Monthly Archives: October 2014

Case II: Passion, Physical Therapy and Profit

Case II: Chapter 1: An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse

If Dudley were being honest with himself, he knew that living alone was not the best for him. There were too many memories of happier times in that home and it was important for him to move on with his life. His wife, Margarita, would have wanted that way. He knew that becoming actively involved with Isabella Duncan in the operation and future planning for La Vida Aureo was the mental stimulation he needed. He also had to admit that he really enjoyed helping Garcia solve the murder of the Maintenance Man. He prided himself in his problem solving abilities and he found that mystery exciting.

As he was nearing retirement with the state, he thought about starting a second career but never was able to settle on an alternative that appealed to him. This situation at La Vida Aureo might just be what he had been searching for and being in Albuquerque did have some advantages. Despite the fact that that they probably were curmudgeons, he did have some longtime friends in town and he would enjoy being able to be with them more often.

He wanted to think this situation through more thoroughly and had always found that being outdoors helped to clear his mind. He believed that he made better decisions than if he were sitting at a desk trying to think. Another advantage of being in Albuquerque was the proximity to the Sandia Mountains and the many trails that were readily available.

But first, Dudley needed to go to the kitchen to seek advice of Paloma Angostura. He found her busily preparing lunch for the main dining room. “Señora Angostura, I have an important decision to make and would like to discuss it with you.”

“Señor Dudley, I am honored and would be happy to talk with you but right now I am preparing lunch. Please come back at 2:00 o’clock and we can spend the afternoon talking.”

Dudley would have preferred to go for a long walk to think, but had to settle for sitting on a bench in the shade of a large Navajo willow tree in the far eastern section of the extensive grounds.

When Dudley returned to the kitchen, Paloma suggested he sit at a small table in the corner where they could talk in quiet. He was only mildly surprised when she placed in large plate of carne adovada in front of him. The young girl Maria came to his table with a large smile on her face and a stack of fresh tortillas in her hand.

Gracias, muchas gracias, Maria” Dudley said in his halting, poorly pronounced Spanish. “You are too kind. And Señora Angostura, I cannot decide whether this is flattery or bribery. It was a situation almost identical to this that got me to move to New Mexico permanently, but that is the story for another time. Today I seek your advice about accepting Señora Duncan’s offer to live here permanently and become the Maintenance Man for the entire La Vida Aureo complex.”

“Ah, Señora Isabella mentioned this to me and asked me to encourage you to accept her most gracious offer. I believe you could be of great service to this place as well as to her. For my part, I believe you and I have many things to talk about and it would be much easier if you were here.”

The next morning, Dudley made an appointment to call Isabella Duncan and accept her offer. He knew it was the right decision. There were so many positive aspects of living here and he felt he could make a positive contribution. “Ms. Duncan, I’ve considered your offer to work as Handyman and am looking forward to working with you in the future planning of this facility. But first, I need to settle my affairs in Cerrillos. And my doctor has insisted I complete my physical therapy program.”

“Mr. Dudley, or Doc, I am thrilled that you made that decision and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with you. I will work with you to expedite resolving your affairs in Cerrillos. I know a real estate agent who specializes in that area and she should be able to help you sell your home quickly.”

“If you think you’re up to it, there are a number of small repair jobs that need attention at your earliest convenience. They are mostly minor plumbing issues, such as leaky faucets in some of the individual independent living units on the west side of the property. I can give you more details when you’re ready to start.”

Case II: Chapter 2: Oh, Mrs. Torres

Later that afternoon, Dudley went to the utility room and retrieved the Maintenance Man’s toolbox to attend to the minor in repairs that Isabella Duncan had requested. At La Vida Aureo, some of the independent living facilities consisted of cottages or casitas and his first task was to fix a “small plumbing problem” in the casita occupied by Mrs. Torres.

He knocked on the door and introduced himself when Mrs. Torres answered. “Mrs. Torres, my name is Matthew Dudley and I’ve been asked to look at your plumbing; I understand you have a leaky faucet.”

“Come right in. I must say that you are certainly much easier on the eyes than the previous Maintenance Man. The leaking faucet is in the kitchen sink.”

