Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Salt and Pepper (07/24/14)
TITLE: Of Pranks and Plots
By Marlene Bonney
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My sisters earned the reputation of “Goody Two-Shoes” (she became a preacher’s wife) and “Bookworm” (now a library associate). Me? “The Joker” or “The Prankster”; depending on whether you were the butt of the joke or an accessory to the crime. My shrink says I was trying to fill a deep void of acceptance through my actions--as a result of not being able to measure up to my siblings’ goodness. My parents say that, as the baby of the family, this was my attempt (usually successful) to get attention. My friends just laughed and wished they had my imagination. The honest truth is, I just liked to entertain people; to make them forget about their troubles, to make them smile in spite of themselves. It was an added bonus that it made me feel good and fired up my ego.
Most of the time, a plot worked as superbly as planned, but on one particular occasion, it backfired.
As summers go, this one was the sorriest combination of events in my experience. The weather refused to cooperate, incessant clouds and rain showers interrupting my and my friends’ usual outdoor activities. We had a lot of thwarted time on our hands, and I came up with an ingenious plan to liven things up.
There were three local eateries in our town. I assigned Jimmy to the diner, Robbie was in charge of the café, leaving the restaurant to me. The sabotage was to begin at midnight, an apt hour to carry out my designs. So, we snuck out of our houses and met at the corner of Jackson and Andrews to divvy out supplies and iron out last minute details. Dodging bright street lamps and angry watchdogs, we each furtively hurried to our separate destinations. Fortunately, I had the foresight to loosen window locks beforehand so we could enter said buildings without breaking in.
What I hadn’t counted on was my cohorts’ inability to deal with unforeseen obstacles: the café had begun an overnight remodel and like ants drawn to a family reunion picnic, delivery trucks were all over the place. Robbie’s mission failed. Jimmy stumbled over old lady Morton’s rose trellis, landing onto her aluminum garbage pail, sending every dog in the vicinity into frenzied barking while, like a falling domino chain, surrounding houses’ lights flashed on. He ran back home, leaving his tell-tale knapsack evidence at the scene.
Serenely unaware of my friends’ plights, flashlight at the ready, I was already inside the restaurant and working away, one table at a time. Cloth tablecloths and napkins made refilling the frosted glass dainty salt shakers with pepper without leaving any sprinkles behind, challenging. It didn’t help that I had a sneezing fit when one of the pepper cans from my supply fell off a kitchen shelf where I was busy replacing the chef’s spices with all kinds of exotic condiments I had found at the back of our kitchen cupboard. It spilled, covering everything on the way down with black dust. Getting all that mess cleaned up and escaping before dawn was a close call, let me tell you.
The next day, while I slept off my sandy-filled hangover, the town had awakened and residents were off to their favorite haunts for breakfast. Drowsily entering our kitchen at around noon, I found my father picking up the Daily Noon Gazette, headlines piercing through my stupor. One quick look, and I new I was doomed:
“ELDERLY COUPLE HOSPITALIZED AT WASHINGTON MEMORIAL FROM TAINTED RESTAURANT CUISINE,” and underneath, in smaller print, “Two Boys Confess to Salt and Pepper Midnight Caper Attempts, Naming Accomplice Mastermind.”
Our (Jimmy, Robbie’s and mine) first punishment was a sermon in the private study of Pastor Wingar, explaining how we, as followers of Christ, were to be salt and light to those around us. He then pointed out that the pepper we left behind was a reflection of our blackening hearts and we needed to ask forgiveness of all those who were affected by our little caper.
I wasn’t bored the rest of that summer, my community-service sentence as restaurant dishwasher a done deal.
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