“Did you hear me?” The nurse asked. “You must take your medication.” Doris had heard the conversation between the nurse and the director of the nursing home and knew they planned to use her to get money from her supposed daughter. They also said they intended to give her some sort of new medication. When she looked at the pills in the nurse’s hand, she knew they weren’t the placebos she had been taking and decided a violent, fake, cough was in order. The nurse finally put the glass of water down on the night stand and said she would be back with the pills, later. She was not happy.
Back at the hotel, Jack and Annette were listening as the conversation was being transmitted. Both breathed a sigh of relief.
“She must have heard the whole conversation,” Annette said. “She knew enough not to take the medication.”
“I hope it was a wise decision to use Doris for this assignment,” Jack added. “She’s been a big support to us, but we’ve never asked her to do something like this before.”
“Don’t worry, Jack. If she’s showing signs of being traumatized, I’ll know it. Right now, she seems very focused and is playing the part extremely well.”
Caroline walked into the room and told them Kat was on her way to the nursing home. “She should be there at any moment.”
“I know they’re plotting to extort money somehow,” Jack said. He wanted to get Caroline’s thoughts on how they might be planning to do that, but before he could say anything more, they heard another voice coming from Doris’ room. Kat had arrived followed by a nurse’s aide.
“Aren’t you the aide who kept my mother from trying to get up out of her wheelchair the day we arrived? I’ve been meaning to thank you. She could have fallen and broken a hip.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” the aide said as she knelt down to smile at Mother Doris who was seated in the wheelchair. “My name is, Jill. I brought your mother her medications.”
The nurse’s aide opened her hand, and Doris could see she was being given the placebos, and gave Kat a reassuring look. I’ll mark on her chart that she’s been given her morning medications.
“I’ll leave you two alone now,” the aide said. “I need to get back to the nurse’s station. Our head nurse had to leave for a while.”
When the aide left, I moved closer to Doris. “It appears you heard the conversation between the nurse and the director.”
“Yes,” Doris said. “I haven’t been able to learn anything more. Do you know what they intend to do with me?”
“It’s only a theory, but we think it’s possible they intend to stage some sort of a kidnapping for a ransom. You must find a way to keep the other voice transmitter on you when you’re out of the room for any reason. It sounds like whatever they plan to do, it will occur sometime within a month.”
“They’ll be taking me down to get my hair done in about an hour, so make sure someone is listening.”
“Are you okay, Doris? This situation is likely to get complicated.” I was truly concerned.
“For years, now, I’ve tried to be supportive of Jack…and your mother, of course, I’m glad to have the opportunity to help in a more substantive way.”
“Okay, I’m going to leave, now. There will be someone to continue intercepting the medication the head nurse is trying to give you. Your placebos will look like the new medication. In the meantime, we’ll be determining what effect the new meds were supposed to have on you, because you’ll have to demonstrate those changes.”
When I got back to the hotel, I went directly to Jack ‘s room to make sure he had heard my conversation with Doris. He and Annette both had earphones on and seemed very focused on what they were listening to. I was thinking it should be about the time someone would take Doris to get her hair done at the onsight beauty salon.
I waited. It was a full ten minutes before they put their headphones down. Jack’s cell phone immediately rang.
“When? That isn’t good,” he said. “Not good at all.”
When he got off the phone, Jack took a deep breath before he began to speak.
“Doris is nowhere in the building. The Phins stopped by unannounced and found that she was missing. They said both the nurse and the director are there, which doesn’t mean they didn’t arrange to have someone abduct her.
She can’t have been gone for very long. You just left there, Kat.”
“I tried to remain calm. “Who were you listening to when I came in?”
“Someone Annette and I couldn’t hear very well came to get Doris to go to the beauty salon. We haven’t heard another thing. It’s hard to believe Doris forgot to wear her device.”
“What did the Phins do? Have the police been called?”
I couldn’t believe what was happening.
“Don’t worry, Kat. Our credentials and identification are impeccable.” Jack went on to outline our next move.
“Caroline, you stay here and monitor Doris’ room just in case someone goes in there to look for something or have a conversation.”
“Kat, stand by. The Phins will be calling you any moment to tell you your mother is missing. You will immediately go to the nursing home. I don’t know what else to tell you except to act appropriately distraught and play it by ear. Since this just happened, the staff is still looking for her. I’ll get Annette prepared to be the investigator. She’s done it before and she’s good. You or the Phins will call her.” Jack was in a hurry. We had to move quickly.
About that time, Mr. Phin called. For the benefit of anyone listening on that end, he very carefully explained that my mother was missing from her room. As sometimes happens, Alzheimers patients wander off, or in Mother Doris’ case, escape in their wheelchair. Most of the staff was looking for her. He was going to call the “authorities” in thirty minutes.
We both knew Doris didn’t wander off. which made me wonder if she was staying in character. It would be better for her if she did.
When I got to the nursing home, the nurse and directer were standing by the nurse’s station. They actually looked distressed.
“Has there been any sign of my mother? They both shook their heads. “We’ve looked everywhere,” the director said. “We’ve looked outside, down the street…everywhere. no one has seen an elderly lady in a wheelchair. We did discover the side door was somehow left unlocked.”
Boy, the director was good, I thought. She’s trying to throw me off. It was time to call Annette.
“I’m going to call the authorities,” I said. “My mother has to be somewhere close by.
The Phins left to take care of Tio. They were on call if needed.
Annette came right over and started questioning the staff. Jack was right. She was good. Doris’ wheelchair was found near the unlocked door which meant she was out of character and walked out, or she was carried out.
Jack was right about another thing. The assignments came together quickly in these Truth or Consequences projects, and what seems like a bad deed can sometimes be a good one. We’ll soon see…