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The Tallywacker Chapter 3
The third episode in the weekly serial
from the fountain pen of Alexandra R. Nyfors
Previous Chapter Chapter Index Next Chapter

Curious Experience of a Policeman

Thursday afternoon Mrs. Hibbert left for the health food store feeling very
proud and with great flutterings in her stomach. The last time she’d been
employed had been as a nanny many years before. She was quite sure that
being an undocumented underage live-in babysitter for a doctor was quite a
bit different from working in a health food store.

Whether it was the pride or the flutterings, one or the other of them caused
her to do something that made a police car float up behind her and pull her
over.

“Oh dear,” she said to herself. “Now what?”

“License and registration please,” the officer said.

“Just a minute,” she replied, opening her purse and delving. She eventually
found her wallet, which was shreds of tapestry fabric wrapped around three
pound of paper as dense as a brick. Once in the wallet, the driver’s license
turned out to be sandwiched into the carbons of her checks from the last
time she’d used it. She handed it over to the impatient policeman.

“Registration please, ma’am.”

“What? Oh dear, I’m sure I have no idea. My husband takes care of everything
you know. What does it look like?”

Flustered, she opened the glove box. A cascade of small objects flew out at
her, including (but not limited to) a 100-watt light bulb, batteries, a
tampon (sans applicator), a half-used road flare, paperclips, that pen she’d
been looking for, nail clippers, and a loose deck of cards.

“There’s that pen!” she cried. “I wonder what it was doing in there?” She
rooted deeper in the glove box, coming up with a handful of papers, which
she obligingly gave to the policeman with an air of triumph.

Confused by receiving a warranty card for a television set (stamped but
never mailed, the postage was no longer adequate), a grocery list, some
Kleenex, and a letter from David, the cop gave up. Life, he reflected, was
too short.

“That’s okay ma’am. Have a nice day,” he said, handing everything back to
her. She was vainly trying to wedge the light bulb back into the glove
compartment without breaking it, and received the assortment of paper with a
districted air.

“Thank you very much,” she said. “Oh! Here’s the insurance card. Do you want
that?”

“No thank you ma’am,” he replied, edging carefully away from the car.

She was holding up a crochet hook with a baffled look as he got out of
earshot. Then she leaned out of view again, apparently trying to restore
order in the glove box, or at least retrieve most of the 52 cards plus
jokers in the footwell.

Virginia was certain she was going to be late. Whatever that nice policeman
had wanted hadn’t seemed to be very important to him, and she wondered why
he had thought it important enough to pull her over if he really didn’t
care.

She glanced in the rearview mirror. He was still sitting there, it looked
like he was on the phone. On an impulse, she decided to go and ask him what
he had wanted. She went back and knocked on his window.

“Yes, ma’am?” he asked after rolling the window down. They were power
windows, and he had to start the car to do so.

“Well, I was just wondering, you know, why you pulled me over, because you’
ve made me late to work and why would you pull me over and make me late and
then just not even ask me anything. If it was important enough, I mean, to
pull me over why wasn’t it important enough for you to do anything about it?
I mean, I know I shouldn’t be telling you your business, but really it just
seems disrespectful of a person’s time.”

He started up at her. His mouth hung open as his face slowly turned red.

Finally he decided to get out of the car, which he made a great show of –
rolling the window back up, turning off the engine, climbing out without
reference to her, retrieving his nightstick and fastening it in his belt.
Then he turned to face her.

Unfortunately, he barely met the height requirement for an officer of the
law, and Mrs. Hibbert was a tall woman. Rather than towering over her in an
intimidating way, he found himself merely at eye level.

“Let me get this straight,” he began.

“Please.”

“You’re upset because I pulled you over and then let you go? You don’t think
this is your lucky day?”

“Certainly not. It’s my first day on a new job and you’ve made me late.
Why?”

“Did you ever find the registration?” he asked.

“I still don’t know what it is or why you want it.”

“It’s the car’s license, ma’am. Let’s go back to your car and find it, shall
we?”

“So just because I asked why, now you’re going to give me a ticket?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then what do you want the registration for?”

“To give you a ticket.”

“But why?”

“Because you were driving in two lanes and going 15 miles an hour. Ma’am,
have you been drinking?”

“I should hope so! It’s hot today.”

“Taking any medications?”

“Just my hormones. What does it matter to you?”

“Well, it takes a powerful lot of alcohol to make someone drive 15 miles an
hour in two lanes in the middle of a busy street. You don’t seem that drunk,
so I thought perhaps some medication was involved.”

“Drunk! How could I be drunk? All I’ve had to drink was water!”

“But you said you’d been drinking all day!”

“Certainly. I don’t want to get dehydrated. Officer, are you sure you’re not
dehydrated? You’re so red in the face. Are you sure you’re quite feeling
alright? Besides, I was only looking in my purse for the vitamin C while I
was changing lanes. You wouldn’t want me to be speeding up while I was
digging around in my purse would you? Oh, and your skin looks like you could
use a little more vitamin A and D in your diet. You probably don’t drink
milk, do you?”

