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April's Fool

by Cole Parker

I'm kind of pathetic. I admit it. I'm 17. Well, I'm not really. I'm almost 17 and will be in a couple weeks. On April first. Which no one knows, and I suppose that's kind of pathetic too. But it's my dad's fault.

See, he was teased a lot as a kid. According to him, he was teased so much, it sort of defined his life. He was one of the geeky kids, I guess. He didn't say it quite that way, but I've seen pictures. Did you ever see that TV show they made several years ago? The Wonder Years? Reruns are on cable a lot, and it's pretty good, but it's got this geek in it. That Paul kid. The best friend. He's sort of scrawny and too tall for his age and he's all uncoordinated and wears too big glasses with dark rims and is sort of strange looking with hair that just doesn't work. That's Paul, and it was my dad.

He said growing up was really hard for him. His face and body didn't really start to come together for him till he was in college. He's always been smart enough, but sometimes, in middle school and high school, if you look like he did, being smart is just another strike against you instead of a plus. Kids are always sorting other kids into categories; I guess it makes it easier for them. If they decide a kid is a nerd, or a jock, then they've already got him all figured out and they don't have to spend any time getting to know him or thinking about him at all and can go back to thinking about which car in the parking lot is the hottest or who thinks he maybe got his girlfriend pregnant over the weekend because his condom sort of fell apart when he took it off and, eeeww, that was messy, but what if it sort of fell apart, you know, like - earlier? But I was talking about deciding how kids are just by how they look, and Dad looked like a geek, so that's the way he was treated.

It doesn't have to be that way, of course. It also depends to some extent on if you know how you act, if you're outgoing, and sociable, and have a great personality and make fun of yourself. Dad didn't, wasn't, didn't and couldn't. Probably because he looked like he did and was teased a lot growing up, he'd become withdrawn and shy by the time he'd reached high school and hadn't learned any social skills. So the way he acted was as bad as the way he looked, and being smart just helped them put another negative label on him, or at least that's what a lot of the other kids did. He had it hard, really hard, during those years.

But he blossomed in college. His body filled out so he wasn't scrawny any more. His face filled out too, the rough edges somehow softened, his nose wasn't too big for his face any longer and surprisingly, the gaunt, sort of peculiar face of a teenager became an interesting, character-filled, rather attractive face of a young man. As his gawkiness disappeared and he began putting on muscle in the gym and his coordination improved, his self-confidence improved as well, and then suddenly the fact he was smart was a bonus, an attribute, instead of something he'd had to learn to hide and be ashamed of. Kids in college, from what he told me, don't judge you on the same stuff they judge you on when you're in high school.

So he came out of his shell, learned some social graces, and his early years were behind him. They were painful memories, a part of him he'd never forget, but they no longer defined him.

But he never forgot. What he went through was etched too deeply into his psyche. He had lived through the things he remembered, and they had colored his childhood with the dark crayons in the box. They were too large a part of him for him ever to forget them.

They didn't hold him back, though. He'd got a degree in business, found a good job, and rose through the ranks. He was now a top salesman at his company and he'd told us he might even become VP of Sales someday. He hoped so, but was worried a little whether the company's president would promote him, as the guy had made a habit in the past of promoting or hiring his friends into the top positions. The current VP of Sales was retiring soon, and Dad was hoping. We all were hoping for him too. He always pulled for us, and we pulled for him, too. Our family was tight.

One reason for that was, because of his childhood, he was extremely protective of his kids. He was determined we weren't going to suffer as he had. He was ever alert and watchful and had made sure from the time when we were very young that we were a family, a family that supported each other. He'd spoken to us and had us speak to him every day since we were young. We spoke about everything. He knew all about us and was there for us. He didn't exactly fight our battles, he was too smart to do that, but he did make sure our battlegrounds were as level as they could be. And we always knew he was there, he believed in us completely, and that of course made a big difference to us. We grew up with love and encouragement and knowing we always had somewhere to turn, no matter what our problems were.

I loved my dad with all my heart.

So where am I going with this? I was explaining about my birthday, and without those details, the explanation wouldn't make much sense.

I was born on the first of April. Dad was very sensitive to anything that might result in any of us getting teased, and didn't want me to be called a fool throughout my childhood, so when asked to fill out my birth date on school forms and such, he had always written March 1. He'd told me, when I was old enough to ask about this, that he'd had to alter my birth certificate, at least the copy he made of it, and it was just as easy to alter the month as the day, and I'd be happy he did it like he had when it came time to take driver's ed. He said he had the original if there were ever any real questions about it, but so far he'd never had to use it. No one had ever questioned the copy he'd made. And, more importantly to both of us, no one had ever called me a fool.

