Merry Christmas, Kid, welcome back to your old hometown now try to find a homie, a compadre, a chum, a confidante a mate. The Kid wasn’t having much success along the friendship line.
Then Miss Ezrah struck some cord within him with something new he had never tried. She told the third grade class to write a story, not some “What I did over Christmas vacation” story or “What was my favorite toy” story, either. A real story, a fiction just like some of those in their reader, something with made up characters, a plot and a climax.
Don’t know about any of the others in that class, but The Kid had never tried writing a story. He made up stories in his head all the time when playing. It was what one did when they lived alone and had no one else about. It was called imagination. Why should writing a story be much different, except you wrote it out on paper, not just in your head?
The Kid was already a voracious reader. His mother had this incredible collection of books he read. They were kind of squat and thick with a lot of pictures or illustrations dispersed through them. They were called “Big little Books”.
They weren’t short stories; for gosh sakes, they were books, like novels. Some were novelizations of motion pictures, some reprints of classics, adventures of radio heroes like Green Hornet, Sunday papers detectives like Dick Tracy and they often featured famous names, like Frank Buck or Tom Mix and even Mickey Mouse.
So The Kid got out his paper and pencil and he wrote a story. It no longer exists either as an artifact or in the memory of The Old Goat other than a couple minute flickers. It was some kind of Western and the villain was known as Mr. X. The Kid turned it in to Miss Ezrah who read it to the class and Miss Ezrah was very complimentary about this tale. She not only awarded The Kid with an A, but put his story up on a bulletin board for display.
In the heart of The Kid a spark was struck.
That is not the amazing part of this long ago event; it had a more important outcome, one that seemed highly unlikely.
There was another boy in the class and there was something different about him, too. For one thing, he sometimes got picked for team sports even after The Kid. He was kind of awkward at times and very tall for his age. The Kid was tall, but this boy was taller. Because both were tall, the boy sat near The Kid in class, somewhere in the back. Yeah, teachers often drew up seating charts based on height. This tall boy was called upon to read his story.
The tall boy was reading and familiar scenes were forming in The Kid’s mind. The characters names were strange, it appeared they were human people in this story, it was some kind of adventure, it…it had been in that spare room back in the swamp.
Yes, yes it had, it had been near the top of a stack because it was recent. It was one of his favorites. The Kid had read it more than once.
“I read that in an Uncle Scrooge comic,” he blurted out.
The Kid hasn’t the foggiest of what happened immediately next. There might have been embarrassment all around. The rest of that scene slipped into a deep recess of The Kid’s brain and for the life of him The Old Goat can’t extract it.
But it was a different story after class and after school. The Kid, who lived right near the school and the tall boy who didn’t were walking in the same direction. The tall boy behind and gaining across the schoolyard with his longer stride made The Kid nervous. He had squealed on this guy, called him out right there in class before everyone. Was this tall kid going to beat him up?
Comic books in those days had advertising and a popular item being marketed to the youthful readers was the Daisy Air Rifle, the most popular of which was the Red Rider Bee Bee Gun (as some may recall if they saw the film, “A Christmas Story” and who hasn’t). Perhaps this tall guy would be back with a rifle and assault The Kid with the stinging pellets of revengeful death.
“Hey,” it was the tall boy.
The Kid froze.
“You like comic books?” the tall boy asked.
The Kid shook his head.
“You got many?”
The Kid shook his head.
The Tall Boy