I saw one head peeking out the window — and it was just a quick peek, like if it had lingered for too long it might have drawn gun fire.
A Pennsylvania state trooper had pulled over a dilapidated vehicle with a shifty looking motorist and it was all going down in our driveway.
This was convenient for me ‘cause it was my car and I was the suspect.
Home, sweet home!
Frankly, I was delighted. He left the light extravaganza flashing, thus ensuring my family was crowded around the window to see if Daddy was going to get taken into custody right out where all the nebby neighbors could gawk.
I wondered what was going through the neighbors’ minds. What was my crime? Porn kingpin? Narcotics? Smart money was on me finally getting up the nerve to knock off a bank.
In fact, he’d pulled me over for driving with expired inspection and registration tags.
He was back to his cruiser and was doing whatever they do for those next 5 or so minutes. I was hoping he was discovering my new “Use All The Crayons!” podcast!
Finally, he returned and asked why I was ignoring so many regulations.
“I’m in a tough time right now and need to prioritize. I don’t need the car for much so I just let it go.”
What he said next surprised me. He offered to help.
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
I was truly touched by his unexpected gesture. I thanked him and told him I anticipated better days were ahead. I told him I’d been waiting for a gusher of good news ever since I chucked it all to become a writer in 1992.
He informed me 1992 was the year he was born.
Then it became like we were auditioning for one of those 90’s oddball buddy-buddy cop comedies, like “Midnight Run,” one of my favorites starring Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin.
We had a couple more minutes of friendly chat and he said, “I’m going to write you up for these violations and here’s what I want you to do. Get them all taken care of and then plead not guilty.”
He said there’d be a hearing and he’d re-check the car and if all was in order, he’d withdraw the $292 fines.
He wished me good luck and again asked if there was anything else he could do to ease my situation.
It seemed like a real longshot, but I thought what the hell. I asked if he’d come in the house and tell my family he was going to take me to jail.
Now I don’t know whether it was a slow day or if he just needed to indulge a puckish sense of humor, but right away he said, “I’ll shake ‘em down for bail money!”
Already on pins and needles, the girls shrunk deeper into the cushions when I entered with my grim escort looming behind. His face glared with disdain.
It was a look mirrored on the faces of my loved ones. Whatever was going to happen, I was to blame for interrupting their Saturday morning programs.
I realized it was a scene rich in irony. I was simultaneously appearing to be the most and the least wanted man in Latrobe, right there in my own home.
The trooper growled, “We’ve got some real problems here and unless you three can come up with $10,000 bail in two minutes, you’re not going to see daddy for a couple of months."
Had the scenario been factual, I’m convinced they would have said “See-ya!” to me and not even discussed the matter until the credits rolled.
But the trooper and I cracked. We’d both enjoyed our little prank.
My family by some means of anti-daddy osmosis unanimously decided, no, inviting an armed stranger — an authority figure — into our living room with threats to tear our family asunder was NOT funny.
It was very funny.
What can I say? They don’t much like “Midnight Run” either.