Chapter 8: Always Something New in Nob Hill
Dudley and Janetta drove to the Nob Hill area where she was able to find a parking spot on a side street. They had agreed to just walk around for a while. Dudley was always fascinated by the variety of shops located along Central Avenue; there seemed to be something for any possible interest or desire. Only a few of them were of personal interest to Dudley, but the uniqueness of Nob Hill was helpful to his state of mind.
They had walked along hand in hand for almost an hour without speaking. As they approached the western edge of the Nob Hill area, they crossed Girard Boulevard and were nearing the University of New Mexico campus and Johnson Field. The Field was a popular place for games and various physical activities, but was relatively quiet this evening.
Dudley noticed a person wandering across the field with no apparent direction. This person appeared to be a woman who was drunk or otherwise under the influence because of the erratic behavior. The woman turned and began walking toward the sidewalk where Dudley and Janetta stood.
Janetta grabbed Dudley’s are. “Matthew, Oh my God. That looks like Esme Orley! We should do something”
As they approached the woman, she collapsed onto the ground, mumbling, “He’s here. I know it. I have to find him. I know this is the place.”
Janetta knelt down and put her arms around the woman. “It’s OK, Esme. You’re safe. Let me help you.”
There was no response from the woman. She started rocking back and forth and continued to mumble, but so incoherently Janetta couldn’t understand.
“Matthew, please get my car. We can take Esme to my place. She’ll be safe there until we can figure out what’s going on.”
“I can do that, but should we call an ambulance or the police?”
“I believe the best thing we can do for right now is get her off the street.”
“I agree. I’ll be back as quickly as possible.”
Dudley and Janetta got Esme Orley safely to Janetta’s condo and put her on the couch and covered her with a large comforter blanket. Janetta made some herbal tea and was able to get Esme to drink a bit of it.
“She seems to have calmed down a bit. Let’s get her into my guest bedroom and see if she can sleep.”
Dudley sat in the large easy chair in the living room and Janetta took the small chair in the guest bedroom. Esme slept fitfully and woke several times during the night, calling out.
Dudley had dozed off and was startled when his phone began buzzing. He looked at the time and it was 9 o’clock in the morning. It was a text message from Isabella Duncan, “Where are you? Are you OK? Please call me ASAP.”
Dudley got out of the chair and walked to the bedroom. Janetta was barely awake, but it appeared that Esme was sleeping soundly.
“What is it, Matthew? I thought I heard some buzzing. Was that your phone?”
“Yes. Isabella is looking for me. I’m going to step outside and call her. Are you sure you’ll be OK?”
Dudley stepped outside to call Isabella, but his phone buzzed again before he could place the call. Hannah Halverstrom was calling. “Doc, I know it’s early but I have some important news. A friend of mine told me Dr. Ruehle and George Heck took Esme Orley to Albuquerque yesterday and were keeping her in a hotel downtown. They’ve scheduled another press conference for later this morning. I don’t know what they’re planning, but I thought you should be aware of their plans.”
“Thank for the call, Hannah. I don’t know if I should tell you this, but I believe Esme somehow managed to escape and was wandering the near the University last evening. I was walking near there and saw her. Right now, Esme is with a friend of mine, safe and sound. I’m not sure exactly what to do next. I was about to call Isabella when you called.”
“That’s good news, Doc. I’ve learned a lot more about Dr. Ruehle’s so-called therapies and it seems as though she relies very heavily on a variety of mind-altering drugs. I suspect they had Esme pretty well out-of-it to be able to transport her to Albuquerque. I can’t imagine what role she could play in a press conference except to just sit there. Well, whatever you do, keep her away from those crazy people.”
“Right! Gotta go; it’s Isabella again.”
“Isabella. I know you’re looking for me. Let me explain. I was walking near the University last evening and discovered Esme Orley wandering in Johnson Field. I suspect she had been drugged because she was really out of it. Anyway, we took her to Janetta Johari’s place to get her off the street before anyone came looking for her. Right now, she’s just resting and we’re trying to allow her to recover from whatever she’s been given. Our major concern is that she remain safe.”
