Off the Wall
Living outside the law can get touchy
August 30, 1999
Traffic police are a mystery to me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just not natural for a guy to stop a woman for going too fast.
I’m cruising down the highway and life is good. The needle on my speedometer burned past the double nickel two songs back, and I’m rolling toward lucky seven. There’s nothing like the open road and nonstop rock ‘n roll to grease those rusty foot muscles.
Led Zeppelin and I are just starting our ascent up the Stairway to Heaven, when I notice a car topping the hill ahead of me. I don’t think much about it until I catch a glimpse of a twisted piece of metal covered with honeysuckle on the side of the road. Either the rusty writing says 45 mph, or it’s the Chinese character for benevolence.
Squinting, I strain to see what’s coming at me. Wavering through the heat radiating off the pavement is what appears to be a black Chevy Chevette with police lights mounted on the roof. This, of course, is a mirage. Making a cop car out of a Chevette is like giving brass knuckles to a mouse.
It’s not until our cars are side by side that my state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line radar detector, which normally sends out a blast you can measure on the Richter scale, squeaks. What’s this guy using for radar, a turkey thermometer?
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I glance down at my speedometer. It’s not good. Then I glance in my rearview. The Mouse Mobile is burning a doughnut in the middle of the double yellow line. The turn signal’s on, so you know what kind of personality this guy’s going to have.
By this time I could be walking on my hands faster than I’ve got the car rolling, but I’m praying at the speed of light. I’m sure God would have answered but, apparently, Scotty’s got the beam-me-up transporter down for repair.
The minute I see blue lights strobing my way, it’s like getting hit with a bolt of lightning. White knuckling the steering wheel, my foot stomps the floor, my knee locks, and my front tires rear up off the pavement like Trigger.
I would have gotten away, too, if someone had bothered to put a DEAD END sign on the road I turned onto. All in all, this county has a real problem with signage.
“Officer, I don’t know what got into me,” I say. “It’s like I was possessed.”
“Yeah?” the cop says, without looking up from his pad. “Tell the Speed Demon to hand over his license, and I’ll write him a ticket, too.”
It’s a sheer curtain that separates the law-abiding citizen from the dark underworld of crime. Prior to this moment, my most heinous act has been eating grapes out of the bag at the grocery before they’d been weighed. With the simple tip of the toe, I’m transformed into America’s Most Wanted.
As I watch him write, my new criminal mind immediately notices this guy’s got a real macho thing going kneehigh leather motorcycle boots, a shirt that’s been customized with French darts, and pants you have to peel off with paint stripper.
“So, how do you like your little itty bitty patrol car?” I purr.
Tilting his head up, his aviator sunglasses glare down at me. I take this opportunity to check my teeth for lipstick.
“I bet it gets real good gas mileage …,” I say, scrubbing my pearly whites with my finger.
His lip twitches.
“… And when you park it, no one even knows it’s there.”
“If I were you,” the cop says, as he tears off my ticket and passes it through the window, “I’d see someone about that stick shift envy.” (Copyright 1999 P.S. Wall. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate.)