Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1975061-True-Crime
Rated: E · Short Story · Other · #1975061
I rented a car to drive back home, and after this debacle I'm not eager to do it again.
         Southwest Kansas. All the vistas are the same-endless fields of wheat, occasionally broken up by refineries, silos, and the odd cow pasture. If your just driving through the state as I am, this is all you will see, except for when you pass through the small towns that litter the highway every twenty miles or so.

         I am in a rental car that I picked up in Saint Joseph, and I once again take note of the funny smell that permeates from the back seat. Earlier in the day, I had visited my grandmother. We went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant that had fantastic Chile Relleno. On the way there, she must have noticed the smell, but instead of associating it with the car she just assumed that I was gassy. I crack the window a bit which doesn’t help too much, because now I am assaulted with an offensive odor of the bovine variety.

         A sign on the side of the road tells me I am entering another town, and what the speed limit is. I set the cruise control one mile per hour over the limit-as if that will help me get past this town that much faster-and crank up the radio, which is tuned to a classic rock station. As I cruise through the town, a car pulls out on the road behind me and rides uncomfortably close. Just as I start to wonder who would have the nerve to tailgate me, blueberries and cherries flash in the cars windshield.

         Really! For one mile-per-hour over?

         By time I pull over to the shoulder, we are already on the other side of town. I put the car in park and dig out my license for the officer who is walking up to the window. He was wearing a black fitted baseball cap, a black shirt, black cargo pants, black boots, and a utility vest with various tools and weapons attached to it.

         "You were going slightly over the speed limit," he says when I roll down the window, "but I'm not going to give you a ticket."

         "Oh, thank you!" I say. I didn’t have to pretend to sound grateful.

         He took my license from me anyways and asked if he could run it. I thought it was a neat trick that he could give the illusion of free choice. I tell him that's fine, and relax a little knowing that I should be out of here in a few minutes.

         As the officer sat in his car, I tried to pretend like I wasn’t watching him in the rear view mirror. He spoke into the radio, and then scrutinized the back of my head as he listened to the handset. It only took a minute, and then he was out of his car again and walking towards me. Only this time, he had his right hand on his sidearm.

         "Mind if I ask you a few questions?" the officer said, once again weaving his illusions of free will.

         "Of course not sir."

         "Do you have any weapons in the car?"

         I might of thought he was joking, but the stony look on his face was all business.


         "Well, in this town," he vaguely gestured with the hand that was not ready to pull his gun on me, "we don’t tolerate the transportation of contraband."

         That’s great, I thought, he is somehow convinced that I am a criminal.

         "Well, you can never be too careful sir." I said, hoping that I didn’t sound patronizing.

         "Have you ever been arrested?"

         "Once, for trespassing." I answered truthfully.

         "And you're sure you don't have any guns in the car?"

         That same question again. What is it about me that makes him think I'm transporting weapons through Kansas in a rental car?

         "Okay, wait here a moment." He said, and returned to his car to converse withe the radio handset once more.

         I started to be a bit worried. Its not like I have done anything wrong, so I should have nothing to fear from this small town cop. But, nonetheless, I was a bit fearful of what could happen next. At the same time, I was hoping that my fear was not evident, as I was sure that would only make him more suspicious.

         Another cop car pulled onto the shoulder in front of me. Was he here because I warranted the need for backup, or was he just curious as to what his compatriot was doing?

         "Could you please step out of the car?"

         I jumped a bit, I had not noticed the first officer had come back up to my door.

         "No problem." I lied.

         "Just go stand in front of the vehicle, I’m going to search it."

         He turned his baseball cap around backwards, took a flashlight from his utility vest, and reached underneath the dashboard to release the trunk latch.

         "What is in the trunk?" he asked.

         "I don't know," I responded, "I never looked."

         I was joined by the officer that had just pulled up, who was dressed the same as his partner, except for the hat. This one wore nothing on his head-including hair, and his polished dome caught the high Kansas sun perfectly, giving his head a saintly glow.

         "Whats going on here?" asked Officer Bald.

         "Just a routine stop." lied Officer Cap. I could not imagine that they go this far with everyone that they stop.

         The two officers got close enough to talk so that I could not hear the rest of the conversation, which lasted only a few seconds. But whatever Officer Bald was told, it made him turn and look at me suspiciously. Then he asked "Do you have any weapons in the car?"

         I told Officer Bald that Officer Cap was just about to search my car, and that they would find none of these weapons they asked about. I convinced myself that once they searched the car and found nothing, they would just let me go.

         Officer Cap looked in the trunk, and then looked at me with a very concerned expression.

         Oh no, what has he found?

         "There’s nothing in here." said Officer Cap, and I hoped that he didn’t notice my relief.

         And then he searched the rest of the car. I travel light, and all of my things were in a backpack on the front seat. Besides that I did not think there was anything else in the car. Lord, was I wrong.

         Officer Cap found quite a few items of interest in the car, including a DVD, a pair of panties, a half eaten pastry, and an all-purpose tool. Every time he showed me what he had found, I said that they were not mine.

         And then Officer Cap called Officer Bald over to see another thing he had found, and they both straightened up and looked at me with that same suspicion they had been firing at me for the whole ordeal.

         "Are you sure you don’t have any guns in the car?" asked Officer Cap.

         "I'm sure." I said with more assurance than I felt.

         "Then what is this?"

         He held up a small black rectangular object in his hand that I immediately recognized. It was the magazine to a semi-automatic pistol.

         "I don't know." I said, hoping that I was convincing.

         Officer Cap said nothing but went back to searching the car. Meanwhile Officer Bald came and stood next to me. He started grilling me, asking where I had come from, where I was going to and asking about my criminal history. He seemed not to hear me whenever I told him that I had no criminal history to speak of, and just asked me more questions about any run-ins with the law.

         The whole time I was terrified. What if they found the rest of that gun in the car? How could I convince them that it wasn’t mine? After all they were already sure that I was transporting weapons. I imagined the worst, that they would find a fully assembled assault rifle, or maybe a rocket launcher. These small town cops would be heroes for catching me, and I would rot in prison for the rest of my life, my only crime; renting a car.

         After what seemed an eternity, Officer Cap announced that he was done searching my car. He came and stood uncomfortably close to me, opposite Officer Bald, and handed my license back to me.

         "Your leaving the state, correct?" he asked.

         "Yes, just trying to get home."

         "Then I suggest you do that." he said, and I realized it for the threat it was.

         Even though they couldn’t find the fabled weapons, they were convinced that I was guilty of something. And I was sure that the magazine they found didn’t help matters at all.

         So I got back in the cursed car and headed down the road. I was not surprised to see both of their vehicles follow me for the next hour until I was out of Kansas. And as I ran from the law without breaking the speed limit, I thought of all the things I would say to the rental agency for the trouble that their car had caused me. Oh, there would be some choice words with them!

         I turned up the classic rock station and rode towards the sunset. Though short, my life of crime in Kansas was over, but I was about to cross the border into Oklahoma, and I had no idea what waited for me in this state. For that matter, I had no idea what waited for me in the back seat, and maybe I never would.

© Copyright 2014 B.C. Green (b-raan at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1975061-True-Crime