A Strong Woman - Cover

A Strong Woman

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 25

Cecelia looked at me, and if I didn't know her so well I'd have sworn she was perfectly calm. I nodded, and she lifted her hand and knocked on the door.

From inside came a voice: "Yeah, what is it?"

"Mr. Higgins?" Cecelia said. I'd made it very clear that she couldn't, under any circumstances, identify herself as a cop. The law, and the cops themselves, take a dim view of impersonating a police officer.

"Yeah," came the voice again, and I heard a deadbolt unlocking.

I tensed up, my left hand on my gun butt. Cecelia was wearing a windbreaker to cover her gun, but I saw that her hand was near it, needing only to sweep the light jacket aside in order to draw. I didn't want guns, but we were ready in case. As the door came open I looked at Kim, and saw that her hand was on her gun as well; I couldn't spare a glance back at Beth, but I was certain she had her hand under her jacket, where her cannon rested in its shoulder holster.

As the light from inside the apartment fell on Cecelia's face she asked, "Are you Ra'Fale Higgins?"

"Yeah." He seemed to have a small working vocabulary.

"May I speak with you outside for a moment?"

"'Bout what?"

"I need to show you something," Cecelia said. We'd planned for this – if we had to we could barge into the apartment to nab Higgins, once he had the door open, but it would be much better if we didn't have to. Even cops have to be careful about things like that, given the way the courts protect crooks ... while forgetting to be so solicitous about the victims.

"Yeah, what is it?" he said, but stepped outside the apartment – and pulled the door closed behind him, which I hadn't dared hope for. It cut him off from whatever was inside – refuge, weapons, evidence, whatever.

Cecelia suddenly looked menacing. I don't know how she did it, but in an instant she seemed taller, broader, and much, much more dangerous. I've known a very few people who can do that – my best friend, Rudy Delgado, is one of them – and every time they've actually been dangerous. "Mr. Higgins," she said, "as a citizen of the state of New Mexico I arrest you on a charge of criminal sexual penetration. Please turn around and lean on the wall."

As she spoke I stood up, and Beth and Kim – I knew without looking, for it was part of the plan – took a step closer. Higgins froze for just a second, and then he swung.

We'd planned for that too. Cecelia dropped, and I jumped. I got an arm around Higgins' throat, not to choke him, but – for the moment – simply to hang on, make him carry extra weight, and throw him off balance. If I had to I could apply what the media insist on calling a choke hold, although in fact it doesn't cut off air; what it actually does is constrict blood flow to the brain, resulting in rapid blacking out. I didn't want to do that, though, since the media pitch a wild conniption fit anytime someone uses it.

Kim grabbed Higgins' right arm and leaned back with all her weight – not a lot of weight because she's so small, but enough to keep him from reaching for anything. Beth came from behind me and got Higgins' left arm. Cecelia came up from her crouch, put her palms on Higgins' chest, and shoved with all her considerable strength. He started to fall back, but fetched up with a bang against his closed door. I stuck out a foot and shoved him forward, saying at the same time, "Down on the ground now!"

Now the planning really paid off. Kim and Beth pulled on Higgins' arms, and Cecelia grabbed two fistfuls of his shirt and yanked. She danced out of the way as Higgins came forward, tripped over my leg, and started to go down. Cecelia grabbed him again, this time by the collar, and helped steer his fall so that he didn't smash his face on the balcony's metal railing.

After that it was somewhat confused. In The New Centurions Joseph Wambaugh shows cadets in the LA police academy finding out just how hard it can be to subdue someone who's not fighting, just resisting. If you watch COPS often enough you'll see the same thing. Higgins was resisting, and he was a big man, taller than any of us except Beth, and heavier than she is. He wasn't a body builder, for which I was grateful, but he wasn't a weakling either. We were trying to get his hands behind his back so Kim or I could put the cuffs on him, while at the same time trying not to get in each other's way.

Finally Kim grabbed a fistful of hair with one hand and reached for her belt with the other. "If you don't stop resisting," she said loudly, in her voice that's deeper than you'd expect from someone her size, "I'm going to hit you with pepper spray!"

Either he'd experienced the pepper before, or he'd heard graphic stories about it, because he went limp. Cecelia and I brought his hands together behind him, Kim clicked the cuffs shut, and Beth gingerly let go of his legs. I took a deep breath. "Mr. Higgins," I said, "we're going to sit you up. Roll on your side."

He did. Beth and I got him up, sitting with his back against his door. The struggle hadn't moved enough to matter – we were still right in front of his apartment.

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