Dramatic Shenanigans

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Dramatic Shenanigans

Talk around the locker bays that year had focus quite a lot on Gerald and Velma.  The other high school students would slam their lockers in confusion; the metal doors already dented with years of abuse and sullied in glue residue and sharpie signatures.  As the bays of locker reverberated in response, the groups of teenagers would continue their gossiping.  How was it that a nobody on the radar could snag such a somebody like Gerald?

The answer, had they bothered to ask the couple, was a simple one.  Gerald and Velma shared a love for practical jokes.  Gerald, ASB president and star of the drama club, used it as a way to perform.  He liked the big guffaws and bowling over with excitement when a well-executed prank was pulled off.  There had never been any proof that it was Gerald that had placed a bucket of water above the principal’s door.  There were plenty of witnesses, but they were “too confused by the events” to give an accurate description of the guilty party.  Either that or they secretly thought that it was a classic prank and they couldn’t bear to give up their hero.  Regardless, Gerald had found himself in the principal’s office.  His feet had squished on the residual dampness of the industrial carpet that had proven difficult to dry.  He almost gave himself away when he saw the administrator’s jacket and dress shirt drying on the corner coatrack.  The principal, clad in an old school sweatshirt, questioned and detained his prime suspect for two class periods.  In the end, he couldn’t prove anything.  Gerald walked out of the office scott free, a legend in his own time.

Velma preferred a more cerebral approach.  She was the only audience that she felt she needed to entertain.  Her English final was a bore to her, so she arranged the first letters of each paragraph to spell out “m-u-n-d-a-n-e”.  She would often hide hidden messages in art class projects.  Velma only wanted some subversion that she could smile at; her own private joke.

All that changed on the day that Velma’s friend, Midge, was the victim of Gerald’s prank.  Gerald had made friends with a few kids that spent much of their allowance on electrical gadgets.  Thus Gerald was provided with a small explosive device.  It was nothing serious; it had about as much explosive potential as a sparkler.  However this gizmo was hooked up to container of yogurt.  As Midge opened her locker, the connection in the wire was triggered and she ended up with a locker, backpack, and face full of dairy product.  (Later on it was discovered that Gerald had been trying to get his friend Paul, not Midge.  He had written down Midge’s locker number, 436, instead of Paul’s, 463.)

Velma went on the defense.  Gerald had apologized, even helped clean up the mess, but Velma wanted him to see what it was like when the joke was on him.  She thought, she planned, and she hatched a scheme.

Next Monday, it was Gerald’s own locker that drew his attention.  More specifically, he was intrigued by the note inside from Heidi Snift.  Gerald, like most of the boys at Woodbridge High School, was enchanted by Heidi.  She wasn’t head cheerleader; she was too busy playing sports.  She was the gal who always wore shorts, showing off her long legs in between volleyball, track, and basketball.  She was tall with long blonde hair, and she didn’t give the boys any attention; which only intrigued them more.  Gerald didn’t know why Heidi wanted to meet him in the Audio/Visual closet at lunch, but he was certainly going to find out.  He bragged to his friends about his rendezvous for the first three classes, then set off by himself for the exciting adventure he knew she had in store for him.

Walking up to the door, Gerald looked around, but saw no one in particular.  There were a few students around, but no one was looking in his direction.  He tested the doorknob on the closet, found it unlocked, and snuck inside.  He closed the door and tried to find a light switch.

“Heidi?” he whispered.  “Heidi, its Gerald.  Are you in here?”  Gerald kept feeling around the room, wires and cords dangled from various nails.  A few seconds later, he stumbled upon the light switch just to the left of the doorknob.  When he flicked it, nothing happened.

Suddenly, the door was flung open, and then slammed back shut.  Gerald rushed to the door but couldn’t get it to open.  He listened as wedges of wood were kicked under the door and the sound of a chair being wedged between the doorknob and the floor echoed his trapped state.  Gerald was starting to get concerned.  Unfortunately, his new roommate, who had just been thrown in with him, was terrified.

Gerald heard the scurrying at his feet and knelt down to investigate.  And that’s when it happened.  Velma couldn’t have planned it any better if she had tried.  For the exact moment that Gerald was crouched on the floor with the creature was the same moment that the skunk let loose its stench.

