Case XIII: Chapter 6: A Day in The City Different

Chapter 6: A Day in The City Different

Isabella Duncan found Don Orley sitting a small table toward to back of the Dining Room. Matthew Dudley approached the table at about the same time carrying two fresh cups of coffee.

“I hoped I would find the two of you together and I was correct to assume it would be here.  I got your text message last evening, Doc and we can talk about that in a minute.  First, I want to talk to Mr. Orley.”

“Mr. Orley, Señora Mercedes Santiago will be here at 10 o’clock to talk to you about the allegations you received.  She comes highly recommended and has considerable experience in similar matters.  It is obviously your decision, but I strongly suggest you seriously consider allowing her to represent you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Duncan.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support. Thank you.”

 

Isabella then motioned to Dudley to follow her.

When they had walked a short distance, she turned to face him.  “So, I got your somewhat cryptic message.  Can you tell me a bit more about what’s on Hannah’s mind before we drive all the way to Santa Fe?’

“I apologize, Isabella.  I’m still getting used to sending text messages.  Hannah wouldn’t tell me much more except that she had information about something that could potentially harm La Vida Aureo.  I believe it has to do with Mr. Orley, but I’m just inferring that from her brief comments.”

“Well, Doc, we both have a high level of confidence in Hannah’s judgment and I haven’t had lunch at La Fonda in a while.  What do you say we drive to Santa Fe and see what this is all about?”

 

Hannah Halverstrom was sitting in a quiet corner of the main dining room at La Fonda and rose to greet Isabella and Dudley.  “It is nice to see you both.  I suggest we order some lunch before I get to my reason for dragging you here.”

They ordered a light lunch and only picked at the food.  Isabella spoke.  “OK, Hannah, what is going on? I know you well enough to realize that it is something serious. What have you heard that could affect La Vida Aureo?”

“Hannah put down her for next to her own half-eaten salad. “Let me start at the beginning.  I was walking through the Plaza yesterday and came across what I soon realized was a press conference.  I recognized the speaker because his picture is plastered on billboards all over town and along the Interstate. I know you would both recognize George Heck, one of New Mexico’s favorite ambulance chasers.”

“Not the creepy little guy with the TV commercials?  Not the one who says, “In a wreck, Call George Heck.”   And “DUI, I’m your Guy!”?”

“The very same.  Normally, I would just cover my ears keep walking as fast as I can.  But, there was a woman with him and I heard him mention “some fancy retirement place in Albuquerque that harbors child molesters”. I stopped and moved closer to see what he was ranting on about.”

“Heck introduced the woman as Dr. Judith Ruehle, the renowned counselor and therapist.  He said the two of them had been working together to uncover cases of sexual abuse, particularly those involving fathers with underage daughters. He went on to claim that he had recently filed papers to bring a specific person to justice in the very near future.   He took a question from someone in the crowd. I’m assuming it was a reporter, but it could just as easily been one of the shills on his payroll, asking for Heck to name the alleged perpetrator and the location in Albuquerque.”

“I’m not a lawyer, but that would seem highly unethical to me,” claimed Isabella.

“Oh, it is, but consider the source.  That’s when I realized I needed to talk to you as soon as possible.  There is no doubt in my mind this will be in the Albuquerque Journal and probably on all of the local TV stations within a few days.”

“I doubt there is much we can do to stop Heck.  Donald Orley is one of our Residents and he is the person accused of sexually abusing his daughter.  My gut feeling is that he is innocent and I helped him get legal representation, but I don’t know what else we can do.”

“I might be able to help.  I was able to gather quite a bit of information about Dr. Ruehle which I believe would be helpful.  Through my real estate activities, I have a great many friends in the local GLTB community and many of them have had direct experience with her.”

“I’m not the most politically correct person, said Dudley, but isn’t it LGBTQ?”

Hannah laughed.  “Sorry.  I learned my version of the term from the people I worked with at Rainbow Vision and the Birds of a Feather community near Pecos.  They refer to themselves as GLTB, Gay and Lesbian Trust Fund Babies.  Many in the gay community have been ostracized by their families and are essentially forbidden to ever return.  So, the family sets up a Trust Fund as a way to buy them off and encourage them to “just go away”.”

“Really?” said Dudley.

“You would not believe some of the stories I’ve heard over the years.  But, back to Judith Ruehle. She has quite a reputation.  For a long time, she was based in one of those Earth Ship homes near Taos where she advocated a “Pray Away the Gay” program.  She convinced parents to send their young children to her for an extended period where she promised to re-program them to lose all of their “impure thoughts” about their sexuality.  At first, it was just psychological stuff like prolonged period of praying and some attempts at hypnosis. Later, she got hooked up with some people who introduced her to psychotropic drugs to enhance her effectiveness.  Some of the folks I know tell horror stories about their experience with her.  Fortunately, the local gay community is very supportive and has helped a number of Ruehle’s former “patients” recover and lead a productive and guilt-free life.”

“Do you think this woman has been involved with Orley’s daughter?”

“I don’t have any proof of that specific case, Doc, but my understanding is she often works to recreate or reconstruct memories as part of her “therapy”. Friends have told me that a typical Ruehle program involves creating some form of trauma in the person’s memory and then working to “cure” them.”

“Do you think it is possible that Heck and Ruehle have concocted a scheme to take vulnerable people and reconstruct memories to serve as the basis for suing people?”

“It might be a lot more lucrative than just chasing ambulances!”

 

Isabella had been quiet, listening intently to Hannah’s description.  “Hannah, thank you so much for alerting us to this situation.  Doc and I must get back to Albuquerque as quickly as possible.  There are certainly things we can do to support Mr. Orley, but my first responsibility is to La Vida Aureo.  I believe I need to develop some form of communication focusing on damage control.”

“You both mean so very much to me and I will continue to dig around for more information.  I will go back to my friends and ask if any of them would be willing to serve as witnesses regarding Ruehle’s behavior and her so-called therapy programs.”

“Thanks again, Hannah.  C’mon Doc, we need to go.”

 

Isabella Duncan was deep in thought as they sped south on I-25 toward Albuquerque.   She looked over at Dudley. “Doc, I’ll need to meet with La Doña Jaramillo as soon as possible and advise her of the situation.  I’m sure she’ll have some suggestions and may be able to exert some influence to keep this from exploding all over the media.  We also need to meet with Señora Santiago.  I’m certain Orley accepted her offer to represent him and we need to get her in contact with Hannah.”

“What can I do to help, Isabella?”

“I’ve been thinking, Doc.  I believe Orley’s daughter went to high school in Albuquerque.  If so, I suspect there are several women on our Staff who were contemporaries or maybe even friends. The same goes for the Community Assist Team. Talk to them and see what you can learn.  Someone may be able to shed some light on Ms. Orley.”

“I can do that, Isabella. We’re almost in Bernalillo and you might want to ease up on the gas pedal a bit before we get into Albuquerque proper.”

 

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