Characters: Candace Carlacci Devine
“I’m ready, Sech Nelier,” Candace said, standing up from her seat and bowing to the Minbari teacher. Most of the rest of the class were adults, Rangers going through their training, but the teenaged Candace had been permitted to join them for the classes in delight. “May I have permission to record my presentation?”
“Certainly. Please come forward.”
Candace joined him at the front of the room, stepping onto the small, low platform. A recorder floated just above her left shoulder. At a murmured command, the device zipped back and up, to settle about four feet away.
“Please state the nature of your presentation to the class,” Nelier said.
“Yes,” Candace said, bowing politely again. She couldn’t resist a glance upward, into the rafters above the Minbari teacher’s head. She then addressed both him and the class.
“I’ve chosen for the subject of my presentation that variety of human humor — that’s almost a pun, isn’t it? — called ‘practical jokes.’ Sech Nelier, you asked me why they are called ‘practical.’ I must confess I wasn’t able to learn this.”
She stepped back a few paces and took hold of a slender ribbon that hung along the edge of the back wall. Wrapping the slack around her fingers, she continued. “I did learn, however, that a practical joke is one where one person takes action to place another in a situation that’s funny. Sometimes embarrassing. Also, I found that practical jokes almost always have some sort of physical component.”
“A physical component?” the Minbari asked.
“Yes,” Candace said, her dark eyes gleaming. “Soda water, cream pies, or –”
She pulled hard on the ribbon in her hand.
A cascade of tiny spheres fell from the bag she’d concealed before class. They pelted down in a torrent, bouncing off the Minbari’s head, clattering on the floor, bouncing and rolling everywhere.
“Ping-pong balls,” Candace finished, when the sound of the cascade — and the laughter of the class — had faded.
As Nelier turned toward her, his expression both amused and bemused, Candace saw a lone ping-pong ball, caught between his headbone and the crown of his skull. She erupted in helpless laughter.
She wasn’t sure what her grade might be, but it was worth it anyway.
Dedicated to the memory of Bob Keeshan, "Captain Kangaroo."
Copyright (c) 2004 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.