It was a bright sunny day in Mesa Verde, though Diana Sanchez, dispatcher extraordinaire was fielding some very strange phone calls.
Wealthy ex New Yorker Deborah Weinstein called first. She was well liked in town, jeweler horsewoman and general bon vivant. She sounded concerned.
“Mesa Verde Police Department, Diana Sanchez speaking.”
“Diana, it’s Deborah Weinstein. Deborah’s Brooklyn accent had a higher pitch and was more concerned.
“Deborah, what’s wrong?”
“Jose and Luz didn’t come to work today.”
Diana is known for her sarcasm and wise guy behavior sometimes. “Deborah, they are not in our lost and found at the station and it is very rude of them not to call you.”
“That’s why I’m worried, it isn’t like them.”
“Well Luz is small and quiet, I can see her getting lost, but Jose is big and loud, plus he smells from doing hard labor, how could you lose him? I have taken this down. “
“Thank you Diana.” Deborah hung up, which many people did when she went off on tangents.
The next caller said abruptly “Abuela’s is closed.”
Abuela’s, grandma’s in English is the beloved Mexican restaurant in town, Sonoran cuisine at its best. It is also the name of Diana’s ornery cat.
Diana digested this news for a moment. Suddenly, she blurted out “Abuela’s never closes!”
“Well it’s closed now,” the gruff voice said.
“This is a catastrophe for Mesa Verde. How am I supposed to get my lunch and more importantly Chief Morris? Sir we will look into it.” Diana abruptly hung up.
Diana sat and thought. This doesn’t sound like an emergency, at least not yet. When Diana is presented with a poser, she takes time out, goes to the bathroom and checks her makeup. “No point worrying the Chief until I’ve adjusted my makeup.” Diana also tries to play detective when she isn’t supposed to as she is not a sworn police officer.
“What do the two calls have in common?” She thought briefly. “I know, they involve things Mexican. Have the Mexicans in town gone on strike and no one told me. It is like that awful movie A Day without Mexicans. I on the other hand would never go on strike because I think the Chief is great and I am a professional. I need to call him and let him know what is going on” She dialed his number. “Diana, quiet morning up front?”
“Not any more Chief, Abuela’s is closed.”
Chief Morris couldn’t resist being silly. “Yes, they are closed when the doors are closed.”
Diana sometimes sees silliness in others and not her own. “Chief, the caller said they are closed as in no service.”
“Oh great, there goes lunch.”
“There’s more Chief.”
“Well we know Abuela’s didn’t burn down, we are the Police Department after all. I think we would have been among the first to know. What else do you have?”
“Deborah Weinstein called saying her maid and her gardener Jose did not show up”
“Well Jose is hard to miss. Neither call is connected, except…”
“All concern Mexicans.”
“Great minds think alike, I love it when you finish my sentences. Maybe they’re on strike.”
“I am here, as a trained and professional dispatcher and will not strike.”
“Diana, I know I can count on you.”
“Thank you Chief.”
“Well now that we’ve worked that out, we need to find out what is going on.”
The Chief was about to leave the station when he looked out the front door. Most of the Mexican Americans in town were coming toward the station with an Anglo behind them. The Mexicans included Mrs. Weinstein’s gardener and maid and the staff of Abuela’s. “Halt!” The man barked the command out. Chief Morris recognized the man as he saw the shotgun being wielded.
Clem Watkins lived in a shack he built on the edge of town. He was a prospector, hunter and general character. He pointed the double barreled shotgun toward the ground
“Sheriff, ah’ve made a citizens’ arrest on these here Mexican aliens.” He pointed over to Diana. Ah am arrestin’ her too.”
Chief Morris like a light being switched on went from incredulous to outrage. “Clem, you will do no such thing.” He looked at the group of people Clem followed at gunpoint. He spotted Lourdes Marquez, the abuela in Abuela’s. “Lourdes, what in the world is going on,” the Chief asked, still trying to take it all in.
