Seemed like an easy gig.
(cue the banjos….)
A friend of mine, recently gone from journalism to office manager for a lawyer, hired me to serve some court papers. I serve papers all the time as a deputy and figured this wouldn’t be much different. No marked squad, no gun on my hip, no badge on my chest, but a few bucks in my pocket.
Oh, silly boy, is anything ever as easy as you think it will be?
First of all, the address rang a distant bell. Why? Well, because I had recently taken domestic battery victim to that address after an incident. The victim wanted to go there because that’s where her friends were. The friends, when we got there, were stoned.
Seriously stoned. I could smell the cannabis from about 14 miles away but who cares. Stoners play XBox and sleep; where’s the harm?
So I tried the address a few times but no one ever answered. “Dude, they’re stoners,” a friend of mine said. “They’re asleep.”
The papers weren’t actually for the stoners at the address, they were for a woman who used to live at that address. I managed to track her down at an address in a small town in the next county over.
A small, skunky town. Full of thieves and junkies, welfare cheats (to quote the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies), wanna-be bangers, redneck ‘South Will Rise Again’ morons, all kinds of human detritus.
Yuck. Just what I wanted for my first private paper-service job.
I got to town and tried to follow the road I need. Except it’s broken into about 40-hundred pieces by all kinds of now defunct factories and fenced-off properties that seem to have nothing inside the fence, which probably means they’re some sort of EPA Superfund site that’ll shrivel my boys just by driving by.
Eventually, I get where I need to, but realize I need to turn around. I follow the road out a bit, looking for a driveway. But there is none. Instead, the road narrows, the ice closes in, the snow piled on the sides grows taller.
And then? The road dead ends in a driveway.
Great, I’ll just turn around and get this job done.
Said driveway is covered in about three inches of ice. And the owner has been driving his gigantic trucks over it so the ice is sheened down to a brutal slickness. And said driveway is higher than the surrounding ground by about six or eight inches.
All right, Trey, I think. Take this slow and easy. Don’t do anything stupid.
I think I would have been fine. I think I would have gotten my little truck turned around, would have gone back to the house, served the paper, and been home quick.
The yappy dog came after me first. One of those Hors d’oeurves kind of dogs…little of body, HUGE of spirit and annoyance. It disappeared in front of the truck and I slightly panicked about squishing it so I adjusted a little and kept turning around.
Then the geese appeared. An entire flock! Like…I don’t know…4,264 of the damned things? Outta nowhere, racing toward me, honking like the Mayan Apocolypse had just come a few days late and they were its harbingers.
I tried to adjust more, but I couldn’t keep up with them. So then I misjudged and felt the tires slip a little, then tried to correct and slipped some more.
Next thing I knew, those little bastards had pushed me right off the driveway. Like a schoolyard bully chest bumping me…uh…chest bumping a scared, puny schoolboy…right off the basketball court.
My little truck was sliding down the incline. I gunned the motor, twisted the wheel. Nada…no soap…nothing doing, I was just a passenger on that ride. Sliding and sliding until I finally came to stop, facing a corn field that was covered in snow and ice, between a trailer and a bevy of horse stalls.
And yeah, the horses were staring at me like, “Hey, Ollie! Got another one too stupid to stay on the driveway! Come look! He’s bald…and it looks like he’s gonna piss himself.”
The geese wandered away, still honking but now it sounded more like laughter. So I climbed out to see how bad my situation was. I was a little surprised. I’d ended up right at the edge of some clear land.
No problem! Drive forward carefully, get the truck turned around – taking great to not back up too far when I’m over there because it slopes down and I wasn’t too far from more ice.
Oh, the arrogance.
Forward, turn, back, DANGIT, slip, try to turn more, DAMNIT, slip some more, FUCK, jam on the brakes, HOLY MARY, and slide all the way backward…
…basically into Kentucky.
And the geese laugh and laugh and the dog licks its balls.
I panic for a few seconds, then climb out and start googling tow companies. Remember, I’m at the ass-end of a town that is the ass-end of a crappy county. I’ve no clue what tows work this place, or really even how to describe where I am, it being sort of residential and sort of rural and all animal.
I bang on the door of the trailer (I know, right?) and hear the stereo playing, I swear to all that’s holy this is true, Lynyrd Skynyrd (I think it was the Second Helping album). No one answers…of course, and the banjos get louder.
I grab a snow shovel off the guy’s deck, devoutly hope I don’t get shot for trespassing, and attempt to dig the truck out. The problem is I’m not really stuck in snow as much as stuck on the ice at a slight incline, just enough to insure I have no traction.
Shoveling is pointless so I throw that aside, eyeball the closest house, and start trudging through the snow.
I bang on this guy’s door, he answers, and starts laughing when I tell him what happened. But it turns out this guy is a snow plow driver for this little town and gets stuck all the time. Plus, he gets calls all the time for people stuck around town. This is sort of what he does for fun.
Now, while his idea of fun and my idea of fun are obviously well-differentiated, at that moment, I’m way digging his idea.
He doesn’t think twice about helping. He threw on some pants (yeah, I know, a whole different story), fired up a backhoe, and trundled right over to my truck. When he saw the truck, which is a tiny little Ford Ranger, he actually gave me a look that seemed to question whether I had any manhood at all.
But he chained the thing up, hauled it off the incline and all the way back to the level, but icy, driveway. Laughing the whole time.
Guy’s name was Jason. That’s all I can tell you. Wouldn’t give me his last name, wouldn’t give me his phone number, refused to take any money. Seemed uncomfortable even taking my thanks! He just wanted to help and get back to whatever it was he was doing with no pants on.
So he left and I drove away, thinking long and hard about running over those damn geese and have some geese-aque for dinner, and served the paper (another whole different story, because after tracking the woman named in the papers to a particular address, I learned the address was her sister’s and the woman herself was in Michigan! Sheesh…what I’ll do for a buck).
Yeah, I think that town is a nasty place, but there is at least one good soul in it. Thank you, Jason, for saving my ass. You came along and did me a solid favor just as the banjos from Deliverance were banging away in my head.
And no, I didn’t happen to have my bow with me, though I very nearly squealed like a piggie…Deliverance indeed.
(okay…well, there were supposed to be pictures, but I can’t get them to load…so while you’re waiting for those, go read some of the older CopStories…or go read some of my flash fiction at ShotgunHoney.net…or come vacuum my house….)