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Drama

The fire truck's siren shattered the chaos with its ear-piercing wail, cutting through the air like a sharp blade. Felix's instinct was to flee, eager to escape the looming specter of consequence that seemed to haunt his every step. He covered his ears to block out the screams. Well aware, he was hurtling towards an inevitable collision with his wrongdoing. His heart skittered. The notorious freckles disappeared into his red cheeks. Each swirling shrill made his face redder. 


Felix slouched, hiding behind his classmate Henry in the assembled line. A mischievous glint danced in his emerald-green eyes. 

Mrs. Schneider tapped each child on the shoulder, assigning them a numerical designation for a headcount. As the truck approached Berkshire Elementary, his tousled red hair merged with his red cheeks. Transparency stood out like an abrupt stop sign.


In the courtroom of his mind, Felix's personification of the stop sign insinuated his guilt. Stark and bold, it represented the wrongdoing he couldn't escape. Each time he attempted to move forward, the warning sign grew larger, mirroring the flush of his embarrassment. Its color, as vibrant as his conscience, was a constant reminder that he couldn't outrun the weight of his guilt, no matter how hard he tried. His futile attempts to evade it only deepened his sense of desperation.


Mrs. Schneider rapped Felix on the head, "Twenty-three!" Aware, she grasped his hand and marched him toward the school entrance. Under her firm grip, the weight of his assigned number, 23, felt heavier than ever.


As the firefighters busied themselves with their preparations, Higgins hustled to the fire chief, his tone apologetic yet laced with a hint of annoyance. "False alarm," he announced, his words cutting through the air. Felix, his curiosity piqued, couldn't help but overhear Higgins' snide remark, "One of these mischievous little shits pulled the alarm. I sincerely regret any inconvenience this may have caused."


In the principal's office, Felix sat with his scabbed knees crossed and his head bowed. His gaze fixed on the faded Smokey Bear T-shirt draped over his slight frame. The shirt. An unforgettable memory of a disastrous camping trip. It read, "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," a deliberate memento a fire ranger gave him after he ignited a campfire at Yellowstone National Park the previous summer.


The fire blazed out of control and caused significant damage to the surrounding forest. He knew he hadn't followed the proper safety protocols for starting a fire and had ignored warnings about the dry conditions in the area. Yet. Curiosity prevailed.


As the door swung open, Felix's dawning realization struck him with irony. His shirt was inappropriate for the gravity of the situation, and he felt a wave of irk wash over him. His mother, Celeste Shenanigan, clad in her pristine white nurse's uniform, scrambled into the room. He felt guilty when he realized it was supposed to be her day off. Her presence here could only imply dire consequences. He braced himself for double trouble.


Felix winced as his mother's fingernails dug into his arm, tightening her grip beneath the desk.


"What do you have to say for yourself, Felix?" Mrs. Shenanigan asks in a low, ashamed growl.


"Sorry, I made your coffee cold Mr. Higgin." Felix says with puppy-dog eyes. "Uh, I promise I won't do it again." Hoping to appease his mother's anger.

Mrs. Shenanigan sighed, releasing her hold on Felix's arm and shaking her head in disappointment.

Mr. Higgins turned his head to the side, trying to hide the laugh and smile that had uncontrollably spread across his face.


"Felix, I have to expel you for a week." Higgins looked at Mrs. Shenanigan with pity as Felix's eyes widened in surprise. Maybe excitement.


Felix Shenanigan, now an eight-year-old boy, had a tumultuous childhood. As a young child, Felix experienced abandonment when his mother left him. He grew up in the renowned but strict Catholic orphanage of St. Anthony's. Despite his hardships, Felix used humor as a weapon against adversity. He found that laughter could lighten the mood and diffuse tense situations. At the orphanage, Felix became known as the "orphan clown." His jokes and antics won over his peers, and he realized that laughter could strengthen relationships and encourage friendships. He assumed the role of the resident jokester. Spreading laughter to everyone around him. Well, most.


But beneath Felix's cheery exterior was a troubled young boy struggling with feelings of guilt, shame, and abandonment. He felt lost, belonging nowhere, moving from one place to the next, never feeling grounded. He longed for a sense of stability and place.

His prankish behavior further exacerbated Felix's internal conflict. Sometimes, he would get into trouble and couldn't understand why. He always felt incorrect, even when attempting correctness. Apologizing nonstop, he believed he could never meet others' expectations.


Felix's behavior was also a way to cope with his complex emotions. He used humor to deflect from his pain and to avoid dealing with his problems head-on. He acted out to feel some sense of control in his life.


"Felix, you picked the worst week on earth to pull this stunt. Mr. Chambers quit, so I am the only lead nurse all week. And your father's out of town until Friday." Celeste squealed out of the parking lot. “Now, you must accompany me to work.”