Which was good, as I had a lot else to get hassled about. I'd told him pretty early I was gay. I figured that out when I was 11, and I told him. I told him everything. So did Sue and Matt. We were raised that way, we were a really close, supportive family, probably because my father had so needed one like that and hadn't had it when he was young. I knew when I told him about me it would be all right, that he wouldn't turn away from me. He didn't. No one in the family did, though I could tell my mom wasn't happy about it. My dad didn't even share her discontented reaction. He hugged me instead, and told me he'd help me all he could. He never once after that treated me any differently from what he had before, either. He might have become more vigilant, watching out for me, but his attitude towards me never changed a bit. He accepted me for who I was, unconditionally.

Okay, enough background. As I said, I was 17. Or almost. I was in the locker room at my tennis club. We had a club membership there. The company president where my dad worked was a big tennis enthusiast, he played and encouraged his staff to play, and it was felt by people below that level that they would be looked on favorably if they joined the club, too. As I said, Dad had improved athletically in college and no longer looked silly at sports. When it looked like playing tennis could help his career, he took up the sport, and then joined the tennis club like lots of the other company employees did.

It was great for me. They had great courts, but also had a swimming pool, spa, sauna, workout room, dining room, all the fancy stuff exclusive clubs have. Dad had an executive family membership and so I had full access to everything in the club. For a kid of 17, almost, it was wonderful and I spent quite a lot of time there.

I was in the locker room after a workout on the gym's exercise equipment on the day I'm writing about here. If you remember, I said I was pathetic. You remember? Well, the reason I said that is I'm kind of scrawny. Just like my dad was at my age, I guess. I hadn't begun filling out yet and looked more like a little boy than a 17 year old. Because of that, maybe, or maybe because of the genes I'd got from Dad, I was shy, too. Shy about my body, my looks, shy about most everything, I suppose. Having a supportive, loving dad and family is great, but you're still who you are.

I'd just taken my shower and was drying off by my locker. Yeah, I had my own locker, with my name on a nameplate attached to the door. Exclusive clubs have great facilities, and the locker room wasn't anything like the one at school. This one had a carpeted floor, wooden lockers that were plenty roomy enough for anything you wanted to keep in them, chairs instead of benches to sit on, lots of room between the ranks of lockers, soft music piped in, nothing that smelled like a cat had died there two months ago and they might think about removing it one of these days like our high school locker room smelled. I mean, this place was really nice.

So I was drying off. I was sitting in a chair, drying my feet, when a man walked down the aisle of lockers toward me. I didn't think anything of it till he stopped in front of me. I looked up and saw it was Dad's boss. I was immediately nervous. I didn't like people seeing me naked. I was embarrassed by my looks. I was skinny and not as developed down below as I would have liked.

Mr. Reynolds, that was my Dad's boss's name, was naked too. I had learned in a locker room like this, the older men, most of whom were important and powerful men, businessmen or men of high standing in the community, thought nothing of walking around naked in the locker room, while younger guys like me were always covering up. I never could quite figure out why that was because for the most part we were fit and they weren't, but it was sure true.

Mr. Reynolds walked right up to me and then stopped, standing just a little bit closer to me than seemed appropriate. Because he was naked and standing, and I was sitting, his equipment was right in front of my face.

"Hey, you're Scott, aren't you?"

I sat up straight. He was too close and right in front of me and I couldn't stand up without bumping him. So, I stayed in the chair, but sat up straight and put my towel in my lap.

"Yes, hi, Mr. Reynolds." I smiled at him. I didn't like him much, he'd seemed really arrogant and pompous the couple times I'd met him, and I'd seen him in the dining room giving the waiters and busboys a hard time. He was one of those powerful men who wanted to make sure everyone realized just how important and powerful they really were. But I had to be nice to him; he was my dad's boss.

He glanced around and saw we were alone. He looked back down at me and let his eyes roam over me. Then he said, "I've seen you here often, and I was watching you just now. Going into the shower stall, then coming out. You're a real good looking kid."

Oops. That felt really wrong. You just don't make comments like that about another guy, or about his body, and you certainly don't do it if you're 55 and the other guy is 17.

He kept watching me, seeing how I reacted to his statement. I kept my face as blank as I could. He didn't seem to expect me to reply. Instead, he just went on.

"Did your father tell you there's going to be an opening soon at work? I have to name a new VP of Sales. Did you know?"

