The car had been following closely for the last five or six miles, and Bob wasn’t surprised when the police lights burst on. He pulled to the side of the highway, turned on his dome light, and placed his hands visibly on the steering wheel. He glanced in the rear-view mirror occasionally, waiting. He took long, controlled breaths while he had the time. Soon, a silhouette rounded to his passenger side and there was a tap on the window. Bob rolled it down.
“License and registration,” said the uniform. The patrolman stood up and away from the vehicle and Bob couldn’t see his face in the darkness.
“Yes, sir,” said Bob. He opened his glove compartment and handed over a small stack of papers with his license displayed on top. The patrolman disappeared from the side and returned back to his car. The searchlight from the patrol car was on and shone very bright in the mirrors. Bob found himself squinting despite the darkness of the night. He glanced at his dashboard clock for the time. 2:18am.
The officer was quick to come back with Bob’s documents and a ticket. “Are you aware that your registration is 6 weeks overdue?”
Bob nodded. “I am. I’m sorry, sir,” he said. “It’s my fault. You know how it goes. You keep telling yourself you’ll get to it, you’ll get to it, and time slips by before you know it. To be perfectly honest, I sent it in just a few days ago.” Bob looked to his right to try to see the man, but there was still just the torso of the uniform to talk to. “I take full responsibility.”
“Where ya headed?” asked the uniform.
Bob tipped his head downward. “Another 90 miles or so, just north of Fort Worth.”
Finally, the torso leaned down and the officer’s face became visible. He was an older man with a chiseled jaw and a thin mustache that was graying. He rested his fingers inside of the open window, and Bob noticed the dull gold of a worn wedding band. “How long ya been drivin’?” he asked.
“Quite some time now,” Bob said. “Coming up from Louisiana.”
The officer nodded. “You get tired, you pull off and rest a bit, ya hear?”
“Yes, sir,” Bob said. “I will.” Heading in the opposite direction, a big-rig rumbled by on the quiet highway.
“And listen,” said the officer. “Don’t rest anywhere on your own. I don’t expect you to know this, but we’ve had ourselves a few murders in this area. Murders that are something fierce.” He tipped his hat up and shook his head. “I don’t aim to frighten ya, but that’s just the case it seems. You be smart about where you pull off should you decide to get some sleep.”
“Officer, that’s terrible,” Bob said. “Thank you for the warning. I sure do hope you catch that son of a bitch.”
“Oh, we will,” he said. He stood and slapped the roof of the car. “Have a good evening.”
Bob watched the silhouette round his vehicle and smiled. Only a few, officer? he thought. There’s two more waiting for you about twenty miles back. One of them’s real young too, and so pretty. It’s going to bust you up something fierce when you see what I did to her.
The officer drove off and tipped his hat as he passed by. Bob waved back.
Have any daughters, officer? thought Bob. Have any daughters with dark brown hair and beautiful eyes that just beg and cry for their lives? I hope not. If so, it’d be terribly hard for you to handle what I’ve left behind.