Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore |

Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore

Tony Vagneur
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

A table, big enough for 12, on a hot, muggy August Aspen Friday night, held steak cooked rare and family, at least 14 of us. My brother, Steve, going to summer school in Denver, had driven up for the weekend as he did occasionally, and we were making plans.

Just the two of us piled into my 1960 Plymouth Fury (which I’d given to my brother but hadn’t yet changed the title) and headed to the Isis to lose ourselves in whatever was playing and then maybe get crazy uptown afterwards, drinking, chasing girls and lettin’ off steam with a cup of dice and a roll of bills.

Heading in, just between the S-curves, an Aspen cop car going the other way whipped around behind us like we’d run over a baby carriage or something and kept his nose right on our butt. We figured we hadn’t done anything wrong, and developed a little agitation right off at these two yahoos, but what are you gonna do? It was the early 1970s, and paranoia was a state of mind for many in town, including some on the police force.

It took most of Main for them to sort out their thought processes and they finally pulled us over in front of the Monarch Building. I was trying to make reality out of watching an overweight beast of a man jerk my brother from the car about the same time a well-dressed, detective type yanked me out the passenger’s side. Displaying an odious amount of arrogance that far exceeded their capabilities, these guys refused to tell us what was going on and, cuffed and provoked, we were driven down to the jail.

Sheriff Carroll Whitmire came out of his living quarters in the courthouse basement, interrupted in the middle of dinner. Despite all the bleating from Hunter S. Thompson and his band of miscreants, Whitmire was a decent guy who insisted our handcuffs be removed and explained that my brother was in serious trouble for suspicion of running drugs into Aspen and he might as well give himself up and save everyone a lot of hassle. Since the car was titled in my name, I could give permission for them to search the vehicle, rather than demand a search warrant, and they could get my brother Steve settled into a cellar lockup before the movies were out.

Receiving no objections from Steve and with a typically suave outburst of anger, I signed the waiver and told the city cops to get their “asses up there and let’s see who’s credibility is on the line.”

If you’ve never had your car searched by amateurs, don’t. Those clowns were so certain they’d made the big score (based on a “tip” from some jealous boyfriend or incompetent parent), they refused to let reality seep into their consciousness. They allowed us to watch, with the intent, I suppose, of letting us see how adeptly they could sniff out whatever it was they were looking for. When they couldn’t find anything under the seats or dash, they kicked the backseat forward so the fat one could crawl into the car from the trunk. Then, the scrawny detective with the big ego pulled the headliner apart in the middle, allowing it to fall into the seats below. It was kinda like car rape.

“What the hell, where’s the dope?” telegraphed their eyes. “Maybe you boys f–ked up,” was my creative comment, and they could have apologized, but by now they were in too deep to even think about salvaging their honor. Without a word to the wise, or the contrary, they got in their official car and slunk off into the night.

Steve and I spent the rest of the weekend trying to put the car back together, and when we finally got the floor carpet tacked down and the seats close to normal, he drove it back to Denver and coaxed some charitable organization into accepting our generosity. Trust authority? Not in this lifetime.

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