It was early February in Pittsburgh and the winter had been colder than usual with the Polar Vortex that was all over the news. Morning temperatures were regularly well below zero which made getting to work a frustrating exercise. Jimmy needed a vacation in the worst way and a boy’s weekend in Florida was just the ticket! In just two short weeks, Jimmy and his three lifetime pals were heading to Miami, Florida for booze, heat, and golf.
Jimmy was getting into his car as he called his friend Mark, “Hey man, how ready for Florida are you?”
“I can’t wait Jimmy! I’m going to go crazy with all this snow! I’ve been shoveling my damn driveway twice a day for two weeks. This is bullshit!”
“I hear ya! You headed to work yet?” Jimmy asked.
“Just leaving the house. Wh…” Mark couldn’t finish his sentence. “Jimmy, what the hell did you do?” Mark asked as he stared at his car in the driveway, encased in ice.
The sound of Jimmy laughing on the phone was deafening. “Dude, your security lights kept turning on while I was in your driveway last night. You should have never told me about your outside faucet that never freezes. I busted my ass twice but it was so worth it.”
The phone clicked-off with Jimmy still laughing. Mark loved Jimmy like a brother but he was really getting out of hand lately. They’d been best friends since kindergarten and their kids play together now. Mark hoped Jimmy’s little boy wasn’t growing-up to be a prankster like his daddy. Jimmy’s pranks have actually cost him a job or two and definitely more than one friendship. At 32, you’d think he would have outgrown unscrewing salt-shaker caps but that just happened at a business lunch last week. Everything had to be a prank for Jimmy anymore.
Mark decided chiseling his way into his car wasn’t going to happen this morning so he headed for his wife’s car. After all, she was still sick in bed and wasn’t going to need her car today. “Nothing to scrape here,” Mark thought to himself as he entered the carport where Sandy’s car was protected from the elements. Mark grabbed for the door handle but instinctively stopped and looked first. “Oh come on!” he yelled. Although frozen, the dog turd under his wife’s door handle would have still been disgusting to grab…even with gloves. “That’s it,” Mark muttered to himself as he carefully opened the car and called the rest of the crew for a lunch meeting.
* * * * *
Mark arrived at Chili’s for lunch later that day to meet with John and Scott, the rest of the childhood crew. The boys were sitting at a table in the bar area and waved their arms over their heads like they were waving off a 747 from an aircraft carrier.
“Hey guys!” Mark said with a smile. He loved these guys and they were like normal brothers. “How’s it going?”
“Better than you,” Scott started.
“Jimmy sent us pics of the car. Damn!” John added.
Mark wasn’t surprised. Jimmy always had a trophy from his bigger pranks. Dahmer kept body parts in the freezer and Jimmy had a hard drive full of pictures and videos. “We need to do something guys. He’s out of control.”
“Yeah, he’s a far cry from pulling the fire alarm in High School,” Scott said.
“Remember when he rubbed fiberglass insulation on the toilet paper rolls in all the bathrooms at school? At least he told us not to drop a deuce under any circumstances,” John continued.
“Yeah well that was when he had other people to play tricks on. We’re the only ones who’ll have anything to do with Jimmy anymore,” Mark reminded them.
“Let’s sit him down in Florida and set him straight. We’ll tell him if he doesn’t knock it off, we’re done,” Scott offered.
The boys agreed that might work. After all, they really were the only people who would have anything to do with Jimmy anymore. On top of that, their wives weren’t fans of Jimmy either. Mark shuddered at the thought of Sandy scraping her manicured nails against a dog turd. Luckily Jimmy knew he’d be too pressed for time this morning. “We don’t even have a dog,” he thought to himself.
* * * * *
The snow kept flying and made the wait for Florida seem like two months rather than two weeks. Hearing the pilot welcome them to Miami International Airport with an outside temperature of 85 degrees was music to Mark’s ears. His immediate future consisted only of baggage claim, hotel shuttle, and hotel bar. Everybody called their wives on the way to baggage claim to let them know they’d arrived in one piece and to assure them they would have fun…but not too much fun.
