This one was a challenge to write because it was written as flash fiction, one of those short short short stories that take only a few minutes to read. Enjoy!
No one called Kathleen Baxter “Kat” or “Kate” or even “Kathy.” Popular but a bit prim, Kathleen brooked no arguments concerning the social graces, as her mother called them. For Kathleen it simply meant one was always polite with one’s acquaintances and strangers, and even more so with one’s friends, and this included strict use of everyone’s full given name.
The plan began forming on Groundhog Day and slowly solidified towards the beginning of March. Carl and Dave were the most inventive members of Our Gang, [would kids today call themselves “our gang?”] and held a reputation for the perpetual string of gags and tricks they pulled. The only person in the group they had never targeted with a prank was Kathleen Baxter – until now.
“The only thing left to figure out,” said Dave, “is how to deliver the flowers. You know how out of sorts Kathleen gets over the least little thing that isn’t one hundred percent routine.”
“Yeah,” replied Carl, “but that may be just what we need for the best reaction.”
“I’ve got it,” exclaimed Dave. “Let’s send her a card from a secret admirer. That way the flowers can be from the same person.”
“Makes sense,” Carl said. “Not quite routine, but not over the edge, either. I like it.”
April first — a week after Kathleen showed her friends the card from her Secret Admirer — the entire group was still trying to figure out who the admirer might be. They gathered at Ravioli’s, their favorite pizza parlor for an after school pick-me-up and to talk about the jokes and pranks [one or the other?] they’d seen at school that day. Kathleen continued fingering the card, which was beginning to show some wear from too frequent reading. Orders up and paid for, Kathleen and the rest of her friends grabbed their usual seats at the bar along one wall of the restaurant without so much as five seconds of silence.
You know,” Kathleen said, “I’m through with this silly card. Anyone who hides behind a name like ‘Secret Admirer’ can’t be anyone I’d be interested in meeting.” She crumpled the card and dropped it onto the plastic tray in front of her then started to pop a french fry into her mouth, only to nearly drop it when a loud voice called her name.
“Kathleen Baxter,” the delivery boy announced. “I have a delivery for a Kathleen Baxter!”
Kathleen turned to see who was delivering what and saw only the huge floral arrangement that was so large it nearly hid the delivery boy. It was not only huge, it was so tastefully arranged it could have come from the pages of a fashion magazine. Kathleen was speechless as were the rest of her friends except the two conspirators. Because the flowers were the center of attention everyone missed the gleeful glance they shared.
“Over here,” called David [you called him Dave at the beginning], and he pointed at Kathleen.
The flowers were set on the bar in front of Kathleen, and the delivery boy had quietly disappeared when the girls started squealing in horror – all the girls except Kathleen. Kathleen just jerked back from the arrangement that seemed to sway under the hundreds of slugs happily nesting in the leaves.
Kathleen deftly palmed some gummies from her purse, pretended to pick several of the offending creatures from the arrangement, then made a show of staring at Carl and Dave as she popped the faux slugs into her mouth and chewed slowly. The sleight-of-hand worked perfectly and the conspiring boys blanched but could not look away from what they were sure was their friend’s really gross turn of the trick.
Kathleen continued to chew, then picked two slugs from the arrangement and held them between her thumbs and index fingers. She held them close to Carl and Dave’s mouths.
“Your turn, boys,” Kathleen said with more enthusiasm than she felt. “I ate my share, now it’s your turn.”
Neither Carl nor David dared back down. Almost in a trance each boy opened his mouth, and Kathleen dropped a slimy creature onto each tongue. As the boys ran towards the restrooms Kathleen laughed softly, winked at her coconspirator, [I think you should either explain who the coconspirator was, or leave it out] and then sprinkled the remaining gummies into the floral arrangement.
“April Fools,” she shouted at her retreating friends.