Pranks and Perspective

What were your favorite April Fools pranks this year? I had a few favorites from the writing world. For instance, this one from Amazon Publishing was pretty spectacular:

 

Also, Jeff VanderMeer—who will be one of our keynote speakers at the WD Annual Conference—announced a kids’ version of his definitely-not-for-kids Southern Reach trilogy, which includes Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance.

 

And of course, the rest of the WD team and I had a bit of fun designing this mock cover for Writer’s Digestion magazine. (You can read more about it and see a larger image of the cover here.)

But more to the point, here’s this week’s writing prompt:

The Prompt:

Write a story or a scene about one character playing a prank on another. Describe the scene from both characters’ points of view.

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36 thoughts on “Pranks and Perspective

  1. Quill7

    HATS

    KRISTY’S POINT OF VIEW
    Kristy slowly put one foot in front of the other as she let Reece and Chris lead her forward. They had said they had something to show her and with it being April 1st she steeled herself for something bad. Over the years the three, friends since high school, had played a plethora of pranks on one another. The weapons had included toothpaste, super glue, cereal, sugar, and hot sauce to name a few. When the pranks became more and more crazy they started choosing themes for the pranks, and this year’s was personal phobias.
    They stopped her, and Chris tried to cover a snicker. Reece slapped him and patted her shoulder.
    “You ready to see our surprise?” He asked. Kirsty sighed and nodded. Chris ‘coughed’ as a door creaked open and she was pushed inside. The door lock clicked behind her and she pulled off the blindfold. The room was pitch black.
    “Guys, you know I’m not scared of the dark right?” Kristy called out. She held her hands in front of her and shuffled to the wall. What the? As she followed the wall so she could find the lightswitch, her hands ran over strange shapes. It felt like something was pinned to the wall; everywhere.
    “Aha!” Kristy found the switch and flipped it. Light filled the room instantly and she looked around to find herself in a room of hats. Everywhere! The boys had pinned every kind of hat imaginable to the walls, Top hats, sports caps, bowler hats, straw hats, felt hats, hats with feathers, hats with ribbons, even party hats! She slowly turned, her mouth agape.
    Kristy stayed silent as she studied the room. It had worked. Her plan had worked. The boys had fallen for the best prank she had ever pulled.
    On the first day of Grade 7, when the three had met, Kristy had told the boys that she had a phobia of hats. For all those years she had had multiple pranks pulled on her and every time she had reacted exactly the way she would if she had a phobia. Her parents had even told the boys to stop when she sobbed uncontrollably after one of their jokes. Now in their first year of Uni, she guessed they had saved the best for last. But the joke would be on them.
    Kristy found a hat she liked and placed it at a jaunty agle on her head. It was a soft, dark green felt decorated with deep purple ribbons and fake baby’s breath. She leaned up against the wall facing the door and waited. After another minute Reece cracked open the door and peered inside. When he saw Kristy his eyes widened and his jaw dropped.
    “What is it?” Chris asked, pushing the door open all the way. Kristy stayed there, a grin on her face as she watched the two of them stand stunned in the doorway.
    “Well done boys,” She walked toward them with a smirk. “But I think the joke’s on you.” Kristy pushed past them and continued down the hall. Leaving her chums behind, she strolled to the boy’s dorm and put the finshing touches to her own prank. The sound of thumpng feet neared her and when they swung open their door a bucket of yellow paint emptied downward, soaking them.
    “No!” Reece said, looking down at his clothes. He turned to Chris. “We’ve been pranked inside our own prank as well as pranked!” They both looked at Kristy and she laughed.
    “I love you guys.” She tugged on a string and a fan turned on, blowing a flurry of white feathers toward her paint covered collegues.

    REECE’S POINT OF VIEW
    Reece glanced at Chris and grinned. They led blindfolded Kristy toward the end of the hall where their best prank yet was set up. After so mamy years of brainstorming and stifling their at pranks they could finally pull the queen of them all. With this year’s theme of personal phobia’s her phoibia of hats would make this April Fool’s day perfect. They stopped and Chris let out a choked snicker. Reece slapped him and shook his head. Seriously dude, we are so close. Hold it!
    “You ready to see our surprise?” He asked. Kristy nodded and Chris opened the door, trying to cover another laugh. Reece shoved her inside and quickly shut the door, flipping the lock. They stepped back from the room and Chris finally let out his amusement.
    “Man, we have so got her this time!” He said. Reece nodded.
    “Oh yeah! All that waiting has paid off big time!” They sneaked closer to the door and pressed their ears against it. Silence. Not even a whimper came through. Chris frowned at Reece.
    “What’s up with her? Shouldn’t she have been banging on the door to let her out?” He asked in a whisper. Reece shrugged.
    “I don’t know.”
    “Shoudl we check her?”
    “Nah, give her another minute.” They waited another full 5 minutes with no sound coming from inside. Reece grew worried. What if something’s happened to her? Man, we really messed up! For all we know she could be sobbing silently against the door. He shook his head and unlocked the door. He opened it a crack and peered inside. There in front of him stood Kristy, tear free and leaning against the wall; a felt hat atop her head. His jaw dropped and his eyes fairly popped out of his head.
    “What is it?” Chris asked. Shoving open the door so he could see too. His reaction was exactly the same as Reece’s.
    “Well done boys,” Kristy said as she walked toward them. “But I think the joke’s on you.” She slipped past them and sauntered down the hall. Reece turned to Chris.
    “What just happened?” He said. Chris just shook his head, looking after her as she disapeared around the corner.
    “I think wer should find out.” Chris said. Reece nodded and they took off at a jog to follow Kristy. They turned the corner and broke out into a run as they neared their dorm. Chris opened the door and a sheet of yellow paint rained down on them. Kristy stood inside, next to a big black fan.
    “No!” Reece said as he looked at his favorite pair of jeans, covered in paint. He turned to Chris, knowing inside their was nothing he could do to stop what he knew was coming. “We’ve been pranked inside our own prank as well as pranked!” He said.
    “I love you guys.” Kristy said. She tugged on the piece of string she was holding and the fan turned on. A thousand white feathers blew toward him and Chris and their fate was sealed.