“Well, you can imagine that Paloma and I were worried when you weren’t in the Dining Room this morning. Paloma thought you might have stayed at Janetta’s, but I guess I didn’t realize your relationship had gone that far. But, that’s a discussion for later. What about Esme?”
“She’s OK, but I don’t know the extent of any drugs she’s been given. Hannah just called to say that drugs were a routine part of Dr. Ruehle’s program. Anyway, she also told me that Heck and Ruehle brought Esme to Albuquerque to hold another press conference. So, given that, they may alert the police to start looking for her.”
“How do you suggest we proceed from here? We’re on slippery grounds, you realize.”
Dudley thought a minute. “My main concern is for Esme’s health and safety. Would you please ask Mary Watson, La Vida Aureo’s Staff Nurse to come to Janetta’s? I’d feel better if I knew that Esme was OK and recovering adequately and Mary could at least give us some assurance. I don’t know what Heck might try in order to locate Esme. I doubt he has a positive relationship with the Police, but I don’t know and I’m hesitant to get them involved at this point. Would you also talk to Señora Santiago as soon as possible and bring her up to speed?”
“OK. I call Mary as soon as we hang up. Should I ask Ms. Santiago to do anything? She met with Mr. Orley the other day and I haven’t talked to ether of them since. What does this have to do with Esme?”
“I’ve been rolling all of these pieces around in my head and I have a strong suspicion that somehow Esme’s memories have been manipulated so she believes her father abused her. It is probable that Esme was, in fact, abused, but NOT by her father. It is more likely it was some boy back in high school, but I don’t have any way to prove this. If my suspicions are correct, then Heck and Ruehle are working together in some sort of fraud and extortion scam. Ms. Santiago needs to tell us how to expose this so that case against poor Don Orley gets thrown out.”
“OK, Doc, but we need to proceed carefully.”
Dudley went back inside. Janetta had come to the kitchen and was making a fresh pot of coffee. “Are you, OK, Janetta? I know this has been a terrible shock and I doubt you got much sleep last night. How are you holding up?”
“I’m a bit tired, Matthew, but doing OK, considering. Esme is asleep and seems to be resting more peacefully than last night. She really appeared out of it when we found her and I have no idea what she’s been through. I suspect it will take several days for her to regain any sense of normalcy. How are you doing? I guess my easy chair is not nearly as comfortable as your own bed.”
Dudley blushed. “I’m not doing too bad, considering. That was Isabella on the phone wanting to know where I was. I told her I was with you and that we rescued Esme Orley last night. Fortunately, I think she was so interested in Esme she didn’t ask about my being in your place. I’m sure that will come later. More importantly, Mary Watson, the La Vida Aureo Staff Nurse will be by later to check Esme out, at least her vital signs. Our first priority is her health. I also got a call from Hannah Halverstrom. She’s a friend who checked out the background on Dr. Ruehle, Esme’s so-called therapist. She said that Ruehle and George Heck brought Esme to Albuquerque and were planning another press conference. I don’t know how, but I assume somehow Esme managed to escape from them. I believe the safest thing to do would be to keep her here, at least until we have more information.”
“I agree and that won’t be a problem. I’ll text my boss and let him know I won’t be in today. We can go on a day-to-day basis for a while.”
“That would be great. I hope it’s not too much of an imposition.”
“C’mon, Matthew, I’ve been trying to get you to spend the night here for some time!”
“Uh, OK, Um, Is the coffee ready?”
“Sure. Do you have any idea why Esme found her way to Johnson Field? It sounded like she was looking for something or someone, but, she was pretty incoherent and maybe that’s not what I heard.”
“No idea. Hopefully, she’ll recover and can tell us a bit more.”
Mary Watson arrived while Dudley was finishing his second cup of coffee. She quietly followed Janetta into the guest bedroom where Esme was stirring.
“Esme. It’s Janetta. Janetta Johari. You are safe. You’re at my place and have had a pretty rough night. This is my friend Mary. She’s a nurse and she’s going to check you out a bit. Is that OK?”
Esme drew back against the headboard, her eyes open wide. “Janetta? JJ? From high school? How did I get here?”
