Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Rabbit, Part I

(Note: for whatever reason, every time I edit this piece it all comes out in caps.  I have no idea why my Blog is suffering from some obscure form of reverse laryngitis.  I will correct this when I can.)

 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 sure.  But 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 right side.

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.” 

“You’re answering 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 quiet?

 

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 cool.

“Well,” I said, “I suppose it isn’t reasonable to expect one to routinely put one’s life in danger.”

“Well, it still happens sometimes.”

“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 drunk drivers.”

 

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.



Sometime again,

 --Coyote.



(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.)

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