This is an excerpt I wrote today as a side story in my newest novel....I like the unexpected situation as weird stuff really does happen all the time!!!! This is NOT edited so yes, there are some grammatical errors!
“Okay, I’m just inside of the Nueces. Keep ‘em coming eastbound and maybe them fellers will be layed up somewhere between us.” Tom responded.
Tom was a little over a two hour walk in front of me. Maybe they’d already past his location but I doubted it. “I’ll be out on foot following their sign,” I said. By saying this I alerted Tom and anyone else listening that I was away from the vehicle and if I didn’t show up, they would come looking for me. Too many things can happen out in the brush as I had personally witnessed. Two guys walking alone causes an orange flag of caution to raise in any agent’s mind. Plus, there were snakes and heat stroke and who knows what else out here that can take man or beast in only a short time.
I’d walked about fifteen minutes when I wondered how smart my decision had been. It was probably only ninety or just above that but I was cooking. I stopped, lifted the straw hat from my head and wiped the sweat away. My eyes were beginning to burn from drops of sweat running into them. For a moment I almost gave up and turned around to go back to my car but I wasn’t going to give up that easily.
Their sign was easy to follow and I was making really good time. A man can walk between three and four miles an hour; a good agent can track at this speed just as easily, but usually we cut sign where we thought they were going. That’s what Tom was doing now but he was a few miles east of me. There wasn’t anywhere else to cut between him and I that was accessible by vehicle so I was stuck following their sign.
I came up on a high point and could see at least a couple of miles in front of me. There, about a mile east, was a windmill spinning in the light breeze. If they weren’t there then they probably got by Tom. I hadn’t carried the heavy binoculars that were issued to every agent. They are the best binos I’ve used for evenings and low light situations but terribly heavy.
I stepped up my pace, excited at the possibility of catching another group. Yesterday I had ran into one group just a couple hundred yards off the highway and then cut the sign and caught another group just at the end of the shift. I wasn’t always so lucky and sometimes, on day shift, I'd go a few days of having no luck in sign cutting. During those dry spells I’d often switch to checking trains or even busses just for the easy apps. Many sign cutting squads will work hours for a group of six while an agent checking the train or busses can catch twice that many with much less effort. And in the eyes of the supervisors, the apprehensions in the book were what mattered!
When I was still a quarter mile from the windmill I slowed my pace and became more careful on where I stepped, trying to make the least amount of noise possible. At a hundred yards I was in a quiet stalk, moving a few feet then watching and listening. At fifty paces from the windmill, I unsnapped my holster quietly. Most of the time I’m a little more wary than most of my peers, but I’d rather be a bit paranoid than got off guard.
I wasn’t more than twenty five yards away when the brush opened up. I stopped just inside of the brushline, looking and listening. Nothing. The windmill had a large concrete tank in which it fed the trickle of water continuously pumped from the ground. I waited for a moment, trying to see them and then began to make a wide circle of the tank just in case they were beside of it. I had quit following their sign a few hundred yards back and now I would have to find it again. I had no doubt they had to come by here to get fresh water as it meant the difference between survival and death for those willing to traipse across this terrain in the hot months.
I froze at the snort of a deer on the opposite side of the tank. For a second I thought that my scent had drifted that way but the breeze was coming towards me. Maybe it had heard me. Then I saw the white flag of a doe running almost directly at me. A second deer, a half grown fawn followed her with its white tail also wagging in the breeze. I stood motionless and both deer bounded no more than ten yards past me. I now knew where my quarry was.
After the deer past me I walked swiftly up to the side of the tank keeping somewhat hunched over to keep my profile from being visible over the top of the concrete tank which was no more than four feet high. I don’t know why but my gun was now in my right hand. I hesitated next to the concrete barrier for just a few seconds and then crept around it with my gun leading the way.
I saw his backpack before I saw anything alive. It was sitting under a medium sized oak tree. But where were they at? I took half steps, scanning the brush line, hoping I’d see them before they saw me. Then I heard them, deep hard voices. Speaking English! What the hell had I stumbled on?