"Yes, sir, he told us. He's hoping maybe he'll be considered."

Mr. Reynolds moved a half-inch closer, which was about all the room left to move. I moved my upper body all the way back in the chair, but that didn't leave much separation at all.

"Yes, he's being considered. When I look to fill a position like that, I like to talk not only to the man, but to his family as well. I like to think of my company as a big family, and so I like to get to know all my family members. Some of them I get real close to, and I like that a lot."

I couldn't help but look at the part of him that was closest to me, and I saw it jerk a little, then grow slightly. I looked at it, he looked at me looking at it, and when I raised my eyes again, he smiled.

"I'd like to get to know you better, Scott. It would really help your father's chances at that job if we could do that, if we could get to be friends. What do you say? No one's in the card room next door and I can lock the door so we won't be disturbed."

I was nervous, I didn't like this at all, but I kept thinking about what he'd said about Dad and the job. So I smiled at him and said, "Sure, Mr. Reynolds. Just give me a minute to get dressed, and we can go talk."

"Oh no, Scott. We're both men. Men together in the locker room, or where no women are around, well, it feels great to just not worry about clothes, to kind of let it all hang out. Besides, I saw you looking at me a second ago, and you seemed interested. I'm interested in you, too. Let's just walk in there now. You can bring your towel if you want, but it's more fun just to walk around without it. I like people looking at me. You will too, when you get used to it. You'll have a lot looking at you too, the way you look."

Well, there it was. It was pretty obvious he didn't just want to talk, find out about my hobbies and what school I was thinking about after I graduated. I don't think he wanted to know my favorite color, either.

He stood there, and grew just a little larger. I thought he'd be embarrassed. He wasn't. In fact, he reached down and rubbed it briefly, and kept watching my eyes as I looked at it. It was difficult to look anywhere else.

Finally he took a step back and asked, "Coming?"

I really didn't want to. But I kept thinking about Dad, and how he was always there for me, how he'd been there for me all along, and that here, now, I could do something for him.

A little part of me was curious. I was gay, but had never done anything with anyone. Nothing. So I was curious. This seemed a pretty terrible way to find out what it was like to do things with another guy, but I'd sure been thinking about doing things. Maybe I could close my eyes and pretend this was another kid.

And then I suddenly realized, while I was walking behind him towards the card room, that if I did whatever he wanted me to do, that didn't mean Dad would get the job. It just meant that I'd have done things with Mr. Reynolds, things I didn't want to do and he did. One of the reasons I didn't like him was that from what I'd seen, he thought he was really important and he didn't give a shit about anyone else. Could I trust him to promote Dad if I did this? I was pretty sure I couldn't, that while to me this would be a huge thing, it would simply be a conquest for him, probably just another of many. I didn't like that thought at all.

While I was thinking about all this, trying to figure things out, we had entered the card room. It was a small room with a round table in the middle with comfortable armchairs around it.
A low cabinet was against one wall. It held decks of cards, poker chips, score pads and pencils and other items card players might need. A cart was in one corner of the room filled with towels. One thing you never had a problem finding in this club was a towel. Towels were everywhere.

I'd had my towel wrapped around my waist walking here. Now we were in the room and Mr. Reynolds pressed in the button in the doorknob to lock the door, then turned to me and said, "Okay, time to lose the towel." His voice was subtly different. Before he'd been friendly with just a slight overtone of his personal power coloring his voice. Now, the power wasn't muted. Now, what he was saying was what he expected to be done.

I took off my towel, let it hang from one hand, then dropped it. I wasn't hard at all, not even a bit excited. He looked at me, his eyes devoured me, and his own excitement was obvious.

"Man, you're beautiful," be breathed. "You sure don't look 17. You look about 14, just like I like them. Grab some of those towels to pad the table a little, then climb up on it. Sit there on the edge, and spread your legs apart."

I did as he asked, my heart pounding in my chest. He moved in front of me, then ran his hands up and down my body, caressing me. After only a couple times doing that, his hands moved lower so they weren't only caressing my sides and chest and back any longer. Now he was feeling me all over.

He was fully aroused, and even though my thoughts and feelings were all over the map, I became aroused, too. At my age, it didn't take much encouragement, and this was much more encouragement than I'd ever had before.

He loved it when I became hard. I could see it in his eyes. After a minute or so of playing with me after that, he got up on the table next to me, spread his legs and said, "Play with me like I was with you."

