Many, many years ago, as a relatively young police officer, I was part of one of the best municipal police pistol teams in the country. I was not the best shot, but I could hold my own well enough to compete at National Police Pistol Championships a few times and win several awards at smaller competitions. Once, I did so well the first time I entered a match out west that the sponsoring department asked me not to come back. They thought I was a sandbagger.
The sandbagger story has a folly side as well. However, that will need to wait for another day. Today is about one of my trips to the national competition and the strange situation a teammate and I encountered.
While we’d been to the competition before, we’d not strayed far from the pistol range or our lodging. On this trip, we decided to be adventurous and headed to the largest nearby city for a cold one where nobody knew our names.
Unfortunately, we didn’t know the city very well. Also, this was long before smartphones and map apps. We had no idea where some nice little bar might be located. So, we headed down the main drag looking for something inviting.
After looking for quite a while, we gave up and started to return to the motel. It seemed everything in the part of town we found was factories or warehouses. Then at a stop light, a flashing sign caught our eyes. It simply flashed, “BEER,” which was enough for us.
Pulling up to the building with the flashing sign, we had second thoughts. There was a brick wall with one door, windows high up toward the roof, a flashing sign, and a couple of cars parked across the street. Inviting was not a word that came to mind, be we’d come this far. We decided to see what it was like.
What it was like was a scene from an old Western movie. You know, the scene when two strangers step through the bar door, and time stands still. We stepped through this door, and the place was almost empty. Two guys were at a pool table. One guy was standing at the bar talking to the bartender, and a lady of the evening was sitting at the bar. They looked over at us and froze.
Time stood still! We were one step inside the bar, and you could hear a pin drop. No one said a word. The people in the bar just stared at us as if they were waiting for our next move. We glanced at each other, looked back at them, and backed out the door. Then we drove to the highway, stopped at a convenience store, bought a six-pack, and returned to our room wondering what had happened.
I still think the bar was a front for illegal activity. Those folks never expected to see two strangers walk through that door.
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