In contrast to the harshness of the stringent orphanage, the Shenanigans were a benevolent family. Uninhibited, they adopted him and provided a nurturing environment. They showered him with ample love and found his antics endearing. 

"I promise you won't even know I'm there, ma," Felix says with his cherubic grin. "I will be good."


At the Evergreen Haven Nursing Facility, ‌residents embraced Felix. He went from room to room, telling jokes and performing magic tricks. They loved having him there, and he brought happiness to their mundane lives.

Felix kept his promise to his mother about being suitable for about an hour. Boredom then struck. 


Felix chatted with George Harrison, an 87-year-old Alzheimer's patient, for a while. He left for physical therapy for an hour. Within that time, Felix rearranged his room and hid some of George's belongings in odd places.


Among his hidden treasures were a worn photo album of George's youth and a bundle of yellowed letters tied with a ribbon. He also concealed a well-worn blanket with patches behind his curtains. And scattered small trinkets and souvenirs on different shelves. He positioned a weathered journal filled with scribbled thoughts on his shoe rack. And last, an antique pocket watch ticked on the toilet seat.


As George walked into the room, he mistook Felix for an unexpected visitor. This confusion made Felix laugh. He was eager to see how he would react to his rearranged room. George got sweaty, agitated, and restless. His emotions intensified with each passing irregularity. He paced back and forth. His hands fidgeted while incoherent murmurs of confusion escaped his lips. When Mr. Harrison crawled beneath his bed, Felix bolted out of the room. A knot of unease tightened in Felix's stomach. He chuckled away his guilt, not expecting that drastic of a reaction. 


Residents were gathering for lunch—a long line forming in the hallway. Felix seized the chance for mischief, his attention scattered and unfocused, as he swapped their walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. He couldn't contain his laughter when Mrs. Binks lashed Mr. Stubles in the shin with her cane. She assumed he had swiped it. 

Meanwhile, Alvin from room 169 stood hunched over, shouting profanities, unable to cruise without his wheelchair.


Alma was spinning in circles, searching for her missing walker. In no time, the atmosphere in the nursing facility shifted from uneventful to chaotic. 

Thinking of Mrs. Binks smacking Mr. Stubles with a cane drove a ripple of panic through Felix's conscience. He couldn't suppress the thrill of mischief that coursed through his veins. 


Felix slipped into the cafeteria when he saw his mother trying to calm everyone down while weaving through the hallway.


With the promise he made to his mother in mind, he helped fill the coffee cups. He devoured a handful of nuts to pacify his growling stomach. The nuts were in a sealed dish next to a list of names written in red marker. With his salty fingers, he arranged the creamers, stir sticks, and sugar packets on a tray.


Felix held the decaf and regular thermoses and walked around, asking what they'd like, forgetting which was which. He reckoned it would make little difference.

After completing his helpful task, Felix walked through the residents' rooms while they finished lunch. Someone filled small plastic cups with colorful pills on a cart in the hall. Thinking it'd be helpful, he color-coordinated them, shifting the pills around. Then, he edited the times on the medical charts on their doors. He signed the charts just like he saw his mother do. 


Upon discovering a roll of masking tape at the front desk, he sealed off the bathroom doors as a prank. Felix chuckled to himself, pleased with his playful plan. As he finished taping up the bathroom doors, he couldn't wait to see the chaos unfold.

After lunch, he hid behind a fig leaf tree and watched people try to use the bathroom, unable to open the sealed doors. Even Mr. Shakespeare couldn't hold it in any longer and wet his pants. In a corner, Ms. Jules and a few other older women giggled with amusement. Mr. Shakespeare stood in a self-induced puddle, cursing and calling for a nurse to assist him.

Amid the chaos, Felix's laughter bubbled, desperate to drown out the voice of reason that whispered warnings in his ear. With each prank, the tension mounted, threading a precarious line between exhilaration and trepidation.


When Ms. Jules and the group of ladies walked by the fig leaf tree Felix was hiding behind, he jumped out and scared them. The ladies shrieked and toppled over like dominoes, and Ms. Jules wet her pants out of fright. Felix felt a pang of guilt pierce through his amusement. But before he could confront his conscience, a tide of adrenaline-fueled excitement swept him up, intoxicating his senses with the chaos he had unleashed.


Felix couldn't contain his laughter as he ran away, a mix of guilt and satisfaction churning within him as he realized the impact of his prank.

Felix looked back to revel in the madness he had created and saw Ms. Jules's tear-streaked face, fear and stupor evading her wet eyes. In that instant, the weight of his actions crashed down upon him like a ton of bricks, shattering the illusion of harmless fun he had clung to. The laughter died. Remorse twisted in his chest. Each tear shed by the frightened residents was a visceral reminder of the pain he had caused.


