Case III: Chapter 7: Dudley Digs into the Drama
Dudley had completed his morning routine of reading the Wall Street Journal and planning his day’s activities. He decided to wait for the UPS delivery of the two cables from Amazon before attacking his ToDo list. He was troubled by the events surrounding Ms. Felicio’s death. It was certainly possible that it was just an unfortunate accident, but there just seemed to be other forces in motion that might somehow be connected, including Mr. Ramirez’s behavior and Ms. Waverly’s request to Paloma.
When he assumed the responsibilities of Handyman for the facility, Dudley had prepared a site plan for the entire complex to designate where each individual resident lived. He retrieved the floor plan for the main building from his tool box and laid it out on the table. He noted that he had discovered Ms. Felicio’s body on the first floor at the bottom of the stairs at the west end of the building. Her apartment was only a few doors down the hall from that point. Mr. Ramirez also lived on the first floor, but closer to the center of the building. Dolores Waverly lived at the west end of the building, on the second floor at the top of the stairs where he found Ms. Felicio’s body. Mary Thomas lived on the third floor across from the elevator at the top of the center stairwell. Millicent Branch lived on the first floor near the center of the building. He noted each of these locations on his floor plan and continued to stare at it hoping that something would be revealed.
He was abruptly interrupted when the UPS delivery woman walked up to him. “I have a package for a Matthew Dudley and didn’t see anyone in the reception area. Can you tell me where I might find someone?”
“I can do better than that. I’m Matthew Dudley and I’ve been expecting you. Thank you.”
Dudley opened the package from Amazon with the two cables and started for the third floor to install them for Mr. Sandoval. Millicent Branch stopped Dudley in the hallway. “You know, she says, I’ve been thinking about Ms. Felicio and I believe she committed suicide by throwing herself down the stairs. She was never happy, always complaining about something. Or maybe one those young boys she is always inviting to her room did it. I’m certain it was not an accident; it was suicide or murder.”
“Thank you, as always, Mrs. Branch, for your most helpful suggestions. I’ll be sure to mention it to Lt. Garcia the next time I see him.”
Dudley opted to walk to the third floor instead of taking the elevator. As he reached the landing on the third floor, Dudley noticed damage to one of the wooden railing posts and black scuff marks on the floor tiles. Mary Thomas’ apartment was directly across from the landing and her door was ajar. Dudley knocked on the door and called out, “Mrs. Thomas, it’s Matthew Dudley. Is everything OK?”
There was no response and Dudley gently pushed the door open and looked inside. Mary was sitting in her wheelchair by the window and was sobbing heavily. As he neared, he heard her saying, “It’s my fault. It’s all my fault.”
“Mrs. Thomas. Are you OK? Can I get you something, a glass of water, perhaps? I didn’t mean to barge in on you, but your door was open and I was concerned.”
“No, no, I’m fine. Just leave me alone, please.”
Dudley noticed that Mary’s wheelchair appeared damaged with deep scratches on one armrest and abrasions on the main wheels. He also noticed two nearly empty wine glasses on the table and a broken chair.
“Mrs. Thomas, is there something you want to talk about? It is obvious that you are upset and I am here to listen.”
“I didn’t mean for her to die. I just wanted to teach that ungrateful bitch a lesson.”
“Mrs. Thomas, maybe you had better start from the beginning. Let me get you that glass of water. I think it will help.”
“I invited Carmine to my room for a glass of wine, telling her that I wanted to apologize for my nasty remarks. I put a large dose of muscle relaxant pills in her wine so she would feel what it is like to be numb from the waist down. I wanted to make it so that she couldn’t jog and appreciate how I feel trapped in this wheelchair. At the very least, I wanted some sympathy from Carmine. But I would not have been at all upset if Carmine fell and was severely injured so that she was confined to a wheelchair like me.”
“We had words, so Carmine gulped her wine and stood up to leave. She fell against that chair and broke its leg. She got up and staggered toward the door. At the top of the stairs Carmine lost her balance almost fell down the steps. I reached out to grab her, dragging my wheel chair to the edge, leaving skid marks on the tiles and damage to the wooden railing.”
“I feel guilty because the drugs I gave Carmine are somehow involved in her death. But, after I grabbed her, I sat there to make sure she made it down the stairs and started down the second floor hallway. As I turned to go back into my apartment, I saw Cesar Ramirez leaving an apartment and walking down the third floor hallway, toward the west stairs.”
“But, you are certain that Ms. Felicio was OK when she left here?”
“She was a bit wobbly, but OK. She must have been able to get all the way to the other end of the building. I feel so bad. At first, I really wanted to hurt her, but I just couldn’t do that to anyone.”
“Can you tell me which apartment you saw Mr. Ramirez came out of?” “It is just two or three doors down the hall. I believe it’s his buddy Sandoval’s place.”
“Mrs. Thomas, I don’t know how all this fits into Ms. Felicio’s death, but you understand that I will have to tell Lt. Garcia. He will no doubt ask you to repeat your story to him in detail.”
“I understand. Thank you, Mr. Dudley for listening to me. I just had to tell someone.”
Despite the fact that he was about to do something that was Lt. Garcia’s responsibility, Dudley realized that he had a perfect excuse to talk to Jorge Sandoval. Maybe Sandoval could explain why Ramirez was on the third floor and where he was going when he left.
Sandoval’s apartment was three doors to the west of Mary’s. Dudley planned to use the excuse of returning to fix the computer to inquire about Ramirez. Dudley knocked on the door and, after a few minutes, Sandoval opened it. It was apparent that Dudley had interrupted something.
