José Muñoz is the author of the novel, To See It Through (Floricanto, 2020). His latest work, La Lady Fund is currently on submission. He grew up in the small agricultural town of Lamont, California, where his creativity was born and nurtured. He earned a BA in English from California State University Los Angeles, and a MA in Intelligence Studies from American Military University. He enjoys writing about people who are underrepresented because everyone has a story to tell.
Louie's Encounter With LA's Finest
Louie Lagarto smiled from ear to ear. He’d finally made it to the weekend that he thought would never come, but now, his hands were on his timecard, and he waited for quitting time to become official. The time clock ticked, and he punched out of work. He was now free for the weekend, and all he had to do was make it home safely. He drove out of the employee parking lot and took a mental inventory of what he had at home. He had a case of Modelo beer, some Chinese food from last night, and a little weed that would last him the weekend. Hell, if he could coax Elena Escalante to come over again, they could resume their heavy petting festivities from two weeks before, it would top off the weekend. But first, he’d have to make the twelve-mile trip back home unscathed.
Louie entered the freeway and quickly got into the number two lane. He’d go the speed limit, no matter what the flow of traffic was. A smile crossed his face as he thought about how he felt on Monday morning. Talk about having a shitty attitude, while Tuesday was a little better, and after Wednesday afternoon, the week thankfully got easier, and now he’d made it.
This was Louie’s eighth year at the company. He worked his way up from laborer to welder’s assistant, and now to head welder, and life was going well for him. He looked at the speedometer and saw he was going the speed limit, then he looked into his rearview mirror and noticed he was being followed by a police cruiser. He drove on, minding his own business, but the police car stayed close behind him. As he got closer to his exit, he moved to the number three lane and signaled to exit⸺the police car did the same. Now Louie was getting nervous and felt fidgety. He knew he hadn’t broken any law, but the prospect of facing the police wasn’t high on his list of things to do today. He waited for the car in front of him to turn right on the red light, then he stopped for a full second before turning onto Barack Obama Boulevard. As he turned right, the police cruiser turned on its lights and blared its siren. Louie pulled into a shopping center parking lot and parked. He waited for law enforcement to approach.
“Hello officer, what’s the problem?” said Louie innocently. The two officers ignored his question and peered into his vehicle. One officer turned and went back to the cruiser. “Hey, what’s the deal?” And still nothing. Louie took a closer look at the Latino officer and read his badge. The police officer stepped up to Louie and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt.
“You want a closer look at my badge? Get your ass out of your vehicle, and step to the curb. Give me your ID, your vehicle registration, and shut the fuck up,” said the police officer.
“Easy man. I ain’t resisting,” Louie said as he gave the officer his driver’s license and registration. The officer aggressively pushed Louie to the curb. He caught himself before his head hit the curb. “What the fuck?” Louie was livid. “Okay officer, can you please explain to me why I was pulled over?” Louie asked in his most condescending voice.
“Shut up while we search.”
“Search for what?”
“Come here, get your ass up, and come up to the hood of the car.”
The officer pushed him, and his hands landed loudly on the car hood, and then he was handcuffed and searched.
“What the fuck?”
“What did you say to me?” A scowl appeared on the officer’s face. “Don’t you know you’re supposed to have respect for law enforcement?”
‘Yeah, how about treating the people of the community with respect? It’s a two-way street, you know.”
The officer grabbed Louie by the collar again and pushed him. Without the use of his hands, because they were cuffed, he managed to break his fall by landing on his shoulder, which saved him from hitting his head on the curb.
“Hey Edgar, it’s almost the end of shift,” said the bald, white, heavy-set police officer.
Laughing, the officer tormenting Louie replied, “See, I told you Tom, time flies when you’re having fun.” Both officers shared a laugh.
“Why you fucking with me, man? I was just trying to make it home for the weekend,” explained Louie, as sweat dripped from his face. He tried to control his breathing so he could keep his emotions in check.
“Shut the hell up and listen.” The veins on the officer’s neck were visible as he shouted. “I don’t give a shit who you are. If I want to pull you over for no reason, I can do that. I have the power to do that.” The officer tapped his right index finger on his badge for emphasis.
Louie was desperate to get himself out of this situation. “Come on mano, we’re both Latino.”
The officer put his right hand up then said, “Let me stop you there, boy. Yes, we may both be Latino, but we are not the same. See, I’ve got blue running through my veins, and I ain’t no fuckin’ Dodgers fan either. I’m more police than Latino. See my partner over there? He’s more my brother than you could ever be.” Louie just looked at the officer, as he was in no position to argue. “Let me make sure you understand. I want you to know that I can pull your ass over for whatever I want. I have the power, and you are at my mercy, bitch, you understand?” The officer waited for Louie to speak, but he remained quiet. “You have anything to say?”
“No sir,” replied Louie.
“Come on officer Martinez. Let’s wrap this up so we can head back to the station,” said his partner.
“Yeah, okay.” The officer walked to Louie and took the handcuffs off. “Listen bitch, I better not see you again or I’ll really give you the business.” The Latino officer gave Louie a smirk, along with his ID and registration. Louie nodded his head, then wrang his wrists together to get more circulation back into his hands.
“Please watch how you drive, sir,” said the Anglo police officer.
Louie listened, but he was seething inside. He took some deep breaths to dissipate the rage he felt. He wanted to cuss out the police for singling him out, because he hadn’t broken any laws, and that’s why he was so upset. He felt anger but was glad when the police left because he didn’t want them to see him rage crying. He got into his vehicle and was still angry. He reached for the water bottle on the console and took a long drink. His hands were still shaking from his nightmare. The more he thought about it, the angrier he got because all he was trying to do was make it home, but the law enforcement he encountered had played an amusing game to relieve their boredom, all at his expense. Louie wondered how many others had experienced what he’d just gone through. Slowly his breathing returned to normal. He was still pissed at what he’d just experienced and those good vibes for the weekend were now gone.
On the way home, Louie replayed what had transpired. He’d gone from being excited for the weekend to not caring what day it was. It made him sad to think how some in law enforcement abuse their power. He drove the rest of the way home well below the speed limit.
# # #
After he got out of the shower he dressed and walked to the kitchen for an ice-cold Modelo beer. He was still in a funk, but glad he was home. His mojo had not yet returned, but that would soon change, as Elena Escalante had left a message on his cell phone and asked him to call her back.