When we were kids, we did a lot of… “Dumb stuff.” We called it having fun. The word “bored” left my vocabulary not too long after I learned what it was. So my friends and I would make up stuff to do.
Whether that was rolling houses (aka TP-ing, aka vandalizing property), stealing road signs, conducting elusive experiments on passing cars, or in this case, dressing in all black and jumping out in-front of cars.
We didn’t do it when they were really close to us, so they’d swerve into a light pole. No. We did it when they were just far enough away that we might get a reaction. I break check, a slight hesitation, or just, hopefully, make their hearts jump a little. And ours. #CrazyAssKids
I’m still not sure why we did it, but we did. That night there were 3 of us: my best friend growing up and my cousin Cody (Sorry dude, you knew you’d be in here sooner or later. You’ll probably be in another.) We were between 11 and 13 years old, I think.
My cousin and I went paintballing semi-often and loved it. So we had the full gear. The black tacticle pants, jersey, and I even had the wild snowboarder type of chia pet toboggan. We dressed in black a lot. Not like a Goth thing, more like a mischief, hide to not be found thing. Weekends and summers were always filled with some sort of adventure.
We did this late at night. We would sneak out of my bedroom window, and go roam the streets. We felt so alive. The whole thing was actually very liberating.
Okay, so we’re jumping out in-front of cars, giving people heart attacks, being dumb ass little white kids, when I see a car coming. I tell my cousin Cody, “Hey, let’s not do this one.”
He said, “Why?”
I said, “I don’t know, it doesn’t feel right.”
“Man, screw you, I’m doing it.”
Did I mention we got in a lot of fights? Fist fights. This mother fucker.
“Hey!” I whispered. “Cody… Cody… Cody! Don’t do this one.” I said. “Crap man, he’s not listening.” I said to my friend.
“What’s he doing?” my friend asked.
“I don’t know.”
Do you think he listened to me? Of course not. In fact, instead of jumping out and then hiding, he just kind of stood in the street with his arms up like he was about to pick a fight with it.
My friend and I duck down in our hiding spot, which wasn’t even a fucking hiding spot. We were just crotched down by a fence. There was nothing blocking us from the street. People could pass by, and just see us like, “I wonder what those kids are doing.” Dumbass. Get a better spot!
So the 5-0 came rollin’ up. I knew it was the police because I heard and felt the car slowly stop right behind me. So either I was about to get shot in a very slow drive-by, or it was the owner of this house, or it might have been my mother, in which case, I’d take the drive by.
We weren’t in the ghetto, but we also weren’t in a gated community. “Watch yourself,” was the advice our parents gave us if we went outside. In our neighborhood or other’s nearby.
So when the car got closer, my cousin apparently ran to a very good hiding spot, under one of the cars my friend and I were crotched down beside. I didn’t see him hide, and I didn’t notice the cars we were beside, until a few moments later.
My back was to the street, and my friend was right in front of me crotched down. Like I’m his hiding spot. Okay, you just crotch down right there like a top-heavy black bush in the driveway, and I’ll just be right here.
I felt the hot beam of a light on my back, and I look up to my friend and said, “Is that cop right now?”
He looked up at me, in the shadow of this light, and said, “I don’t know, I don’t wanta look.”
“What the crap man! Just peak around my head and look.” My head is huge. It was like a solar eclipse on his face. He peaked around, and then jolted back down.
“I think it’s a cop. I think it’s a cop man.” He said.
“Well how could you know, you barely looked.” I said.
“Who else could it be? They’re shining a freakin’ spot light on us.” He said.
Aliens. I wanted to say aliens, and I said a short little prayer alluding to the fact that if aliens abducted us, I’d be cool with it.
“Let me see your hands.” An adult voice said into a speaker.
Well, it was nice knowing ya, I thought.
