H.O.V.

H.O.V.

The car was pulled over on a cold November evening.  It had been traveling south-bound on I-15 when the police officer got behind him and turned on his red-and-blues.  The car pulled to the side next to the concrete barrier dividing the freeway.  The reason: he was alone in the HOV lane.

The officer walked up to the side of the car and waited for the man to manually roll the window down.

“Good evening, officer,” the man said softly.  He was wearing sunglasses pulled down to the tip of his nose.  He had a hat on with long, shaggy blonde hair falling out from underneath it.  Damn hippies, the officer thought.

“Evenin’.  License and registration, please.”

The man reached across to his glove box and shuffled the papers around.  After finding what he needed, he reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out his license.  As he handed it up to the officer, the officer noticed the bandages that decorated his hands.

“Looks like you cut yourself up there a bit,” the officer said as he glanced at the man’s information.

“Yes,” the man said quietly.  “I work with machinery so it sort of comes with the territory.”  His words came out in a slow, soft drawl.  Maybe he ain’t all there, the officer thought.

Gazing at the license, the officer noticed that the man was quite bald in the picture.  He glanced up at the man’s long, curly hair and chuckled to himself.  “This picture almost don’t look like you.”

“It’s quite amazing, really, how much people can change from one day to the next, one year to the next,” the man said.  “Sometimes things make us change more than we want to, like cancer.”

The officer nodded to himself and passed the license and registration back into the window.  “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

The man placed his information away and placed his hands on the steering wheel, staring straight ahead.  “No, officer,” he said softly, his head turning to gaze up at the man in uniform from above his sunglasses.  “But I bet you are dying to tell me.”

Yup, he’s nutty, the officer thought..  “I actually pulled you over because you are in the H.O.V. lane and you’re by yourself in the vehicle.  This particular lane is meant to be used by vehicles that have two or more people in it.  Helps cut down on the congestion of traffic, and gives people a reason to carpool.”

“Oh, I understand, officer.  However, you are wrong.  I am not alone in this car.”

The officer shifted his weight a little and took his flashlight out of the slot in his belt.  He turned it on and shined it into the vehicle, checking the passenger seat and the back seat.  He noticed a pile of red and purple material on the back seat.  He turned his flashlight towards the man in the car.  “Sir, could you please step out of the vehicle.”

The man nodded slowly once and opened the door.  He stepped out and the officer directed him to stand against the side of the car.  Letting the man know he was not under arrest but was doing this for both of their protection, he placed handcuffs on his wrists.  After patting the man down, he led him to the other side of the car and had him lean against the concrete barrier.

The officer went to the driver’s side and called the dispatcher, letting him know what was going on.  He turned his flashlight back on and looked on the seats and floor in the front of the car.  Nothing out of the ordinary was to be seen.  He then got out of the vehicle and opened the back door, dipping his torso down to look inside.  Using his baton, he pulled the red and purple material across the seat.  It’s a dress, he told himself.  What the hell is this guy doing with a dress?

The officer looked at the rest of the back seat and stood up, pulling the dress out of the car.  “What do you have this for?”

“It was given to me,” the man said.  “Or rather, I took it.”

“Are you saying that you stole this from someone?”

“I would not exactly say that she is a someone.  But yes, I removed that particular item and others from… a someone.”  The man said, a slight grin twitching at the corner of his mouth.

The officer placed the dress on the hood of the car.  “What exactly are you talking about, boy?” the officer asked him.

“You haven’t searched the entire car.  I have given you permission.”

“I need you to sit down, now,” the officer demanded.  He called back in to dispatch and told him that he may have a thief on his hands and to send another officer on the scene.  Reaching into the car he pulled the keys out of the ignition and moved to the rear of the car.  30 fuckin’ keys, he thought.  “Which of these keys opens the trunk?”

“That would be the red one,” the man said.

The officer searched through the keys until he found the red one.  He slid the key into the lock and turned it, pulling the trunk up slowly.  His left hand went quickly to his nose, his right hand dropping to the gun on his hip.  As he took a step towards the barrier – his eyes still on the trunk – he felt a sharp, cold pain against his right temple, then blackness came.

The man reached down and grasped the keys from the police officer’s belt, unlocking the cuff on his left hand.  Dropping the handcuffs into the trunk, he slid the prosthetic right hand back onto the metal spike covered in blood that protruded from his right wrist.  He looked down the freeway and waited for the only set of headlights he could see to come and pass, then reached down and grasped the officer’s body, shoving him as best he could into the trunk.

The man closed the lid and pulled the keys out, walking toward the front of the car.  He got in and closed the door, taking a moment to roll the window up.  He sighed softly and pulled the sunglasses and hat off of his head.  Then he gently pulled at his blonde hair, pulling the still bloody scalp from the top of his nearly black, cropped hair.  Tossing it on the seat, he started the car and put it into drive.

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