Dripping With Suspicion 2
Steve woke with the grandmother of all headaches. She forced her eyes open even though the effort was painful. She was in some sort of room. The windows were closed tight and could only be opened with the assistance of a four-sided key. There was nothing in the room but the bed upon which she lay and in the corner a commode and wash basin were half hidden by a four-foot-high short wall. She threw the spread to the side and realized she was wearing only her bra and panties. Her shock at finding herself half naked was over ridden by her need to use the facilities. When she moved, she felt something hard around her ankle.
“What the he….?” She breathed. She grabbed the chain around her ankle and yanked. It moved and gave her just enough length to make it to the commode before she lost the contents of her stomach.
Leaning against the washbasin, she turned on the cold water and using her cupped hands, she sipped enough water to rinse her mouth. She wet her hands again and patted her face with cool water. She followed the chain to the base of the bed. The chain was welded to the bottom of the heavy bedstead and the bedstead was bolted to the floor with countersink bolts and the bases were hidden – probably beneath the floor. The ankle manacle itself was narrow with a tiny hole that would accommodate a very small key. Steve realized that the only way to get that off was with a special key!
A visual search of the room produced nothing that could help her to escape. The chain was so short she could look out the window only by stretching. She saw a sign, Ridgemeadow Hospital and from the height of the sign, it appeared she was on the third floor. Everybody in Dripping Springs knew the third floor of Ridgemeadow, locally known as Ridgemeadow Mental Hospital. This was where the worst mental patients were housed with no communication – no visitors – no nothing. Anger clouded her mind. Hamilton and her father were at it again. Somehow, they must have found out she was going on a job with her uncle and they had placed her in Ridgemeadow to “keep her safe”.
She screamed her anger and frustration; “I will make you two pay for this. This is absolutely the last straw.”
Lot, Steve’s father, stood waiting on the second floor of the parking garage for Steve to bring the car keys. He was always an impatient man, but this was beginning to really challenge is sanity. He left the house early enough to conduct several interviews concerning the Wilkinson case, but now he was going to be late, and it was all Steve’s fault. Why couldn’t she come to his aid when he needed her? Where was she now? It had been well over an hour ago when he had the girl at the Justice Center call her.
“What is taking her so long? Maybe she’s upset with me because she got word that I cancelled my karate class again. I don’t need the practice and I really resent having to go to that stupid remedial course just because I’m a little rusty.”
Hamilton was nursing his second cup of coffee while he and Keon were going over the court calendar for the day, when Lot strolled through the door.
“Where is Steve? I called her over an hour ago to bring me the second set of keys.They got locked in my car again. I called her, and she never came. I’m really frustrated, the garage elevator is out of order, and I had to walk up two flights of stairs from where my car is parked. I’m going to give her a call; maybe she has her cell turned on. I have appointments, I need my car keys!!!”
Hamilton and Keon stared at Lot, their faces full of concern. “What do you mean, ‘where is Steve’? She was here only minutes ago. She told us you had locked your keys in the car again and she was on her way down to the second floor of the parking garage to rescue you. You didn’t see her?”
Lot mutely shakes his head.
“Oh, my lord!” Exclaims Hamilton, reaching for the phone to call Curtis Warren, the Police Lieutenant who sometimes aids him in keeping Steve out of trouble. …
“It looks like we’re going to need your assistance again, Curtis,” Hamilton hollers when he hears the gruff voice of Police Lieutenant Warren after the third ring. Warren’s rudely unceremonious tone belies his true, gentle and caring personality.
Curtis had confessed to Hamilton the other day, “I’d rather have my officers think I’m an ogre, than to believe they can walk all over me.”
It worked, too. No one dared to cross him. In fact, cops in his district called him “Chief Gestapo” behind his back. When someone accidently let the nickname slip within ear shot of Curtis one day, he pretended not to hear, but in the privacy of his office he laughed... amused by it. It looks like I’ve fooled them with my rough, tough facade, just like I hoped I would.
“So, what’s up this time?” he asks Hamilton in the voice he uses for friends. “How can I help you, pal?”
“Steve’s in trouble... wouldn’t you know it? That woman can get herself into a mess quicker than a hog wallowing in mud after a fresh rain. We don’t have any substantial information about what happened to her yet, so we’ll probably need a couple of your guys to get on the ball ASAP. Okay?”
“I’ll see what I can do and get back to you on it. “Curtis answers, then abruptly hangs up the phone. His annoying habit rubs Hamilton the wrong way... he still has more to say but instead he’s left with a dead phone against his ear.
“Curtis must have a lot on his mind. He just hung up on me,” he tells Keon. Then he smiles as he thinks of his idiosyncratic friend.
“I’ll wait a few minutes to call him back, so I can tell him what little we know about Steve being missing.... again!” Then to himself he frets, Oh, that woman I could just ring her neck.... if I didn’t love her so much!
Curtis hopes Hamilton doesn’t call him back too quickly. He’s got a lot of thinking and planning to do about this latest situation.
To Be Continued ...