I pushed back the blankets to find my pajamas littered with little, black spiders.
''Ollie!'' I yelled. ''That's lame! I gave you the box of creepy crawlies for Christmas, remember?''
''Yeah, I know,'' my third cousin twice removed said. ''But I spent so much time planning for April Fool's Day this year that I almost forgot to get you. C'mon! We've got a lot of gags to pull!''
Ollie retrieved six Nestle's Quik boxes hidden in the back of his closet. We crept out of Ollie's farmhouse as quietly as two 9-year-old boys could and a few minutes later, Ollie dumped all six boxes of the drink powder into the milk storage tank in the barn.
''This morning, our cows will give chocolate milk!'' Ollie chortled.
By breakfast time, we had glued the caps on all the pens in Uncle Elmer's desk, switched the drawers in Aunt Tillie's kitchen, stashed two water balloons in the medicine cabinet and filled the cereal cupboard with pingpong balls.
''This is going to be the best April Fool's Day ever!'' Ollie crowed.
''What are you doing now?'' I asked.
''I'm taping magnets to the bottom of this mug. When Pops goes to the feed mill today, I'll sneak it atop his pickup so people will think he left his coffee on the roof. They'll be honking and he won't know why!''
''Genius,'' I said.
Sometime after Uncle Elmer howled upon splatting his foot into a barn boot full of strawberry Jell-O, I figured I'd never enjoyed getting up early so much.
''You two hoodlums go collect the eggs and leave us in peace for two minutes!'' Aunt Tillie wailed.
Why she kept sending two boys like us into a coop full of gooey missiles just begging to be launched at each other and expecting different results puzzled me. This time, it was Ollie who surprised me.
''We gotta get these back inside without a single crack,'' Ollie said.
Aunt Tillie was finishing putting the sugar and salt back into the right containers when we came in. She eyed us suspiciously as we carefully placed eggs from the baskets into cartons. Her nervous eyelid rat-a-tat-tatted as she retreated toward the living room for her rocking chair.
''OK, here we go,'' Ollie said a few minutes later.
He picked up an empty carton and walked gingerly toward the living room, holding the box as if it contained explosives.
''Hey, Maw, where do want me to set aside this carton for ... oops!''
Ollie executed a fake trip, wonderful in its exaggerated acrobatics. The egg carton flew toward the ceiling. Aunt Tillie shrieked. She blasted out of her rocking chair and dove like an outfielder.
But she'd calculated her leap based on the rate of speed that a dozen eggs would crash to the floor. The carton, being empty, sorta fluttered. As Aunt Tillie slid past us nose-first, the box bopped her in the backside.
''April Fool!'' Ollie cackled.
We spent the rest of the day in Ollie's room. I still don't know where Aunt Tillie found the rubber chicken she served us for lunch, but I must admit that the cayenne pepper she sprinkled all over our supper trays was a better trick than I expected from her.
''That's OK,'' Ollie said. ''I hid eight alarm clocks in their bedroom. Starting at 2 a.m., one will go off every 20 minutes. They'll never expect it on April 2.''
----- It is surprising that Cole isn't still grounded. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org