First Draft Theater – Moment of Grace

“Everybody has moments of grace.”  His mama told him that once.  He was ten or maybe twelve.  Dwayne could not remember why she felt the need to tell him that.  Maybe it was one Sunday or something and he had one of those questions little kids ask when they start to comprehend the world is a bigger scarier place then they thought.  Regardless, his five years as a cop taught him that little bit of mother wisdom was probably false.  Not everyone had moments of grace.  Most will do well if they have more moments of honesty then deceit.

Tonight was no different.  It was Saturday night, his shift was barely four hours old and he already saw three people try to get in cars and drive when they could barely stand.  All he was doing was sitting across the highway from one of the bars in town.  He pulled over one and called in the other two so Kenny and Connie could get their collars for the night.

Now, another one was coming out of the bar weaving across the parking lot trying real hard not to look drunk.  If had been able to get his keys in his door to unlock it with one hand he might have gotten away with it.  The young woman, young being a loose term Dwayne used to be respectful, who followed him out was in almost as bad a shape as the guy fighting his keys.

Dwayne watched them get into the car, get it started and barely miss two parked cars as they pulled out of the parking lot.  They pulled onto the highway and pointed the late model Taurus towards the Days Inn about a mile down the highway.

He would have radioed up ahead to Kenny who was sitting between him and the Days Inn, but the moron was weaving too badly to let drive.  Dwayne pulled out onto the highway and hit the lights and siren.  There was a moment when it looked like he was going to rabbit on Dwayne, but Kenny hit his lights just up ahead and the Taurus pulled to the side of the road.

“Patrol 45 to Patrol 42, thank you for the assist.  This is a suspected driving while impaired.  Requesting assistance in a field sobriety test.  There is a male driver and one female passenger.  Over.”

“On my way Patrol 45.  Central, show Patrol 42 and Patrol 45 on a field sobriety test.”

Dwayne waited until Kenny pulled around to box the dark Taurus with Texas plates in between them before getting out and approaching the driver side.

The driver’s door opened and the driver poked his head out and squinted into the headlights of Dewayne’s cruiser.  “Hey, Dwayne, it’s me man.  Wassup?”

“Sir, please stay in your vehicle.”  Dwayne and Kenny both had their hands on their sidearms ready to pull and fire if the driver made the wrong move.

“Shit, Dewayne.  It’s me Scott.  Calm down, calm down, it’s cool.”

“Dammit, Scott.  Keep your hands where we can see them.  Kenny, meet my cousin Scott.  I got him.  You get the lady on the passenger side.”

“Wassup, man.  I ain’t seen you since grand mama’s funeral.  You was in the Army then.  You a cop now?”

“That was seven years ago, I was in the Navy, and yeah, I’m a cop and I’m going to ask you if you have been drinking tonight.”

“Shit, yeah I’ve been drinking.  I got back in town about a week ago.”

“I need you to take a field sobriety test.”

“What?  Man, how’s your mama doing?”

Scott smelled like he bathed in a keg of beer even from five feet away.  “She’s fine.  I need you to here and walk on this white line towards my cruiser.  When I say stop and turn, you are going to turn on your right heel and walk back towards me.”

“What?  Man, I was just out trying to burn off some steam tonight.  You know daddy got lung cancer.  He ain’t going to live out the month, probably.  I been at the…I been at the hospital the last week.  I just needed to drink a little and fuck a little.”

“I heard about your daddy.  I’m sorry for that.  I didn’t know it was that bad.  I haven’t talked to him since Aunt Cissy divorced him.  But I need you to take this test now.”

“What you going do if I don’t take it?  Arrest me?  You going to arrest me once I take it cause I’m drunk as shit.”

Dwayne looked over to Kenny who was standing next to the woman Scott was driving to the hotel.  Clichés become clichés because they are true.  She was a bottle blonde with dark roots.  Her face and body looked like a high school cheerleader with 25 years of bad marriage, kids, beer, and disappointment hanging over her like the smell of stale cigarette smoke.

Kenny was the senior officer on the scene and started to take some control of the situation.  “Dwayne, let’s just take these two the station.  He admitted he was drunk we can arrest him and book.  We’ll put him in the drunk tank until Monday morning.  I’ll get Connie to come drive this one home.  What is your name and where do you live ma’am?”

“Who you calling ma’am?  You would be luck to ever get to fuck this.”

Kenny shook his head and started speaking into his radio.  “Patrol 42 to Patrol 46, I need assistance with a female passenger.  We are just east of the Days Inn on 74.  Please respond.”

“Patrol 46 to Patrol 42, I am on my way.”

“Ma’am, Deputy Banks is coming towards us right now and she will take you home.  You are not under arrest at the moment.  I suggest you keep a civil tongue in your head to keep it that way.”

Connie pulled up just as Kenny was finishing his statement and passed the lady on so that she could get home to pass out.  Just as they were putting her in the car she turned and vomited just missing both the deputies.

Scott thought this was the funniest thing he had seen and started laughing hysterically.  Connie got a towel out of her trunk and helped the lady wipe off her face and the front of her clothes now stained with regurgitated beer and wings. After finally getting her in the car, they drove off with all the windows down.

“Deputy Anderson is going to arrest you since he isn’t related to you.  Your mama or somebody can come to the courthouse Monday morning and bail you out after the magistrate sets bail.  If it is a first time offense the bail won’t be much but you will probably have to surrender your license.”

“How the fuck am I supposed to get around without a fucking license.  You stuck up fucker.  Ya’ll always did look down on us.  You ain’t even got the balls enough to arrest me yourself.  Fuck you.”  He tried to punch Dwayne but only managed to fall onto the grass.  He stayed sitting with his legs splayed out in front of him.  Kenny moved towards them, but Dwayne motioned for him to hold off for a second.  “He beat the shit out of me for 10 years and I’m still sad he is going to die.”  Scott seemed past crying.  He just sat in the wet grass looking around like a dog wanting to take a nap and searching for the perfect spot of grass.  Finally he lay his body over and curled up with his knees to his chest.

“Scott, you gotta get up.  Deputy Anderson and I will take you in and you can sleep all night.  I’ll call your mama on the way to let her know what’s going to happen next.”   Scott was already snoring before Dwayne finished.  He and Kenny woke Scott up enough to get cuffs on him and put him in the back of Kenny’s cruiser.  As he Dwayne walked back to his car Kenny pulled off and headed towards the station.  Dwayne watched the tail lights of Kenny’s cruiser pull away and listened as he called in what was happening on the radio.

He remembered where the moment of grace came from now.  Harvey, Scott’s father, had given his best sermon that day.  He shook the rafters of that old church.  On the way home, his mother had marveled at how moving the sermon was and how it had filled the church with the Holy Spirit.  Just as they were pulling into their car port she said, “No matter how bad a man is, God grants everyone one moment of grace in their lives.”

She was right.  Everyone had at least one moment like that in them.  His question now was, what did it matter to the people around you if you only had one?


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