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April’s Fool

It’s springtime lad, you should be happy. The sun is shining, the flowers blooming, love is…

Ah, so that’s it then. You’ve been stung by love, have you? We have all felt that bite my young friend. Let me tell you of the maelstrom that was my first love, April.

I was just a young lad at the time, like you, working the docks in Strangelthorne’s Bay*. The Princess Cordelia II, an ocean liner out of Windenburg, had just come to port. I and the other dockworkers stood across the pier waiting for the passengers to disembark before we would move in to begin unloading any cargo the ship may be carrying. For a stevedore to interact with the well-to-do who could afford passage on such a ship, would get you a ripe tongue-lashing from the overseer, possibly a whip-lashing as well. Passengers typically handled their own belongings, or they had servants to do it for them. Occasionally, you would see someone in need of assistance, but only a chosen few of us were permitted to offer assistance, and I was not one of them.

When she stepped off the boat, my heart began pounding so fiercely, I could feel it in my throat. She was a goddess among men.

I stammered out a few incoherent words to the sea-dog standing beside me, and made my way toward the ship. I could barely comprehend his calling after me to stay my hand over the throbbing sound of my heart filling my ears. I knew I shouldn’t but I approached her anyway, introduced myself, and asked if she required any assistance. She shared the most beautiful smile with me, and told me her name was April. She said that if I was so inclined, she did have a small but important task that was suited to a man of my caliber.

She explained that she had a special piece of cargo aboard the ship, an heirloom that needed to be delivered to her uncle’s shop in town**. In return, I would collect from him a small sum of money to return to her, which was to be her allowance for the coming months. She told me she had reason to believe some of her staff had been pilfering from her estate, and this item was far too important to risk. I had a trustworthy face. She passed me a paper with the address, and description of the cargo, and bid me farewell with a gentle touch of my cheek.

The package was simple enough to find, as was the shop in town. I met with the man behind the counter, who took the package into his office for close inspection. Upon his return, he handed me a small wrap of coin and bid me a good day. As I exited the shop, I spotted April just down the block, signaling me to her. As I passed her the purse, she took a small silver coin from inside, and placed it gently in my hand. She thanked me for my trouble, and said she hoped to see me back at the shipyard when she departed in a few days. As she glided away down the alley, she blew me a soft kiss.

I floated back to the docks, so infatuated with this woman, I could barely think. When I arrived, there was a terrible commotion. The dock master and several guards where running about frantically, stopping and questioning every person they came upon.

The Princess Cordelia II had been robbed, a rare sapphire jeweled brooch was missing.

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Mother, May I? (Don’t you say it!)

Being the mother of four boys is not an easy task. I should know, as the third of those four boys. Three of us especially, as the youngest is several years behind, and was not often a part of our shenanigans growing up. My mother doesn’t trigger easily, so when she does, she really means it. Like the time she caught the oldest flashing a little birdie to the second oldest. She painted his entire middle finger with red nail polish and made him wear it for a couple of days, even to school.

Most of the time, she is pretty easy going and even a bit of a joker herself; which can be fun, as long as the joke is not on you. Once, she was out running some errands with the oldest, and a friend of his was along for the ride. They stopped by a grocery store and it was raining. This old woman, not wanting to get her hair wet, decided to put a plastic grocery bag over her head and tie it under her chin to keep dry in the rain. My brother and his friend thought it was funny to see this old lady with the bag on her head. The next time this friend was coming over to our house, my mom grabbed a bunch of plastic grocery bags and put them on all of our heads in various hat fashions, just before the boy got to the house. When he walked in, there were four of us hanging about the room, wearing bag-hats on our heads. Then, she offered one to him! I thought he was going to die of embarrassment.

Another incident involved a friend of the second oldest. We were all hanging around in the living room watching television, while his friend visited. Unexpectedly, my mother comes into the room rolling a finger glove down over her index finger. She was a nurse for newborn babies, and they often used these instead of full hand gloves, for certain procedures. She began talking in her best ‘Dr. Ruth’ voice and explaining how to properly wear a condom. We were all speechless and red as a tomato, and then the laughter set in.

There is this one moment, though, where we really pushed her limits a bit too far. We were all sitting in a local restaurant chain having lunch, and like usual, my older brothers and I were feeling a little rambunctious. The second oldest somehow got onto the subject of turds. That set my mom right off. Apparently, that was one word she just could not tolerate, and she let him know it!

Added on to the fact that we were in a public place, where parents least like to be embarrassed by their children. Well, you can’t just drop a “NO!” bomb like that on three teenage boys, and not expect them to counterattack. So we did, in a fashion that only we could. It started small, with each of us in turn mildly and innocently discussing the word in conversation. But the more irritated she became, the more quickly it escalated. Within just a few minutes, we had gone from quietly mentioning turds at our table, to standing in the middle of the diner-style restaurant loudly chanting in unison “TURD, TURD, TURD!”. Embarrassment had quickly shifted to anger, the kind of anger that turns a face blood-red.

She slammed some money down on the table and dragged all four of us from the restaurant without any of us finishing our food or taking it with us. We knew she was furious, because money was scarce for us and eating out, even at an inexpensive place such as this, was a rare treat. She did not speak to us for the rest of the day, and when my dad got home, we were handed down sentencing for our little rebellion.

It has been many years since that afternoon, and as adults, we are well out of reach of any retribution for such activities. I dare say we are mature enough not to bother with such juvenile acts; but then, we are our mother’s sons. So, every now and then when we feel like tweaking a nerve, we remind her of that afternoon, by gently slipping a turd into the conversation. It is the quickest way to bring about the stare of death. But as long as we don’t take it any further, everyone gets a little chuckle out of it, and we continue on with our happy lives.

I like to tell her that it’s just a touch of payback, on my late grandfather’s behalf. She was one of five girls, and they weren’t any easier.

A/N:  This story is based on true events. Names have been changed or removed to protect the innocent. For reference: The oldest is the dark hair teen, and later police officer. The second oldest is long hair teen, and later the other shaved head. I am the remaining teen, and later balding with goatee. The youngest is the child, and later the full bearded one.