Many of the aliens I’d encountered spoke English but it was always their second language. These two spoke perfect English without any sign of an accent. Red flag was now raised. Of course they could just be ranch hands or even people looking for snakes, or spiders or rocks or arrowheads but I knew all of those reasonable possibilities weren’t realistic in this case. If my gun wasn’t in my hand already this would be enough persuasion to make me draw it.
“I can’t go no further today,” one voice said in a pleading tone.
“Fine! We’ll rest here until evening. From the looks of the map, it’ll take one more day and we’ll be east of Uvalde.” The second voice said. The irritation with his traveling mate easily heard in his voice.
I stood contemplating why two probable U.S. citizens were traipsing across this God forsaken country. Why not just come out on the road and hitchhike? It was instantly clear that they were on the run but from what or whom? Maybe they were carrying drugs. That would be likely except the pack that was on the ground was almost flat, meaning that it could have some dope in it but not much.
My level of apprehension was high and I wondered what was going to happen when I came out into the open. I decided to be overly cautious and inform whoever was listening what I had. I turned the volume down on my walkie and whispered into the mike. “Hey. I’ve got two English speakers at the windmill on the east side of the Blackburn pastures.”
There was a pause and then Shelby’s voice, “Good for you. Bring them in.” He was callous and obtuse but really, could he be this dense? I had to chuckle at his response which hopefully lowered my blood pressure to less than stroke level.
I had a small Mesquite tree between us and them and decided to use that to get as close as possible before I announced myself. I walked swiftly but quietly towards them. If they were looking my way, they’d immediately see me but, even if they broke and ran, we’d track them down easily now.
“What up, gentlemen?” I asked in the form of a greeting. Both men were half sitting, half lying against a couple of oaks. My voice caught them off guard and one immediately started to get up to either run or fight. “Don’t move!” I commanded, my words being backed up by the barrel of my gun pointed at him. The one on his feet was a white boy, he didn’t look anymore than eighteen. Tall and slim with a heavy swatch of blond hair. He froze at the sight of me or my gun. Probably both. “Sit back down,” I said and he nodded his understanding and sat down. The second subject wasn’t a boy but had to be in his thirties or maybe forties. He knew the routine and had his hands up in front of him. He was dark complected like he was Hispanic or possibly Native American. His face was pock marked and he had an ugly scar by his nose. My first impression was that he lost a knife fight.
His stared hard at me, surely sizing me up. “Hello, Officer,” he greeted. His voice had a hissing quality to it and I knew this one wasn’t going to give up so easily. I was making a wide angle route to them, looking at their sides. With my left hand I secretly held the mike of the radio. “Kid, you got any weapons? Knives or guns?” I asked knowing that my words were being broadcast to all of the agents within local radio range.
“Yeah, I’ve got a knife,” he responded staring not at me but at the barrel of the .357 magnum that was pointed at his partner.
“Take it out slowly and toss it over there.” I motioned with the barrel of the gun. He took out a long deer skinning knife and tossed it into the dirt in the direction I told him. Still talking to him I asked, “Does your partner have a knife or a gun?”
The kid just looked at me like I’d begun to speak French. It was equivalent to him saying “Yep, he’s got a knife and a gun and he’ll try to use them.” He looked at me and the fear was palpable. But I wasn’t sure if he was afraid of me or afraid of his companion. Probably both.
“Before you decide to test my skill, I’m gonna tell you a couple of things. First of all, I won’t miss. Secondly though, you will be caught and soon. I have half a dozen other agents heading this way. Where are you going to run to? Tracking you on this ground is easy. And say you are good and lucky and you win this little showdown, then what? Well, first, they’ll call the helicopter and every law enforcement agency within fifty miles. Then, well, if you were so lucky to shoot me or stab me or whatever it is you’re contemplating, they probably won’t take you alive. In this country we work closely together. So they’ll kill you but I’d imagine that you’ll probably try to give up and whoever it is you give up to will just smile and say, ‘Run,’ and then they’ll shoot you right where you stand.” This was more words than I’ve spoken in a year but they just kept coming out of my mouth.
