I heard the siren before I saw the light. My heart jumped in my chest. I felt my blood run cold. I searched my mind to try to remember how I'd been driving. I found my mind was blank. There was an intersection back there... Had there been a light?
I'd instinctively touched the brake, and now I heard the cop cars' tires squeal on the wet road behind me. This was just getting worse.
I pulled over to the side, as slowly and carefully as I could. We were on a major thoroughfare, but the traffic that night was light. It was about nine pm. The rain had finally let up. We were only a couple of miles from my house.
I waited nervously and watched my rearview mirror. I couldn't see inside the police car, but his searchlight was flooding light into my car.
I reached over for my purse, to try to find some tic tacs or some gum. Then I thought better of it and put my hands back on the wheel.
After a while the officer got out of his car and approached me. He was young and lean, with short blond hair. He walked carefully, with measured strides, every step calling out authority.
I realized my window was up and clumsily rolled it down.
"Ma'am," he said, "may I see your license and insurance?"
I grabbed my purse and began searching through it, also looking for that gum.
My license was in my wallet, but I couldn't seem to find the papers for our insurance. Or any breath mints, or gum.
"Officer," I smiled nervously, "I think my husband has the insurance..."
"You should always keep a copy in the car," he told me sternly.
"Yes sir," I stammered. "I'm so very, very sorry."
He clipped my license to a clipboard he was holding in his hand. I saw that he was writing.
"Officer," I ventured, "can I˜can you tell me what I've done?"
He looked at me. "You don't know?" he asked.
"I˜I guess I was speeding...?" I asked.
He shook his head and turned and pointed back down the road. "You see that light down there?" I nodded dumbly.
"Do you remember what color it was when you went through?"
I didn't. I stared at him.
He clipped his pen down and put his hand on the door handle of my car. "Ma'am," he said, "I'm going to need you to step out of the car."
I felt my stomach drop.
"Why?" I asked. My voice sounded awfully loud to me.
"Step out of the car, ma'am."
I swallowed. "Officer, please," I told him, "My husband is expecting me..."
He pulled the car door partway open. "You need to step out of the car, now, miss," he said.
I unbuckled my seatbelt and put one foot down on the ground. "Could you please tell me what this's about?" I realized my speech was sounding slurred. "I really have to get home, now..."
He pulled the door all the way open. "Step outside, ma'am," was all he said.
I swallowed and stood trembling to my feet. I hoped nobody would see me standing out here like this.
I suddenly felt dizzy and had to catch myself on the car. I watched him write a note down on his pad. "Please, officer," I said, "I haven't been drinking tonight..."
"I'm going to have to have you take some tests," he replied. He glanced at me. "I can smell it on your breath."
"I mean," I stuttered, "I haven't had too much to drink, just one or two."
I felt so stupid, having been caught in such a stupid lie.
"Yes, ma'am." He was still writing, and not looking at me.
I was so nervous. I could feel myself start to hyperventilate. "Please," I begged him. "I was supposed to have been home at eight. My husband is going to be very upset."
"Ma'am," he said, "please step over to between the cars." He pointed where he wanted me to go. I put my head down, and tried to walk where he was pointing. My heel caught on something on the road. He tried to catch me as I fell, but wasn't fast enough. I fell flat on my face. My skirt and blouse where soaked in the water standing on the road.
"Oh, God," I moaned. I felt myself begin to cry. He helped me to my feet.
He handed me a white cloth and I wiped my hands and face.
"Ma'am," he said, when I was through. "I'm going to have to ask you to take some tests."
"Oh, please," I cried, "please don't make me do that..." I glanced at him. "Can't you just...?" but I couldn't think what to ask for him to do. I wanted so badly to just go home. I thought again about the people driving past us on the road. Everyone in my neighborhood, I thought, uses this road to go home.
"No ma'am," he said. "You're detained on suspicion of DUI. If you don't comply with my instructions, I'm going to have to handcuff you and take you in."
I swallowed. The thought was terrifying.
Maybe, I thought, if I just do well enough on the tests...
"What," I stammered, "what do you want me to do?"
He put his clipboard on his car. He showed me. "Put your head back," he said, "put your heels together. Close your eyes..."