I got down off the table and clumsily began stroking his body, all the time thinking, I don't want to do this. The thinking was causing me to lose my hardness, and he saw this and reached down to get me back up. I was stroking his whole body, and he told me to do his cock more and to be less gentle. His voice was huskier, and his eyes were a little glassier.

I obeyed. I encircled him with one hand, and let the fingers of the other run through his pubes. I started to be a little rougher, and at one point he yelped and told me not to pull his pubic hair so much. I stroked him just a bit longer. By now, even though he was still fondling me, I'd gone soft. I didn't like any part of this entire situation.

I stopped and stepped back. His eyes jerked to me, and I could see anger in his face.

"God dammit, keep going. You can't stop now. We're just getting started. You haven't even gone down on me yet."

"Uh, Mr. Reynolds. I just want to know. If I do this, does my father get the job?"

A look came into his eyes. I didn't like it. He sat up straighter and said, "Scott, you keep going. Stroke me. Now."

I hesitated, then took him in my hand again, but as I started to move my hand, I asked him again to answer my question.

He relaxed a little, then said, "If you don't do this, he won't get the job. I'm not committing any farther than that. But I will commit to telling you, you don't blow me, let me come in your mouth, he won't only not get the promotion, he'll be out of his job within a month. Now, I want your mouth on me. Right now."

I let go of his cock and stepped back. I picked up my towel from the floor and wrapped it around me. He'd sat back up and was scowling.

"I'm not going to do that," I said. "You're just using me, and there's no guarantee my dad will be promoted. You think you're in charge here. You're not. I'm underage, and you're guilty of statutory child molestation. You're going to give my father the promotion he's earned. You do that, I forget what happened here today."

He smiled at me. I could see why he was a successful business man. I could read in his eyes how sure he was of himself, but nothing else. What I'd just said didn't bother him at all. He was sure he still held all the cards.

"Scott, you dumb shit, you think I just came in off the farm? I know how old you are. I told you I'd been looking at you, watching you, for quite a while. You're the type I like, small, thin, underdeveloped. I like sex with guys like you. Why do you think I waited till now? It was because I do know how old you are. I looked at your father's personnel records. I have the age of all my employees' dependents on insurance forms. You're 17, have been for two weeks, and that's the age of consent in this state.

"So all you could accuse me of is forcible, nonconsensual sex, which would be embarrassing for me but nothing else. But you couldn't prove it. You might not have noticed, but we're all alone here. No one knows what's happening here, it would be each of our words against the other's that we'd even been in here together, and you have motivation to accuse me of something if your father gets passed over for a promotion. I'll deny it, and you can't prove a thing. Your father will be out on the street, and I'll sue you for slander and win. You're dumber than he is."

He was getting smugger the more he said. He finished, looked at me, then reached down a stroked himself. "Come here and finish this. "I'm not done with you yet. You get me off, then we'll talk about your father, and what you have to do from now on so he doesn't lose his job. Don't worry, I only like them young. In a couple years, you won't mean anything to me. I'll find someone else."

I turned away from him, walked swiftly the few steps to the door, opened it and walked out before he could even get off the table.

- - - [] - - -

It was three weeks later when I saw Mr. Reynolds again. He had announced that he was hiring from outside the company to fill the upcoming VP-Sales opening.

The current VP had called my father into his office and told him he was being terminated, he was being given his two week notice, and that this was being done as part of several cost reduction moves, and because he wasn't being let go for cause, my father couldn't fight his dismissal. The VP and my father were fairly close because my father was the leading sales producer at the firm. When my father had almost gone into shock, the VP had come over to him, put his arm around his shoulder and said, "I'm so sorry, Tom. This is all Ralph's doing. He told me I had to fire you, and if I refused, he'd screw up my pension. I had no choice. This is just wrong, but my hands are tied."

So I had made an appointment to see Mr. Reynolds, and I was sitting in a chair in front of his desk. He was at his desk, a happy look on his face.

"Came to finish the blowjob I guess, to get your father's job back. I thought I'd be seeing you again. Go over and lock the door."

I got up, went and locked the door, then came back and sat down.

"No, don't sit. Take your clothes off, then come over here."

I looked at him. He looked like a man fully in charge, one who expected to be in charge. I'm sure I looked like a pathetic kid to him. Just the way he liked them. He liked being the boss, he liked his employees submissively cringing in front of him. Made him feel even more important. His ego liked that, I imagined.

I remained seated. In fact, I settled back in my chair. "I'm afraid that isn't the way it's going to work here today, Mr. Reynolds. You're not calling the shots. We're going to talk about my father, yes, and you're going to put him in the position he has earned. And I'm not going to be doing anything like we started to do in the locker room ever again."

