Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
TITLE: Sixty-five Plus One Equals Trouble
By James Brown
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Comfortable with my decision, I continued my quest for home. Many miles later, a glimpse in the rearview mirror revealed a speck in the distance. In no time, it manifested itself as a red Ford Mustang convertible, which blew by me doing at least ninety.
“Where are the cops when you need them,” I muttered to my wife.
To my amazement, a state trooper pulled out of hiding and accelerated in our direction.
“You’ve had it now buddy, he’s gotcha.”
I waited for the cruiser to race past – instead lights flashed in my mirror. He tagged me!
Heart racing and palms sweating, I entered panic mode – until I realized the truth. He’s pulling me over to bestow a commendation on me for obeying the speed limit. Relieved, I eagerly awaited his appearance, drumming a tune with my fingertips on the steering wheel.
“License and registration.”
What’s up with that? You don’t start a cordial conversation with a terse statement like that. Heart racing again, I said, “Hello officer, what’s the problem?”
“You were speeding – license and registration.”
“Speeding? What are you talking about? That Mustang flew by me doing at least ninety and you’re giving me a ticket?”
“Yes sir, I clocked you doing sixty-six in a sixty-five zone. Now, for the last time – license and registration.”
I relinquished the required documents, all the while grumbling worse than the Israelites in the wilderness. He sauntered back to his car and meticulously wrote the ticket. Several lifetimes later he materialized beside my car and handed it over.
“You can mail the fine to the address on the back …or you can go to court and fight it if you like.”
“You better believe I’m going to court…getting a ticket for one mile over the speed limit …I can’t believe it.”
“You admit you were doing sixty-six?”
“Yeah, but everyone else is going at least seventy and the guy in the Mustang-“
“Save it for the Judge.”
“You bet I will. You just wait until I’m done with you.”
He started to walk away, but turned back with a smile on his face. “By the way sir, have a nice day.”
With that he left me with ticket, seething with anger.
* * * * *
My wife urged me to forget it and pay the fine, but I determined to follow through for the principle of the thing. I stood confident before the judge – until that arrogant officer dealt my confidence a blow with his testimony. I forgot I admitted doing sixty-six.
Finally, my turn came. “Your honor, I should never have gotten this ticket. It was the end of a busy holiday weekend and everyone was speeding-“
“Well, yes sir – but I was only doing sixty-six-“
“In a sixty-five zone?”
The judge held up his hand. “I know exactly what you’re going to say… I’ve heard it all before. The mean old officer was picking on you. He should have stopped a hundred other cars travelling faster than you. You should have received a commendation instead of a ticket … am I close?”
“No buts about it.” He leaned forward. “Son, listen carefully. The law concerns itself with one thing – guilt or innocence. You admit that you were speeding, so under the law you’re guilty. Now you may offer all the excuses you want, but you’re still guilty. The driver of the Mustang would freely admit his guilt while doing his best to reduce or eliminate the punishment. You, on the other hand want me to bestow my blessing on your disobedience. You think it’s alright to bend the law a little bit when others are snapping it in two.”
“Not really sir.”
“You condemn the driver of the Mustang - yet according to the law, I find you as guilty as he is. The difference lies in the punishment. He’d face a fine ten times yours, plus jail time. You on the other hand get a small fine… plus court costs. You should have followed the officer’s advice and mailed your fine in.”
He rapped his gavel. “Court’s adjourned.”
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