So I’m driving down a gravel road.
In another county.
At 80 miles an hour.
And I’m not really particularly certain where I am.
But I know the bad guy – and cop chasing him – are somewhere south and east of me. I know the bad guy is a wanted felon. I know the cop, who works a small town, has no clue what country road he’s on. I know they’re banging around in my county, then out of my county, then in my county, etc., etc.
And I know my squad car won’t go fast enough.
I got to the county line and stopped because I wasn’t sure where they were. Illinois State Police – whose radio frequency most agencies use when they’re in pursuit – constantly asked me when I was going to get there and I had no idea where ‘there’ was.
Calm down, Trey, I thought. Have a little impulse control.
I, in turn, got on my dispatcher’s ass to google up a damned map and figure out how the neighboring county’s roads correlated to ours so I could begin to understand where I needed to go.
And then I see it. It was beautiful and relieving and like an answered prayer. Coming toward me, lights and siren on fire, gravel spitting out from the back end, was a county cop actually from the county where I was.
We jammed on the brakes and slid past each other at probably 50 miles an hour. Damned lucky we didn’t fishtail into each other.
“That way,” he said, pointing back the way I had come: north.
Man knows his county so off we go.
A couple miles down, we get to an intersection and he stops for just a second, takes a look at his map. Ain’t no problem, I figure, I look at my map all the time. And off we go again. Now headed west.
At the next intersection, with the state trooper dispatcher still yelling at me to hurry up, he stopped a looked at his map again. This left me…uh…what’s the word…concerned?
As opposed to freaked out, which I was when he got out of his squad car and came over to mine…map in hand.
Hands it to me and says, “Yeah, I don’t know where we are.”
And in the background, the state dispatcher calling and calling and calling.
Calm down calm down…impulse control.
I could barely breathe. My hands shook. My throat tightened up. And a tiny little icepick began poking at the front of my head.
I snatch the map and start looking from where I had been in my county. And this dumbass promptly snatches the map back…and turns it around until north on the map is actually north in real life. Now, he says, I can see it better.
At this very moment, just before I can jump outta my squad and beat him about the head and shoulders with a hefty piece of wood –
– calm calm calm –
– I realize we’re right beneath two road markers.
Now we’re well and truly flying! We know where we are, the chase has ended in a crash and is now a foot pursuit but the state dispatcher knows exactly where everyone is. We are getting this done…taken care of.
I follow the county deputy, knowing we’ve got about three miles to go (headed south and east, by the way) when he suddenly turns south sooner than I’d expected. I’m banging my hand on the steering wheel, yelling, “Yeah! A fucking short cut!”
We are on the move.
I’m going probably 70 when I notice the giant roadsign.
Yeah. Absolutely true no shit freakin’ closed. And still this guy keeps going. I figure this is his county and he knows his short cuts and the icepick is banging a little harder now and maybe the road has a turn before it closes and a mile down the road, we come to a screeching stop because…well…the road is CLOSED!
And the icepick commences to gouge out my brain.
“You stupid son of a bitch how can you not know where you’re going THIS IS YOUR DAMNED COUNTY YOU CAN’T BE THIS LAME!!!”
I’m sorry…what was that about impulse control? Yeah, gone. Absolutely disappeared. I’m screaming and howling like a banshee and pummeling my steering wheel. Luckily the squad window was up so no one heard anything…I think.
None of which solved the immediate problem of backing up this other cop. So I whip around and go back to the blacktop we’d been on. I head east, then a mile or so south and boom, easy-peasy, I’m at the crash sight.
The cop who’d been screaming for help has the bad guy in custody, the ambulance is on the way, and everyone’s pulse is back down to normal.
Except mine. ‘Cause now I’m furious. I’m crazed that the county deputy had no clue where he was or where he was going. I’m beyond infuriated that I gave him that one extra chance to prove to me what a great cop he was…that I’d followed him like a cheap lemming down a closed road.
And I’m more than a little peeved that I didn’t get in on the chase…excuse me, pursuit.
So I stay for a few minutes, until the original cop’s partners and supervisor show up. I make sure he doesn’t need anything, apologize again for not being there for him, and leave. I’m at the scene maybe ten minutes.
And as I’m leaving? The county cop comes meandering down the road, as though he hadn’t a care in the world. He parks nearly a quarter mile beyond the crash site, and wanders up toward us.
Remember, I’ve been there ten minutes. So from the time I left him on the closed road, it was just about another twelve minutes before he arrived at the scene of a vehicle pursuit, a vehicle crash, and a foot pursuit…in his own damned county!
I think my eyes crossed I was so angry at him. I almost – but didn’t – told him don’t bother trying to back me up ’cause I’d be long dead by the time you got there.
That’s when my impulse control comes back? Bad timing, I guess….