Garrett knew he was screwed the moment he spotted the Channel 6 truck. For of all the haphazardly parked news units outside the Sheriff’s Office, it was that striped minivan with the UPN seal that bothered him the most. ‘If they’re here,’ Garrett thought as he steered his own logo-mobile into a parking space not reserved for him, ‘I AM late…’
For once, no uniformed good ole boys were loitering on the second story landing. As Garrett quickly trudged up the staircase with state-of-the-art camera, antique tripod and middle-aged accessories, the silence above told him he was tardy indeed. The only time that area cleared out was when the Sheriff held court down in the Impound Room. With a curse and a reverse, Garrett changed direction, his overstuffed fanny pack bouncing uncomfortably at his crotch as he descended the stairway.
Down in Impound, the sheriff was in his element. A tall man with a bushy moustache and oversized ears, he clutched both sides of the pressboard podium with hands big enough to crush it. Spread out between his imposing form and a half dozen members of the local media, stood a table filled with enough dope, weapons and mug-shots to film the closing scene from Scarface.
“Once the suspects refused consent to search the vehicle, K-9 was called in…” the Sheriff paused to grin for the TV cameras, “Cujo went nuts ’for we got could get him out of the squad car.”
Two deputies chuckled as the newspaper reporters blinked, scratched and scribbled. A few more heads turned to the rear of the room as a heavy door opened and Garrett schlepped in, head shaking in mock disgust, calloused hands busily twisting the tripod’s battered legs. The Sheriff barely gave Garrett a glance, though he must have smiled inside at the missing affiliate’s final arrival. Clearing his throat, the county’s top lawman stalled a little while the scruffy photog set up his rig.
“You late, G. Lee..” Doyle muttered, never looking up from his own glowing eyepiece. A veteran photog for the local CBS station, the laconic Yankee was a fixture at local camera clusters. Garrett knew him from more ditch-bank rendezvous than he could count and wasn’t at all surprised when his highly-competitive opponent slid over to make more room. Garrett took advantage of the space, clicking his Sony XDCam into the heavily-scratched tripod plate and hitting the ’Record’ button on his lens pistol-grip. With the red light glowing, he stepped away from the camera, reached past a stack of heavily duct-taped bricks of marijuana and set his wireless microphone on the podium’s lip. Without breaking the camera’s gaze, the Sheriff picked up the mic and sat it next to the others in front of him.
“...being that the individuals are all illegal aliens, Immigration has been notified. ’Course you’d never know they’s illegal, cause they all carry valid No’th Carolina drivers license...”
Garrett loosened a knob on the tripod’s shoulder and panned his lens over to the card in the Sheriff’s clutch. As he read the name in his viewfinder’s blue haze, he heard the tell-tale click of cameras being removed from the three legged perches. Looking up, he saw the NBC and FOX photogs shouldering their beasts, letting Garrett know that either news was breaking elsewhere, or a contraband swarm was about to ensue. Doyle still had his face buried in his upturned eye-cup, but a subtle twitch in his left shoulder told Garrett a firefight was imminent indeed...
-- To Be Continued?