Oh shit. Oh shit, shit, shit.
One in the morning, outside the karaoke club I frequent with Hot Coco and selections from Guys and Dolls. Me in the ‘stang, pulled over to the side of the road. A whirring flash of blue light behind me. Corb, a few car lengths near me, stewing in his car.
“Can I see your license and registration, please?”
“Of course, officer,” I said, measuring each word carefully. Trying to appear nonchalant and trying not to show one drop of the two pretty blue drinks inside my belly, and acutely aware of the fact that two pretty blue drinks mixed with sushi packs a way bigger wallop than two drinks with a hamburger.
Of course, I found my license right away, but the registration was another thing. I fumbled through my glove compartment, looking around for the familiar rectangular card and totally forgetting that the RMV had changed to a different format the year before. Oh shit, where is it, oh shit oh shit—
“Right there, sir,” said the officer, without an ounce of emotion in his voice.
“Oh, of course. Heh.” Oh shit. That’s it! He’s not going to like the fact that I couldn’t find it. Any second now, he’s going to ask me to step out of the car and—
I hear footsteps. The officer, walking back to his car. Several unendurable minutes pass, while I see my semi-good name slipping down the drain, right before my eyes. How would I explain this to the kids, how would I explain this to Josie, what would I do tomorrow morning…
I text Corb. “I can’t stand this.”
Footsteps, back to my car. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” he asks.
I act polite, polite as Mr. Rogers in his neighborhood. “Why is that, officer?”
“You pulled out of that parking lot the wrong way. You should have taken a right out of it, not exited from the left.” Gulp. Yes, I had done that. I had been too busy thinking about a snarky comment shouted by one of the Guys and Dolls selections on the way out and not focusing on the world in front of me. As usual. “Also, did you know that all of your brake lights are out?”
Oh! Yes, that. “Yes, officer, I did,” I said, trying to appear repentant.
He frowns. “You did?”
D’oh! “Um, yes, I just found of this morning.” I pause. “I’m getting it fixed tomorrow.”
“Make sure you do,” he says, and frowns some more. “You don’t appear drunk.”
“I’m not!” I said, perhaps too gratefully. “Only had two drinks. And also, as you can see, I haven’t had an accident or ticket in years…”
“I can see that,” he said. “Okay, I’m just giving you a verbal warning, but I’m worried about you making it back to Eldredge. Any cop who sees you with those brake lights is going to pull you over.”
“I’ll be real careful,” I promise. “Thank you, officer.”
The first thing I do when he leaves is to call Corb. “Follow me home. Right in back of me, every inch of the way,” I say.
The next day, the brake lights are repaired, right away. But the memory of the flashing blue lights still linger. For someone reason, an obscure song, Squeeze singing “I Won’t Ever Go Drinking again” plays in my head whenever I think of the incident.