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Fred Ewalt and the Mexican Restaurant


Fred Ewalt, transferred into the Spokane's Patrol Agent in Charge position just after I transferred to the Pasco Office.  Fred couldn't have been more than five-eight but he exuded toughness and didn't put up with shit.  He also cared about his men more than he cared about management which eventually would lead to major problems.  

I relayed the story about the WSP Sergeant who I pissed off and how Fred stuck up for me.  He seemed to always do that. 

One day he called me on the phone and said he was coming over to the Pasco Station and would like to meet with me.  "Just need to get out of the office!"  He reeassured me when he heard the suspicious tone creep into my voice.  When bosses want to drive 140 miles to see you, it always makes you wonder.  Fred was always straight forward and if he was pissed you knew it.  He wasn't a backstabber and he didn't beat around the bush. 

I met Fred wearing my full uniform as I knew that Fred was a uniform type of guy. Don always wore plain-clothes and for the years I knew him would only wear a uniform under very special conditions.  I didn't have the gravitas that Don had and thus made sure that I didn't give Fred a reason to jump my ass.

Don was off on a short vacation so Fred and I chatted in the office for about an hour.  He wasn't much of a critiquer for my duties, seeming to have confidence in me.  That always made me feel good.  Fred said, "Let's go have lunch.  How about that little Mexican restaurant that Don likes?"

"Sure,"  I replied with a lot of reservation.  Don and I frequented the restaurant on occasion but never in uniform as this restaurant is in Pasco in an area that had a high percentage of illegal immigrants.  I had frequented the restaurant with Don on easily a dozen occassions and they knew me, so I hoped that at least the staff wouldn’t freak out.  It was small with only fifteen or twenty tables and had homemade food which was delicious.

I met Fred over at the restaurant.  It is in downtown Pasco and Fred was driving a marked Sedan as was I.  When I went there with Don we always took his unmarked car.  This drew a ton of attention and, after pulling into the tight parking lot, everyone stared out the window.  I'm sure they thought it was a raid.

Fred and I ignored the looks, some of pure fear and some of pure hatred, and sat down at a small table that was surrounded by Mexicans, many of whom I was sure were illegal.

"Never thought about the uniform causing this much of a show," Fred commented.  The last time he, Don and I had went we were in plain clothes in Don's unmarked car.  

The waitress who was always friendly with me, suddenly was tense.  I knew why.  She took our orders and left us as quickly as she could. 

Fred and I chatted and I noticed that he didn't look good.  Our food was delivered and he ignored it while I, being the pig that I am, chowed down on mine.  "You okay, Fred?"  I asked as he was beginning to sweat heavily on his forehead.  

"I don't feel good."  And I knew he must really be sick to admit that much to me.  "Go ahead and eat."  He tried to assure me it was nothing too serious but I could see the paleness taking hold of his face.

"You wanna go?"  I asked.

"Yeah we'd better get out of here."

We got up, again to stares or obvious ignores, and walked out into the parking lot.

"What's wrong, Fred?"  I was worried as he stood at the edge of his car and suddenly he didn't look as tough as usual.   “Lourdes Hospital is just a few blocks up the street.  You want me to take you there?"

Still trying to continue the tough-guy personna, he replied, "No, but I'll follow you over."

I wasn't going to argue with my boss.  I climbed into my car and headed to the ER.  Fred and I pulled up and I walked back to his car thinking he was too sick to get out.  

"Hey, I'm going to head back to Spokane," he told me, still looking more than a little sickly.

“Let's go in.  Let them check you out."  I tried to persuade him but his mind was made up.  

"I'll call you when I get back to Spokane," he replied and put the car into gear driving off.  A couple hours later he called and said he was back to Spokane and all was well.    

A few days later, Don and I had to go to Spokane for our ammunition.  We went into Fred's office and he greeted us nicely as he always did.  Don brought up Fred's previous visit and asked Fred what had been wrong.

Fred, of course, downplayed his illness and gave me a bit of a chiding for wanting to take him to the emergency room.

So, in return, I said, "Fred, I thought you were having a heart attack.  I could just see you collapsing in that restaurant.  I was already picking which of the wets that I was gonna have lip-locking on you!"

Fred laughed for only a moment then turned serious and asked, "You really wouldn't have done that would you?"

Don interceded "Shit Fred, I woulda if I'd been there!"  I thought Fred was going to be pissed but after a moment he started to laugh and said, "I'm glad I didn't Bob, cause then I'd have survived just to kick your ass..."