  2. Big Tastey

    Helen wrung her hands on the long ride over to her in-law’s house. All of her husband’s family would be there for Christmas dinner and they were a large group, loud at times, and, being new, she wasn’t quite sure if she belonged. She mustered the courage to enter the house.

    Tom sat in the rocker recliner and watched as his brother Ben and Helen came in.

    “Ben! Helen! How was the ride over? See any deer on county road five?” Tom said.

    Helen said a quick hello to everyone and then looked over at Tom. He never smiled and she couldn’t quite figure out if he liked her or not. The only time he ever came close to smiling was when he talked about hunting. Ben was busy greeting his mother so Helen responded.

    “Hi Tom. We saw a few, on Rooster’s curve. No bucks though.” Helen said.

    “They’re out there.” Tom said.

    After everyone arrived they sat down to the family Christmas dinner. Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean salad, biscuits and butter, and afterwards, three different kinds of pie smothered in whipped cream. Everyone ate their fill and as they relaxed around the table drinking coffee, Tom got up and went to the Christmas tree. He picked up a large wrapped present and gave it to Helen.

    “Merry Christmas Helen.” Tom said.

    “For me?” Helen said. She looked around the table at the smiles. “Am I supposed to open it now?”

    “You’d better, before it starts ticking.” Tom said.

    He wasn’t smiling, but Tom’s eyes danced like they did when he talked about his latest hunt. He seemed to be enjoying this.

    Helen started to carefully take off the Christmas paper of Santa going down the chimney.

    “Just rip it off!” the family encouraged her.

    Helen ripped it off to find a heavily taped box. She pulled and pried but she couldn’t open the box, so she grabbed the carving knife and, after a tussle, she opened the box. Inside was another, heavily taped box. She looked up at Tom, who stared straight ahead with dancing eyes, as if he were on a hunt waiting patiently for his prey to move. Helen tackled the smaller box with the carving knife, and after several minutes of tussling with the box, she successfully opened it.

    A round of applause erupted from around the table with loud laughter. Helen peered into the box expecting another, smaller box. What she found instead, nestled in tissue paper, was a small silver shovel, no bigger than a man’s hand. Attached to the shovel was a printed note.

    “What does the note say?” Ben said.

    Helen read it aloud.

    “Only a member of our family would go through all this shit to get to the shovel.”

    She looked around the table at all of the smiles and then she noticed Tom. He was smiling. Small tears came to her eyes. Helen knew she belonged.

  3. jtholzworth

    The morning had been too long. Everyone in the cubical farm was sipping on coffee to keep from yawning – or worse, falling asleep while staring at the latest set of HR data they were tasked with analyzing. This office really was another monotonous environment characterized by white collar drones wasting a third of their lives in pseudo-offices with tall fences while slowly morphing into narcoleptic statues.

    Lisa wondered how much more of this she could take. For maybe the thousandth time that morning, her eyes wandered away from her computer monitor and to the pink scratchy synthetic fabric lining the walls of her faux office.

    She had to do something. Then an idea dawned on her. She jumped to her feet as suddenly as if the coworker in the next cube had just sneezed and woken her from statistics-induced slumber.

    Lisa walked into the storage closet just off the lunch room where her office mates stored all of the holiday decorations. After a minute or two of rummaging through the birthday box, she came upon a bag of long, skinning balloons and the contraption used to blow them up, left over from the previous year’s ‘Bring Your Child To Work’ day. Carefully, she blew up a long pink balloon and tied it off. She slipped back to her desk without ever raising the attention of anyone else in the office.

    As she bent and twisted the balloon into the perfect dog shape, she giggled to herself. Yes, this would break up the monotony of the day. With a black felt-tip marker, she drew eyes and a mouth on her creation.

    Quiet as a mouse, Lisa had tiptoed over to the cubicle next to Jen’s, took a silent breath, and reached high above her head to toss the balloon dog over the wall. Without looking back or waiting for a response, she ran off back to her cube.

    “Jesus!” barked Jen in surprise, heart suddenly racing. The dog made his intended slide from the top of her head, down the front of her face and landed squarely on her keyboard.

  4. kimcatwil

    It was a pleasantly warm August day at the Andersons’ camp in rural Maine. The sun was shining brightly, but the heat was not oppressive thanks to the dense filter of trees. There was a pleasant breeze coming off the lake, making its way towards the tiny, picturesque cabin. It was the quintessential picture of summertime in New England. This was the sort of day that embodied Maine’s state motto- vacationland.
    And yet, Adam and Lydia were bored out of their minds. Although they loved their woodsy, one room camp, which lacked all the comforts of modern living, they both thought that their parents’ insistence to spend a week here every summer was a bit extreme. Their father, a busy attorney, cherished the time away from cell phone reception where he could truly unwind, and he did his best to impart his love of the Maine woods to the rest of his family. Adam and Lydia did enjoy hiking, canoeing, swimming, and fishing, sure- but it was now day five and they were ready to return to a world where they had friends- and plumbing.
    Thirteen year old Lydia was in prime mopey teen mode. In her normal life, she was glued to her iPhone. Out here, it was all but useless. Ten year old Adam was definitely more woodsy and adventurous, even if he, too, was growing tired of their family getaway. Lydia hadn’t intended to prank Adam, but entertainment was dwindling, and he all but handed her the opportunity on a silver platter.
    “This walkie talkie says it has a range of a quarter mile,” Adam mused as he and Lydia were lounging outside reading, “but I’ve never actually tested it. If I walk down the road, will you take one and keep talking to me? We can see when it starts to cut out.”
    “Sure,” agreed Lydia, “it’s not like I have anything else to do.”
    Adam took off down the dirt road leading out from their camp. He checked in with Lydia every 30 seconds or so. She knew this was going to get old quick. But then, she realized, this could be fun after all.
    “Wow!” Adam exclaimed several minutes later, “we’re at a half mile already and you still sound as clear as ever!” Several more minutes passed, Adam becoming more and more impressed the further he walked, still hearing Lydia over the walkie talkie as clear as if they were side by side. “The people at Radio Shack must be really humble!” he said at the one mile mark. “This is incredible!”
    Lydia snickered to herself. She was glad Adam could only hear her when her finger was pressing the button, because she giggled more and more with every ridiculous quip. Finally, she gave up the game. “Adam,” she said, “turn around.”
    As Adam looked back up the road, he instantly felt foolish. Maybe 500 feet behind stood Lydia, who had followed him the whole way. “Guess the folks at Radio Shack might not be as humble as you thought!”

