Sample Chapter – Practical Joke

Sample Chapter
Tall Stories From the Liar’s Bench
Chapter title – Practical Joke
Paul R. Wonning
Jason Wells enjoyed the independence of having his own real estate brokerage. He could keep his own hours and set his own pace. Since he was always meeting new clients to list or show homes, he was a stickler for maintaining his appearance. This fickleness led to his frequent visits to the barbershop. While in the shop, he struck up a casual acquaintance with the two old farmers, Ben and Wally that frequented the shop. The men always perched on the Liar’s Bench spinning stories and poking fun at each other.
It was a familiar scene that met Jason’s gaze as he sat in the chair with Seldon clipping away at his growth of hair. The two old gentlemen were sitting on the Liar’s Bench. Each had a section of the newspaper. They grunted, laughed or snorted as they read the stories embedded in the inky smelling pages.
Wally leaned forward, his eyes glistening with interest.
“There’s something I never heard of,” he said to no one in particular.
Ben peered over his glasses and asked, “What’s that?”
“Something called ‘flocking.’ There is a company that will flood a person’s yard with pink flamingos at night. The flockee gets up in the morning to find several hundred pink flamingos on their yard.”
Ben scowled, and said, “Um, if I woke up to all those flamingos I would probably go plumb crazy. Then back up my truck, load them up and take them to the dump.”
“According to this story that is what happened. The guy they flocked got rid of the flamingos. The company wants compensation for their flamingos. Say they would have picked them up in a day or so, so there was no reason for the people to throw them away. They said they had signs up with the flamingos with a phone number and company name. They just want their flamingos back.”
“They are probably in a landfill by now with three foot of dirt over them,” Ben said.
He rubbed his chin and sat back in his chair. “That does remind me of what happened to Snake Thompson a few weeks back.”
Wally sat back and continued to read his paper, saying, “Everything reminds you of something.”
Ben talked on, ignoring his friend, “Snake and his buddies were out all night drinking at the Death Watch Bar.”
“Fancy that,” interrupted Wally. “Snake and his buddies keep that place in business.”
Ben glanced at Wally and said, “It ain’t such a bad place. I was in there one night with Billy Jonders and his crowd. That was the night they poured detergent into the town fountain. It flooded the whole damn parking lot with suds. Then they hung Walt Jurgens naked over that horse sculpture with a tulip sticking out of his ass when he passed out. But that is another story.”
Jason smiled as Wally looked up to toss an incredulous glance at Ben. “I can’t wait to hear that one.”
Ben chuckled and went on, “Snake was drunk, as usual, and decided to go home early. The fellows tried to persuade him to stay, but he said no, he had to go. He had to get up early to go somewhere, so he left and went home around ten o’clock.”
“That is early for Snake,” Wally said.
“It was way too early. It gave that bunch of boneheads time to think up some mischief.”
“What did they do?”
“You remember Clete Watkins, don’t you?”
“Yeah, he runs that internet business and flea market. He has a lot of odd junk down at his warehouse.”
“It seems he just came into a bunch of mannequins. The ones they use in those clothing stores to model clothes.”
“Yeah, I know what a mannequin is. I have been in one or two stores in my time.”
Ben cast a bemused glance at Wally and continued. “Well, Clete started talking about those mannequins, wondering how he would get rid of them. He picked them up cheap somewhere, they were taking up a lot of space and he wanted to move them fast. One of the fellows in the bar said they should put those mannequins in front of Snake’s house as a joke.”
After a short burst of laughter Wally said, “I’m guessing that they did that.”
“Oh, yeah. They got a couple cases of beer to take along and drove over to Clete’s warehouse. The loaded every truck in the group with those mannequins.”
“That is a lot of mannequins,” Wally said.
“Yeah, it took a while. ‘Course it didn’t help that those worthless dogs was all drunk as blackbirds eating overripe gooseberries. They loaded them all on, drove over to Snake’s house, and scattered them out over the lawn in different positions. It just happened to be a full moon night so when they got done it was spooky as hell.”
Wally’s eyes sparkled as he thought about the ‘different positions’ part of Ben’s story.
He said, “And probably pornographic as well.”
Ben’s eyes sparkled. “There was a lot of that, too. There were both male and female mannequins and none had clothes on.”
“I can imagine,” Wally said, mock indignation oiling his voice.
