Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Chosen - Part 3
This is Part 3 of my ongoing story called Chosen. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. You can find Part 2 here. Hope to see you back here next Thursday for Part 4. Links will be posted on my Facebook Author's page and my regular Facebook page.
* * * * * * * * * *
Chosen - Part 3
Several cups of coffee, and three pieces of pie, later, I had a few more answers, but way more questions. One thing I knew for certain was what my next stop would be. Lina reminded me that Bertha in Dr. Holcolm’s office believed that if you share folks’ medical status with their friends and neighbors, it promotes healing. The fact that doing it without the patient’s consent was a violation of ethics and the law didn’t concern her. All she cared about were her patients’ well-being. She was one resource I definitely needed to tap as soon as possible. I thanked Lina for all her input and told her I would make sure she received an autographed copy of my novel after it was published. I also mentioned that I planned to dedicate the book to her. She hugged me and went off to wait on some new customers who had come in. Seeing the happiness and pride in her face made me realize what a complete jerk I was being – lying to her about all this. Maybe when all was said and done, I would actually write that novel. Something to consider anyway.
Our one and only town doctor was away at a seminar, and anyone needing medical care was referred to the county clinic that was roughly 40 minutes away. Of course, any emergency could be handled with a call to the county hospital, and a chopper would be dispatched if it became necessary. That’s one thing about this town. It may be small and some may consider it too rural for their taste, but we had great shops, a terrific restaurant, and dependable medical care. Even though the doctor was not in, I knew Bertha was in. She was always in. She was an RN who took care of most of the patients herself in one of the treatment rooms. Serious cases were always taken in to see Doc Holcolm, but most days, she would triage and treat 95% of people who walked in the door. I hoped Bertha’s propensity to share medical information included discussing the dead.
“Hi, Bertha,” I said, entering the office. “I was wondering if you had a bit of time to chat.”
She was sitting at her desk in the front filing papers in charts. Here was a woman I adored. She was in her late 50s, huge, and always wore the most engaging smile. Before anyone left the doctor’s office, she hugged them and wished them well. They usually couldn’t breathe for a second or two after one of her powerful hugs, but it didn’t matter. Everyone left with a smile on their face, and that was totally because of her.
“Any time, Cass,” she said. “You feeling poorly? Is there something I can get for you? Doc won’t be back until Wednesday, but I can fix whatever ails you.”
“I know you could, Bertha, but actually, I’m feeling very well today. I was wondering if you could give me some information. I’m doing research for a story I plan to write and I’m using what happened to the little Sumner girl as inspiration. I know it’s not a pleasant subject, but I want my story to be as accurate as possible, so I’m piecing details from that case together. All names will be changed in my story as it’s going to be a fictional one, but I need some facts from a real case to write around. I hope that makes sense because I…”
“Of course it does, dear,” she responded. “I know exactly what you’re talking about. Even stories that are completely made up have some truth in there somewhere. It’s perfectly fine. What kind of information do you need? I remember that case so very well. Doc Holcolm treated the girl’s mother for her problems, gave the little girl her vaccinations, and even treated the dad after the mother shot herself and the child disappeared. Lord almighty. That poor family’s troubles began long before they moved here and once they did, trouble came and finished them all off. Terrible thing.”
Doc Holcolm treated the mother for her problems? I had to get to the bottom of that statement.
“Mrs. Sumner had problems, Bertha? I had heard that there were issues in the city where they had lived and that’s why they moved out here.”
“Issues? Oh yes, honey, there were issues. That poor woman had been put through Hell and then some. You see, the mister used to travel a lot with his job. He had been some kind of consultant and worked with companies in different parts of the world. There were times when he had been gone for weeks at a time. He told me all this the first time he brought his wife in so I would understand her background. He wanted Doc and I to know what had happened to her and what was going to happen going forward. Broke my heart, it did. Just broke my heart.”
He wanted her to know what was going to happen? What was going to happen?
“He had been away in one of those South American countries for a week or so and he was due back in a couple of days. She was all alone in the great big townhouse that they had been living in. He told me that he would never have left her unguarded, especially in the busy area where they lived. Shops and restaurants were open all day and all night, traffic just as heavy at midnight as at noon, folks walking up and down the sidewalks in front of their house, and taxis on every corner 24 hours a day. He worried for her since she was on the frail side, so he had all these high-tech alarms put in all over the place. It wouldn’t take much to bring the National Guard over there once those alarm got to sounding.
“There was just one small problem with all those systems her had set up, and it turned out to cause the biggest problem in their lives. The company he bought that stuff from and that was setting the system up didn’t have one critical part and were going to come back after the part came in to finish the installation. Problem was, they forgot to let the mister and missus know about it. The whole system ran off electricity, which was fine, but in the event of a power outage, it was supposed to be connected to a special backup generator in their basement. People in the house would have to light candles and use flashlights to make their way around because it didn’t backup the power in the house, but the alarms would be backed up and stay working.
