Dead or alive
Hiding out and doing manly things when wanted by the law

Dead or alive
Zach Hively - 11/17/2022

I am a wanted man, and this time I don’t mean in a People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” way. I mean in an outlaw way. Like I can now listen to Willie and Waylon as slightly less of a poser. Like I now have to watch myself, and my speed limit, lest I get hauled off to the hoosegow and hanged.

This circumstance feels strangely fitting. For years, I have been settling into an outlaw lifestyle in many ways, excepting the outside-the-law part. For instance, I recently purchased my very first axe. I did so, because I now live with my very first wood-burning stove, much more effective at destroying wanted posters than the baseboard heaters in my previous rentals, and I must split logs to survive. I then purchased my very second axe, because I’m new to this level of outlawery, and the very first axe was heavier than a funeral on Christmas. Now I’m about to return the second axe, because I apparently didn’t spend enough on a quality piece of equipment, and the head is separating from the handle after successfully splitting about three pieces of wood. Fortunately, I keep receipts.

Meanwhile, I am splintering wood with my camping hatchet, which is great, except that SOMEONE once cut kindling on a rock with it, and now the hatchet is duller than a Ken Burns doc about the history of end credits. That’s not fair. Ken Burns would make that interesting. So now I get to Ken Burns my hatchet and sharpen it myself. This is a thing I have never attempted before. I think it involves a rock? It sure seems like the sort of activity that warrants some whiskey and beans and brooding eyes that make daughters swoon.

Plus, the whole outlaw thing — like having stove soot and pine sap on my arms — just makes me feel like a man. I don’t know what it is, exactly. But when my furnace died last weekend, leaving me only the stove and my dogs as sources of heat, I felt really manly calling up the furnace repair guy and paying weekend rates, because I had log bark scuffs on my knuckles and a warrant out for my arrest. 

You see, it was not long before that I was driving home at night, minding my own business in a predominantly not illegal-looking car, when I got pulled over. I knew I had been speeding, but I was not about to tell the officer that, in case he somehow wasn’t aware.

This was not the first time I have sped. (Speeded? Spud?) In fact, speeding is my favorite way to live outside the law, unless you are my insurance agent, in which case I never speeded (spad?) before in my life. Either way, this was the first and, so far, only time I have been busted for it. 

I had been pulled over three times before, never for speeding: twice on bogus charges of being young and long-haired, back when both of those were the truth, and once because the trooper pulled over the car next to me, and I thought he meant to pull me over, so I parked on the shoulder and sat there like an imbecile while the deputy drummed up some revenue from the other driver, and I thought, “Well, if I pull off now, I’ll really look guilty,” so I stayed put ‘til the trooper left about an hour later.

This latest officer was the friendliest of all. He called me Boss. This I liked very much. “Know why I pulled you over, Boss?” 

“No sir,” I said, planting plausible deniability.

“Got you going 60 in a 45, Boss. Can I see your license and immaculate insurance?”

He took them and, on his way to the squad car, paused theatrically, like he had just remembered something. “Did you know you have a warrant for your arrest, Boss?”

“No sir, I did not,” I said, and I was not making that up.

“It’s out of Texas, Boss. It’s not extraditable,” he said, which was a relief, because I had to pee and did not think I could hold it all the way to Odessa. “Thought you might want to know.”

He was right; I did want to know. I was shocked as a cattle superglued to a prod. I have not even been to Texas since my grandmother’s funeral five years ago, during which I distinctly recall not skipping out on parole, because I had never even been arrested in Texas, let alone convicted. If this kindly officer had not shared that I was wanted, I would never know I was on the lam. 

“Here’s the number for the county, Boss,” the officer said to me. “Get it sorted out, if it’s not you.” He then wrote me a ticket for going six -10 over, instead of the 15 I allegedly had been, and I finally cemented my status as an outlaw. 

I hope it sticks, even though the man in Texas turns out to have a different social security number and my alibi is solid. I’m thinking of going by Boss. Fits nice and bold on a wanted poster.

– Zach Hively

La Vida Local

The sound of eternity
The sound of eternity
By Kirbie Bennett

Learning to enjoy time the with people we love, regardless of how long it lasts

Read More
Caution: Big Year in progress
Caution: Big Year in progress
By Zach Hively

True confessions of a bird watcher going for his Big Year

Read More
Read All in La Vida Local