“They had all kinds of stuff going on. There was a bunch of heads used to model hats and stuff. They lined them up along the driveway and mounded gravel up to them like they was buried. There were hands used for modeling rings and jewelry that they put by the heads like they were trying to reach for help. They had them under trees, peering out of bushes and in his car. Hell, Missy Jones even climbed a tree and had someone hand her a few to stick in the branches.”
“There’s nothing more inventive than a bunch of drunks with time on their hands.”
“They had it fixed up right.”
“It’s a wonder they didn’t wake Snake up with all that commotion.”
Ben smiled and said, “They had a goal, to scare the hell out of Snake, so they were quiet. They didn’t even wake up Heather Mason, who lives next door.”
Wally let loose a cackle of laughter, and then said, “Heather Mason. I bet she had kittens when she got up.”
“Oh, she plays into this before it’s all over, Ben. The story isn’t over yet.”
“I didn’t think it was,” Wally said, dryly.
Jason listened to the story with a bemused smile on his face. This was one reason for his visits to the barbershop. His brother Dustin went to a women’s style shop to get his done. Jason just couldn’t see himself going there even though he knew many of his male friends that did. It seemed like a travesty to him, to go where the women went. The barbershop was a male domain, one of the few places left that women almost never went in. He couldn’t imagine sitting in a beauty parlor listening to two old men exchanging tales on the Liar’s Bench. He imagined more stories about dresses, weddings, kids and new stores that just opened. Ich.
Ben cleared his throat and resumed his story, “They finished up putting those dummies out and everyone got in their cars to leave. Moose Clandon’s car backfired as he started it.”
“That damn car always backfires,” Wally said with a shake of his head. “It looks like he’d get that thing fixed.”
“He probably will now,” Ben said. “At any rate, the crack of that backfire woke Heather Mason up. She got out of bed, thinking it was a gun shot. When she looked out the window she saw all those naked mannequins in the moonlight.”
Wally slapped his thigh and gave a cackle of laughter. “Oh, man, I would love to have been there just to see her face. I bet she had a hissy fit that would make a cat proud.”
“She thought that Snake was having a party, things got out of hand and someone got shot. She ran straight to the telephone and called 911.”
Wally snorted and said, “Oh, Luke Draws is on night duty. He’s been trying to get Snake on something for years. I bet he overreacted like he always does.”
“He played it for what it was worth. Before he even went over to see what the problem was, he notified the Sheriff’s department that there was a big party going on. He said that there were shots fired and that he needed back up. They only have one deputy on duty at night, so they put a call into the State Police.”
“Holy crap,” Wally said. “All for a bunch of dummies.”
It was Ben’s turn to cackle. “It was a scene,” he said. “First Luke comes in, lights flashing, sirens wailing. A few minutes a dozen cop cars, every one of them had their sirens going and lights flashing lighted up later the whole place. A couple of officers went up to his door and started pounding on it, hollering his name and shouting ‘It’s the police.'”
“Snake woke up, still drunk, got out of bed and stumbled to the door in his underwear. When he opened the door, he saw a dozen police cars, light flashing and what appeared to be dozens of naked people in his yard. Needless to say, this confused him a little. They told him to step out of the house to answer some questions.”
“Didn’t they let him put his pants on?”
“No, they just hauled him out in the yard and started hammering him with questions. Heather Mason came out in a night robe. She watched him stammer and stutter that he didn’t know what all those mannequins were. That he had been home and in bed for hours and that he had no idea what the hell was going on.”
Wally leaned forward, looked down at the floor and laughed. When he looked up he asked, “What did they do to him?”
“Well, they hemmed and hawed and tried to make something out of it. The State Police said that there was no crime beyond disturbing the peace. Since Snake clearly had no hand in the gun shot, if there even was a gun shot, they weren’t going to arrest him.”
“So they let him go?”
“Yeah, after an hour of haggling the cops finally all left. Snake started to go back in the house with Heather Mason following him all the way. She kept haranguing him about late night parties, him being no good and that he should keep better friends. She was so busy barking at him that she didn’t notice that her night robe had gapped open. He turned around before going in the house and saw her robe was open. He told her to shut up, go home and cover her tits and that they looked like overripe bananas.”
Wally leaned back in the bench and laughed until tears appeared at the corners of his eyes. “Oh, Lordy, I bet she had a fit.”
“She just pulled her robe together, snorted something about him being just a smart ass good for nothing and went home.”
Wally suddenly peered at Ben through slitted eyes. “You sure seem to know a lot about this.”
Ben’s eyes sparkled as he rustled the newspaper and began reading again as he said, “I ought to. It was my idea.”

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