Gerald leapt back in shock.  There was no ventilation, no windows, just him and the skunk.  He pounded on the door and couldn’t get it open the first few tries.  Then, as the skunk was finishing its attack, he managed to kick the door open.  The first sight that met Gerald’s eyes was Velma and Midge, who were laughing hysterically at him.

“You did this?” Gerald asked Midge as his eyes watered.  He reached for something to cover his nose but all his clothes had been contaminated with the smell.

“No, she’s too good to stoop to your level”, Velma replied defiantly.  “She’s better than that.  This was all me.”  If Gerald was going to retaliate, Velma wanted to be sure that he would send his anger at the right person.  Midge had already been through enough.

“You?”  Gerald was stunned.  “You’re the quiet one who doesn’t say anything.  You play piano.  What’s your name?”


“Velma”, Gerald said as he tried out the name.  He stood there processing.  Velma could see his wheels turning and wasn’t sure whether she should run or try to lock him back in the closet.  “Velma, do you know what I do to someone who puts me through this sort of wretched ideal?”  Gerald approached; a sense of purpose was communicated behind his eyes.

Velma started to back away.  “Easy there big fella”, she warned, not sounding as threatening as she had hoped.  Before she could stop him, Gerald had lunged forward… and hugged her.

“That.  Was.  Awesome!!!”  Gerald’s eyes were alive with excitement.  “Classic prank!  Beautiful!  I mean, nobody’s ever pulled off something that traditional and effective around here!”  Gerald started dancing in place.  “That was amazing!  Who’d you steal that from?  Are you a Groucho fan?  Bob Hope?  C’mon, that was perfect!”

Velma pushed him away and wondered how much of the skunk’s stench was now on her.  “I”, she started out, unsure of how to respond.  “I just figured it would work.  It always works when they did it on t.v.”

“And it did work!  That was flawless.  We gotta talk, there’s nobody around here as clever as you.  Can I buy you dinner or something?”

“No offense”, Velma said as she waved her fingers in front of her face, “but you kinda reek.”

“Well, not right this second”, Gerald laughed.  “What about tonight?”  Gerald looked at the expression on Velma’s face.  “Right, maybe that’s too optimistic.”  He sniffed himself and winced.  “What about tomorrow night?  Mini-golf, nobody ever gets hurt playing mini-golf, right?”

“Are you serious?”  Velma honestly wasn’t expecting the reaction she got.  She thought he might be mad, maybe even yell.  She didn’t think he would ask her out.

“Well, sure.  Why not?”

“You don’t think is odd behavior?  Considering what I did to you?”

“It was all in fun, right?  Nobody got hurt.”

“I mean, yeah, but…”

“Am I not cute enough?  I know I’m a little off my game right this second, but I’m not entirely lame, right?”

“This is certainly a new approach”, Velma admitted.

“That means I get points for originality!”  Gerald threw his hands up in the air and hopped up and down, the stench on his clothes bouncing up and down with the fabric.  “So now you have to go out with me.”

“As long as this isn’t some big prank”, Velma warned.

“Nah, we’re square”, Gerald replied with a grin on his face.  “Listen, I’m going to go to the office and get the rest of the day off.  ‘Extenuating Circumstances’, and all that.  You go return the skunk.  I’ll pick you up tomorrow night.

“You don’t know where I live, you nut”, Velma laughed.

Phone numbers were exchanged.  Golfing happened.  Then dinner, then back and forth texting, then another dinner.  After two weeks, Gerald and Velma were attached at the hip.  She sat and played piano while he sang along.  He went to parties and introduced her around.  She went on walks and taught him all about the parks that he’d never seen.  The two exposed each other to their worlds while enjoying the others.  So when they were both cast in very different rolls in the school musical, they were quite happy for each other.

The spring musical was a zombie edition of West Side Story.  The teacher was obviously trying to boost attendance by making their version unique.  The students didn’t care, they were just happy to have an excuse to wear zombie make-up and fake-bite people.  Gerald was of course the lead.  Velma was quite happy to sit in the pit and play piano with the orchestra.  There was something great about her boyfriend on stage, singing and looking handsome.  It was probably helped that his family were the gangsters and the other side were the zombies.  But that only made it easier for her to watch when Gerald kissed zombie-Maria.  Gerald assured her that he had much more fun making out with her than making out with an actress with fake lips falling off her mouth.

