Now, where was I… Dick pulled up to me on the highway and told me to put it second gear and “Get on it!” So I slipped it up a gear and took off. I didn’t go very far because I saw a state trooper driving in the other lanes look over at me as he passed going the other direction. About this time Dick pulled up to me grinning like the cat that said hello to the canary. “Really hauls a—, huh?” I looked over at him and told him to slow down and get into the passing lane. Surprisingly he did just that.
About that minute I see this state trooper flying by me after Dick. I grinned to myself, “Heh heh, he is going to get Dick and not me.” Ah, but that dream didn’t come true as I went around the same curve where Dick had disappeared from my view. I didn’t have long to wait to see if he had pulled Dick over. I’m cruising around the curve happy as a clam with my head leaning back against the head rest and slammed on my brakes.
The state trooper was standing in the middle of this three-lane highway with his one hand on the butt of his gun and a flashlight in his other had waving me over to the side of the road. This guy had walked out to the middle of the road where cars were swinging around him and looking at us as if we had robbed a bank or something. This is where Dick had ended up after disappearing around the curve.
The trooper kept his hand on his gun as he walked over to us and said, “You are under arrest for a spontaneous speed competition.” Dick and I both stood there as he came up to us and we didn’t know whether to laugh or not. It turned out that we were glad we hadn’t smiled or laughed, although we were tempted because of the misunderstanding.
We were pretty happy that he had got us on that charge because we hadn’t been racing, and both of us couldn’t wait to tell this fine man of his mistake. We said we might have been speeding, but it was crazy to think we were racing. The cars were simply not in the same league, with one of them being really fast and the other just looking fast. That was another misfire on our side. He told us to shut up as he explained that this charge was a court date not a simple citation.
We were sure he was going to throw us into his car and take us to jail right then, but eventually he got control of his emotions and issued us both a summons to appear in the Fayetteville traffic court in two weeks time. We immediately started whining that we both had orders to transfer, hoping to get the trooper to understand this was just a little misunderstanding. That was not a good defense either.
He stood there in the twilight and read us the applicable code violation. It appeared to us that we had made another mistake. This officer didn’t care if we had orders. So we shut up while he kept us there for about 30 minutes as he filled in all the spaces in his book. Eventually, he finished his little roadside justice spiel and told us we could leave. Neither one of us started our cars. We just stood there until he finally left us in a cloud of dust. Oh man! We were in some hot water.
We spoke to each other about our pickle. “We have to get a lawyer,” Dick said. I agreed, although I didn’t know how to go about getting a lawyer. We then continued our drive to an upholstery shop where we used to hang out. Aubrey was the owner and had become a friend since we usually spent a few minutes anytime we went by his shop. After we had told him of our problem, he said he would give us the name of a lawyer friend. We called the lawyer and he told us that we were facing a pretty heavy crime. So we asked how much he charged and agreed to meet him at the courtroom on the date specified.
Dick and I sat there for about 30 minutes when this little fellow entered the courtroom. He had real red hair and the ugliest plaid suit I had ever seen. He was like a cartoon of a southern lawyer. First he walked over to the bailiff and shook hands, then to the court reporter and leaned down to brush her cheek with a kiss. He waved to another couple of courtroom guys who looked as if they were watching a show. Then, finally he walked over to us and asked if we were the defendants.
We both admitted we were and he asked us to come out to the hall, where he said, “I need my money now.” So we both paid him $50 in cash, which may not seem like a lot, but this was 40 years ago. We walked back into court to see that we were the first case. Leon, that was our lawyer’s name, was ready to go.
The court proceedings began, and after all the preliminaries, the trooper was called to testify. He started off by explaining what he had seen. At one point, the trooper must have said something wrong because Leon shouted, “I object!” Dick and I almost smiled because that was worth the $50.
“Just a minute! You said that Worthy was driving the Ford and Eaton was driving the Chevrolet,” Leon said. The trooper looked down at his notes and said, “Ford, Chevy, it’s hard to tell them apart.” The courtroom broke up. Everyone started laughing. The idea that a ’58 Corvette and a ’32 Ford looked the same seemed really funny.
Then everyone stopped laughing except for Dick, who was still cracking up. I looked at him and elbowed him to get him to stop, but he just kept giggling with a smile on his face. As the court proceedings continued, our lawyer leaned over and said, “I think I can get them to reduce this to speeding as you guys admitted.”
Dick and I looked at each other and said, “Heck no! You have already earned your money by objecting. Give it your best shot.” To end this tale, that was a real emotional roller coaster, but we were found innocent. The trooper even became a friend of Dick’s and I went to Germany.
Dick and I were always in the same country after that — Germany, Vietnam, Hong Kong. We even went to Australia together; however, that’s a tale for another time.