A Sleeping Bag is Not a Scarf

“So, that’s your one and only run in with the law?” he asked.

“No, I got tagged here in town,” she said.

“When?”

“When I was thirteen,” she said.

“Vandalism?”

“Nope.”

“Under-age drinking?”

“Nope.”

“What then?”

“Truth or dare,” she said.

“You want ot play that now, Esquire?” he said with an edge of flirt in his voice.

“No,” she said. “I took a dare.”

“Which led to police involvement? You have to tell me now,” he said. “My interest is piqued.”

“Fine. But I don’t want this making the rounds.”

“You’re secret’s safe with me,” he assured and waved his hand for Lara to begin.

“So, my friend was having a birthday party. It was early fall but still pretty warm out. We were hanging out, I think we had had way too many Cool Ranch Doritos, and things got a little crazy. You put a bunch of bored suburban girls in a situation like that and it’s bound to turn a little wild.”

“What was the dare?”

“My friend thought it would be fun to dare me, and another rather adventurous girl, to strip down and flash a passing car. So, we went out to the barn with our sleeping bags, stripped down to nothing and wrapped up. We got to the side of the road and she and I agreed we would open up the sleeping bags at the first sign of the next car to go by.”

“What time was it?”

“Midnight or so,” she said. “Anyhow, so there we were, roadside waiting. And, those many years ago, there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic late-night in town. No one was out. But after about five minutes, we saw a car coming. We readied ourselves, and at the last possible moment, she yelled, ‘One, two three, FLASH!’

Lara paused for effect and presumed visual imaginings.

Then she continued, “Well that car came screaming into the driveway, and we went running. I’m pretty sure my sleeping bag was up around my neck as I went to hide in the barn. So, there I am: fumbling to get my clothes on when I hear ‘Ledbury Police. Come out of the barn.’”

The chief threw his head back laughing and began to clap. He said, “No shit.”

“Yeah, no shit. Not my finest hour. So, by this time I’m dressed and make my way out to the cops. There were two of them. They read us the riot act about what if they’d been child molesters or murderers. They took our names and told us we had until noon the next day to tell our parents about the incident, and they’d be calling to confirm we’d confessed.”

“Did you?”

“Of course I did. Better for them to hear it from me than from a Ledbury cop. I vividly remember telling my dad. He was at the soccer field hanging the nets for the game that morning and the walk from the parking lot over to him felt like a mile and a half. I told him what happened and after the game we went home and waited for the call. Noon, twelve-thirty, one o’clock, two o’clock. No call. I was tricked into admitting what happened. And, the other flasher, she didn’t say anything, so she didn’t get in trouble. I was grounded for two weeks.”

“I was still working overnights back then,” he said. “Come to think of it. I thought you looked familiar.”

“Ha, ha. It wasn’t you.”

“How can you be so sure?” he asked.

“I guess I can’t; but, what are the chances you’d remember?”

“You’re right, That would have stuck in my mind.”

“So, you can see how I found myself on the defense bar.”

“What do you mean?”

“The two times I had any real interaction with the cops they took advantage of my trust. If the day ever comes I have children, I’m going to tell them if they’re ever tagged by the cops they are permitted to tell the cops their names and then say they’d like to call their mother, a lawyer, who knows the limits of police power.”

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