A Strong Woman - Cover

A Strong Woman

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 18

I would miss the view out of my window when they put up the new building in front of the mountains, but one thing I wouldn't miss when I moved out would be the inconvenience of getting there. It takes an act of Congress to get from anywhere to the building, or to get from there to anywhere else. I'd put up with the problem for years for the view, and the loss of the view would make the inconvenience not worth the trouble anymore ... although the receptionist had mentioned they were going to build a road to provide easier access.

Upstairs, I sat down at my computer and typed, using the letterhead template. When I was done, I ran the spell checker, and read it over to see if it was the way I wanted. With a couple of corrections, I had it right:

To whom it may concern:

Cecelia Carpenter is an employee of Carpenter Investigations and is, under my supervision, training to be a private investigator. Any assignments she undertakes, including but not limited to surveillance, records searches, interviews, and police contacts, are at my direction and with my guidance. Please direct any questions to:

Carpenter Investigations

And then came the street address, the mailing address which was a box in the lobby, the phone number, and my business e-mail address. I printed it off, signed it in my illegible scrawl, and ran off a dozen copies. I folded one copy, put it in an envelope, and tucked in the flap. The rest, along with the original, I tossed on Cecelia's desk on the way out – she could file them the next day.

Back at the Blazer, I tossed the envelope onto the passenger seat, put my gun in its clip, and dialed Cecelia's cell phone number. I could have called the house, but I didn't want to disturb whatever form of relaxation she was enjoying, and I knew she'd check for messages before she went out. The call went to voice mail after several rings, and I told the computer, "Hey, C, I got something for you which may come in useful some day. Rather than make you run all over the world, I'll leave it with Burque an' you can pick it up this evening. Tell whomever I said hi."

I stuck my phone back in my pocket, climbed in, and headed back to the southeast corner of town. I'd put in maybe 15 minutes of actual work on the letter, and now I had to drive for 30 minutes or so just to deliver it. That's life in Albuquerque.

As I threaded my way among the cars I reviewed the instructions I'd given Cecelia before I left that morning for the office. I'd showed her how to work the camera I keep for shooting pictures of surveillance subjects. It's an old model that has never mated with a computer chip, but it's solid and dependable, and since I don't use it very often I don't need it to be more than that. I'd loaded it with sensitive film for shooting in low light, and explained her what little I know about f-stops and exposures – which is just enough to make sure that most of my low-light pictures come out tolerably well. She would use it to get pictures of our suspect, should she spot him.

I'd gone over with her the basics of surveillance, which in this case would be a very basic – and boring – task. She needed to find a spot to park away from the building, so that residents wouldn't spot her and become suspicious, and especially so that the target wouldn't get hinky. But she'd need to have a clear view of his door, the balcony and stairs, the sidewalk on the ground level, and the grassy area in front of the building. She couldn't do anything about the lighting, but she'd want to be in a dark place, making it harder for anyone to spot her.

She was free to duck down below the dash if she thought it appropriate, but I'd told her not to make a big deal of it – if someone spotted her, so be it. And if the cops came prowling along, she was to remain upright, and cooperate fully with any requests they made. The letter I'd written for her, and would drop off with Burque for Cecelia to pick up later, would help in that regard.

I'd told her that if she got a hard-nosed cop who insisted on pulling her out of the vehicle, to take it quietly. I'd been a cop, and I know just how much one's safety can interfere with gentleness and good manners. When a cop thinks – for whatever reason – that he'll be safer if he pulls someone out of the vehicle, it's best to let him feel safer. A nervous cop is one who's more likely to employ force. And I'd said that in the unlikely event that the cop wanted to search the car, to give consent – and warn the officer about the gun she'd have in the glove compartment. We've both got concealed carry permits and so it would be perfectly legal for her to have the gun there, but a cop who comes on a weapon unexpectedly takes drastic action to ensure his safety; it's just easier all around to let the officer know ahead of time what he's going to find.

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