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LOS ANGELES — Pulling off a “hilarious” April Fools’ Day prank, previously asymptomatic area man Herb Foster jokingly informed his family that he had contracted the deadly Coronavirus.

“My test came back. Daddy’s got the Covid,” said Foster to his wife, three young children, and elderly uncle, trying his best to stifle a laugh and a cough.

“Don’t cry, kids! That’s how the disease spreads! Now that I think about it, one of you tykes probably gave it to me!” Foster teased that the most likely culprit was his youngest daughter Stephanie, 4, whose asthma was being triggered by her newly-induced stress. “You did this to me!” Foster spat, using his hand to wipe saliva from the side of his mouth.

Jesting that they should not have ordered takeout from the Chinese restaurant the night before, Foster clutched at his chest and collapsed theatrically onto the floor, touching as many surfaces as he could on the way down as he grasped for support.  “Be good…for…your…mother,” Foster spluttered between short breaths, invoking his wife Mandy who crossed her arms, turned her back, and walked away.

“Herb pulls this shit every year,” said a visibly irritated Mandy, shaking her head. “Last year, he told us North Korea had launched a nuke at California and tried to wrangle everyone into the van with a duffel full of canned beans and bottled water. One of these days, I’m really going to socially distance from him. Permanently.”

Seeing that everyone in his family had been sufficiently perturbed, Foster confessed that he had just been kidding all along, totally unaware that he was not. “Hahahahaha! You should’ve seen your faces! Oh, man. All this laughing is making my face red.”

Asked whether such antics were appropriate in such a sensitive climate, Foster deflected blame: “It was a joke! It’s their fault for falling for it. They should’ve known I was joking when I said I was able to get tested.”

At press time, the mischievous Foster was spotted chasing his old uncle Jeff around the yard, trying to give him a wet willy.

Is it crazy that I don’t feel so?
As the retreating are racked by withdrawals from theirs,
As the walls close in around us,
And their singing lungs constrict beneath the weight,
My breath is staid, unexcited.

The discomfort is not worrisome.
It is the comfort which concerns me.
That the nightmare is not so foreign to me;
That this captivity I’ve lived all my life.
Accustomed I’ve become to its violences.

So that when the flock has been encaged,
When bars wreak denial on their collaborations,
When cold vacancies occupy their febrile thoughts,
I raise no alarm at the enemy
For it is known,
For one does not panic in the home.

I know where all the closets lie;
Sequestration is the disease.
And in the dark, my hand surely finds the proper switch
For light is an imperative.
I need not ask which corridors are most efficient;
My feet know best the steps
To navigate this empty house without a creak.

Among the antsy, I do sit.
The throne was made for only one,
So it shall be the loneliest.
I have become the King of Hell,
Now my coronation.
Not by birthright. By experience,
By merit, by sin.
From isolation, I will lead them
Away into solitude.

Alas I can teach them what I know,
But they cannot unlearn what I do not.
My patience is facilitated;
It is not as hard to wait for what’s not tasted.
And if solace I cannot offer them
In the solitary,
I take some twisted consolation.
For when they feel their most alone, I have felt my least.
Finally, have I found peace?
I’m doing fine. Help me.

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LOS ANGELES – Sifting through the twelve variants of store-bought Scooby-Doo-themed Valentine’s Day cards his mother purchased for him to distribute in class, Franklin Elementary 1st grader Peter Lee reserved the card with the most unambiguously romantic overtones to give to his crush, Bethany H.

“I hope this tells Beth that I like her,” said Peter, carefully scribbling Bethany’s misspelled name in the empty space after “To:”

The card which depicts the titular Scooby-Doo, paws clasped together, exclaiming “I ruv you, Ralentine!” won out narrowly over other cards such as the torrid “What would I Scooby-Dooby Doo without you?” and the Velma-driven “Jinkies! I think you’re groovy!”

Asked about his decision making process, Peter explained that the card had to feature Scooby-Doo since “he is the most important one and, and, and he’s really funny and, and a dog,” taking extra time to neatly fold Bethany’s hand-picked valentine in half with snot-covered fingers. “Beth likes dogs…I think.”

Peter hoped that the card’s pink motif would also help to convey his undying affection for Bethany H. “It has the most hearts on it,” he said as he disposed of the other unused “I ruv you, Ralentine!” card, ensuring Bethany H. would be the sole recipient of his heartfelt message.

Peter’s class reported a high degree of anticipation in seeing whom among their peers they could count as admirers. Bethany Q., another of Peter’s classmates who sits next to Peter in their reading group, drafted her own devoted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Valentine’s card just for him. “Peter’s the best. He’s really nice to me. I’m giving him this one because his favorite is Michaelangelo.”

At press time, Peter was haphazardly filling out a platonically-charged “Zoinks! Happy Valentine’s day, old buddy, old pal, old friend!” card for Bethany Q.

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