| The moon was fully lit in the night sky. It seemed to provide more light than normal, almost as if the batteries were just replaced in a giant flashlight. Regardless of the cloudless, clear night, there were still small patches of fog forming in the pasture across the street. Stretch sat in his police cruiser in peace. His car was one of the older models, the kind seen in the television shows that played in the 80s. That didn’t matter the least bit to him. It ran, and it ran well, especially when he was chasing those law-breaking hooligans. His favorite targets were the rich tourists, typically on their way to Mammoth Lake, just north of his city. They would fly into Los Angeles, rent some oversized mode of transportation, and race through his town as if the laws were left back at the airport and no longer applied here. This he could not allow, not on his watch.
Stretch believed in his job. He believed in this cause he so diligently defended. The city paid him to uphold the law at all costs. Something he swore to do years ago when he chose to wear this uniform. To him, this was more than a career; it was a way of life. Without him, laws would not be followed and there would be anarchy. He was vital to this community. He knew it. He also loved the action.
However, he hoped tonight would be different. He purchased a new bestseller at the mall yesterday and was really anticipating some solid reading time. He really didn't want any speeders interrupting his fantasy time. The disturbance would be enough to provoke him, but he would be tempted to let it go, just to keep reading. However, he knew that if he allowed this, he could never look at himself in the mirror ever again. Therefore, if a speeder shot past him, then so be it, he would pursue them to lengths they would never expect, because laws were not going to be broken here.
The strong aroma of coffee filled the police cruiser. It smelled wonderful to Stretch. Not only would it taste wonderful and warm him this chilly night, but would also assist in keeping him awake and alert, for he was on duty. Law enforcement ran through his veins even more than coffee would, but the cup of Joe would be a nice addition.
Stretch unbuttoned the top button of his brand new police shirt. It looked fabulous, he thought to himself. It was never worn and just ironed. He assumed when someone saw him, they would know immediately that he was the real deal, a force to be reckoned with. He was a police officer, and they would recognize this by his demeanor, strong presence, and professional appearance. But none of that mattered, because tonight it was him and his new book, becoming one. He couldn’t wait to start.
Stretch leaned back and sighed, just beginning to get comfortable. He was halfway into chapter two, fully engaged in his book, when suddenly a white SUV shot past him doing forty-five in a twenty-five zone. “No way, not in my town”, he cried. He threw his book onto the passenger seat, turned on his headlights, and slammed onto the gas pedal.
The cup of coffee sitting on the dash toppled over and landed right in his chest and lap. “Ahhhhh”, Stretch screamed. His face flushed as he felt the hot coffee soaking his new shirt and burning his thighs. He couldn’t see it in the darkness, but the thought alone of his newly pressed shirt ruined by the dark drink only infuriated him more. He was becoming angrier each moment while in pursuit. Not only did this perpetrator blatantly ignore the law, but destroyed his quiet evening and caused him to spill all over himself. He was livid. This was war. They would pay.
He pushed harder on the pedal, closing in on the criminal. The white SUV had Illinois plates. Even better, he thought. I will ensure they get the book thrown at them, he fantasized. With sirens blaring and colored lights flashing, the SUV finally submitted to his will and pulled over.
Stretch put on his hat and grabbed his ticket board. He wanted to look the villain right in the eyes. He wanted to see respect. He wanted to see fear. He wanted them to realize that this moving violation was serious business. He stepped out of the car. The night air met his wet, coffee-stained shirt and trousers with cold delight. This further enraged him.
The driver’s window was already down as he approached cautiously. If this offender followed driving laws so loosely, who knew what other laws they chose to disregard. He had to be careful and vigilant. A young woman sat in the seat. “License and registration, ma’am”, Stretch ordered. “I’m sorry officer, was I speeding?” she asked politely. “Yes, you were, and quite outrageously I might add. We have speed limits in this town” he jeered. It felt good to address the crook in this tone. It showed his strength and authority.
“Stretch, is that you?” the small voice inquired. What?, he thought. I know that voice. He looked down at the driver’s license in his hand and read the name. It was Jessica, Jessica Jones. The girl, he always dreamt and romanticized about in high school. The same girl who left town after school, and whom he lost contact with. When he thought she was never to return, he began to drink heavily and would sometimes even cry himself to sleep. Those were dark times. And now, in this moment, finally crossing paths with her again, in these circumstances with Jessica, as a criminal, and he as a coffee-stained patrolman; What was he to do? He wanted to give her a warning, but how could he? She broke the law. Why should she get a free pass when everyone else had to pay? He felt backed into a corner without knowing what to do…