A wise man once asked the question, “Do you know the difference between a fairy tale and a war story?”

The apprentice answered, “No, what is it?”

The wise man is reputed to have bowed his head, and said, “A fairy tale starts with ‘Once upon a time.’  A war story starts with ‘this is no shit . . .”

War stories are almost always told over a couple of beers gradually getting warm, and on the back porch between friends who are in a similar professions.  But they’re almost always hysterical, and almost always have a point to the story.  In short, don’t be this stupid.

So with that, here’s one of my favorites.

I had been out investigating a break in and was heading back to the Sheriff’s Office when I got a call from one of the city police officers.

“Conejos 4, could you meet me behind the VFW?  I need assistance with a DUI.”

Now when you live and work in a county where there’s never enough, you soon learn you’re in this game they call Law Enforcement together.  You need to always have each other’s back, so when he asked for assistance, I went.

I did think it was little strange that he had a DUI at 9 in the morning, but then it isn’t so strange if you were out all night.

I arrived, and he had this car pulled over in the parking lot.  The driver was outside the car, standing up.  That’s about all he was capable of doing.  He was bombed beyond belief.  He was lucky he was standing at all.  He was swaying from side to side like a tree caught in a hurricane, and would surely topple over any second.

And he smelled so wonderful, even the flies were staying away.  It appeared he’d been wearing the same clothes for a few days, he’d urinated recently all over himself, Probably defecated as well, and I found myself standing a bit up wind.

Talk about a lost weekend!

Well, it turned out the city cop wasn’t having issues, what he wanted was a witness to his road side sobriety test.  So I leaned against the hood of my car, watching this.  The cop instructed the guy to hold out his right hand, and touch, and to touch his nose with his finger.

Then he demonstrated.  Now the thing they always yelled at us in the academy was you never demonstrate the maneuver.  You explain it, and it’s up to them to figure it out.  My colleague put out his right hand, and touched his nose with his finger.  The guy he tried it and got himself in the ear.

He then did the alphabet.  The guy tried it, stopping at ‘P” because most of that had ran down his leg.

He did a few other maneuvers, each one the guy totally screwed up.

Then the cop looked at me with a wink and said, “Watch this.”

He was doing a test that I’d heard of, but never actually seen done.  It’s called the “Key Drop”, only he’d modified it a little.

“Here’s what I want you to do,” he said.  “I’m going to drop my keys, and I want you to stand on one foot, bend over, and pick them up.”

Now try that someday.  It’s hell on a sober person to do without falling on their face.  A drunken person?  They’ll never make it.  What he was enjoying was the prospect of seeing the guy fall on his face.

But no, he demonstrated the maneuver.  He dropped the keys, he stood on one foot, and he bent over.  He looked like a tree falling as he rapidly tried to catch himself, and he fail face first into the parking lot.

I looked at him, looked at the drunk driver, and then back at him.

“Before you put the cuffs on this guy,” I said, “can I have a word with you?”

He got up all embarrassed.  “What?” he asked.

“Do you intend to charge this man?” I asked.

“Of course.  Why?”

“Because you’re going to look like a complete and total ass in court when the Defense Attorney asks you if you could pass your own road side sobriety test.”

The look on his face was classic.  At the very least, he’d look stupid in court.  While I thought he could still make a good case out of it, the fact he’d look stupid was something he didn’t want to do.

“So what do I do with him?” he asked.

I looked over at him.  “Call detox,” I said.  “You bring him into the jail; we’re going to do the same thing anyway.  I’m sure his Blood, Alcohol level is well into the danger zone.”

“Will you take him for me?”

The wind shifted a little and my nose wrinkled up at the odor boiling off the man.

“I don’t want him in my cruiser,” I blurted out.  “He’s all yours.”

He spent the afternoon hosing the back of his cruiser down.

And now he knows why his patrol car had vinyl seats.

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