Friday, July 08, 2005

Eric Simmons drove his truck into the secondary area of the port and parked. He got out, opened the camper shell and pulled his bag and a uniform shirt on a hanger out of the the bag. He pulled a pack of camels out of a side pocket of the back and lit one. He looked up toward the customs inspectors in secondary and clicked the zippo shut. He walked towards the secondary office. He could see immigration inspectors looking out the picture sized window. Eric was in shape and the white tee shirt fit him snug. He had dark green sun glasses with black frames. He was an imposing sight at six two, two hundred ten pounds. He ignored the customs inspectors and dropped his cigarette on the concrete exhaling before opening the door and walking into the office.

Danny Zapata sat behind the counter looking like the end of another midnight shift.

"Are you Simmons?"


Danny stood up and reached out his hand which Eric shook.

"I'm Danny Zapata. You're transferring in from Laredo? How was Laredo?"

"Laredo is a shit hole, like most of Texas."

"How long were you there?"

"I grew up there."

The two laughed. Danny nodded.

"So what part of Texas ISN'T a shit hole?"

"The leaving part."

Another immigration inspector walked in another door of the secondary office and Danny made the introductions. Danny took Eric over to the main office where they were immediately approached by a customs supervisor.

"You can't park your truck there." he scowled.

Eric reached in his pocket and pulled out the keys.

"You wanna take care of that for me hoss?"

Eric reached out as if to give the man his keys and the supervisor turned beet red and walked away. Danny buckled over a counter laughing as people came from different parts of the office to see about the commotion. One of them was Amy Price, the port director's secretary.

"Are you Eric Simmons?"

"If you want me to be."

Amy smiled and asked Danny to show Eric where the locker room was. About ten minutes later Eric appeared in front of Amy's desk now in his uniform. Amy handed Eric a key card to the parking lot and explained that everybody would duck some of the bullshit if Eric parked his truck in the back now. She said that the port director was at the district office in Phoenix so his spot was empty today. As Eric walked away Amy shouted.

"The IMMIGRATION port director!"

Eric parked his truck in the back and Amy was waiting with the back door open.

"The code for this door and all the doors back here is two, four, eight."

Amy was only 5'4" and Eric noticed the cleavage. Amy noticed that Eric did not have a ring on his left hand. She had already been told that he smoked but she could overlook that. When Eric walked through the door he noted things on Amy's desk. An empty candy dish, files, a cat beanie baby and a picture of what looked to be a 9 or 10 year-old boy. Amy had Eric fill out some paperwork before taking him over to the supervisor's office.

"Gus, this is the new inspector, Eric Simmons."

Gus got up and walked around from behind his desk.

"Gustavo Duran."

The two shook hands and Gus motioned Eric to have a seat while Amy went back to her desk in the back by the port director's office.

"How long have you been in?"

"Twelve years, all at Laredo."

"So all we should have to do is get you some passwords and you'll be able to work the line."


Gus picked up the phone and punched three numbers.

"Dina, is Rudy over there? OK, I'm sending the new guy over for him to give him system access and passwords." Gus hung up the phone. "When did you qualify last?"

"Two weeks ago."

"Great because Danny Zapata is on midnights right now and he's our range officer. He's a damn good one too. What collateral duties did you have at Laredo?"

"I didn't have any. I just liked to work the line."

"OK, I'll get with you after Rudy gets you into the system. He's the team leader today so he'll assign you to somebody to familiarize yourself with how we do things around here. I know you know your stuff but customs will get their panties in a wad if we put you solo on the first day."

"Sounds good."

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