Case XIII: Chapter 5: News and Developments, Good and Bad

Chapter 5: News and Developments, Good and Bad

 

Matthew Dudley and Donald Orley went directly to Isabella Duncan’s office where she was meeting with Beth Ford.  “Please come in, gentlemen.  Beth and I were finished discussing the recent progress of the Community Assist Team and had begun talking about Saturday evening’s program at the Symphony.”

Dudley began.  “Isabella, we have something very serious to discuss and would like your advice about how best to proceed.”

“Certainly, Doc.  I assume this pertains to you, Mr. Orley.”

Orley began.  “It is critical, Mrs. Duncan, you believe me when I say these allegations are completely false.  I was totally blind-sided to receive them and am at a complete loss as what to do. I am certain I need a competent lawyer and Doc suggested you may be able to help.  I’m sorry.  I’ve gotten way ahead of myself.  Let me start over and tell you what has happened.”

Orley took a deep breath and started over.  When he finished summarizing the situation, he again professed his innocence.

“I will take you at your word, Mr. Orley”, said Isabella. “Let me talk to my husband this evening and ask him to recommend someone.  I will also talk to Señora Mercedes Santiago who represents La Vida Aureo whenever necessary. I’ll try to have someone contact you directly as soon as possible.”

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

“Mr. Orley, I assume there is a lawyer involved who is representing your daughter.  It might help if I knew his or her name.”

“That makes sense.  I think there was some sort of letter in the envelope with a name on it.  Here it is.  It says that I should contact a Mr. George Heck if I want to negotiate or just settle the case out of court.  There are two addresses and phone numbers, one in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe.  Does that help?”

Isabella struggled to maintain a straight face.  “I’m sure Señora Santiago or my husband will be able to help.  Try to relax, Mr. Orley, and I’ll have more information for you in the morning.”

 

The two men left Isabella’s office.  As they walked together, Orley turned to Dudley.  “Can we talk a bit more?  There is some more information I’d like to share with you if you don’t mind.”

“No problem.  Let’s go to the Dining Room.  We can sit at a table in the back and talk without interruption.”

“I must apologize, Doc. I was rather vague earlier when I said my younger daughter was in Santa Fe or Taos. In fact, she’s been in a Residential Care Facility for the past year.  She had been experiencing what I would call “emotional problems” and I really didn’t know what else to do. At first, I hoped she would grow out of a rebellious teenage period but things got worse each year.  She couldn’t hold a job and got into a series of minor incidents with the police, including several involving substance abuse.  My wife Carlotta had died years earlier and I was unable to handle the situation on my own.  I tried various options with varying degrees of success.  For a while, it seemed like she had gotten hold of herself and was making progress.  Then, about a year ago, she had a complete melt down and I was forced to place her in a residential facility where I felt she would be safe. Initially, things seemed to be improving, but she has refused to have anything to do with me for the last several months.  She refuses to even see me.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Don.  Do you have any idea why she would suddenly make these claims about your past behavior?”

“No.  I am at a complete loss to explain it. I believe I told you that I spent my entire career as a mining engineer.  Unfortunately, I was gone away from home a great deal of the time, travelling to copper mines all over the world. My two daughters reacted quite differently to my periods of long absence.  My older daughter, Melanie, thought it was all very exciting and was eager to learn about what I had done with each new assignment.  Esme, by contrast, was convinced that I had abandoned her.  I can understand it had a much greater effect on her because she was younger.  My wife was in the early stages of her battle with cancer and Esme blamed me for that as well. I tried to talk with her, but she grew increasingly angry and withdrawn.  I hoped settling in Albuquerque would provide some stability and, for a while, it did.  Things took a dramatic turn for the worse when Esme started running with the wrong crowd in high school.  My wife died soon thereafter and things collapsed entirely.”

“I assume you have tried to get her professional help.”

“Many times.”

“What about your other daughter?  What’s been her reaction to all of this over the years?”

“At first, Melanie tried to help.  I know she spent a lot of time with Esme, trying to explain things, particularly about my absences, but grew more frustrated.  After she got married and started a family of her own, she moved to Arizona and distanced herself from Esme.  We’ve talked about the situation many times and I know she loves her sister, but is at a loss as to how to help.”

“Well, it seems like the most pressing issue is to deal with these new allegations and try to get it resolved.  Then, I believe it would be worth talking to Isabella to see if she can offer any suggestions for additional support for you and your daughter.”

“I’m overwhelmed at the moment, Doc, but that would be a great help. At this point, I would consider anything that would benefit Esme.”

“There is one thing that strikes me as particularly odd about these allegations.  Where did the $10 million come from?  It sounds like some lawyer just pulled that number out of thin air, or some other place!”

