This was a short story I wrote on the spot for some writer’s challenge back in February 2006. For those unfamiliar with the “Frog and Toad” book series, here’s what I’m spoofing.
One morning Frog woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep. He tossed and turned in his bed before finally coming up with a great idea. He would play a funny joke on Toad, and so he concocted a scheme where he would intercept Toad’s newspaper early in the morning before Toad read it and replace it with a phony one. He would make the top story be about Toad and how he was wanted for the murder of their neighbor, Rabbit. The story of Rabbit’s murder had been going around town, and the killer had yet to be found. This was a great trick to play on Toad!
So, Frog crafted a fake newspaper. He invented stories of how the local sports teams all won their games and how the weather would be good for the rest of the week. Finally, he wrote the fake story about how the police were after Toad for the murder of Rabbit. Frog even inserted an old picture of Toad that had been taken in the early morning time so that Toad looked extra tired and more like a criminal. Then, Frog went to Toad’s house.
It was still a little dark outside and somewhat cold. Luckily, Frog was a frog and they can stand the cold better than humans can. So, Frog didn’t mind so much. The look on Toad’s face would make it all worth it anyway.
Finally, the newspaper delivery boy came (though in actuality he wasn’t a boy at all, but a salamander) and Frog took a paper from him with a smile.
“I’ll bring this up to the porch for you,” Frog said. “I’m heading up there now anyway.”
When the delivery boy was out of sight, Frog stuffed the paper wherever frogs stuff things and put the fake paper on Toad’s front step. After that, he went home.
Toad woke up from a nice dream, though he couldn’t be certain exactly what the dream was about. It had something to do with his best friend, Frog, and how the two had shared the day together. Toad went to his kitchen, started up a fresh pot of coffee and then to the front porch step to fetch the day’s newspaper.
“It’s too bad I don’t have a dog,” Toad said. “I could train him fetch my newspaper each morning.” But then he realized a dog might be inclined to eat a Toad, and thought better against his previous notion. With his newspaper in hand, Toad sat at the kitchen table, sipping a cup of coffee. He turned the paper over to the backside and began to read. Toad always preferred to begin his newspaper read at the back page in order to save the best news—on the front page—for last. He read about how the local sports teams all won their games, about how the weather was going to be sunny and warm all week, and then finally he read about the murder of Rabbit. At first, he was bored with the article. The writing wasn’t all that great, and he had grown tired over the past couple of weeks reading about Rabbit’s murder. It took him a few moments to realize that the large picture on the front page was of him!
Police have discovered that Toad is the true killer of Rabbit, the story read. They have given no comments beyond that and will begin their hunt for this super mean criminal right away.
“Why, that’s me!” gasped Toad. “But, how can this be? I didn’t kill Rabbit! I couldn’t even kill a fly…and I’m a toad! Besides, I always liked Rabbit very, very much! Oh, sad day…sad day. What am I going to do? The police are looking for me!”
It was then that Toad noticed something. He noticed something that made him right mad. The pictures were coming off the page at the ends. They had been stuck onto the newspaper by glue! Toad continued to read the article about how he allegedly murdered Rabbit. One line in particular caught his attention more than the others.
It is uncertain what sent this closet-case psycho killer over the edge. He has no apparent history of violent behavior except for the time when he accidentally swallowed a bug when he was just a tadpole.
Now Toad was certain that Frog was behind this, up to his old tricks. Aside from Frog, Toad had never told a soul about how he once swallowed a bug as a tadpole, and he had made Frog swear not to tell anyone ever.
After a few minutes of steaming and pacing in a fit of rage, Toad calmed himself. An idea popped into Toad’s head…an especially brilliant idea, in fact.
Toad spent much of that night cutting, writing and pasting—making up fake news stories of his own—and when he was done, he marveled at his masterpiece. He left the fake newspaper on his front porch and went to bed. Meanwhile, Frog had been delighted by his clever scheme…so delighted, in fact, that he spent the entire day skipping and singing a song he just made up about how delighted he was about the scheme.