  5. Nicole Coffey

    ~ Ashton’s POV~
    Ash kept his head down as he walked through Mooncrest University campus. Usually, the junior avoided the center where a fountain sprayed in the warmer months. He’d been shoved inside one too many times. Despite talking to the campus police and the Student Center Administrator nothing more was done about his treatment than them telling Ash to try less provoking attire. The young man tugged at the fringed crop top that read ‘No Jesus No Peace’. No matter what they meant, for him to hide his sexuality, or his religion, it wasn’t happening.
    Still, to avoid an unwelcome shower Ash took the long way to classes. Today he didn’t have that option. As an April fools prank his roommate Lily left a teetering paper plate of jam on the bathroom door for Ash to walk under. His second shower already made him late for 3D Design. As Ash made it to the circle of bricks that lined the center of campus a spark of fear shot through his gut. Sitting on the fountain were the guys Ash wished to avoid. He shared a few classes with the trio, all general education requirements they hardly attended. They hung around long enough for Ash to learn their names were Tyler, Rob, and Basten and that they could care less for their studies.
    “Hey, red!” Tyler called, in reference to Ash’s hair.
    Absently Ash twisted a handful of the curls over his shoulder, further blocking his view of the men.
    “Come on, you don’t want to say hello?” Tyler laughed.
    Ash walked on by. It occurred to him he was holding his breath while the three mumbled among themselves.
    “Red,” this time Basten called to him. “You dropped something.”
    It was stupid really, what could Ash have dropped? But he turned around where Basten stood, empty handed, hands crossed over a broad chest with an even wider smile. From behind Rob and Tyler grabbed Ash, drug him to the fountain and tossed him in.
    Cold splashes of water hit Ash in the face, making him sputter as he tried to grab the brim of concrete. He pulled himself back over, clothes and bag soaked, clinging to his skin.
    “April fools.” sang Tyler while Ash walked past him.
    Ash didn’t know where the sting was coming from. His right side, mostly his elbow throbbed in pain, but there was another sting that rode up his throat. Tears. Great. Ash’s walk turned into a run towards Bullard Hall.

    ~Basten’s POV~

    The glare from Tyler’s phone was all Basten could see while he tried to show them the girl he was interested in this week. Rob was into it, but Basten could care less. He laughed when Rob did, but his eyes and ears were trained on their surroundings. The three sat on the edge of the Uni fountain, tribute to their founder. Basten waited, like the other two, for a familiar face to pass by the benches or across the walkway behind the brush. Though, Basten waited for a different reason. It was warm today, so surely Ash would don something short, perhaps showing off those thick thighs, or the impossibly thin waist. Basten’s chest tightened with the thought.
    “Look at that.” Rob nudged both Basten and Tyler.
    Nearly out of sight came the man they waited for. Tyler took any chance he could to give the kid a hard time, which Rob enjoyed, and Basten…played along with. As Basten hoped Ash looked like a dream, a flash to the seventies too, in bellbottom jeans and a crop top. Ash noticed them but a second after, his bright green eyes shot back down to the ground.
    “Hey, red!” Tyler yelled. “C’mon, don’t you want to say hello?”
    Ash didn’t answer, he hardly ever did. His soft voice was saved for answering every question the professors had.
    “Basten go fake like he dropped something, Rob and I’ll grab him.” Tyler said.
    Basten grimaced. To them it was fun and games to mess with Ash, but Basten didn’t care for their fun. He could handle the nicknames but the roughhousing sometimes went too far.
    “Go!” Rob pushed him up.
    Basten stumbled over to Ash before he could pass by. “Red, you dropped something.”
    Ash turned around and Basten felt like he’d been smacked in the face. All he could do was grin like an idiot, so close to those eyes that stole his attention anytime Ash was around. The abrupt motion shook Basten from his dumbstruck state when his friends grabbed the smaller man and easily lifted him over the edge of the fountain. While Rob and Tyler doubled over laughing at Ash’s attempts to get back out Basten grimaced again. He watched Ash climb out, cradling his right arm, naturally curly hair now stick straight, dripping with water.
    “April fools.” Tyler taunted.
    When the redhead kicked into a run Basten’s muscles tended to run after him, luckily before he could embarrass himself, Rob knocked him on the shoulder and said let’s go.

  6. E.C

    It started with a sticky note. It had been stuck neatly to the handle of the office fridge. “Whoever keeps taking my lunch, please STOP.” I snorted to myself and slipped a pen out of my pocket. I didn’t know who wrote the note, I had no clue who was taking the poor man’s food, but I decided I’d have some fun. With my non-dominant hand I scrawled out a sloppy “NO!”

    The next day there was a new note. “Dear sandwich thief, just give me back my turkey and swiss on rye; and stop being so childish!” I procured my own post-it-note and began to scribble away, “Dear T-Swiss, thanks for the free lunch your wife makes good sandwiches.”

