Guilty By Association

Crumb-esque souped up beetle Daniel and I are working on his VW Super Beetle. This car is Souped up and really fast looking.

The rear wheels are wide 60’s racing slicks covered with fender flares that makes the back of the car look super cool! The car has a drastic lean towards the front because of the size of the rear wheels.

Definitely not your usual ’72 Super Beetle. The front wheels are low profile 70’s and they also stand out beyond the edge of the fenders.

Today we are replacing his stereo. It isn’t working well and we are going to replace it with a more powerful system. We take apart the housing to get to the radio. It snaps out but the radio is secured with Flathead screws and we don’t have a screwdriver for it.

The only tools we have are the few that Tio Amable has given Daniel over the years and a few that he has gotten on his own. He is proud of his toolbox, so much so that he won’t let me go near them.

But today is different. “Pass me the screwdriver!” he asks. “there isn’t one in here.” I reply. “Well go inside and get a butter knife we can use that as a Flathead screwdriver.” Sure enough this works! we replace the stereo and put in some nice speakers on the doors.

Super Beetle He was so proud of his Super Beetle and how great the stereo sounded.

So of course we had to show it off! We immediately cleaned up, put the tools away and threw out the trash. I was so excited to go for my first ride in his Bug that I did not want to miss not even a second of it. I tossed the knife on to the rear floorboard and put the floormats back in place – away we went.

Not even 10 minutes into our ride do we attract attention. But not the kind we wanted. This one is the pain-in-the-ass Sargent that has always had something against us. The red lights from his cruiser’s strobe spins around. This one is not like a beacon in the middle of the darkness here to protect us, but as a disruptive flash breaking up the beauty of the sun setting.

“Driver’s License and registration please.” The office asked. My brother complies without saying a word. “Where is your friend tonite?” the officer questions.

“Who are you referring to officer?”

“You know who! That troublemaker you hang out with.” Now the questioning turns into an interrogation. “What kind of trouble are you hoodlums up to tonite?”

“Nothing officer, just cruising around…”

“Don’t give me that shit! You’re sure you were not involved in something?” His tone getting really nasty and stern now. “Step out of the car – NOW!” He yells!

“What’s going on officer?” My brother asks. “What are you guys doing with a knife in the car?”

“We don’t have a knife!” My brother replies, not knowing that I had tossed it back into the car behind his seat. Oh shit! he is going to be pissed! I had no idea that butter knife could get us in trouble…

“Then what is that weapon doing there on the floor?” The officer insisted. My brother turns around and looks. “Oh! we were striping wires to redo the speakers, officer. That’s only a butter knife! We forgot to put it away after working on the car. It can’t hurt anyone – not even slice a tomato!” He replied nervously.

“Don’t get nasty with me!” The officer yelled as he grabbed my brother.

He spun him around and yelled “Spread ’em on the car!” Holy shit this is getting way too crazy. We have not done anything wrong. Since he associates us with Joe, then we are also suspects in his eyes.

“Officer! What are you doing…” I yelled.

“Shut up kid! Keep your butt on that seat! I don’t want to see you move one inch!” And with that the officer slammed the driver’s side door shut!

I can hear the officer yelling and the walki-talki squealing! “Dispatch, dispatch! Have there been any robberies tonite?” They go back and forth with code-this and code-that. Frustrated the officer calls out “Anything involving a knife?” “Negative!” replies the dispatcher on the walki-talki.

“You are lucky punk! You get off free tonite. Don’t let me catch you with that punk, Joe!”

Boy! That really scared the shit out of me. He was looking for any reason to drag us to jail. I’ve never been that close to being arrested.

As we drove off, Daniel watched every step he made. He drove under the speed limit, used his turn signal at every turn. Just from an association to a neighbor, we are now considered, and looked at, as hoodlums.

From that point forward, I looked over my shoulder – not even the cops are our friends.

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