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Thread: The Joke

  1. #1
    Registered User Charlie5thumbs's Avatar
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    The Joke

    “When did it happen?”

    “Twelve years ago. I was eighteen. Didn’t have any desire to go to college right away, so I applied for a job at the A+ Mart where I lived. All they had were some overnight stocking positions. It was an OK job at first, but then the boredom really started to get to me after a while. Really long hours. Lousy pay. After about a month I didn’t care about it
    anymore. Just showed up, did as little as I could get away with and screwed around a lot since there were hardly any managers around the store at that time. Me and a buddy, Scott, would sit around and smoke cigarettes, tell each other dirty jokes and find other ways to entertain ourselves. He liked to show off to some of the girls how he could make a huge fire-ball using nothing but a match and some non-dairy creamer. We also played a few practical jokes on some of the other employees when we could think of something good.

    No, I’ll never forget that night. The night we ‘played the joke’ on Leroy. Leroy the little boy, we would call him. He was about twenty years old, but looked like he was twelve. A real nerdy kid with a pockmarked face and a big schnoz on a little head. We always teased him a lot but he never seemed to care. Just kinda laughed it off. That kinda bothered us though. Well anyway, that night I had an idea as I saw him throwing some boxes into the cardboard baler. I said to my buddy as we were on our fifth smoking break for the night, ‘check it out. Bet you and I could get him in there pretty quickly and easily. Shut the gate and get it going for a few seconds. Then I could hit the emergency stop after he craps his pants!’

    ‘Dude!’ he said with a big dumbass grin on his face.

    ‘Come on I said to him. Let’s do it!’

    ‘You’re not serious!’

    ‘Come on it’ll be a riot!’ He just shakes his head. Then after a few moments he looks at me and laughs.

    ‘Alright, what the hell!’ he says while putting out his cigarette.

    ‘I’ll go make sure no one’s around. He’s got another round of cardboard he’s getting ready to put away in just a sec.’

    He seemed a little reluctant, but I assured him it’d be OK.

    ‘Just don’t wait too long top hit the stop OK?’

    ‘I won’t’ I says.

    We waited around the corner for Leroy. When he pushed his cart toward the compactor we followed him. He started breaking down some of his boxes as I came up behind him. Scott looks into the compactor and says, ‘Dude! What the hell is that in there? Something‘s moving!’

    Leroy couldn’t help but look, and that’s when I grabbed him. I got a hold of his belt with my right hand and his collar with my left. Scott grabbed him by the belt also. It was a little bit of a struggle at first, but poor Leroy was no match for us. We had him in there in just a few seconds. I’ll never forget that look of shear terror on his face as we slammed the gate shut. And that scream! “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!” he yelled. “LET ME OUT PLEASE!! It was at that moment that I should have stopped and let him out, cause it really wasn’t even funny anymore. We had no intention of hurting the guy at all, yet here he was begging for his life, pounding on the gate with his little fists! We thought any second someone would hear us. But I thought to myself that we had come that far, so we might as well go through with it. I pushed the button. We waited a few seconds before Scott told me to hit the stop. I said, “I did! It’s not working man! I said this only for effect. I was actually only hitting the start button over and over. Finally, I hit the big red emergency stop. My blood ran cold as nothing happened. I hit it again and again! Nothing!

    ‘NO NO NO NO NO!’

    ‘Dude! Make it stop!’

    ‘I am!’ I yelled. Leroy was just seconds from being completely devoured but I didn’t know what to do!

    ‘Unplug it or something!’

    I looked behind it but only saw a tangled mess of wires and cables and I froze! I can still hear those bones popping and snapping! Then silence. It was all over. Just like that! We stared at one another in horror before I turned around and vomited my entire dinner.

    I don’t remember who called 911. I only recall bits and pieces after that. I was numb with shock. The EMTs arrived. Then the police. All the employees gathered round. I just sat there at the smoking table surrounded by the authorities asking me question after question after question, but I just couldn’t answer them.

    I was taken into custody that morning. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and then the trial. I remember my lawyer trying to persuade the judge to go easy on me, to keep in mind that it was an accident. A practical joke that had gone completely awry. Kids just trying to have a little fun, blah blah blah… I pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter. I ended up with fifteen, but I know I deserve more.

    I try to read to pass the time, but I just can’t. Time doesn’t exist for me anymore. Every day in here is exactly the same. I live with the torment of seeing the look on that kid’s face through that gate. Every night I hear that vibrating contraption humming and squeezing. Even in my sleep there’s no relief. When I dream about it, I’m crying out for mercy right along with him. Will this ever let up?

    You know, even if we had pulled this joke off without a hitch, I still ask myself, ‘what the hell was so funny about it? Was it worth it?’ I mean…I was actually willing to place someone’s life at risk just for a laugh! A laugh! And now, nothing really seems funny anymore.

    Sometimes I wonder if maybe the whole thing was just some big cosmic practical joke that was actually played on me! Maybe God is up there laughing at me down here! Right now! Why didn’t that button work?”

    My interviewer didn’t answer, but his eyes did as he looked at me through the plexiglass before saying goodbye. They said, ‘No. It was you. You pushed that button. It was all your idea.’

    They were right.

  2. #2
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    some of your past and present tense was a little confusing and I wasn't sure if the second para was dialogue or not. The story was well written although tossing someone into a compactor for a hoot, wellone can predict what is going to happen....! Still good reading and you're coming along nicely Charlie.

    Review my latest short story?
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  3. #3
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    response to story

    For a guy with five thumbs you poke out a pretty good story! I agree with the lady from the smallest continent.

  4. #4
    an organized mess
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    Ugh and eww! I spent 3 months on a night shift and batted my eyelashes so the boys would bale my cardboard for me... I wasn't going near that beast! Shudder!

  5. #5
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    Ostensibly a story about a prank gone wrong, this lightly scrapes upon the philosophical questions of choice and responsibility.

    For as short as it was, it paid dividends. A good, quick read.








    J

  6. #6
    Registered User Charlie5thumbs's Avatar
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    Thanks Jack!

  7. #7
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    Wow, that was amazing. I felt sick reading it. There were some very small bits and pieces that needed to be fixed, but I'm sure you'll see them when you go over it again amazing story btw. Teaches the reader to always think twice . . . or three . . or maybe a dozen times before doing something dumb.

  8. #8
    Registered User Charlie5thumbs's Avatar
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    Thanks Plain. I look forward to reading some of your stuff as well!

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