    Another day elapsed. “Hello Tim, this is HR. Would you please return the sandwich.” I was perplexed. How did they know it was me? I wasn’t even the one who actually stole the food! I guess I gotta run to the deli.
    —————————————-
    The look on Tim’s face was priceless as he peeled the post-it off the fridge and paled. Being a vegetarian meant I never ate meat. I was curious to see how the office might react to a lunch thief, but it just got to be too much and I couldn’t lie any longer. So I decided to end it with one last note. After all I was always a stickler of getting the last word in.

  7. RafTriesToWrite

    Thomas’ P.O.V.
    I spent a good half hour yesterday thinking of what to give my mom for Easter. I thought of jellybeans. It’s sweet, it’s colorful, it screams Easter, so why not?

    I grabbed a handful of jellybeans underneath a tissue so it won’t stick to my hand because they tend to sweat most of the time.

    I approached her inconspicuously in the living room where she was watching her daily soap opera and started to hand her my seemingly normal Easter gift.

    “Mom, you are gonna love this!” I said with a grin on my face.

    “I don’t want it, it’s a roach!” The bored look painted on her facial structures instantly turned into horror as she saw the tissue and my hand, she quickly stood up and started to move away as I struggled to walk closer to her.

    “Get that away, it’s a roach! Aaaaah!” I was laughing so hard, why would she think it’s a roach?

    “Mom it’s not” I tried to calm her down but she won’t give in.

    “No. Get that away from me!” Then she screeched like she did when I was six. That was a long time ago, I didn’t even knew she can still do that now.

    I just kept laughing as we walked around the living room arguing whether or not what I have inside the tissue is a roach.

    “Mom it’s just jellybeans.” I smiled.

    “You ass. Put it back.” She said. I giggled.

    “Now I won’t have to spend the day thinking whether you’ll give me a… frog or something” She stomped her way back to the couch to continue watching TV, I then followed her to the couch and sat as well.

    “Happy Easter!” I smiled as I handed her the jellybeans on my hand.

    “Ha ha” Sarcasm on her fake laugh was clearly evident.

    Mom’s P.O.V.
    Oh Ronaldo, don’t go in there, she’s in bed with another! I thought. Things are starting to heat up on this show.

    “Mom you are gonna love this!” Thomas came in with something in his hand covered in tissue. I knew he’d get me today because today is April fool’s day, but I’m not having any of it.

    “I don’t want it, it’s a roach!” I shouted, but Thomas kept on walking closer with that eerie smile on his face. I know he’s going to prank me with a roach, I just know it!

    “Get that away, it’s a roach! Aaaaah!” I screamed like I’ve never screamed before. I’m incredibly terrified of roaches, and he knows that! I quickly got up from the couch and started walking away from him, but he just kept laughing like it’s some kind of a joke. You see! I really know it’s a roach on his hand now. His laughter just confirms it.

    “Mom it’s just jellybeans.” He showed me what’s inside.

    Oh.

    “You ass. Put it back.” Now I’m just mad while he’s standing there giggling.

    “Now I won’t have to spend the day thinking whether you’ll give me a… frog or something” I angrily made my way back to the couch to continue watching Ronaldo.

    He sat next to me and tried to hand me some jellybeans.

    “Happy Easter!” He says. No! I don’t want any of your stupid jellybeans.

    “Ha ha” I said, sarcastically. That was my retort.

  8. KitKat747

    You Just Walked the Prank (True story with real messages)

    “5 3 5 9. Got that?” Riley asked.
    She had just given me Carson’s phone number. I smiled. We were going to prank text him. Together we formulated the first message.

    I can’t believe you did this, Steven! After all we’ve been through, YOU JUST UP AND LEAVE ME FOR A F***ING SIXTH GRADER! I knew you weren’t 100% faithful but to leave me for a 12 year old named BETHANY! HOW DARE YOU! YOU ARE F***ING 17! HOW COULD YOU CHOOSE A 12 YEAR OLD GIRL OVER ME!!!! YOU KNOW WHAT… F*** U AND F*** UR PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A D*CK!

    We were at the park, sitting on the swings, waiting for youth group to begin. The same youth group that Carson attends. Riley and I both watched as he walked around the corner. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, and we smiled as he read the text.
    When he reached us, he chuckled and said, “I just got the funniest message!”
    Riley and I were dying with laughter as he read it. When he replied with sorry, I pulled out my phone, made sure that he couldn’t see me, and then texted back.

    SORRY! JUST F***ING SORRY! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH U!

    Well she’s a hot 12 year old

    UR F***ING 17! AND WHY DID U NEVER TELL ME I’M HOT! ALL U CALLED ME WAS F***ING CUTE!

    Then Carson replied with PRANKED. I laughed because we were actually the ones pranking him. I continued with WHAT THE HELL DO U MEAN?

    I mean you just got PRANKED

    WHAT THE F***! DO U MEAN THAT UR NOT STEVEN!

    What the f*** it was a prank calm down

    CALM DOWN! HOW DID U GET MY NUMBER!

    You texted me
    Idk where you live but you might need to call the police on your ex

    This is so embarrassing
    I love him so much I don’t want him to get in trouble

    Well sorry to hear that
    But you need to speak right to his face with this conversation

    Lol thanks for the advice, but all my friends told me the same thing so ur no help
    Ur so nice I’m gonna talk to u more

    Ok

    What do u mean ok?

    How old are you?

    I’m 15 how old r u?
    U had better not be 12 too

    15

    Ooo so sexy

    Um no

    I already got rejected once today don’t be f***ing rejecting me again!

    Um no I don’t know who you are

    Um, ok. My name is Lacy, I’m 15. I play soccer. I live in Springfield, IL. I like beaches.
    Let’s get to know each other better baby

    Charles, 15. I kill random stuff and live in British Columbia. I like ripping the guts out of stuff.
    Your turn

    Lol ur so funny! I kill cats for fun
    Ur turn

    That was a joke but ok

    Same here, but cat is best with ranch, not ketchup

    And I thought your ex was messed up

    I thought u were nice! It was a JOKE ok

    Ranch is awful

    So is ketchup, now do u want to be with me or not?

