Finding a cop you're not related to

Somewhere along the line, a few years ago, the tax base in Tull got stout enough and the houses got paid-for enough that it became time to have some official representation of law and order in this town. In the past, the isolation of the town pretty much guaranteed that just about any would-be criminal would get good and lost before ever reaching the city limits, but every now and then a bad wind blew long and hard enough to throw a not-quite-desirable someone down the winding road that eventually led to Tull.

Certain towns in the state of Arkansas took the addition of a trooper as a solid invitation to bring money into the coffers of the town. The requirements were simple: a bend in the road, a slightly lowered speed limit, and a functioning radar gun.

Tull’s local ‘county mountie’ wasn’t exactly the busiest man in the world, and probably spent a good deal of time in nearby towns helping other patrols. Given that at least part of his job was to just exist, so that residents could brag that they actually had a local trooper, that left him plenty of time to actually do work somewhere else.

In Tull, there was Victor, a local-boy-done-good who had gone off, gotten himself educated and certified as a state trooper, and come back home to be the local representation of law and order. Victor was from one of about six families who had just as many old folks buried in the churchyard as they did younger folks living in houses and raising kids; through the magic of time and marriage, he was related to at least three-quarters of the town.

On nights when the fire department had all the kittens out of the trees and the wives had their quarreling families at truce while eating dinner, Victor would park his patrol car out by the gently decaying basketball court, turn the lights off, and wait.

In his car, along with the walkie-talkie, was a radar gun.

The problem with Tull residents was that they’d all been living there long enough to learn that no matter what time of day or night they decided to go for a drive, theirs would be the only vehicle on the road at that particular moment. After years and years of learning by experience that they’d never actually meet another vehicle, they began taking—‘full advantage’—of the road.

In other words, you could tell a local because they took the 40-mph curves in town at something more like 60-mph.

Victor mostly pulled over the locals—partly because they were the ones that sped like crazy, and partly because they were the only ones who ever came down the road.

Part of the problem of being the local arm of the law meant that Victor was required to pull over people whom he’d known since childhood. Worse yet, sometimes he had to pull over members of his own family.

But nothing quite prepared the town for the night that Victor had to pull over his own wife. While it’s to be expected that he didn’t realize who it was when he first turned the radar detector on the speeding car, it goes without saying that, after the car had stopped, he knew exactly who was driving the car.

He wrote Polly a ticket, just like anyone else, and sent her on home.

Not much ever got said about the exchange that must’ve taken place between the two of them between the time that he pulled her over and the moment he handed her the ticket, but most everyone who heard the stories afterwards believed that it, indeed, must have been an argument to behold.

A few nights later, at the weekly men’s social known as the fire department meeting, Polly stopped by to chat and have some coffee with the men of the town. Victor was there, having coffee and swapping stories with the other men in attendance.

Between the two of them, the story of the marital traffic ticket came out, complete with plenty of shared glares and verbal stabs at each other’s expense. Victor finished the story, with the crowning statement of how he gave his own wife a traffic ticket and sent her on home.

Polly stared at him with an I’ll-show-you look and said to everyone listening, “You realize that I’m gonna have to run for mayor against Bill Ramsey now, just so I can have the legal authority to fire you.”

Victor nodded sagely and said, “But I can still arrest you, dear.”

My speedometer hasn’t crossed over 40 in the city limits ever since. If the bonds of matrimony can’t save Polly from a ticket, I know better than to think that just because he’s my second cousin, that I could worm my way out of a ticket. If I want leniency, I’ll have to go into town and get pulled over by a cop that I’m not related to.