The adventures of two boys, who are very much out of place in their little town.
“License,” said the grumpy police officer whose lips looked like they were only very good at frowning.
James fumbled in his wallet and pulled out his Learner’s license, handing it to the cop.
The officer looked at it for a moment. “Short, eh? You don’t look short at all.” He peered through the hot afternoon sun into James’ pickup.
“It’s just a name, ok.” James Short been teased all his life about his tall stature by people he knew. He was not happy that this guy, who had clearly never been in town before, should also be making fun of him.
“Must be awful for you to be stuck copping a tiny place like this,” said James, trying to be friendly and hoping desperately that he wouldn’t get a ticket. He had been going too fast, but everyone went too fast.
“Yeah, it sucks.”
“I’m sure you’ll get promoted soon,” said James, hopeful for more than one reason.
“Doubt it, but thanks for being optimistic. You seem to be a nice enough lad, but I’m still gonna have to give you a ticket.”
And that’s how James Short got the first speeding ticket ever to be given in Krit.
Krit was a dinky little town, (well, actually it was only a hamlet, but it was easier just to call it a town) that spread its grubby paws over a small plot of marshy land in the middle of a lot of fields. The town was populated solely by farmers. Even the guy who owned and ran the tiny gas station, which was the only commercial building in town, spent most of his time farming.
There were three tiny churches in the town, Baptist, Methodist, and Methodist. There had been a breakup way back in 1922 in the Methodist church, and thus the duplication. The pastors who preached at the churches weren’t farmers, but then, they didn’t live in Krit. They drove in each Sunday morning. There were only two pastors, as the Methodist churches shared the same one, dividing him between an early service and a later one.
Now, there was more than one longstanding social divide in this little town. You see, way back in the swampy mist of history, two families had bought land and settled in the place where Krit later came to be. Oddly enough, the last name of the one family was Long, and the other family; Short.
For centuries they had physically matched their names, too. The longs were known to be always long-faced and the shorts were, well, you guessed it, short. Also, the Longs had very long spells of grumpiness and the Shorts had very short tempers. So it is little surprise that they didn’t get along from the start.
“You got a WHAT!” Mr. Alistair Short blew up in James’ face.
If James had been like any other member of the Short family, he would have blown up right back. But James was not like the other Shorts. He was not short, and he did not have a short temper. He just took his dad’s anger in stride and calmly replied, “Yeah, a ticket. I know. First one ever in Krit. Maybe Old Cop Heiger finally retired. He was so old he could hardly see, you know. Or maybe they just forced him to retire by replacing him,” James thought aloud, ignoring his dad’s red face and clenched teeth. “Any case, we’ve got a new cop in town.”
“The first ticket ever! You’ll be the laughing stock of the whole town!”
“Nothing new there,” said James, and left his father to fume. Truth be told, he was pretty upset about the ticket, too. Not only because it would completely gobble up all his allowance from the past year and take a good bite out of the coming year’s, but also because he knew that he would be the brunt of even more jokes for quite some time to come.
James grabbed the phone on the way upstairs. Once in his room he rung up his best friend, Tim Long.
“Hey James, how’s it goin’?” said the cheerful voice of Tim on the other end of the line.
“Well, I’m kinda having a bad day. Wanna meet me at Pete’s tonight, so I can tell you about it?”
“Sure thing, bro. What’s on?” Pete’s was a drive in theatre in a neighboring town and pretty much all there was for the few youth in Krit to do in the summers.
“Some chick flick, I think, but who cares really?” James and Tim tended to do whatever they wanted and ignore what everybody else said, within reason, of course.
“Ok, see you at nine then. I've got something I want to tell you too—an idea I've had. And James?”
“Keep smiling, pal.”
They might be the town freaks, but James was glad that Tim, or Smiles, as most people called him, was his best friend. That made them a pair of freaks, which was a whole lot more bearable than being a freak by yourself.