Case XIII: Chapter 9: The Incident

Chapter 9: The Incident

Things were relatively quiet for the next two days.  Dudley and Janetta took turns sitting in the Living Room and listening for any change in Esme’s condition or behavior. Dudley managed to get back to La Vida Aureo for a few hours each day to address any major maintenance or repair issues.  Janetta managed to gain Esme’s confidence and introduced Dudley.  Esme gradually began to eat solid food and her overall condition improved and she gained strength.  Mercedes Santiago had contacts within the Albuquerque Police and there had been no indication that George Heck had tried to locate Esme.

Late in the afternoon of the third day, Dudley and Janetta were reviewing Esme’s progress while she was taking a shower. “At some point, Janetta, we need to tell Esme about the allegations made on her behalf against her Father.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Don Orley and his daughter Melanie.  I asked Melanie if she could think of anything in Esme’s past that provide a clue regarding her recent behavior. She is a few years older and they were not very close.  She said Esme always took their father’s absences personally and thought it was an indication that he didn’t love her. Melanie said she remembered trying to get Esme to stop hanging around with a particular gang of girls in high school, but Esme told her to mind her own business. It was shortly after this that Esme came home late one night looking like she’d been in a fight; she was scratched and her clothes were torn.  Despite Melanie’s repeated efforts, Esme refused to talk about it.”

“What do you think about that story?  Do you believe Melanie’s description of a fight is correct?”

“It certainly could have been a fight, given what you’ve told me about that particular gang of girls. But the more I think about her situation, I am convinced that she was sexually abused at some point and her memories of this incident have been twisted so she blames her Father.  The situation Melanie described could actually be that incident.  Only Esme knows for sure.”

That evening, Esme came into the Living Room and politely asked for a cup of tea.  She sat down on the sofa across from Dudley.  Janetta returned in a few minutes with the tea and sat the cup on the coffee table.  Esme looked up.  “Thank you for the tea, JJ and for all you’ve done for me these past few days.  Please sit here next to me.”

Janetta let Esme enjoy the first sips of tea and allowed the quietness to persist.  She took Esme’s hands in hers.  “Esme, there are some things you need to be aware of, but it probably makes more sense for you to tell us about the therapist, Dr. Ruehle, and how she came into your life.”

“I was staying at the Canyon Road Center in Santa Fe, actually a very fancy rehab place.  I don’t know how he swung it, but my Father got me in there.  Thera are lots of rehab places in New Mexico and many of them are just as bad as being on the street.  I don’t know how or why, but my Father had tolerated years of my reckless behavior.  I was convinced for many years that my Father didn’t love me because he was gone so much when I was young.  I blamed my distorted view of life on him. Anyway, after a few weeks at the Canyon Road place, I began to realize that he really loved me and had worked his ass off to provide for our family.  It was just the nature of his job and he was good at it and so he went where the work was.”

“One day, a woman came up to me in the courtyard and started talking.  She told me of some new techniques that would help me stay clean and sober for the rest of my life.  I told her I thought I was making progress were I was and would be hesitant to start something new. She persisted and I finally gave in. I don’t know how, but she arranged for me to be transferred to her facility in Taos in one of those fancy Earth Ship places.  She began with what she described as “deep hypnosis aided by brain stimulants”.  I would get an injection and then put in a deep trance.  She said it was necessary to go deep into my memory and discover all the traumas of my life which were responsible for my relapses.  These would then be erased and I would be able to remain clean and sober.”

“That sounds pretty intense to me and a bit scary.”

“Well, JJ, I really don’t remember very much about it.  In fact, I really don’t remember much about the time I spent in Taos. I vaguely remember being led around a house or someplace where I stayed.  I remember being in a car or van and driving for a long time.  I remember something about walking around in a field.”

“OK, Esme.  It’s time for some serious talk.  Matthew and I are here to help you.  We are pretty sure that this Ruehle woman kept you drugged and hypnotized you for several months.  During that time, she really messed with your mind. We believe she manipulated your memories of some important and probably traumatic events.  It would be helpful if there is something you could tell us.  Was there ever anything your Father did of an inappropriate nature?”

“You mean like did he ever try to touch me or anything like that?”

“Or worse?

“Of course not!  I may have been angry with him for a very long time, but he never did anything to me.  He never even paddled me when I was a little girl, despite some of the stupid stunts I pulled. Why would you even ask me that?”

“We’ll come to that in a minute,” said Dudley. “Was there ever a situation of a sexual nature by someone else?  I know this is difficult, Esme, but trust me, it is very important.  We need to tell you what has happened so you’ll understand why we’re asking these difficult questions.”

Esme drew her legs under her on the sofa.  The look on her face indicated fear and defensiveness.

Janetta moved closer and put an arm around Esme’s shoulder,

Dudley took a deep breath. “Dr. Ruehle and her partner, a very disreputable lawyer, have filed a law suit claiming your Father sexually abused you as a young person and they are seeking considerable financial compensation.  They intend to hold you up as a witness and you will say their claim is true.”

“Well, that’s simply not true.  I would never do such a thing to my Father.”

