Kathy hates April Fools. First of all, there are plenty of fools out there anyway, so there really isn’t a reason to spend an entire day celebrating idiocy. Second of all, the people who actually ‘celebrate’ April Fools’ Day almost never enjoy being the fools themselves, and although the Golden Rule is tarnished, Kathy argues that it’s still gold. Third of all . . . . well . . . Kathy doesn’t actually have a third reason, just a whole bunch of examples, but everything is more powerful in groups of three, and Kathy’s a writer and believes this just as much as the Golden Rule. Thus, there’s a third of all even if there isn’t anything after that ‘third of all.’ (By the way, transition phrases are pretty important to her, too.) With this in mind, it’s pretty understandable that when Kathy’s sister decided to stand up a blind date before even finding a blind date, Kathy made it her business to learn more and . . . well . . . un-stand him up.
It’s not that Kathy doesn’t date. She’s a writer, you see, and it’s just much easier for her to create these wonderfully romantic and highly improbable scenarios in her head than actually go out and talk to people. In her head, she knows how people will react, she knows what to say, and she can edit her words to her heart’s content. She can date. She has dated . . . sort of. It’s just that she doesn’t usually engage in that activity, kind of like how some people plant gardens and bake cakes and some people . . . don’t. Kathy doesn’t. Her sister was going to stand someone up, though, and Kathy hates April Fools.
That’s how she found herself at Bar B and Q’s at seven-thirty on the night of the first. It was supposed to be seven sharp, as the guy (named Mysterious-and-Mysterious for the moment since Kathy didn’t know if Dark-and-Mysterious applied) the guy texted Kathy to come at seven. Well, he texted Kathy’s sister to come at seven, but Kathy’s sister had ‘lost’ her phone, and oddly enough, no one thought that Kathy could be the culprit because Kathy, well, Kathy hates April Fools.
Kathy arrives at seven-thirty instead of seven however because she takes down three fake ‘For sale’ signs on vehicles on the way to Bar B and Q’s and begins the process of popping all the balloons stuffed into the car parked next to the handicap section. Kathy leaves the scissors on the hood and locks the door for the owner. Clearly, the April Fooler had forgotten basic decency, as all of them tended to even on the other days of the year.
She stands still for a moment at the entrance, the knocking of pool balls and hum of televised sports games calming her. It is the perfect scene, Kathy decides, for two officers to discuss their latest case or for a temporary ceasefire meeting between a hero and villain. She takes a breath and looks for a man with a smiley face tie.
“Who wears a smiley-face tie?!” Kathy’s sister had cackled. “A serial killer by day, clown by night? Honestly!”
Honestly, Handsome-and-Mysterious in the corner, smiley-face tie wrapped around his arm like a medieval favor, zeroes in on Kathy’s flower-patterned jacket with a slow smirk. Kathy blushes. Sure, she’s sure he was expecting more of a . . . fashionable flower-patterned jacket, but 50s-Grandma-couch-pattern is still a fashion. She walks over anyway because he still is handsome and mysterious, and that’s a fair response.
“Edward, Ed.” He rises with the words, reaching out a hand. Kathy gives hers, and he flips it over at the last moment, smiling as he bends down and kisses it. There is a wolf whistle from the bar, and Kathy feels overheated. He stares at her. It’s a smolder. Her eyes widen with the realization even as Ed straightens and gestures towards the other seat. “For a moment, I thought you weren’t coming. Take a seat.” She does, and he follows. “What’s your name?”
Kathy rests her chin on her hand, a common author pose from what she’s seen on the back flap of books. “Katherine, Kathy.”
He leans in, his elbows folded and also on the table. His eyes stay on hers. “Beautiful,” he murmurs.
Kathy sits back in the booth, casting her eyes down and wishing that dates came with character outlines. She shrugs out of her jacket as Ed – though Dark-and-Handsome fits him better – laughs kindly. “Were you planning on standing me up?” he asks lightly.
“No.” Kathy looks him in the eye again. She looks away. Social interaction. Ew. “So,” she tries for a smile, “what do you do?”
He’s still smiling, like it’s an inside joke that he’ll let Kathy laugh at even if she doesn’t understand. “Guess.”
He laughs again with her answer, and Kathy looks to the bar. She doesn’t drink, just like she doesn’t date, so maybe tonight’s the night to fool herself into doing both.
“Kathy.” He draws out her name, and her eyes are drawn back to him. He’s amused, and Kathy’s glad at least one of them is. “Come on, Kathy, take a good look. Don’t be shy.”
