One New Year’s Eve in the mid-’70s, a by now through-the-mill Protohippy (a first cousin to the Uberhippy, as luck would have it) and his brother faced a dilemma. They were stuck inside Mom’s Greenville apartment without the cash to buy heroin. The Protohippy decided to take action so as to be able to usher in the New Year in the proper manner for a confirmed substance abuser — zonked out on H.
The dreadful duo, Protohippy carrying a handgun, made their way around the corner to a local saloon. What they did not know was that the beat cop had commenced celebrations much earlier in the day and by now was stretched out on a cot in the bar’s back room. Hearing the Protohippy announce the holdup, the police officer tried to take his gun from the holster. In his drunken state, the cop pulled the trigger before drawing the weapon and wound up wounding himself in the leg.
The Protohippy and Bro’ exited and ran home to Mom’s.
What the would-be desperadoes had failed to notice was that it had snowed late that evening. With no one else out and about, impressions in the snow recorded one pair of footsteps from the apartment house to the bar, and another pair leading right back to the supposed maternal hideaway. The Jersey City Police, even without the assistance of bloodhounds or Sherlock Holmes, quickly arrested Protohippy and Bro’.
Subsequent investigation showed that the gun had been stolen from a doctor’s office during a burglary.
Armed robbery resulting in the injury to a police officer, illegal possession of a stolen weapon, suspects in the breaking and entry of a doctor’s office, . . . and — with the trail in the snow — first degree stupidity . . . Thinking of the charges that they had to be facing, I could only imagine the two coming out from behind prison walls many years later: Squinting from the unaccustomed exposure to sunlight, they’d be hunched over canes, long white beards reaching almost to the ground, like twin Rip Van Winkle’s emerging from slumber.
That’s not how it worked out.
The papers wrote up the story as the heroic cop who’d just happened to be in the bar to use the rest room. In the news accounts, the police officer tried to stop the criminals, but was gunned down by one of the vicious hoodlums.
In a plea bargain, the Protohippy confessed to shooting the cop and then received a lenient sentence. Released at the time of the court date with “time served,” Bro’ did even better.