“Miss Orley, there have been other cases where this has happened.  Usually, the accused person agrees to settle the matter before it can go to a public trial.  Dr. Ruehle and her lawyer partner have been working this scam for a while; you are just the latest example. That’s why we’re asking your help.”

“It appears Dr. Ruehle has been conditioning you for this through drugs and hypnosis.  We can only assume there is some traumatic sexual event in your memories Ruehle was able to tap into to create this fraudulent case against your father.  Can you think of something?

“I realize now that I was being held captive and they were using me.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the two of you rescuing me.”

“In reality, Esme, you had already escaped from them.  We found you wandering around Johnson Field and brought you here.”

“No matter, JJ, They would have eventually found me.”

“You are safe now, Esme. When we first found you, you were saying something about a boy.  You said you were looking for him near the athletic field. Was there some boy who hurt you? Maybe when you were in high school?”

“No. I hurt a boy.”

“Did those girls in that gang, what were they called? Las Cabeza y Colitas, or something like that have anything to do with it?”

“Oh, JJ, I’ve never told anyone about this, even my sister and certainly no one else. It was so terrible.  I didn’t mean for him to die.”

“Esme, we are here for you.  It would help if you got the whole story out once and for all.”

Esme relaxed a bit and took a deep breath.  “In high school, I started hanging out with a group of girls so I would feel part of something.  They told me I could be part of their group, but first I had to undergo some kind of initiation. I had to seduce and humiliate an Anglo boy to prove I was truly Hispanic and belonged with these girls. I picked out a shy boy named Ronnie who was a year younger and lured him onto the football field one night. When he realized what I was trying to do, he panicked and ran away.  To save face, I told the other girls the boy couldn’t perform because of his tiny penis.  They began teasing him and would whisper pequeño pene or simply “PP” when they walked past him.  The taunting became so intense, the boy eventually committed suicide by hanging himself in the stadium near where I tried to seduce him.”

“Oh, Esme, that’s terrible. You can’t blame yourself for that.”

“But, a lot of other people did. What I didn’t realize was that Ronnie was a favorite of the Anglo boys on the football team.  He would help them with their homework and often ghost write papers for them. When these boys figured out the events leading to his suicide, they sought revenge.  They grabbed me one afternoon and locked me in a storage room near the stadium. They returned that evening and took me to the very spot of the botched seduction where they repeatedly raped me.”

Dudley gasped.  “What happened?  What did the school do?”

“Nothing!  The boys on the football team were pretty much exempt from any type of discipline and were able to do pretty much as they pleased. No one ever talked about it openly but there were some rumors circulating throughout the school.”

“Are you certain it was boy from the football team? “

“I’m certain even though they wore ski masks.  One said, “This is for Ron.” Several called me half-breed.  To make sure I knew who had raped me, they continued to call me that afterward and put a sign in my locker so I wouldn’t forget.”

“Oh, Esme, I suspect Ruehle was able to manipulate your memory of the boy Ron into your father Don as well as twisting the entire sequence of events. I’m not a psychiatrist, but keeping those traumatic events bottled up inside you for so long must have been difficult.”

“Not if you can get enough stuff to numb yourself!  That’s how I spent most of my life since then.  Everyone avoided me and I had to learn to survive on my own.”

“Was there nowhere you could turn? No one offered to help?

“Not really. I’ve been with numerous counselors over the years in a bunch of rehab programs, but they all seemed to find a way to blame me for what happened. No one ever showed me as much love and understanding as the two of you.  Thank you.”

The three of them sat quietly for a few minutes, each absorbing all that had happened in their own way.  Finally, Dudley spoke up. “Esme, you are very brave; it took a great deal of courage to describe all that has happened.  I’m not exactly sure what the next steps should be, but I think talking to Mercedes Santiago makes the most sense.  Let me call Isabella and arrange that.  Esme, your Sister drove here the other day and is staying with your Father at La Vida Aureo.  Do you feel up to meeting with them?”

“Not quite yet.  I miss them both terribly, but would like to spend another day or two here and get stronger.  I also want to make sure we can resolve this issue concerning my Father and exactly what role I need to play.”

“That makes sense.  If it’s OK with Janetta”

“It shouldn’t be a problem for me at work. I imagine the safest thing is for us to stay inside.  I don’t know what George Heck has done and I don’t want to risk having Esme spotted on the street by the Police.”

“I would really appreciate that, JJ.  I’d like to hear what you’ve been up to since high school.  I imagine you have a great career by now.”


Dudley excused himself, saying there were some relatively urgent repairs he needed to attend to at La Vida Aureo.  He was confident that Esme would be in good hands and would remain safe at Janetta’s place.  He agreed with the idea of her taking a few more days to gather herself.  After all, she had only recently escaped from Ruehle’s clutches and bogus therapy.  Dudley realized the most important thing he could do was to meet with Isabella and Mercedes Santiago and develop a strategy for moving forward. He was hopeful Señora Santiago could have the charges against Don Orley dismissed quickly and without a trial or hearing. He would press to have Esme protected from any lengthy legal maneuverings and avoid having to repeat her story in a public setting.



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