Dudley sat down the toolbox, got out his flashlight and reached into the cabinet area under the kitchen sink to shut off the water. Once the water was shut off, it was a simple matter to replace the worn faucet washer. He decided to replace the washer for both the hot and cold sides; it might save him a second trip. He got on his knees and reached under the sink to turn the water back on so that he could test the new washers. It had only taken a few moments for this relatively simple repair job and Dudley felt a sense of accomplishment.

“That should do it, Mrs. Torres. You should not have any more problems with a dripping faucet.”

When he turned around, he was taken aback by what he saw. Mrs. Torres was standing in the middle of the kitchen with a cocktail in her hand. She was wearing what appeared to Dudley as a silk robe, like a Japanese kimono, but it was completely open.

“Well, Mr. Handyman, can you stay a while? I’m sure I can find some other projects for you to work on.”

Dudley suddenly felt trapped and highly embarrassed by Mrs. Torres’ inappropriate behavior. “Ah-er, ah-er, I really must be going. I have to check on an ah-er electrical problem in Mrs. Wilson’s apartment.”

He knew he had to get past Mrs. Torres and out of the casita as quickly as possible. Fortunately, she took a sip of her cocktail and stepped aside so he was able to exit without incident.

“Do hurry back and please bring all of your tools next time. I like a man with good tools, you know.”

He didn’t want to offend anyone, or cause trouble, particularly on his first day as Handyman, but he knew he had to mention this to Isabella as soon as possible. “To say that I was shocked Isabella, is an understatement. I’m just not used to that kind of behavior.”

“I have been aware that there are certain people here who act out inappropriately. Many of the women here have lost husbands at a young age which has affected them. Many are simply lonely and seeking companionship, some are just harmless flirts but some are truly horny and desperate. In some cases, the early stages of dementia results in a loss of control and the onset of inappropriate behaviors. And some women are definitely on the prowl and things can sometimes get out of hand. We must remain vigilant at all times. We have to recognize that these people are adults but we cannot let the situation jeopardize any individual resident. My advice to you as you’re working around the complex as a handyman is “to keep your tools in your toolbox.””

Case II: Chapter 3: Physical Therapy with Arnold, Jr.

As he left Isabella’s office, he felt only partially relieved by the conversation. He was glad that she was aware of the situation but somewhat concerned with her apparent laissez-faire attitude. He decided that as he worked around the facility he would have to remain alert and recognize the signs of potentially inappropriate behavior and not get trapped by any particular situation.

Dudley was still somewhat shaken by Mrs. Torres’ behavior when he walked into the physical therapy room that afternoon for his scheduled appointment. He had reluctantly convinced himself that the physical therapy was doing him some good, particularly to strengthen his cardiovascular system which may have been the source of his mild heart attack.

As he entered the room, he noticed a number of people engaged in various forms of physical therapy. Some were doing cardio work and others were on machines that focused on stretching or strengthening specific muscles. For the older residents, there were numerous programs to help them maintain mobility and keep them ambulatory for as long as possible. He was aware that a number of these people were not residents, but were paying to come to this facility to recuperate from hip or knee replacement surgeries, some sports injuries and other specific types of physical therapy. La Vida Aureo maintained a state-of-the-art facility with highly trained physical therapists. Although the original intent was to serve only residents, more and more doctors in the Albuquerque area were sending patients here. Some were covered by so-called “Cadillac insurance programs” and some were private or self-pay. Isabella Duncan quickly realized the opportunity and had expanded the facility with additional equipment and staff.

As an integral part of this expansion of La Vida Aureo’s physical therapy capabilities, she had worked closely with the exercise equipment companies to incorporate sophisticated computer monitoring. Each potential new patient was given a battery of tests on several exercise machines to characterize their mobility and range of motion. The machine’s computer would create a “trace” of the motion on a display screen to be observed by the therapist. With a specific type of injury, there would be a “break” in the trace at a point characteristic of the particular injury. Failure to repeat this trace, including the break, was an indication of potential fraud. As the reputation for La Vida Aureo’s physical therapy program grew, there were more cases of people trying to “scam” the system. But, the sophisticated monitoring system had been able to quickly detect these various attempts so that the current participants in La Vida Aureo’s physical therapy and rehabilitation programs were “legitimate”.