Finally, they were at the last performance.  Summer vacation was only weeks away.  After this, closing night, Velma would never have to play these tunes again.  Naturally, Gerald and Velma had their own special schemes for the show.

The teacher, knowing full well what her students were like, had repeatedly instructed them not to go crazy on the last show.  There was a history of shenanigans that she didn’t approve of and she hoped that the performers respected themselves enough to treat their final night with dignity.  Not surprisingly, that only made Velma and Gerald plot all the more.

Neither had told each other of their plans.  They both danced right over the topic whenever their friends suggested that they “pull off the mother of all pranks”.  But they knew each other well enough to figure out something was up.

As Velma walked up to her piano, she pulled the music out of the piano bench and placed it in front of her.  The lights in the theater dimmed, the teacher walked up on stage, and Velma sat down without looking.

“Thuppppppppppwwwb!” was the sound that exploded from her seat.  Velma turned bright red as she realized what had happened.  Gerald’s best friend, Ray, had taken the first row audience seat.  That gave him the perfect perch to place the whoopee cushion on Velma’s bench.  Velma, still embarrassed, turned to Ray half furious and half impressed.  He smiled from ear to ear, gave her both thumbs up, and nodded that it was, in fact, he who had helped his friend.”  Velma shook her head and sat back down.  The other students around her giggled and looked at her.  She eventually regained her poise.  Gerald was going to get his.  He wasn’t the only one with friends in this show.

The first act went by without any snags.  The second act went by and one of the zombies’ arms fell off before the big fight scene, but that just gave the actors one more prop to throw around.  Finally, the final scene arrived.  Velma was distracted by her impatience and ended up skipping a few keys.  She adjusted, tried to get herself to focus, and turned her attention back to the page.  As the fight began, she found her eyes drifting back up to the stage.

The zombies were approaching slowly, and the street thugs started brandishing their knives.  Their cardboard and aluminum foil blades had seen better days.  The rehearsals, the shows, and general roughhousing had left the cardboard wobbly and the aluminum was falling off in places.  At least they still caught the stage lighting and sent it bouncing back to the audience.  And then, just as Velma had planned, Gerald reached for his blade.  His back pocket was empty.

Velma resisted the urge to clap with glee but knew the best was still to come.  A look of panic flashed briefly over Gerald’s face.  Anyone other than his close friends would have missed it, but to Velma it was like a big spotlight shining on his target.  Then, just as they had discussed, one of the street toughs handed Gerald a bow.  No arrows, just a bow.

Gerald darted a look to Velma.  She shrugged and lifted her fingers from the keys just long enough to make a “what can ya do” gesture.  Gerald almost broke into laughter.  He contained himself at the last moment and turned to the violinist at his feet.

“Compadre, might I borrow your bow?  Por favor?”  The dazed musician didn’t know what to do.  The audience, amused by the antics, laughed at this last minute change.  Dumbfounded, the violinist handed over his bow and stared at Gerald with wonder.  “Gracias, mi amigo”, Gerald replied.  He then turned to the zombies and proclaimed, “Stand back you unloving beasts!  I only want Maria for myself!  The way she moans and stares at me with those lifeless eyes… it’s just too much for any man to resist!  I just want to hold her hand and take her… somewhere, I dunno!  Now get back!  Back or I’ll shoot you with my bow and bow!”

Gerald did an admirable job of trying to notch the violinist’s bow in the archer’s bow, but it was simply too short.  The zombies charged and attacked his neck.  Maria began to moan her final song, but was quickly interrupted.

“Hey, I almost forgot”, Gerald replied as he sat up.  “Here, gives this back to the violinist, would ya?  I promised I would.”  The zombie-Maria only groaned in response.  “Gracias, babe.  Te quiero.”  Then Gerald fell dead on the floor as his head bounced off the wooden stage.  Maria only groaned as she rocked her dead boyfriend on the floor as her undead family gathered around her.  Then the curtain closed on their tragic scene.

As the applause started and the actors took their praise, Velma laughed.  It hadn’t been the fanciest prank, but it had taken him aback.  Really, that’s all she had wanted.  That’s what had gotten the two together in the first place.


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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