Lori has been writing fiction since she first caught the writing bug at age nine.
From Part 20
Both Mrs. Hargrove and Mrs. Wronski were having psychological issues. Both, unbeknownst to either them or their care giving loved ones, did not know they were going to see the same Psychiatrist on the same day and within minutes of each other. Considering their history together, it was a difficult moment for Raymond to discover Bea Neville and Anna Wronski entering the waiting room.
"Listen," he [Raymond] said as softly as he could, "we have a situation here. My mother...oh, this is awkward and complicated." He turned to Bea Neville, introduced himself, then took her aside and explained the situation.
"Oh, dear," said Bea. "All right. I'll just take Mrs. Wronski to the restroom for a few minutes until you can get your mother on the way."
Before Bea and Anna could even get to the door Dr. Ptak's door opened and there was Ma and Dr. Ptak saying goodbye. Raymond and Bea Neville looked like two deer in the headlights.
The truth comes out
Fortunately, Mrs. Hargrove was so busy chatting with Dr. Ptak, she didn't see Anna Wronski. Bea quickly lead her charge out the door and took her to the restroom until Raymond had time to get his mother out of the office.
A few moments later Dr. Ptak's office manager stuck her head in. "All is clear, ladies. Come along."
Anna was happy to see Dr. Ptak again. She always appreciated his kind and gentle ways and his ability to listen and offer help. She sat down in a chair in his office.
"How are you, Mrs. Wronski? I hear you're having some problems with anxiety and sadness, is that right?"
"Yes, I had a nightmare."
"Can you tell me about it?"
"They threatened to kill my Gita. They sent me away or they would kill her."
"I'm sorry you had that dream."
Anna's face went white. She lifted her eyes and fixed them on Dr. Ptak. "It was real. That's what happened. My Gita, I don't know where she is. She was at school, they were going to kill her if I didn't go with them."
"Who were they?
"Borys Kowalski, Judge Mazur, and Rufin, my husband. Evil men. They sent me away with a man named Mr. Barron."
"Where did the ship take you?"
"I don't know. The man gave me injections. One day I woke up and we were in another country. England I think."
"Then what happened?"
"I don't remember anything until we were in America."
"I see. Why do you think they made you go away?"
Anna's eyes went back to the floor in deep thought. "I knew about the murders. They were going to go to school to kill my Gita if I didn't go with the man." Anna crumpled in her grief and sounded another wail as she had done at the Neville's after the dream. "My fault," she sobbed. "My Gita was in danger, because of me. I don't know where she is now. I search at the school, but she is never there. She is back in Warsaw." She wrapped her arms around her waist and rocked back and forth. "Gita, my little pearl. Mama is sorry."
Dr. Ptak knew Anna's emotional breakdown was something he had to wait out. He thought this might actually be a good thing. If the dream was true, her memory had had a breakthrough. She was more lucid than he'd ever seen her, though her grief was profound.
The episode lasted fifteen minutes, until Anna was spent. Though the breakdown she'd had at the Neville's after her nightmare was powerful, this far surpassed it.
"It's going to be okay, Mrs. Wronski," Dr. Ptak said. He got on his intercom and whispered to his office manager to bring some chamomile tea with honey. A few moments later there was a light tap on the door and the doctor took the tea and closed the door silently. He handed her the cup. "I have some tea for you. Take it. It will comfort you."
Her sobs had subsided but her eyes were vacant. She held the cup of tea on her lap. Its scent soothed her. She sipped it slowly and mechanically. Soon her lids were drooping. Dr. Ptak took the tea from her and guided her to the sofa.
Dr. Ptak was worried about her fragile state. He went to the door to ask Bea Neville to come in. Bea's face was red and damp. The sound of such grief from her dear friend broke her heart.
"Mrs. Neville, do you think you can pull it together and go to take Mrs. Wronski home?" His eyes were full of compassion. He was grateful that Anna had such loving friends surrounding her.
"Yes, I believe I can."
"Good. I have a few instructions when you get her home. No pressing her for information. She just needs TLC for now. If she wants to talk about things, of course let her speak, but if she gets agitated stop her and change the subject. If you have any questions or concerns, or if her condition flares up again, please call me right away. Make sure she drinks lots of fluids, eats well and get lots of rest. I am going to write a prescription for Valium and I want you to follow the directions. I'd also like you to make another appointment for Friday. Are you ready to go in?"
"I am," she said. Anna was sound asleep on the sofa.
It took some doing but they finally got her up and helped her to the car. "Doctor, I can't thank you enough," said Bea.
He knelt before Anna and patted her knee. "Mrs. Wronski, I'm going to have you come back in a few days. You take care now. See you Friday."
Anna slept in the car all the way home.
Mr. Neville has a plan
Once settled back into the Neville's home, Anna had a bit of chicken soup and Bea gave her the medication, then took her off to bed. She helped her get into her nightgown and tucked her in. Anna was asleep immediately. Bea turned out the light and went back to have dinner with her husband.
