A Strong Woman - Cover

A Strong Woman

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 12

The next morning, at eight o'clock, Cecelia and I were in the office. I'd been chagrined enough at missing things I should never have missed that I'd been the one to decide we were going to be there, working, early in the day. I grabbed a couple of Cokes from the refrigerator, handed one to Cecelia, and sat down in my fancy leather chair. One of the posters on the wall caught my eye, and I said, "You know, I'm about ready to change the artwork."

Cecelia glanced around. I'd had posters of some of Dale Chihuly's glass on the walls for a good while, and she spent some time enjoying the pictures before she spoke. "What might you replace these with?"

"Shoot, I dunno. Maybe I'll go back to the old reliables." By that I meant Impressionist prints – I'm by no means an art expert, but I surely do love Impressionist painting. "Or maybe I'll put up a bunch of stuff by van Gogh."

"Or you could hang photographs, or paintings, of poets you like. I can think of Wallace Stevens, Poe, Yeats, William Carlos Williams, Eliot, and of course Walt Whitman, whom I would think would receive the largest print and the most conspicuous position on the wall."

I grinned. "You do know my favorite, don't you?" I said. "Maybe a blowup of the drawing from the first edition of Leaves of Grass – you know, 'one of the roughs.'"

"I do. And now..."

"And now, we contemplate my failings as a detective. You caught two things I missed – assistance, and posters. We're gonna do both. In fact, you're gonna help me call the help. An' we're gonna need more help than I'd expected, 'cause we're gonna plaster the Singing Arrow neighborhood, at the very least, with posters – the sketch, a brief physical description, and ... I don't know which number to give."

"We could hire someone to answer the phone here. It would not be an onerous task to take down names, phone numbers, and any other information callers are willing to give."

"No, but I'd want someone who could at least provisionally sort the tips into 'likely, ' 'unlikely, ' and 'kook.' Just some secretarial temp wouldn't work for that."

"That is a valid point. I presume you're going to have Kim work with you?"

"Yah – she's a good interviewer, and I don't anticipate her getting into a shooting situation, so her hair trigger won't be a factor."

"Then I suggest that we ask Kim to loan us Sara for the duration of the investigation."

"Now that," I said pointing my finger at Cecelia for emphasis, "is a good idea. I'll let you call Kim, then, since Sara's your friend."

"She is your friend as well, Darvin – but I know what you mean."

I grinned. She did know what I meant – I love Sara Delgado to death, but she's Cecelia's best friend.

"Meanwhile," Cecelia said, "who else shall we ask to aid us in canvassing the area?"

"Rudy, if he can get time off – if not, maybe he can still put in a little bit of time here and there. Beth Martinson – she's steady, and she's got more law enforcement experience than any of us." I had to stop and think before I could mention anyone else – I've so seldom worked with anyone on my cases that while I know the names of plenty of people in Albuquerque, PIs and cops, I know few of them well enough to be sure they'd conduct interviews the way I'd want them to. "You might write down Phil Webb – he's in the book, an' he's done some solid work that I know of. Let's see ... Andrew Wolfe too – he mostly works on the west side, but I've come across people a time or two who've seen him work, and he gets good reports. An' call Marla, an' see if she can get some time off. I know if she can she'll jump at the chance."

"Okay, Darvin," Cecelia said. "That's a list of six people. If we can get them all, that will give us, counting ourselves, a total of eight. As to the posters, we must first make them – I presume the number we need will require a professional printing establishment rather than our copier – and then hire an army to distribute them."

"Right. You'll want to scan in the sketch we've got, put that into a document, and write up a description underneath. As a heading, something like IMPORTANT – INFORMATION ABOUT THIS MAN, or something similar, just so long as it doesn't sound like a stereotypical wanted poster. I want it different, not in a rut. And of course the phone number here."

Cecelia had been making notes, although I was sure she wouldn't need them. Still, it's better to be too careful than not careful enough, and I wasn't going to tell her not to make any notes. "I shall, of course, allow you to review the poster before I print the master copy," she said.

"Coolness. Now as to the division of labor this morning, I'll still let you call Sara, but I'll call the rest while you start on the poster. Hopefully we'll both find it easy."

"One hopes so," she said, and I grinned at the way she sounded like an ateva from one of C.J. Cherryh's SF novels. "That leaves only enlisting the army."

"Yeah. We can go to any number of sources. Our list of interviewers can provide suggestions, but it really isn't all that hard to put up posters on light poles and in windows and whatnot. We could go down to a day labor place an' sort through the people there, an' hire them if nothing else."

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