Lourdes was not her usual motherly self. “This dang fool came in waving that shotgun ordering us about. My pots and pans are ruined with burned food. As he marched us down the street, he waved that shotgun at anyone he thought was Mexican.”
“Thank you Lourdes,” the Chief said distractedly as he spotted a young lady with deep tan lines with a Louis Vuitton bag and wearing Christian Louboutin shoes. Definitely out of place for Mesa Verde. She saw the Chief’s baffled look and spoke to him immediately.
“I’m Sarah Weinstein. I’m moving out here to work for Channel Four and live with my Aunt Debby. I was talking to a nice young lady, whose name I didn’t catch when that idiot pointed the gun at us and told us to walk in front of him. I haven’t started work yet and already have my first story. What are you going to do about this outrage, sir?”
Chief Morris realized with Sarah’s deep tan lines, she could easily be mistaken for Mexican. “Miss Weinstein, I look forward to better contacts with you and trust me, this silliness will be dealt with.” The Chief looked at the assembled group. I have what I need, I’m sorry this happened and I will sort it out.”
A chorus of “Thanks Chief,” was mumbled as they left.
Of course Diana had to get her two cents in. “Sir, didn’t your Mama teach you not to point?” Someone could’ve been hurt. You’re a rude and smelly man stinking up my police station.”
Chief Morris burst out laughing. “Diana, did you ever think of becoming a cop?” Then he thought to himself, No, life’s interesting enough with Patrol Officer Martinez wanting to shoot first and ask questions later.
“Thank you oh great Chief, but my destiny is as a dispatcher extraordinaire.”
“Yes it is Diana,” the Chief said with a relived smile.
Meanwhile, Clem was still standing there waving the shotgun. “Sheriff, ah arrested all them people and you let ‘em go?”
The Chief looked over at Diana. “Thanks now back to your desk, Clem hand me the shotgun please, now!”
Clem reluctantly unloaded the shotgun and handed it to Chief Morris. “Clem, put your hands on the wall so I can search you. Do you have anything in your pockets that might hurt me?”
Clem sighed like a hurt child. “No.”
Chief Morris patted Clem down. All he had was a leaky ball point pen, wallet and a much folded piece of paper. The Chief had put the shotgun behind him on the floor after making sure all the shells were removed. He picked up the shotgun, motioned to Clem, and said “To my office, we have to have a little chat.”
Clem looked defeated as the Chief led him to a chair. “Sit down; we have a lot to talk about.”
Clem was still angry about losing his prisoners. “Sheriff, what good is a citizen’s arrest if you’re gonna let ‘em go?”
Chief Morris sat forward at his desk and looked at Clem as though he was the recalcitrant student in the Principals office. “Why did you march the entire Mexican-American population of Mesa Verde here, including one non Mexican-American woman who may’ve gotten her tan lines in Mexico but is here to work for Channel Four? As she said, she has her first news story and hasn’t started work yet. You’ve never been in trouble before, what in the world is going on?”
“Aint you heard of the bill them fellers passed in Phoenix about them Mexican varmints?”
“Yes I read the bill but you held our Mexican American neighbors at gunpoint. They may originally be from Mexico but they’re American citizens like you and me.”
“How do you know they aint workin’ for the other side?”
Chief Morris’ professional demeanor vanished for a moment as he laughed. “Clem, what other side.”
“Terrorists, what if some of them are really them Al-Queda boys?”
Chief Morris laughed again. “I’ll tell my buddies in the border patrol to lay out some Chicarrones and beer and see who refuses.”
“But them terrorists know all them tricks!” Clem pleaded.
Chief Morris laughed again. “Do you think Lourdes Marquez, the nice little old lady who owns Abuela’s who you had at gunpoint is a terrorist?”
“She could be hidin’ terrorists.”
Chief Morris laughed again, “What in her skirt?”
“Sheriff, she could be havin’ secret meetins.”