“I’m so delighted, so delighted, so delighted ‘bout my scheme!…I have fooled my best friend Toad…I am really very mean.”
Later in the evening, he would regret having sung that song all day because he realized that it was to the tune of O My Darling, Clementine and now he would have that song stuck in his head for a month. However, he decided not to stop there. That night, he made another fake newspaper. This time, it would talk about how the police were hot on Toad’s trail and they had spies watching him at all hours. At the end of the story, though, Frog would reveal his trick to Toad and tell him how it was all just one big joke and that Toad wasn’t really in trouble. Toad was, after all, Frog’s best friend and he didn’t want him too worried.
Frog awoke early the next morning and hopped to Toad’s house with the fake newspaper tucked neatly under his arms. It was dark when he arrived at Toad’s house and the crickets were still playing games with the fireflies on Toad’s lawn.
“What are you doing up so early, Mr. Frog?” One of the crickets asked.
“Shhhh,” replied Frog. “You can’t tell Toad, but I’m playing a trick on him. I’m leaving a fake newspaper for him to read so that he thinks the police think that he killed Rabbit.”
“Oh what a wonderful idea,” squeaked the cricket. “How clever you are! But, don’t you think that will make Toad sad and angry?”
“Well, yes, but, that’s why it’s so funny!” replied Frog.
“But aren’t you two best friends?”
“The very best…”
“Hmmmpfffff,” said cricket. “I don’t think I would ever do that to my friends.”
“Ah phooey,” said Frog. “You just don’t have much of a sense of humor like Toad and me. He will laugh himself to tears once he learns it’s a trick.”
“If you say so,” said cricket, “but if you’re going to swap the newspapers, you’d better do it. It seems the delivery boy has arrived earlier than usual this morning.”
Frog squinted at the porch. The moon’s light gleamed against the rusted handrails of the porch steps and resting there upon Toad’s scuffed up welcome mat was a neatly folded newspaper.
“That’s impossible,” said Frog. “His paper usually doesn’t arrive for another hour or so!”
Frog walked up the porch steps, grabbed the newspaper and sat down to read it. Frog read about how the local teams all won their games, about how the weather would be sunny and warm for the rest of the week, and about how police had discovered that Toad was in fact Rabbit’s killer as they had been tipped off by a strange newspaper that was left on Toad’s doorstep the previous morning. The paper went on to say that the police were keeping a careful eye on Toad and that they feared the worst for Toad’s best friend, Frog, noting that serial killers like Toad tended to lure their victims in by befriending them for many, many years.
Toad became horrified. Sweat began to bead on his forehead…or it might’ve beaded if Frogs had sweat glands. Still, Frog was afraid. He began pacing back and forth on Toad’s front lawn with the newspaper tucked tightly under his arm.
“How could the police have found my newspaper?” Frog began asking himself, “and how come I didn’t see this coming?” Frog also remembered how the paper had called Toad a serial killer.
Had Toad killed before?
Suddenly, the front door opened and Toad hopped outside to see a frantic Frog pacing back and forth on his lawn.
“Good morning, Frog. Why are you up so early?”
“You stay away from me!” Frog said. “Get back!”
“Frog…calm down…” ”GET BACK! I won’t let you slice and dice me! Poor Rabbit. Poor, poor Rabbit.”
“How could you lie about being my friend for all these years when all you really wanted to do was kill me?”
“Frog…what did I always tell you about reading the back page first?”
Frog paused and blinked. He untucked the newspaper from under his arm and held it out in front of him with his green webbed fingers, and then flipped it over to the back. Gotcha Frog! it read. Your friend, Toad
Next to the caption was a picture of Toad cutting, pasting and writing to make a fake newspaper for Frog to read. Frog’s face turned bright, bright red…or rather yellow, because his skin was green to begin with and everyone knows that you get yellow when you mix red with green.
“So, you knew about the fake newspaper?” Frog asked.
“Well, then, I guess I had that coming.” Suddenly, Frog burst into a fit of laughter and Toad joined. The two laughed until they cried and then went into Toad’s house for some hot cocoa and biscuits.