To make amends for scaring Ms. Jules, he went outside to pick her some lilies, roses, tulips, and dahlias from the immaculate flower garden bordering the building's entrance.


Felix reentered the building. He carried the fragrant bouquet with the reassurance of acceptance of his mischief. A bushy-tailed squirrel parachuted through the front doors, following him. The flying squirrel ricocheted off the textured walls and railings before landing on the fig leaf tree, burrowing behind the leaves. Felix was content with his genuine gesture, knowing it would make her smile.


Over the intercom, an announcement blared: "CODE GRAY." Eager not to miss any excitement, Felix weaved his way through the chaos, dodging staff members sprinting towards the source. His eyes widened when he peeked around the corner, and a smile unfurled. Ms. Jules, wearing only Depends and a sagging bra, led a conga line of half-naked residents through the large room. At that moment, Felix realized his plan to make amends had succeeded beyond his wildest expectations.


Enthralled, Felix slid into the Congo line and presented Ms. Jules with the bundle of flowers. With a hysterical look, she accepted them with a giant sneeze. A fit of sneezes ensued, triggering a chain reaction of swapped snot. The line halted when the startled squirrel flew from the fig leaf tree and landed on Mr. Aiken's bald head. The circle panicked as the squirrel leaped from one person to the next, causing pandemonium. Medical staff in white coats rushed past Felix to attend to distressed individuals outside the Congo Line, obstructing his view of the unfolding events.

People hunched over chairs. Limp bodies lay on the floor. Residents heaved in garbage cans. Medical equipment lay scattered everywhere. Something grave was happening, and Felix knew he needed to hurry and find help.

He ran to the front desk. The front door blew open, and emergency staff trampled by. Felix ran face-to-face with the fire chief he saw at the school. Dodging him to avoid recognition, he dove under the front desk.


From his hiding spot, Felix could hear snippets of conversation about a mass casualty incident and the need for additional supplies. He clutched his knees and rocked.

He overheard a police scanner reporting a series of criminal activities and violations at the Evergreen Haven Nursing Facility that compromised resident rights and safety.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation unfolding around him, Felix felt guilt creep upon him. He knew he had taken his jokes and pranks too far.


As the accusations piled up, Felix's heart raced with fear and regret, realizing the magnitude of the chaos he had caused.


The voices on the scanner grew louder and more urgent, causing Felix to break out in a cold sweat. He knew he needed to come clean and take responsibility before the situation escalated.


The voice on the scanner shuttered ~Immediate suspension or termination of employment.


He curled into a ball and reverted to his childhood, left alone on the orphanage's steps, adrift in a sea of uncertainty and fear.


More voices. ~Mandatory review of safety protocols and civil liability for injuries.


He began rocking, each voice replicating the haunting echoes of his abandonment, the chill of loneliness seeping into his bones like icy tendrils.


Louder voices. ~Criminal charges. ~Lawsuits for malpractice. ~Revocation of medical licenses.


In his deepest despair, he held onto the orphanage's doorstep like a castaway clutching driftwood, reaching for hope in his neglected world.

His tears fell like raindrops on barren soil, watering the seeds of sorrow that had taken root in his fragile heart.


Voices. ~Suspended. Fired.


Felix curled up in a fetal position, crying out for his mother. His mistakes weighed down on his spirit, reminding him of the irreversible damage he had caused. His cries echoed through the hallway, serving as a harsh reminder of the consequences of his actions. Overwhelmed with guilt, he felt isolated and suffocated by his despair. The harsh reality of his situation sunk in, leaving him to confront the painful truth alone in the darkness he had created. His sobs continued, a haunting symphony of regret and sorrow, with each tear carrying the weight of his remorse and self-condemnation.

Struggling to make sense of the chaos, Felix realized he had no one to blame but himself. 


With the last bit of energy, he pulled himself up from behind the desk.


"Felix!" Mrs. Shenanigan screamed. Running down the hall, grasping his wet curls and squeezing him. He collapsed into her secure arms. Tears streamed down her face as she held his blazed cheeks in her trembling hands.


“Listen, Felix. I will forever advocate for you and hold you close through every moment of pain and uncertainty."


"Together," she said, her voice quivering with emotion, "we will navigate this journey, hand in hand, heart to heart. Regardless of life's path, my heart is your home."


After Celeste rescued him from despair for the second time, Felix resolved. He realized that, unlike his jokes, he could never take unrequited love too far.