“Too many spy movies have addled your brain, Clem. What, you think Lourdes has a short wave with which she contacts her handlers? Oh this will be a great thriller for Mimi, our resident author. Maybe, I’ll call her and have her take all this down. I know Sandra will create a story.”
Sandra Wilson is Mesa Verde’s resident photographer and blogger. She was already interviewing people and writing stories in both English and Spanish. Clem continued to look at Chief Morris quizzically.
“Sheriff, me and my posse are just gittin started.”
Chief Morris looked around the room for an invisible posse, then laughed. “I only see you, how many invisible men do you have?”
“They’re a comin’ Sheriff. The boys in Phoenix know that Obama fella in Washington’s really one of them One World Government fellers with the black helicopters…”
Chief Morris heard enough. “Clem, you realize I can turn you over to the FBI Field Office in Tucson right now for multiple counts of kidnapping, but I won’t.”
“I’m glad Sheriff; they work for that Obama fella, who knows what they’ll do.”
“Clem, sit tight,” Chief Morris said wearily.
With a heavy heart, Chief Morris hung up came around the desk and went to where Clem was sitting. “Clem, stand up please.”
“Because I have to place you under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to speak with an attorney present before questioning. Do you understand these rights as I’ve explained them to you?”
Clem still looked confused. “Why am ah goin’ to jail Sheriff, I did you a favor?”
Chief Morris was concerned. “Clem for your own good, don’t say anything else until you get a lawyer.”
“Don’t need no damn blood suckin’ parasite lawyer.”
“Clem, I need to cuff you.” The only sound for a moment was the clicking of the handcuffs. Chief Morris gently sat Clem down again and called the town attorney.
“Linda, how are you?” Chief Morris said breezily.
“Not good Chief. I have indigestion because I know why you’re calling. Couldn’t Martinez just catch Glenda Walker speeding again?”
“Oh I wish it were that simple.”
“Is he talking?”
“Oh hell yeah, I can’t shut him up!”
“Sheriff, are you telling me to shut up?”
“Oh great, another country heard from.” Chief Morris and Linda cried out as though on cue, “Shut up Clem!”
“I’ll not be silenced, you can beat me Sheriff.”
“I heard that,” Linda said. “I’m already drawing up the papers for a psych exam”
“I’m going to have Diana come in, so I can re-mirandize him so no one came claim I didn’t do it.”
“Has he asked for a lawyer?”
“No, he hates all lawyers.”
“Chief are you planning to arrest anyone else today?”
“I might arrest myself just to see what it feels like”
“Very funny Chief, let me go and get that psych exam approved.” She hung up and called the Justice of the Peace.”
Justice of the Peace Don Clampett preferred officiating at weddings and dealing with traffic violations. When Linda called, Don knew what it was about. It’s hard to keep secrets in Mesa Verde, especially when master blogger Sandra has already tried to interview you.
“Oh Linda, what do you want to do about that crazy old coot?”
“So he doesn’t need the psych exam, you’ve already pronounced him crazy?”
“I’d like to, but no I’ll do some work. Send over the papers and let’s get this done.”
“About time you did some grunt work, other than being the proud papa at weddings,” Linda said, trying not to laugh.
“Save the sarcasm for later, Madame Town Attorney, you may need it for later. While we’re chatting, did he get counsel?”
“He won’t,” Linda said wearily, “The Chief says he won’t shut up.”
“Well that’s Clem, I’ll make sure he gets counsel, like it or not. What did the Chief charge him with anyway?”
“False arrest for now.”
“The only question will be if the Feds want to take this over?”
“As a kidnapping charge?”
“You are good, oh great Town Attorney. Did you in your wildest dreams think we’d become the state’s test case for the immigration law? Oh I can hardly wait.”
“You and me both.”
“When we get him a lawyer, I’ll get him arraigned, but first get Dr. Peterson to examine him, then we can take it from there.”