There was once a kid who could run so fast even light itself was never quick enough for him. He would run races in the fall, and have to wait half an hour for the other kids would finish. He never took the bus because he could always beat it to school. This kid was the fastest boy alive, and he was me.
Never knew how I got so fast, only knew that I was. I like to run which is good because I was never late for anything in my life. I could spend all day at the pool and get to school at what seemed like yesterday morning. Nobody ever challenged me in a sport; they all knew that the bases were mine, that the finish line was mine, and that the court was mine. I was the king of the school, and the world was laid at my fingertips. I was known as Flash Harry Cunnerton.
Tammy Turningway, or Tortoise Tammy, was the slowest and clumsiest kid in the school. In gym class everybody would lap him by walking when he was at full sprint. He waddles from class to class, running into everyone that he passed. It was a minor miracle that he didn't trip over himself with each step. I don't even know how he survived. How could a kid stand being famous for being the worst? The only thing he was accountable for was being picked last in kickball line ups. Tammy was a hundred pound sack of flour that someone decided to give legs. He didn't move for anything. He was a snail, molasses, a tortoise. That was all that I needed to know about poor old Tortoise Tammy.
The 100th Biannual Fable Run was the biggest race in the season. Millions of joggers, sprinters, Olympians, and even the occasional speed walker, would line up at the golden start line just to be a part of the classic fairy tale we all know and love, The Tortoise and the Hare. The geniuses who created this race were either too dumb to think of their own theme or too brilliant to make one so obvious. There are always two groups of runners, each with a different route. The slow runners would be put into the Tortoise group and would run the short lane, while the Hares would sprint the long lane. Each of the trails would meet up at the finish line, and from there the team with the best time would win. I was always the Hare. I was not a Hare, I was the Hare; the first one in and the first one out. Tortoise Tammy however was in the slow lane. He was the first one in and the absolute last one out. One year, my friends and I grabbed a video camera after I finished, to video tape a 50 year old speed walker beat Tammy to the finish line. It got a million views on YouTube in a second. In races I was a gold magnet. That medal was always mine. Tammy would be the same if gold represented last instead of first.
Like every year, I was the first to enter the race. Unlike every year, Tortoise Tammy was right behind me with pen in hand. He took ten minutes to right his name and address on the list. By the time he was finished there was a line ten blocks long. He was pathetic. "Tommy, you should just get your trophy right now. Don't embarrass yourself." I said rudely to him. I didn't like being mean, but with Tortoise Tammy, you couldn't not be mean. He was just so pathetic like an ant squirming around on the underside of a magnifine glass on a sunny day. Instead of making a rude gesture or a curt reply, like any normal person would, Tortoise Tammy came over to me. Actually, he strode over to me. His head was high and swaying like a champ. It was as if he wanted someone to punch him. His eyes gleamed quick and clever as to contradict his poor excuse for an athlete reputation.
"Hey Flash, I will take your advise," he said with a suspicious gleam. I looked him over. His fat stuppy legs were jammed into a pair of ruined dirty old sneakers that a hoboe wouldn't even want. The shoelaces weren't even tied! He actually thought he was going to beat me. i had a brand new freshly broken in pair of Nike air runners. They were the best of the best running shoe. I finally saved up enough money from my summer job to buy them. They were feet heaven, yet Tortoise boy still beleived he could beat me in a race. The slowest person in the world, race. I would have at least expected Shelia from my chemistry class. She was crippled since the age of 12 and could still run faster than him on the cross country team.
"I bet you'll get gold man," I said to him casually.
"You mean it?"
"Yeah gold from the top down," I sneered. He was expecting that, I could tell. One thing I was never fast at was making up my own clever retort. At least he was not good at that either. He was a wimp too pathetic for his own good. There is only one rule to surviving in this world and that is to not be anything like Tortise Tammy. Tortoise Tammy was breaking that rule big time.
"Well my parents say I am the fastest person on the block," he whimpered back at me. What did I tell you? Pathetic.
"You are probably the only kid on your block. You live in the boondocks. Snails hail cabs faster than you can. Your parents are just lying to you to make you feel like you can actually do something. I am the fastest person alive, believe it," I scolded him. Ignorance might be bliss, but stupidity needs to be broken. Tammy ran off crying that day. I broke him. Do I feel ashamed? No. He brought it on himself.
The day of the race I lined up in my usual position, lead runner of the Hare line. Tortoise Tammy was nowhere to be seen. I looked around for him, worried that he gave up. Yeah, worried. I was counting on him showing up to the race so I could get another biyearly YouTube video. I was really looking forward to making another one go viral. Just as I was iin the pit of my dispare, he walked up beside me and took his place, chubby legs carefully placed on the start line of the Hare group. The Tortoise was not just trying to beat me, but out run me too. This was too good to be true.
After everybody took their positions, the referee took out his little pistol loaded with blanks. He slowly lifted his arm in the air. It seemed like seconds went by as I slowly saw the smoke rise from the barrel of the gun. As I learned from my father, never trust the sound of the gunshot, always go for the bull and start at the first sight of smoke. The sound of the gunshot reached Tammy when I was meters away. I ran and I ran. I didn't care if I was trying to out run the slowest person in the world. I am going to run when I want to run. I glanced quickly behind me to see the reptile slither farther and farther behind into the crowd. This was going to be easier than I thought. I know this course like I know my own pair of feet. Knowing every pothole, hill, foot hold, and tiny pebble on this track, I ran through it like a breeze with Super Turtle nowhere to be seen. I couldn't wait to see the pathetic look on his face when I beat him and everyone else another year running. As I rounded the last bunch of trees to the finish line I saw Tortoise Tammy standing out of breath already cut through the finish line tape. He stood there wearing my golden medal around his neck. My medal, not his. I stopped in my tracks. He beat me, but how? Nobody passed me on the course, nobody ever passed me, and yet he stood there with my medal. I was so shocked that Jimm the Janitor, a well-known retired Russian Olympian passed me, and so did Janet the butcher, and Charles the Butler. I walked the rest of the way to the finish line. Bob the first tortoise passed me, and so did Lucy, Molly, and Greg. I walked on. Suzy from 4th grade passed me, Ronald, Harold, and ZeeZee passed me. I finally crossed the finish line, in 32nd place. I gawked at my medal, wishing that is wasn't true. For once in my life, I was actually yearning for my gold trophy. I was breathing bricks. Tammy went staring me down not offering an explanation. When I could finally catch really air, I asked weakly, "How in the world did someone like you, beat me?"
Tammy, Tortoise Tammy, smiled at me. It was a cruel smile, which became knives in my back. Evil Tammy curtly retorted, "You said that I should have just grabbed my trophy and left, so I did." He smiled at me.
"But you're the slowest one on the block!"
"I told you I was fast, but not in the way you thought I was," he replied with so much wit I almost fell over. Tammy got his trophy like I told him to. He didn't even have to run around the track to get it. He just plucked it off of the table like they were freebees at the supermarket. The judges let him do it too. They didn't even fight him for it or wrestle the fat lump to the ground. It wasn't fair, but I had to let him go. He might not have outrun me, by miles, but he out witted me. That was the only race where I couldn't beat old Tammy Tortoise. He's got brains as fast as cheetahs, and I was played right into his hands. That was the last I saw the Tortoise, but not the last I saw of Tammy. Races just didn't seem that important to me anymore. The following year, I retired, but Tammy kept racing. I don't know what it was about him, but I never could forget him and the only race I ever lost.