“What?” he asked, unsure what to respond to.

“Do you or do you not drink milk?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then you should absolutely be taking vitamins A and D. Your eyes will see
better at night and your skin will lose that funny baked ham look.”

“That WHAT?” he gaped, sure he’d just been called a pig.

“Oh dear, you’re getting even redder. Do you want some water?”

The policeman gaped at her, wordless. She bustled to her car and came back
with a bottle of spring water.

“Here, drink this,” she said kindly. “You’ll feel better right away.”

“Uh…thank you?” He broke the seal on the bottle and drank.

“You’re welcome. Now, when you’re feeling better, you come right to the
store and you can buy the vitamins you need. Just follow me. It’s only in
the mini-mall in the next block. Nature’s Way. You can’t miss it. But as I
said before, you’ve already made me late, so I really must go. If you still
want to give me that ticket you can do it at the store, can’t you?”

“It’s a little irregular…” he began, trailing off. He was a beaten man and
he knew it. Besides the water really was making him feel better. “Okay, I
guess that would be alright.”

“But I still don’t know what you’re talking about with that registration
thing. I mean, the car’s licenses are right on the car aren’t they?”

“This goes with those,” he explained patiently, walking her back to her
vehicle. “It has more detail on it.”

“Ah!” she exclaimed. “You must mean that silly thing that Carl – that’s my
husband, Carl – put on my sun visor. It was really unattractive, and
besides, every time I went to flip the visor to cover the side window
instead of the front, I got my hand caught on it and once my watch, which
was really annoying because I needed two hands to get it un-caught, and I
needed one for driving, so I was one hand short if you see what I mean and I
had to stay that way with my arm up until I got caught by a red light which
seemed like miles, although I’m sure it wasn’t. But anyway, after that I
took it off the visor. Now what did I do with it?” She paused, thinking, and
then sighed. “I just don’t remember. Middle age is a terrible thing young
man. I’m going to have to take more Chromium myself.”

“It’s okay, Mrs…..”

“Hibbert,” she supplied. “Well, you can get those vitamins anyway. You
probably need a good multi-vitamin too. I expect right now you’re taking one
of those drugstore concoctions like One-a-Day or something.”

“No, I don’t take anything,” he said, feeling his own shortcomings. He was
filled with obscure creeping guilt.

“Pish! And you a policeman, such a high-stress job. Good heavens, what is
your wife thinking?”

“I’m not married, ma’am.”

“Well, that explains it. Men are simply no good at taking care of
themselves. Take my Carl. When I met him he was eating bacon and eggs every
morning and steak every night because that was all he knew how to cook and
he couldn’t afford to eat out every meal. It took me years to get his
cholesterol levels down to normal. And I’m fairly certain that if I weren’t
around he’d go right back to eating bacon and eggs and steaks and he’d drop
dead in six months. You take my advice, young man, find a good girl who will
look after you and get married.”

“Girls don’t look after men anymore, ma’am.”

“That’s what my son says, and I don’t believe him either. The trouble isn’t
with the girls. Most of them would be perfectly happy to make their life’s
work looking after a nice man. The trouble is with you boys. You want the
girls to work full time and bring in an income just not quite as good as
yours (and don’t tell me that isn’t true, because I know how you boys get
when your wives make more than you – half my son’s friends are divorced) and
then you want them to take care of you on top of it. Is it any wonder that
they can’t do it? Pish-tosh. Give a nice girl an opportunity and be willing
for the two of you to live on your income, and she’ll be perfectly happy to
keep you out of trouble and make sure your uniform keeps on fitting.” She
shot a gimlet glance at his waistline, which embarrassed him mightily, since
it had recently expanded to hang over his belt and stretch the buttons of
his shirts in an alarming fashion. “Well, I’m off!” She settled into the
driver’s seat. “Come on along after, and mind you finish that water.”

By the time he was done draining the bottle, she had taken off and was gone.

He stared after her, willing himself not to do exactly as she had commanded.
After all, he was on duty! He couldn’t be buying vitamins while he was on
duty. No, he’d go in after his shift was over, on his own time. Maybe
tomorrow.
Back in his car he looked anxiously at himself in the rearview mirror. He
could pretty much see what she had meant about his skin. It was very pink
and finely wrinkled, almost exactly like an over-baked ham. He knew he was
fair-skinned, and that the sun was bad for him, but he really hadn’t thought
about what driving around in a car all day was doing to him.

He guessed he’d go and get the vitamins now after all.

Previous Chapter Chapter Index Next Chapter

Legal stuff: Please do not print, copy or distribute this without prior
permission from the author. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2001 Alexandra R.
Nyfors. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

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