A to Z Challenge: Juan

Character sketches that are fictional but based on real characters, like us.

“I was never so happy to see someone in my whole life.” He couldn’t stop saying that.

Ike and Juan left the chained enclosure and came to the car where I’d been waiting. It had taken quite a while to get Juan’s belongings returned to him and the paperwork done to bail him out. He’d only been locked up for three days but it had seemed like a lot longer to him. He still wasn’t sure what had happened, but from the time he’d been stopped on the highway until now the sense of being helpless, confused and frustrated had been nearly overpowering.

He’d been a fireman in Mexico and was used to dealing with the authorities, the Mexican police and officials. This had been different from the start. Evidently someone reported a break in and described a van the same color and make as Juan’s. A patrol car had pulled him over and he was cuffed and taken in for questioning in spite of his protests that he knew nothing about it and had been in Publix getting groceries. He didn’t know what had become of his van.

The next thing he knew they were taking him for a ride to the port jail where his cell phone and contents of his pockets were bagged and taken away. He was suited up and told he could make a phone call. The numbers he might have called were stored away in his cell phone, and before he could think of what to do next, the opportunity melted away. He wondered if anyone would ever miss him.

I kept wondering why the police wouldn’t at least listen to a clean cut, nicely dressed kid, who was obviously not on drugs or intoxicated. Was being Mexican that much of a strike against him? Of course, there was no one who could answer questions like that.

The next day a search of the impound lots was successful in finding his van. Juan didn’t have the impound fee with him but was allowed to look the vehicle over. He immediately turned his attention to the glove compartment. His wallet was there, along with his credit card and driver’s license, but the $400 in cash that he had just been paid for a week’s work was missing.

Ike took over. He was enraged. He knew a few people in the sheriff’s office and was not going to let this matter die without a fight. The three page letter he drafted and had me type was a chronicle of every detail of the arrest and detainment, including the money missing from the van. He suggested that both of us should sign it – being upstanding citizens we could be references for the truthfulness of Juan’s account. I was not counting on the effectiveness of this move. It was no small thing to cast doubt on the integrity of the sheriff’s deputies. We would see what kind of pull Ike had with his buddies in the department.

The next day Ike took Juan to the impound lot to pick up the van. Mysteriously, an envelope with $375 was now in the glove compartment. All charges against Juan were dropped. It wasn’t exactly the confession and apology we would have liked but Juan was content to keep a low profile. We think we know what happened but will never be able to prove it.

What do you think happened that resulted in charges being dropped and money reappearing in the van?

Talk (write) to me.

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