Scuffed Toes and a Thin Branch
He was sick to death of all the quips. All the snotty nosed little kids rushing up, poking, taunting and generally being obnoxious. And boy could they be obnoxious. Without much effort. Not needing too much encouragement. The six to ten year olds were the worst. Running after him shouting “Long Leg Lenny, Long Leg Lenny don’t trip over Long Leg Lenny it’s a long way down.” Things like that. And worse. Such language for an eight year old. Young Bobby Stumpings needed an extended appointment with a bar of soap.
The thing about that though was Lenny did not have long legs. Sure he was seven foot two inches tall. In his stocking feet as well. Put on proper shoes and wow. Bumping the bonce on the clouds. No his legs were short, would fit very neatly onto someone just approaching six feet tall. The extra was not in his head that was fairly normal. Fairly because he did have an extended chin that made his face look long but overall his head would suit a happy go lucky six foot twoer. His trunk, that’s where the discrepancy was located. He had a monster trunk. Seriously long chest that made people wonder if he had a few past the normal in ribs.
Clothes as every tall or tallish person will tell you are at best difficult. Tall and well-proportioned is specialist to be sure but doable. Just a bit of adjustment needed in skinniness situations. Tall with short legs, elongated trunk and long arms is a definite problem. All right if you are rich you simply get Threadbare Charlie and his friend Nigel to make you up suits of fabulously trendy apparel. Otherwise its down the superstore and hope for the best.
There you are confronted with one of the most ridiculous situations in the clothes department of a modern department store. Shoes. Shoes are in racks attractively laid out to entice you to buy. Racks six feet high. Perhaps more. No problem you think. Well wrong. Lenny will tell you that. Lenny has size fourteen feet. Shoe sizes start biggest on the bottom shelf decreasing upwards. Lenny crawls on hands and knees to see the bottom rack. A very serious effort. A long way down and a long way back up. Strenuous. When he goes shoe buying he goes with his neighbour’s daughter, Sally, when she also needs shoes. She is a smidge under five foot and has size two feet and even on the tippiest toes it’s a challenge to reach the top shelf. So Lenny gets her shoes and she picks his.
Sally slightly younger than Lenny and very attractive, especially to Lenny. He really does like her but the pictures painted in his mind, big against small, leads to a natural reluctance. The taunts he gets are bad enough. The two of them together as an item would likely be a torment. For both of them. He therefore satisfies himself with just being around her. Their expeditions to buy shoes providing an opportunity. They buy shoes and have lunch. Almost a date but not quite.
Lenny works and works hard. Scaffolding, that is his number. Own business, own lorry, own plant. His height a definite benefit. Has the help of Smithy. Daniel Smith, nice chap, touch younger who likes to lug stuff around. Could do it all day. Fit and a sensible height. Smithy is learning. Learning the ropes or in this case the poles. They work all over the area. Small stuff mainly for local people and jobbing builders. Both are strong. Heavy is scaffolding. Builds you up. Not that Lenny needed building up he is probably built up enough already.
One day they were having lunch.
“Doing anything this weekend Lenny?”
“Off to buy shoes with Sally.”
“Buy a lot don’t you. Got a fetish?”
“Naw just seem to wear them out. Walking all over I suppose.”
“But long legs, big strides less leather wear surely.”
“Not so long legs. Scuff me feet so wear out the toes. Look.”
“Yup that’s a worn out toe alright.”
“New work boots don’t you think. Might get some of a fancy colour. What d’you reckon. Company colour?”
“Blue if it’s to be a Company colour. Only blue will do me.”
“Sorted then. Two pairs blue boots. Nine and fourteen.”
Sally pops in the door at nine Saturday.
“You ready then. Need some new low shoes for work. Can’t wear heels walking about all day.”
“Yup let’s hit the road.”
Out they go. Bobby stumpings passing shouts something but they are not sure what.
At the store and into the shoe section. The shoes have gone. Moved over two aisles and laid out on low racks only four feet high. Lines of them. Big on top and small down low.
“So my complaint had effect then.”
“What’s that Sally?”
“I wrote about the racking how ridiculous it was. They obviously agree. This is great. No more hassle.”
This is bad news for Lenny and he shows it.
“What’s up Lenny?”
“I enjoy our trips to the shops with lunch and all. Will miss it.”
“Don’t worry Lenny we can still have lunch. We don’t need to go shopping for that.”
Anyway boots and shoes purchased they are off taking the route that passes the river. There is a commotion. A major commotion. People shouting. Women screaming. They see Daniel half in the river trying to reach to someone in trouble. They get closer see it’s Bobby Stumpings hanging onto a thin branch sticking out over the water just above the weir. He is sobbing. Stranded. One broken twig away from certain disaster. Daniel cannot reach him. There is a thick branch protruding out towards Bobby. But too short. Daniel is at the end but his reach is two feet too short.
He sees Lenny. “Lenny here quick you can reach. Wait. I need to come back.” “Right. It’s strong enough. Strong right at the end.”
Lenny does not hesitate. Slides along. At the end he hooks one leg around the branch and leans forward. The extra length of his trunk and his long arms and he can reach. “Bobby reach towards me.” He grabs Bobby’s arm around the wrist. “Let go of the branch. I’ve got you and won’t let you go.”
“I can’t. I’m scared.”
“I promise I won’t let you go.”
Two minutes later Lenny and Bobby are on the bank both soaking wet. Bobby’s mum is there sobbing. She takes Bobby wrapped in her arms and leaves.”
The crowd drifts away leaving just Daniel, Sally and Lenny.
“Well I’m off. See you Monday Daniel.”
On Sunday afternoon Mrs Stumpings appears on Lenny’s doorstep with Bobby.
“Thank you so much Lenny. He would have drowned without you. He fell in up river and could not get to the bank. He’s a real handful. Since his Dad dies last year he has been so difficult.”
Exactly one year later Lenny got married. Not to Sally who just liked being friends but Mrs Stumpings, Christine. Turned out they had much in common. They struck a chord straight off and she was six feet two. A real bonus. Bobby calmed down and took to liking Lenny. Lenny became the local hero and was no longer taunted. Sally who had been left on the river bank with Daniel struck up a conversation. They are still going out.