There Is Nothing quite Like Staring into the Eyes of a Shaking Rifle.

     Back when I was a kid ( about 26) I had a unique experience with the County Sherrif’s officers that gave me a rather grey look into the black and white letters of the law.  I was a serious Ballet student, and had just come home from my 2 & 1/2 hour morning class.  My husband at that time (an X-husband for 30 years) and I were sitting around the round table in our living/dining/what ever room drinking coffee, when we heard what sounded like a loud speaker, spewing unintelligible talk seemingly coming from our front yard.  As I was up and pacing, hyper-active nut that I always was, I took a look out the front window  and noticed about 6 uniformed men ( in uniforms I did not recognize as lawmen of any kind,  Austin  Cops wore dark blue uniforms and these were khaki-tan (sort of like Air Force Officer Summer Uniforms) pointing high caliber rifles in the direction of our house.  This I took to be a rather unfortunate way to spend such a nice Spring morning;  however, being (as I have bragged about many times here) a Military Brat, when seeing serious looking Uniformed Men in firing stance with high powered rifles pointed your way, while giving directions such as ” come out of the house with your hands up,” it is best not to have a debate with one’s partner or even hesitate in doing what was clearly suggested.  So I opened the front door in my brown leotard and brown long skirt having my hands up in fifth position (kidding) even though I didn’t know who these guys were– and they did not inform us who they were, until after the fact–that they were county sheriff’s officers.  You got to remember that this was back in the stone ages, and not too long after Charles Whitman pulled his famous routine;  so for all I knew this could have been a whole bunch of Eagle Scouts gone terribly wrong.   My (at that time) husband followed me out, after his coffee hit him and reality sunk in.    We were told to lay on the the ground so they could cuff us ( like a couple of Spring Pigs.)…( Oh ,the disrespect of  non-removable grass stains on my off-white tights, to say nothing of the dignity lost with the neighbors, not that we held the esteem of said neighbors even with out that unfortunate display.) 

     At the time we had a serious watch dog, a German Shephard  named “Mule.”   He was infamous among the local hippies, as he would guard the house, or truck, or what ever he was in charge of– as though he were Genghis Khan with more serious teeth.  Well, of course old Mule wasn’t having any intruding Eagle Scouts in his domain, and was barking, growling, and showing those infamous teeth of his in his fiercest stance as he stood point inside of the screen door.   There was some talk among those lawmen of shooting him, until I managed to sit up and request that the let me handle the situation and “my dog” by giving a known command that I figured he would follow, regardless of the presence of these courteous, friendly visitors.  They discussed this and told me to try it, but if he went for one of them, he’d be shot.  I shouted in my loudest most serious voice: “Mule, get in the truck.” And told the cop closest to the door to get behind and open the screen door, which oddly enough he did.  Must have been the volume I could produce back then, those where the days when I sang on the street with no mike, and was young and  in good physical shape.  Lucky for me that I knew how to give and take orders, as in my child hood I remember waking up to  the familiar loudly cadanced ” attention for the orders of the day, detail for tomorrow…”  for about 17 years, when my Dad felt like getting things moving in the morning.

      Mule followed my directions as I followed him with my eyes and then said ” Good Boy”: Mule was no bodies fool ,that’s for sure;  who wouldn’t rather be guarding the truck than sprawled out and ‘hogtied’, at that time cuffed on the ground, and for what reason I had no idea—(-maybe these guys were Dance critics?)

     Actually some prisoner from the county jail escaped on these fine guy’s watch. Unfortunately for us, he had coincidentally parked his company truck in our drive way, then ran for it around the back of our house and down to the woods that lead to Lamar Boulevard, which he could cross and be in an even more dense and remote forest.  Any way, as he was found to not be hiding in our little house, and he was no where in sight, they very officially changed their mode, and un-cuffed us, after which we were told what had gone down.  They gave me Sheriff Frank’s card and told me ” if ever the sheriff could do any thing for you, don’t hesitate to call,” etc.  So they unchambered their rifles and gathered like grackels to talk about what had happened, and what to do now, etc.  I noticed two very young officers among that group were still shaking from the adrenaline rush, or what ever…one of those younger guys had me “covered”, and I’m sure I must have looked pretty ” bad-assed” with my ballet bun, and turned out stance.  I remember ‘reassuring that guy’, and saying some thing like :”Say man, every things cool now, huh?”…to which he just met my eyes and kind of muttered, ‘Yeah, I guess.’  I think they were looking forward to target practice on the weird-os, but I could be wrong.  At least they apologized and didn’t shoot the dog.

      But that was a long time ago, when Austin was a nice smallish “college town”, where you could walk around at night with out pepper spray.  I had some personal dealings with the county lawmen, and the city cops lately, and this new generation of cops are not nearly so open to suggestion, as they were in those days, to say the least.  Must be the age thing, and some where during all these rough shod years I lost the Sheriff’s card along with my nerve.   

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