Matthew Dudley was soon to learn that there was another reason for the growing popularity of the facility among certain Albuquerque physicians and orthopedists.

As he continued to look around the room, Dudley noticed a young female therapist that he hadn’t seen before. Dudley didn’t think he was staring, but her highly affected mannerisms caught his eye.

Someone walked up behind Dudley and said quietly to him, “That is not part of your regular cardio exercises and it is probably not good for your heart.”

Dudley turned around and looked up into the smiling face of Hans Werner, his physical therapist. He was somewhat embarrassed and knew that he had “been caught”. He felt that it was useless to try to convince Hans that he wasn’t staring, but he sensed that there was more going on that was apparent. “I just couldn’t help but notice that she seems to be awfully close to the patients while she’s talking to them and seems to touch a lot.”

“That young woman has been here a few months and perhaps you just hadn’t noticed; you’re probably only man who comes in here that hasn’t! Her name is Ekaterina Bubolsky but many of the male patients simply refer to her as Betty Boop! Maybe it’s her short skirt or her out-going manner; I don’t know. She was recommended by a prominent orthopedic surgeons group in Albuquerque and seems to be quite popular with many of the patients.”

“I’m certain her popularity has to do with her physical therapy skills rather than her physical appearance”, remarked Dudley cynically.

“Nevertheless, Mr. Dudley, are you ready to begin your session with me?”

“I guess so, Hans, but you have to be patient with me today it as I’ve had a rather unsettling experience this morning which may affect my heart rate; and, NOT this one!”

“It is no problem. We can start slow and build up. If you’ll just let me know how you’re feeling and I’ll keep checking the heart rate monitors, I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

As Dudley began his first exercise on a recumbent bicycle, he realized how much better he felt with even a small amount of exercise. It was further evidence to him that, if he were to live alone, he would probably deteriorate. As the exercise proceeded, he seemed to feel stronger and his mind was less unsettled by the events of the morning.

“Well, Hans, I certainly appreciate your encouraging me to get started and I feel much better once I get moving and get some additional oxygen to my brain.” Dudley completed his entire therapy session, thanked Hans and decided to return to his room for a nap.

Case II: Chapter 4:TLC With Betty Boop

A few days later, he was back at physical therapy and began to observe Betty Boop’s behavior a little more carefully. He couldn’t help but notice that her actions seem to be quite a bit more deliberate and dramatic than necessary for physical therapy. He noticed, for example, that she seemed to be brushing her breasts against the arms and shoulders of some male patients. And when she moved away, she seemed to make a conscious effort of bending over longer than necessary.

He remarked to Hans, “She’s either just an exhibitionist or there is something more complicated and potentially sinister going on.”

“Well, the patients she works with seem to generally be happy but I have noticed that they seem to have much longer rehabilitation programs. Even when she’s not here, they seem to be progressing much more slowly than other patients. The ones that I have worked with also seem to complain more about the residual pain associated with their surgeries. I’m certain that I don’t provide the same level of attention and TLC that she does but our goal here is to try to help patients recover and return to normal activities as quickly as possible.”

“Well, I’m certainly not being a voyeur and I am not a suspicious person by nature. Perhaps I’m just imagining things and maybe this is all innocent behavior on her part. I’m sure that the additional attention and TLC is a form of therapy in and of itself. I guess I need to just concentrate on my own program.” he said to Hans.

The next time that he was in the Physical Therapy room, Dudley watched more intently as Betty Boop worked on a middle-aged man who was sitting on a machine used primarily to strengthen leg muscles. Dudley did not recognize this man as a resident of La Vida Aureo; he must have been referred by his orthopedist.

Dudley overheard Betty Boop ask the man how he felt since his knee replacement surgery and how he was progressing with his rehabilitation. He noticed that she began to massage his knee while he continued to exercise and slowly moved up his thigh. This went on for several minutes and the man was obviously enjoying the experience. As the intimate massaging continues, he heard her say, “It’s time for your pain pills.”

The man’s expression changed and he complained, “I don’t like the taste of the pills; they’re bitter.”

Betty continued to massage his thigh, a bit more intensely and a bit further up his leg.

