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Friday  September 30, 2005

INFANTE


Frank on the job
photo courtesy of i-dineout.com (Allen Youngblood)


EVENHAND WILL SCREEN ON THE SUNDANCE CHANNEL
Saturday, October 1st, 3:20 PM
Friday, October 7th, 5:05 AM
Wednesday, October 12th 12:00 PM
Wednesday, October 12th 7:00 PM
Friday, October 21st 2:00 PM

Check the SUNDANCE CHANNEL for dates and times


As the weather here in New York is finally offering a hint of the crisp, cool days of fall, our thoughts turn to the Gulf of Mexico and the days, months and years of recovery that folks down there are facing.

Today, I am pleased to include a second guest entry from Frank Longoria, a Patrol Deputy in the Liberty County Texas Sheriff's Office. Frank and his colleagues have been working without a break since Hurricane Rita struck. Here's Frank's description of the situation down there: "well, we dodged a bullet for the most part. So far, only 4 Rita-related deaths, although we had a lot of wind damage. We are on no days off til further notice, twelve hour shifts. There is no electricity out in the county, so there are a lot of people living in the dark and heat. It was 98 degrees yesterday with a heat index of 104. We have been averaging about 4 hours of sleep a day."

We wish everyone in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi a speedy recovery from the recent devastation wrought by Katrina and Rita.


INFANTE
By Frank Longoria

As the windshield wipers swept back and forth on this rainy night making their washing machine sound, Infante lit his third cigar of the shift. Luxuriating in the aromatic smoke of a newly-lit Acid cigar, he contemplated his career as he patrolled his district in the southwest part of the county.

Infante had been assigned to this district almost exclusively for the three and a half years he had been employed at the Freedom County Sheriff's Office. During the nine years before that he had worked for the City Police Department which was located within the same district. Infante was in his thirteenth year as a cop and at the age of 44 was somewhere in that physical purgatory of which eventually everyone becomes a victim. He would attempt some physical feat which he had mundanely performed for years only to find, much to his chagrin, that this same task required a second or third effort or even more embarrassingly that he was unable to do it at all.

Infante was a pragmatist, fully aware of the limitations imposed by encroaching age as well as the statistics involving middle-aged officers trying to keep up with the rookies only to find themselves flat on their backs with these same rookies hovering over them clamping their mouths over theirs in a manner which usually included the cost of dinner and a movie. However, those clamping of the lips did not normally include the other person also beating on your chest while screaming "Breathe!"

No, Infante was definitely not the world-beater he had once been, though the truth be told, having entered the law enforcement field at the relatively ripe old age of 32, he had never thought himself to be Superman, an affliction from which most rookies suffered. Infante had been involved in one foot-pursuit in his career. That one had occurred several years before and was a shared victory in that he had actually double-teamed with another officer to catch the bad guy. Lest it be thought that the catch was tainted or should be marked with an asterisk, it should be mentioned that the second officer was the same size as Infante, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 300 pounds, while the bad guy was a slim, 19 year old male African-American youth who felt that a night in the county jail was not to his liking, and so had bid Infante and his partner adieu as he bolted for freedom between them. Infante's partner, although being built similarly to him, was also ten years younger and thus quicker to react.

When the bad guy made his break Infante's partner, Otto, took off behind him and kept up with him for the first fifteen feet, long enough to grab the suspect around the neck in a head-lock, raising Infante's hopes that this would bring the chase to a quick end. His hopes were dashed when he saw Otto trip as he wrestled with the suspect, losing his grip as he fell to the ground, much to the amusement of the bystanders. Infante, who had been trailing along behind Otto and the suspect somewhat diffidently, like a catcher trailing the batter down to first base on a routine ground ball, saw Otto relinquish his grip on the suspect who had also stumbled, almost falling to the ground alongside Otto. Infante resigned himself and, mindful of the jeering crowd, quickened his pace, hoping to catch the miscreant before he was able to regain his balance. It turned out to be a forlorn hope. As he neared the kid, he put his hand down to the ground to steady himself then staggered for two or three steps before suddenly straightening up and putting some distance between himself and Infante.

Infante, seeing the train leaving the station and aware that he couldn't catch the kid in a foot race even if the kid had been running backwards, made a decision and mentally crossing himself, made a move he hadn't tried since high school football, throwing himself at the kid's feet in an attempt to tackle him. As he, in his mind anyway, flew parallel to the ground, Infante realized that the bystanders were watching his desperate move, waiting for him to crash and burn, so that they could have another laugh at the cops' expense. Much to everyone's surprise, especially the kid's, who was probably already formulating the story he would regale his buddies with later, Infante's gamble paid off and he was able to grab the kid at the ankles, or more precisely, ankle, since he had managed to grab just the right foot. As Infante desperately pulled the kid's foot into his chest, while trying to corral the other one, the kid continued to run, looking for all the world like he had one foot nailed to the floor.

Infante felt the kid's foot slipping out of his grasp and began to yell for Otto who by now had recovered his balance and was lumbering to assist Infante, a sight which apparently fueled the kid's adrenaline as he finally kicked free of Infante's grasp and was once again on the run, no doubt mentally editing his story to include this second escape from the clutches of the cops. What the kid hadn't counted on was that Otto's adrenaline had also kicked in giving him an extra burst of speed, a burst which enabled him to be on the kid more quickly than the kid, or even Otto, for that matter, had imagined. Otto knocked the kid to the ground where he struggled to handcuff him. Infante, who was bleeding from a road rash injury to his right forearm suffered when he tackled the kid, not to mention the attendant soreness associated with a 300 pound, 38 year old man hitting a concrete parking lot, lurched towards Otto and the kid. Infante, having had his fill of the high that all the rookies exulted in as a result of a foot pursuit, pulled his Oleo capsicum canister from his belt, limped towards the mismatched Greco-Roman wrestling match and shouted "O.C." which warned his partner that something unpleasant was about to occur and that if he didn't want to suffer the same fate as the kid he should disengage forthwith. Otto moved away from the kid even more quickly than he had moved towards him when he caught him just as Infante leaned down to the kid and gave him a two second blast of O.C. full in the face.

Once the spray hit the kid there was a momentary look of surprise on his face followed almost immediately by an eardrum-shattering caterwauling, high-pitched enough to call a dog. The kid almost immediately began to snot and cry which is what the O.C. is designed to do thus taking the starch out of anybody who might harbor any thoughts of resisting, running or fighting. The kid continued keening in a manner most unbecoming for someone who had actually looked over his shoulder and sneered at his pursuers when the chase began.

This was Infante's one and only foot pursuit, after which he decided that so as not to endanger his pristine record of 1-0, he would refrain from further such escapades, leaving the rookies to enjoy the rush as there had been no endorphins flowing for him, just his blood.

Copyright 2005 Frank Longoria, All Rights Reserved - reprinted by permission

To read THE THEFT, Frank's first story posted on the EvenHand site, please follow this link.


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City of Dreams (formerly The Lost City of New York) is a short film, written and directed by yours truly. More still photographs from the film have been posted on the site along with a revised and more extensive production journal. Please click on the link above.

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