By Gary R. Hoffman

Clark Charles went to work for a heating and air conditioning company as soon as he graduated high school. After five years, he quit Quint Brother’s Heating and Air and opened his own shop. He had been very successful with his own business. But, like many other people in his profession, his legs and knees gave him problems early in his life.

When he was in his fifties, he closed his shop and went to work for a company that sold all types of filters for different machinery, including furnaces and air conditioners. He quickly learned the benefit of good filters to keep his furnaces and air conditioners running well when he sold them, so this job was an easy transition for him.

He was just leaving a construction site having made a good sale to the machinery company doing the grading work. He was driving down a paved street, but there was really nothing built on it. It was in the city, but still almost country. On the left side of the road, he saw a large terrapin just starting to make its way slowly across the road. He drove a few hundred feet past the turtle before he decided to make a u-turn and go move it from the road. He knew the men in the construction site would be getting off work soon and that one of them might think it was fun to run over the turtle.

He pulled off the side of the road a few feet from the turtle, got out and picked it up. It was larger than most he had seen, almost seven inches across, he figured. He walked across the road in the direction the turtle was headed and released it on the other side of a ditch there.

Then, feeling rather good about his deed, he walked back to his truck, started it and made another u-turn to leave in the direction he was originally headed. About the same place he had decided to turn around the first time, he looked in his rear view mirror and saw a police car behind with lights flashing.

“Well, crap,” he said under his breath. He pulled off on the shoulder of the road. The police car pulled off behind him, but the policeman was in no great hurry to get out of his car. Clark sat there for a full five minutes before the policeman approached his truck.

“Afternoon, sir,” the policeman said. “Could I see your license and insurance papers, please?”

Clark took his wallet out his back pocket and got out his license. “My insurance papers are in the glove box,” he said. He had always heard it was a good idea to tell a policeman why a person was going for the glove box.

“Fine, get them out,” the policeman said. Clark noticed the policeman took a step towards the back of the truck and put his hand on his pistol as he leaned over to open the glove box. He got out the papers, left the glove box open, and handed the papers to the officer.

“Is there a problem, sir?” Clark asked.

The policeman looked over his license and insurance papers, but didn’t offer to return them to him. “Actually, Mr. Charles, there is a problem. You made a u-turn back there in the middle of the road. Care to tell me why?”

“Well, sir, the truth is I was coming out of the construction site back there and saw a turtle trying to cross the road. I went back to move him to the other side of the road so no one would run over him.”

The officer stood there with a strange grin on his face. In his mind, he was thinking—just when you think you’ve heard them all! “Tell you what, Mr. Charles, you take me up to where you moved the turtle. If there’s one there, I won’t give you a ticket.”

“One problem, sir. I have to make another u-turn to get back up there.”

“Go ahead,” the officer said. “I’ll be right behind you.” The policeman returned to his car still carrying Clark’s license and insurance papers. This time, Clark carefully put on a turn signal before he made the u-turn and put on his emergency flashers when he pulled off the side of the road where he hoped the turtle still was.

He got out and walked over by the ditch, with the policeman close on his heels. He walked over to where he thought he had put the turtle down. At first he didn’t see it, but then he spotted it about four feet further towards the woods than where he had released it. “There,” he almost shouted, “there it is.”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” the policeman said. He handed Clark his license and insurance papers. “Well, sir, you’re free to go. I hope that turtle appreciates all your effort.”

“Thank you, officer,” Clark said and started towards his truck. Then he stopped and turned back towards the policeman. “I have another problem, sir.”

“And what’s that?” he asked.

“I have to make another u-turn to get out of here.”

The officer laughed. “Well, have one on me. This one is for the books.”

Gary R. Hoffman was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He taught English and Speech/Drama for 22 years in Missouri and California. He now lives in a motor home and calls home “where he parks it!” He can be contacted for his books at grhotra@yahoo.com or www.authorgaryhoffman.bravehost.com A short story anthology, Seven by Seven, with seven of his short stories, and those of six other authors, dealing with the seven deadly sins came out in April. This can be ordered from http://www.wolfmont.com