Bill Haines hated those pranksters in his office. Why? Because he was their preferred target. His religious parents’ upbringing had left unavoidable marks on his personality, and to be fair, his personality was a bit stiff.
It was unexplainable for Bill why his colleagues, Herb and Marvin, could not share his passion for a job well done and the good old sayings. They express life in its pure form. But they don’t see it that way. Always were making fun of him and his wise words.
For example, when they had the monthly report due, he was just saying, “Life is short, talk is cheap” and started the work with diligence. The other two were “biting the heads of the rats” as his mama would have said.
“C'mon, guys, stop goofing around,” he said. “Don’t you want to advance in this company? Are you happy just ‘treading water’ for so long?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong with this?” said Marvin. “We are in our twenties; we have plenty enough time to take ourselves seriously.”
And on top of that, they are such infantile pranksters. He remembered last April. Rain was pouring on the streets and a mist of fine water particles was rising. Cautious as always, Bill had his umbrella with him and was spared of the rain effects mostly, aside from his shoes being well moisten.
When he opened the door of the office he shared with Herb and Marvin, a different type of rain went down on him. A bunch of stuffed little animals were now at his feet and Herb and Marvin were cracking their guts laughing.
“Well, Bill, you were right about the weather today. It’s raining cats and dogs like you said.”
He and his big mouth! If he didn’t use that expression yesterday when referring to today’s forecast, he would not be in this situation. He just hoped those two jokers didn’t steal the little fuzzy toys from some poor kids.
“Guys, I appreciate the effort. I do. But don’t you think it’s a bit too much? I feel a bit flattered you spent money on the toys just to prank me,” he said.
“We spent shit,” Herb said. “Marv’s sister is working in a day care center so we borrowed the toys from there.”
Bill was almost compelled to return one of the new sayings preferred by these two, “kiss me where the sun don’t shine”, but he was better than that. So, he let it pass and turned the other cheek as he was taught.
First quarter was ending now and the quarterly report had to be under their boss’ scrutinizing gaze at the beginning of April. The day so dreaded by our Bill, who was betting his life that his colleagues will prank him again.
That weekend he stood and analyzed his life. Was he happy? No. He had a steady job, he was appreciated, but his colleagues had made his life miserable because he didn’t share their values. His different take on life was also the reason he didn’t find yet a girl fit to be presented to his mother. A really proper girl.
He considered moving. At least changing his job. He needed to find “a land flowing with milk and honey” as the good book was saying.
Sunday night, probably stressed about the next day in the office, he had his sleep populated with weird dreams. And the weirdest part was that he remembered them after he woke up. In those dreams he was transported in the biblical land flowing with milk and honey. But it was a nightmarish scenery; birds were dropping out of the sky of the color of molasses because of the honey sticky wings. Animals and people were stuck or moving very slowly also because of the sticky land that was not so rapidly washed by the pouring milk.
He woke up all sweaty and with the heart racing. He calmed down and changed his pajamas.
Be careful what you wish for, concluded Bill the meaning of this dream. And being very careful with the dream’s meanings, he put aside the idea of moving for the time being.
So, beginning of April, quarterly report due, and two pranksters to avoid. Bill was heading for a busy day. Fortunately, this time it wasn’t raining. The sky was all blue, the air a bit chilly but very invigorating.
He entered the company’s building and politely hailed the receptionist; a girl named Sally. She was new, so he interacted little with her so far. Calmly, he went down the hall to his accounting office. Opened carefully the door, but he still remained in the hallway. Nothing fell down. Good! At least the guys are not repeating the same prank. So, he entered the office full of confidence this time. To his big surprise, he found Herb and Marvin busy with the spreadsheets on their computers.
The window was opened, and the vertical shades were waving slowly in the morning breeze. Something else was influenced by that breeze. A paper calendar hanged on the wall next to the window. And the date highlighted by the red square was April 2nd.
That’s why that calm atmosphere, Bill finally understood. April fool day was yesterday, on a Sunday. So, this year it seems he will be spared.
With a newfound inner peace, Bill left his overcoat on the hanger by the door and then went to his desk and put his old leather briefcase on top. Next to the computer’s display. Still standing, he logged in and pulled the chair to sit. But he didn’t. The blue textile cover of the chair had a deeper shade of blue today.
Cautiously, he touched the seat. It was wet. Really wet. Like all the spongy material inside was saturated with some liquid he hoped to be water.
Herb popped out his head from behind his computer and asked, “What’s the matter, Bill? Is the chair not to your liking?”
Bill didn’t have the chance to answer because Mr. Grimsley, the chief accountant, entered the office. As usual, his face foresaw nothing good.
“How is it looking that report, Haines?” he asked with his sharp tone.
Bill inadvertently took a stiff posture.
“It’s going pretty well, sir,” he answered.
“Well, don’t just stand there like a dummy, and show me what you got so far. I want to see it before you print it. To avoid some paper waste. The corporate bosses are on my behind to be greener. To save the planet. Ha! Like they could save it when is populated with dumb asses like you folks…”
Oh, boy! The boss was in an even fouler mood today. So, without wasting more time, still standing, Bill opened the file with the report. To his horror, Mr. Grimsley pulled closer the chair and sat on it.
“Nooo!” was heard from Marvin’s mouth.
Too late, though. Their boss jumped from the seat like an electric discharge shocked him. His light grey pants were soaked like he peed himself.
He was patting down his pants with his right hand, but in vain.
“And I have a meeting with department heads in ten minutes,” was all he said.
“Sorry, sir. But please, believe me, I didn’t want this to happen. It’s just a delayed April Fools' Day prank,” Bill tried to explain.
Mr. Grimsley pushed Bill aside and posted himself in front of the two pranksters.
“I hope you understand this means you are fired. For you, this was the cherry on top of a pile of shit, if you ask me. Please clean your desks and go to HR.”
Bill was as shocked as the two victims of this prank that backfired. But the voice of Mr. Grimsley took him out of that numbness.
“What are you waiting for? Get a good chair that now is free and finish that damned report!”
And he left, slamming the door behind him.
Herb was getting his things and when Bill came and took his chair to use it as Mr. Grimsley instructed, just said with anger in vis voice, “If you pop one of your sayings now Bill, God forgive me, I will strangle you!”
“Sorry, guys, no more sayings from me,” he said in a conciliatory tone.
But as the two were leaving the room, he could not help to say “He who laughs last, laughs longest”.