He looked suspicious. "Do you have a recorder or something?" he asked. "Because I don't know what you're talking about, talking about the locker room. What's that supposed to mean?"

I laughed. "No, no recorder. Too bad I didn't have one in that card room, but where would I have hidden it? No, I'm just here to talk to you. I can do most of the talking, so you just have to listen and not worry about incriminating statements.

"I've been thinking about this, ever since you walked up to me when I was dressing, almost shoving your stuff into my face. I know I look pretty young, maybe even stupid. But I'm not stupid. I inherited a lot from my father. I look something like he looked at my age. But I inherited his brains, too, and I've been thinking about this.

"Here's where we are, the way I figure it. You're guilty of statutory child abuse, molestation, whatever. They'll probably be able to figure out four or five charges, once the District Attorney is through. They like cases like this, cutting big shots down to size, maybe humiliating them a little, fucking up their lives. The press loves them too. I was underage, and that means everything." I told him about my age being misrepresented on the form he'd seen, and that therefore I was underage in the locker room, that I was 16, then, and had just turned 17 in the past several days.

I spoke confidently to him. "Now I won't go to the DA if you bring my father back, give him the promotion, and then let him do his job. He deserves that, he earned it, he'll do a great job as VP of Sales, and you'll benefit from having him there. He knows what the going rate for that job is, he knows his boss's salary, so you'll pay him what's fair."

I stopped and looked at him. He was still comfortable in his chair.

He said, conversationally, "You got some balls, kid. Tell me, though, why I'm going to do this. Because some kid goes to the DA, tells them his father got fired, he wants him to get his job back, and, oh, by the way, the company president molested him, and he's now pretending that it not only happened, but he was, get this, under age at the time? Scott, that isn't the way it works! To go anywhere with this, you have to have proof! You can't just accuse people of things. You've got to have proof. And you, you've got nothing at all."

I smiled at him, and smile that never reached my eyes. "Well, Mr. Reynolds, that isn't exactly true. I have proof. Enough that you're going to do what I'm asking, which, after all, is what you should be doing anyway and will benefit you and your company."

"What sort of proof could you possibly have?"

"I can't show it to you. Once I did, it wouldn't work in court any longer."

"Huh? I don't understand. That doesn't make any sense."

"Okay, I'll tell you about it. See, I was 16 when we were in the card room. You thought I was 17, but I wasn't. I just explained that. So what you did was illegal, and I think there's a 10 year minimum sentence for it. Then, you tried to extort me with your threats about my father, which would add to the sentence. I'll admit, I don't have proof of what went on in that card room, but as an underage kid, the burden of proof is much less than otherwise. I can strongly suggest what happened, what I say will make a lot of sense, it's reasonable and because it's so very believable, it will be believed, and you don't want it to be heard. Furthermore, I've assembled this proof, and have it, and it's what will get my father the job he deserves.

"See, what I did was, when you said you wanted me to be rougher, remember that? And I was playing with your pubic hair? I pulled a couple out. You reacted to that and told me to be more careful. I pulled them out on purpose. I kept them. Now, how in the world would I have your pubic hair, unless we'd been together naked? And if we were together naked, and I was underage, you'd have a lot to talk about, and it would be in court, in public, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want that to happen. If they found you innocent, you'd still be stained by it, and all that would happen to me would be, I'd lost a court case."

I had his attention now. He was looking at me intently and wasn't smiling any longer. He had a pretty quick mind, and he could see, it would be hard to explain why I'd have his pubic hair in my possession, and whatever the explanation, it would be embarrassing.

Then he relaxed a bit. "But you still have no proof when you got the hair. Your story only has any weight if you were underage. What you say happened, if it happened that way today, when you are of age, would mean almost nothing. You couldn't even get it in court, because you can't prove when it happened, supposing it did."

"That had me bothered to, till I figured it out." I smiled at him.

"What do you mean?" Cautious now. Not worried, but cautious.

"This is what I meant by I can't show you. See, I thought about it a lot. I figured it out. l took your pubic hair, put it in an envelope, along with a write up I made of what happened that day, then mailed it to myself. Last week, when I was still 16. I have it, in an unopened envelope with a postmark on it. So I have proof of having your pubic hair, and a story to support why I have it, what you did, what you tried to force me to do, when I was only 16. And so, you're going to give my father that job he's earned."

He just sat there, looking at me. He was probably thinking, thinking hard, but I couldn't see it. His eyes were blank, and he just sat there.