“Your doctor prescribed them for a purpose, but I understand that they are not pleasant. You should try my special protein drink. I can crush those nasty pills and mix them into a delicious and nutritious protein shake that goes down nice and easy.”

“OK. I’m willing to try it if you promise that it will not taste bitter.”

“I promise. Just wait here and I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

The man eased back onto the exercise, closed his eyes and seemed to drift off.

Moments later, Betty returned with a tall glass filled with what looks like an ordinary milkshake. “Drink this and you’ll feel much better”, she said as she placed her hand back on his thigh and pressed her breast into his shoulder. “Now, isn’t that a better way to take those nasty pain meds?”

Betty, I really appreciate all you do for me. I don’t know how I could stand this recovery process if it weren’t for you.”

“Thank you. I’ll see you again on Friday.”

As Dudley was leaving the physical therapy room, he made a point to catch up with this man and casually remarked, “You seem to enjoy your physical therapy sessions a lot more than I do.”

“Absolutely! It is Betty Boop’s special touch as well as the way she administers my pain medications. Her special shake concoction is outstanding! I complain a bit, but I’m trying to stay in this program and around her as long as possible. I think I’ll talk to my doctor about having the other knee replaced as soon as possible. I am not looking forward to the surgery but the rehabilitation program could make it all worthwhile.” He said with a satisfied grin.

Dudley became more suspicious with each additional tidbit of information he heard about Betty Boop’s approach to physical therapy and decided to question this man a bit more.

“I wish I felt the same as you do. I’m here for cardio-rehabilitation after a heart attack and don’t particularly enjoy it at all. Besides, I’m stuck with Arnold Jr. for my exercises. How did you get assigned to that pretty young girl?”

“Her real name is Katerina or Katrina Something or Other; I think she’s Russian. But she reminds me of that cartoon character, Betty Boop, with her cute attitude and the clothes she wears. When my surgeon arranged for me to come to this place for rehab, he also suggested I try to get her as my therapist. I think she specializes in knee and hip replacement jobs. After the surgery, I’m on a lot of pain meds and she seems to have figured out a way to makes them palatable. And, she’s really fun to look at and watch as she walks around. Maybe you should think about getting a knee or hip replaced; you certainly look old enough! By the way, my name is Horace Johnson.” He laughs, slapped Dudley on the back and walked away.

It was apparent that this poor guy was a helpless victim of Ekaterina’s wiles. But Dudley sensed that there was more going on, he just couldn’t figure it out. Or, maybe he was thinking about his experience with Mrs. Torres and was reading too much into something relatively harmless. He decided to put it out of his mind and get back to taking care of his own responsibilities.

Case II: Chapter 5: Back to Cerrillos

Dudley decided that he needed to stop stalling and put his house in Cerrillos up for sale. He recalled that Isabella said she knew a real estate agent who could help. But, first, there were some things he wanted to do at the house, including picking up his hand tools. If he was going to do this handyman job correctly, it would be beneficial to have his own tools. Dudley’s doctor had prohibited him from driving, but he presumed that OJ would be willing to drive him to Cerrillos. OJ had expressed his gratitude for Dudley’s role in clearing his name, but he knew he should check with Isabella first.

A quick phone call assured him that she completely approved and thought it would be a great idea for Dudley to “take OJ under his wing”.

The next morning, OJ brought his pickup around to the front off the building and they were on their way; OJ even brought a breakfast burrito for Dudley. Although Dudley had traveled all over the state in his role with the State’s Water Resources Department, he always hated driving that section of Interstate-25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. He referred to most of the drivers as Albu-crazies because they seemed to act particularly reckless and drive at excessive speeds along this 50 mile stretch of highway. Because it was now mid-morning, he had assumed that traffic would be lighter and that the drivers wouldn’t be in such hurry, but that did not seem to be the case. He quickly realized that was even more terrifying to be a passenger in someone else’s vehicle on this road. OJ was a reasonably competent driver but that didn’t seem to calm Dudley’s anxiety. He could not understand why people made the unsafe moves that they did, cutting in and out of traffic. It seemed like an obsession with some drivers to take unnecessary risks just to advance one car length or get in front of someone they felt was driving too slow. Tailgating seemed to be a local “sport” and a means to get people “outta my way”! He never could understand why people seem to be in such an incessant hurry, almost at any time of day; so much for the manana culture of New Mexico!   Even more absurdly, he didn’t realize why the people who lived in Albuquerque and cities to the south and who worked in Santa Fe didn’t avail themselves to the convenience of the Railrunner system.