    Nope

    F*** u

    I’d f*** you

    I hear that Canada is nice in the spring… I have a passport

    Welp
    I’m 45

    R u a cute 45 year old?

    I’m Dwayne Johnson

    At this point we were in the school, on the stage. Carson was behind the curtain, so I texted him this.

    Stop hiding behind the curtain Dwayne Johnson… or should I say… Carson

    When he pulled out his phone and read the text, his eyes widened and his mouth opened into a wide O. The expression was priceless.
    Riley and I looked at each other and then back at him. Together we said, “Dude, you just walked the prank.”

  9. Denise G. Monello

    Each man neatly attired in suit and tie. Each woman politely poised in a knee-length dress. Their instruments released a perfectly executed composition. Mellifluous voices filled the room.

    Without music behind life, we stagnantly exist. The combination of playful notes behind the first kiss may conjure up images of sunshine, warm ocean breezes, vistas without ending–making one relaxed and safe in the embrace of another. The merger of profound energetic inflections infused behind those intimate moments of love may pulsate the passion and desire. And the fervent blending of strong rhythmic beats may heighten one’s anger and intensify the rage hidden beneath the surface. These carefully selected notes have to ability to immediately rouse a person to the remembrance of a time, place or person in their past. Music, with its impeccable intonation, has the capability of intensifying love or hate.

    Today, this music–from these individuals–prepare the hearts of the hundreds before them for worship.

    Music started our Sundays. We sat quietly and reflectively as the musicians touched our hearts with their soft, pensive sounds. Fortunately for the musicians, the bright lights blind them. Sadly, some of the people closed their eyes to ponder in gratefulness–and ended up snoring. Others fiddled with pocketbooks, some covertly checked their email–or Facebook, and a few wrote notes to each other on the bulletin as children noshed on crackers–all signs of restlessness. Regardless, at the end of each song, there was applause from those grateful for their work.

    “Did you like the music?” I eagerly asked Dina.
    “Yeah, it was okay. Same stuff, Lori, different Sunday.”
    I knew my anger wasn’t a good character trait to exhibit in church, but her words and demeanor exasperated me. There’ll be no more conversations about music with her.

    The following Sunday I chose not to sit next to Dina. Even though there was a distance between us, my unpleasurable thoughts of her were right there with me. The large screen covering the stage displayed the upcome events. I made a mental note of each thing that interested me. I saw Dina staring at me. I gave her a smirk and received one in return.

    The lights were dimming indicating the music would soon begin. I observed the people who slouched in their seats preparing for their nap. Others silenced their phones in preparation for their covert journeys through cyberspace. Mothers gently tore open the packages of snacks, ready to stuff their child’s mouth once their fidgeting began. The room became dark. The large screen slowly lifted. The lights intensely focused following its snail-like journey to the ceiling.

    Suddenly, the inching-up radiance left those watching flabbergasted. The focused beams of light revealed dirty work boots to the right and worn out sneakers to the left. As the screen raised higher, we saw the dirty work boots held ripped jeans, spotted with grease, and misplaced patches. The worn out sneakers held black fishnet stockings torn at the knees. The screen rose to the top and there in the bright lights was a sight no one was prepared to see. Resting in the boots of the ripped jeans were men in torn t-shirts ablaze with skeletons and tigers. Long silken hair hung from their lowered heads–tattoos covered their arms. Smoke arose from a cigarette strategically placed on the small wire protruding from the neck of a guitar. In the sneakers that held the fishnet stockings stood women in minuscule skirts hugging their posteriors with ragged dungaree jackets that lay haphazardly open over barely covered breasts. Their purple hair frizzed out like a tumbleweed–faces adorned with make-up as if it were Halloween.

    On cue, as soon as the screen loudly locked itself into its metal casing, a loud shrill sound penetrated the room. We jumped in our seats. Children clasped their ears. The deafening treble continued–sounding louder–if that was even possible. The clangorous screeching along with the unharmonious howling vaguely imitated the song “Welcome to the Jungle.” This cacophony seemed to last forever.

    The rancorous music finally ended. The guitar player took a massive step forward and leaned his body towards the congregation and spoke into the microphone. “How was your nap? Were we too loud? Did you post your breakfast photo on Facebook yet? Are you people ‘foolish’ enough to think we can’t see beyond the lights and what you’re doing out there? April Fool. Our performance was for all the ‘fools’ who wouldn’t know meaningful worship music if it hit you upside the head.”

    I guess I should have kept Dina’s comment and my irritation towards her to myself and not gossip to my husband.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a fun story Denise. The only think missing was Z. Z. Top, amps at 400, cracking windows. Congregation following along singing “When The Role Is Called Up Yonder, Mercy. Mercy.”

  10. GrahamLewis

    I THOUGHT IT WAS FUNNY

    I thought it was funny. How could I know he was such a wimp?

    Wes and I pried open the heavy iron trap-door, and propped it up with an old 2×4. My flashlight showed a rusted ladder leading down into gray-brown vagueness. I went first into that dank sour chamber. Wes was afraid of the dark, and he never would have gone down alone.

    The ladder had eight greasy rungs and the chamber was maybe 10 by 10, its solid floor covered with muck, surrounded by moldy bricks. Light from the open doorway was just enough to see by, but weak enough we needed my flashlight. Two tunnels opened opposite each other, just above floor level, each big enough to crawl into — if you were stupid enough to do that. I shone the flashlight into each, and each simply vanished into the dark. Our voices echoed.

    “Let’s go,” Wes said after maybe 10 minutes, ready to panic. “There’s nothing here.”

