Sputtering in a maroon Hyundai XL, 4 speed stick going South on 495 the car gives out and breaks down between exits. It's cold and dark. I am ill prepared on many levels for the journey and walk the length of the road...grumbling toward the Gawds. North and South.
Soon enough a hero arrives in the form of a state police cruiser but this vehicle starts out 50 yards ahead in the break down lane, lights a-flashing, backing up at 40miles per hour. I begin to feel a bit uneasy.
The cruiser comes to an abrupt stop about 15 feet away and the trooper eyes me closely.
"Whatchew doing baw?"
I turn North and pointed up the road aways.
"There's a Hyundai that done bit the dust sir back yonder. I'm leaving my buddy's and heading home for the night."
"You can't walk my highway! Step toward the vehicle son and spread 'em!"
The officer stormd out of the vehicle and approaches briskly and firmly searches all my pockets.
"You got any drugs? Weapons. Pens to stick me with?"
Having just raided the supply closet at school, there were pens and pencils of many variety in my side pockets. Some high class Bics.
The officer draws paydirt holding a clump of pens and 2 sharpened pencils out.
"What's these for baw? You gonna stick me? You was gonna stick me...weren't ya?"
"No sir. The implements are for random notes and lines of poetry. Thoughts that come when you aren't looking."
After a firm examination and exchange my dog Franco allowed me to remove my hunched over limbs from the vehicle but I was not allowed to turn around and face him.
He paced 10 feet behind. Back and forth.
"I see you again this evening and you'll be spending the night in jail. You understand baw?"
I guess who had any other choice.
He left and soon enough I began walking every inch of that very same road still grumbling about civic service. The sun had set and without gloves and a hat I was doomed and condemned to a frequent series of chills.
Cars and trucks passed in intervals and other times the road was dead quiet save for my boot scuffs kicking up soft pebbles. Sometimes I would watch where the pebbles landed in the road.
I passed by a call box and hesitated. What if there was a way I could catch a ride to the bottom of the next exit? Gas stations on either side. There had to be a pay phone. Maybe I could leave a message? What if my dog Franco responded to this very same call box? I'd sure be in trouble.
Are you prepared to spend a night in the clink where it's too warm and probably somewhat quiet with lotsa friendly people?
Less than ten minutes later I had travelled a less than impressive distance before it was the state police again. Lights flashing. Sirens whooping. My knights in shining armor. Thankfully it was not Franco.
"What's this all about son?"
"My car broke down back aways. I'm attempting to get to the next exit. Hit a pay phone and call it a night."
"Seems you've met an officer of mine in your travels?"
"Yes sir, I have."
"What occurred during this meeting."
"What took place during this encounter?"
I looked into the eyes of a man who was an officer of the law standing to the side not 5 feet from where I stood in the breakdown lane watching me intently.
"I was put against the cruiser. Searched and told to disappear."
"I see. So you mean to tell me if I were to radio this officer he would tell me the same tale word for word?"
I nodded losing eye contact.
My dog Franco could not have forgotten? Less than a few minutes ago?
I waited for a while. Traffic began to pick up for some reason approaching the midnight hour and the officer waved us off the shoulder onto the pitch-black landing.
"If I were to put you in that cruiser and drop you the 2 and a half miles to the Hopkinton exit, would I see you again this evening?"
"No sir, you would not. I'll most certainly disappear..."
We rode in silence in the cruiser to the spot. From the darkness in the back of the cruiser emerged the bright lights of two gas stations gleaming neon product. I was deposited to the edge of the parking lot as the cruiser swooped in and re-entered route 135 with a squeal.
I went to the pay phone with the glob of change packed from the Hyundai and left a message for my sleeping mother who would not be back in that end of the house until mid morning. It was only a tiny ranch but she was a sound sleeper for a tiny stretch.
After loitering a bit in Cumberland Farms weighing option on the Hostess pies I decided it was time.
Soon before I knew it I was back upon 495 a prisoner to the ravaging winds with only pens and pencils to save me. I didn't even have any paper.
I would walk 500 miles only to walk 500 more. Sure as the floodgates open I was come upon by my dog Franco. Who could believe in a lady luck?
He pulled into the breakdown lane abruptly right in front of where I stood sans lights and any sound save for the tires on the sand.
"Thought I told you to disappear...baw?"
"Sir, I have no one to call. I'm not sure what you want me to do? I left a message for my mother but she's long since sleeping. My Hyundai broke down right around the Marlborough exit. What do you recommend?"
"I recommend some manners baw! I think I'll get a conference going to see what to do with the likes of you. It's a Federal offense to be pulling on that call box son. You may just be going to jail afterall."
He started to walk back toward his cruiser before snapping his neck back in my immediate direction.
"Stay by the shoulder and do not move! I will strike you down!"
Serve and protect?
Within a few minutes of personal stew he was back.
"Officer Lawtight will be here within moments to deal with the llkes of you! Just sit tight!"
It was not right.What was happening? Three officers gathered in a huddle gesturing. Stopping only to gaze back at me sitting alone by the side of the road watching the world go by frowning back at me. The officers break squad and saunter slowly toward my place of residence among the rocks and pebbles. Their pressed uniforms uncreasing as the only audible sound without the threat of traffic which seems to come and go.
The good cop bends at the waist hands on his knees.
"This officer tells me you been a thorn in his side for the better part of two hours. What is it that you require?"
"A ride home?"
"Where exactly is home citizen? You aren't some kind of gypsy are ya?"
I shook my head from side to side trying to remain even keel after all this hullaballo. Reason and logic not applicable. Serve and protect. Lawful.
"So, you mean to tell me if I were to drop you in Bellingham we would be incident free for the remainder of the evening?"
"Ive been trying to say that for the better part of 2 hours now. Yes. I have no one to reach. My Hyundai broke down in Marlborough. I live in Bellingham with my parents of who my Mother is fast asleep and has been for some time. She gets up and sleeps on the couch but that isn't until my Father goes to bed and he's not even home. I know not what to do?"
The officers rehuddle and after some heavy nodding confer in the corner of a cruiser only to return moments later.
The good cop approaches once again and my dog Fredo and his new officer friend march toward their selective cruisers before disbanding without a word.
"I will drop you at the Dunkin Donuts on the corner of 126 because it is convenient. I do not want to see you again this evening. Is this understood?"
For the second time that evening I found myself in a cruiser not going to jail. Things were looking up.
It didn't seem as cold in Bellingham walking the 4 and a half miles toward Westersfield on my way home neither.