Orley smiled for the first time in several hours.  “Actually, Doc, there’s a basis for it.  Let me tell you a very interesting story.”

“Years ago, back in the 1970s, I was doing quite a bit of work in Silver City.  At the time, there were several large copper mines there.  In fact, the Santa Rita Mine is still operating.  I was staying in Albuquerque for extended periods at a motel on Central Avenue.  There was also a group of young people staying in an adjacent unit.  They weren’t rowdy, but I could often hear them talking late into the night.  Over a period of weeks, we would exchange simple greetings as we came and went.  I was sitting outside my room one evening reading and enjoying the sunset when I overheard them talking.  Apparently, their leader had gotten into some minor trouble with the police, some sort of traffic violation, I think.  Anyway, they had decided to leave Albuquerque, but didn’t have enough money between them to do so.  They seemed like a nice group of kids and I thought I could help.  I offered to lend them gas money or bus fare if they promised to repay me once they got home and settled.”

“That was a very charitable gesture on your part, Don.  Did you ever see your money again?”

“Well, Doc, you have to remember that gas was cheap and Greyhound bus fare wasn’t all that much in those days.  And yes, I got a nice letter and a check in the mail a few weeks later. They all made it to Washington, someplace near Seattle, I think.”

“That’s a great story, Don.”

“Oh, it gets much better.  Almost a year later, I got another letter, this time by Registered Mail.  In it was an official-looking letter granting me shares of stock in the company Bill Gates and the other young people had formed. So, those few hundred shares of Microsoft have split almost three hundred times since then and are worth quite a considerable amount today!”

“Wow!  That restores my faith in humanity.  A simple act of generosity has been repaid, literally, many times over.  Good for you, Don.”

“But, now everything is at risk with the crazy allegations.”

“I’m sure everything will work out.  You have some great people on your side.”

“Thanks, Doc.  I think I’d just like to be alone for a while.  I’m eager to hear back from Mrs. Duncan.”

 

Dudley left Don Orley sitting in the Dining Room and nodded to Paloma Angostura as he walked toward to Main Lobby.  Her expression told him that she understood Orley was to be left alone and she would insure his privacy.

As he walked toward the Navajo Willow at the eastern end of the La Vida Aueo compound, he noticed Arnetta Valencia coming from the Visitors Parking Lot.  “Good afternoon, Arnetta.  I hadn’t expected to see you again so soon after the meeting this morning.”

“Good afternoon to you as well, Mr. Dudley.  I’ve spent the past few hours with Ray Little Feather. He wanted my input about starting some classes as part of his youth counseling program.  The abuse of women is a major problem in his community and he wants to try to work with the younger men to reduce the incidence and severity of the situation. He sees the focus as another aspect of respect and we were discussing ways to get that message across.”

“That is good news, Arnetta. I have the greatest admiration for Ray and what he’s trying to accomplish   I know you have considerable experience in that area and I’m sure he values your input.”

“Thank you for those kind words, Mr. Dudley. I hope you have a pleasant afternoon.”

“Arnetta, before you go.  I may want to talk with you in some detail about the subject of abuse, specifically between a father and daughter.  May I call you?”

“Certainly.  That is a most troubling subject and I would be glad to share my thoughts with you.  Just call anytime.”

“Thank you, Arnetta.  Take care.”

 

As Dudley approached the Navajo Willow, his phone vibrated.  He really wanted time to be alone and think about Don Orley, but he was technically still “on duty”.

“Doc, it’s Hannah. How are you?”

“Fine, Hannah.  Haven’t talked to you in a while.  I assume this is a social call or have you found a house for me to buy?”

“Doc, you know Isabella would have my head if I tried to get you to leave La Vida Aureo.  No. this is serious, or at least I think so.”

“OK.  What’s up?”

I was walking through the Plaza earlier this afternoon and noticed a gathering.  I usually try to avoid crowds, but I couldn’t help overhearing some of what was being said.  I don’t want to say any more before I check out a few things, but can you and Isabella meet me for lunch here in Santa Fe tomorrow?”

“That sounds pretty ominous, Hannah, even for you.  Can you at least give me a clue so I can convince Isabella to leave the office?  I don’t know her schedule, but I know she at least one thing planned for the morning.”

“What I heard could impact La Vida Aureo, not only its reputation, but potentially financially.  At this point, I can only tell you that the name Donald Orley was mentioned several times and not in a positive light. Further, I assume he is a Resident from the context of what was said.”

“You are correct.  I’ll talk to Isabella and we’ll drive to Santa Fe in the morning.”

“Meet me at noon at La Fonda.  I’ll buy lunch

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