I slowly stood up with my hands raised. My friend did too. I cautiously turned around. As I did, I see my cousin literally come out from underneath a car. I didn’t know he was there, and apparently neither did the cop because he quickly beamed his light that way.
“Let me see your hands!” the officer said to Cody. He raised them.
I was a little mad, because in my crazy Goosebumps mind, you always want someone on the outside. Someone who knows what happened to you, and where you are when shit goes down. Mainly so they can secretly bust you out of the monster jail. #Goosebumps
It was at that moment that I realized, we were hiding beside three nice cars. As I turned with my gloved hands in the air, I thought, oh my God, he thinks we’re stealing cars.
“Come out from behind the car. Walk over here, slowly. Walk, Walk, Stop.” The officer instructed. “What are you kids doing out this late?”
My overly honest self said, “We were just out scaring cars.”
At the time, it seemed better than the alternative. My friends didn’t realize it at the time, but we could’ve passed as characters in the junior version of “Gone in 60 seconds.” We weren’t boosting cars. We were doing stupid kid stuff. And what’s stupider than “scaring cars.”
“Uh huh, where do you boys live?” the officer asked.
“We live just down this street.” I said.
“All of you live in the neighborhood?” he asked.
“No, I live down the street, and so does my cousin.” Cody said.
“And he’s spending the night with me.” I said pointing to my friend.
“Okay, you boys are gonna have to come with me.” The officer said.
We were hesitant to oblige.
“Are you taking us to jail?” Cody asked.
“Should I?” He asked.
“No. No, no…” We all said repeatedly.
“Alright then, get in the backseat. I gotta drive you home.” The officer said.
We watched too many scary movies at a young age. Stranger danger. It wouldn’t be the first time our little adolescent minds had thought about a bad guy dressing up like a good one.
“We just live right down there. Can’t we just walk back, and you follow us in your cop car.” I actually said that.
The officer grinned, and shook his head no. We looked at each other, agreed this was our only option, so we got in. The backseat of a cop car is not made for tall people. My knees pressed against the metal wall.
We were pretty scared, and still not a 100% sure we weren’t going to jail. I gave him my address, after he asked, and then he called something in over the radio.
“Yeah, I got a 3,10-66. 11-51 to home.” The officer said something like that into the police scanner.
We looked at each other and got excited. We whispered to each other, “That’s us. That’s us.” We laughed and felt a little better about the situation.
I was hoping he’d just drop us off, but no. He walked us to the door. We filed into a line with our heads down waiting for our dome. His police lights lit the front porch up. My dad answered, and we didn’t even look up. The officer said some stuff, and we filed inside, and straight to my room where we shit our pants for what seemed like, FOREVER.
The lights still flashed in my bedroom window. We panicked and talked about the things we wish we would’ve done with our lives. My dad swung open the door, stared at us for a minute, and then said, “Did you know there was curfew?”
Shocked by his demeanor, we honestly shook our heads. Eventually saying, “No.”
“Me neither. Apparently there is one for kids under 17.” My dad said.
We all looked at each other like, what’s going on.
“Don’t do that again" He said. “Stay inside.” Then he closed the door to leave and opened back up again. “And I think it’s best if we don’t tell your mother about this.”
Still in shock, we shook our heads in agreement. We didn’t utter a sound. All of us, just sat there wide-eyed and terrified. Is this like the people in the movies that smile before they kill someone? I thought.
"Okay” He smiled. “Happy you’re not in jail.” Then he closed the door.
We looked at each other bewildered, and then we couldn’t help but bust out laughing. We laughed until we cried and then some more. We laughed until it hurt too much to do it.
We weren’t in jail, and we weren’t in trouble. Were we dreaming?
(My mom didn’t know about this for at least another 5 years. My dad and I were joking about it one time. We didn’t’ think she was around, but she came out from the back bedroom of our house in Florida like a bat out of hell, “YOU DID WHAT?!” Luckily I had a car at that point. I ran out the front and skidded off… We joke about it now.)