Of Red Lights, Sirens, and Old Friends*

I was asked to interview some old-timers recently for a history book of sorts on police cars. At first, I wasn’t certain how I would handle it. Then I found one of my old squad cars was owned by a collector near me. That seemed like a good place to start, so I checked it out.

When I showed up at the showroom/museum, my old squad was sitting right in the middle of the room waiting for me. As I walked up, he hit his lightbar and chirped his siren—the same old Lee.

That’s right. Lee is his name. He is a 1976 Pontiac LeMans and does not look a day over ten years old, much less forty-five. The driver’s door was open, so I sat down and asked him how he was doing.

Being the wisecracker he’d always been, his response was not unexpected. “Well,” he said. “I think I’m doing a lot better than you, given the way you look.”

Hey, Lee. I thought we were friends.

“Friends! What do you mean, friends? You never liked me the whole time we worked together. You were always whining about how much roomier that old Plymouth was and how much faster he was.”

Hey, buddy. I was disappointed when they retired him, and I never held it against you that they downgraded the specs on police cars in the ’70s.

“See! There you go again, calling me downgraded! I did the best I could, and I was a lot faster than those taxi cabs Ford pushed off on police departments under the new standards.”

Yeah! Those Fords were something. I couldn’t chase down VW Bug in one of those things. For what it’s worth, you were a lot better looking than those boxy old Galaxies. Those things were tanks.

But, enough of the old days, let’s talk about what you’ve been doing since the department retired you.

“That’s right! You weren’t around much after you left patrol and got that desk job. In fact, I heard you resigned a few years later.”

Yes, I left the department and law enforcement for a time. But, this story is about you, not me. What happened after we quit working together?

“Well, things were okay for a while. I had a string of rookie partners who almost totaled me a couple of times, but I ended my patrol career in pretty good shape.”

Talking about shape, you do look good for someone closing in on fifty.

“I may look good now, but it wasn’t always that way.”

What do you mean?

“Man, once they took me off of patrol, they transferred me to Code Enforcement. Those guys were strange, and they treated me like I was a garbage truck. When they were through with me, I was worn out and thought certain I was headed to the scrap heap.”

What do you mean?

“Oh, they parked me at the back of the Physical Plant and just left me there. I ended up covered with dirt, and every pigeon in town used me for target practice. I thought I was done.”

What happened?

“One day, a bunch of teenagers showed up with a flatbed truck. They loaded me up and took me over to the high school. I became the shop class project. They fully restored me. I felt like new!”

“Once they were done, they auctioned me off as part of a fundraiser. That’s how I wound up here. I get treated like a celebrity, tool around town in parades, and have a good old time.”

The rest of our time together was just chit-chat, but I walked away feeling good about an old friend. Then, I got a real surprise. The collector let me know he thought it would be nice if I drove Lee in a parade or event sometime. I just had to promise not to say anything about Plymouths around him.

* In case you were wondering this bit of fantasy was written as part of a writing class and is being shared with classmates as well as others. However, as I found in researching the suggested format there are people who write or podcast in this format regularly. Here’s a link to one such offering: Everything is Alive

© oneoldcop – 2021

About S. Eric Jackson

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3 Responses to Of Red Lights, Sirens, and Old Friends*

  1. Pingback: Lee, Fact or Fiction | An Old Cop's Place

  2. Thanks for that story – well written and interesting, particular from an old rev-head tragic like me. I have a 1969 Ford Ranchero 390GT that I have done up and that brings back memories for me. I was in the automotive trade at all levels for nearly 50 years, so all of it still runs through the veins. Thanks once again for the memories.
    Regards, Phil at http://knowledge-data.net

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