April Fool

 by Marty P.


The day had just begun for the crew of Station 51. After dressing they trickled into the dayroom for a few minutes before the clock hit 0800. As Roy put his coffee cup in the sink he asked, “Anybody started working on taxes yet?”

“I always wait ‘til the last minute. I work better under pressure.” Johnny announced, dusting powdered sugar off his shirt.

Mike Stoker wiped a dribble of jelly off his chin and saw a dollop had landed on his shoe. He reached for a paper towel to remove it. “What day of the week is the 15th anyway?”

“Check the calendar, Gage.” Chet Kelly pointed toward the wall by the bulletin board.

Johnny shook his head, “You’re closer. Why don’t you?”

“Fine.” Chet stomped over to it and lifted the page for March to reveal April. “It’s a Tuesday this year.” His eyes lingered on April 1st. His favorite holiday was Halloween but April Fools’ Day ran a close second. Last year he’d had the flu and missed pulling pranks on his crewmembers. A feeling of excitement coursed through him as he realized A-Shift was scheduled to work on April 1st. Taking a deep breath he forced down his exuberance and walked calmly away from the corner of the room.

Several days later Chet arrived an hour early and stowed his treasures in his locker. The station was empty as C-shift was out on a run. Chet’s face scrunched up as he envisioned his piece d’ resistance but when he’d tried to volunteer as chef the captain had insisted Marco cook, maybe next year. Chet positioned a water bomb just inside the shower so whoever stepped in would get a cold blast. Then he dumped the salt out of the shaker and replaced it with sugar. He put an untainted box of chocolates on the kitchen table. No one would touch them because they would suspect him of tampering with them. He rubbed his hands together. It was going to be a wonderful day!

Marco entered the station greeting Chet with a warm smile. “Mornin.’” While Marco’s back was turned Chet snuck a whoopee cushion onto the bench. Lopez sank onto the bench to put on his socks, causing Chet to break into raucous laughter when the pad sounded. “April Fool! April Fool!”

“Chet! It’s not April 1st is it?” He took the offending rubber out from under him and handed it to Chet. “Guess ya got me.”

“I can hardly wait to get Gage! You’ll be rolling in the aisles.” Chet tucked the cushion into his locker for future use and went over to the mirror to tweak his mustache.

As the day progressed Chet pounced on his shift mates. With each practical joke his face cracked into an ever widening grin. Johnny was the one who got the extra cold shower, much to Chet’s delight. After the squad returned from a run, Johnny came in carrying a hamburger and French fries. He shook a generous portion of salt onto his fries only to discover he’d sweetened them. Johnny grew annoyed as Chet basked in his success. Squad 51 was out on another call when Chet crept into the dorm and sprinkled cornstarch in Johnny’s bed. He’d discovered it was more effective than flour because it was less noticeable and provided a grit that grated on people’s nerves.

Engine 51 got a run right after he’d done his deed and Squad 51 met them at the scene. They spent hours battling a fire and it was after midnight when Johnny climbed under his covers, discovering the gift Chet had left for him.

“Chet!” Johnny’s anger permeated the dark room.

Cap trudged over to the light switch. “Gage, what’s the problem?”

Johnny rubbed the cornstarch off him as he got up. “Come see. He put something in my bed. Probably itching powder.”

“Chet, enough!” Hank Stanley said in a firm voice, “You’re pushing the limit here. You may get off latrine duty by the time you make captain at the rate you’re going.”

“But, it was April 1st!” Chet whined. “Everybody expects stuff like this on the 1st. Have a heart, Cap.”

“You’re the fool, Chet!” Johnny stood nose to nose with Chet and waved his finger in the prankster’s face.

Chet shook his head with vigor. “No way, Gage. Yesterday was April 1st. I got you. I got you good!”

“I suggest you take a look at the calendar.” Roy’s face took on an impish look as he led the way to the kitchen.

Chet advanced toward the chart on the wall. “See!” He stabbed his finger on April 1st. “You’re the one who’s confused, Roy.”

“Chet, you better look again.” Marco crossed his arms and he waited for Kelly to take a second look.

Chet cocked his head, stepped back and studied the squares yet again. “It says right there. April 1st! What is your problem?”

“And the year?” Captain Stanley nudged. He was trying hard to control himself but his shoulders shook with contained laughter.

Chet’s eyes roved toward the top of the calendar. “So?” His eyes widened as his brain did some calculations. “This is LAST year’s calendar! That means, today is…” He sputtered. “TODAY is April 1st!”

“Gotcha, Kelly!” Johnny’s index finger and thumb became a gun of the Old West and Johnny fired at Chet and blew the smoke off his finger before holstering it.

The room rang with laughter, as Chet stood surrounded by the rest of the crew. “Just wait ‘til next year!” Kelly said with a frustrated face. But a moment later he joined the hilarity. The crew had gotten him good, this time.





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