They exited the Interstate at Waldo Canyon Road and proceeded down the dirt road for several miles. Despite his anxiety, they had arrived safely into Cerrillos. Dudley went to the outbuilding behind his house and began to collect those hand tools which he felt would be useful to a handyman. OJ wandered around the outside of the house while Dudley was busy.

“How much do you know about this town of Cerrillos and the surrounding area, OJ?”

“I’ve never been off the highway before. I’ve been to Santa Fe many times and I’ve been to Madrid, but never here.”

“For a time in the late 1800s, Cerrillos was a mining boom town, but there’s not much here now, except for the Park. After I finish collecting my tools, I’d like to show you Cerrillos Hills Park; I think you’ll find it interesting.”

A brief time later, they drove a short distance to the Cerrillos Hills Park. “This area is typical of much of New Mexico’s history. The pueblo artisans first used turquoise from these hills for their pottery. They also used the lead deposits to enhance their pottery glazes. The Spanish weren’t interested in turquoise, but looked here for gold and, like many other places, were disappointed. Later, many of the men who mined for silver in Colorado came here hoping to strike it rich, but often had to settle for iron or other less valuable metals simply to survive. At its peak, there were over 1,000 mining claims in these hills. It was back-breaking pick and shovel work and most of the men were barely able to eke out a living and many starved. Too often, men had their claims stolen from them by more clever people.”

They took a short walk to one of the hand-dug open pit mines and together read the commemorative plaque.

“It seems like many of these hombres were loco gringos,” said OJ”

Dudley laughed to and couldn’t help but agree with OJ’s observation.

“It sounds like what happened to my people in the North when the gringos took their land for a few pots and pans or a rundown plow. “

“Santa Fe County designated this area as an Open Space in about 2003 to preserve it. This site became a State Park in about 2009 and there is a volunteer organization that is responsible for maintenance. This group also conducts tours and provides information on their web-site:”

“I know my Spanish is pretty limited, but even I know that cerrillos means hill, so it always amuses me that someone actually named this area Cerrillos Hills; it’s a bit redundant, don’t you think?”

“Tell you what, OJ, if we can drive back via the Turquoise Road, Highway 14, through Madrid I’ll buy you a full tank of gas. I know it’s longer, but I’ve had enough excitement for one day driving up here on I-25.”

No problemo, Señor Doc.”

Dudley climbed into the truck and they headed back to Albuquerque, stopping in Tijeras for gas. Doc found OJ’s company quite enjoyable and hoped that he would be able to avail himself of OJ’s truck and transportation in the future.

Case II Chapter 6: Millicent Branch Helps Out

On Thursday, Dudley was sitting in the dining room enjoying a cup of coffee and looking over his list of repair projects for the complex. He didn’t notice that Millicent Branch had sat down across from him.

“Well, I see you solved the Maintenance Man’s murder quite nicely. I told you that that Mexican girl was involved.”

“Well, good day to you, too, Mrs. Branch. I appreciate your complement, but it was not a murder. It was a foolish accident caused by the Maintenance Man’s own carelessness. And, for your information, Maria is from Guatemala; she is not from Mexico.”

“Nevertheless, I told you that she was involved and that the Maintenance Man was up to no good. I’m sure I put you on the right path so you were able to get to the bottom of that mess so quickly. I understand that you are going to take the Maintenance Man’s place and become the Handyman for the entire facility.”

“That is correct. Ms. Duncan has asked me to help out, at least on a temporary basis.”

While Dudley was fairly certain that Mrs. Branch did not use the Internet and certainly not Facebook, he continued to be amazed at how she seemed to know everything that was going on and a little bit about everybody’s business. He also assumed that whatever information she did not have, she made up. “Thanks again, Mrs. Branch. I really must be going now and get on with my responsibilities for the day”, he said as he got up to leave. Despite how much she annoyed him, Dudley tried to remain pleasant rather than aggravate her. He knew that she would only cause to more trouble for him if he got on her “bad side”.

