Sitting with Chuck in his surplus store I thought I’d found myself on the right track for the first time since beginning my investigation. Chuck, the proprietor, was obviously of the ilk I was looking for, a man who was out to fight the good fight against the terrible tide of illegal immigration sweeping across our country.
Chuck was a Minuteman, one of the sworn brotherhood I had intended to track down in my investigation. He told me that every couple of months he would head down to a border crossing near El Paso and stand guard. He and ten other brave companions. I asked Chuck to tell me of his exploits, awaiting his stories like a young boy about to hear his first tales of knights or pirates.
“Well, mainly we sit around and drink beer,” Chuck began. “You see, out there in the desert there ain’t much action, mainly a lot of sitting around and waiting.”
“But you help staunch the flow of illegal immigrants, right?” I asked.
“Oh sure,” he responded. “All sorts of ‘em.”
I was eager to learn more. “Please, tell me.”
“Okay. So there was this one time a family of four – father, mother, a son and daughter – were trying to sneak across. They said they were Americans, and legal residents of Texas, but, of course, we knew they was blowin’ smoke. So a buddy of mine and I fired off a couple of shotgun blasts in their direction and they was off runnin’ before you could say ‘hasta la vista’.”
“Huh.” I was a bit disappointed.
“And, I mean, there were other run-ins. Surely. It’s just I cain’t remember ‘em so good right now.”
“I see.” I was quickly realizing Chuck might not be the fount of information and inspiration I had hoped he would be. Looking to get back on the investigative trail, I began searching for a way out of the store. After a quick scan of my surroundings I came up with a solution.
“Oh, there it is,” I said, pointing to a fatigue-colored jacket. “Just what I came in here looking for.”
“That’s right,” replied Chuck, “perfect to go out huntin’ them Mexee-cans.”
“Sure is.” And with that I paid him for his wares and managed to slip out the door. But not before Chuck handed me some literature he’d written and printed up on his home computer. Most of it was amateurish, to say the least (and if anyone knows about amateurish writing, it’s yours truly), but there was a earnest quality to it. Chuck obviously believed in his cause, with tracts titled, “The Brown Menace”, “Why Mexi-cans Mexi-can’t”, and “Always Say Never Say Never”, the latter of which turned out to be a Justin Bieber fanzine that Chuck spent much of his non-xenophobic hobby time working on.
Finally free of Chuck, and raring to get back on the trail, I was determined to find a scoop that would break open the entire illegal immigration debate in our country. I felt that my experiences with Chuck had sort of covered the Minutemen angle and, after my last foray into the south to cover the last days of the Gingrich campaign, heading down to Alabama to find out how their strict anti-immigration laws were playing out was the last thing I wanted to do. As for Arizona, well, I have a strict personal rule that I NEVER set foot in that godforsaken hellhole. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say it has something to do with the skin-searing heat, Mormons, and a nasty scuffle I had with Sheriff Joe Arpaio over an unpaid gambling debt.
I was left with few alternatives. Without any idea where to head next, I decided it might be time to simply beat the bushes a bit and track down my own illegal immigrant or two. And after giving it some thought I realized my best course of action would be to head down to the local home improvement warehouse.
Not an hour later I rolled into the Home Depot parking lot, my car freshly out of the shop and gleaming in the sunlight. While it was in I had gotten a new paint job as well; sky blue, with the nickname I’d always used for the automobile – ICE – stenciled in big block capital letters on the passenger side door. As I wheeled into lot I saw a group of men hanging out near the door asking exiting patrons if they need any help. Most declined. Finally, I thought I had caught my break. I pulled up slowly, easing in, thinking I might start by pretending to hire one of them before giving them a full interrogation. Alas, as I pulled closer one of them spotted me, pointed at the side of my car with the stenciling, and the gathered men started running off in all directions. Before I had even made my move my prey was on the lam.
Dejected, I drove back home and reconsidered my plans. As I sat there, contemplating, I looked out my window and noticed how tall the grass in the back yard had gotten over the past few weeks. I also saw that the hedges were overgrown, almost winding their way into the neighboring yard. And there was a crop of fallen branches taking up an entire corner of the lawn. It was an eyesore, and I thought that getting it taken care of might somehow inspire me in my quest.
So I picked up the phone book, leafed through the pages marked landscaping, and before you know it Juan’s Tree and Garden Specialists were out back cleaning it all up. I thought about asking to see their papers. Instead, the cocktail I had poured myself and a rerun of Star Trek beckoned. The day’s search for truth and justice in America’s immigration system had come to a fruitless end, but at least my yard looked nice.