“You’re Charcoal Charlie,” he said.
The name’s Fred, but I guessed they gave everyone a name in the ballooning club. Perhaps the moniker was a slur, on account of my skin colour.
“Get under the envelope and flap the edges open,” he said.
“Sure thing, massa.” I hoped he’d understand the irony.
Holding the edges of the balloon and flapping like a rooster, I felt ridiculous, but the bag began to inflate.
Then, a wall of flame jetted past me.
“WTF? You almost burned me to a crisp,” I yelled.
“Why do you think the job’s called Charcoal Charlie?”