It was two days before Christmas and my girlfriend was crying about some Christmas baggage. I needed to get out of the house.
There was a place at the top of my town called Jumpoff Rock where an Indian maiden jumped to her death for the love of her brave. It was said that if you went up there at night you might see the ghost of this Indian girl.
I figured it would be best to get out of the house, blow the stink off and hopefully see a ghost. It was a long drive up the curvy mountain road.The girl claimed carsickness but when we crested the ridge and saw the little town shimmering in the valley below winking under the light snow shower, she stopped crying.
There was a cop parked in the Jumpoff lot. Woopwoop. He hit the whirlilghts. I pulled over.
I asked if it was alright if I came up here. All the cop said was “sixty dollars.” He repeated the figure. I looked him over, trying to figure out if I knew him, who his relatives were. He was a big fat bastard, with his chin slopped over the collar of his bulletproof vest. I could tell by the way he talked through his nose that he was from somewhere else.
Up until that time because I had enjoyed small town immunity, as my dad sells building supply. After donuts, building supply is the thing cops love the most. On any given weekend, 90 percent of off-duty cops are re-paving their yard, shoring up the aboveground, or leveling the doublewide.
This was some new guy, though. An outsider, a yankee even. He asked me to step out of the car as he made a visual inspection, blinding us with his maglite. He poked through through the detritus of a recent kayaking trip left in the back of the truck; life jackets, helmets and pizza boxes.
What was I doing up here? “I live here,” I said. I explained that I had come up to Jumpoff Rock to see the ghost. No big deal. The cop told me that I had to come back in the daytime. I told him that the thing about fucking ghosts is that they don’t come out in the day. I asked this policeman why he stopped me. He informed me that my crime was “cursing on his highway”.
I notified the cop that this road is our road and if he wasn’t going to charge me with anything then I had the right to get in my car and leave. I knew my rights. He bodychecked me into the car and asked me what I thought my rights were.
I told him that my first right was that he was going to back the fuck up off me, and then I pushed him hard enough to back him up, but not hard enough to hurt him, which proved to be a not so smart move.
“Assault on a Police Officer” coupled with “First Degree Highway Cursing” is a major crime. My advice: If ever in the course of the game you must tackle the referee, stick him good. The penalty is going to be the same.
I passed the rest of the night at the “cop disco” with several young men dancing me through various submission holds, snow falling through the strobes. The more I complained the more fun they had.
Then they searched my truck for three hours. As I was frosted away in the back of the police car, I realized that despite all the documents written by learned judges and all the wars fought to guarantee the right of Americans to go about their business without fear of unreasonable searches and seizures, your rights are fleeting things to be snatched away by a junior college flunky at any time.
Around the time they finally found the joint hidden in the little buoy of my floating keychain, I suddenly realized how one might bring up the whole “having your rights” thing to a cop without pissing him off.
Sew your rights into your clothes so you will always have them with you.