For Officer Raymond Caster, it was a boring day. Better than most, for sure, but still boring in its way. He sat in his police car alone, sipping his coffee, monitoring the speed radar as cars drove past. The coffee had gone cold, but he didn’t mind. Not much happened on radar duty, but it paid the bills and that was all that mattered.
Salt Miner Road was never a busy street. Out in this rural area, traffic was rare, but speeding was a rampant disease; at least, it usually was. In the past, reports said that there were dozens of reports about speeding. They were usually teens or young adults who thought they were hotshots, but that stopped when the radar cameras were planted, concealed by bushes and trees. Caster was only out here because those cameras had lost power years ago, but the precinct didn’t want to get them repaired, so they stationed officers out here on occasion. Today he hadn’t stopped anyone, which in his book, was a record. He always stopped at least three people whenever he was given speeding duty.
An old Chrysler rolled by, going ten under the posted speed limit of forty miles per hour. The lower speed was causing no traffic issues, since there were barely any cars out today, so he let it go. The Chrysler’s muffler belched as it passed, startling Caster, spilling some of his coffee on his shirt.
It left a stain, but at least the coffee hadn’t burned him, since it had gone cold. As he cleaned it up, his radar beeped, indicating another car passing by. He looked up at the radar, seeing the numbers bounce between forty and forty-one, forty-two. The car was a sleek red Corvette. Usually, when he saw sports or muscle cars like this, he had to chase them down for going over the speed limit. But not today, the Corvette was cruising at an acceptable speed.
His onboard radio crackled. The dispatcher sounded. “All units, a ten thirty-one is in effect. A robbery of the Milton’s Gas Station has been reported. All available units in the area respond.”
Caster sighed and sipped at his coffee. He was miles away from the gas station, so he couldn’t respond in time, and dispatch knew that.
“Everyone else always gets the good jobs, while I’m stuck here.”
He leaned back in his chair and looked out the front window at the horses across the street, in the field. They were standing there, grazing, living their horsy lives. Caster respected that. All they ever did was walk around, laze about, and graze, sometimes running laps around the fields. They didn’t have to worry about taxes, relationships, shitty bosses. They just existed. A calm, serene life.
His speed radar beeped suddenly as a car zoomed past, startling him out of his daydream. He put his coffee back into the cupholder and looked at the radar. It flashed eighty-three, forty-three over the limit.
“Showtime,” Caster said as he put the car into drive, flashed his lights, and flipped on the siren. As his car blared like an angry toddler, he stepped on the gas and tore out of the small alcove in which he was hiding.
Seeing the speeding car already a good distance away from him, he stomped his foot on the pedal, zooming after the offender. The speeding car, a new Nissan in dark grey, slowed as Caster rapidly approached before flashing its right blinker and drifting onto the dirt shoulder. Caster followed the car onto the shoulder, slow and steady.
Caster angled his car so the front was closer to the side of the road, the back sticking out to allow himself a safe way out of the car. He sighed and turned the siren off but kept the lights on, put the car in park, and unbuckled his seatbelt. Once he picked up his ticket pad and pen, he checked behind him to see if there was any oncoming traffic. None.
As he stepped out of the car, the calm, fresh air of the rural farmlands filled his lungs. Caster always liked hanging around farmland, because it was a peaceful life, like how the horses showed him in that field.
He slammed his door shut and walked over to the offending Nissan. The window rolled down and he stooped to look into the car.
“Sir, do you know how fast…you…um.”
Inside the car sat the offender, but it wasn’t a man, nor a woman. It was a skeleton, looking right up at him, its fleshless hands on the steering wheel. Its jaw was shut, the eyeholes empty and black. It wore no clothing nor showed any signs of ever being buried.
“Is there a problem, officer?” the skeleton asked in a voice that resembled a man’s.
“Um…” Caster didn’t know what to do. He had stopped many people before—men, women, teens, the elderly—but never a skeleton. He must be going crazy. “Y-Yes. Do you know how f-fast you were going?”
The skeleton turned its skull to the dashboard, hollow eyes aimed towards the speedometer before looking back at Caster. “No officer, I’m afraid I didn’t know how fast I was going. I do believe I might need glasses.”
“Right…” Dear God, I’m seeing things. I’m going crazy. “License and registration, please.”
“Of course, just a moment.” The skeleton let go of the wheel and turned towards the passenger seat. Its boney hand reached under the dashboard and the glove compartment opened. It fished out two thin cards before turning back to Caster, offering them up. “Here you are officer….officer, are you all right?”
“Are you okay? You seem unwell, like you’ve seen a ghost, or remembered that you left the stove on at home.” The skeleton giggled. “I did that once.”
“Oh, no, I’m okay,” Caster said as he took the skeleton’s registration and license. “Are you okay? You seem a bit…um…pale.”
The skeleton looked at its hand, moving the fingers and turning its palm over. “Oh, this? It’s nothing. I’ve been trying a new diet and trying not to go out much. I find that the sun irritates my eyes.”
Eyes….right. Caster looked down at the slips of paper. He examined the skeleton’s license to find out his name was Skelly Ton, a picture of a skull displayed on the card. He lived at seventeen Boney Court, born on February third, nineteen eighty-two. He was five foot nine inches tall and weighed ten point five pounds. Caster then looked at the registration form to make sure everything was in order. The two slips shared the same name and address.
“Let me…um…run these through the system. I’ll be….r-right back.”
“Of course, officer.”
Once Caster got back into his car, he didn’t know what to do. Well, he knew he had to check the license and registration, but other than that, no clue. He had never pulled a skeleton over. Who had?
He typed the information into the small computer linked to the police database. As he waited for the information to come back, he wondered how a skeleton could walk and talk, let alone drive.
The computer pinged. He shook his head to clear out those questions and checked the screen. The information was correct, and Mr. Ton had no previous offenses. Caster gathered the skeleton’s cards, his pad and pen, and got out.
Back at the skeleton’s car, he leaned forward and stuck the cards into the window. “Everything checks out, Mr. Ton, but I’m afraid I’ll have to give you a ticket. You were going forty-three over the limit.”
The skeleton nodded, looking back at Caster, taking the cards from him. “I understand, officer. I apologize for my reckless behavior.”
“Well…um…yeah, well, don’t do it again.” Caster stood straight and scribbled on his ticket pad, perplexed that he was writing up a skeleton. A skeleton! As he scribbled, he made a note on the ticket about getting glasses, since Mr. Ton mentioned he may have need of glasses. A skeleton wearing glasses, what kind of world do we live in? He clicked his pen, put it in his breast pocket, and tore the ticket off the pad. He handed it to the skeleton, who took it in its pale, boney hand.
“Ah, yes,” Mr. Ton said as he stroked his skinless jaw, eyeholes aimed at the ticket, “I should see an ophthalmologist.” The skeleton lowered the ticket and looked at Caster. “I say again officer, I am very sorry for having broken the speeding limit. I will try not to do it again.”
“G-Good,” Caster said as turned towards his car, ready to leave. “Respect the law and have a good day.”
“You too, officer!” Mr. Ton called back as Caster walked to his squad car.
Once he pulled the door open and sat down, he sighed in relief. He put his ticket pad on the passenger seat and rested his head on the steering wheel. That was easily the weirdest thing he had ever encountered in his life.
The sound of Mr. Ton’s engine caused Caster to look up from the wheel. The skeleton’s Nissan lurched forward before it turned onto the street. As it did, Mr. Ton’s boney arm poked out of the window and waved at him.
Officer Raymond Caster watched as the skeleton drove away. A skeleton!
“Yup,” he said as he turned his car back on. “I’m crazy.”