Later that week, Dudley went back to physical therapy where he was greeted by Hans.   “Well, I hope you are up for a little more strenuous exercise today, Mr. Dudley. I’ve been looking over your charts and I think we can increase both the length and the intensity of your cardio workout today. Make sure you let me know if at any time you’re feeling tired or lightheaded and we can cut back. Okay with you?”

“I’m feeling much stronger and ready to put up with your abuse for today, Hans.”

Over the next 20 minutes, he was able to keep up with the pace and the intensity of his cardio exercise on the recumbent bicycle. As always, it was difficult to get started, but the longer he went, the better he felt. He was convinced that he was nearing full recovery and would soon be released by his doctor. He had not had the opportunity to communicate with his doctor and tell him about accepting Isabella’s offer to stay on at La Vida Aureo as Handyman. But given the positive response from this workout, he would initiate a conversation. It would also give him an opportunity to challenge the doctor to see if he really had had a mild heart attack or whether the doctor had conspired with his children after all just to get him into a different environment.

While he was resting after the exercise, he noticed the young woman referred to as Betty Boop (Ekaterina Bubolsky) talking to an older woman. He recognized her as Mrs. Martha Arthur, a resident at La Vida Aureo. He assumed that she had not had joint replacement surgery but could be suffering from chronic back pain or something similar. He made a point of trying to walk closer without appearing obvious so that he could listen in on the conversation. Mrs. Arthur was telling Ekaterina about her medications. “My doctor prescribed two different prescriptions for my back pain. One is a muscle relaxant and the other is some sort of pain pill. I’m not really sure how to get the doses right to achieve any benefit. And, I don’t want to take too much medicine.”

Ekaterina reassured her. “I understand how you feel. Some of these prescriptions are pretty strong and can have undesirable side effects. If you’ll let me look at the bottles, I believe I can help you to achieve their relief you desire.”

“That would be a great deal of help to be. I would rather not be taking any medicines at all, but without them, I am unable to get around. I do not want to be cooped up in my room.”

She handed the prescription bottles to Ekaterina who studied them carefully. Ekaterina looked at Mrs. Arthur and said, “If I could make a suggestion, I think the proper combination of these two medications would do the trick. I would recommend that you only use half of each pill and use them more frequently. I’ve worked with other women about your age with similar pain and I think there might be an easier way to go about this. I would also like to change some of your exercises that would build up your strength in addition to the way you are taking your medications.”

“That would be wonderful.”

“You just sit here and make yourself comfortable for a few minutes. I’m going to take these medicines and make them up into the smoothie for you to drink.”

Dudley felt somewhat embarrassed after hearing this conversation. It sounded like Ekaterina was really trying to help Mrs. Arthur. Maybe he had been reading too much into the previous situation and not giving her credit for her expertise as a competent physical therapist. He thanked Hans for pushing him a little harder with his exercises today and decided to go back his room and get a shower and think about some of the repair jobs on his ToDo list.

Ekaterina returned with a thick smoothie and handed it to Mrs. Arthur. “I hope you like strawberry, she said.

“That would be wonderful. I do like strawberry and it would be so much more refreshing than simply trying to take these pills with a glass of water.”

“Just sit here and drink it slowly and I’ll check back with you in a few minutes. By the way, I noticed that there were only one or two pills left in each of your prescriptions. Would you like for me to have them refilled at the pharmacy for you? Your pharmacy is on my way to work and I would be happy to do that.”

“Thank you, Ekaterina. I would appreciate it if you could pick up my prescriptions for me. This sounds like a big improvement in my program and I’m looking forward to getting much better soon.” Mrs. Arthur finished her strawberry shake and left the physical therapy room with a large smile on her face. She couldn’t wait to tell some of her other friends about this wonderful experience.

Case II: Chapter 7: A Real Real Estate Experience

Later that afternoon, Dudley stopped in to see Isabella Duncan to ask about the real estate agent that she had mentioned previously. As each day had passed, he realized more and more that he should not delay selling his home in Cerrillos.

“I’m glad you’ve made this decision, Doc. I know it will be hard to leave the home you shared with you late wife, but it really is for the best. Let me call Hannah to see if she can meet with you later this week. She is very familiar with that area and can provide you good advice.”

