I solemnly swear that I was going the speed limit when I hit the bunny.
It happened a couple of years ago, in the spring, and the
moon was blessedly new. I don’t like driving much,
for all the fact that it gets me different places quickly. Right about when the sun is setting enough
for comfort’s sake, people keep turning electric lights on for some reason. The
world is indeed rife with mystery.
In this instance, I
was driving at about 2:30 am when the truck swerved into my lane and back
out. I dodged, he countered, and somewhere
along the way some poor rabbit got the scare of his life. The poor thing ran
away from the first vehicle and right under mine, and *thump!*
Not being a complete ice-hearted swine where animals are concerned – I’ve never yet had a bunny screw me over for fun or a percentage – once the drunk had swerved his way safely out of my life I pulled over and checked to see if the poor lepus had died.
Alas, no. No
clean death here. The hit would ultimately be fatal, to be
the bun was still in there. He rolled his eyes over and looked at me, most of
his musculature exposed from the impact having skinned him entirely on the
To make a long
story short, a few minutes later the rabbit was dead, I had a bloody baseball
bat in the van, and I had rolled maybe fifty feet when the cop hit his lights.
Naturally, I hadn’t noticed that my headlights were off. It’s an easy mistake to make: I can see in wooded areas in the new moon without difficulty, and the leaves still look green. Add that to how pathetically well-lit the streets around there are, and yes, you guessed it: suddenly I’m getting pulled over.
Fifty feet. At the most. Damn it. Where the bloody blue-eyed blazes was he when the rabbit needed him? Isn’t that part of the job description? Protect, serve, and uphold the trust of small woodland creatures? Oh, well. I knew there was a coppish feel in the air, and sure enough, here the night was turning red and blue behind me, the search light was on, and the cop was walking up, mag light in hand.
And now on
Sprockett, we experience pain.
The cop went
through more or less the usual drill.
He came over to the window, keeping his miniature sun disguised as a
torch in my face at all times, and asked, “So, where you headed?”
I, meanwhile, tried
desperately not to bite his head off while scrunching my face until I resembled
a Dick Tracy character. “Over to
Stonebridge, to get some water.”
“Have you been drinking any tonight?”
Here I had to
smile. “No sir, I don’t drink.”
my questions awfully slowly, sir. Is that normal for you?”
“Yes, sir, it is: I
generally do speak slowly. Officer, I am incredibly light sensitive, and that
really hurts. I don’t suppose you could
move the light . . . ?”
“No sir, sorry,
it’s for my safety and yours, I have to keep the light on you at all times.
It’s police protocol.”
For my safety, I thought. Ah, the insults begin. And in thanks, please allow me to reply, to
wit: fuck your protocol. When was the last time your precious protocols served
me anything but pain and grief, or protected from anything but a little peace
And in actual fact, oh officer, most police are willing to at least aim the maglight at the ground instead of right into my face at close range. And they don’t usually lean closer when I bring it up.
But alas, his hair was too short and he’d not been
on the streets by himself for very long, and may not have known what latitudes
he could take. So. Dealing with the pain, and trying to keep
“Well,” I said, “I
suppose it isn’t reasonable to expect one to routinely put one’s life in
“Well, it still
“That it does.” I
think he smiled. I know I did.
He continued, “Are
you carrying any firearms with you tonight, sir?”
“No, sir, I’m not.”
Now I was tempted to add, out of sheer mischief, ‘would it help if I was?’, but
I decided against it. As I said, for all the fact that he was putting me
through intense pain and misery, he honestly seemed to think he had no choice .
. . and the grimace of pain could be easily mistaken as hostility, which would
have ruined the joke for him, and thus rendered it pointless. So despite
temptation I restrained myself so as to keep from frightening him. Rookie cop
is bad enough. Skittish rookie cop is
much, much worse.
“OK, well, I need
to see your driver’s license and insurance, please.”
Damn . . .
Here we began a
team effort, and I think it was during this time he determined that I was
distinctly on the level, since I couldn’t see what the heck I was doing for his
damned light. I spent several minutes
going through the glove-box, and after a while he was even cheering me on.
“OK, that’s a
receipt of come kind . . . no, but that’s your title, we’re getting closer . .
. yeah, that’s the insurance . . . no, wait, it’s expired earlier this year,
sorry about that but you’re getting warmer . . . here we – no, that’s expired
too, but you must be close . . . no . . . no . . . keep going, you’re getting
there . . . expires July 27, perfect!”
I handed him the
paper with the card on it, and he took it, apparently satisfied. He said, “OK,
sir, I’m going to run this, go ahead and adjust your mirrors however you need
to for the lights, OK?”
Why, thank you,
officer. What a break you’re giving
me. I I did in fact adjust my mirrors. I also put on some classical, and tried to
relax. He meanwhile took his time
running my record. That was fine with me: some sadistic maniac had apparently
been ramming red-hot irons into my eye sockets.
Fortunately my wolverine-like recuperative powers were dealing with them
with their usual aplomb.
After a while he
came back, and to my surprise he did in fact keep his light aimed away from my
face. I think after all this time there
must be some notes on my file about my photophobia . . . it’s certainly led to
enough interesting encounters over the years.
“Okay, sir, your
address and everything checks out, thank you very much for your patience.” I was silent.
He went on, “The reason I had this encounter with you tonight sir is
because you were out driving without your headlights at exactly drunk-thirty .
. . no, I’m serious, that’s what we call this time of night: drunk-thirty . . .
and you were driving with your headlights off, which – and please understand
that I’m not trying to talk down to you or anything – that is considered a
pretty drunk thing to do.”
A ‘drunk thing to do.’ Okay, that was funny. “Well, I ran over a
rabbit back there, and when I got out of the vehicle to see to it . . .”
I think he may have
nodded, but he certainly cut me off. “Well,
sir, I’m sorry you ran over a rabbit, but I’m glad you didn’t get into a wreck
trying to avoid it. But we’ve been
having a lot of accidents right around here, and a lot of them have been due to
Yes, I thought, and
I think I saw one of them scare the rabbit into my wheels so we could have this
little chat. I wondered if the cop might have passed him on his
way to me. But he was in no mood for details.
He continued to tell me about the citation he was writing me, and about how he had “no choice but to give it.” But I’d been given breaks by police before, and the circumstances that night certainly warranted it. There had been no one hurt or even vaguely endangered, aside from the pain the cop himself had been giving me, and the whole thing had been touched off by my trying to show a fellow mammal some mercy. I pointed out that I had no money. Not his problem. Of course.
So we talked about how I could send in a payment before
the court date, if I had the scratch, or maybe even work out a payment plan in
court itself. How nice. When he was finished, he returned my citizenship
papers and my insurance, and gave me my very own copy of the insult I’d somehow
be paying later. When it was over he
turned me loose onto the society he had sworn to protect, and blazed off into
the night. I waited until the
spots in my eyes were gone, and then I headed out as well. Blinded, interrogated, and ultimately fined.
I realize he thought he was the good guy in all this. And he might even have thought he was treating me kindly. After all, he didn’t yank me out of the van. He didn’t threaten me, mace me, or beat me with a club. Towards the end he was even polite, aside from diverting my rent to pay his salary.
But I’d still rather have hit him than the rabbit.
(Rabbit costume shot courtesy of streetgangs.com; hazel scene from Watership Down, which I strongly recommend; Judge Dredd was created by Eagle Comics a long time ago; Wolverine and his skeleton are (c) Marvel comics; Dragnet was creataed by Mark VII productions; rabbit in a costume courtesy of people.com. All rights reserved by images' rightful owners.)