Bea was not privy to the memories Anna shared with Dr. Ptak, but she told her husband what she observed. "Poor dear soul," he said, "but you know Bea, she did tell us a little about her family of origin, that they lived in Warsaw. I don't know why it didn't click when she first told us, but I'm going to see if I can find her daughter in Warsaw."
"How are you going to do that?" Bea asked.
"I'll think on it. I'll bet Gita is alive."
"What will you do if you learn that she isn't? Should we tell her?"
"I'll leave that decision to Dr. Ptak. But first things first, I have to find out about her. We need to hope and pray that Anna and her daughter will one day soon reunite."
"Wouldn't that be wonderful?" Bea said, smiling.
"It would indeed."
The next morning Mr. Neville was having his first cup of coffee in his office at school, his mind searching for ideas on how to find Anna's daughter in Poland. Later in the day he remembered an old school chum he'd run into at his last high school reunion. Jeffrey Strum. He'd been a former missing persons detective for the Spokane police department, then later moved on to homicide. Currently he was an independent investigator. He had private clients and also worked as a consultant with Spokane PD on difficult cases.
He called information to find Jeffrey Strum's business number, scribbled it down, then dialed his old friend.
"Jeffery, hi. Elvin Neville here. How the heck are you, my friend?"
"Elvin, what a surprise. I'm great, just great. How are things with you? To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Well actually, I'm calling to see if I can get your professional services for a missing person of sorts?"
"Yes, well, it could possibly even be a murder."
"Well, those are both up my alley. Give me the particulars."
Elvin told the story of Anna Wronski's search for her daughter Gita who was probably in Warsaw. They talked at length about the details of Anna's challenges and what she'd divulged about her family of origin and the memories she'd had the day before in a dream.
"Well, I'm not an international investigator, but I would be happy to take this on. Besides, I owe you one."
"How so?" Elvin asked.
"Surely you haven't forgotten the matchmaking you did for me in our senior year. It's because of you I married Jill."
"Oh Jeffrey, that was more Bea's scheming than mine."
"Well anyway, I'll get started on this. And because I'm forever in your debt, I will give you the senior discount."
"Senior? Them's fightin' words, man. I'm not a day over thirty five."
"Right. Well, I'll give you twenty five percent off because your a nice guy."
"That's not necessary, Jeffrey."
"No, but I want to. So as my mother always said, "Just accept and say thank you."
"Thank you very much, friend. This means more to me than you know."
"I'll do my best for you Elvin. I'll be in touch."
Nursing home blues
Mrs. Hargrove's test results from her Dr. Ptak, and her personal physician were not good and Raymond had to place her in a nursing home. It broke his heart to put her there. He'd wanted to put her into a new, state of the art memory care facility but he just didn't have the money. He was going to fix up the store and apartment and sell it, and with that money perhaps get her into a better place. He could turn it completely into a house. He needed to sell off the products left in the store.
Cooper, his partner in the police department, and his wife Cindy, helped in whatever way they could. Cindy had helped in moving Mrs. Hargrove into the nursing home. Despite the difficult behavioral issues, Cindy handled her pretty well. It wasn't easy, though.
Things at the nursing went south very quickly. Mrs. Hargrove's roommate and her family complained about her bad behavior. The facility had only one single room open that she could have to herself but it would cost more. Raymond sold his motorcycle and car and bought a cheaper model. He put his little house up for sale, also. One day Coop and Cindy invited him over for a barbecue and gave him a check for three thousand dollars.
"Are you crazy? No way can I accept this. What, did you rob a bank?"
Cooper put his hand on Raymond's shoulder. "Ray, we insist. Some of the guys in the department pitched in. We got your back, buddy. Take it."
Tears collected in Raymond's eyes. The money gave him a huge relief.
Within two weeks of her moving in the doctor told him his mother was a high safety risk, what with her wandering and threatening other patients, and should be moved to a dementia facility. It was one more upset for his mother, having to adjust to a new environment in less than a month. The doctor upped her medication through the process. Raymond was relieved that she was in a safer environment and had better care for her condition.
The day after she settled in he went back to work.
Leads and connections
Jeffrey Strum called Elvin Neville at work.
"How's the investigation going, Jeffrey?"
"Gita Wronski is alive and well in a small town near Warsaw."
"Oh my goodness, that's wonderful. Have you spoken to her?"
"Not yet. I thought I'd leave that decision between you and the other investigator."
"Yes, Sasha Mazur. He works in Krakow and is a personal friend of Miss Wronski's. Seems they are childhood friends. After her father's recent death, she felt free to hire him to investigate her mother's disappearance and try to find her. But he had to shut his investigation down abruptly."
"It's a long story, but first I'll tell you how I found this guy. It was a stroke of luck, really. I called public records in Warsaw and talked to a man who knows English and was willing to give me information on the sly.
"I hope it's all on the up and up, Jeffrey. You didn't make any promises for compensation, did you?"
