This Is Not A Joke

Here it is: my one and only serious attempt at writing a comedy. Enjoy it, because I doubt you’ll ever see me write anything like this ever again.

By now, you’ve probably guessed that this is yet another story from my experimental phase and that I’m sharing it here because it’s something I will never publish. This one was inspired by a prompt from the ReedsyPrompts contest #87: Write about someone who hates pranks and spends April Fools’ Day doing good deeds instead.

Obviously, the goal here was to create something silly and funny, but I still wanted to put my own special little spin on it. It’s apparent from my other short stories that I’m not much of a “happy ending” kind of writer. Even though nothing truly bad happens (compared to my horror stories), I still couldn’t let these good deeds go unpunished. And it turned out well. Fellow writers in the ReedsyPrompts community actually thought this story was funny. But even though I know I can make readers giggle, I think I’d rather stick to traumatizing them with horror.

Pan’s Falls, the silliest town on the map. This unassuming little town is ignored most days of the year. But all eyes turn towards it once April 1st rolls around. On April Fool’s Day, this is a town you may just want to avoid.

No one knows who actually came up with the idea that gave this town it’s reputation, but legend has it that Mayor John Looney – a man who may or may not have actually existed – came up with a brilliant plan in the year 1922. The Great War had ended and spirits were low, so Mayor Looney decided to improve morale by throwing the first annual April Fool’s Day Parade.

But this is just a legend, and one that not everyone believes. Others say that it was Mrs. Maude Sidebottom who conceived of the parade many years before, in 1883, because of her husband, Richard. He was one of the many small business owners in Pan’s Falls who felt that an increase in tourism would help the local economy.

Regardless of how the parade had been created, all that mattered was that it existed. And to the people of Pan’s Falls, this was exceptionally important. Ever since the creation of the parade, whenever that was, April Fool’s Day was a day that they all took very seriously. It was also a day that everyone in the neighbouring towns feared.

The increase of tourism was an obvious side effect of this legendary parade, but the extra mess left behind was nothing to worry about. No, the problem was the festivities themselves. The people of Pan’s Falls took April Fool’s Day so seriously that pranks were practically a civic duty on this most important day. And year after year, the residents of Pan’s Falls did their absolute best to improve upon the pranks from the year before. Over the years, the pranks became so elaborate, so dangerous, that nearby townships began to lock their doors and barricade themselves within their homes whenever April rolled around.

But it wasn’t all pranks and nonsense in Pan’s Falls on April Fool’s Day. There were, after all, people like Norman Brown. Norman, a life long resident of the silliest town on the map, detested pranks. He found them to be immature, childish, unnecessary, and a whole other string of adjectives that are not to be repeated in polite company. Norman, like a handful of others, suffered through April Fool’s Day in Pan’s Falls.

“What absolute nonsense,” he grumbled to himself when, upon waking up, he heard firecrackers go off in the streets below his window.

And the grumbling continued as Norman went about his morning routine. And it continued even further when Norman stepped out his front door and was splattered head-to-toe in white paint.

“Something must be done about this,” he grumbled once more during his second shower of the morning as he washed the thick, white paint out of his hair.

“I know! I’ll do the exact opposite of what those buffoons expect of me. I won’t just abstain from those silly little pranks; I’ll do good deeds instead.”

So that’s just what Norman did.

“Hello, Mrs. McCready. May I help you cross the road on this fine morning?”

“Not a chance, Brown!” spat the old woman as she wrenched her arm from his tentative grasp. “You won’t get me that easily. I’ve been living in Pan’s Falls for 76 years. I know a prank when I see one.”

“No, no, Mrs. McCready. This isn’t a prank at all. I’m doing good deeds today, you see.”

“Sure, you are,” she growled as she crossed the street without any assistance.

“This is going to be harder than I thought,” said Norman, right before a passing teenager slipped a raw fish down the back of his shirt.

Once the fish had been properly disposed of, after a rather embarrassing display of wriggling and squirming, Norman set out to continue his ill-fated task.

“There’s got to be someone I can help. Ah! Perfect! The Jackson twins have set up a lemonade stand. What fine, respectable, young children. I’ve got just enough change to make their day. I bet those two will be thrilled to earn enough to buy some candy at the corner store later on. Hello, girls. I’ll take a cup of your finest lemonade, please,” he said proudly as he placed a handful of change on the cardboard box they had set up as a table.

Both twins stared at him, eyes wide, no doubt astonished by such a generous donation.

“Right away, Mr. Brown,” said the one who was missing her two front teeth. Mr. Brown could never remember which was which.

“Thank you, my dear girl.” And when the paper cup was passed to him, he took a big gulp.

That’s when the giggles started. A second later, Norman Brown was aware of a foul taste in his mouth. And seconds after that, he noticed their dog, Skipper, who had undoubtedly been instructed to relieve himself into the lemonade pitcher.

“Keep the change,” Norman choked as he walked away to the sound of cacophonous laughter. “Ungrateful little brats. I don’t suppose it counts as a good deed at all if they don’t see it that way.”

He was certainly more cautious after the lemonade incident, but Norman continued on his quest. Unfortunately, just about everyone he passed was of the same mind as Mrs. McCready and thought that he was up to no good. Nothing he said could convince his fellow townsfolk otherwise.

As luck would have it, an opportunity presented itself when Norman passed the hardware store, and a skip appeared in his step as he made his way over to help Mr. Nelson, who was struggling with a heavy box.

“Let me help you,” said Norman as he grabbed the other side of the box before Mr. Nelson could even think of turning down this good deed.

“Oh, why thank you, Norman,” the older man said once his surprise had passed. “It is quite a bit heavier than I thought it would be.”

“Yes, it sure is.”

And in that instant, Norman became aware of just how much heavier the box was than it looked. The longer he held it as the two men shuffled in front of the store, the more his arms began to ache. And the more they ached, the more he thought about the pain. And the more he thought about the pain in his arms, the more they started to ache! Gasping, sweating, and grunting with the effort, Norman struggled to maintain a firm grip on the heavy box. And then, when they had brought the box within inches of its final destination, Norman could hold on no longer. Without meaning to, his fingers opened up and released the box from his grip. And the box fell. The box fell right onto Mr. Nelson’s toes.

“Yee-ow!” squawked the older man as he fell back onto the sidewalk. “I should have known you were up to no good!”

“No, no! Mr. Neely, no! I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to. Let me help you up. Let me help you–”

“You keep your paws off of me, Norman Brown. And you best be keeping one eye open at all times. The day is far from over. I’ll get you, Norman Brown. I’ll get you.”

Something in the man’s tone frightened Norman, and he began to run back in the direction of his home.

“You’d better run! I’ll get you! And if I don’t get you this year, you can bet I’ll be ready and waiting for you next year!”

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