One fine, sunny afternoon in the summer of 1991 Sean Woods came home in search of refreshment and instead drank deep the sour draught of betrayal.
His teenage frame slick with sweat, muscles aching from the exertions of a hard-fought game of sandlot baseball, Sean anticipated with relish the sweet, cold iced tea that awaited him in its simple but comforting old pitcher of green plastic, the one with the ounces marked off in neat embossed type along the side of the container. As the youth hopped up the back stairs, flinging open a screen door whose mosquito netting bore the gashes of his cat's playful assaults, Sean imagined how the cold, wet chill of delicious lemony sugar water would erupt upon his tongue, sending a shivery rush of invigorating flavour through his weary bones.
Metaphorically licking his lips, Sean bounded into the kitchen and flung wide the refrigerator door. The green pitcher sat there like a silent emerald siren, beckoning him, and the lad could do naught but claim his prize. Triumphantly he grasped the pitcher, lifting it high and tilting it backward, the dark liquid within flowing into his waiting mouth.
So parched was the young shortstop that he greedily chugged down his repast, every cell starving for the expected burst of refreshment. But that burst never came. Instead, Sean recoiled in horror, his esophagus rebelling, gagging, spewing up dark brown froth over lips twisted in sudden, shocked disgust.
"MALLGGHHH!" yelled Sean, slamming the pitcher down on the counter, coughing and spitting - for the innocent-looking yet duplicitous pitcher contained not delicious iced tea, but plain water befouled with dish soap! Sean eyed the rank concoction with disbelief. Who would do such a thing - and why?
Enraged, Sean confronted his older brother, who having heard the commotion while reading in the basement rushed upstairs to see what was going on.
"Why would you put a pitcher full of water and dish soap in the fridge?" Sean demanded. "I drank it - I nearly puked!"
But Earl couldn't answer, doubled over with laughter, trying to protest his innocence between guffaws, tears pouring down his pink cheeks.
"I - ha ha - what? D-dish soap? Ha ha - oh dear - I swear I didn't - oh no - hee hee -" And so on.
Fuming, Sean later asked his mother if she had, for some reason, laid the trap, but she seemed entirely puzzled:
"Why would I do that?"
Father, too, professed ignorance. And so, to this day, the Mystery of the Tainted Tea remains among the greatest unsolved enigmas of the Woods family lore.
Today, in his mid-30s, Sean remembers the incident well. When asked how he washed the taste out of his mouth, Sean answers:
"I didn't. It lingers to this day. No one confessed."
The case remains unsolved.