A Strong Woman - Cover

A Strong Woman

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

Chapter 3

It was two weeks later, more or less, when I was reading on the sofa while Cecelia did something or another in her sewing room. Her machine was whirring in fits and starts, as she put together whatever it is she was making. She's been sewing as long as I've known her, and since I got her the machine last summer she's made nearly everything she and Darlia wear, and a lot more of my clothes.

When the phone rang I got off the sofa and padded over to look at the caller ID. It showed that it was the University of New Mexico hospital, and I wondered who'd be calling me from there. I answered it before the machine could get it, so that Cecelia wouldn't have to interrupt her work.

"Is this Darvin Carpenter?" a female voice asked.

"Yeah. Who's this?"

"I'm Sergeant Selena Murchison," she said, "with APD. I've been working with a rape victim here at UNMH and she's been asking for you."

"What's her name?"

"Albuquerque Moreno."

"I'll be there. Give me a chance to tell my wife, and I'll be on the road." I hung up without another word, and didn't really care whether I'd cut Sgt. Murchison off.

I stuck my head in the sewing room door as I headed for our bedroom to grab a pair of socks. "Somebody's raped Burque." By then she'd been to both our early service and the second one, and Cecelia wouldn't wonder who I meant. "She's at UNM, an' she's been asking for me."

"She will require a female presence – I shall go with you."

I nodded and withdrew. Cecelia was right, and even if she weren't, arguing with her is a time-consuming deal, especially if you want to win. She'll surrender if you can convince her you're right, but she's so smart and so good at thinking that it's hard to do that.

I got my socks and went back into the living room. Cecelia was there, waiting for me by the door. She hadn't changed, and she was wearing a pale pink t-shirt whose sleeves came down to her forearms, a pair of faded jeans, and her Lahtkwa style moccasins. She wore no makeup, as always, and the tiny diamond in the right side of her nose glinted a little in the light from the big window in the front wall. She'd used an ordinary rubber band to hold her hair back, and she wouldn't have won a single beauty contest – shoot, they wouldn't have even allowed her to enter. She's just too muscular, and her face is just too definite, for the judges of those things to ever award her anything. To win a beauty contest you've got to be skinny, flabby, have a chest like a pair of over-inflated balloons, and possess the bland prettiness that's as common as sand. Cecelia's skinny but that's it – she hasn't been within a mile of flab for most of her life, her figure doesn't impress anyone, and while I think she's the most beautiful woman in history she doesn't look a thing like anyone else.

With my boots on I grabbed my hat off the rack by the door, and we headed out to the Blazer.

They'd recently finished a massive rebuilding of part of the hospital, so that you have to go way past it on Lomas and then turn into UNM, and fight through a traffic circle, and then try to find a spot to park in a multi-story garage with two-way traffic in aisles that are really wide enough only for one-way. But once you get into the newer part of the hospital, which includes the emergency room, it almost seems like a shopping mall rather than a place full of sick people. It's about the nicest hospital I've ever been in, though back in the older building it's still hospital standard.

Cecelia and I checked in, and they buzzed us through the door. Someone in institutional green scrubs – I never have been able to tell doctors from nurses from physicians assistants from anyone else in those outfits – led us through the corridors to a room where Burque was sitting on the side of a bed. She looked up as we came in, and said, "Oh, thank you, Darvin!" But when I stepped over to give her a hug she flinched, and I stopped where I was. Rape victims frequently wind up frightened even of those men whom they dearly love – husbands and fathers and sons – in the emotional reaction.

There was a cop in the room, a stocky woman with mousy brown hair and her badge hanging from the handkerchief pocket of what looked like a man's suit coat. "I'm Sgt. Murchison," she said.

"I'm Darvin Carpenter," I told her, fishing one of my cards out of my pocket. "This is my wife Cecelia, who helps me out sometimes." Murchison would see on the card that I'm a PI, and she'd know what I meant.

She took the card, looked at it, and then slid it between pages of her notebook. "I've conducted an initial interview with Ms. Moreno, and we're about to do a rape kit. She only consented to that after I called you. What's your relation to the victim?" Murchison had a cop's view of the world – there are victims, perps, and cops, and there's emotional distance to prevent burnout of the soul.

"I'm an elder of the church she's been attending for two or three weeks."

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