The Policeman’s neck was straining as he struggled to keep his face out of the snow. He was lying on his left arm which was bent at an unnatural angle. I watched him rest his head for a second and lift again.
The trip started out quite normal, see some guys, drop off some information pamphlets, help some people feel better about themselves, and etc. I might have time for a few drinks and a movie at this rate. Whoa!!! A teenager opened his driver’s door and I about clipped it. That was close! I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a patrol car coming up quick and turning on the lights as his bumper nearly touched mine. All I could see in my mirror was his front windshield and flashing lights.
$170.00 for failure to maintain lane. I wonder what the fine would have been to run the kid over….. I tried to explain the sudden door opening and I had done the right thing but he told me to calm down. Forty-five minutes later I had a ticket and Officer Dickhead sneered, “Tell it to the Judge if you find it worth your trouble to come back to our fine community. However, I don’t think ‘Doing the Right Thing’ includes swerving all over the road.”
I’d been hassled by criminal cops before. Cost of doing business I suppose. Fucking ASS-HOLE! Whatever. $170.00 down the drain.
A woman at the gas station suggested that I make an out-of-the-way loop to stay at a local treasure. The Old Rail Station had been converted into a bed and breakfast and it was 50 or so miles up a narrow highway.
The reader sign at a local bank said 14 degrees and a liquid wind made my jaw ache. The heater was offering hope as the frost fought a losing battle on the windshield. The same reader sign said 10:29 PM. Jesus-fuck it gets cold here, my body doing an after-thought shiver-spasm.
I didn’t really want to leave the main road on a night like this but the thought of a roaring fire in my guest suite at the B&B seemed worth the effort and an extra day so I swung North towards the Old Rail Inn. Along the valley, low clouds kept me moving slow as wind driven snow started pelting the windshield. Road ghosts drifted endlessly across the road and drifts were beginning to creep onto the roadway.
I slowed to 25 mph and strained to see. It was snowing harder now and the dash-board said 13 degrees.
Hey, another car! The weather had cleared just enough to catch a glimpse of headlights and a flashing blue light. The curves were keeping me on my toes as the car slid slightly rounding a corner. I slowed to around 18 mph and the car rocked with a gust of wind. The trip-o-meter said I had gone 11 miles in 30 minutes and thoughts of the Donner Party skitter through my thoughts. Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck! I hate this shit. Next wide spot in the road and I’m a-gonna head back to the real world.
The snow plow came flashing into view, blue lights surreal in the whirling storm. God, this is beautiful. I wish Danny could see this. Danny is a high school chum that was with me during most of my youthful adventures. He’s old, fat, and his knees are shot but he’d have loved this! The plow came to a complete stop as I crept around him, feeling relief that at least the road would be clear for the next few miles. Ahh.. not so bad now! 11:17
Creeping along at 10 mph. Room for one car only now and hopefully no one else was coming my way unless they have four wheel drive. What!!?? What was that? I could have sworn I saw the reflective tape of a patrol car in the ditch. My dash clock said ll:32 and 12 degrees. There isn’t anyone there… Probably come out here with a tow truck tomorrow when the weather is safer… Better just keep going or someone will think I’m up to something.. Maybe I better check it out… I backed up, keeping in mind the consequences of getting stuck. There it is. Yup, it’s a patrol car… Looks like the door is open..
I made a quick phone call.
Boy Scouts was kicking in and I scurried to the trunk to grab a flashlight and long wool overcoat I kept there for emergencies. There in the flashlight beam I could see the fresh tracks of a sliding car and dirt still showed in the snow evidence of a rollover. Oh Jesus, this just happened. A man was tangled in his gear, partially in and mostly out of the car. He was bleeding and he was fighting to keep his face out of the snow. Somehow he had managed to get partially rolled over by the car and end up lying on his left arm. His forearm bent at an odd angle behind him. “Oh thank God! Help me!”
I fucking HATE broken bones. Juice leaking out of a person doesn’t bother me but I Fucking HATE broken bones. Why the fuck did you break your arm. I tried not to look at the odd rubbery-weird arm.
“You’re going to be OK. Give me a second to see what’s going on.” Panic-relief was setting in and he started babbling about a radio call bringing help and his wife being alone and he would have been home in an hour… “Sir, calm down.” I chuckled to myself. How ironic. Fuck it’s cold out here. I put on the long wool coat. That’s better, I wish I’d brought a hat.
Somehow his belt gear was hung up in the seat belt like he’d been dancing to the Sponge Bob theme song. I tugged on it but the fat fuck had it fully extended. “I gotta go get something to free this up.” While I had been tugging his wallet had fallen open in the snow, the bright gold of a badge on one side and a beautiful woman on the other. “Officer Bacon? Is that your name? Officer Steve Bacon?”
