St John's County, FL
The red station wagon was almost 15 years old the day it ran a stop sign on a narrow county road that followed the St. John's River northwest of St Augustine. Most of the homes on the river were mobile while the families living in them were not.
The sheriff's car idled under hanging Spanish moss and was unseen by the driver of the red wagon due to three gas pumps belonging to a Gulf station owned by a thick short man named Jimmy and his German Shepherd.
Behind the steering wheel Tanner complained how long it was taking to get dentures and how his wife enjoyed his lack of teeth when the red wagon rolled through the stop sign. Tanner slapped the column shift in drive with one hand and flicked on the lightbar with another.
Gravel shoots at gas pumps as tires grab asphalt and the Gran Fury pulls up fast behind the red wagon which pulls over immediately. Tanner parks behind the wagon with half a car width hanging out on the road and gums, "Take this one. I got my quota for the month."
The passenger door opens and a black corfam shoe settles into soft shoulder sand. Four more steps and it's on asphalt between the cars. A high rise holster unsnaps freeing the hammer of a four inch S&W Model 19 like it was a hand in a girl's blouse.
Three children, the oldest around 10, quietly stare at the sheriff's Plymouth from a rear rumble seat. Sam Brown leather squeaks between steps of corfam. Four more kids in the rear seat look straight ahead. High water Farah pants, t-shirted button downs and Sunday dresses do little to hide anxiety.
Behind the driver's door edge, Ray Bans are removed from under a green straw Stetson the sheriff forces his deputies to wear. The driver is black and in his 40s with salt and pepper hair. "You ran the stop sign back there." The driver cranes his neck to look back. "Yes sir, Sheriff."
"I'm not the sheriff. I'm the sheriff's deputy." The driver looks at the deputy's gold name tag above a matching Cross pen and pencil tucked into the white shirt pocket. "Yes sir, Deputy." The wife flicks open the glove box and roots through receipts, match books, brochures, while the driver leans toward a kid, four or five, sitting between them.
The driver pulls a hand made whipstich wallet from his back pocket and leans back toward his door pulling out his driver's license. 44 years old and six foot one, Mr LaSalle's wife, not without relief, hands her husband the registration. Taking the registration the deputy asks, "Mr LaSalle, are all these children yours?" LaSalle squints at the deputy, "Yes sir, Deputy. I've about fucked myself out of a seat."
The red wagon pulled away. The deputy returned to the air conditioned Gran Fury. He told Tanner what Mr LaSalle said. "That's a good one," laughed Tanner. "You let 'em go when they tell you something like that." I quit -- because most of 'em were not 'good ones' and, in the years since, I've learned there are many ways to fuck yourself out of a seat.