The advancing auto is exactly too far away to catch the tag number. By the shape of the front lamps, the outline of the vehicle, the streetlights hinting at the color, it’s the Chevy of either Joe Fleming or Granville Fields. Unless one of us tosses a variable in our course we’re inevitably going to converge at Elliott Ave. Not what I want to happen.
I calmly ease my car into a parallel parking spot in front of a residence just as the Impala rolls to a stop at the intersection. After all my surveillance it’s nearly unimaginable for a Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force Officer to not recognize my vehicle. My brain sends my body the obligatory warning signals -- hair-raising spine-tingling attacks -- when it computes the unknown JADE cop’s car is sitting over there just a wee bit longer than necessary.
Unfortunately I can’t make out his license plate because of a crazy glare from -- who knows what?
On the chance that he, like me, isn’t entirely certain of who he’s looking at, I snap off my headlights and cross my fingers he’ll think I’m really just someone who lives in one of these buildings. The Impala doesn’t budge.
It occurs to me that if I was someone who truly belongs here, about to get out at my home, or whatever, I would probably not continue to hold down the brakes as I’m doing. I shift the gear to “P” and remove my foot from the offending pedal. The red rectangles disrupting the darkness behind me wink out. Still the JADE man waits.
I’m running out of ways to wordlessly justify my activities to the officer so that he’ll be reassured enough to leave. Assuming he assumes if I am, in fact, me, I would not want to be seen, I flip on the interior light above me. I follow up my bluff with a deliberate display of packing items “to carry inside.” The Impala doesn’t bat a wiper blade.
I’m not sure what to do at this point. In frustration I flick the switch above restoring blackness. All of a sudden the Chevy zooms forward and comes charging at me. I laugh at the driver’s belated exhibition of virility. I also completely forget about what I might do and instead let curiosity about the objective of the guy operating the Impala consume me.
Examining the tag of the fast-nearing sedan is rendered unnecessary; I can tell the driver is Granville Fields because his Impala has tinted windows whereas Joe Fleming’s does not. At the instant his front bumper kitty-corners mine the detective decelerates. In movie-style slo-mo he creeps by me. When we are glass to glass I feel him staring into my eyes. For a spilt second I wonder if he’ll dare to put his window down and confront me but, no, he merely crawls on by. I don’t wait for him to change his mind. The moment the rugged policeman clears my auto, I’m out of there.
When you know where someone is, then you know where he is not. This is important because if someone isn’t where he’s supposed to be, then he might show up somewhere you don’t want him to. On this particular night, Granville Fields is not where he’s supposed to be. This throws the monkey of all wrenches in my plans so I’m forced to go looking for him.
I head into the isolated neighborhood. I haven’t gone far before I note another vehicle has turned here also and is traveling down the street after me. Knowing I’ll be cruising carefully, or possibly stopping entirely, and not wanting to hold up another driver I veer off on a narrow side road to wait for the other person to pass by. I gather too late this is a poor choice of pavement to be on; it’s not going to be simple to return to the main drag from it. Using the nearest of the skinny lane’s imitation driveways as a turnaround, I vaguely acknowledge the lights of the aforementioned car have come and gone.
Back on track, I slowly ease up on the junction I mean to make a turn at and scope it out. On the shoulder, down a distance, at precisely the location I intend to check out, sits a car, facing me, with its lights aglow. A surge of adrenaline shoots through me.
When it comes to this neck of the woods a person can pretty much determine traffic activity in, like, thirty second increments. Plus, there’s only one way in or out of the area. I conclude that car is probably the one I let go by me. Furthermore, it likely belongs to none other than Granville Fields. Adrenaline skyrockets to sickening levels inside me. I absolutely cannot let him catch me here, now, no way!
I can’t very well pull a U right in front of officer Fields nor is it smart for me to race off the way I’m already going. It is possible the reason he’s hovering in that completely anomalous way has nothing to do with me. My tummy is tight with anxiety but I coast on as if all is dandy. No such luck. Through a sparse wall of trees I distinguish he’s coming after me.
I step on the gas hard to gain some ground before he makes it to his turn joining me on this road. Two different impasses are all I have to choose from. The first is straight-on and not only coming up quickly but leaves no room for anything less than a blatant encounter. My heart is boomin’ louder than my stereo. I go left, aiming for the remaining dead end, while visions of that one previous face-off with him replay in my mind. I have an idea.
Approaching the circle, I observe most of the houses have outside lights in full burn. I whisk into the driveway of one that doesn’t and pray there’s no motion sensor. This time I don’t hesitate; I jump out of the car and begin strolling to the unilluminated house literally like I own the place. I’m halfway down the path when the ensuing sedan appears. It slows, stops short of entering the cul-de-sac, scoots into the last drive before it. The detective then reverses and departs. Triumph!
I return to my ride and kill twenty-five minutes in case he also has learned a thing or two from our prior brushes and is hiding somewhere along the sole exit route waiting for me. Relieved I didn’t have to concoct a fairytale for the actual homeowner, I finally take my leave.