A short scene in a prison
|It was a hot and humid night in El Paso. The captain of the precinct that was going through several new internees was scanning the faces of the people. Many of them were from Mexico. Some of them, like this one woman, she was a white woman. She wore what passed for a dress but it was already dingy and her armpits had sweat under them, and her fair hair was stringy. Yet she kept her eyes lowered. She was visibly afraid and the Captain seemed not to feel good about this. He motioned for one of the lieutenants to approach him.
"Hey," said the Captain, "who's that blonde woman there? Is she really a detainee?"
The lieutenant's eyes followed the Captain's. He made a low wolf whistle. Then he shifted his feet. "Uh - she's one of those who were helping these wetbacks get into the country. We know that she's really a Mexican. Her fair hair - I seen them Mexican women color their darkhair that color."
"Damn, she's not a Mexican at all. She looks like she came out of some European principality. Tell me her name," ordered the Captain.
"Better yet, have her come to see me in my office." The Captain gave another stern look at the detainees. Then he walked to the open door that was his office's entrance.
The lieutenant went through the ledger. He called out names. He didn't call her first. He didn't want the others to give her any attention than she already had. "Sanchez,"
"Here, aqui," said a man in the back.
The woman looked up. "Here." Her voice was soft. There was a hint of a tremor in it.
"You need to follow me." The lieutenant said.
She rose. But before she got up, the man next to her tugged at her elbow. "You be careful with that asshole," said the man who looked Latin and had an aquiline nose. "Tell them nothing ok?"
"Ok," The woman who was called Andrea Kellogg nodded. She put her thin sweater over her shoulders and followed the lieutenant.
The man who was with her turned his head to his companion . "They'll be making her very sad, hombre. I'm very suspicious. What do we do now?"
The other man nodded imperceptibly. 'It's time we made these federales learn a lesson. I think we should make a few signals to the others outside." These words were said in Spanish. Others who were watching them solemnly seemed to understand.
One of them walked up to a sergeant. "Sorry, por que I need to see to the bano."
"What did you say?"
"Bano. Need to pee."
"Ok, here." the other officer led him to the restrooms.
A ruffling sound came from the direction of the receptionist area. A tall man, in a plain white suit and tall hat came in. "Hey y'all we're gonna be making some arrangements for your hospitality. We're gonna put all ya into that one building that's out by the corral. You'll have to make do with the cramped quarters."
There was a general uproar. The detaineeds didn't need to understand it in English. they heard about this place and so they shufffled their feet.
Inside the Captain's room, Miss Kellogg was waiting for the Captain to say the words she dreaded. "I am seeing you here with these wetbacks. I have no real idea why you're with them, Mrs. Kellogg. Does your husband know that you're with them?"
"I don't know why I have to answer you. I'm here because I happened to be accompanying one of them to go to my home."
"One of them?"
"Yes, one of them. That is Senor Rodrigo. He's going to be the man who will see to our ranch. He's very good. He has his papers. You need to make sure he gets out of here with me."
As soon as the words came out of her lips, her heart started to freeze. The man looked at her and down over her figure. "I am not sure you are going to have to get out of here with him." Said the Captain.
"I must protest," she said, quaveringly. "I have to call my husband. He's waiting for me down the road by the A1 Gas Station where we usually meet."
"Why are you harboring these wetbacks?"
"I am not. This man is a very good person and he has a lot of references. Please let me go and take him with me - "
"No, not yet. You and I have to do something that will be most interesting to you and me."
Mrs. Kellogg looked at him, her eyes wide with fear. Then she took an object from her skirt and put it into her mouth. Before the Captain could understand what she was up to, a shrill and yet silent whistle came forth form her mouth.
There was a big commotion that happened in the outer office. There was a flare of gunfire and then the big bang that happened made both of them jump higher than the first time. Then the Captain heard more gunfire. The door to his office was kicked open. Mrs Kellogg looked up and her face was wreathed in a big smile. "Oh my God," she gasped.
The man at the door was a tall Texan who was over 6 and a half feet tall. "Hey, Captain, sorry to break into your tete a tete with my wife. Why don't you just get down on your knees or I'll kill you right there."
The Captain stumbled into a kneeling position. The man, Kellogg, looked at his wife and surveyed her appearance. "Andrea, you need to be more careful with who you are talking to . these days. I can't do this anymore."
She sighed and then after he nodded, she ran to his side. Kellogg heard some of his men come in after him. "Tie this jackass up, will you. Then get those Mexican men to our ranch. But don't leave anyone of these men alive, ok?"
The others wordlessly followed his orders. "I'm sure that you could keep me alive," the Captain said with a humble but still rough voice.
"Naw, you're the worst of all. I can't stand that you took my employees and made them think they were scum. Now, they've got the papers and my wife had them all." He turned to his wife. "Dear, what did you do with those papers?" His voice was deceptively gentle.
"Uh, well, I - I have them in my suitcase. But these people - they took the thing away. "
Her husband rolled his eyes and then smiled at her. "Ok dear. I'll have to chalk this small problem to your being somewhat confused. This man didn't try anything on you, did he?"
"He did. He was about to make me sad. I think it's time he got his just desserts."
"Why the hell did you even get your wife to do your dirty work for you, you bastard," said the Captain.
"That does it, I'm going to make you really unhappy. Let's get this guy and make him regret that he even tried to do something to my wife, fellows."
The others were a bit surprised at his anger. The Captain was not happy. The woman Andrea Kellogg looked at them and said, "For your information, I was the one who took these people thinking that the officers would honor me and say that I was doing my job to help my husband's ranch. I hope that these criminals who've suspected these new employees of ours will get their day in court. Charles, please don't kill anyone. I can't handle them taking you off to court and then I'll be dealing with your funeral arrangements."
"No, I won't kill these criminals. I'll just rought them up a bit."
That's Texas for you, thought one of the men in Kellogg's company.
The Captain was hauled away. Andrea followed her husband out to the outer room. The people were allowed to leave. The other officers were held at gunpoint. They were sullen in looking at Kellogg and one of the swore under his breath, "That bastard is going to get it one day, I swear it."
The other next to him said, "He's big around here. I hear he's got one of the people in the US government at his big friend. I'll just have to spread the word. We need to round up some more people to get them out of this city. We can't just let him go off and point his rifle at us."
"I'm hating that we can't do anything. We know these are wetbacks!"
"Well, she did say that she was hiring them."
"Yeah, I bet. I don't like her either."
"We'll have to make a few things clear. I'll tell some of my people not to get that Kellogg and his woman into any of the places we like to enjoy. They'll be getting some funny events in their neighborhood."
"Let's see how big they are in a few months."
They laughed softly and then they went inside . The others had already left and the motorcade to the Kellogg ranch proceeded and went out of view in a few minutes.
(c) Copyright Colin Firth/Mary Faderan Firth 2019