Good Pranks Gone Wrong (Ep. 5): The Disappearing Man

“No, Bloody Mary IS real, but in my neighborhood, we referred to her as Mary Lou,” I said to the trio of interested 8- and 9-year-olds as they listened intently. “Many of the Urban Legends you will hear about in life are indeed based on real events.”

The parents smiled nervously, not knowing what to expect nor exactly how far I would take things. We’d only known each other for about four months, having met on the pee-wee gridiron when our children played together for the Eastland Vikings youth football team. The season was over, but new alliances had been formed; friendships in two generations that have lasted until this very day, some 20-something odd years later.

Not getting the disbelieving or discrediting faces they had hoped from their parents, each kid looked back at me to learn more. They wanted to know about the legendary spirit who can only be summoned when you say her name, 3 times, while standing in the mirror. Depending on who tells the story, she can be good or evil. Over the decades and throughout various regions, the story has changed, but the general consensus is that upon the third utterance, she appears and scratches your face, if not worse.

“Bloody Mary / Mary Lou”

Being young and impressionable, naturally they were locked in. But being young in today’s society does not necessarily mean gullible. I mean, let’s face it, today’s kids are grown, and in ways parents don’t like…

“That’s not true!” my firstborn countered, though showing considerable doubt. His two guests followed suit with their own “Nah-uhhns” to voice their hesistance to believe.

“Oh? You don’t believe me?” I answered, cocking my head. “Check THIS out…”

Seeing an opportunity, I grabbed the phone and dialed my younger sister, Kimberly back in East Chicaago, who was roughly 26 at the time. When she answered, I greeted her in my usual, loving way.

But before we could get into one of those “Hey boo, how ya do?” conversations, I went right into it, unbeknownst to her, as well as my small audience. Pun intended.

“Kim,” I began, “Do you remember the older brother we used to have? Jerome? Do you remember how we lost him? I’ve got two of Kenny J’s friends here for a sleepover and they don’t believe the legend of Mary Lou.”

“Kenny,” she warned, knowing only I could hear. “Whatever it is you’re up to, don’t do that to my handsome nephew and those poor kids…”

“Remember how he screamed before Mary Lou took him… …and we never saw him again?” I continued, ignoring her plea.

“I PROMISE you; this is a bad idea…” she counseled.

“Can you please tell these kids what happened?”

“Kenny, please. Don’t.”

“Ok, I’m putting you on speakerphone.”

I put her on audio for all to hear.


“Yes?” she answered, trying not to sound defeated.

“You wanna tell Kenny J and these kids about that night?”

Having been put on the spot, she didn’t want to ruin my ruse. Still, she was careful not to be an active participant in my machinations.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said in her saddened voice. “Some things people shouldn’t talk about…”

Bravo, Kim. Using the truth as your lie.

The kids sat there motionless and silent, having accepted her short comment as fact, knowing I hadn’t said anything in their presence to get her to spout such untruths.

“Thanks, Kimbalaya! (My nickname for her)” I said as I deactivated the speakerphone function. Speaking directly and privately to her I said, “I really appreciate this.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you…”

“Love you. I’ll call you later. Bye.” I concluded as I ended the call.

The silence continued. The fathers fought to contain their laughter, having witnessed me spinning such a flawless yarn.

“But you know what?” I said, flatly. “Since y’all wanna call folks a liar, I’ll SHOW you!”

I grabbed, hugged and kissed my wife, then my son, then turned towards the bathroom as the children collectively asked me to stop, screaming that they believed me. Having reached the halfway point to the bathroom, they all stopped in fear, establishing that as a point of no return.

“You all might wanna take a seat on the couch,” I suggested as I opened the bathroom door.

As they ran back to the couch, the bathroom door closed as I could hear one of the boys squeak out a fearful, “MOMMA!” I couldn’t tell who it was.

After about 30 seconds, the sound of my voice made its way back to the young’uns.

“Marrrrrry Louuuuuuuu.” (one)

“Marrrryyyyyy Loooouuuuuuu!!” (two)


“MARY LOU! SHOW YOURSELF!” (strike three, you’re out)

I chuckled softly at their confusion. They had no idea what was happening. Not until my bloodcurdling screams rang out for all to hear. I couldn’t see their faces, but I wished I could, knowing my banging on the door was just icing on the cake.

They began to scream just as I stopped. Then silence. Nothing, from anyone. Everyone.

“What happened?” One of them asked after about a minute of tension.

“I don’t know.” One of the fathers answered. “Maybe you three should go in there and check on him.”

Good answer.

“No!” My son refused. “She might get us!”

“She never returns to the same house. And if she did, she would want another grown-up…”

Even I hadn’t thought that nonsense up.

After a few minutes, all three decided to walk to the bathroom.

I swear I thought they would never make it, considering how slowly they tread.

Eventually, they made it. Then after a few seconds of whispering, one of them knocked on the door.

“Dad…” my son called. “DAD.”

“Mister Kenny!” I heard another say.

Then after another elongated period, one of them summoned the courage to open the door.

Of course when they got there, they found nothing and more frighteningly, no ONE.

And that’s when the real screaming and running began!

Believe me when I say these kids were inconsolable. They cried at the top of their lungs as one shouted in panic, “She’s coming for us next! I’m never gonna meet my baby sisterrrr!!!!”

I didn’t think he would factor in his pregnant mother’s soon-to-be child.

Both fathers walked quickly to the bathroom, finding no one and equally questioning in shock, “What the F___???”

What no one had noticed, not even my wife, was that I never actually made it IN to the bathroom. I simply walked around the outside corner of it. After the mock scuffle and screaming, I slipped into the coat closet, just in case anyone walked beyond the bathroom door.

Wanting to milk my David Copperfield moment for as long as I could, I decided against it and emerged from the side, laughing.

You should have seen the looks on all of the faces.

After the initial surprise at seeing how this impromptu magic trick was performed, the fellas laughed. They had been pranked just as easily as the kids and were impressed at how well I pulled it off without preparation. At least it appeared that way.

Getting the tightest hugs, it took some time for me to get the kids fully calm.

…And the MOTHERS?

Let’s just say they didn’t see things the same as me and the dads. Especially considering the fact that the kids had been balling their eyes out.

No, they didn’t take it well at all.

After much deliberation, the sleepover was allowed to continue. Especially since I had to remain downstairs with the boys as their protector until such time as they fell asleep.

I didn’t mind.

Not that I was allowed back into the bedroom anyway…


That night, and every night after for a good two weeks, I had plenty of time to think as I spent my nights on the couch, watching horror movies on DVD.

All alone.

At least I think I was…

This has been, another Good Prank Gone Wrong.

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