how I talked myself into a speeding ticket.
Back in the ’70s…
I was north of Valentine, Nebraska. It was cloudy. Cold. A north wind was blowing. It was early spring, if I remember right. I was headed south on U.S. 83. I was speeding. A lot.
Lights in the rearview. Siren. The whole shebang.
-That fast? I didn’t think this would go that fast.
-Yeah, it’s cold all right.
-I’m headed down the road a bit into Valentine to get warmed up.
-No, not overnight. I’m trying to make Vegas.
And that, dear reader, was my instant downfall. I could tell by the sudden flash of recognition that actually crossed his entire face. I was a goner. He knew I had cash, and he was going to get some of it for the municipality of Valentine. Right now.
He wrote me up for something like 75 in a 60, then handed me the ticket and told me that I could mail in the money today if I wanted to. Not being a complete dummy, I acquiesced and put a wad of cash into an envelope, which he watched me seal and that I held onto. He told me to follow him into Valentine and to pull up behind him at a mailbox, where he took the envelope from me and then dropped it into the box.
End of story.
Did the cash end up in Valentine’s coffers?
I have no idea.
Did I think of phoning city hall to find out?
Not at all.
Would I today, if it happened the same way?
And ever since, when I’m north of Valentine, I try to keep it to 5 over.
* * *
Lost wages. The City That Never Sleeps. Circus Circus was going to be my destination. Or maybe Caesar’s Palace. Neither of which happened. First stop: a liquor store. I ended up drunk in some two-story with orange paint around the door frames and windows. Damned if I can remember the name of the place. I think it started with an S. Or maybe a B.
Anyone else know the name of the place?
I can’t ask my buddy. He’s dead now.
I know we had one helluva time, because we left there broke and hung over like the sons of bitches that we both were back then — but not before we spent our last twenties at two whorehouses on the way by.