Cops! Boot IT!
an excerpt from Book 2
It’s a Friday night in the summer of 1977 and we’re cruising Albert in Greg’s blue ’67 Mustang: Greg driving stick, me beside, Darrell in the rear.
We are not friends. We say we are friends but we are not. We are temporal acquaintances based on geography.
We have nothing in common except our age and location. We have few differences, one being Greg is a Ford guy, Darrell is a Chev guy, and I simply don’t care to take a stand. Long, fiery debates about the merits of Ford verses Chevrolet leave me staring out the window while we cruise the Queen City.
(Very Important Note: from its usage in the 1970s and earlier, the word ‘cruising’ suddenly and significantly changes its parlance a few years later in 1980. Cruising for us as teens means innocuous driving around town; in 1980s, the word changes to something more hands-on. The first paragraph of this chapter would be interpreted differently between the decades.)
Cruising north up Albert, passing the Canadian Tire parking lot (my work place where I know lots of girls — lots!), we whip a U-ey, go south past downtown, across the bridge to the richie-rich south-end, whip another U-ey at the Golden Mile, then back up north to park in front of The Leg (cleverly pronounced “the ledge” as it’s the provincial government Legislature Building.)
We’re in a long line of cars, all rear-parked in front of the beautiful domed Leg. I start chatting with the tube-topped blonde babe in the convertible next to us. I’m only half-way through my fascinating repertoire about how this Legislature Building was first designed to be built with red brick in 1908 but was changed to the current cream-coloured Tyndall stone from Manitoba when she abruptly starts her engine and says she and her friends have to get going.
“Later!” I say. “Oh ya, later,” she answers. I can’t hear her clearly as she pulls away, but I’m puzzled as it sounds like she’s telling her friends I’m Greek. That’s a bit weird.
The moment my future date’s car disappears, a loud Camaro slowly backs in its place beside us.
Turning off the rumbling engine, the hairy driver turns to me: “Fuck Ford, fuck Mustang!” His car looks like it’s filled with north-enders.
“East end rules!” Greg shouts as he fires up his Mustang and slams the most spectacular burn-out I’ve ever seen in my life — we’re fish-tailing on the crowded Legislative Drive, rocketing towards Albert Street. Slowing for the turn, we see the Mustang’s interior light up in flashing red.
“Fuuuuuck!” Greg moans, looking into his rear view mirror. Darrell and I twist backward to see the flashing red lights of the dreaded police ghost car, The Yellow Bastard.
I have no idea why, but I yell “Boot it!” and, for some other unknown reason, Greg does.
The Mustang squeals from the corner and launches north up Albert ... Greg crackin’ open the four barrel ... the powerful car accelerating so fast we’re pushed back into our buckets ... no time to think about anything.
Just before we’re about to go over the bridge, Greg cranks left onto Regina Avenue and loses control: the rear spinning us a complete 180 until we hit the opposite curb in a dead stop, facing the direction we just came from.
“Holy shit!” we say in unison as we see the yellow ghost car at our grill, its doors open, cops pointing their guns at us, telling us to get the hell out. Two marked police cars are suddenly beside and behind us.
(Hopefully this is the only time in my life I have this many loaded guns pointed at me.)
Greg is ripped out of the car as are Darrell and I. We’re thrown on the hood of the car and handcuffed. Greg is taken to one police car, Darrell and I to the other where we sit in the locked backseat for quite a while.
We see the car holding Greg drive away, then a cop opens our door, tells us to get out, removes our handcuffs, and says, “Your friend will be lucky if he’s ever allowed to drive again.”
“Are the keys still in the car?” I ask, assuming Darrell and I will simply drive away in Greg’s car. The cop stares at me dumbfounded, then laughs, and gets in his car. We look over to see a tow truck backing up to the Mustang. Oh no, it’s going to be a long walk home for us.
An hour later, after hitching a few rides, we get to Greg’s east-end house where we bang on the door until his big brother Tom answers. Telling him Greg was arrested for squealing his tires —the cops going mental like Starsky & Hutch— we hop in his car, and race downtown to the old police station at Halifax & 11th where they have no record of Greg’s arrest.
Tom looks at Darrell and I like we’re crazy. We show him the red marks the handcuffs have made on our wrists. We don’t know what’s going on.
Confused, we go back home with Tom and are startled when we see the Mustang in the driveway and then Greg on the couch watching TV.
“What the hell?”
“It’s fine,” Greg says. “All sorted out.”
I did not know until that moment that their dad was a staff sergeant with the Regina Police Service.