The pounding on the door echoed across the cold marble stone of the foyer.
Chuck Domo froze. His half-loosened tie hung limp from his neck. His story of the day’s big furniture sale evaporated into the air. His wife, of 20-years, Stephanie, jolted, dropping the salad tongs onto the kitchen table where their three teenaged daughters each performed the day’s homework.
The repeated pounding vibrated the window panes in the four-bedroom Pleasanton, Texas home. The evening sun shined orange and red, flickering through the kitchen window.
Chuck tossed his keys into the bin on the counter and placed his phone on the table, turning with annoyance to open the door.
As he did, the half-dozen burly Immigration agents, clad head-to-toe in black helmets with glass shields, bulging, padded battle gear and semi-automatic rifles, filled his foyer. Chuck back-peddled as they spilled into the family room drawing their weapons and shouting for everyone to freeze.
Chuck could barely make out the commands they barked at him.
“Hands down,” he heard. “Do not resist… Don’t fucking move…”
The girls screamed as Chuck stepped in front of his wife. The metal salad bowl crashed to the floor spewing lettuce and carrots across the beige linoleum. The youngest daughter took a step toward her father, drawing the aim of one of the rifles at the tiny space above her nose and between her eyes. Chuck flinched, redrawing the barrel to his own forehead.
A cooking show played aimlessly in the background. Home fries sizzled in the pan. The girls’ phones dangled precariously along the edge of the table. The agents formed a triangle with the tallest standing only the length of the rifle away from Chuck’s eyes.
“Carlos Dominguez?” he barked. “Hands above your head. Now.”
Chuck made the mistake of reaching for his wallet and phone, only a few inches away on the kitchen table. But at the start of his movement, the foremost agent pressed the nose of his cold black rifle directly against the sweaty skin of his forehead.
“I repeat,” spat the agent, as his cohorts moved in. “Don’t… Fucking… Move.”
The girls cowered to the back of the kitchen, whimpering and clutching each other.
Stephanie shrieked as she witnessed the barrel of the gun at her husband’s forehead.
Chuck lowered his hands to his side but fanned them out as if creating some sort of invisible fence between him and his family.
“This is a mistake,” Stephanie yelped at the lead agent from behind Chuck’s right shoulder. “You’ve got the wrong guy.”
“Mr. Dominguez?” the lead agent continued, ignoring Stephanie’s protests. “We have a warrant for your immediate deportation from the United States of America.”
“You have the wrong guy,” Stephanie shouted. “This is Charles Domo.”
Chuck opened his mouth to speak, but couldn’t formulate the words to convey the jumble of thoughts that swirled in his mind.
“Charles,” Stephanie turned to her husband. “Who’s Carlos Dominguez?”
“Why is this happening?” his youngest daughter, Emily, pleaded. “How can they deport you? You’re an American citizen?”
A second agent clutched Chuck’s hands and lowered them behind his back, while a third whipped out a plastic zip-tie and fastened it to his wrists behind his back.
The girls’ faces beamed shades of red with glistening tears catching the final rays of the evening sun. Stephanie took a step toward one of the agents, eliciting a menacing look that shook her confidence and made her cower like a wounded puppy.
“Charles?” she gazed at the look of resignation in her husband’s eyes before raising her hand to her mouth. “Is this true?”
Chuck’s throat constricted as they led him out of the kitchen toward the foyer. His heart beat hard against the inside skin of his chest. He scanned his mind for comforting words, but none materialized. He wanted to assuage the terror he knew ran through his precious wife and daughters, but saw only helplessness and acquiescence to the invading officers who had barged into his home.
“Call Steve at the store,” he craned his neck against the vice-like grip of his captors. “And get a lawyer.”
“This is crazy,” Stephanie screamed, growing more emboldened as the agents exited the door with her husband. “We have rights.”
Stephanie’s words bounced off the rippled backs of the agents as they escorted Chuck across the lawn to the armored vehicle parked in their driveway. The black albatross dwarfed their Honda Pilot.
Neighbors congregated across the street with bewildered faces and perplexed expressions. They whispered to each other and gazed scornfully at their neighbor of the past dozen years. Stephanie charged across the lawn as her three daughters bawled in the doorway to their home.
Chuck looked back to try and meet their eyes, but the agents moved him so briskly across the quarter-acre front lawn, he could barely get out the words; “I love you” before disappearing into the back of the truck.
“No,” Stephanie wailed. “You can’t do this.”
She approached one of the agents as he moved toward the passenger side door.
“We have rights, damn-it.”
As if breaking character for a brief moment, the steel-chinned agent turned to her. His stone-like jaw moved slowly, but deliberately. He spit his words, in a deep, raspy baritone voice.
“Illegal immigrants,” his words sliced through the air. “Don’t have the same rights as American citizens.”
Stephanie’s voice cracked and then gave out altogether.
“Where are you taking him?” she whispered hoarsely.
The agent disappeared into the cockpit of the truck and slammed the door closed.
Inside the back of the truck, with his hands bound tightly behind him, Chuck pressed his face against the window. He mouthed words to his wife that she couldn’t understand.
Precisely seven minutes after Chuck’s gleefully mundane story about making a big sale at work froze in the air in mid-sentence, the truck zipped in reverse out the back of the driveway. With a jarring screech of the tires, followed by the roar of the behemoth 12-cylinder engine, Chuck disappeared down the tree-lined streets of his bucolic neighborhood toward the freeway and off to his yet unknown destination.