The way Ed Roos sees it, he was trapped in Trappe when the kids came running out of the house to snap his picture. But Tommy Horner figures Roos trapped himself.
The two ran afoul of each other on Memorial Day, when nature was pressing Roos in a way that wouldn't long be denied.
Roos, a 30-year-old chauffeur from Arlington, was halfway home from Ocean City, his bladder distended and his progress by car across the Eastern Shore reduced by traffic to a lurch and a halt.
Outside Cambridge, along Rte. 50, he stopped at a gas station but was refused use of the restroom because he wasn't a customer. At the next station he was told the restroom was broken. By his fifth unsuccessful stop, he said, at an Exxon station in Trappe, he could wait no longer.
Denied access to the restroom, Roos said he walked behind the station, which Horner manages. But before he could begin his urgent business, the door of a house 50 yards away sprang open and two teen-agers--Horner's brother and sister, it later turned out--raced out, one with camera snapping away and another with pad and pencil in hand.
Roos fled, only to be arrested by Maryland state police five miles down the road and charged with indecent exposure, based on complaints filed by the teen-agers.
Unable to post $35 of a $350 bond, Roos spent 20 hours in the Talbot County jail in nearby Easton, joining three others freshly arrested by what he regards as the Trappe family trap.
Last week Roos went to Talbot County District Court and through plea bargaining had his case "stetted," or placed in limbo for a year, after which his lawyer said charges will be automatically dismissed if he has had no other trouble in Maryland.
Court records show that three others accused of indecent exposure by the Horners that day all pleaded guilty and were placed on probation before judgment, which means their guilt also will be absolved after a year if they have no other trouble in Maryland.
Among the others arrested was Donald Gulli, 21, of Rockville, who was caught changing out of a wet bathing suit behind the gas station and wound up spending two nights in jail before his father could bail him out.
Roos is angry. His lawyer fees were $800 and he says he had to drop out of computer school because of the expense.
He says he never did anything and that what he intended to do was precipitated by the inhospitable policies of the very people who claim to be offended. And he thinks he was set up.
"It was like they were sitting at the window waiting for this to happen. They were out too quick," he said. "I didn't even have my zipper down."
Horner doesn't deny his family lay in wait. "They were sitting there waiting for him, yeah," he said, "but he came and posed the picture."
Said Horner, "It's not my problem." Roos should have thought about the need for a restroom "the last place he bought gas," Horner added.
Horner said restroom problems are common along Rte. 50. He set his policy of paying customers only, he said, after he tried keeping the restroom open and wound up spending "more time cleaning it than pumping gas."
He said his policy is standard at busy gas stations along routes to the beach, but that unlike other stations that have woods or empty fields in back, his troubles are compounded by the fact his family's home sits behind the station, alongside Emmanuel Wesleyan Chapel, where his father is pastor.
As a result, when noncustomers take to the field in back, he said, it puts their earthly transgressions in view of not only his family home, but of the church as well.
"I've got a 9-year-old sister and a 16-year-old sister," he said. "They don't want to look at it while they're sitting in church on Sunday morning. It's uncouth, to be honest with you. Suppose you were in my predicament?"
Talbot County State's Attorney Scott Patterson said yesterday that as far as he knows, neither Maryland law nor Talbot County law require service stations to provide restroom facilities to the public.
Nonetheless, Roos' lawyer, Broughton Earnest, thinks the beating his client took was inappropriate.
"He was victimized several times," said Earnest. "First, by the gas station owner; second, by the neighbors trying to make an example of him; third, by the police who made an illegal arrest without a warrant for a misdemeanor they did not see committed; and fourth by the district commissioner, who isn't even a lawyer," but who authorized placement of charges.
"Without a lawyer, a guy like that could have ended up convicted," said Earnest, "and that would have been the ultimate insult."
From Horner's standpoint, it would mark the ultimate victory. "We're going to continue to file charges," he said. "If you do the crime, you do the time, is the way I look at it."