I had paid about $70 for a small fancy bicycle which I rode into South Shore, Kentucky across the Ohio River fromPortsmouth. The bike had buttons for turn signals which came on when the buttons were pressed. I passed a boy (about 10 years old) also riding a bicycle. I thought how easily I had been able to pass him.
A couple minutes later he passed me. He seemed to be pedaling as hard as he could while I was just taking my time. I thought I could re-pass him if I wanted to, but I just let him go on.
I was headed in the direction back toward Portsmouth. I came to the main crossing of the railroad tracks in South Shore and stopped. A couple cars pulled up on my left. The light changed so we could go, but one of the cars – a long, white one – pulled in front of me. Thinking I had the right of way, I continued moving and ran into the side of the car with my bicycle. It appeared I hadn't damaged the car at first, but I slammed my bicycle into it again and put a little dent in the car.
I motioned to the man driving the car to pull over. He did so and then stepped out of his car. I told him I had had the right of way and that he had pulled out in front of me, but actually I wasn't completely sure I had had the right of way.
I turned around and saw that some policemen had pulled up. I thought, "Well, we made a mistake by pulling over. We should have just gone on."
A black policeman walked up to me and asked whose fault the accident had been. I told him it had been the other fellow's fault. He began questioning me about the accident. I began explaining how three lanes had merged on the site into two lanes. I had had the right of way in my lane.
The policeman didn't seem to be understanding well what I was saying. Another policeman was talking with the other fellow. Finally the policeman I was with took me inside a building. We sat down with another black man assisting the policeman and we began talking. He asked me what I was doing here. I told him I was a lawyer, that I had come to Kentucky to go roller skating and get some relaxation.
He told me the accident was going to cost me $200 to put up a bond. It occurred to me for an instant that I hadn't yet filled out my income tax return and I wondered what kind of fine I would be facing for that if I didn't hasten to take care of it. Finally I said, "Well I just do not have $200."
I actually did have over $200 with me in my billfold, but I repeated, "I just don't have $200. I'll just have to go to jail."
I stood up and said, "Well, you'll just have to take me away."
He told me to sit back down and relax. He continued talking and finally I said, "That's just like a nigger."
Actually I didn't even realize what I was saying until I had already spoken and then I wasn't even sure whether I had actually said it. I thought, "Well if I said that then I'm in trouble."
The policeman said he was just going to give me a ticket and that within 10 days I would have to pay $10 if I wanted to go to court. I thought that sounded just fine, but then he laid his hand on my leg and I thought he was trying to touch my penis. I stopped him. He said something about my contributing to some kind of fund. I thought he wanted some kind of bribe so I wouldn't have to pay as much, but apparently I wouldn't have to pay the bribe immediately.
I stood up. He gave me the ticket and I walked outside. There I encountered someone I knew and told him the police and bribery here made the whole place seem like a cesspool.
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