“I can’t believe you put lawn fertilizer on my shirt,” Scott glared at Jimmy.
“I can’t believe you got selected to go through that air-puff thing that checks for it. I nearly pissed myself when they asked you to step to the side,” Jimmy laughed.
“Let’s just get checked-in, settled, and drunk,” John said in an effort to cool things down. All grunted their agreement.
The shuttle ride to the hotel was quiet. Jimmy was moving his head to music nobody could hear while Scott, John, and Mark sat silently. Jimmy had no idea his “prankster intervention” was on the horizon.
* * * * *
Much later that evening, Jimmy sat alone in the back of a cab trying to figure-out why his buddies turned on him. “Don’t come back if you can’t act normal,” he recalled the conversation in fragments. Chunks of the earlier exchange rattled in his head. Jimmy stared out the back window watching the buildings slide by. The streets in this part of Miami were dark except for the occasional neon lighting advertising check cashing services, pawn shops, liquor stores, and strip joints. “What the hell just happened?” he wondered aloud.
“What’s that buddy?” the cabbie called back.
“Nothing. Just talking to myself. How much farther?”
“This is the place I told you about right up here,” the cabbie said pointing ahead to a poorly-lit building with no discernible signage out front.
“Really? Looks like a dump.”
“Trust me pal. This is what you asked for.”
“I’m gonna be able to get a cab out of here later right?” Jimmy asked as he looked around.
The cabbie handed Jimmy a card with his cell number on the back and told him to call when he was ready to go. Jimmy thanked him and paid before turning to head inside the dark building with a familiar bump of bass coming from it.
Jimmy opened the door and was greeted by the familiar sight of a smoky club with half-naked women on stage towards the back.
“No cover tonight,” the bouncer at the counter said and waved Jimmy through.
A half-dozen or so drinks and as many or more shots later, Jimmy was chatting-up a brunette from Puerto Rico. Her English was as pitiful as Jimmy’s Spanish but through some awkward pantomimes, they got on the same page. She motioned towards a door in the back and led the way while Jimmy let the booze and bass move through his body. “This will definitely improve my night,” he thought.
* * * * *
The next morning, Scott, Mark, and John ate breakfast at the hotel. Jimmy hadn’t returned the night before. The guys chalked it up to “standard Jimmy” and didn’t give it a second thought.
“Figures,” Mark said.
“Fuck him,” Scott added.
John continued, “He’ll show-up later with a wild story about some stripper and her three sisters. You know most of his stories are bullshit, right?”
They were laughing dismissively when Mark saw two officers in Miami PD uniforms walk in with the hotel manager and start heading towards their table.
“Hey guys, check this out,” Mark said nodding his head towards the “officers”. “Can I help you guys?” he asked.
“We’re looking for Mark Spenser,” one officer said.
“Oh this is too much. Jimmy’s really outdone himself this time,” Mark laughed.
The officers stood at the table. The second officer asked, “Are you Mark Spenser?”
“No, I’m Mark Monkey and you can tell Jimmy his little prank isn’t going as planned this time.” Mark high-fived Scott across the table.
John added, “Yeah, tell Jimmy breakfast is on him for being an asshole. Actually tell him breakfast is on you!” With that, John grabbed a handful of scrambled eggs and threw them in the second officer’s face laughing.
John was shocked at the speed of these fake cops as he was snatched from his chair and slammed to the floor of the restaurant. The first officer instantly had his Taser trained alternately on Mark and Scott.
“Holy shit, I’m Mark Spenser!” Mark yelled. “What the hell?”
Mr. Spenser, we need you to come with us. We have who we believe is Jimmy Easton based on his identification and your name was in his pocket as an emergency contact. We contacted your home and your wife directed us here.
“What did he do?”
“We’re hoping you can tell us. His body was found in a dumpster downtown this morning.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This week’s writing prompt was a joke gone bad! Follow the link to TipsyLit and check-out the other tales!