Once (and only once) the Trickster fell in love. The girl loved him too, though this was hardly surprising since most women (and many men) loved him at first sight. She was very traditional, however, and insisted that her parents approve of the marriage. Convincing her mother was no problem, but her father was suspicious.
Do not make the mistake of thinking he was concerned for the happiness or well-being of his daughter, for he was a small-minded and vain man whose only concern was to better his own wealth and standing in the eyes of the world. He had dined with kings, queens and presidents, he had appeared on television twice, and he was a member of the homeowner’s association. His lawn had won “Lawn of the Year” for the past fourteen years in a row and was the envy of the neighborhood. He doubted whether adding the Trickster to his family could provide the kind of life that he desired.
So, he devised a series of tests which he was sure were impossible. “You must understand,” he told the Trickster, “She is my only daughter and she is most precious to me. I want to make sure that she marries the kind of man who can provide a good life for her.”
“I will take your tests,” the Trickster said, “But you must swear that if I pass them you will let me marry her, and that if you break your vow my sister Fate will visit misfortune on your family for a thousand generations.”
The father swore the oath. “Now then, I want to know that the man my daughter marries is financially secure. Show me a million dollars in cash.”
The Trickster smiled. “That’s easy!” he said, and headed into town. A few hours later, he returned, carrying the vault from a bank. He dropped it on the front lawn with a heavy THUD. The door flew open and money poured out. “Here is one million, two hundred thirty-five thousand, six hundred ninety-three dollars and sixty cents,” he said.
The father scowled. “Well, you have passed the first test,” he said, “But the measure of a man is more than money. It is important that a man be reliable, and to be known by all to be trustworthy. I would like for you to gather a hundred character witnesses to vouch for your reliability.”
The Trickster threw his head back and laughed. “I am the most reliable man in the world!” he said. “Everyone knows I can always be trusted to do or say what will cause the most discord in any situation, and you can reliably predict that I will do the most unpredictable thing possible.”
He pulled out his phone and made several calls. Over the next few days, thousands came to the house vouching for the Trickster’s reliability at always being nothing but trouble. The steady influx of pilgrims trampled the grass, leaving the front lawn muddy and ruined.
“That is not quite what I was hoping for,” the father said grimly, “But I suppose it fulfills the letter of my request. Some say it is better to know that a man will cause trouble, rather than to be uncertain if he will. Very well. You have shown that you are a man of the world, but are you also a man of the heart? My daughter was raised on Disney movies and Nicholas Sparks novels and has grandiose ideas of romance and love. She will expect the kinds of gestures that would impress a queen.”
“My friend,” the Trickster said, “Over-the-top is the only way I know how to live! While other men would buy their sweethearts a dozen roses, I would dig up the yard and cover it in rose bushes! While other men might take their wives to a cabin by the lake, I would take her to an oceanside castle! While other men might close the blinds to keep the sun from her eyes, I…I would eat the sun itself!”
To prove his point, he plucked the sun from the sky and swallowed it, plunging the Earth into darkness.
“For the love of God, man, spit it back up!” hollered the father.
The Trickster stuck his fingers down his throat and vomited the sun onto the lawn. What little grass remained in the yard immediately burst into flame. Nonchalantly, he picked up the sun and flung it back into the sky.
The father stared at the ruins of his yard in dismay.
“What’s the next test?” the Trickster asked.
“No more tests,” the father said, “Just get out of here before you do any more damage.”
The Trickster and his wife lived happily for many years, though her father spent a great deal of time in prison when the police discovered a stolen bank vault in his yard.
In Sunnyville, every day was exactly the same. Every family would wake up at 7:00 AM sharp. The parents prepared breakfast, took the kids to school, and headed to work. At 12:00 PM came lunch break. Everyone in the town stopped what they were doing to open their brown paper bags to remove their perfectly cut pastrami sandwich. At 3:00 PM the children got home from school, and at 5:00 PM the parents came home from work, in time for dinner at 6:00 PM, after which the children went right upstairs to do their homework. At 9:15 PM the children would be tucked into bed. The mother or father would read a simple story out of the book on the nightstand, each story taking exactly 15 minutes, so the lights could be off by 9:30 PM. Afterwards, the parents rejoined each other on the couch in the den to watch a sitcom before the 10 o’clock news came on. The news anchors would report that everything was perfect, that everything was going along exactly as it should, just as it had yesterday, the day before that, the day before that, and so on and so on as long as anyone could remember.
There was very little excitement in anyone’s life, but they were secure, and they were happy. Or at least content, which is, when it comes down to it, good enough.
One day, by chance, the Trickster happened to come to Sunnyville. He stood on the hill overlooking the city and watched the industrious citizens go about their daily lives. He sat on the hill for days, watching, waiting for something to change, but of course, nothing ever did.
“This is disgusting,” he said to himself, “I can’t bear to look at a land so orderly and controlled. I’ve got to do something.”
The Trickster sat and thought to himself, trying to figure out the best way to disrupt Sunnyville. He brooded and he pondered, he dreamed and he imagined, he schemed and he planned. Finally, he realized that sewing chaos here would be simple indeed, so simple that he laughed at himself for not realizing it earlier.
Early the next morning, the Trickster awoke at 7:00 AM, just like all the other inhabitants of the town. Unlike them, though, he did not fetch the morning paper, pour himself a cup of coffee, feed the dog or scramble eggs. Instead, he walked straight to the central square of the city and stood right in the middle of the intersection.
Soon, the cars began to pour out of the driveways of Sunnyville, and for the first time in their lives, the people experienced a traffic jam.
It wasn’t like any traffic jam you or I have ever seen, however. The pleasant people of Sunnyville had never in their lives been held up like this before. Rather than getting angry or frustrated, like those of us who don’t live in perfect worlds, they were simply confused.
The Trickster stood staring at the central clock for exactly ten minutes. And then, he simply stepped off the street and left Sunnyville forever.
The people, still confused, tried to salvage the rest of the day as much as they could. While nothing went seriously wrong, they felt as though their whole day was thrown off.
The next morning, though, they felt much better. Most of them woke up at 7:00 AM sharp, exactly like every other day.
But some of them woke up at 6:59. And some of them woke up at 7:01.