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Story ID:599
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Middleburgh New York United States
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By Fred Wickert

It had been a routinely quiet shift. There was the traffic congestion from the band concert on the school lawn, followed by being in court in case I was needed for testimony or to transport someone to jail if the judge so ordered. This Friday night saw none of that. There had been a minor vehicle accident on Route 145, and a couple of small domestic disturbances on Baker Ave and Dexter Ave.

The remainder of the night had been quiet and completely routine. It was just a mild and pleasant July evening. My rounds of building checks were done and I made a last cruise through the streets of the town All was quiet.

It was 2:30 A.M. and I headed for the town barn to put away the patrol car for the night. The other Fred on the one car police department would take it out in the morning for his day time tour.

As I turned East from Clauverwie on to Main Street, I observed a set of tail lights near the Elementary school driveway entrance. Those tail lights were weaving from one side of the street to the other. Something was drastically wrong.

Pressing the accelerator to the floor, I quickly caught up to the erratic pair of tail lights. Another car traveling West had to take evasive action to keep from being hit head on, swerving to hit the curb as the two cars met. Something had to be done before something bad happened.

Overtaking the car, I flipped on the flashing red lights. There was no response from the driver. The car continued, weaving from one side of the road to the other, at a slow rate of speed.

What do I have here I wondered. Do I have a diabetic in trouble? Is someone having a stroke? It could be a drunk, someone under the influence of drugs, or just someone falling asleep. There is no telling until I get them stopped, just what I have on my hands.

The car was going slower than the speed limit, so I knew he wasn’t trying to out run me. From my lights in the rear window, I could see that there were two occupants in the vehicle, and they appeared to be male.

I became alarmed as we approached the bridge at the Woods gas station and garage. There was a tricky curve at the small bridge and many accidents had occurred there. Miraculously the car made it without difficulty.

I blew the horn several times to get their attention, without success. I began short blasts on the siren, trying not to awaken those sleeping in the homes along the street. As the car neared the outskirts of the town, I reluctantly gave a long blast on the siren.

The car came to an abrupt stop, ending crosswise of the highway, with the front of the car in a row of shrubs in front of a house.

Arriving at the driver’s window, which was rolled down, I asked, “May I see your drivers license, registration and insurance card please?”

“I don’t got no license,” replied the man.

“If you don’t have a license, why are you driving the car?”

“Cause it’s his car, but he’s to drunk to drive,” indicating the occupant in the passenger side.

“Well, I hate to bring this to your attention, but it looks to me that you are to drunk to drive yourself.”

“You really think so?”

“Yes, I do.”

“What makes you think that,” he asked.

“Well, for beginners, you were all over the road. In addition to that, I couldn’t get your attention to stop you. Besides that, look where you stopped.”

“What do you mean?”

“Take a look. If you hadn’t stopped when you did, you would have run right into that house on the other side of those bushes you did run into.”

Squinting, the driver looked through the windshield. “Oh yeah,” he said, “ I see what you mean.”

“Are you awake?” I asked the other man.

“Yes, I’m awake.”

“Is this your car?”

“Yes sir.”

“How about letting me see your driver’s license, registration and insurance card.”

“Yes sir. Sure,” he said.

After a couple of minutes of fumbling, he produced them. I looked at the documents, then asked the owner, “Why did you let this man drive your car?”

“Cause I was real drunk, and I wanted to get home.”

“Did you know he didn’t have a license?”

“Yes sir, but he’s my cousin, and I knew he could drive, and he wasn’t as drunk as me, so I asked him to.”

“Well, whereabouts were you two heading?”

“We was going home.”

“Home? Your paper work says you live on Sodom Road. Is that where you live, and is that where you thought you were going?”

“Yes sir. That’s right.”

“Well, I hate to tell you, but you were going the wrong way. You would never get home the way you were headed.”

“You’re kidding me,” said the driver.

“No, I’m not. You guys are going the wrong way. You’d never get home the way you were headed.”

“Well then, where are we now?”

“Do you know where the Middleburgh Diner is?”

“Sure, I know.”

“Well, look right over there across the street. That’s the Middleburgh Diner isn’t it?”

“Oh my God. It is. We were going the wrong way. That’s on the wrong side of town. We never seen the bridge. I didn’t know I was that drunk.”

I arrested the two men, put them in my car, called for a tow truck to remove the car and impound it. Then I took them to Cobleskill to have the driver given a breathalyzer test. Neither the town nor the Sheriff’s office possessed a breathalyzer machine.

Later, after the breathalyzer test and the paper work were finished, the judge was summoned to arraign the two. The judge, recognizing the names of the two, confirmed they were who he thought them to be. He then asked them, “What’s your grandfather going to say when he finds out about this?”

The owner of the car replied emphatically, “He’s probably going to kick our ass!”

“I’ll bet he will,” the judge replied knowingly.

The judge told them when they had to appear in court and gave them the necessary documents. He then released them in their own custody. He asked me to drive them home. They said they would prefer to walk, needing the time, fresh air and exercise to sober up before getting home to begin a full day’s work on the farm.

Dawn had risen, and I returned the car to the town barn. I drove through town and turned across the bridge to head for home. As I turned South on Route 30, I could clearly see off in the distance on route 145, two figures walking North West, preparing to face a very long day.