I got arrested one time; well, it wasn’t arrested, just temporarily handcuffed. I’d been drinking in downtown Austin, and the beer tasted good, I don’t remember what we talked about but I was a younger man then and everything was fascinating and every moment meant something, not like now. Now it’s the years that mean things, but a year was still a long time then.
So I had to walk home, or rather I wisely decided that that was what I should do. Austin is a one-horse town, though the capital, though a modern city, it is a one-horse town and I always felt I could sense the one horse, about to come around the corner, and it would be an old horse, not a tourist horse, but a horse that held a Ranger, while he was killing Mexicans, and they were both tired. Perhaps the sleepiness extends in part from those successful murders, further south, I don’t know. But it is a sleepy town.
I was mistaken for a Mexican that night, come to think of it.
“I’m not Mexican,” I said, but the cop, the officer, he said, “Well, look at me. I don’t look Mexican either, but I’m Mexican.”
I still have the shirt that I was wearing, actually, I got it from a thrift store, it’s a grey Polo shirt, completely unremarkable except for a small permanent brown stain on the front, about the size of a coffee bean.
I remember I was looking really hard at his ID, I was going to remember the officer’s name, and file a complaint, I was so angry, but I never did. The police car drove by, dreamy, and the other car shone a light in my face, like a little dance they were doing, like it was an invitation.
“It’s not him.”
And he uncuffed me. I guess I shouldn’t have walked so far alone, at night, over that freeway, half drunk, Austin is that one horse town and they’ll get you, but, I remember the way the man stood, that officer who was Mexican but didn’t look Mexican, arresting me for fitting the description of a wanted Mexican, standing enjoying me with the cuffs on, a college boy away from home, under his power. Have you ever seen that cops are like that sometimes, with the look in their eyes like they’re waiting, waiting for the fun to start.