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Fiction #287
(published July 20, 2006)
The Driver
by Jason Polan
Sometimes he will follow them for hours. He will see a car he likes, or it will be swerving, or going too fast. Something catches his eye and he is off. It usually isn't because he wants to pull them over. He just wants some interaction. He will pull over somebody if they are drunk—he can tell instantly—or if they are going more than ten over the speed limit. Minor infractions do not bother him. He is a police officer in a smaller town and he does not have any kind of quota to fill. He doesn't want to trouble a stranger with a violation. He also doesn't like filling out the paperwork.

Sometimes he will follow a car for no reason at all. He will make up reasons why he might pull them over after he sees them driving. If he can see that there are passengers in the car he will have their conversation for them in his car.

"Please turn the radio down it is giving me a blinding headache."

"Would you like a Tylenol?"

"Yes, yes I would, I think that would help very much."

"Oh, I am sorry, I do not have one but maybe we can stop at the next gas station."

He likes to watch families driving. He can usually only see their silhouettes. The young daughter in the back seat looking out the window as the son falls asleep while drooling on the seatbelt. He thinks about what they will be when they grow up, maybe a newscaster and a security man. The daughter will be the attractive female anchor that people tune in each evening to see. Her mouth will be watched as she talks about the bombs that were set that day and the people who were killed when they exploded. The son won't mind being a security man. He will get the job after high school and decide not to go to college because of all the money he will be making. He will decide to change his job after a little bit and will begin to work in a sporting goods store. He will quickly become the manager. He will eventually purchase the store and run it until he dies and his own son will take over.

The police officer usually has the night shift. He does not have a family and he does not have very many friends and he does not have a girlfriend.

He will be in his patrol car looking at his rear view mirror into the black forest behind him, facing the highway, when she will drive by. He will decide to follow her for no reason and she will not notice him. He will see how she drives and how she turns around the curves in the road. He will notice her speed fluctuations and will think of how her face must look. He will see how her neck will tense when she goes into a turn and she takes a quick breath in. She must be young, he will think. He will say the right thing to her after she stops at a diner, after he stops at the diner, right behind her. She will smile gently and will not be nervous that a stranger is talking to her. He will be too scared to ask for her phone number and will start to feel ashamed that he is not going to ask for her number because they begin talking and he likes her and he thinks that maybe she likes him. He will then decide that he can ask her if she would like to have coffee with him sometime and he will ask her for her number because he can and when he turns toward her she will ask him if he would like to get coffee with her sometime. He will tell her that he is a police officer and will make a joke about it, that he will be embarrassed, and she will find this attractive and then they will leave separately and he will call her the next day when he is sitting on his couch looking at the cream colored wall that is lighter near the ceiling, waiting to call her at the right time and she will be excited when her phone rings. Then they will meet because that is what they both want to do. They will enjoy each other very much and will plan to meet again. He will think about how lucky he is, that he found her, and at exactly the same time she will be thinking the same thing about him.

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