Prankman perched unflinchingly on a ledge above the city, his eavesdropping equipment in tune with every cell phone and social media account in use below. Clad in black, with a paraglider affixed to his back and all manner of ninja-like paraphernalia on his person, Prankman clenched his jaws, ready to act.
His thoughts flitted ceaselessly to his childhood, and the terror some people -- friends, family, bullies -- had inflicted on his psyche. April Fool's Day was the worst day of the year, bar none, and Prankman had the scars to prove it.
He wasn't about to let anyone else suffer the way he did. There were all kinds of practical jokers out there, and they were about to get a dose of their own medicine. Or, rather, the reverse of their own medicine.
He flexed his muscles, ready to bust some chops. An hour had gone by and he hadn't heard any reports of any good tricks. Tricks that needed a response. Hearts and minds and sensitivities that needed avenging. But they would come, he had no doubt. The jokers were incapable of helping themselves.
Prankman had long waited for this night. He had trained incessantly, to the point that he was in prime physical condition. His muscles bulged beneath his suit; his jaw was unbreakable steel.
After minutes of boredom, he finally heard something worthwhile. Specifically, a prank in the Hawthorne neighborhood of the Summerside subdivision. A 13-year-old had been "punked" by his peers. Bubble wrap had been placed beneath a bath mat; when the boy trod on the mat, the noisome material popped, frightening the teen and bringing delight to the perps. Savages!
Prankman took flight, soaring across the city, honing on the address. It took him only nine minutes to locate the perps: two punks on a Red Bull high. Prankman swooped out of the sky, snatched one of the adolescents in his arms, and dropped him down a nearby industrial stack. He returned to the street to find the remaining punk uselessly searching for his friend. Eyes wide, the kid stared in amazement as Prankman touched down in front of him.
"Bubble wrap, huh?" thundered Prankman. "You think that's FUNNY?"
He threw the kid up against a car. "How'd you like a real prank played on you?"
Startled, Prankman stared down at his legs. The squirming punk had wet his pants, splashing the hero's ninja suit. With a ferocious growl, Prankman released the kid and vanished into the darkness from whence he came.
Later, having dried off, Prankman returned to the same vantage, eavesdropping on thousands of conversations. He pointedly ignored all topics having nothing to do with April Fool’s. As he listened, he reflected on the dozens of tricks he had endured as a child. The one that stood out most was the “room of balloons” that had forever ruined him on party favors. (Too many balloons … there were just too many balloons.) But there had also been the chocolate-filled diaper bomb that was dropped on him from three floors up and the potato that someone had jammed into the tailpipe of his first car. On and on, a parade of indignities and humiliations.
Was it any wonder Prankman, as an adult, had been treated so often and unsuccessfully for PTSD? He lived in mortal fear of April 1st, to the extent that he’d spent years trying to undo the damage wrought by pranks. He’d tried doing good, but altruism had its limits, and something more radical was required. Hence, the birth of Prankman.
Now he received another report of yet another “humorous” hazing, this one just a few blocks from his perch. The incident really put Prankman in a tizzy: dozens of pairs of google eyes affixed to an elderly man’s fruits and vegetables. Prankman was able to quickly locate the offender's "crash pad." Using specialized tools, he broke in and went to work on the kid.
Blood-soaked, Prankman decided to hang out a while. He lit a cigarette and put his feet on the unconscious boy’s coffee table. He’d made quite a mess of the place and decided he had overdone it. Was there a better way?
He grabbed a beer out of the fridge. Reports of other pranks flowed across his headset, but he ignored them. He studied the bashed, bruised and bloodied young man on the floor, feeling guilty. Some old man had found his apples and tomatoes decorated with google eyes -- pretty funny, right? Was a beating really the answer? Would the victim have approved? Prankman sipped his beer, contemplating the meaning of it all.
Maybe he’d slipped off the path; perhaps he should rethink his life. Truth was, he’d committed a serious crime here. The kid would require hospitalization. Prankman decided he would phone 911 and then disappear into the night. Yes, and then he would take the rest of the year to reconsider his view of pranks. He’d gotten his satisfaction, heard the guy’s nose crunch, seen the blood spray. Why not abandon all this trauma and move on?
He pitched his beer can in the trash and turned to leave via the front door. Immediately, he strode into a thin layer of Saran Wrap stretched tautly across an inner doorway. It adhered to his body thanks to a smear of Gorilla Glue. Prankman stumbled, flapping his arms, struggling to free himself. His elbow brushed a light switch and the ceiling fan whirred to life. A burst of colorful confetti rained down.
“Damn you, joker!” Prankman cried, his suit covered in thousands of colored chads. “Damn you!”