It started as a quiet day at the farm yesterday. The most exciting thing should have been the trip C.W. and I took to the county dump to clear away some trash from our place. He loves going to the dump. Says it is the best one-image microcosm of our species. The only way I can describe his chosen form is as the late entertainer Liberace dressed as a supporting character from the old TV series, Green Acres.
Yeah. Real inconspicuous, but I have only limited control over him. Anyway, we arrived and dumped our stuff into the large dumpster. It was only then that I noticed he had brought along a rather long “grabber-reacher” of the type used to pick up trash. “Hey,” he said as he retrieved a long section of rubber tubing and held it before me, “wasn’t Mrs. Big Dope wanting a piece like this for her washing machine?”
Before I could answer, he tossed it into the truck. Then he picked up a partially used package of coffee filters. “Great for straining things in the shop,” had said, tossing it the truck. He did likewise with other items:
- Several plastic storage containers, “You can always use theses.’
- A partially used can of pressurized ether. “Now we can start those diesel tractors on the coldest morning.
- A thermometer. “Remember I broke the one in the shop."
- A box with an inch of kitty litter still in it. “Mrs. Big Dope will thank you for this.”
- A funnel, glass beaker, and a partially used roll of masking tape. “Got to be good for something.” (The hoarder’s anthem—I’ve heard it for more than 40 years).
I noticed the dump operator watching us and persuaded C.W to desist. He pitched a half-used bottle of methanol gasoline additive into truck with a “Just trying to help save money,” and we took off.
We had been driving for a few minutes when I saw a county sheriff’s vehicle on the road with its blue-lights flashing. I started to move to the outside before I saw an officer standing behind the car motioning for me to pull in behind it. I glanced at the speedometer. It showed five miles a hour below the legal limit. “What the …?” I pulled in.
The officer motioned for us to keep our hands visible. C.W. was confused. “What does he want?”
“He wants us to show him our hands.”
“The usual two,” I said. “And don’t mention your others. Seeing the officer motion for me to lower the window, I complied. He walked to my side.
“What you boys been up to?” he asked.
C.W. and I spoke at once. I said dumping trash and he asked what business it was of the officer.
“Pay no attention to him,” I said. “He’s not from around here.”
The officer frowned, but said to me, “May I look in your truck bed?”
Returning after a long inspection, he said. “Got a call you were gathering some interesting stuff.”
“It’s mostly stuff his wife says she needs,” C.W. said, “for her farming business.”
“And where is this farm?” The officer took out his pad and pen.’’
Before I could stop him, C.W. blurted the address.
“Thanks,” the officer said. “Don’t move.”
He went to his truck and talked on the two-way for several minutes, before returning.
“You boys know what those kinds of things are used for, don’t you?” He paused. "Of course you do."
“Making money. Didn’t you know?” C.W. said. I felt like slapping him.
“Just things around a farm,” I said. “Is there a problem?”
The officer took a deep breath and exhaled.
“Maybe yes. Maybe no,” he said. “I have no probable cause that you are cooking up a little “meth” out there, but we’ll be watching you. Very close.”
“Hey, that sounds like fun,” C.W. gave him his best entertainer’s smile.
“You can go now,” the officers said. “I figure I’ll see you again. Now have a nice day.”
I drove as fast as the limits allowed toward home, hoping against hope. When I made the last turn, however, I saw a patrol car exiting our drive onto the state highway. Oh dear.
We parked quietly and I made C.W. come with me and sneak into the back door. Alas, we had just made it to the kitchen when a female voice boomed from the front of the house. “You boys better get in here and do some explaining.”
C.W. bounded toward the sound. “Hey,” he said, “guess who we met today?”
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