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
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.
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
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.
© 2005 Frank Longoria, All Rights Reserved - reprinted by
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