“We got… well, it was an anonymous tip,” the deputy explained. “They were using the campus as a staging ground. Whole bunch of ’em busy making up Molotov cocktails in the Field House and handing ’em out. Gettin’ ready to join in with a student protest march from campus to downtown. Campus police raised holy hell when we moved in and locked everything down, but the sheriff declared a curfew, surrounded and closed off campus. Campus police swore they had no idea what was goin’ on right under their noses. Sheriff got a couple busloads of activists and students detained and sent to the Tri-County Regional lockup.”
“What was that gunfire we heard?” Senator Travis asked.
“I’m gettin’ there,” the deputy assured him. “A few of ’em escaped the net around campus and tried to make some mayhem, anyway. Tossed a few Molotov cocktails, started a fire in a dumpster, and torched a couple o’ cars in the parkin’ lot behind the courthouse. Came at one o’ them reserve deputies guardin’ the courthouse here, Molotov cocktail in hand like he was gonna throw it. Ya know what that reserve deputy did?” He answered his own question without pausing. “Shot ’em! They ain’t sure whether it was the gunshot or the fact he caught himself on fire what did him in, but he’s one crispy critter, alright!”
“That reserve deputy’s OK?” Mike asked. “Is he in trouble?”
“Oh, he’s fine,” Deputy Martínez assured him. “Should be in the clear. Rules of engagement said he could open fire in self-defense or to protect others. Tryin’ to burn down an occupied building? Let alone throw a Molotov cocktail at someone? That’s attempted murder, no doubt about it. They may raise a stink, but no jury in THIS county’s going to find against him. Not with half the windows broken on Main Street and the other cars they torched. They’d have to haul him someplace like DC for one of them political show trials with a handpicked jury if they wanted to convict him. But you don’t know the best part!”
The senator and Mike exchanged glances. Finally, Mike said, “OK, what’s the best part?”
“One of the cars they burned? Belonged to Judge Connor!” The deputy grinned. “He was working late on his decision in his chambers, here. I been his bailiff for years now. Ain’t never seen him so mad. He told me I was to bring you up to see him in the matter of your contempt citation at 8:30, Senator, before court. But don’t you worry none. Seems like he just wants an apology, then he’s going to drop the whole matter.”
Senator Travis smiled. “I suppose I can live with that.”
“You boys just go on back to sleep,” Deputy Martínez yawned. “Gonna see if I can get a couple hours of shut-eye before I have to take you to see the judge.”
“Easy duty, huh?” Mike smiled.
“Hell no,” the deputy acknowledged. “Not anymore. I ain’t never made so much overtime, though. And we sure do live in interestin’ times, don’t we?”