Then, finally, he said, "Scott, that's quite a story. Amazing, actually, that you'd come up with it. Impressive. But unfortunately, it's only a story, and I don't believe it."

I squirmed in my seat. I wanted him to believe it. I didn't want to go to court. I wanted my father to get the job. I was doing this for him. I loved my father, I wanted to do something for him like he'd been doing for me all my life, and this was what I could do. Getting Mr. Reynolds to land in jail, even getting a cash settlement from him to stay out of court, wasn't what I wanted. I wanted Mr. Reynolds to believe me and give Dad the job he wanted; that's what I was shooting for.

"It's true, Mr. Reynolds. I do have it. I have the envelope, and it hasn't been opened." I frowned, hoping he'd believe me.

He sat a little longer. Then he said, "Well, I'll tell you what. If you have what you say you have, I wouldn't have too much choice. I'd do what you want. But I'd have to see the envelope, see what you'd written, see the hairs. You show me that, I promise you, your dad gets his job back, and we'll forget this ever happened."

"But if I do that, I lose the proof when this happened. As you said, that's the key to the whole thing." Worry was obvious in my voice.

"Scott, I promise you. You show that to me, I'll know you beat me on this, and I'll do what you want. Trust me."

He spoke with great conviction, looked at me with honesty all over his face, his posture showing sincerity and friendliness.

In turn, I showed him great reluctance and uncertainty, but then said, "I guess I can trust you. I want to. Okay, but remember, you promised."

I got up, took the envelope I had folded in my pocket, and handed it to him.

He looked at it. It was postmarked a week ago, March 27th, and I'd circled that in red. Then he reached into his drawer, took out a letter opener, and slit open the envelope. He opened it and removed a small glassine envelope that contained a gray pubic hair. It also held a typed piece of paper. What was typed on it was what you, yes you, you reading this now, have already read, what is written above the break in this story, the break that was marked with that picturesque - - - [] - - - you passed by several paragraphs ago.

Mr. Reynolds carefully read through the paper. Then he picked up the other smaller envelope, held it up to the light so he could look through the translucent material at the curly hair outlined within. Then he collected all three items, put them in his top drawer, closed it, and looked back at me.

"Scott, Scott, Scott," he said, rather like someone saying 'Tsk, tsk, tsk.' "That's so too bad. You went to all this trouble. You thought it all out, and did just a wonderful job of it all. You had all you needed to make me jump through hoops. Then, just because I made you a promise, you gave it all away. It's really too bad, but you're still young. And so, so very naive. But it is too bad. All that work. All that thinking."

"But, you promised. Mr. Reynolds! You promised! I didn't want to go to court, and talk about being naked with you. You promised. I trusted you."

"You're a fool, Scott. You really are an April Fool. You just gave me the only hold you had over me. Now you've got nothing. Now, get out of my office! You get nothing, your father gets nothing, you're a loser. A really pathetic loser. Get out."

I settled back in my chair. He stood up, still behind his desk. "What, you don't hear so good? We're done. I don't want to see you any more. Out!"

"What you said? Remember? You said, 'You had all you needed to make me just through hoops.' That's what I wanted to hear. Yes, I thought that was true too, that I had you, but I wanted to make sure you realized it, because I really don't want to go to court with this. All I want is for my father to be happy, to get the job and money he deserves. So that's what he'll get.

"You see, Mr. Reynolds, that letter, the hair in the envelope, I made two of them. Remember, I said I'd pulled two hairs? I did. You got one, and the other was mailed to the priest who's been our family priest since I was born. I mailed it to him, then went and told him it was coming, and asked him to hold it for me, unopened, in a safe place because it was extremely important and might have to be used in court, and if it was, I needed him to testify he'd received it in the mail and hadn't opened it. He agreed to do that, he has the envelope, it hasn't been opened, and he is a very honest man whom any jury will believe."

I finished, then just looked at him. He stood looking back at me, then slowly sat back down in his chair. Neither of us spoke for several minutes.

Then he looked at me right in the eyes and said, "I guess I was wrong about you. I don't very often read people wrong. You, I got wrong. Okay, your father has his job back. Neither of us talks about what happened again. And maybe you'll destroy that other envelope. Right?

I smiled at him. It wasn't a friendly smile. "Sure thing, Mr. Reynolds," I said. "I'll do just that. Trust me."

I saw that jolted him a little. He didn't speak right away, and when he did, there was acceptance in his voice. "I was wrong. One thing you're not is an April Fool."

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