yes, and the part that hurts the most is waiting for it to happen. he drives towards me, i pretend not to notice more than a sane, normal texan would; a casual glance and i return to the ground in front of my toes, walking, like its normal even though there arent even any cars on the road, let alone Walkers somewhere between Llano and Mason, Texas.
he drives past me and i hear the engine slowly decelerating. a fucking texas cop. i'm jailbound. but sleeping in a cell is probably better than sleeping with 500-pound pigs in the bushes with the cactus. but maybe not since the company in the Llano county jail will not be nice fuck fuck fucking pioneers never had to deal with cops. i'd rather deal with anything than a cop.
so i get asked a lot of questions by the skinny cop and his Ride-Along Buddy that's dressed in jeans and t-shirt. i answer appropriately and they're checking my california drivers license. they look at my passport too and notice i was in the middle east but don't ask me about that. we wait in an imbalanced silence. the cop comes back and the Ride-Along Buddy asks me,
"So how are you gettin around? Just walkin? You're walkin to Mason?"
"well, i'm hitch-hiking."
the cop looks at me and says, "That's what I thought you might have been doing."
"well, it's a bit far to walk," i point out, hoping that it makes enough sense that they won't arrest me even though we all know that it's illegal to hitch pretty much everywhere in texas except in your own driveway.
the cop is biting his lower lip and walks back to the car. i don't know what to make of that move.
"Isn't that hazardous to your health?" the Ride-Along Buddy asks me.
it's such a stupid way to make such a stupid point i act like i don't understand and say, "how so?"
"Well, there's alot of crazies out there."
ten minutes later we're in the car and i'm in the back seat. the cop has changed the tide. he's offered to give me a ride to the mason county line, which is about half the distance i have left to travel - about 20 miles total. it means two things. first, i'm going to be closer to mason, but second it means that i'll be hitching in the dark or walking another half dozens leagues through a scruboak saturday night highway in the bigsky country.
but he's a cop and he wants me out of his county and he's being nice so i say thanks.
Ride-Along Buddy looks at me with one eye through the grate and asks me if i was nervous in the middle east, with all the arabs.
i tell him, no, i wasn't really nervous.
"But don't you get a little nervous catching rides with people?"
"frankly, this is the first time i've been nervous riding in a car in some time." jumps out of my fat mouth and i realize that this was a stupid thing to say since they wouldn't take it as 'you guys make me nervous because you have guns and lock people up' but would instead hear, 'because i'm a criminal and you haven't found out yet.' after all, nobody thinks of themself as a criminal. but we all are.
the cop stiffens and asks, "why's that?"
i answer, honestly, "well because i'm locked in back here and i usually have a habit of keeping one door open in case i have to get out fast. and i always have my bag with me but now its in the trunk."
they seem satisfied with the answer but i follow it with "at least i'm sure the car won't break down, hey, is that a video camera you have under your rear view mirror?"
the cop gets on his radio and i hear him asking what units are free. i'm wondering if my chances of getting a ride are improving.
"Yeah, Hi Bob. I have a... subject here that I'll be dropping off at the county line. I've run a ten twenty-seven and a twenty-nine. He's headed for Mason. Six feet, white shirt, carrying a black bag. Can you sixty-nine that?"
sounds like he's setting up my next ride.
the sun has set now and the outside world is becoming a greyish tunnel broken bone blur outside. the Llano county line rises up in the headlights and they pull over and just as simple as unlocking handcuffs, let me out of the car and drive away.
and i realize how silent it is again, out in the middle of the heart of texas. just some chirping crickets and the stars humming overhead.
... and so i start walking.
in some confidence that i'll be bailed out of this. because here comes a car in the wrong direction - the direction i'm coming from - and augh how i hate having car headlights come at me - and i stick the thumb out and look humble and they pass and i keep walking since i aint got much else better to do. they have a boat in tow, too. rich and scared.
the cop cruiser comes up from ahead, pulls over to his right, does a u-turn and i stand on the side of the highway (in his brights) while he drives the bumper up to my knees. why is it that both cops that will both give me rides today do u-turns for me? something seems fragile.
he's not as skinny as the Llano county cop, but a lot nicer.
"You don't have any weapons in your bag do you?"
"no, officer." i'm still kissin ass cause i don't know when this could backflash or what might happen next even though i think i'm out of the clear and actually glad to see this guy.
"Let's get you into town then. Where you headed?"
and so begins our rather enjoyable conversation that lasts for the 10 or so miles into Mason.
Deputy Fischer has been through some rough times. he has a wife and two kids and was just transferred from the county next door. he doesn't mind the graveyard shift since everyone has to do it - they rotate their shifts - but he's hoping to make more money and see a little less of the druggies around. "..he was in the act of domestic violence when I arrived at the scene. He was so high on drugs that he ran at me before I had even exited the vehicle and we were engaged in manual combat for the following ten minutes. It took ten minutes and I held that guy off. When my support arrived he was on the ground in cuffs."
Deputy Fischer lets me out in front of Mason's local 7-Eleven, "Country Corner" or something like that. he suggests a good restaurant just over there. a mexican restaurant.
i have to thank Deputy Fischer and his compatriot from Llano county. they save me a lot of walking and behaved like reasonable human beings.