Alright, it's finally time for the infamous "Bell story!" Several people have been asking for it, so here it is!
It started a few years ago during the fall. Our local football team had just finished a game, and a few boys came over for a "Fifth Quarter" activity. They were hungry, so we decided to get some food.
After we had left the drive thru, one of the boys made the fateful comment: "Let's go ring the bell!"
Please understand...my first inkling was that they wanted to participate in what is commonly known as "ding-dong ditching." In this exercise of immaturity, you run up to a friend's house, ring their doorbell, and run to a hiding spot where you can laugh at your friend's response as they answer the door to find an empty doorstep.
The only problem was...that's not what the boys were planning! It turns out that the bell they wanted to ring belonged to an elderly couple in town...a couple that our teens didn't even know! Oh...and it was NOT a "doorbell!" The bell is a big cast-iron monster (maybe three feet tall) that hangs from a bar in the couple's front yard. The teenagers in town find it hilarious to lift up the thing and drop it so that the whole neighborhood can hear!
I should have realized it was trouble when they asked me to pull into the parking lot of the local Mormon church. I need to mention something else at this point...I was driving them around in the church van!
The boys said they would be back in a few minutes and ran across the parking lot into a shadowy grove of trees.
After a brief period of silence, I heard a tremendous "GONNNNNNNNG" followed by frightened laughter.
One of the boys came racing into the parking lot. He jumped into the van laughing and out of breath.
"Where are the other guys?" I asked with a smile on my face.
"I think they went another way, " he replied, "they should be coming from that direction."
As I followed his finger to the other side of the parking lot, my heart came to a screeching halt. A police car was pulling into the parking lot!
Panicked, I put the van in reverse, turned on the headlights, and pulled out of my parking spot. I slowly accelerated as I crossed the parking lot towards the police car.
The policeman held his arm out the window and flagged me down.
"Sounds like someone's being mischievous out here tonight, huh?!"
"Yes, sir, it does!" I replied, heart still stopped in my chest.
"That wasn't the church bell that I heard, was it?" he asked.
"No," I said, "I think it came from that neighborhood."
"O.K. Well, have a nice evening."
I have an idea why he let me go. It must have been because I had "Church of Christ" on the side of the van and we were parked behind the "Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints." He must have not put the two together, and thought I was just a minister taking a teenager home from church!
We circled the block a few times, looking for the other two boys. As we passed one of the side streets, I did a "double-take" and my heart stopped again: One of the boys was in the cop's spotlight!
I'm not necessarily proud of what happened next. The teen who was with me asked what I was going to do. I told him that if we circled that area, the cop was sure to notice...so we were going to leave our friend with the cop and go to my house.
"What?!" he cried. "You can't leave them behind!"
"Well, I'm sure not getting in trouble for your little prank!" I retorted.
We hurried to my house, where we switched to my car. We were thinking that if we returned in the car it would not look suspicious.
However, on the way back, I decided to park about a block over and walk to the parking lot. As I arrived, the last boy peeked out from behind the bushes and called out to me. Once he was sure it was really me, he emerged from his hiding spot. I asked him where the third boy was, and he told me that he had seen him scrambling off in a different direction.
Racing back to the car, we jumped in and drove around, searching for the teen who had been "busted." We couldn't find him, so we cautiously headed back to the church building.
After checking the parking lot for cop cars, we entered the building to find the last boy already there! Excited, we asked him what happened.
"Uuhhhhhhh, he asked me what I was doing, so I told him everything."
"What do you mean 'everything?'" we all asked at once.
"Uuhhhhhhh, I gave him everybody's names. He said he's gonna call everbody's parents."
"WHAAAAAAAT!" Names started flying as we all freaked out.
I was scared myself, at first, and then I assured the guy that he had done the right thing. Being honest is what God wants us to do, so it's best that he came clean. (Although I was SURE I wouldn't have a job by the end of next week!)
Well, the cop never called, to our relief.
To this day, I REFUSE to take the kids out on a prank...and I especially won't use the church van!