He made it look so easy.
He glanced down at my shoes. "Do you want to take those heels off?" he asked me.
I looked at them too. I shook my head. The road was wet.
I tried to do like he had done. But as soon as I closed my eyes I began to feel like I was falling. I couldn't seem to balance properly on my shoes.
"Do you want to try again?" he asked.
"Officer, it's my shoes," I told him.
"Do you want to take them off?"
I shook my head. I'd get my stockings wet. It was bad enough the front of my dress was wet. How would I explain that to my husband? He could never know I'd been stopped like this.
I tried again. This time I thought I did a little better, but I knew that I was swaying, and I couldn't touch my nose, like he had done.
I realized this wasn't going well.
He stopped me. "Open your eyes, please, ma'am. Ma'am, can you see my pen?" He held his pen about nine inches from my face. I nodded.
"Officer?" I asked, "Officer, what's your name?"
"Officer Robinson," he replied, impatiently.
"Officer Robin... Robinson, can I please try again?"
He shook his head.
"Officer," I said, "I'll take off my shoes." I slid one foot out of my heels and put it down on the wet road. I felt the water soak through my stockings. It was cold. "Officer, can I try again?"
Fuck my stockings, I had thought; I HAD to pass these tests. I couldn't afford to go to jail on any charge, much less DUI.
Finally he looked at me, he looked into my eyes. I was standing awkwardly, one foot higher than the other. I opened my mouth to speak to him, but he interrupted. "Ma'am," he said, "I need you to follow this pen. Follow it with your eyes." I looked at it. It was hard to focus with the bright lights shining on me from his car.
"Can you see it?" he asked. I nodded dumbly. I still was standing awkwardly, one foot down on the road. The water was seeping up my stocking.
"Follow my pen with your eyes," he instructed. I followed it as carefully as I could, but it was hard to follow, as he moved it back and forth. Finally he slapped it down. "Ma'am," he said, and there was something in his voice. Disgust. I had a feeling I'd just failed another test.
I felt like the ground was about to open, and swallow me up.
"Ma'am," he said, "I have one more test I want you to do."
"What?" I asked. Again, I realized, I was talking much too loud.
He looked down at my feet. "I need you to either put your shoes on or off for this."
I looked numbly down. I couldn't seem to decide which was better for me to do. My wet foot was cold, now. I noticed that I was shivering.
"Ociffer," I said. I found I was having trouble saying it after saying it so often. "Officer, can you tell me what to do?" I looked hopefully up at him.
He shook his head and took my arm. "Ma'am," he said, "at this time I'm going to ask you to turn around..."
I felt this shock of fear. "Why?" I yelled, wondering what he was about to do to me.
"...taking you under arrest for DUI..." His hand was hurting me. I jerked away.
"No!" I said. I felt panicked. This couldn't be happening to me. I needed to go home. My husband would be furious... "No!" I cried again. I tried to struggle free.
He pulled my arm back behind me and twisted me around. I felt my head go forward; next thing that I knew he had me bent forward over the hood of his police car. I felt him standing there behind me. I struggled, crying. "Please," I cried, "don't DO this to me!"
I felt him trying for my other hand, but I avoided him. "Please," I cried, "just let me TALK to you..."
I felt my free arm strike his hand, and he pulled up my other arm, until I felt pain shooting through my shoulder.
"Please," I cried, "STOP doing this."
He caught my other wrist. "Stop resisting!" he yelled at me.
I was panting from my efforts. Finally I put my head down on the car. The metal felt cool against my cheek.
I felt him struggle with his handcuffs. I tried to pull away again, but he was holding me too tightly.
"Ma'am," he said, "you just bought yourself another charge..."
He pulled me around and sat me in his car. He keyed his mike and called for backup.
I sat there crying while he tapped into his laptop. He touched a button on a camera mounted on the dash. I realized he'd been taping me.
Finally he sighed and looked over at me. "You want me to call your husband for the car?"
I shook my head and started bawling. He would kill me, I thought. I'd never felt so humiliated.
He sighed again. "I'll have to call for impound," he said, "You'll have to pay to get it out."
.... There is more of this story ...