It was a dismal day as Stan slogged along the coast road. He still couldn't quite believe he was there and couldn't figure out for the life of him how he had come to be there, alone. It all seemed so improbable.
Just 5 hours earlier he had been comfortably ensconced in his favourite chair watching college football. The Tide was just about to score another touchdown when his phone rang.
"Stan? Stan!! Oh my God Stan! I'm so glad I've caught you! I've been trying everyone I could think of!"
"Who is this?"
"Oh! Well, why didn't you just ring ...." He was interrupted.
"Because I'm not at home, that's why!"
"Oh. I see. So, why are you calling? Is there some kind of emergency happening?"
"Yes! I've been arrested! And my car has been impounded!"
"Well, what on earth have you done?"
"I don't know! I just, well, I don't, I couldn't have!" Her voice went up in pitch as she sped to the end of her ramble.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down! Where are you and how can I help?"
"I'm at the Mountain View police station. And I need a ride to pick up a car."
"OK, just let me do a couple things and I'll be on my way in 10 minutes."
"Oh, that would be so great! Thank you thank you, thank you!"
"I'll see you in a little while."
Stan hung up his phone and sat for a few minutes wondering what he was getting into. He didn't really know Shelly at all well and, well, he wasn't sure he had ever seen a car at her place. Of course, it was entirely possible he had just always missed her coming and going and perhaps her car was in the garage most of the time. He shrugged and started down the hall to put on outdoor clothes.
Once dressed he went out, started up his car and headed for downtown Mountain View. The drive over the mountains from Santa Cruz wasn't going to be pleasant in this weather and at this time of day but therre really wasn't any other option. He heaved a sigh and put his car in drive.
Arriving at the police department Stan parked in front of the building and scurried to the front doors. Happily there was an overhang to keep him from getting wetter while he waited to get in. He pressed the button and gave his name and reason for being there when asked. The door buzzed and he went into the warmth of the interior. Looking around, he soon found the reception desk and approached it.
"Hi. I'm here for Shelly?"
The officer behind the desk looked puzzled but turned to his keyboard and checked for a 'Shelly' in the system. "Sorry. No one here by that name."
"But there must be. I got a call from her telling me this is where she is. She was apparently arrested today and brought here."
The officer looked back at his screen. "Nope. No Shelly here. The only person brought in today is a Michelle Benoit"
"Oh! Yes! That's her!"
"OK. So we've found your Shelly. Now what?"
"Well, I assumed she'd be released. She asked me for a ride home. She's my neighbor, you see."
"Ah. Well, we've got a bit of paperwork to do to release her. You might as well have a seat over there and get comfortable."
"Um, OK... Any idea how long this is going to take?"
"Are you in a hurry?"
"Well, not really but I kinda wanted to get home before all the college 'ball is over for the day."
"We might be able to do that for you. Have a seat and we'll get to work on her release."
Stan started across the lobby then stopped and turned. "Oh! Can I ask what she was arrested for?"
"Hmm..." The officer clicked the mouse a few times. "Auto theft and joy riding."
"Wow! Really? Wow..."
"Yeah. And it looks like it's the second time she's been arrested for the same thing."
"Huh. I'd've never suspected."
Stan started across the lobby to the seating area and was pulling his phone out to keep tabs on the 'ball games when he saw the sign. 'No cell phone or other mobile device usage allowed'
"Ya know what? I'm gonna go sit outside in my car and keep track of the football games."
The officer looked up. "Sure, buddy. Just come back in in about 25 minutes or so so we can get your information as the person Ms. Benoit is being released to."
"OK." Stan set an alarm on his phone for 25 minutes and went out.
26 minutes later Stan walked back into the police station. The officer looked up and said, "just about 2 more minutes and I'll be ready for you. Stan stood there and fidgeted and looked around. He discovered quite quickly that there's not much to look at in a police station lobby.
"So, how're the games going?"
Stan started and said, "What? Oh.... Pretty well. My teams are winning all but one."
"Cool. Now, here's what we need from you." The officer turned a screen and keyboard so Stan could see it and gestured vaguely at the screen. "We need you to fill in your name, address, relationship to the prisoner, etc. And I'll need to see your driver's license to verify your identity.
Stan bent to the task and soon had it completed. He fished out his driver's license and turned the monitor back around so the officer could see it and the information he had entered.
"There ya go."
"OK, excellent." The officer pushed the intercom button and said "Bring Ms. Benoit to the front, please."
Shelley appeared from the door to the right of the officer looking a little worse for wear. She ran to Stan and wrapped him in a tight hug.
"Oh my God! I've never been so happy to see a friendly face!" Stan hugged her back and awkwardly patted her on the back in a comforting way.
"Yes, well, lets get going home, shall we? Have you got all your stuff?" Shelly nodded and, with that, they walked out the door, Shelly still holding tight to Stan. Stan looked over his shoulder and mouthed "Thank you" to the officer at the desk. After opening the car door for Shelly, Stan went around to the driver's side of the car and got in.
"Just let me check Waze to see what the route looks like. There shouldn't be any rush-hour today but..."
Shelly interrupted. "Can we take the long way home? I'd really like to drive down the coast from Half Moon Bay."
"Well, I guess. There'll be more football games tomorrow" Stan set his phone down and smiled at Shelly.
An hour later Stan made the left turn off highway 92 onto the coastal highway. Shelly was looking out the rain-streaked window and toying with something in her purse. A few miles down the road Shelly spoke for the first time since leaving the police station.
"Stan, stop the car."
Stan glanced to his right, then took another longer look at Shelly. "Shelly, what are you doing? Put the gun away."
"Stop the car!" she yelled.