THE DEADLIEST DAY OF MY LIFE… Part Five out of Six
I remember laying there on the floor with all the guns pointed at my head, I stupidly tried to count all the agents swarmed in all over me. It all happened so fast. I was actually typing out another birth certificate
when they knocked on and then busted down the door.
I reached and hid it underneath the typewriter I guess like, ‘oh they’ll never look under here.’
The more they threw everything all over the place and the more they dug, the more they found.
I began to think….’what was I thinking anyway? – my whole life fast forwarded in one knock on the door.
I tried to count them there was so many. I think I counted eight cars outside my business at the time, a paint and body shop, and I counted over 20 agents, all who must have been thinking I was another Al Capone.
Once again as I lay there on the floor, I was thinking…’what was I thinking?… what WAS I doing? To cause all of this. I had been sick to my stomach with a bladder infection and had had my pants unbuttoned.
They didn’t bother to button up my pants and as they drug me out of my office handcuffed behind my back I remember my pants almost falling off in front of all my business neighbors and onlookers stopping to see what was happening to me, to my business, whatever. It was a sick mess and I was all of a quick sudden the center of all the attention.
I thought it was funny, well not funny but very strange that it was Immigration was the lead agency that busted me and I was put in the same holding cell that illegal immigrants are put in. I reached into my pocket to see what I had on me and there were more birth certificates…
I remember wadding them up tiny and flushing them down the open cement commode.
My pager kept going off over and over because they didn’t take it from me – people were calling me telling me they REALLY had to talk to me about their car or other body shop issues, and all I could do was just stare at my pager in disbelief of what was going on that second in my life.
In my short career of making birth certificates for people I remember the guys who told me, ‘don’t even worry about it – if you ever get caught’ we’ll be right here to get you out of the trouble.
I felt a bond with them since they were the focus of my problem and my wanting to help them – and also a rejection by my country for doing something for them – that America was not willing to do as it had done for the Irish, the Italians, the Cubans, the Germans, the Jews, the Africans, etc.
What was the big deal?
We were the melting pot except when it came to the generations of people who had been our brothers and sisters, raising our kids, making our gardens beautiful, feeding us their rich cooking, who built our highways and worked in our fields, raising our cattle, stocking our refrigerators with meat, vegetables, fruit and friendliness. Now it was a crime to help them.
My lawyer finally made it to the Federal Building and rescued me from the ‘bad guy – good guy’ team who refused to even let me make a phone call all day long. I had no experience in all of this – but I did know one thing. I was supposed to get to make one phone call – and I never got to make it.
All I ever got was bad guy good guy over and over again. By the time my lawyer showed up I was so happy to see him, thinking he could surely make this nightmare go away.
When he opened up his briefcase, there was one of my birth certificates I had made for a client of his. Ooops was the consensus.
I was finally able to leave only to come back some other day. I went to a friend’s house in East Dallas. Where I thought no one was watching me. I just slept for two days and laid low.
My mind raced with all the what if’s in the world. I was just sick not knowing my future. I was such a control freak and then the embarrassment of it all hitting my friends and clients in the body shop.
When I finally went back to my body shop and opened the door – there it was – the mess strewn all over the floor in piles dumped everywhere. It was the same day the notice about my big bust came out in the Metro section of the Dallas Morning News.
I could not bring myself ever to read that article. Never. The guy who was my body shop spray painter came up to the door and screamed at me ‘What’s going to happen to my job?’ I looked at him and said….’your job?’ What’s going to happen to MY life? I could see I really was in this alone. And it was just going to get a-lonelier.
I started paying attention to strangers coming up to me from the street wanting to know about this and that and they were wearing those shiny reflect back sunglasses even though it was August it made my skin crawl with paranoia.
Where did all these people with those reflecting sunglasses come from all of a sudden or was it just my imagination? Were they cops or clients? I tried to settle down and just take it one day at a time.
However one day I did notice a little truck parked across the street.
West Davis was a busy two lane street so it wasn’t all that rare for someone to have parked there. My paranoia finally kicked into high gear and I literally ran across the street and up to the passenger side of the little cream truck and sure enough! I had caught one!
On the guy’s front seat was a huge pistol, a recorder right next to it and the long mic was aimed right at my shop. I told him ‘who are you and what in the hell do you want?’ I was so mad but so helpless.
They still were spying on me. He just sat there – didn’t move – didn’t say a thing.
I called Woody and told him about catching the guy in the truck with the gun.
I had been arrested on August 4, 1982 just a few days earlier. When I called Woody he said, ‘uh bad timing – bad news’. He and I had always had such a kindred relationship that no matter what happened to him.
It happened to me right afterwards and vice versa. He said, we need to visit somewhere.
We agreed to meet at the Mecca on Harry Hines, one of our favorite home style southern diners. This meeting neither of us had an appetite.