Katie the Cop was, in the 1980’s, chiefly (this is a pun) notable for being the one-woman police force of our small town in Oregon at a time when women were not cops and certainly did not hold small-town office. Sure, the first and second waves of feminism had swept through the country, but our little town was pretty high up in the hills and if there was a feminism tsunami warning, we would have been an evacuation zone.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t the rumors that you could get out of a speeding ticket by buying the Avon (the official report says it was Mary Kay but they’re wrong) she kept in the trunk of the town’s single police car that finally brought Katie down.
No, it was the exorcisms.
Growing up I was convinced our town was some sort of hellmouth. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought this. At night, east was a bad direction, lit always by the sullen glow of the larger town huddled at the base of our mountain. West was full of stars. South, I could watch Orion slide behind the hills, his sword and my curfew vanishing at the same time. But east was where the Bad stuff lurked.
Katie must have agreed with me, because eventually it wasn’t enough to send the speeders and potheads that swept out of that direction along the I-5 corridor to church instead of giving them a fine. No, she performed a full-on exorcism of a passing trucker. I found out about this the awkward way: by working in the public relations department of the school whose law professors were asked to give opinions about the constitutionality of performing an exorcism.
“Isn’t this your hometown?” asked Jean, who knew perfectly well it was, having signed the Dean’s List press release for my last semester’s grades. Little known fact: colleges did and do tell your hometown newspaper when you make the Dean’s List. It’s just that your hometown DGAF about you.
“Sh…ure is,” I replied, dodging a last-minute profanity as I skimmed the article. Katie had finally snapped, surprising no-one at all but maybe the poor trucker she’d pulled over.
I don’t even remember what his offense supposedly was, but the only things you can really screw up as a trucker are skipping a scale and speeding, so let’s say it was speeding since the nearest scale was outside her jurisdiction. Still could have been that though. She’d pulled him out of the car, chanted, frothed at the mouth, and a bunch of other things that, again, did not surprise a kid who’d grown up with her yearly demonstrations on why it was probably God’s law as well as Man’s that you not step one All-Star clad foot outside the white lines of the crosswalk. We didn’t even have sidewalks, just worn places in people’s lawns leading from crosswalk to crosswalk, but that was beside the point for Katie.
Katie, of course, told a different version of the story, a less kid-friendly one and a less constitutionally challenged one. When interviewed, she gave the single greatest pull-quote it was ever my burden to cut out in triplicate for the annual Board Trustees’ dinner display:
“It hit the floor and sissed at me.”