While the strange man in the blue coat fumbled in his attempt to navigate the hot-air balloon to safety, Terence McMichael O’Day thought it best to write what he thought might be his last letter to his father.
In his thirteen tender years, Terence had only thought of dying once. That was the day of his first school dance, when Mary Jo Balinski pulled Terence from his wallflower pose and took him in her arms for a slow dance.
“What’s that?” she said.
“That thing you’re poking me with?” she said.
Before another dance step was taken, Terence was out the door and on his way home. Leaving Mary Jo as befuddled as she’d ever been.
Terence started his letter on the back of a county fair flier.
I hope this letter finds you well. More importantly, I hope this letter finds you at all. Your whereabouts are always a mystery to me. No sooner do I get a letter from Egypt, then I get a letter the next day telling me you’re in Brazil.
I’d feel better knowing where you are the moment I think about you. Which is most of the time.
You’re the most inspiring and courageous man I have ever known and I hope some day you’ll take me with you on your travels --”
“Young man!” interrupted the strange man in the blue coat. “
“What is it?” said Terence.
“There’s a big storm coming our way!” he said.
Terence stood up and gazed into the distance.
“Look at that big whirly funnel of dust!” said the strange man.
“Holy crow!” said Terence. “That’s no whirling funnel of dust! That’s a twister! Can’t you get this thing to take us in another direction? Like backwards?”
“That thing ain’t letting me,” said the strange man. “It’s sucking us in like a vacuum cleaner gone beserk! Looks like it’s sucking a lot of other things in as-- Holy mother of mercy!” he cried. “Did you see that?”
“What?” said Terence.
“The ferris wheel!” said the strange man. “It just spun around to the other side of the whirling funnel! And damn if it weren’t full of people! What kind of place is this? I shoulda stayed up north in Alaska like my momma told me to. Our Ferris wheels stay put!
“Hot damn!” he continued. “Did you see that?”
“I wish I could say I didn’t,” said Terence. “But, yeah, I saw it.”
The pick-up truck’s driver side door flung open and out flew a man. Feet first. Grabbing at the door’s handle and missing.
“May the lord have mercy on his soul!” said the stranger.
“Amen to that,” said Terence.
As the balloon made its way to the twister, Terence and the stranger in the blue coat braced themselves as best as they could, and waited for disaster to strike.
“Bartle!” said Terence, suddenly remembering his dog. “Where the heck is Bartle?”