    I sighed. He never had a sense of adventure, and I wished I didn’t hang out with him. But no one else would hang out with me. They called me weird, because they were too dumb to understand my humor. I don’t think Wes understood either, but he didn’t have any friends. So we were kind of stuck together. Me and this wimpy kid with thick glasses.

    “Okay, fine” I said. “I’ll go up, then I’ll shine the light down for you.” He wanted to say no, but didn’t, probably knew I would get my way. So I climbed into that fresh air, and took a deep breath. I shined the flashlight down into his face, and it reflected from those dorky glasses.

    He began to climb up.

    “Hey,” I yelled when he was almost out, “look at that huge rat behind you!”

    He jerked and slipped, slid down the ladder and landed with a mucky thud. I shined the light on his face but he didn’t move. I called but no answer. I was sure he would wake up and run home where his mom would ask him how he got so dirty and smelly, and he’d tell her it was me, and she’d call the Home, and I’d be sent back to the detention center.

    So I kicked the 2×4 aside and the door slammed down. I wiped my hands clean on the grass, and went home. They looked all over for him, but never looked down there. And no one asked me, which was good. I mean, I thought it was funny, me yelling like that. Who knew he would fall down the ladder?

    I didn’t. And I wasn’t going back to detention just because he was a wimp.

  11. ShamelessHack

    “He’s only about a half mile up ahead. And everyone in his group is on foot. What’s the rush?”
    “Are you kidding? Look to the right and the left! How long do you think this situation will last?”
    “He said that nothing would happen.”
    “Yeah, but can you trust him? Anyone can make the looney claims he’s made about himself and his useless group.”
    “I believe him. Look around you.”
    “Nope you’re wrong. Heiyee! Go horses! Go riders! Hurry, or we’re fish bait!”
    “Easy, man. The ground’s so wet here. The horses can only go so fast.”
    “We have to hurry! Fast! He’s been fooling us!”
    “Him? I don’t think so…”

    A half mile ahead, the last of his group was finally across. Then Moses turned, lifted his face to heaven, and raised his staff. And ‘lo there was a great clap of thunder, and the waters of the Red Sea closed again upon themselves and caused to drown the entire company of the Egyptians.

    Then Moses lowered his eyes to gaze at the bodies floating on the surface of the water and he muttered, “You guys believed me, huh?”
    “April fool.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a sense of humor you have Hack. April Fool in the Old Testament. My grandfather is rolling over in his’ you know’
      Really had me going there and then, SLAM DUNK!. A touch of Genius from the Master!

  12. Pete

    Scavenger Hunt

    We’ve got less than twenty minutes to get moving when I bust into Tia’s room. I leap onto her bed, knocking over an uncapped bottle of water onto her comforter, amplifying her already legendary morning bitchiness.

    “Rise and shine, Ti!”

    Tia shoots me a glare that could tie steel into a ribbon. “I hate you so much right now.”

    “My Tia Bia,” I start to sing. Tia flings the comforter off and water hits me in the face. Works every time.

    We gather at the North Lawn. Pi Kappa vs. Delta Tau. Boys against girls. And the boys look like they’ve had a rough night. We’ll have this thing won by afternoon.

    The rules are straightforward. We were given the list a few days ago. Standard fare: Dean Randolph’s signature, 30 points. A picture of Professor Deller smoking a cig nets 45. Easier stuff, like a Robinson College lawn flag is five points. A ticket stub from the basketball game gets you a measly point.

    We’re about to get started when I catch Tyler’s eye. He grins, and I arch my back and pretend not to have a stomach full of butterflies. I need to keep my game face in check, but I can’t fool Tia. Even bleary eyed and coffee deprived, she’s onto me.

    “He’s got you so whipped.”

    “Not even, I just…” I can’t look at her. Or even finish the sentence. Tyler has a smile that makes me think bad thoughts. When we met at a party a few months back, we talked, and not only is he hot but nice. We’ve hung out a few times and now we’re, well, who knows.

    The horn sounds. I grab Tia and we get off to a decent start. My strategy is to hit the gym and snag the gimmie items first. By ten we’ve got most of the stuff marked off the list before the first hungover Kappa boy stumbles through the doors. Too easy.

    We eat lunch with the enemy. The guys have a keg on the lawn and the house is pretty much a tailgate party. Tyler finds me and offers a solo cup, a peace offering and a smile. The sun is out and spring is unraveling in the yard. Tyler pumps the keg, his wiry arms coming alive with the movement. I spot Tia over near the grill. She gives me a wink. I’m not expecting it when Tyler leans over and kisses my cheek.

    But all is fair in this silly war. On each list there was one secret object. Ours is the Kappa paddle. I glance over his shoulder to the house. I have a means to an end.

    We get back to the hunt. By five or so we’re set. It’s clear we have this thing won, but I want the paddle. And I want Tyler.

    The sun slips into a pink horizon. The music gets louder. I follow Tyler inside, where the floor is sticky because these boys are completely helpless. He smells good, musky, a hint of sweat. He leans in and we kiss again, near the steps. After a while he asks if I want to go upstairs. I do. Now, before Tia sees me. I’m not drunk, but at the same time I don’t need her asking me a bunch of questions. I’m fine. I’m ready.

    I’ll leave out the details. Tyler is slow and sweet and it’s great and not-so-great but a moment I will always remember for so many reasons. Sure, it would have been nicer if we were somewhere more private, somewhere without loud music and people yelling below us but again, this is college. I’m used to distractions.

    The yelling is more like chanting now. It’s coming from the kitchen (I can hear them beating pots and pans) and it gets so loud I can feel it in the mattress. Tyler stands and gives me a nervous chuckle. He wipes the hair from his eyes and I gave him a lazy smile.

    “I have to use the bathroom.” He says, then leans over and kisses me on the lips. His lips linger and I close my eyes and it would be nice but for all the noise.

