, not her perfect body! Now that her chiseled wet-dream inducing body was gone, she threw herself into her work. The office was Roxanne’s home for the next couple of weeks, as her penthouse was being remodeled to accommodate her predicament, which would be ailing her for quite some time according to one doctor who estimated she wouldn’t deflate for 6-8 years (at the earliest). As she didn’t leave the office, Mario had been blessed with pleasant mornings. But each morning he grew more paranoid and anxious. He had taken to carrying a sewing needle wherever he went, for protection. He was always expecting the incessant spiteful yammering of Roxanne and the “Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack!” of her heels to fill his ears once more. But they didn’t. Not until adjustments to Roxanne’s penthouse had been made.
Then, with the help of a few assistants, she resumed her journey to work each morning, by air rather than foot. She inevitably approached the street corner where “the incident” had happened. Mario was gaunt and pale as a corpse. He couldn’t eat or sleep due to stress and the “demonic balloon woman” who haunted his dreams. Mario turned the corner, to his horror; the object of his nightmares was mere feet away from him. Roxanne’s assistants’ eyes grew wide as the deranged balloon salesman charged at their inflated bitch of a boss, armed with a single sewing needle.