"Honest I do, officer. I got it somewhere right here in the glove compartment. Lemme see. I'll just reach over here. What? Oh. Oh okay. I'll keep my hands where you can see them. Get out of the car? Sure. I can do that. Dammit. I know the registration and insurance card are in here somewhere. Now? Okay, right now.
"No, I haven't been drinkin. Never touch the stuff. Don't take drugs either. Not any more. Hey! -- that's sposed to be a joke. Legal? No, no medication. Yeah, I'm tired. I'm beat. I've been driving for seven effin hours. Sorry. I'll watch my mouth. You want me to take the breathalyzer. Sure, go ahead. I'm cool.
"No, I don't live there any more. Moved about four months ago. The landlord was a real prick. Clifton, not Lyndhurst. I'm sorry, I didn't realize I had to get it changed. I figured it was still New Jersey.
"See. I was comin down from Buffalo. I stopped for gas somewhere around Albany. And something to eat. A burger. A burger and a coke. It was a lousy burger too. Soggy. They microwaved it. It made me sick. Okay, I'll step away from the vehicle. That junk in the back? I don't care, take a look -- there's nothing there. Sure, I'll wait till you're done.
"Ugh. Well, no. It's not technically my car. My cousin Benny actually owns it. He's got a place down at the shore. Belmar. Sure I got his number, but you're wasting your time -- he's not around tonight. He's checkin out some properties in Florida. Boca, Lauderdale. We got a deal, I can use the car whenever. He said I could. You want me to keep quiet? Sure, officer, anything you say.
"It's expired? Oh hell. I'll let him know. He'll probably ask me to take care of it. See, I do things for him. He's a great guy, my cousin. Right...I promise I won't talk any more. Don't wanna interrupt."
I remember the police cruiser workin its way along Shore Road, the boys in blue shinin their spotlight in long arcs along the sand, lookin for kids smokin dope and makin out. The beach up there was private property. The night smelled of sea and pine, vodka and cigarette smoke. You could avoid the light if you snuck up under the lip of the dunes, where sea-grass had halted the erosion for a while. But you had to get there early and stay still. The cops would slowly pass by, then circle back just when you thought the coast was clear. They nabbed us a couple of times. We were dumb-ass middle-class white kids and they were clueless small-town cops. The whole thing was an effin game -- good for an adrenaline rush but not really dangerous. Kids like us weren't gonna jeopardize our futures. This was a year before the Rockefeller drug laws took effect. Nixon was in the White House and the city was falling apart -- you needed a regular toke to get through the long, hot summer days. Made it easier to fumble around with the girls, too. In the beginning.
"Hey, how's it goin' with the vehicle check? It's gettin kinda late. Not that I mind. It's just that I'm gettin a little sleepy. And I gotta go. You know what I mean."
Back then we could be guilty and yet somehow still be innocent. Nowadays not so much. You're barely scraping by to maintain the semblance of a middle-class existence and nobody gives a shite what you used to do. The cops are better trained, and they got computers. You screw with them, they ain't gonna call your mommy. Everything's gotten so serious. And so expensive. I figger this little tête-a-tête is gonna cost me a lot of moolah before it's all over.
"You what? Down to the station? And what do you mean you're gonna confiscate the vehicle? What the eff does that mean? Impound? You playin with me. Shite. You're serious. Goddammit, everybody's gotten so serious."