They say that John Sutton found one of those Japanese balloons. You know, the ones they sent over to try and cause wildfires? The ones that didn’t do anything but waste time, money, and kill a church picnic group? Old John, he always was a tinker, working away in the garage on his folks’ land. But while there’s lots of ways to make tinkering pay an honest living, he wasn’t interested in any of them.

Met him once. Big guy, tall, but wiry. Very polite, had a soft high voice, wasn’t much for talking. But he’d come into town every so often to try and trade bits of junk at the hardware store for parts he needed. Most of the time they’d turn him away, but he brought in something good just often enough that they didn’t ban him. Heck, old Gunderson still laughs about how he paid for a box of screws with an old engine block. It was worth a hundred times that in scrap, but it was also a royal pain getting it to the scrapyard.

Now, by that time, both Big John Sutton and Little Mae Sutton were dead, so it was just John out there. They owned the land, sure, but he didn’t pay the taxes on it. Weren’t much, but after a few years he owed well north of a hundred dollars and there was talk of the property getting seized. Well, when that happened, word is John said he’d simply fly away. He supposedly found that old Japanese balloon years ago, got it fixed up, and hung a chair under it instead of bombs. Guess he thought if he ever needed to get away be could puff it up with gas and set sail.

Well, that’s what they say he did. Just up and soared until the winds caught him and took him off toward Montana. Now, did that really happen? I can’t honestly say. Wasn’t there to see. But I can tell you this: when they eventually took his parents’ property for the back taxes, they accidentally set of an explosion. Killed three deputies it did, and blew out windows for a county mile. Now what would old John have need of that much gas for, if not a balloon?

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