Friday, March 7, 2014

Two Goats, a Falcon, and a Wedding Night in Jail

This is a story that could only happen in the ‘60s. Those days of muscle cars. Days when they threw real rice after a wedding. In some ways it wasn't as bad as the title sounds. In other ways it was much worse.

Our wedding was finally over and my beautiful bride ran beside me through a shower of rice as we hurried to the little blue Ford Falcon with a big V8 engine that, with my best man at the wheel and the maid of honor at his side, would whisk us away from the church. We would outrun those in pursuit to where I had hidden my car at a rest area along the freeway north of town. You know, so it wouldn't be molested by those pesky wedding vandals.

My wife of only a few minutes glanced at me when we jumped into the Falcon. I’d known her since we were kids, so I could interpret the look in her eyes. Let’s get to our car and get out of Dodge. My sentiments exactly.

I had rented the honeymoon suite at a place about 70 miles up the freeway. We just needed to shake anybody following us, get to my car, and drive for an hour up the freeway and … But back to the Ford with us in the back seat.

My best man, and buddy of 15 years, leaned over and whispered something to the maid of honor sitting beside him. They were plotting something. I started to lean forward and listen, but honking horns behind us drew my attention.

As we pulled from the curb, I looked back to see who was honking and got a close-up view of the grill of my uncle’s GTO. Suddenly, losing the chasers became a little dicier. You see, my buddy and I had sat in the back seat of that Goat when my uncle showed us it could hit 100 MPH in quite a bit less than a quarter mile. As he accelerated down the highway, we must have pulled 5 g’s. Couldn't even move my arms. And now that vehicle was chasing us through town.

The little Falcon with its over-sized engine could really scoot, but the Goat was raw power and speed. Realizing this, my buddy tried to shake my uncle by circling blocks and weaving through town on side streets. I looked back. Now another GTO was also in pursuit, hanging close to my uncle’s car.

We were now leading a long procession of vehicles, racing through town with horns blaring.  This was not good. I looked at my bride and caught her gaze just before another sharp turn threw us to our left. Again, her eyes spoke what I was thinking. Our wish to get out of Dodge had morphed to getting out of Dodge alive.

Things had gotten out of hand. I tapped my best man on the shoulder, “Just head for the freeway and get out of town before—“

Too late. Red lights flashed and a siren sounded. My bride tensed beside me as a cop brought our whole procession to a stop, cutting us off.

My best man rolled down the window and put a cheesy grin on his face. I was anxious to get out of town, but I was also anxious to see how he was going to talk his way out of a ticket, because I knew my buddy would try. He always did. But things didn't go like I planned. Not one bit.

The cop, a big, middle-aged guy who had mastered the look of authority and intimidation, stuck his head halfway in the window. Good. He’s going to get right in my buddy’s face. But he didn't.

The cop’s gaze locked onto me and my bride seated in back. I’ll never forget those 12 words that came out of his mouth as he gave us his laser look, “How would you two like to spend your wedding night in jail?”

What do you say as a comeback to a question like that? Maybe something like, “But we would lose the honeymoon suite we rented at—“

“That’s the general idea,” he said in his gruff voice as he raised his eyebrows and stared at me for a moment.

They say patience is a virtue, so I closed my mouth and waited.

Eventually, he pulled his head back and turned to the driver, the guy who had caused all of this. “What in blazes did you think you were doing?”

 “I was just trying to get these two out of town.” My best man used his best imitation of an innocent kid’s voice. But it was a poor imitation by any standard, and I was now hoping he would get a big ticket. He deserved it.

The policeman thumbed over his shoulder in the direction of the hospital. “Do you want to send these two off on their honeymoon or to the morgue in a body bag?”

If there was anything romantic left in this evening, it flew out the window with the mention of body bags.

The cop gave my best man a lecture that seemed to last for an hour. Eventually, the cop’s threats slowed to a trickle, and he looked back at my bride and me again. “I’m going to let you go just this once. But if anyone honks their horn or starts speeding again, you two will spend your wedding night in jail.”

In hindsight, I figured out what the guy was doing. He knew how badly we wanted leave his area of jurisdiction. And he probably knew I could handle my best man better than anyone else and would do so long after the policeman had driven away.

He was right. I threatened to kill my buddy if he didn't drive below the legal limit straight to where my car was parked. Told him I was sitting right behind him, so he wouldn't even see it coming when I wasted him.

In conclusion, my best man drove us safely and sanely to the rest area where I had parked my car. After he exited from the freeway and decelerated into the rest area, the whispering between him and the maid of honor resumed. But only after the Ford Falcon stopped behind my car, pinning it to the curb, did we realize what the whispering was about. The two people in the front seat hopped out … carrying bottles of black shoe polish in their hands.

 H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life he performed research in atmospheric physics. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked 20+ years in systems development at Boeing before retiring near Seattle, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, grandchildren, hiking on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever possible, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. He just released his second novel in the Pure Genius Series from Pelican Book Group, On the Pineapple Express


Tom Blubaugh, Night of the Cossack said...

Hilarious story, Harry. Any pictures of your car after the shoe polish job?

Patti Shene said...

What a story, Harry! Well told and much enjoyed!

H L Wegley said...

No pictures of the car, Tom. But I drove right over the curb, risking my oil pan in the process, to get away. My car was silver gray with slightly oxidized paint. The "just married" was still faintly visible on the trunk when we traded the car a year later.

H L Wegley said...

Another thing about that car -- it was a '60 Ford Falcon, the first year they were made, supposedly all lemons. But this car was one of those that come off the assembly line with everything perfect. It ran rings around all the other Falcons and it got 28 MPG, incredible in those days. The car's only drawback was it had been totaled. However, my uncle, an expert mechanic, rebuilt it and he did a great job, except for one thing ... the drive shaft was bent. The car reached resonant frequency at 65 MPH. It felt like the whole thing was coming apart until you hit 70. Then you were through the sound barrier and flying down the freeway, silently, with no sensation of speed at all. I caught myself many times cruising along at 90 MPH without a clue how fast I was going. Once a state policeman pulled alongside of me, both of us doing 90, and yelled at me to slow down. I did. He waved and drove away. Because of his mercy, to this day, after 53 years of driving, still no tickets. Knock on wood.

Caroline said...

Fun story, Harry! I once owned a fastback Mustang (cherry red w/blk vinyl top) w/ a 428 Super cobra engine (police intercepter, I think it was called). That thing could move. :)

H L Wegley said...

Caroline, Sounds awesome! They just don't make them anymore like the muscle cars we knew in the '60s. I knew a policeman who put a Porsche engine in a Volkswagen bug. When he pulled the cut outs, shot fire out the back, and did a wheelie as he left cars behind, people were really surprised.