There I was in a part of the state I didn’t want to be caught dead in – or alive either. But there I was, pulled over on the side of the road by the local sheriff’s patrol car with all its winkie-blinkies painting my little VW in vibrating reds and blues.
There were two of them. One approached my side and commanded, “Get out of the car.” As I saw in my side view mirror his hand was resting on his police issue firearm I thought it best to do as he ordered. I noticed his partner opening my passenger door. “Driver’s license,” demanded the first officer. I handed it to him along with my registration I had retrieved from the glove compartment after stopping. I thought he looked at the documents rather casually.
Then his partner exclaimed, “Well, lookie here!” With that my deputy drew his gun and pointed it at me. “Hands on the car, NOW.” I heard my papers being shoved in a pocket as I did as I was told. After a quick and violent frisk he yelled, “Hands behind your head.” As soon as I did I felt the tug and click of handcuffs.
In the interrogation room later I sat in silence. They had read me my rights and I told them I would not talk without an attorney. So we waited. Finally, as I expected, a local lawyer appeared and greeted all the deputies by name. When we were alone I told him I was not a drug dealer and I had never before seen that plastic bag the second deputy claimed to have found in my car. Then I added, “Listen, if they say anything about Clayton Schnufl I’m screwed.”
Now, reader, listen to me: You must strike off your bucket list overnighting in that county jail and eating that food. Believe me – they are definitely things worth missing.
Next morning, after eating their version of grits and eggs, only because I was hungry, they sat me down back in the interrogation room with my attorney in attendance. And you know what the first thing they said was. “Now, tell us about this Clayton Sniffles.”
“Oh, shit,” say I, as ‘my’ attorney feigns surprise. “It’s Schnufl – German. I think it’s S – c – h – n – u – f – l. People get hurt real bad calling him ‘Sniffels.’”
I leaned towards the deputy and made this statement: “I’m going to tell you the truth so help me God. I have never done any business with Clayton. I have never bought any of his weed or sold any or transported any. If that is his stuff you guys found in my car, I did not put it there. Possibly it was one of his gang who planted it so’s I’d get caught.”
The deputy gave me a funny look and started to open his mouth. I raised my hand to stop him.
“I’m tell’n you the truth – I have never had anything to do with Schnufl or any of his gang. My only connection to him,” I took a deep breath and looked down at the table, “is his wife, Jackie.” I could feel the stir among the others.
The lawyer leaned towards me but I put up my hand again. “Now, I grant you she’s not much to look at. Clayton has beaten on her some and it shows. But her body ain’t bad and boy can she give you the eye if she’s interested in you. Took a shine to me all right. Jackie – Jacqueline Ma… – Mcaw… – what was her family name? Maw – Mabry – that’s it – Jacqueline Mabry Schnufl. Boy, was she hot.”
I noticed one of the deputies lean forward. So I switched subjects. “But back to her husband, Clayton,” I went on. “As I said I had no dealings with him. I had never heard of him before I met Jackie. It was Jackie who told me how Clayton was able to ‘fly under the radar,’ so to speak; even though he has marijuana plots all over the hills.
“Yes, I smoked some of his stuff, but as I said I never bought any. He kept Jackie strung out on weed and she shared some with me. Good stuff. It’s known as ‘Schnuf’s stuff – but I’m sure you know that.” I noticed them give each other surprised looks. “Yeh, good stuff, some of the best I’ve tried.
“Anyway, as I said I never dealt with Clayton. All I know about him I got from Jackie. How his trade is building up pretty quick; he’s now the biggest grower in these parts, she told me.
“Butcha know – the more Jackie told me about Schnufl – the more I got worried. I started figuring this guy could do me a world of hurt if he found out about me and Jackie.
“Then comes last evening. Jackie was supposed to meet me at the turnoff near the Pine Creek trail. But she doesn’t show. First I get concerned for her then I started to get freaked for myself – has Clayton found out about us? I decide it’s time to get out ‘a town.
“So I drive back to my apartment, throw my gear in the car and head for the … no, away from the hills. That’s when you guys stopped me. I was try’n to get away. Maybe while I was get’n the things from my room one of Schnuf’s boys planted it.”
My interrogators were now looking at each other strangely and the lead guy says, “How about you tak’n a polygraph test for us, uh?”
“No way,” I responded. “How do I know if it wasn’t one of your deputies who planted that stuff in my car instead of Clayton’s gang. Hell, how do I know you all aren’t on the take from Schnufl? I’ve heard about those lie detectors – with the questions you ask they can be made to prove what ever you want. But, look here, I swear I never touched that bag. You must be able to find whose prints are on it. Then you might have a link to Clayton.”
At that point they looked at each other and when the leader got up and left the room, the others followed. I was left alone to study the cracks in the wall and ceiling. The attorney said nothing but busied himself writing on a legal pad. Some time later the senior interrogator returned with a sour look on his face.
“It seems that bag they found in your car has turned up missing so we are going to have to let you go. First, though I’d like you to sign these forms stating …”
“I ain’t signing nothing,” I cut in. “Just let me out ‘a here and I promise you’ll never see me again. I’ll miss the fun with Jackie but I won’t miss the wrath of Clayton Schnufl.”
As I was putting my key in the ignition of my VW, the lawyer said, “So you have any idea where this Clayton Sniffle is?”
“It’s Schnufl,” I replied starting the engine. I nodded to him and smiled as I pointed to my left temple. As I drove away I saw his puzzled face get smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror.