“Mr. Keller,” the judge started. “You claimed that you would be able to care for yourself after your emancipation.”
“And I do, your honor. I manage all my own finances, I have a stable job, a place to live-”
“And,” the judge cut in, “you have decided it is acceptable to steal cars?”
Keller leaned into the microphone. “Joyriding, your honor. Every intention of bringing the car back.”
“Mhmmm, and is it true that you were picked up while trying to illegally purchase alcohol with a fake ID?”
“But I did not and I would never have driven under the influence of it, ever.”
The judge made a skeptical humming noise. “Being so close to 18, you could be prosecuted as an adult, especially since another judge has already ruled you so in the eyes of the law.” She stared at him intently before continuing. “But I’m feeling generous today. I have decided to reduce your grand theft auto charge to joyriding. It is hereby sentenced that Mr. Keller’s fake ID be confiscated and he will be required to serve 300 hours of community service to be completed in the next 6 months.” She turned to address him personally. “Andreas, I suggest you keep a better group of friends in the future. I heard that quite a few people scattered when you were apprehended.”
“Noted, your honor.” Keller’s friends really were shit. If one of them had come to testify on his behalf, it could have strengthened his joyriding plea. Honestly, he shouldn't be surprised that none of them came. They were all just as self centered as he was.
Keller slid on his favorite pair of sunglasses as he left the courthouse. Luckily, taking them off still garnered him some sympathy in court. He lit up a cigarette hoping it would relieve some of his stress. He exhaled a large cloud of smoke as he leaned against the brick building.
Three hundred hours would definitely cut into his social life (which mainly consisted of drinking with aforementioned shit friends) but at least it would solidify his position as town badass. Beauville, South Carolina was small, and everyone always managed to know everyone else’s business. This meant that he was universally hated by every adult, and feared by most of his peers. Keller desperately missed Atlanta, but there was no way he could afford to live there on his own.
Most people had been hesitant to hire a newly-emancipated 16 year old. Fortunately, Tracy, a sympathetic friend of his mother, had been kind enough to offer him a job at her plant nursery and to rent out the small apartment above it for dirt cheap. That was two years ago. Keller was now doing his best to finish his senior year while working his ass off on the weekends. He probably would have dropped out, but Tracy had made graduating a stipulation of his hiring.
Keller was loud, aggressive, rude, and resourceful. He also had no idea how complicated his life was about to become.