An anecdote of high jinks on April 1.

It’s been an incredibly busy and productive year up here in the Bakken; that’s why I have missed a few deadlines and articles. Maybe with the longer days of summer, I’ll have a little more time to keep ya’ll filled in on Wayne’s world.

During the winter, the workload was such that sometimes days or even weeks would go by without my seeing friends and coworkers. I lived with an engineer named James in the same quarters, and once went a month without seeing him. I talked to my boss, Tony, almost daily, but we seldom were off at the same time, so we didn’t get to socialize much.

This all changed, temporarily, on April Fool’s Day. Right around that time, we all had left the employment of the pompous gang of idiots we’d worked for in search of greener pastures. It happened that Tony, James and I all were in the little town of Alexander, N.D., on Sunday, April 1, with nothing pressing on our schedules. By afternoon, we were getting pretty hungry, and decided to go get something to eat. Funny thing about North Dakota, there are almost no restaurants like there are elsewhere – very few chains other than Mickey D’s and the like – and we wanted to sit down and eat a decent meal that wasn’t wrapped in plastic. Up here, about the only decent place to get a meal is a saloon, plus adult beverages are available. Alexander has a fine saloon called the Hi-Way Lounge that is known for a great steak, so that’s where we headed. It also has some qualities that make it a fine boom-town saloon: You can smoke, there is a bloodhound inside, and almost no women ever go there, which makes scratching and passing wind acceptable.

After eating and having a couple adult beverages, the topic of April Fool’s pranks came up. All three of us are well-known pranksters, and we started comparing notes on our past efforts, and what we should do this year. James decided to text one of our more gullible administrative assistants, Jessica, with something outlandish just to see if he could get a rise. He told her that Tony, the calmest, most unflappable man I know, had run into a former coworker and snapped – jumped him and beat him senseless. He told her that James and I had to pull him off before things got out of hand, and now he was under arrest and in the county jail. Could she help with bail money?

Naturally, feminine panic set in, and she said she’s heading for the ATM right away. This seemed to be going so well that both James and I started texting other friends and coworkers with the same story. Texts were flying with updates, the tension was rising, the posse was coming to the rescue, when one of our friends, for some reason, started to suspect us of pranksterism. We needed to provide more proof.

About that time, a McKenzie County deputy walked through the door to check out the place – a nice guy, 30 years on the force, with a sense of humor; just what we needed. After enlisting him in our plot, we went outside, and took plenty of pictures of Tony being handcuffed, searched and loaded in the police truck. Then we sent these pictures to all on our list of victims, and included quite a few more, just to stir the pot. James sent texts to his Marine buddies back in Pennsylvania. Pretty soon, they were organizing bail money and a possible invasion of North Dakota. I was keeping the administrative assistants occupied with all the lurid details. Our friend Curtis in Oklahoma was threatening to get on a plane, come up here and straighten out things. James then called Tony’s brother in Montana, and, in his best funeral director voice, asked if he’d ever seen Tony snap like that. He said no, but he was only a few hours away, and would be right over. Tony’s sister canceled her travel plans, and started in our direction, too.

All together, we had at least 25 people involved. We played it from 1:30 p.m. until around 9 p.m., and then asked all of them one-by-one if they knew what day it was. The responses were unprintable. We now are watching very carefully over our shoulders for retribution.

We all are back to work now, and see each other rarely. But when they let us off the lease together, I’m sure we can cook up something else.