“10-4,” Billy said and pulled as far off the road as he could without running over plants. He slammed the transmission in park and scurried out the door, the morning humidity smacking him in the face. He stopped quickly, though, to let the black SUV race past him as it sped to keep up with Sheriff Cransford. He then noticed the workers again, bent over in the fields, the sun already beating down on their backs. “Note to self,” he said out loud. “Don’t complain about the heat of my uniform again.”
Billy took a deep breath and ran across the dirt road in pursuit of the fleeing worker. He began to hurdle rows of plants, trying to take a more direct route to the man. He figured the guy had a couple hundred yards on him, but it was at least a mile to the edge of the fields where he’d have cover in the woods. Billy could tell his jumping rows was slowing progress as the worker stayed on a straight path towards the woods. Billy leaped one more row and then stayed on the row, running a parallel row toward the suspect. He was finally gaining some ground, but he was still dozens of yards behind.
The man looked back, taking his eye off the next step, and tripped. He face planted in the soft dirt. “Stop!” Billy called. The man scrambled to his feet and began to run again. “Parar!” Billy called again, hoping the man’s native language would get through. No luck, but he had cut the distance considerably. The man took a sharp left turn onto another service road. Billy reached the service road seconds later and turned to follow. The man looked back again.
“Stop! Parar!” Billy tried one more time. The runner ignored him, but seconds later, Billy gave one final surge and connected his right shoulder in the square of the man’s back and wrapped him up like a linebacker sacking a scrambling quarterback. Billy’s weight landed on the man as they hit the ground, knocking the last bit of wind out of his sails.
The man put up little resistance as Billy quickly bound his hands behind his back while keeping his knee and weight on the man. “You have the right to remain silent-“ Billy started to say.
“Traidor!” the man said, half coughing the words.
“What did you say?” Billy asked, standing up and looking down at the man. The man said nothing. ”That’s what I thought,” Billy said and added, “As I said. You have the right to remain silent. I suggest you use it. Comprende?” The man said nothing.
“Stand up,” Billy said forcefully. The man writhed in the soft dirt a bit but could not stand. Billy bent over and pulled up hard on the man’s arm, assisting him to his knees. The man successfully stabilized himself and stood. “Vamos,” Billy said and pushed the man in the direction of the SUV.
In the distance, Billy could see the Sheriff’s SUV, lights still flashing, parked outside of the small structure in front of the warehouse. Groups of pickers stood, keeping their eyes on the white building in the distance while others went back to picking.
A few minutes later, Billy and the runner arrived back at the SUV where Billy opened the back door and guided the man toward the opening. He did not put up much resistance and climbed into the rear seat. Billy closed the door, moved back to the driver’s seat, and wiped his face with a handkerchief. Two minutes later, he was parking next to the sheriff’s SUV. He left the car and air conditioning running as he went into the white building to join Sheriff Cransford.
“Was there any need for the flashing lights, Sheriff? You got a news crew waiting outside, too? I assure you we have proper paperwork on every one of our workers,” Billy heard an agitated thin, white-haired man in a tan shirt and Sterling Farms trucker hat say to the Sheriff as he walked up.
“Well, Mr. Sterling, my deputy here just had to chase down a runner. The flashing lights let those workers we mean business. You get him, Billy?” the Sheriff asked.
“Yes, sir. He’s in the truck,” Billy said.
“So, looks like we have someone who might not quite be in your system properly. I suggest you give these gentlemen from Immigration and Customs Enforcement your full cooperation.”
“Dammit, Tommy, this is harassment,” the white-haired man said and stepped toward the Sheriff, who took a step toward the man with the hat. They were almost nose to nose, with Mr. Sterling looking down into Sheriff Cransford’s stoic face. The farmer may have been taller, but his thin frame didn’t seem to be a match for the sheriff’s puffed out barrel chest.
After a few seconds of stand-off, the Sheriff finally spoke.,” Mr. Sterling, I suggest you go help the ICE agents. I don’t think you want you to join your employee in the back of our cruiser.” The intensity left Mr. Sterling’s face and he turned back toward his desk. “Let’s go Billy, and let Mr. Sterling work.”