Arthur’s face turned red as he opened his gifts. He didn’t like everybody watching him like that. He didn’t know how he was supposed to act when he pulled the G.I. Joe figure from the gift wrap. Or if he should have made a bigger fuss when he pulled Purple Rain out of Sunday’s comic section.
Arthur imagined that one million would at least leak out into the backyard.
“Honey, do you know what would happen if Daddy and I, and Kenny, blew up that many balloons?”
Arthur shrugged. She wiped the tears from his cheeks.
“We would begin to float away.”
“Really. And then we’d have to spend the rest of our lives in the sky, subjected to the wind and the weather. While yes, our love would get us through that—for love conquers all—and it would be amazing to fly, we would all miss you so very, very much. I could never kiss you again, or sit on the edge of your bed like this. Or help you dry your hair if I had the point of view of a bird all the time.”
“I don’t want you to be a bird, Mom.”
The sound on the television was down. There were fields of yellow and orange circling around the Florida coast. The meteorologist kept pointing at them, making gestures as if somebody just hit a home run.
Arthur wrote a letter to the local newspaper asking all Floridian newlyweds to join hands at the coast. When the winds reached their peak, he had asked everyone to kiss, using their tongues.
It was three in the morning when Arthur’s mother heard the first sound. A second one soon followed. From the top of the stairs, she watched Arthur, dressed in his pajamas and wearing headphones, trying to suffocate a balloon between his hands.
Let’s go crazy, let’s get nuts . . .