“Is this woman your wife, Officer Bacon?” He strained to lift his head. “Yes. We’ve only been married a few months.” Wow! He bagged a FINE one!
“I’ll be right back.” I shined the light on his face. Son-of-a-BITCH!!! “Hey! Aren’t you the cop that gave me a ticket for failing to maintain my lane this morning?”
“Shit. I’m sorry about that, I’ll tear it up when we get back. I’ll tear it up tomorrow.”
“Ass-hole.” I took off the coat and covered him, putting a sleeve under his freezing face.
I jumped in the car and searched the glove compartment for a pocket knife I keep in there. Wait a minute… This lying bastard mocked me and wrote a bogus ticket saying that ‘Doing the Right Thing’ won’t hold up in his town. He is willing to change the record on a violation if I will do him a favor. I sat in the hot car for a few minutes checking for humanity. I fucking despise dirty cops.
The clock said 11:53 and 11 degrees. ARRGGG….. MORAL DILEMMAS!
I made another phone call and fiddled with the radio trying to decide.
Radio: That’s it for tonight Cotton Pickers. Make sure you tune in at 5:AM for morning gospel hour and at 6 O’clock for Breakfast on the Farm brought to you by our very own Willie Bacon and the First Presbyterian Church Quilters Guild. Now for the National Anthem. Good night Cotton Pickers and God Bless.
I cranked the volume all the way up and opened the passenger door.
The dirt was covered now with fresh snow as I slid back down to the patrol car with a quilt my wife made for me and always nagged me to keep for shit like this.
I knelt next to him and held his head as the Anthem played. How God-Damned ironic. I hate the NFL for kneeling for the Anthem but here I am doing the same fucking thing. About dirty cops too!!
My mind was suddenly made up.
“Sir, I don’t think you’re gonna make it. Now, I ain’t no preacher but I’m gonna say a prayer for your soul since it’s my Christian duty. And don’t you worry none about that pretty wife of yours. A woman that good looking ain’t gonna have any trouble getting along JUST FINE without you. Now Sir, CALM DOWN! I can’t cut you free cause you might have some injuries that your corrupt legal system might want to hang me for. If I leave you here at least I can’t get a ticket for ‘crossing some fucking line’.”
I held his head gently and dipped a finger in his blood, wetting it to draw a cross on his forehead. “There, now Jesus is gonna know you’re one of His so now all we gotta do is get you all confessed up.”
“I’ll stay with you ’till you fall asleep so you won’t have to die alone.” The snow had stopped falling and the clear wind felt colder. He was wrapped as well as I could do under the conditions. He kept screaming about his broken arm and crying about his radio. He deserves to die cold, alone, and in the dark. I used a folded suit coat to keep his face out of the snow.
“Anything you want to confess before you die, any messages for the Priest or your family? If it needs said, say it now before it’s to late.” He puffed and blustered. “Say it now pal, while you still can. This is your chance to get right with God.”
“Can’t you just cut me free and radio for help?” he whimpered. “No. That would be the right thing and you made it clear that doing the ‘right thing’ doesn’t fair well in your fine community. You are going to hang right here until someone from your community stops and climbs down here and cuts you down even if that means you’re a chunk of human ice. Now, anything you want me to tell the Priest?”
“Promise you will only tell the Priest?” “I promise.” I slid my smart phone near his head and pressed record. I had to coach him for the good stuff and reminding him of Judgement Day for the un-confessed. His teeth were chattering hard now and he looked at peace. He smiled at me, his eyes remarkably clear. “I’m ready. I’m ready to die.”
Good thing too because I could hear sirens for a few minutes before the first responders pulled up behind my car. When Officer Bacon realize help had arrived he wept the pure and innocent tears of the sinless.
These responders were the real deal, letting him loose, securing him to a board and climbing the snow covered roadside. I climbed into the car and turned the radio static down from full volume. I watched the process from my car with the heater on. Dashboard clock says 12:24 and 10 degrees.
A paramedic tapped on the window. “Can you give me your contact information, the State Patrol is going to want a statement”
My hot fire at the Bed and Breakfast was gone. “Sure, might as well.”
“Sir, you saved a man’s life tonight with your directions and timeline. Dispatch coordinated with the snowplow driver for the time and place you passed him til the time you first called so we knew within a half mile or so where you most likely were. Also, thank God you called before cutting him loose. No doubt he has a broken back.”
“Hey, can I talk with him for a minute before you go?”
“Sure, it will be a few minutes before we go but be quick.”
Two young men working with focused precision allowed me access to the Officer. I leaned in close, turned the volume on my phone down low and held it next to his ear and pressed play on his confession. He had an oxygen mask on and his eyes popped open. His expression was PRICELESS.
I whispered into his other ear, “Officer, take care of that ticket, will ya?”
I don’t know if Good and Evil are real
or if the Masters are in fact watching and testing us
nor do I know if I passed.