The balloon is passed from man with painted smile to boy with painted fangs. Small hand grips rope tightly. Sparse grass watches on, unswaying. The balloon bobs, oblivious to heat or crowds or sound, reacting only to the movements of its master. Fake vampire with real grin dances along, mimicked in slow motion by the balloon. A stone in the path. Stumble. Shocked hand responds, releases. Wide mouth horror unseeing eyes watch as the balloon takes flight. Up. Up. Tears drag face paint to the earth.