“Don’t worry, Esme. The important thing is that you’re safe. No one knows you’re here. Just relax and let Mary have a look at you, please.”
Esme drew back further. “No pills! No needles! Stay away from me!”
Mary Wilson had considerable experience dealing with the older Residents at La Vida Aureo, some of whom could be quite cantankerous and difficult to work with. She approached the bed quietly. “I just want to take your pulse and temperature. Would it be OK if I held your arm and touched your wrist?”
Esme replied warily. “OK, but no funny stuff. I’ll scream.”
Mary gently took Esme’s arm and felt for her pulse. She then placed a thermometer in Esme’s mouth to take her body temperature. All of that went without incident. “May I put this wrap around your arm so I can take your blood pressure?”
Esme hesitated but finally consented.
“You will feel a squeeze as I pump up the arm band. Nothing to worry about. Then, I’ll decrease the pressure. I’ll be here with you the whole time. OK, here we go.”
Things were going smoothly and Esme seemed to be comfortable with Mary. Mary asked if she could listen to Esme’s heart and her breathing with the stethoscope.
“Thank you, Esme. I appreciate your letting me check your vital signs. I can tell you that you’re OK, but it wouldn’t hurt for you to get some more fluids and more rest.”
Mary turned to Janetta who was sitting quietly in the corner. “I’m glad you called, Janetta. You heard me tell Esme that she could use more fluids and rest. Can we look in your pantry and see what’s available? I may be able to make some suggestions to help get her strength back.”
Janetta and Mary left the bedroom. Esme slid back under the covers and began breathing evenly.
In the kitchen, Mary turned to Janetta. “I don’t know all she’s been through, but I suspect it has been an ordeal. I can understand her reaction to needles; her arms show she’s had multiple injections. She’s weak, but I don’t see any permanent damage, at least no physical damage. My recommendation is to keep her quiet and continue to reinforce the fact that she is safe. It would be best she see only you and Mr. Dudley for a while. Let her rest and try to get as much food in her as possible. If you need anything, you know where to find me.”
“Thank you so much, Mary. I agree she’s probably been through quite a bit. Hopefully, with some rest, she’ll feel like talking with me.”
After Mary left, Janetta looked in on Esme. Esme had worked her way deeper into the covers and was sleeping soundly. Janetta closed the bedroom door but left it slightly ajar in case Esme started stirring. Janetta made herself a cup of tea and sat in the living room. Her phone buzzed and she was pleased to see that it Dudley calling.
“Matthew, how are you? I hope Isabella wasn’t too upset with you for staying out all night. I’m teasing. What did you learn? “
“Oh, she wasn’t upset at all, but she couldn’t resist making suggestive remarks about how I had spent last night. Anyway, there are several things I want to tell you. Isabela and I met with Señora Santiago and I feel much better about Don Orley’s prospects. Ms. Santiago had one of the investigators in her firm do some serious digging into Dr. Ruehle’s background and counseling activities. And, there’s already plenty of dirt surrounding George Heck. It will still come down to a situation of “He said, she said” concerning the claims made against Orley. I suggested she get hold of Hannah Halverstrom for her contacts in the Santa Fe community. It is becoming more obvious this entire situation is about extortion. The fact that Heck has held press conferences complicates things a bit which will have to be dealt with at some point.”
“Oh, I almost forgot. I told her I found Esme Orley near the University and that she was safe somewhere locally. Ms. Santiago saw that as really good news. If it turns out that Esme deliberately escaped, it is a further indication she was being held captive. We haven’t told Don Orley we have Esme. Another piece of good news is that his other daughter, Melanie, is driving to Albuquerque from Arizona and she can be a character witness for Don if things ever go that far. In the meantime, it is comforting to him for her to be here. I think that’s about everything from here. How are you? How is Esme?”
“Everything here is fine. Thank you for sending Mary Watson. She checked Esme over and she’s in pretty good condition, despite whatever she’s been through. When will I see you?”
“I have one or two small projects to do here and then I’ll walk over. I can watch things and you can get some well-deserved rest. I should be there in about an hour.”
“Don’t forget your toothbrush, Matthew!”