April 18, 2024 06:21

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21 comments

Trudy Jas
23:07 Apr 18, 2024

Great story EL. Poor mother Shenanigan. Little Felix feels bad now, but I have no doubt he'll be back at it in no time. Too bad the school couldn't put him in solitary confinement for the week. Dressed in a straitjacket - (yes, I have no kids). LOL

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E.L. Lallak
00:08 Apr 19, 2024

That made me laugh out loud. I am on a trip with my 9-year-old and a straight jacket would be helpful. Too ancient for the constant gogogogogogoggoo. I just want to sit down for a second and not talk about what's next. ha!

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Alexis Araneta
18:13 Apr 18, 2024

Another brilliant one ! You truly have a gift for creating creative tales with a lot of emotional punch. The panic/despair scene was especially well-written. Amazing work !

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E.L. Lallak
21:08 Apr 18, 2024

Thanks love:)

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Darvico Ulmeli
16:49 Apr 18, 2024

He took the joke too far. I know that they are old folks and should be laughing about them but you write the story so funny, I had a smile on my face all the time. Nice one.

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E.L. Lallak
21:08 Apr 18, 2024

Thanks:)

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10:58 Apr 27, 2024

This little fellow took his jokes very much too far. You can understand how his prankish behavior started, for attention and laughs. He didn't think of the consequences for this group of frail elderly people. Oh dear. Enjoyed reading this story. My eyes landed on this one as it starts off mentioning a fire truck and my husband is a fireman. Had to read it. Thanks for reading mine. At the end do you mean 'unconditional' love?

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E.L. Lallak
21:59 Apr 27, 2024

Oh man!!! I hate making stupid mistakes like that!!! And I can't fix it. Complete opposite of what I was trying to say. Meh. Yah, Felix was a turd. I'd beat his ass. hee hee Like Mr. Higgins said, Little shit. HA! I really am enjoying your writing. Can't wait to read more. Thanks for reading mine:)

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Mary Bendickson
05:16 Apr 25, 2024

What he did was dangerous for the elderly people. How could he not understand what he was doing? Thanks for liking my 'Blow your Head Off'.

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E.L. Lallak
11:54 Apr 25, 2024

Felix was a "Little Shit." Ha! Your story was tragic. So sad. Fireworks terrify me for that reason. One year my husband was lighting them off, the big ones, and it misfired and directed at my whole family sitting on the edge of the lake. We quit doing fireworks after that.

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Mary Bendickson
18:46 Apr 25, 2024

Can't blame you. Thanks for appreciating this sad tale. And for the follow.

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Kristi Gott
02:45 Apr 25, 2024

Wonderful story showing the deep complexity of Felix's destructive behavior and emotional problems. I love the comic-drama of it. The way you built up the suspense with the tricks getting wilder until things exploded was very skillful. Well done!

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E.L. Lallak
11:44 Apr 25, 2024

Ahhh Thanks Kristi. Crazy Felix. I loved your whale story this week too. It was so heartwarming :)

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Kristi Gott
18:23 Apr 25, 2024

Thank you very much!

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S. E. Foley
18:58 Apr 23, 2024

When the embodiment of chaos was born, his mother named him Felix and fled. The synchronicity of his falling into a family named Shenanigan is a warning from the universe. This story makes me think of the song, "Tears of a Clown."

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E.L. Lallak
06:12 Apr 24, 2024

Now that's a title I wish I would've wrapped my head around. Felix Shenanigan, the red-haired and freckled sad Irish orphan jokester, ironically adopted by the Shenanigans. HEE HEE Nailed it!

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Patrick H
13:08 Apr 23, 2024

Good story! I like the emotional detail that you put in Felix. We can see his thought process throughout each action he takes and his mounting and overwhelming panic after more consequences emerge.

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E.L. Lallak
06:13 Apr 24, 2024

Thanks Patrick! He's something else!

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David Sweet
16:20 Apr 20, 2024

It's too bad it took two serious incidents in the same day to get his mother to advocate for him. I like the fact that his adopted mother's name (and I'm assuming his adopted name) is Shenanigan. You said you were up to some constructive criticism: I feel you TELL us a whole lot about Felix and his problems at the orphanage in the middlw of the story instead of SHOWING us like you do at the beginning and end of the story. Perhaps a flashback at the orphanage to connect the two halves? And to have a short scene with his adopted mother takin...

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E.L. Lallak
13:14 Apr 21, 2024

I truly appreciate your constructive criticism! How else am I able to improve, right? You are absolutely correct about more knowledge of his past. I had to cut out so much of the first draft that I started getting confused as to where the story was going. HA! I figured a somewhat Irish name would be appropriate for his physical characteristics. It was odd that his adoptive parents had that name. We will just let them be Irish as well. HA! The Joker, much more appropriate:) Thanks again for the CC. Appreciate it!

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David Sweet
15:16 Apr 21, 2024

Never a problem. Any time you need some feedback, let me know.

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