illustration by Mike Force

Driving the freeway late at night. Texas storm. Lightning striking every horizon. Thunder like a rude upstairs neighbor stomping the floor.

And rain heavy enough to bring down every pharaoh, king, and tyrant.

Afraid for my life, I pull over and park beneath an overpass. Alongside a cop car that does the same.

Though I have never committed any crime, I am still nervous in the presence of a cop. Brown-skinned and travel-disheveled, I fear I look like every man on the Most Wanted posters.

I wave at the cop. He waves back. Officer Friendly. But he keeps staring at me. The lightning illuminates him every 30 seconds. And the thunder becomes the soundtrack for a 21st-century film noir.

Something bad is always seconds from happening.

And, to my surprise, the cop steps out of his car and walks toward me. I roll down my window.

"Hello, officer," I say. "Is something wrong?"

"No, not at all," he says. "I just wanted to tell you—to tell somebody—how much I love lightning storms."

"I love them, too," I say. "But they kinda scare me. Love and fear. Like being married."

He smiles, salutes, and walks back toward his car. A good cop is the best thing in the world; a bad cop is the worst. recommended