Pay Attention

Zachary has been driving for about fifteen minutes, heading home from his girlfriend’s house. Amanda and he have been seeing one another for six months, and he can’t shake the feeling that after all that time, something has changed. The music is low, the downtown streets are eerily empty. As if from nowhere, the world is filled with color and sound, as Zachary realizes that he’s being pulled over. He pulls to the side of the road, wondering what he had done.

The officer walks up, three feet back, flashlight in his left, right hand on his sidearm. SOP. He’s in his mid-forties, a distinguished gray beard on his chin. His uniform is clean-pressed, every button shines. He takes pride in what he does.
“Is there a problem officer?” Zachary keeps his hands on the steering wheel, and calmly asks his question. The officer, “Patterson” according to his badge, maintains protocol, and scans the vehicle with the flashlight.
“License and registration, please.” He continues to look around, and flashes the light in Zachary’s face a few times.
“Sure thing, wallet is in my back pocket.” Zachary reaches into his back pocket for his wallet, and takes the necessary credentials out of it. “Can I ask what this is about, sir?”
Officer Patterson takes the documents, and walks back to his vehicle. Five minutes pass, and it seems to Zachary that the officer has either found something interesting, or is intent on it. Finally, the Officer Patterson walks back to the car, decidedly more relaxed. He hands Zachary his license and registration card back.
“Are you high?” He looks at him with a serious look on his face.
“What? No, sir. I don’t use drugs.”
“Well the reason I pulled you over is because you were going ten miles under the speed limit. As you passed by, you were staring off into space, so I felt obliged to take assessment of the situation. You’re sure you’re not on something?”
Zachary smiles, and relaxes. “Yes sir. Very sure. In fact, I probably know why I had that look. I am heading home, from my girlfriend’s place. She’s an amazing woman,” he says with a smile. “I was just thinking about the evening. We’ve been seeing each other for a while, and tonight, there was just something different. I must have gotten lost in my thoughts.”
“Different how?” The officer’s question catches Zachary off-guard. He didn’t think that there would be a follow-up question.
“Uhh, well…I’m not sure. I can’t put my finger on it, but it just seemed that everything was changing. I saw her just yesterday, and when I saw her it felt like it had been years. I couldn’t bear to walk away, and all I could think while driving away, was to turn around. I’ve been wracking my brain to figure it out.”
Officer Patterson smiles, “Let me stop you right there, son. What I’m seeing on your face when you talk about her and what you’re describing can undoubtedly be only one thing; Love. Do this; wait a couple days to see her, if you can’t make it a whole day without thinking about her, you tell her as soon as you see her. Never hold back and never deny someone your love if they deserve it.” The officer paused, and looked at Zachary. “It seems to me that you need to do two things; first, if she loves you half as much as you love her, you marry this girl. Second, pay attention when you’re driving. Drive safe, young man, best of luck to you.”

1 Year Later.

Zachary is speeding. He had a meeting that could not and would not change days, and it ran long. So here he is, hoping to make up the precious twenty minutes he’s lost by carefully breaking a speed limit here and there. Amanda will kill him if he’s late. “It’s the rehearsal dinner, for goodness sake!” She’ll say. His thoughts are broken by a loud siren and flashing lights.
“Damnit!” He screams loudly, as he slows down, and pulls onto a side road. “Oh she’s not going to be happy.” He reaches for his wallet, to expedite the procedure.
The officer approaches the car, hand on his sidearm, three feet back from the car. SOP.
“Licen—“ He’s interrupted by Zachary.
“And registration, here you go. Can you just write the ticket so I can get moving? My fiancée is going to kill me, and to be honest I’m a little more scared of her than I am you.”
“Slow down, son.”
Those words make Zachary pause, and he looks up at the officer, as the light blinds him. The officer steps into the light, to allow Zachary to look at him. He sees a distinguished beard, the clean-pressed suit and his memory hits him. His eyes dart to the badge and he almost yells out, “Officer Patterson!”
“Fiancée, huh? I take it things went well after our chat.”
“They did. Thank you, by the way. I don’t know if I’d be speeding to my rehearsal dinner if it wasn’t for that chat.”
“Well you seem to have only taken one piece of advice from it. I don’t see you paying attention.”
“Well at least I wasn’t slowing down traffic this time.” He laughs with the officer, and then pauses. “Hey, I don’t know if you’ve got plans for Saturday, but I’m sure we’ve got a few open seats, why don’t you join us? Actually—“ He reaches for the visor, and pulls out an envelope from it. “Here’s an invite. We’d be honored to have you.”
Officer Patterson takes the invitation.
“I just might. Can I bring a date?”
“Of course! We’d love to meet the missus.”
“Actually, it’ll probably be my daughter accompanying me. Angela died about two months ago, Bless her soul.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Certainly, bring your daughter. I owe my happiness to you, it’s the least I can do.”
“You don’t owe me a thing, boy. The state, you owe seventy-five dollars, for this ticket.” He hands him the piece of paper.
“I appreciate your professionalism. Certainly, I’ll take care of the ticket.”
“I’ll be there then, young man. You slow down and pay attention to the road. This lucky lady’s been waiting this long, she’d rather have you there safe, than fast. Trust me.”
“Wise words, sir. I’ll make sure to get there in one piece.”
“Go on, then. Happy wife, happy life. Apologize and tell her you love her, first thing when you see her.”
“Will do.”

One thought on “Pay Attention

  • February 9, 2012 at 1:45 am

    …Is it wrong of me to hope that one of them is dead? This was far too short for my liking, Officer Patterson sounds like a BA 😀


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