My heart sank when I saw him. Busted again… I couldn’t decide in a moment which one was worse. I knew I was breaking the law again… I just didn’t give a cent. I should have learned my lesson by then… an old familiar story. It was a year or so before that time, at the ripe old age of fourteen, I’d been stone cold busted. I’d have gotten away with it, but luck, destiny, or more likely the hand of God placed the cop in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was somewhat responsible for a fourteen year old kid in that I did have a job, but irresponsible for a fourteen year old kid in that I didn’t have much in the way of willpower when it came to testing physical limits. An ugly trait that still chases me like my shadow.
If memory serves me correctly, the speed limit was 35 miles per hour on the winding and rolling old state route 95 a few miles north of town. The old navy blue 62′ Mercury Comet that belonged to my big brother strained to stay in my lane of the narrow two-way highway as I peaked the hill that also cut hard to the right. I was making record time.
The cop spotted me arm wrestling the big ole’ black steering wheel, fighting to keep from hitting him head on. I knew in that moment he was coming for me… I also knew he had a big V-8 engine that Detroit made special for law enforcement agencies to catch bad guys… and dumb kids.
I also knew the old Comet was a sled. It had a straight six that was well past its prime, but none of those facts had any impact on my natural instinct. Floor it! I pushed the old Mercury as hard as I could, after about a half a mile I used my reasoning power to outsmart my pursuer.
I screeched around the first available corner and headed east up into the outskirts of town. The pavement ending didn’t slow me down at all, but the eventual eight-foot sheer cliff where they were cutting the new highway in did. I skidded to a stop sending the dry desert smoke screen skyward like an emergency flare.
I sat there for a few minutes beginning to believe I was all that and a bag of chips.. until the highway patrolman rolled up slowly behind me with his lights on.
There I was again, still not sixteen, with the familiar sinking feeling settling in my stomach. I made the corner at close to twenty miles an hour in my brother’s Triumph Spitfire that only my two brothers and I could drive due to the sloppy transmission linkage.
There wasn’t anyone home when I left, I’d only been gone a short time, but there he was as I tried to slow down nonchalantly while pulling up to our house at the end of the cul-de-sac. My dad’s eyes were on fire. He filled my ears for longer than I wanted, but the words didn’t make it to my heart.
I love words… but they don’t always have an immediate impact. Some hearts can only be penetrated by the ricochet of wisdom from the echoes that dance across time. It doesn’t matter how far we go or how fast we get there… words laced with wisdom will always catch up with us.
Just like the cop that impounded my brother’s car, wrote out three tickets, and refused to give me a ride… about a year before I did it again… with my dad watching…