“There isn’t any marijuana, officer,” Vic pleads politely.

“Well, none your gonna’ find,” Ray adds.

The officer steps up to Ray, who is several inches taller, even hunched over, and stares at him as menacingly as he can from beneath the brim of his hat. “Do you think this is funny?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do think it’s funny,” Ray says casually.

“Lying to a police officer is a crime.”

“I’m not lying. There’s marijuana in that car, and you are never going to find it.”

The police officer steps up closer to Ray. “How ’bout I put you away for the night while I search the car. Is that going to be funny?”

Ray gets serious suddenly, and leans in to the police officer. “How ’bout you take off that badge, and I teach you some respect for your elders, you little punk.”

“Ray!” Vic starts to grab for him.

“No,” Ray replies, fending off Vic and throwing his cigarette on the ground, “I’m serious. What’s the matter with you, boy? All that power take the humor outa’ya’? Your Daddy never teach you what a joke is? I’m twice your age. If I wanna’ crack a little joke to lighten things up this early in the morning, I gotta’ right.”

The officer stands back a little, a serious look still on his face. Something about what Ray said is right: it is too early in the morning to be dealing with this crap. If he is going to be the better man, he is going to let it slide. The officer looks at the ground and let his arms hang more loosely. Then, looking up to Vic, he says, “Take your friend, and get out of here.” Then, looking at Ray, he says, “The law is the law.”

Ray smiles sympathetically and looks into the officers eyes—something the young man is not used to when he is in uniform. “Don’t think I don’t know where you’re comin’ from, son—I was in the military for God’s sake—but take some advice from an older man: you gotta’ know when to be the law and when to be you.”

The officer doesn’t seem to hear Ray, and Vic just looks surprised at his friend’s sudden patience and demeanor. Ray was capable of good things, but not often.

“Goodnight, gentlemen.” The officer walks around the front of his car to the driver’s side door, and Vic and Ray walk back to the Camaro and get in, Ray lowering himself down carefully, even though the aspirin has taken effect. In that moment, for some reason, he actually doesn’t want to mess with a good thing.

Vic puts the key in the ignition and turns the lights on, then waits for the policeman to pull out first. He looks over at Ray for a moment, without saying anything and pulls back out onto the highway.

“Little bit of fun never hurt,” Ray says, staring out into the dark on the right side of the highway.

Vic shakes his head and doesn’t reply. He’s too old to be as mad as he is and would rather just move on to relief. He adjusts his hands on the steering wheel, sits back in his fake leather seat, and thinks about hitting that last ball out of the park with a Louisville slugger.