Dating a cop is difficult. They keep long, odd hours and even when you think they have a night off, their phone goes off and you’re left alone on date night, sitting at a table in a romantic restaurant in front of a half-eaten plate of chicken fettuccine and a cold pilsner of beer. And frankly, that’s the best case scenario. Because every time his phone rings, every time he slips his service pistol into his holster, there’s always a chance he won’t come back.
Dating a cop has its perks, too. For example, a casual “My boyfriend’s on the Job” is usually good for getting out of tickets. But when I got pulled over today, as the cop took my information and carefully examined my registration and proof of insurance, I was sweating bullets. It was all current and correct, I’m good about that, but that wasn’t what was bothering me. There just isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for someone with blood-soaked sleeves, a two unregistered handguns in the trunk (one loaded with silver bullets), and a dead Orange Wulderbeast poorly concealed under a ratty blanket on the backseat.
As the officer asked his routine questions, I could hear the drip-splash-drip of blood oozing from the Wulderbeast’s wounds and landing on my floor mats. That would be the second set of floor mats I would need to replace this year. The cop was prattling on, and I did my best to answer him, but the drip-splash-drip was so loud I could hardly think. It was louder than the ticking of my engine as it cooled, louder than my pounding heart, louder than the static on the radio mounted to the cop’s shoulder.
How could he not hear the drone of dripping, splashing blood? It grew even louder and sped up to match my frantic heartbeat. The sun was setting and I was running out of time. Suddenly I realized that the cop was staring at me intently. He’d asked me something, I was certain of it, but I hadn’t heard him over the roar of blood in the backseat. “Um, could you repeat the question?” I asked, with my most innocent smile, the one that said I didn’t have a brain cell in my head.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
I shook my head, mutely and he muttered, “Stay right here,” before returning to his car to run my information. I suppose I was speeding. I usually do, and this time I had an excuse. But what was I supposed to say? “Sorry, Officer but I have to bury the dead Wulderbeast in hallowed ground before the moon rises or it will come back to life and try to kill me?” I didn’t think that would fly.
I didn’t used to speed. Once upon a time, I was a very conscientious driver. I obeyed every sign, even the No U-Turn ones. I remember one time, driving with my father. I couldn’t have been more than sixteen and the ink wasn’t even dry on my license yet. I was doing 55 miles per hour in the fast lane. My father told me to move over to one of the slow lanes, but I refused. “55’s the limit here,” I told him. “I’m doing everyone a favor by making sure that they follow the speed limit.” It wasn’t working, of course. They were just passing me on the right, blowing their horns and giving me the finger as they sped around me.
“Mark my words, kitten, you’re not helping anyone. No one likes someone forcing them to follow the rules.”
“But…” I began, even as I flipped on my blinker and eased into the slow lane. Before I could finish my argument, he stopped me cold. “I’m your father. It’s my job to make sure you follow the rules.”
I suppose I remember the moment so clearly because I’d been showing off, trying to impress him. Trying to prove that I could be responsible. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to lecture me in human behavior. But what I really got out it was that only suckers followed the rules. From that day on, I vowed to only follow the rules that suited me. Unfortunately, today was the day I got caught breaking them, and I really couldn’t afford to wait around any longer. Either the cop would finally notice the blood, or the Wulderbeast would awaken in a murderous rage.
The cop had my license and I was driving the world’s least inconspicuous car, my 1965 Mustang. If I took off, I wouldn’t go half a mile before half of the New Jersey State Troopers surrounded me. If I stayed, I’d be mauled by something that looked like it belonged on Sesame Street. While Wulderbeasts aren’t especially dangerous, they have an annoying tenancy to get awful cranky when you kill them.
Right as I made up my mind to make a run for it, the officer returned. He gave me a warning and told me to slow down. Still breathing heavily, I thanked him and as soon as he was gone, took off for the cemetery. By the time I got there, the gates were closed and the sun was nearly gone. Ignoring the No Trespassing signs, I grabbed my shovel and the Orange Wulderbeast and climbed over the fence. I had him in a shallow grave and was tossing in the first shovel-full of dirt as the moon crested the horizon, and he didn’t wake up – to my immense relief.
I guess a better person would have learned a lesson from all this – to follow the rules. But the only thing I took away from the day was don’t get caught. Well, that, and if you’re going to be replacing your floor mats every six months you might as well buy the cheap kind.