“Give him the gun, Jules,” the boy pleaded.
I wanted to push the radio button again but I had both hands on my revolver now. I knew something was about to happen.
“Hey, why you getting all bent out of shape, buddy?” The older of the two asked with a forced smile. “Of course I have a gun. Snakes everywhere out here. Look. We aren’t a couple of wetbacks so I don’t know why you’re harassing us. You don’t have any reason to be acting like we are wetbacks. Now lower that gun, friend, for you’re being awful impolite.”
I had to laugh but my gun stayed straight out in front of me. “Toss the gun over where your friend threw the knife. Be careful pulling it out because if you aren’t then I’ll immediately jump to conclusions and think you want to shoot me.”
He nodded his agreement to my request and leaning to the side pulled out what looked to be a Colt .45 with silver grips on it. Why in the heck would anyone crossing this terrain have such a fancy gun? That didn’t make any sense. The hammer was back so he was carrying it locked and cocked. Great. I just waited for it to explode as he gently tossed it the six or seven feet to his left.
“Now, you’ve made me throw my Colt into the God Damned dirt. That’s just plain rude. How about holstering your own gun. And back to my question. Why in the hell are you molesting a man and his son just out looking for arrowheads? That makes no sense at all.” He paused for a moment, still staring hard at me. “A man and his son looking for arrowheads jumped and held at gunpoint by a little piss ant Border Patrolman. That’ll sure make a good story in the newspaper.”
His story could actually be true and, if he was, I’d have a lot of explaining to do to keep my job or at least not get a few weeks on the beach. But there was something more to this story. “What’s your names. You, kid. What’s your name?” I asked.
“Ron,” He answered curtly. He wasn’t looking at me anymore but looking down at his belly.
“Why are you guys here, Ron?” I asked but I knew the other guy had already set up the story.
“Just like Jules said, we’re here looking for arrowheads.” He still didn’t look up.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Oklahoma,” Ron answered without hesitation.
“That’s a long way from home.”
He paused long enough for Jules to take over. “We’ve got buddies in this area. Parked our truck up on this ranch and we’re following our buddies’ directions to a place where there were lots of arrowheads. Then you come up and harass us. Holster that gun before you do something even stupider than harassing us!” Jules is angry now and begins to stand up.
“Sit back down!” I order.
“Or what? You’ll shoot me for being out here with my son looking for arrowheads? You go right ahead and shoot if that’s what you wanna do.” Shit! He’s got me now second-guessing my actions. He stands up, stretches his hands well above his head and then says, “Ron, get up and let’s get on our way. This peckerwood’s pretty much screwed his career in the ass and he knows it.”
I take a step backwards to keep distance between them and I. They’re right. I have no real reason to hold them but I know they’re both lying through their teeth. And what if they do just walk off? What in the hell am I going to do, shoot them? Shit!
My radio is all the way down. I take my left hand from my revolver and turn it up. Then I press the talk button on it and say, “You almost here?”
Jules sees the ever-so-slight distraction that this small effort allowed and he dived forward towards the gun. Shit!
In the Border Patrol we are not allowed to fire warning shots. We shoot to stop their immediate actions and to neutralize a threat. At that second I had reason to use deadly force. If he got to the Colt I’d be at the wrong end of barrel too quickly. Everyhting happened so slowly but in reality it was probably over in a split second. I don’t know why. Maybe because I didn’t want to shoot another person. That’s a huge flaw but maybe that’s why I did what I did. My barrel jumped ahead of him and I pulled the trigger twice. I’d practiced a lot at shooting at snake heads and pieces of tape during after-barbeque shooting matches and I was good at it. My first round struck the Colt in the frame and richocheted off while the second one followed perfectly in the first’s path and struck the gun in the handle.
The man dove onto the ground but his hands didn’t reach for the destroyed colt but covered his head. “Don’t shoot me!” He screamed. “Don’t shoot me!” His voice no longer held the confidence it had just a moment before. I guess coming so close to death makes one just a little bit jittery.
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