"If you mean a bribe, no. But he's about to retire and didn't seem to care. I got the sense he had an axe to grind with his department. I told him the situation. He found Rufin Wronski's death certificate, and at the same time saw one for Anna Wronski dated August 1939. I told him Anna Wronski is alive and well in the United States. He told me it wouldn't be the first time vital information was missing, tampered with, or falsified from that era. He remembered an inquiry a few months previous by a private investigator who wanted any records on Rufin, Anna, and Gita Wronski. Strange, but the death certificate of Anna Wronski was not there then." Who knows who was messing with the records," he told me. It so happens the investigator gave him his card. He gave me the guy's number so I called him. Bingo.
"That's incredible. What did he have to say?"
"Well, when I gave him my name and stated my business he was greatly surprised. Overjoyed, if you want to know the truth. The crux of the matter is that his father was a ruthless, corrupt judge with lots of power and had dealings for years with Rufin Wronski and a politician named Borys Kowalski who also is Gita's Godfather. He also recently died under suspect circumstances. This investigator, Sasha Mazur, is sure his father masterminded Mrs. Wronski's disappearance based on things he told him at their last encounter. When his father found out he was investigating it he threatened to eliminate Gita for the second time. His father had him followed, wire tapped, you name it, but the old man had a massive stroke just two weeks ago and didn't survive. He figures his father's death cut off the whole thing.
"What a story. Poor Anna and poor Gita. I have no words to thank you, Jeffrey. But thank you. How do I get in touch with this Mazur fellow?"
"Here's his number, give him a call."
Breaking the good news
Sasha was still reeling after finding out where Anna Wronski was. After they hung up he called Ula to tell her the news.
"Ula, I have some incredible news."
"You didn't find Anna did you?" She figured his news wouldn't be that colossal.
"As a matter of fact, Ula, I have."
"No, I can't believe it. You really found her?"
"Oh God be praised. She started to weep, repeating 'Thank you, Lord, thank you Lord,'" over and over again.
Sasha laughed but he was anxious for her to calm down so he could fill her in and make arrangements. By this time Ula had dropped the phone. He could hear her saying, "Anna, oh Anna, my darling friend, you're alive. God be praised."
"Ula," Sasha yelled into the phone. "Ula, please, calm down, pick up the phone."
She did, and as she swiped tears away she listened to the story, overwhelmed by how it all came together.
"Oh, I can't wait to tell Gita," she said.
"Ula, I know you're eager and excited to tell her but I would like to do it, if you don't mind. I owe it to her. And I love her you know."
"Well, you need to tell her that, but yes, I think you are the one to tell her. When can you come?'
"I'm leaving first thing in the morning. I should be there no later than noon. Does Gita work tomorrow?"
"No, she's off. No plans." She began to laugh and hung up on him without saying goodbye. Sasha had to smile.
The next day at noon sharp Sasha knocked on Gita's front door. She opened it and was taken aback. She was thrilled to see him and also angry as all get out that he'd not been in touch. "Sasha," she said, smiling, then frowning. "What are you doing here? Where have you been? Why did you leave..."
Sasha gently put his finger to her lips. "Ssh, little pearl." There was something in his eyes, something big.
"What is it, Sasha? There's something in your eyes."
"Are you going to let me in?" he asked.
She stood back and let him in. Ula was waiting in the living room squirming with anticipation. The hardest thing she'd ever had to do in her life was not tell Gita this amazing news today.
They didn't make it to the sofa to sit down. Gita's heart was too eager. She knew something wonderful was about to happen. 'Did he find Mama?' she wondered. 'No, I dare not believe that.' "Oh, Sasha, what is it? Mama?"
"I found her, Gita. Actually an investigator in America did and called me."
Gita collapsed to the floor in shock. "Oh God, thank you." And the tears started. Sasha stooped down, gently brought her to her feet, and enfolded her into his arms. She clung to him fiercely. "Thank you, thank you, Sasha." Her tears wet his shirt and smeared it with mascara. He buried his nose into her hair, inhaling the familiar scent of lavender. He kissed her head and hugged her. Then he took her face into his hands, swiped her tears away with his thumbs. "I love you, Gita, with all my heart and everything in me." Then he kissed her tenderly.
They pulled apart and laughed.
"Do you remember when you kissed my cheek when we were children?" Gita asked.
"How could I ever forget it? I knew in that moment I would love you forever."
"I remember my heart flip flopped. But just now, it did a somersault."
They were forehead to forehead whispering affirmations of love. Then Sasha pulled back, took something out of his jacket pocket and gave it to Gita. A small box from the jewelry store. She began to cry and tremble. She opened it and there rested a ring filled with diamonds. He took it and put it on her finger. "Gita, my little Pearl, will you fill me with lifelong joy by becoming my wife?"
She was so overcome she couldn't speak. She looked up into his face and just nodded. Finally she eeked out a yes.
Sasha threw is head back in exultation and yelled to the universe, "She said yes!" He took her face in his hands once more and they kissed long and sweet.
"Today is our day," said Gita. "
"It is my love."
Ula had stepped out of the room earlier and let them have some time alone. In the kitchen she couldn't stop smiling as she made coffee. Then she heard Sasha's proclamation "She said yes!" She turned her face to heaven and sang out.
"Praise the Lord."
© 2018 Lori Colbo