The Texas Express

Many years ago, on a hot Friday night, I was cruising the roads of Knox looking for something to do. It was midnight, everybody still in the club, and I could’ve gone back to the station to drink a Dr. Pepper, watch some porn on the desk. But the radio was playing decent music so I drove my circuit looking for a car to stop, looking for a chance to flash those pretty blue lights. But the only cars on the road were us MPs.

And then, on the road just outside the club, I found something. A parked car with all its lights off. And this was a problem as it was parked on the road. It had tried to get on the shoulder, but it had failed. I flipped the switches and the blue lights flashed to life. The car’s brake lights shone red and then went out again and the car started to move forward. But I turned a knob and a siren screamed into the night and the car abruptly stopped.

I approached. The driver, or parker, was a woman. I asked her for her ID. She was a soldier. Her husband was in the passenger seat eating chicken wings and drinking Miller Light. The smell of alcohol was strong in the car.

“It’s illegal to have an open container,” I said.

“I ain’t driving,” he said.

“Still,” I said. And I asked her to step out of the vehicle and she did.

I was back in my car running her numbers. She was a Specialist, same rank as me, so I didn’t have to feign respect for her. Didn’t have to call her Sir or Ma’am or Sergeant, didn’t have to worry about her pulling rank, which always complicated a situation. By now another patrol, just as bored as I, had arrived.

“What’s up, Henry?” Martinez asked. “Out starting trouble I see.”

“I ain’t starting shit,” I said. “I found these guys parked right here on the road.”

“Oh, shit,” Martinez said. “I know her.”

“You shouldn’t be fucking married chicks,” I said. “It’s against the law.” According to the UCMJ, that heavy thing.

“You’re hilarious, Henry,” he said. “No, we had to deal with her and her husband last weekend.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. They reported their car stolen only to find it parked down the street.”

“Fuck,” I said. “I remember that. This is her?”

I was on duty that next morning. Had to boot the car after it was found. The theory she was pushing was that somebody had stolen her keys while she was at the club and took the car. But then they must’ve gotten scared and brought it back. Quite implausible. The theory we were pushing was that she drove home so drunk she didn’t remember where she parked her car or put her keys. Quite plausible.

“Well,” I said, climbing out of the car. “Let’s do this.”

We put her through the FSTs. Had her try to balance on one foot, had her try to walk a straight line. She failed spectacularly. We had her blow into a PBT. The red digital numbers climbed to .19, well above the level that’ll get you a free ride to the station.

As I was putting her in cuffs, Martinez was getting the passenger out. I don’t know why he did this. It was a bad idea. Because as soon as he saw his wife in cuffs, he became very angry, very threatening. We told him to calm down, then told him to shut his mouth and put his hands on the car. I held his wife by the cuffs, tried to do something with her so she wouldn’t be in my way. But I couldn’t just push her into the road. She was my responsibility now, whether I liked it or not.

I took my pepper spray from its holster, called into my radio for back up, code three—which means to everyone who can hear: Put down your coffee, quit your jabber-jawing and turn on your lights and sirens and get to me Mach 3—and shouted at him again to put his fucking hands on the car and calm the fuck down or he would be pepper sprayed.

He seemed to think this over. He looked around at all the blue lights screaming towards us and put his fucking hands on the car and calmed down. I holstered my pepper spray and bundled his wife into my backseat while Martinez slapped some cuffs on him.

And I was glad it didn’t have to escalate because the pepper spray we carried had the nasty habit of blowing back into the sprayer’s face. An ugly design flaw indeed.

So here’s the lesson, kids: Around cops, especially cops with handcuffs out and blue lights flashing, keep your mouth shut and stay in the car. Because things always can, and always will, get worse for you.

Take this guy. He was a civilian and Martinez was getting him out of the car so he could give him a ride home. Because that’s what we did with passengers in a DUI. The civilian cops charged everybody in the car with public intoxication, but that was a lot of paperwork.

But since he wanted to break bad he got a ride to the station in the back of Martinez’s car—where he was left unseatbelted, Martinez taking every corner at speed, jamming the brakes at every red light, his head knocking off the plexiglass cage.

Back at the station, we ran him through the NCIC, that national database from which nobody can escape. And learned he that had six, six, felony warrants out of Texas. Texas.

Usually a state won’t extradite unless you’ve been charged with Murder or you’ve been caught in a bordering state. Because it costs a lot of money to extradite. They have to pay two cops overtime to travel, have to buy their plane tickets, then they have to pay back the county that held them until they could show up. But Texas. Those crazy fuckers are crazy.

We called down there and told them we had dude and asked if they wanted him. There was a long pause. And then that Texas drawl. “Son, we sure do. We’re putting two Rangers on a plane at first light.”

So instead of sleeping in his bed that night, he was in jail and on his way to Texas. And probably is still in Texas. Still in one of their rotting prisons.

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