We, as crime writers, need to come up with many ways to make our characters prolific and not look like a wimps when confronted with a dangerous situation. We also know if we have a PI or detective as a main character who’s all hearts and roses that would be boring. She needs to kick some serious butt, or at least be able to defend herself without her male partner jumping in.
To help create a badass in heels I’ve come up with three scenarios she might find herself in and three ways she can get herself out.
1. Nose slam
A masked man breaks into Kate’s home in the middle of the night. She awakes to find a stranger on top of her intent on doing ungodly things to her body and mind.
What can she do? He outweighs her by a good sixty pounds and has arms the size of Schwarzenegger’s. Hand-to-hand combat isn’t an option at this point. She’s on her back with an intruder straddling her hips. There are no guns laying nearby and no one is coming to save her.
A terrifying situation to be in – a perfect one for your character.
With the butt of Kate’s hand, using an upward trajectory, she slams him hard in the nose, jamming the nose into the brain. A petite woman like Kate knows this move can stop a full-grown man dead in his tracks. If it doesn’t kill him, which it absolutely could, it will stun him long enough for her to get out of bed and grab a proper weapon. Or run away. But unless the stranger catches up to Kate her writer might want to reconsider the scene, because we know conflict drives the story forward. Right? Right.
2. Throat punch
You know that little V at the base of the neck? That’s your trachea. Let’s say Sally is walking home from the diner after a double shift on her feet. She’s exhausted, the front of her baby blue dress and white apron has ketchup and mustard stains and some unidentified goo is stuck in a few loose strands of hair that had fallen out of her bun. All day long she’s had to listen to people gripe about cold coffee, mayo instead of tartar sauce, the usual bull from jamokes trying to get out of paying their $10.00 tab. Sally knows it isn’t wise to cut through the alley, but it’s quicker than going around the block. She just wants to get home and soak in a hot bath. Halfway through the dark alley Sally finds herself face-to-face with a gang member intent on making his bones.
Sally’s gaze narrows on his crimping eyes. He pitches toward her, and Sally punches him in the trachea. That’s called a throat punch. Instantly he loses his breath and falls to his knees. Here’s where Sally’s writer can decide whether he chokes to death– because that’s possible– or hacks up a lung (figuratively), and then takes off after her. Either way, you’ve got a very tense scene. Always a good thing in crime fiction.
3. Everything is a weapon
When used properly a ballpoint pen or car key is very effective in self-defense. Let’s say Jane is out Christmas shopping. She’s deck to the nines in heels and a crushed velvet pantsuit. Jane is hopelessly single. Not a hair out-of-place, flawless make-up, smells like she bathed in Chanel No. 5. It’s important to her that she look her best in case Mr. Right works at the Gap. Doubtful, but she’s not taking any chances.
Jane doesn’t meet Mr. Right that night so she plods back to her car, parked way in the back lot under a blown-out street lamp. Her mind goes on high alert. Her gaze shifts between two vehicles on either side of her Rav4– a black windowless van and a Lincoln Town car with tinted windows.
Jane slides her shopping bags over her left wrist, balls her right hand around her car key, the jagged end protruding between her index and middle finger. Her manicured nails bite into her palm, her nerves jumping like Pop Rocks in her belly.
Which vehicle holds the danger?
Jane approaches her Rav4. Slowly she lowers the shopping bags to the ground. In the driver window’s reflection she finds a man in a ski mask standing a mere three feet behind her.
Jane twirls around. And thrusts that jagged key into the stranger’s carotid artery. With the beat of his heart blood pumps from the side of his throat. She ducks. Crimson sprays on the driver’s door.
Jane gapes left and right. Notices the Town Car’s rear door ajar and quickly rolls the corpse out-of-the-way with the toe of her Jimmy Choo. Her hands shake unlocking the door. Someone is driving that Lincoln. There’s no time to stand around. Jane slips behind the wheel, glides the stick-shift into gear and barrels out of the lot. Driving with her knee she untwists the cap on a flask, she keeps in her handbag, and downs a quick belt to calm her nerves.
Miles down the road she notices the Town Car in her rear view mirror. Jane bangs a right, then a left. The Lincoln stays on her tail. She leans over the passenger seat and pops open the glove compartment, where she had stashed a Beretta 9mm pistol, days before. Jane’s writer knows not to have her load bullets in a revolving cylinder because a Beretta 9mm pistol doesn’t have one. It’s a semiautomatic weapon, not a revolver.
Jane releases the magazine from the magazine well and checks the cartridge. When she sees it empty she again drives with her knee while she feeds bullets down and to the rear under two ridges– called feed lips– on the top inside lip of the magazine. She loads one round after another until she fills the magazine, or clip. Inserts the full clip into the handle of the weapon and slams her palm against the bottom to make sure it’s in there tight. Nothing would be more embarrassing than aiming a weapon at a bad guy and having the clip fall out.
With her thumb facing her, she slides the top half of the gun (the slide) toward her– the muzzle always pointed away from her. This strips the top cartridge (bullet) and sets a round in the chamber. Jane’s writer can not have her thumb the safety switch because a 9mm doesn’t have one.
With one in the chamber she’s ready to rock someone’s world, preferably the driver of the Lincoln. Good thing too because the Lincoln guns it, swerves around her and cuts the wheel slamming the Rav4, running Jane off the road. She careens down a slight incline through the woods.
Her head swarming from striking the dash, Jane wobbles getting out of the SUV. She ducks behind the rear quarter panel. Waits. Watches as a well-dressed man approaches. In one fluid motion Jane stands. Aims through the front scope, her sight level with the back. Jane does not tilt her wrist to the side like some gang banger. That’s a good way to break her wrist. Instead, she sets her finger on the trigger. If she wasn’t in danger, say at the range, she’d rest her finger along the side of the slide.
Jane’s had plenty of practice. She knows to wrap her middle, ring and pinkie finger around the grip. With her left hand she folds her fingers around her right, marrying her thumbs– meaning, side-by-side and not interlocked– her arms out in front of her, her feet squared with her hips. This is called an Isosceles/modified stance. The name is taken from the Isosceles triangle– a triangle with two sides that are equal in length. In shooting, the Isosceles is referring to the shooter’s arms, held straight out making them the same length. Of course Jane knows a slight bend to the arm better absorbs the recoil.
The stranger stumbles back, his hands clutching the gaping wound in his chest. He tosses one last spiteful glare at Jane and then crumbles to the snow-covered earth. Dead. Jane blows the smoke off the barrel. I’m kidding! Jane’s writer knows this is a corny thing to do.
This is what really happened next…
Safely back in her Rav4 Jane adjusts her rear view mirror, smooths back her hair, and then engages the four-wheel drive. As she drives up the hill she looks in the side mirror at the stranger sprawled out on the snow. “With my luck,” she says, “I just killed Mr. Right.”
Hyperbole aside, these techniques can help make your character a badass in heels. What self-defense techniques have you read about, or used in your writing?