Chapter 3

A black Ford F-250 four-wheel drive pickup with two spotlights atop a beefy black padded roll bar pulls up next to us.  Inside the truck are a couple of rednecks, a few years older than me, wearing sleeveless t-shirts we call “wife-beaters,” which give their muscular tattoos some room to breathe. Both have tattoos of eagles, clutching things like arrows or spears and an American flag.  Each of them has a movable spotlight with big black handles right outside their windows. In the bed of the truck, holding onto their rifles with one hand and the roll bar with the other, are two thinner rednecks. They are about my age and it looks like they all shop at the same clothing store. There’s also a whole lot less of them sticking out of their shirts than the two in the cab, and from here their tattoos look more like crows than eagles.

“Seen your work over at the water station,” the driver says.

“Yeah, nice.” Agrees one of the guys in the back.

Silence.

“Thanks,” I say. Shane locks eyes with the driver, and Willie looks the whole bunch over.

“What are you boys up to tonight?” asks Willie.

“Same as usual,” the driver says.

“Rabbit huntin.” The guy riding shotgun grins, and spits a black stream of tobacco out the window and the dusty desert floor balls it up, making it look like a fuzzy black caterpillar. It seems even the desert has its standards regarding what liquids it will soak up, and what it won’t.

Each of the skinny guys in the back picks up a dead jackrabbit by the ears so we can see them. They must be five feet long from ears to feet. I never knew rabbits could get so big.  Leaning up against the back of the cab and tied to the roll bar, I see a pick and two shovels. One of the skinny guys sees me looking. “In case we get stuck out here,” he says.

“Yeah,” his buddy agrees. “We just dig ourselves out.”

“You got all your bases covered as usual,” Shane says, his eyes never leaving the drivers’.

“Got to,” replies the driver. He leans over and sticks his head part way out the window, “Those damn wetbacks don’t play by the rules—who says we have to?”

“Only two?” Willie asks, nodding toward the guys with the rabbits.

“We got a coyote yesterday,” replies the guy riding shotgun.

“Was it alone?” Shane asks.

“Nope- I got his friend,” says the driver, grinning from ear to ear. “Where you guys lining up these days?”

“We got teams of threes and fours every 5 miles or so for the next twenty miles,” Shane says.

“I saw Immigration making it’s way back to town.” The driver cracks an evil smile. “Makin’ Margaritas were they?”

“Yeah, we got five of ‘em,” Willie says.

“I told you Bobby, I told you,” says one of the skinny guys in the back.

“Any get away?” The driver asks.

”A coyote,” Willie says.

“Oh well, one thing about wetbacks is: there’s plenty more where they came from,” says Bobby, as he secures the dead rabbits in the bed of the truck.

“We’re just heading in. I imagine the night crew will be half our numbers,” Willie says.

“Thanks. Okay boys, lets go huntin’ coyotes.” The driver hits the gas and the two guys in the back snatch their guns with one hand and leap for the roll bar with the other.

They bounce eastward over the ruts and weeds and mesquite, leaving a dust cloud behind them. It’s a wonder we catch anybody with vehicles. That coyote’s probably long gone by now, but then again, that truck can cover a lot more ground in an hour than a person on foot.

We follow tire tracks until we are back at Willie’s truck, parked by a gate on the side of the highway.

We all pile into the old, blue, GMC pickup that brought us here, and when Willie turns the ignition we’re immediately assaulted by his air conditioning, pumping out hot air like a blow dryer. He quickly turns it down, and then turns up the country music. From here on out, we’re left to our own thoughts with a mournful soundtrack playing in the background.

When we get to the Denny’s we all met at earlier in the day, Shane and I pile out of the truck and stretch our legs. “Thanks for the training guys, I appreciate it.”

“Any time kid,” Willie says. “Ask for us next time you go out, we’d love to have you.”

“I’m sure you’ll be better prepared,” Shane adds before getting into his car.

“Yeah, I got it, believe me.”

“Good boy, see ya later.” Willie waves and drives off.

Shane just drives away. No wave, no goodbye. Pleasantries are a waste of energy for him. I want to be that cool.

I have about seven blocks to walk home. My mind is awash with all the new things I learned today as well as a hundred new questions I never knew to ask before, such as, where do these rats go after we capture them? What happens to them next? Do they get deported, or do we pay for them to have an attorney?

When I get home, I shower and heat up one of the meals my mother has pre-made and wrapped up for me. We hardly ever see each other. She works two, sometimes three jobs, and I either go to school full time or work. It’s always been like this.

Before I fall asleep, I wonder what everyone at Taco Bell would think if tomorrow I told them I’m a Minuteman.

 

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Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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