But even if I did, I doubt the police would try to stop me.

For being a law-breaker, I seem to be rolling with my daily lawlessness fairly well. If I'm waking up from a dreamy sleep in the middle of the night, it's probably because of the chatter of the crickets outside our bedroom windows, or because my severe case of "tennis elbow" requires me to shift positions many times during the night. If I'm afraid the cops will kick open our front door any day now and haul me off in handcuffs, I'm certainly not putting my fear on display for the world to see.

    Maybe it's because I've never been confined to the "inside." I've always been free to roam the “outside.”

    Brooks couldn't handle it on the outside, after spending around 50 years incarcerated on the inside. He was so petrified of being a free man, he hanged himself in the halfway house in which he resided. A few years later, Red pretty much concluded he couldn't handle it, either, after he was released from the inside after being stuck there for around four decades. The only thing that kept him from committing a crime so he could be sent back to the safe confines of the inside was a promise he made to Andy, who was the opposite of Brooks and Red. An innocent man wrongly sentenced to a life on the inside, he was so desperate to get back to a life on the outside that he spent around 20 years using a small knife to tunnel through the concrete that was keeping him on the inside. Once his tunnel was finished, Andy crawled through around 500 yards of vile sewage pipe until he officially splashed into a drainage ditch on the outside. From there, he ventured to a tiny town in Mexico to live free on the outside, restore an old boat, and maybe even open up a hotel and take tourists out onto the Pacific Ocean for fishing excursions. Red promised that if he ever made it to the outside, he'd find Andy, so instead of doing something that would assure his return to the inside, Red instead violated his parole by hopping on a bus and heading to Mexico.

    "For the second time in my life, I've committed a crime. A parole violation," Red says. "But I doubt they'll put up any roadblocks for an old crook like me."

    With a well-deserved bow to the classic film written by Stephen King, "The Shawshank Redemption," I, too, don't think anyone, much less the Crookston Police, is going to put up any roadblocks to nab my rebellious butt.

    Leave my wife out of it, too. Sure, there's such a thing as guilt by association, but she was honestly clueless that we were living a shadow existence well outside the confines of the City of Crookston code book until a couple short weeks ago, when I alerted her to our criminal ways. And now that she knows, what is she supposed to do? Bring one of our precious felines that our whole family adores – OK, in all honesty, most of the time they're far less precious to my wife...but I'm on a role here – to the vet to be euthanized? Bring one on a drive to the country and drop it off outside some rural residence so it can live in a barn? Bring one to the humane society?

    Yes, we have three cats. City code states you can have three animals as pets, but it has to be a combination of dogs and cats, not three of the same. It's a mind-blowing ordinance, to actually imply that having three dogs is even in the same universe when compared to having three cats, but...whatever.

    We have a tiny, old female cat who's knocking on the door of her 16th birthday, a Siamese male who's 6, and a weird Siamese mix with crazy markings that was rescued as a tiny, cold kitten along with four of his siblings last fall. When I saw the unique-looking kitten, I knew it would be the one we didn't give away, simply because I couldn’t resist. At that very moment I knew we were violating city code, but I couldn't help but wonder to myself how much longer the cranky old one would be around.

    From that moment on, we’ve lived outside the law. I knew it; I even wore the outlaw badge with a slight amount of pride, even arrogance. It wasn’t quite “Come and get me, Copper!” territory, but I was more than confident in my ability to elude the pet Gestapo.

    Why? Because we’re responsible pet owners. If we let our cats run free, they’d be squished by a semi tractor-trailer on nearby University Avenue within a week. They get to go outside for a few minutes every once in a great while, but only to stroll around our yard while we walk with them. We feed them good food, keep their water fresh, and they’re not allowed to treat our house like their litter box.

    So, while I’m not about to venture to Mexico, I doubt the Crookston Police would put up any roadblocks for me if I did because of my wayward pet-owning ways. They have bigger fish to fry...like panhandlers.