“Okay, just be careful”

The unerring hand belies the
wheezing laughter that is to follow.
The man is old and leathery, and
cradles the baby in thick hands of
crumpled parchment. The laughter that
belches forth is accompanied by eyes
baring white like fangs. That is when
he turns and begins his jiglike dash,
shifting his weight cartoonishly from
one hip to the other on wide, bent legs,
like an ancient, insane Popeye.
And you scream “no” and run after him,
reaching for him as your legs pump,
as he stumbles and topples over,
like a ruined building crumbling into dust.