Dudley was shocked by what he saw on Sandoval’s large screen TV. He glared at Sandoval and said, “I’m like that judge who said, “I don’t know the definition of pornography, but I’ll know it when I see it.” The images on your TV screen are certainly pornography. I thought your computer was inoperative.”
”It is. Look, my computer is over there on the desk and still does not work. This is my friend Cesar’s laptop that we connected to my TV.”
“Sure, the Devil made you do it? You know this use of the facility’s Internet connection is prohibited. So, before I report this to Isabella, perhaps you can tell me what’s really going on and how Mr. Ramirez is involved.”
“Señor Dudley, it is just therapy, really. Before you tell Isabella; please hear me out. My good friend Cesar was having some major “man-problems”. You see, he provides regular service to a number of ladies here at La Vida Aureo, but recently was unable to perform, if you know what I mean. So, I suggested that he watch some high quality pornography to, you know, put some “lead back in his pencil”. We were using his laptop because, as you know, my computer wasn’t working and this situation was desperate. Also, by using his laptop, I could mark some of the better websites for his future use.”
“That’s very admirable of you, Mr. Sandoval; you are a true gentleman and a friend! But, I have a few questions that might be of more benefit to Mr. Ramirez than what you’ve done so far.”
“Anything I can do to help.”
“First, when was he here with you?”
“He was here all day last Sunday. We watched the football game in the afternoon and then spent the evening watching various “therapy programs” until almost midnight.”
“And, he was here with you the entire time?”
“He went back to his apartment to get one of those flash drives, but he was only gone a few short minutes.”
“About what time was that?”
“I think it was after the football game, so late afternoon, early evening.”
“OK. And, I probably don’t really want to know this, but can you please tell me the names of Mr. Ramirez’s “regulars”.”
“Certainly. He sees Miss Waverly on Tuesday and Mrs. Flores on Friday, but I don’t know who he sees on Monday or Wednesday or Thursday. Quite a variety, if I say so myself. I understand that it was Mrs. Flores who was really upset with Cesar’s, how do you say it, inability to perform. She must have really yelled at him to make him so anxious to do something about his condition.”
“I’m sure Mrs. Flores would be most upset. Do you mean Dolores Waverly?’
“Si, si. She was the first, I believe.”
“Well, Mr. Sandoval, I must be going. I will think about whether I need to talk to Isabella, but suggest you be a bit more discreet with your viewing habits. I’d disconnect the big screen TV, for example.”
“Gracias, but, Señor Dudley, would you fix my computer before you go?”
“OK, that is the reason I came.”
Dudley was totally shocked to learn that Dolores Waverly was one of Ramirez’s “regulars” and even more that she was likely the first. That piece of information, plus the critical location of her apartment convinced him that he must talk to her immediately. She may have some critical pieces to the mystery surrounding Carmine Felicio’s death.
Dolores Waverly did not appear particularly eager to see Dudley when he knocked on her door. “Ms. Waverly, I think it would best for everyone if we talked. I believe you have some information about your friend Carmine’s death that you haven’t shared. You can talk with me, or I can ask Lt. Garcia to come to your apartment if you prefer.”
“I had nothing to do with her accident!”
“I’m not accusing you of anything, Ms. Waverly. I am just saying that I believe you have some information that could be helpful to understand exactly what happened.”
“OK, I’ll try.” She realized that she is much better off telling Dudley what she witnessed. Under the best of circumstances, she will be able to place the blame for Carmine’s death on Cesar and really get even with him.
“I was standing in the doorway of my apartment when I saw Carmine coming down the hallway. She must have been confused because her apartment is actually on the first floor. As she reached the end of the hallway, I saw Cesar coming down the stairs from the third floor. I knew then that Carmine wasn’t confused at all, but had arranged to meet Cesar and go to her apartment. At the top of the stairs, they had their arms around each other in an embrace. Then, I saw Cesar push Carmine, causing her to fall backward, head first down the stairs landing on her head. He walked down the stairs and I guess he realized that she wasn’t breathing and was probably dead. Then, he just took off down the hall.”
“Do you know if he saw you standing there at any time?”
“I doubt it, the two of them were so wrapped up in each other, I don’t think they would have noticed anything.”
“That is helpful, Ms. Waverly. Now, perhaps you could tell me about your relationship with Cesar Ramirez.
“There is no “relationship”, besides, that is really no concern of yours, Mr. Dudley.”
“I don’t mean to be indelicate, Miss Tuesday, but it really does pertain to this situation.”
Dolores was taken about by Dudley’s calling her “Miss Tuesday”, but realized that she must proceed carefully with what she reveals.”
“I ordered some “herbs” on the Internet to stop Ramirez from his rude behavior with women. I figured if he were rendered impotent, that might make him be more respectful.”
Dudley’s first thought was relief that Dolores had not indicated Paloma as the source of these “herbs”. “I understand, but, Miss Tuesday, personal jealousy could be another explanation for your wanting to make Mr. Ramirez impotent, couldn’t it?”
“OK, I totally freaked when I found out he had a string of women that he was seeing regularly and wanted to teach him a lesson. So, I also ordered “a ton of Viagra” from the same website. My plan was to make that bastard impotent with the women he saw on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday. Then, I would “load him up” with Viagra when he came here on Tuesday. That would make him think that I was the only one he could get it up with and he would stay away from those other women.”
“I understand how his actions could be very hurtful. Jealousy is a powerful emotion and can lead to dangerous behaviors. Are you certain that it is not jealousy that is influencing your version of events regarding Cesar and Carmine outside your apartment? Were you afraid that Cesar would replace you with her?”
“No, no no! He pushed her down the stairs. I’m sure of that.”
“I will leave you alone with your conscience for now, Miss Waverly. But, if after you reflect on things, you would like to talk some more, please call me.”