A Strong Woman - Cover

A Strong Woman

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 11

We dropped off the description of the rapist at the artist's house, with me introducing him to Cecelia, and headed back for the Singing Arrow neighborhood where the rape had happened. Albuquerque is a western city – it sprawls out, and if you really want to get anywhere you pretty much have to have a car. There's a bus system of sorts, but while there are buses moving around there isn't much actual service. There are routes where you literally have to wait an hour between buses – and I'm not talking about minor routes on small side streets, but major streets that carry a ton of traffic and have lots of businesses and residential areas along them.

So we fought the traffic from Nob Hill to Singing Arrow, where I pulled into the very parking lot that Cecelia had mentioned. I'd known of it before we met, for I've walked over nearly every part of town east of the river, but it would always be important to me because one day I wanted to talk to her, and needed to examine the neighborhood, so I'd had her meet me there.

This time we were there, and Cecelia was with me, but the plan was different. Instead of strolling along, looking at things, and talking, we'd be knocking on doors. It would be tedious work, and it might get us absolutely nothing – and it could go on and on and on for days or weeks.

Before we got out of the Blazer, I said, "I'll flip you for Piru."

Cecelia smiled. "You do not wish to keep Letty for yourself?"

"I do, but I also wanna be fair. I'm putting you to work, and I ain't gonna hog the good stuff."

"I appreciate it," she said. "Whose quarter shall we use?"

"Whichever one comes up first," I said, and dove into my pocket. But she beat me to it – she was wearing a loose skirt, and it was easier for her to get her hand into her pocket.

She flipped it – not very high, because of the low ceiling of the Blazer – and I called it. She caught the quarter, slapped it down on her brown forearm, and showed it to me.

"Well, I called heads," I said, "an' that sure don't look like a head."

"No, it doesn't," Cecelia said, opening her door. "I'll tell Letty you said hello."

So she had Piru. I picked up the map I'd printed, after scanning it from my map book. I was going to start west on Wenonah, go south on Dorado, and then west on Singing Arrow to Juan Tabo. At that point I'd call Cecelia, and see where she was, and depending on what things looked like either start knocking on doors through the part of the trailer park south of Singing Arrow, or wait for her to bring the Blazer to the trailer park offices on Singing Arrow just east of Juan Tabo. I looked at my map, glanced in the direction Cecelia had walked, cutting across Singing Arrow Park to pick up Piru, and shook my head. I wondered how well the plan would fare – my very first destination was an apartment complex, and there were several along the way. If I actually made it to Juan Tabo by the end of the day it would surprise me.

There was no surprise. Cecelia covered Piru and called me before I'd even gotten to Dorado. When I was putting the plan together I'd grossly underestimated the time it would take me. She wasn't hungry, so I had her walk up and join me on the sidewalk. I pointed out to her where I'd been, and where she ought to go, and we commenced splitting up that complex.

By the end of the day we had, finally, covered all of Dorado and reached Singing Arrow, where for a while it was single houses. I looked at the stretch of road, thinking that we could knock it out easily, but I was tired and frustrated, and Cecelia was in the same state. I made an impulsive decision, pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, and dialed.

"Yeah, Letty," I said when she answered. "Cecelia and I are gonna drop by and eat, if y'all don't mind."

"Why would I mind, Darvin?" she asked. "I'm certainly not going to run out of food."

"No, I don't guess you are. Okay, we'll be there in a few." And I hung up.

Cecelia was grinning at me. "Are we, perhaps, going to spend the night as well?"

"If we'd brought fresh clothes with us, I just might impose that way too," I told her. "But we didn't, an' so we'll have to head home afterwards."

"It is not, however, an entirely meritless idea," she said. "I can see that it is going to take us longer to cover this area than I had realized – and I suspect it has surprised you as well."

"Yeah, it has. It's been years since I had to canvass such a large area."

"Surely you have done similar work here in Albuquerque," she said. We were walking toward the Blazer, which one of us had kept nearby after we'd met, making periodic trips back to bring it up to us. Just now it was in the parking lot of a small apartment complex not far behind where we'd stopped.

"Yeah, but never on this large a scale. Whenever I did it, I was looking for people who had actually witnessed a thing, and so I could narrow the area a lot. A house a mile away, you know, wouldn't have someone looking out the window, seeing through a mile of other buildings, and witnessing the crime. But here we're looking for a guy who'd been, almost certainly, walking along, and that doesn't give us no luxuries."

"I propose that you hire assistance."

"I can't believe that I hadn't thought of that," I said. "I've hired help before – shoot, I did it when we run Straight outta town." The catch in my voice when I said that surprised me; the incident had been back in July and I'd thought I was over it. "I guess I really am gettin' dependent on you."

"Nevertheless, additional help would be beneficial. I propose that tomorrow, rather than returning immediately here, you make some phone calls, line up assistants, and resume the canvass when we have the best approximation of an 'army' that you can gather."

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