Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Joke's On Me

For this month’s invitational blog post, in honor of April Fool’s Day I invited writers to send me 99-word stories with the theme “The Joke’s On Me.” The stories are presented below. At the end of this post is next month’s challenge, and the rules of the game. Remember: all writers are eligible, and I hope to hear from many, many of you. I edit stories a bit, but I “print” them all.


by Elaine Polson Shiber

On April 1, every year without fail, their father said, as they sat down to eat breakfast, “I wonder what Mr. Janssen’s doing up on his roof?”
And every year without fail, they wouldn’t look. They refused to look. They couldn’t look.
They looked.
And every year, they knew what their father would say. They groaned in unison.
One year, on April l, they said, “What is Mr. Janssen doing up on his roof?” He looked. Mr. Janssen was hammering roofing tiles. He said, “What’s Mrs. Janssen doing up there now?”
We know what they did. Habits die hard.


by Liz Roddin

My Dad answered the phone. “Yehlo.”
“Hello, may I speak to Fred, please?”
“You want to talk to Fred?”
“All right, buddy, what are you selling?” my Dad said.
“How do you know I am selling anything?”
“Because nobody but salesmen call me Fred. Anybody who really knows me calls me by my nickname. It saves me a lot of time. So—what are you selling?”
Without skipping a beat, the man said, “You’ll never know, Fred,” and slammed down the receiver.
The joke was on my Dad, and he laughed about it the rest of his life.


by Liz Roddin

In the seventies, the drinking age was 18, and my friends and I would often go downtown to Finnegan’s and have a beer. I didn’t drink, so I always ordered ginger ale. Nobody ever hassled me; it was just the way it was.
When I went to the ladies room one night, I thought nothing of it, but when I returned, there were six shots lined up in front of my barstool. I looked them over, puzzled, until I saw the bubbles.
And then I downed six shots of ginger ale, as everyone, including the bartender, giggled and smiled.


By Jerry Giammatteo

My cousin Paulie was the ultimate jokester. But we were going to get him tonight.
“Meet us at the abandoned house at seven,” I said. It was a creaky, two-story bungalow with old furnishings. Our plan was to arrive earlier, hide, and make noise moving stuff around to spook him.
It was after seven. Where was he? We were getting spooked. From the second floor, a table crashed down the stairs. The door didn’t hit us as we fled the house.
At the top of the stairs stood Paulie, laughing hysterically.
You simply can’t out-joke the joker.


BY Christine Viscuso

“You thought you’d get Jeff fired, Pfeiffer, by sending the clown to our CEO’s bachelor party being held in his son-in-law’s honor; and then sending the cake lady to Donny Sturbridge’s fourth birthday celebration.
“We’ll, Raffles, the clown, ran off with the groom. Seems they knew each other in college. Our CEO is thrilled. He detested his future son-in-law.
“Laverne recognized Mr. Sturbridge as soon as she alighted from the cake. They’re lovers. Mrs. Sturbridge was ecstatic since she wanted a divorce for years.
Jeff is getting promoted. You’re getting Raffles’ job. Know what, Pfeiffer?”
“Guess the joke’s on me sir.”


by Barbara Blumberg

Our new pool is an enormous open hole centered in our backyard. Saturday we walked the job site and could see deer tracks in the fresh dirt surrounding the huge open pit.
April 1st fell on a Sunday and I couldn’t resist playing an April fool’s joke on my husband. As he was coming up the stairs to our bedroom - I sprang to the window. “Look two deer are trapped in the pool!”
“NOOOOOOOOO!” he shouted as he ran to look out the window. We both laughed and laughed, funny because it was so believable.
 I “got him.”


by Phyllis Povell

It was a cold Monday night when I pulled up a stool at the bar to wait for my friends to have dinner. “A gin and tonic, please, I’m waiting for my friends.”          Fifteen minutes passed, no one arrived. “I’ll have another. My friends should be here soon.”
The bartender waited another twenty minutes before approaching me again.          “I really have friends,” I told him, motioning for my third drink.
After an hour, I hobbled off the barstool and went home.
Tuesday night my friends called. “Where are you? We’re waiting for you, having a drink at the bar.”


by Jill Evans

Gardening is my hobby—a tradition carried down from my Polish ancestors. With gardening comes composting— the art of transforming organic refuse into soil. I routinely throw rotten potatoes into my compost if for no other reason than to rid my house of the smell. I struggle with growing them. My plants get diseased and attract bugs. Imagine my surprise when I tilled my soil and discovered the cast-offs from last year’s compost had transformed into vibrant new potatoes ready for cooking.
Perhaps if you leave something alone long enough it blesses you by cultivating the seeds of generosity.



In honor of the month of May, send me a story with the theme “Yes, you may.” Use that phrase as the title, or the first sentence, or the last sentence.
Remeember, writers, it has to be a story. What is a story? Something happens to somebody. A story has to have conflict. It has to show a change in somebody. Okay? And a little surprise and irony wouldn’t hurt. And extra credit: don’t be afraid of the dark. Remember, permission (“Yes, you may”) isn’t always a good thing…

Other rules:
1. 99 words exactly
2. Deadline: May 1
3. Send by email to
4. One story per writer per month.
5. Again: I’m looking for real stories.


  1. Pretty imaginative! I'll have to see if I can come up with any exact 99-word story for May.

    Thank you, John, and all contributors.


    1. Many thanks, Marta. And please do send me a story for May!

  2. Wow, John, all these writers are my students, except for
    Barbara Blumberg, who is a professor at Nassau Community College. She hired me once to give a lecture on memoir writing at the Garden City Library in Nassau County. Great work, all of you!

    We read some of these in my college class today; perhaps more students will send stories next month. Like Marta, I'd like to send you a 99-word-er, too. I wish all the Posse would contribute, which I've said before.

    Thanks for opening the blog up once a month as you do.

    1. Thanks, Eileen, for sending all these good writers this way. I do hope you'll send me a story of your own. And yes, all members of the Posse are encouraged to do the same!