“Now what?” I asked. Jack, Caroline, and I were back at the hotel waiting for Annette. She was still interviewing the staff at the nursing home when we left. She also called in some vendors that may have been in and out during the time Doris was there. They could be involved or possibly saw something.
“I don’t know,” Jack said as he was pacing. “I pride myself on completing these projects quickly, but this one has me baffled. I’m anxious for Annette to get here. Surely, she has talked to everyone concerned by now.”
“What do you think about finding the wheelchair near the unlocked door? It doesn’t make sense unless she left with someone who knows she’s an impostor.”
Before Caroline or I could answer, Annette walked in. She had a box of donuts with her.
“Sorry,” but I haven’t eaten all day, I’m tired and I need some sugar. Wow these are good. They’re from the bakery near the nursing home. Have any of you been there?”
“Come on, Annette.” Caroline was as frustrated as I was. “Tell us what you’ve put together.”
“Well, I haven’t found Doris, yet, but I’m getting close. You’re not going to believe this, but that mean director and her head nurse didn’t kidnap her.
Jack walked across the room and sat in the chair next to Annette. He seemed to be in deep thought and maybe even a little irritated. “Go on, Annette.”
“Okay…somebody bring me a glass of milk and I’ll fill you all in.”
“I talked to all of the employees but one,” she said. “We were unable to locate her. She’s a fairly young lady. She’s been an aide there for five years. There is reason to believe she kidnapped Doris.”
Jack seemed slightly suspect, or maybe he felt Annette had jumped to conclusions. I couldn’t exactly read him.
“What was her motive?” Jack had a few questions himself. “We heard the conversation in Doris’ room between the nurse and director. They were definitely planning something nefarious. Did you reconcile that?”
“No,” Annette admitted. “I would have had to tell them they were under surveillance, and I thought we needed more information, first.”
Jack asked her to go on.
“Yes.” There was an incident a few years ago involving this aide and a patient. The girl, (her name is Marsha) gave an elderly lady large doses of psychotropic drugs. The patient became unmanageable and the others weren’t safe in her presence. Apparently, the young girl hated the patient and couldn’t deal with her being there. It never could be proven that she was the one who gave the patient the drugs; therefore, they couldn’t fire her. Apparently, there haven’t been any similar incidents until now.”
“Did you happen to ask if the elderly woman was from a wealthy family? Was there anyone else that would benefit from the woman’s death or removal from the nursing home? Why didn’t Marsha go to the authorities or at the very least, quit?”
“There was no ransom involved. The only motive was hatred.” Annette’s eyes were snapping now? What was Jack doing? “I suspect we’ll be hearing from Marsha very soon.”
“We won’t hear from Marsha, but we will hear from Doris.”
Thirty minutes later, Jack’s phone rang. “Hello Doris,” we’re all grateful you’re okay. I want you to come to the hotel and bring Marsha. I’ll send a car for you.”
We didn’t get what was going on and Jack didn’t explain. He let Marsha and Doris do that.
“She saved my life,” Doris said. “All they wanted was the money. Marsha overheard them say they had no intentions of returning me to my family who would never believe a reputable nursing director and her head nurse would do such a thing.”
“I couldn’t quit.” Marsha was on the verge of falling apart. “There was no one but me to protect those poor people from the daily struggles she put them through. Those two were planning to kill that lady. A family member was going to pay them off to do it. I secretly stopped giving her the drugs, but it was too late. She died of a stroke. I confronted them. I knew they couldn’t fire me because there was always a chance I would go to the authorities. You probably won’t understand this, but I was afraid to.”
Marsha looked around the room at all of us. Her eyes settled on me.
“I believe every word of what you’re saying. You have a good heart, Marsha. I knew it when you helped Doris back into her chair so she wouldn’t fall. And when you knelt in front of her to look her in the eye and give her a smile when you spoke to her.”
“And she touched my hand,” Doris said. “I knew I could trust you.”
Jack would help Marsha get beyond this, and we would all go on to the next assignment. Truth or Consequences. When the truth comes out, the innocent are finally redeemed and the guilty finally suffer the consequences.