"Stop! Hold it right there!" barked the sheriff's deputy, resembling Barney Fife, as he held up his 5lb canister of pepper spray in one hand, pistol in the other, aiming them toward us. He slowly and cautiously backed away from us toward his patrol car and turned on the red and blue flasher, never taking a wary eye off of the two potentially dangerous criminals standing before him.
The suspects, however, ready to bust a gut, calmly proceeded toward the officer wearing big ear-to-ear grins.
"Have we done something wrong, officer?" my husband snickered innocently, perhaps a little disrespectfully.
"We have reports from a neighbor that you were seen walking around a vacant house, looking in the windows." The cop eyed us suspiciously, nervously.
We already suspected this reason for being stopped on our walk through our once quiet, safe, rural neighborhood, where nobody ever breaks into houses or causes trouble. Now every neighbor within a mile radius was calling county dispatch to find out what was going on.
"Yes, sir." I grinned at him, "We were checking out the new home our friend just bought. He told us to stop by and peek inside since it's on our regular walking route."
He slowly lowered the pepper spray aimed at my eyeballs.
"Well," he hiked up his pants and took a deep sniff, "I'm going to have to take a report."
"That's fine officer, but would you mind putting the gun down, too?" my husband piped in.
"Oh, yeah…well I guess so." He put his gun in the holster and looked back at his partner in the car as if to say, watch these hoodlums and cover my butt.
He pulled out a pen and held his palm up, ready to write down our identification info directly on his hand. "Don't they make special notepads for this sort of thing?" I asked, barely able to maintain composure.
He wrote down our names, address, dates of birth, license numbers, city of birth, closest relative not living with us—it's amazing what a person can fit on a hand.
After we covered the bases, I said to him, "Don't you think you sort of overdid it? I mean, do we look like dangerous criminals to you? Don't you have more important things to do than chase down people looking in vacant house windows?"
He looked at me over knitted eyebrows. "It's a slow day."
This all happened last week. My husband and I thought it was some of the best entertainment we've had since I dyed his hair pink. We laughed all the way home.
So that's what life is like in Mayberry, and I guess (hope) that's the closest I'll ever get to being hauled off to the slammer.