Case II: Chapter 10: A Questionable Shake
“This seems to get curiouser and curiouser Dudley remarked himself. He quietly lowered his arm so that the drink container was not obvious and headed toward the kitchen. “Maybe I put this into the refrigerator for a while, Maria?”
“Señor Dudley, you may, but I do not understand why you did not finish your drink.”
“It’s just for a short while, Maria. I’ll be back for it before dinner time. It is good to see you again. I hope you’re doing well.”
“Muy bueno, Señor Dudley. Adios.”
The events of the afternoon continued to play in his mind as he sat in the shade of the Navajo willow in the courtyard. He finally decided that it was his responsibility to satisfy his curiosity and determine if there was anything behind this odd series of actions. He decided to call Frank Garcia at the Albuquerque Major Crimes Unit and ask for his advice. He decided to do this without telling Isabella in case it turned out to be nothing at all. He did not want to start trouble where there wasn’t any nor have Isabella think that he was becoming just another Mildred Branch and playing detective.
While he continued to sit outside, he called Garcia and asked. “Lt. Garcia, this is Matthew Dudley at La Vida Aureo and I need some advice. I want to try to determine if I’m just imagining things or whether there’s something more serious at play.” He explained the situation and his observations briefly without trying to implicate anyone or make things sound more sinister than they probably were.
“If you have some of this suspicious shake left, said Garcia, I can have the lab boys over at drug enforcement have a look at. If it is just a harmless shake used to help people take their medications then we’ll pretend this never happened. If, on the other hand, we find something else then we’ll have to decide what to do. Anyway, I owe you one, Doc. I will be driving past your place on my way back to my office in about an hour and I can see you then.”
“Thanks, Lt. Garcia, I really appreciate this. I know I sound foolish but there is just something about this that I can’t get out of my head. I’ll be out in front to in about an hour.”
Dudley continued to sit under the tree and argue with himself about the appropriateness of this step. An hour past quickly and he went into the kitchen, retrieved the protein shake from the refrigerator and headed toward the front door.
Garcia drove up and Dudley walked outside to meet him. “This is the “special protein shake” that one of the physical therapists is using to help people take their pain medications. I assume there will be a major amount of whatever pain medication this person is on in the shake. I understand that the rest is relatively harmless stuff just to disguise the taste.”
“Well, let’s see what we find. I’ll get back to you as soon as I have some information.” Garcia took the shake, placed in his cup holder, raised the window in his squad car and driving quietly drove away.
Dudley walked back into the lobby and was surprised to see Isabella Duncan standing there. She had her arms folded across her chest and was tapping her foot in a very deliberate manner. It always astounded Dudley how women could wear heels that high and still manage to tap their foot to express dismay. He knew he was in trouble.
“Wasn’t that Frank Garcia you were talking to in our driveway? Is there something I should know about?”
“Ah, no, not really. He just happened to be in the neighborhood and I went outside to say hello.”
“You don’t really expect to be to believe that story do you, Mr. Dudley?”
He knew that when Isabella Duncan called him “Mr. Dudley”, she was probably not pleased. “It’s nothing. I just asked him to check something out for me.”
“Well, if it’s anything that involves this facility or any of our residents or guests, I expect you to tell me about it to without any delay.”
“You have my word, Isabella.”
A few days later, Dudley received a phone call from Frank Garcia. “Doc, the lab boys examined the beverage you gave me, particularly for the family of opioids that are commonly used as prescription pain medication. They found nothing; no pain meds, no protein stuff. I ask them to see what else might be in that concoction and they told me they were only able to find relatively small amounts of aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine. I’m no doctor, but I doubt it would do much for pain relief beyond those conventional over-the-counter analgesics. What you think this means?”
“That description certainly does not square with what Ekaterina is telling her patients. I don’t mean to jump to conclusions but I suspect we would find the same thing in the strawberry smoothie that another resident, Mrs. Arthur, has been given by her. Do you think it is possible that Ekaterina is substituting generic analgesics for the prescription medications?”
“That’s certainly is a possibility, but I think it would be foolish to conclude something that serious on the basis of a single sample. I don’t think either one of us want to risk our reputation by accusing someone of a potentially serious crime without further proof.”
“Can you think of a way that we could gather additional information to prove or disapprove things without stirring up too much trouble?”
“Doc, I believe that a reasonable next step would be for you and I to sit down with Isabella and come up with a more comprehensive approach. If there is something nefarious going on at La Vida Aureo, it is essential that we get Isabella involved and pronto.”
“I couldn’t agree more. She’s already suspicious after seeing me talk with you the other day and I certainly don’t want to get on her bad side. Would it be convenient for you to be here with Isabella and me tomorrow morning about 10 o’clock?”
“I’ll see you there.”