Winter, quite often considered the most memorable time of the year, with all the holiday cheer and Uncle Jeff getting drunk on eggnog and running into the family Christmas party wearing nothing but his boxers and a Santa hat. But the winter of 2001 was the most memorable of all, for me anyway. That winter was the first time I ever got cuffed.
It was a Friday and my best friend, Alicia, was supposed to be coming over for the weekend. Everything was planned out; Alicia had brought all her gear to school with her that morning and we were going to walk to my house after school. So, when last bell had rung, Alicia and I gathered our belongings and set out for my house.
The road we took to get to my house was not very heavily populated so we weren’t crammed into the usual stampede that flew from the school doors like gentlewomen from a mouse. Barely more than a block from the school the chill was completely soaked into our skins and now marinating within our bones, even though we were panting and sweating under the weight of the baggage. On the bitter wind I heard someone shout my name and I turned to locate the speaker but before I could identify them my eyes found another sight, far more daunting. An immaculately white police car was heading up the road behind Alicia and me. My eyes made contact with the officer within the vehicle’s tinted windows and my heart jumped wildly. I knew this guy all too well. Instantly the wailing of sirens cut through the quiet of the frigid afternoon like a hot knife through butter and I broke into a run.
I became senseless with fright. I heard Alicia cry out after me but her words never penetrated my mental block. The weight of the bags, the cut of the strap, and the wintriness of the air all disappeared in a flash. I was only aware of the screaming sirens, the colorful splashes of red and blue cast on the snow at my feet, and the erratic pounding of my heart. My struggle was entirely in vain however; I had hardly gone five feet before the police car pulled in front of me, tires sending bright rings of reflective snow into the air around it, and I was forced to slide to a stop.
“Drop the bags!” the officer shouted as he clambered out of his idling vehicle. “Hands on the car!” I immediately complied, not that I had much of a choice with the barrel of a gun pointed in my direction.
“You, too,” I heard the officer bellow and in seconds Alicia was at my side, her whole body trembling. I started in alarm as I felt the officer’s hands on my sides as he checked me up and down for weaponry. Then my arms were yanked brusquely behind my back and I gasped as cold metal encircled my already frozen wrists. As though echoing through a great void of space I could faintly recognize the voice of the officer reciting my rights in a mechanical intonation that blatantly proved he had done so on many occasions. The back door of the car was opened and I was only short of thrown inside. Moments later Alicia was sliding in next to me, her face white and her jaw quivering. The sirens were still singing their mournful march and now I could hear the grinding roll of the lights as they continually pivoted overhead. Shii-tunk, shii-tunk, shii-tunk. A loud thump jerked my senses as the trunk of the police car was slammed shut. Apparently he had confiscated our bags.
As the officer climbed into the front seat of the car I glanced despairingly out of the window, to freedom, and discovered who had been hailing me in the start. A small cluster of my classmates was standing across the icy roadway, now watching the scene before them with wide-eyes and open-mouths. When I saw them the tears I had been withholding slid free of their barriers and I hastily bowed me head although I couldn’t stop my shoulders from shaking.
The police car backed out on to the glassy road and continued down the street for three blocks before the policeman made any motion toward us. He had grasped a small key in his one hand and was now offering it back to us. Alicia grabbed it hastily in hands that had never been cuffed and unlocked the circlets of silver around my wrists. I raised my hands to wipe away the tears of laughter still coursing down my cheeks and when I glanced up my eyes once again connected with those of the officer’s through the reflections in the rearview mirror. We both smiled broadly.
“Classic, dad,” I grinned from the back seat. “Absolutely classic.”