A Strong Woman - Cover

A Strong Woman

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 24

Cecelia would have stared at me, I think, had she not been driving. "You want me to do it?" she asked, and I've rarely heard her so incredulous.

"Yep. It's not that you're ready to make arrests right and left. I just wanna make a point. As far as I'm concerned, you go around raping women an' what you deserve is for a woman to bust you."

"You realize, of course, that I have no training at all in arresting suspects, nor in subduing them, nor in handcuffing them."

"I know. You'll tell him that he's under arrest, and why. I'll cuff him, and if he needs subduing me, Beth, an' Kim will pile on. An' C, if you see an opportunity to use what I have taught you, feel free."

"And if I do not? I do not wish, Darvin, to stand passively by while you and others endure danger."

"If you don't, then go ahead and stand by. It's better that you stay out than get hurt 'cause you don't know what you're doin'. Besides, Kim's always got her ASP and her pepper spray on her belt, and if those don't do the trick we'll all be in trouble."

"What, pray tell, is an ASP? I doubt that you're referring to the serpent."

"No, I ain't," I said with a grin. "It's a tactical baton – it collapses into six inches or so, but when you extend it you can make someone wish real quick that he'd submitted when you told him to. Say, for instance, that a perp won't get on the ground – you pop him on the knee with an ASP and he'll be eager to get on his face."

"I see." She was quite for a minute or two, thinking I suspected. I've known her since the fall of 1994 and by now I can sometimes predict her without making a complete fool out of myself. Finally she said, "Very well, Darvin. With the backup you have stipulated, I shall be happy to place him under arrest."

I didn't say anything, just reached over and squeezed her leg. I'd need to get online and get his name from a reverse phone book – I used to have to buy the things in hard copy, but the growth of the Web has really simplified a lot of things – so that we'd know who we were busting. And it might not be for a couple or three days, given his habits so far, before we could take him down. But I would look forward to this arrest.

When we got home Cecelia went to get her nap, while I carried the pictures into my study and got on the phone. I called Rudy, Beth, Kim, and the two hired PIs, and told them the operation was over. I asked Beth and Kim to stand by for more work, and explained that Cecelia was going to make an arrest in the case.

Then I called our church secretary, and asked her to get the word out that I didn't need any more volunteers. She naturally wanted to know if we'd gotten what we needed, and I told her we thought we had.

Once that was done, I wrote up a rough draft of a report. I'd polish it at the office, but I wanted to get the basic form of it on "paper," though in actual fact it wouldn't go onto paper until I printed it up, and that wouldn't happen till after the polishing, and after Cecelia had put in her bit.

Or perhaps I'd have her write her own report. She'd been working as a hired hand during the canvass and surveillance, but the arrest would be in her hands, and she needed to learn to write reports anyway. Of course she'd been reading my reports since I'd hired her back in May to be my secretary, but she hadn't been writing them. And no matter how many times you see someone do something, it's not the same as doing it yourself. I watched my aunt and uncle drive many times, but when I first got behind the wheel I still didn't know how to drive, and had to learn it for myself.

When I had the rough draft of my report sufficiently unrough for now, I attached it to an e-mail message and sent it my work address. At the same time I shot off a message to Cecelia's work e-mail address letting her know I wanted her to do a report, which in its final form would include the arrest and surrender of our suspect. While I was there I went to the reverse phone book site and plugged in the address I now knew belonged to our rapist. Once I had that I played catch up – I ought to have gotten the address first and stuck it in the report, but since I didn't think to do that I pasted the information into another message, and fired it off. If I did everything the first time the way I ought to have done it, I'd save who knows how many hours a year.

With things as under control as they needed to be for now, I took a look at the clock, and at my calendar. It was Friday. It had now been just two days short of a month since we'd gotten the call about Burque's rape. We'd spent most of the time sending our own little army door to door, trying to come up with a break in the case. Well, we had it. The question was how quickly to move now that we did have it.

The guy hadn't panicked, he hadn't run. His lack of ubiquity at his apartment might have been an effort to remain out of law enforcement's eye, or it might have been due to assignations with ... whomever, I supposed. There was no reason to believe that the only sex he got was rape. He might be spending the nights with umpteen different willing women. Certainly by now if he was going to run, he would have. The only amateur who'd pulled surveillance at his apartment was Cecelia, and I'd given her direction which would have kept her from being conspicuous, nor had he acted as though he'd spotted her. The rest of us wouldn't get caught watching him unless there was some pure bad luck – all of us were experienced PIs who knew how to stay out of sight.

That thought hit me between the eyes. My friend Straight – my former friend – had been the best I'd ever seen at remaining out of sight in an urban environment. If he was following you, you wouldn't see him unless he wanted you to. He was as good in the city as I am in the desert – and to this day I haven't met anyone who's better than I am at staying hidden out in the Mojave Desert. But back in July Straight had turned out to be involved in a murder that had happened literally right below my office window, and I'd run him out of town. It was only the fact of our friendship which had prevented me from turning him over to the cops, and if I ever saw him again I would pull out my phone and dial 911 without hesitation. But he'd been one of the oldest friends I had in Albuquerque, and my righteous indignation at what he'd done didn't ease the pain I felt at the destruction of that friendship.

I closed down the various programs with quick, angry jerks of my mouse, and shoved my chair back from the computer. Time may heal all wounds, but time doesn't always pass quickly. It had been nearly half a year, and I still wasn't completely over it. I wondered if I'd be over it in another half a year...

We met to do our planning at the Fuddrucker's on I-25, across the freeway from my office. We could have had it at the office, or in my study, or some other restaurant, but I love Fuddrucker's and everyone else was agreeable.

We all got our food, and put what we wanted on it. I prefer the sliced side of the condiment bar, but Cecelia likes her onions, lettuce, and tomatoes shredded or diced as the case might be, so we worked on opposite sides. We pulled a couple of tables together to accommodate everyone's elbows, sat down,, and dug in.

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