    When he walks out of the room, I see it. I’d forgotten about the paddle. The top item on my list. Now, in the heap of our clothes I spot a folded piece of paper peeking haphazardly out of his jacket.

    His list.

    It’s just like ours. With the same items and points. Some are marked and crossed out but it’s clear we’ve got them beat. The more valuable items are still waiting to be crossed out. My eyes run down the list, and my hands are trembling because it sounds like they’re chanting my name in the kitchen. I reach the bottom of their list. The list that is identical to ours save for one thing.

    Like an item to a menu, I see my name.

    Jennifer Brent’s Virginity – 500 Points!

    1. Pete

      I sit on the edge of the bed. The chanting growing beneath me, humming on my bare feet. Like its part of the house, my body, this nightmare. A dam burns behind my eyes. But I catch it.

      I stuff the note back into Tyler’s jacket, wipe my face, search for my clothes and will myself to be strong. More like Tia. I step into my pants, find my bra. Shirt. Clothes that belong to a different girl.

      The dam threatens again. Tyler took something from me I can never get back. No, he didn’t take it, I suppose I gave it to him. But under false pretenses. Not like this.

      Deep breathes. Each one brings something to the table.

      Regret.

      Remorse.

      Rage.

      Revenge.

      “Hey,” he says, walking in.

      I swallow it down. The urge to claw his face. I tell myself I can do this. I hook a lock of hair around my ear and force my eyes to his. Eyes I thought were gorgeous but now seem empty and hollow. Fake.

      “Hey.”

      He pulls me into his arms. Slow, gentle, the way you would someone you cared about and not just screwed for the sake of an effing game. “You okay?”

      I nod. The chanting downstairs is so loud he can no longer ignore it. “Listen, those guys,” he says, glancing down to his jacket. “Sorry. They’re drunk.”

      A few runaway tears fall. Tyler lowers his head. “Hey.”

      He brings me back to the bed, where we sit. Where he just used me. And if he could do that to me, I can do it back. The words spill out. “It’s just, my boyfriend, I can’t believe I did…”

      Tyler jerks away from me like he’s been stung by a bee. “You have a boyfriend?”

      I nod, covering my face. More tears. His voice catches. “Jenny, you never said anything about a boyfriend.”

      “Well, I’m trying to break it off,” I say, shaking my head.

      “Does he go to school here?”

      I shake my head. “No, over at JMU.” Then, just for kicks. “He’s on the football team.”

      Tyler leaps to his feet, running a hand through his hair. It would be comical, if not for…everything.
      “I thought you were, I thought…” His voice squeaks with fear. The Tin Man. Whatever shine I saw on this boy has turned to rust. It only makes it harder not to slap him silly.

      “You thought what?” I say through my big wet doe eyes. Thank you, high school theater.

      “Nothing, just…nothing.” His eyes fall to the list—it still hits like a punch that my name is on a freaking list. I hate this guy so much. It powers my theatrics.

      “I mean, I can’t tell him, not after last time.”

      “Last time? Jesus.” He covers his mouth, eyes darting everywhere. Anywhere but to me. I think he might just come clean. Sure, I’d still hate his guts, but it would be nice to find shred of dignity on this scav hunt.

      “Maybe, maybe I’ll tell him it’s over. That I found you. He’ll go nuts at first, but…”

      “Oh my God. Please Jenny. No. I mean, I like you and all, but I thought.”

      I get to my feet, my anger going off-script. “You what, Tyler?” I catch it, get to my feet and start for the door, brushing past him. I take out my phone. “I should just call him now. If he’s out of the weight room.”

      Tyler follows after me, down the steps, his belt loose and flapping. No shirt. The chanting in the kitchen stops. People in the doorway, on the couch. Tyler falls down the last two steps and he’s literally on his knees, begging. “Please Jenny.”

      A surge of power. I look to the mantel. Up to the paddle. “There is one thing you can do.”

      Tia walks in the house and stops when she sees me. I’m in the living room, the paddle over my shoulder, as Tyler pleads his case. His frat brothers watch silently. No chanting. No laughing.

      I motion for him to turn around. “Okay Tyler. Drop ‘em.”

      He does. And while I can never get back what Tyler took from me, his dignity will have do to.