There’s a mischievous glint in his eye, the kind Kathy always imagines her heroes having. A softness exists there, too. Perhaps he is a teddy bear, she thinks, a teddy bear made of leather and stuffed with coarse wool. The smiley face tie round his arm sticks out worse than a pink sock in a hay stack, but that was the point. She studies his hands because the calluses always give away the maids dressed as princesses and stable-boys as princes. His are toughened, a few scratches, but clean overall. A good-looking, confident man, yet one who still needs a date – and a blind one at that – for April Fools’ Day.
“Well,” Kathy keeps her eyes on his hands as she answers, “you’re either a swanky history professor or a serial killer.”
There is a moment of quiet. Kathy quietly sighs and does not bother to look up at Dark-and-Handsome. She slips the jacket-
“I’ve obviously underestimated you.” The glint in his eyes has grown to a gleam, and Kathy feels her own smile start. Dark-and-Handsome slides his arm across the table, body following. He confides with a slow smile. “I’m not a professor.”
Kathy giggles. She’s almost embarrassed by herself, but that’s the thing with actual people not actually in your head – they surprise you. She giggles, and then the waiter’s there, and they’re ordering, and they’re off. Yes, he is not a serial killer, to be sure, but he nods when she tells him about hiding a gun in a snowman in one of her novels, and he remarks that a real gunman would not do that to any piece of hardware. Instead, he leans forward again, and this time Kathy is in on the joke. Instead, you put each piece of it in a plastic bag first, and you make sure you pick a snow pile where there’s been a lot of traffic, but one you can get to later. He comments about shooting air between the toes. She tells him coroners check for that now. He says cremation is a wonderful thing. They discuss the pros and cons of encouraging decomposition versus obscure locations, and they both lament the dwindling wild and remote areas left. He’s a fan of Planet Earth and Forensic Files. She reads EMT books for fun, or ‘research’ depending on the day and her level of motivation. He laughs, and she shrugs her jacket completely off again, looking down because then the red on her cheeks could be from the odd lighting.
Their discussion about easily accessible poisons ends with the sharing of their fries, and by the time dessert is served, they’ve both admitted to deleting their search histories. And then checking and double checking that they were actually deleted.
“I just don’t need my sister seeing, ‘Closest Body Farm to Me,’ and getting ideas,” Kathy says, and he laughs again, and for a moment – for several moments – Kathy is so glad that her sister stood him up.
She tells him so as she putting on her jacket for the final time, and he says very, very quickly that he is glad as well. Kathy doesn’t reply to this, but easily takes his hand as they walk out.
“I don’t mind the balloons, but they could’ve left my car unlocked,” a white-haired gentleman in a ragged t-shirt is complaining. An officer jiggles the long hook wedged through the plastic lining on the car window, and the lock pops up. As he opens the door, the balloons begin spilling out. Dark-and-Handsome says it’s such a shame that someone had to do that, and the four of them, police officer included, pop the majority of the balloons in a few minutes. Kathy pretends her blush is from Dark-and-Handsome.
Finally, she’s outside her car door and leaning slightly onto it. He’s waiting just a few steps away, amusement and something close to happiness on his face.
“Well, this was nice,” Kathy says, because Kathy may be an author, but she’s an author who likes to use resources like thesaurus.com, thank you very much.
“Yes, it was.” He leans closer, and Kathy’s not quite sure what he wants, but he’s there, and she would not have any of her characters lean away, so she waits. His lips press against her forehead. He leans back.
She lets out a shaky breath. Then they’re both laughing at her, kindly of course. His smile slips off first, though, and a weight grows in her stomach. “I enjoyed this very much,” his eyes still dance with a smiling glint, “but I can’t do this again.”
“Why not?” Kathy asks before she realises that she doesn’t really want to know.
He comes in closer, adjusting her coat, smoothing it out. His hands are warm and leave warmth, and Kathy lets herself pretend for a moment. It’s just material, she tells herself, experiences for the next book. He smiles. The joke is back. “If I tell you, then I’d have to kill you.”
Now she laughs, chest heavy, eyes bright. She understands though. She tells herself she does. She reaches up to give him a kiss, and he lets her, the something in his eyes and on his face growing. Her hands only shake slightly as she starts her car and drives away. It’s later than she thought, harder than she would have imagined. For a moment, for several moments, she wonders if she is the fool. She sleeps.
Over five years later, Hendrick K. Jacking will be arrested for the murders of seven young ladies across the Northern United States over a period of ten years, all occurring on April 1st. His signature, according to the report, is a tie knotted around his upper arm. Katherine will watch the news with dry eyes, her first completed murder mystery pending publication, and wonder if she should tell her sister.
She decides she wouldn’t be believed anyway. She writes instead.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.