“The workers came and installed the system, but didn’t have the generator. They assumed the sales rep told Mr. Sumner they were waiting for the part and the sales rep assumed the workers told him. Well, as it turns out, no one told him or his wife. Mind you, everything was working fine until there was a real bad storm on a particular night; you know, when I told you he was in South America and due back in a couple of days. Anyway, this storm was a real nasty one and one of the transformers got damaged and the power cut out for twelve square blocks. Poor Mrs. Sumner, all alone in that great big house, was smack dab in the middle of all that darkness.
“Since it was a transformer, it took a couple of days to get it fixed. By the time Mr. Sumner got back home, the power was back on, but he noticed when he tried to deactivate the alarm at the front door, it was already off and he couldn’t get the panel to come back on. What happened was that when the power cut with no generator, the system went down and had to be rebooted once the power came back on. Thing is, Mrs. Sumner didn’t know the alarm cut out and she couldn’t have rebooted it anyway because she was down in their basement all beat up and hurt after those thugs broke in and sexually assaulted her.”
Thugs broke in and what? Oh my God.
“All because the alarm company forgot to mention there was no generator?”
“Yes. Exactly. He told me that had he known the alarms could possibly go out, he would have postponed his trip until after that part came in and was installed. That way, his wife would have been protected no matter what happened. Just like in any big city, there was this gang that went from area to area causing trouble, beating people up and robbing them. This time though, with the power out in such a large area, they decided to have a field day. Lots of homes were broken into and they stole from everyone. The police were doing the best they could, but there was just too much going on all at the same time.
“They broke into the Sumner’s place and found her alone and decided to be extra disgusting. They tore the place up, took her jewelry and some electronic things to pawn and as if that wasn’t enough, they decided to brutalize Mrs. Sumner too. They beat her up something terrible and then took turns assaulting her. The mister told me she said there were five of them in the house and they all did awful things to her. The poor thing was in the hospital for weeks recovering from that and when she got out, he sold their house and moved her out here to the country.
“There was no way she could set foot back into that house without having a nervous breakdown and he didn’t want to traumatize her any further. Besides, his company told him he could do his consulting from home on a computer from then on, so he could stay with her all the time. She seemed to adjust well to being here, but Doc had to give her lots of tranquilizers to help her sleep and different medications to help her even get through the day. She ended up just staying in the house, sitting and staring. After she had the baby girl, things only got worse.
“He could never leave her alone with the girl; I mean, she was so full of hatred for her being the result of the assault and all.”
“You’re saying the baby wasn’t his and he knew it?”
“Of course. She was pregnant when he brought her in the first time and wanted us to know he still wanted the child, but she didn’t. He said he’d keep an eye on her at home so she wouldn’t hurt herself to get rid of it, and he asked us to make sure she didn’t get hold of anything here that might hurt the baby. You see, he knew all along, but adored that child still. When the missus looked at her, she remembered all the pain and fear and tried to kill her, which is why he carried that baby everywhere. Drugged up that she was, she still tried to smother her, poison her bottle and lots of other things. The mister couldn’t turn his back on her or the baby. He sued the alarm company for all they had once it all came out and they ended up closing down. It didn’t help his wife any, but since they had been so careless, maybe he saved someone else’s wife from going through the same thing.”
“Did they ever catch the men who did that to her?”
“No, they sure didn’t. After they were done with her, they moved on to tear up the rest of the neighborhood. Other folks were robbed and beaten and they stole tons of stuff that ended up in pawn shops all over the city, but Mrs. Sumner was the only woman they assaulted – the bastards. She was never the same after, so it was really not much of a surprise when she shot herself. I guess the memories were just too much for her to stand.
“But, you have to understand that Mr. Sumner did really love that little girl. Elyssa, he named her. Beautiful child. Looked just like her mother, thank God. He didn’t treat her different knowing some criminal was her real father. He was Elyssa’s daddy and that’s all there was to it. Naturally, when somebody took the girl, it crushed him and he just lost the will to go on. They never did find her, you know. They looked and looked, but she never turned up. I wonder whatever happened to her.”
I didn’t know what happened to her either, but I wasn’t going to stop until I found out.
So, Mrs. Sumner had been attacked in the city and that’s why they relocated. She despised the baby since the pregnancy resulted from an assault. Her husband knew she got pregnant and he knew the child wasn’t his, but he obviously cherished her anyway. Since they never caught the ones who attacked Mrs. Sumner, the likelihood of Elyssa’s real father coming to town to kidnap her and claim her as his own was zero. Cross that off my list of possibilities. Mr. Sumner’s fierce protection of the girl eliminated him as a suspect in her disappearance for me as it had for the Sheriff. There’s no way he paid someone to dispose of the child, and then allowed himself to waste away from the loss.
Hmmm. Time to go home now, sort through my notes, and decide where to go from here.
(To Be Continued)