  13. Poetjo

    Bernie, Mike and the Other Guy

    Bernie couldn’t quite figure out what happened. One minute, he was standing in his local grocery store, trying to decide which watermelon to buy and the next minute he was here, although he had no idea where ‘here’ was. He thought his eyes were open but he couldn’t be sure because what he saw was hard to believe. He was in a huge white room and as he frantically looked around the room, he saw that it had no door and no windows either. The floor, ceiling and walls were painted a stark white and there wasn’t a smudge to be seen – it was pristine and so white it hurt his eyes. He was lying on some sort of gurney, covered in a light white sheet and it was tucked in tightly, so tightly as a matter of fact that he couldn’t move his legs. His arms were outstretched and laying on some kind of hard supports and his wrists were tethered to the supports with what looked to be long pieces of black licorice. “That’s odd,” Bernie thought. “Why would someone use licorice to tie me up when there’s a Home Depot store right beside the grocery store?”
    Bernie was startled by a man appearing from nowhere on his right side. He had on a long black cloak, black pants and oddly, a tightly fitting black hood that covered his entire face, not even a hole for mouth, eyes or nose. In his hands he held a needle, a long, fat needle with a long, fat tip. Bernie started to sweat, he could feel it on his forehead, on his back, under his arms.
    The man dressed in black undid one of the black licorice ties and shook his hand vigourosly, as if to say, “Pleased to meet you”. He was squeezing his hand so hard it hurt, it felt that the bones were grating against one another. Bernie wanted to tell him it hurt but thought it best to stay quiet as he still didn’t understand what was going on. The man retied his arm to the arm support and started to smack the inside of his arm gently and Bernie realized that he was trying to find a vein to stick that huge needle in his arm.
    He started to writhe on the table and saying ‘No, no, no, I don’t want a needle.” The man put his index finger to his lip and said ‘Shh’ with the deadest voice Bernie had ever heard so he took his advice and shut up. The man stuck him with the needle and it hurt like the dickens but Bernie still stayed silent.
    He heard a voice, coming from his left hand side. “Bernard Ernest Stanley,” the voice intoned, “You are hereby sentenced to death for failing to fulfill your potential in life. Unfortunately, your death will be painful and last for a very long time but those are the consequences of not living up to your potential.”
    Bernie started to cry. He knew he wasn’t living up to his potential. He had a chance to apply to be manager at the local bicycle shop but he didn’t want the responsibility so he never applied for the job. He had the biggest crush on Joyce, his single next door neighbour but he was too frightened to ask her out. He was cheap man, so he never invested his money because he was too scared he might lose money. Bernie’s tears really started to flow hard when he remembered all the chances he should have taken but wouldn’t because he was too scared. He started to sob, big sobs that came from his belly and made it hard for him to breathe.
    “Just kidding!” the voice said.
    “What?” Bernie thought, as he tried to get his sobs under control. He looked to his left and a man was standing there, in bermuda shorts and a flowered shirt. He had a sunburned nose and wore socks with his sandals. He had a white beard that looked to be as soft as cotton balls and sunglasses were sitting on his head, almost lost in his abundant white hair.
    “Yeah, I’m just kidding,” the man said, taking a swig from his beer. “Do you know who I am?” he asked Bernie.
    “No, I have no idea,” Bernie stammered trying to absorb what was going on. “Who are you?”
    “I’m God, son”, the man, or rather God said. “It gets pretty boring up here so every now and then, I like to pull a little prank on folks, just to wake them up.” He nodded to the man in black and said, “Okay, Mike let’s get Bernie off the table and you can take that black get-up off.” Bernie heard the man laugh and he untied the licorice ties and, pulling off his black hood, began to eat it.
    “Thanks, God, man it gets hot under that hood!”
    “I know but angels get bored too, am I right?” God said as he held out his hand for a piece of licorice. The Archangel Michael handed God a piece of the licorice and continued to take the sheet off Bernie and helped him sit up.
    “Why did you do this to me?” Bernie asked. “I don’t understand why I’m here. Is this heaven?”
    “You betcha it’s heaven,” God said. “You had a heart attack, Bernie. Standing in a grocery store, looking at watermelons, your poor old ticker had enough and just stopped.” He took another swig of his beer. “So here you are, with me and Mike. Any questions?”
    “I’m not ready to be dead!” Bernie said. “I want to go back and see Joyce!”
    “So are your ready to wake up and live your potential?” God asked. He smiled widely at Bernie and said, “Because I can make it happen, I am God after all.”
    “Yes, I’m ready, I want to go back!”
    “Okey-doey, then,” God replied. He placed his hand on Bernie’s head, said a prayer in a language Bernie didn’t understand and the next thing he knew, he was lying on the floor of the grocery store, a paramedic peering into his eyes.
    “Wow, I can’t believe I got you back,” the paramedic said. “I thought you were a goner for sure. Let’s get you to the hospital to get you checked out.”
    Bernie smiled a beautific smile and thought, “God has a heck of a sense of humour! Who knew?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Whoa! This was quite a trip, glad it wasn’t a dream however. Bet he minds his P’s and Q’s from now on
      Talk about heavenly tehab, you nailed it

  14. Kerry Charlton

    THE WHITE OUT

    My best friend in school was Jim Ajac, and two people who were more opposite of each other, I’ve never known. He was a mechanical genius even in high school and I, well, couldn’t fix my bicycle. I could however multiply double numbers in my head but was any of this important in high school? Of course not, DA haircuts were more important.

    I figured since I found her first, I laid claim to her, Carol Diane that is. Boy was that a bad idea, God forbid. So Carol Diane introduced me to her best friend Ann, who lived a block away in Coconut Grove. A tall, willowy brunette with a great sense of humor that I loved. Lets be polite and say she wasn’t fully cooked in certain areas but pretty in her face.

    We doubled dated a lot and Jim had a brand new jeep to tour Miami and Miami Beach. But I missed Carol even so and since our high school English teacher insisted we see the play ‘Our Town’, as it ran at the Ring Theater at the University Of Miami, I invited Carol to go with me on the sly. [You can tell from this story I knew nothing about girls at the time.]

    So I borrowed my brother’s ‘39 Studebaker for the evening and took her to see the play. Frankly, I was bored to no end, scenery consisted of two chairs and a ladder. We did enjoy each other and as we left, I kissed her gently and she smiled. I opened the car door for her and then I slid into the driver’s seat,

    “Carol, I can’t see a thing out the windshield, can you?”

    “No, nothing.” She muffled a quiet giggle that I missed as I got out of the car,

    “Carol, the whole windshield is sprayed with white lacquer and it’s hard as nails. Damn it why are you laughing?”

    She wouldn’t answer and then it hit me,

    “You told Jim, didn’t you?”

    “He asked me what I was doing tonight and I didn’t want to lie to him.”

    I tried sticking my head out the window to see but couldn’t reach the gas petal but was able to put my right foot on the brake petal. Steam was coming out both ears but I pretended it was funny.

    “Carol sit real close to me, you can push the gas petal and change gears.”

    “Gears, I don’t know how.”

    “Gees! Well we can use second gear till I get home. Are you ready?”

    It was a memory I will never forget and the next day at lunch, five friends of mine went to find Jim’s jeep. It was parked in the overflow lot among the pines. A few minutes later we had found two pines close by, carried the jeep and placed it between the two trees. There was one inch clearance each end of his bumpers. A few days later he called me.

    “I want you to know It took me 45 minutes back and forth to get my Jeep out.”

    “Sorry I missed it, still friends?”

    “Of course, I’ll never get through Algebra without you.”

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