I came over the hill and saw him. Staring blankly back at me. As fast as I could manage, my foot glanced the brake and I slowed. If cars had faces (as a young child I got this idea in my head and forever see their head-lighted eyes, grill noses and bumper mouths) then this cop car was glaring at me.
My eyes to my speedometer, everything is moving in slow motion, but I see clearly that needle somewhere between 75 and 80. Definitely speeding. My eyes to the rear view. The cop car pulls out and hard turns left to begin to follow me. I mutter an expletive under my breath. The other folks in the car (there are four of us on our way upstate to a friend’s wedding) confused “What happened?”
“I’m about to get pulled over.”
“Really?” Twisting their necks around, the cop in the rearview. Still no lights.
I concentrate on keeping her steady and my eyes on the road and wait in anticipation for those flashing lights. The shoulder of the highway grew and the lights flipped on. I pulled over.
It had been a while, but that feeling is instantly familiar. The dread of sitting there waiting for a cop to come up to your window after they’ve pulled you over. And they know it too; they wait. They take their time, fix stuff on their mirror before very deliberately they dismount and saunter towards your window.
As he got closer and I saw that he had his hand down next to his gun, I was very happy to not have been doing anything seriously wrong. He introduced himself, a New York State Trooper, and asked for my license and registration. I had them ready and handed them over.
“It’s a rental,” I said clearly. He nodded.
“Where are you coming from?”
“New York City.”
“Where are you headed?”
“A wedding up in New Lebanon.”
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“I’m guessing speeding.” He nodded.
“Do you know how fast you were going?”
I thought for a second. A flash of the speedometer somewhere between 75 and 80.
He smirks, “That’s pretty close.” Pauses. Smiles. “That’s right on actually.”
“Do I get points for accuracy?” I joke. He smiles. This is going very well.
He surveys the car. Two friends in the backseat. A suit hanging in the back. We must look very wholesome, in our rented car. Emily with printed directions and the wedding information on white paper. He loosens up a bit as he steps back half a step from the car. A breeze.
“Thanks for your honesty. Slow down a little bit.” He handed me back my license and registration. Amazing. I was giddy as I drove the last few miles to the very old bed and breakfast where we were staying the night.
It was a beautiful old farmhouse. An old man named Ingram sat in an office. He seemed to move people around the farmhouse on the fly. “You’ll take 5 and 6. Well no, there is someone in 6, but he did say he was OK to move. I might put you guys in 5 and 7. Well, just take 5 for now and then we will work the rest out later.” There was no key. No sign in. They take cash only. Total anonymity.
Literally my first thought: this is the perfect place to hide out. I need to remember this place in case I ever need to go on the run.
We change for the wedding, and briefly explore the rest of the house, a beautiful common room overlooking a picturesque stream. A fireplace/campfire contraption in the middle of the room, like nothing I’d ever seen, a ceiling-to-floor bookshelf. Perfect place to disappear.
I just have to remember not to speed on the way up.