Dudley was sitting in an easy chair in the lobby when an attractive, well-dressed woman who appeared to be about his age walked directly over to him and says, “I presume you are Matthew Dudley. I’m Hannah Halverstrom and Isabella Duncan suggested that I talk with you.” She extends her hand to greet him.

“Yes, I’m Matthew Dudley and I presume you’re the real estate agent Isabella recommended to me.”

“That is correct.” She handed him her business card.

Dudley looked at the bright yellow card which read:


Dudley was surprised at the card’s appearance because it seemed inconsistent with the professional looking woman standing in front of him in an expensive, well tailored business suit.

The look on his face telegraphed his obvious surprise and Hannah said, “Sorry, wrong card. She handed him a second business card from her briefcase which read:


“It’s a long story. Perhaps we could go someplace quiet to talk about your needs can I can explain the two business cards and help alleviate some of your very obvious apprehension.”

They went into the dining room and found a small table in a corner where they had some privacy to talk. Dudley went to the service counter and poured two cups of coffee from the carafe and returned to the table. A broad smile covered Hannah Halverstrom’s face and she said, “Isabella told me you are an old-fashioned gentlemen. I certainly appreciate a man with those kinds of courtesies. Thank you very much. Let me begin by explaining the confusion caused by my business cards so that we can begin discussing your needs.”

“I grew up in an upper middle-class family in Baltimore and became captivated by the freedom movements in the early 1960s. I was young and very foolish and ran away from home and wandered around until I ended up in Tawapa, one of the growing communes near Albuquerque in the Sandia Mountains foothills in a place called Placitas. Over the next year or so literally hundreds of young people from around the country came into this area and the population of these communities grew. For a while everyone was idealistic and worked together to build a healthy alternative lifestyle. But as time passed, I realized that too many of the men who came to these peaceful communities did not share the idealistic values of the community and were only there for the drugs and “free love”. It became increasingly dangerous and I knew that it was time for me to get out and grow up. I moved to into a very small apartment in Albuquerque and enrolled in the University of New Mexico. By the time I finished my degree in Business I had also made up and repaired the most of the damage I had caused with my family. But, I had grown to love this area and decided to stay. Over the years I worked in a number of different areas but always remained attracted to the community of Placitas and its ties to the history and cultures of New Mexico. It became apparent to me that my life mirrored much of the life in and around New Mexico and that I could help other people find their way through real estate. There are many people who came here to escape something or someone. There are people who came here as artists and craftsmen because of the incredible light and the scenery. Those people are searching for something on an emotional or spiritual level and I feel connected to those people. Spirit and Light Realtors works with those people in search of some more fundamental meaning to find a location and an environment where they feel free to paint or write or otherwise express themselves. On the other hand, because of the history of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, there is also a significant amount of government-funded military and related industrial activity. Those people are generally looking for a more practical approach to real estate and are turned off by the “hippie, artsy-fartsy” approach. They are the typical client of HHH Realty. I hope that gives you a better understanding of who I am and alleviates some of your apprehension.”

“That is certainly an interesting story and I suspect that you are not the only person who came here to run away and stayed for other reasons. My own story is not quite as exciting but is also not too dissimilar. I presume that HHH stands for Hannah Something Halverstrom. I’m curious; what does that middle H stand for?”

“It stands for Hard-ass!” She laughed. “My clients who are military or business people expect me to get the best price for them as well as meet their other conditions. I guess I earned that nick-name based on my performance.”

“In your case, Mr. Dudley, the area in and around Cerrillos is much like the Placitas area I know so well. The community is comprised primarily of people that I would characterize as “ones who don’t play well with others”. The fact that they chose to live in a small, relatively isolated community says a great deal about their worldview. But there also people from Santa Fe who see Cerrillos as a quaint little community where they can avoid some of the chaos that is Santa Fe. I believe that the ideal buyer for your home will be a unique individual like yourself who is also searching for something. I will take these things into consideration as we develop the appropriate marketing strategy to sell your home quickly and at a fair price. Does that sound like a reasonable approach to you?”

“Absolutely. What can I do to assist you?”