Walking the dark miles home down the shoulder of the two-lane highway, our breath shows in the cold yellow headlights of the oncoming commuter traffic. We take turns lugging the heavy string of ducks. A sinister black-and-white California Highway Patrol Olds disengages itself from the stream, makes a U-turn and comes crunching up behind us.
"Where you headed?"
"That gun you got there loaded?"
"No." We show him the slide is open—even shake it nervously as further proof.
"Who's it belong to?"
"Hop in the back, I'll run you home."