Searching for Gita, the Little Pearl: Part 8
In chapter 7 Borys is caught in the cross hairs of Judge Jakub Mazur after a scandal regarding an Illegal payoff they colluded on together has been uncovered. The judge tries to intimidate Borys into taking the blame and clearing his name by threats of ruin, prison, or death. Borys dies of a heart attack when confronted by mafia men while trying to escape.
In chapter 6, Anna Wronski is still in the hospital with possible heart problems. Dr. Reynolds orders a psyche consult.
Dr. Reynolds, Anna Wronski's physician, sat facing Dr. Rafal Ptak, head psychiatrist in the small hospital consultation room. "Mrs. Wronski's tests all came back negative. Her edema is a matter of venous insufficiency caused by a serious case of long untreated varicose veins in her legs and feet. They can be treated with compression stockings and surgery, which we'll schedule for sometime soon. Other than that her only other health issues are hypothyroidism and high blood pressure. I made an adjustment to her blood pressure medication and her thyroid is already well controlled by medication."
"Well, that's good news," said Dr. Ptak. "So tell me what you know and have observed of her mentally."
"Well, she was admitted with edema and fever, but according to her friend Mr. Neville - he's the principal of Roosevelt Elementary School - she had just received a major emotional upset and was found curled up in bed soaking wet with her coat and boots still on. She was unresponsive when they attempted to awaken her.
"The story from Mr. Neville is that Mrs. Wronski has visited the school every weekday for a number of years, looking in the windows of classrooms. She has told him and others that she is searching for her six year old daughter. Mrs. Wronski is about sixty eight years old. She doesn't say why she looks for her daughter. She's a quiet woman, kind to everyone, but seems to live in a delusion that her daughter is still a child and lost or hiding at the school. Her crisis the day she was admitted was that an older woman in her neighborhood told her that her daughter couldn't possibly be that young or able to be found. Mrs. Wronski had told the woman that she was finally going to see her daughter that day but didn't say why she thought so. The other morning the woman showed up in Mrs. Wronski's hospital room early in the morning, having set off a fire alarm to distract everyone in order to gain access. She upset Mrs. Wronski and spilled water on her. Mrs. Wronski was sobbing and shaken and somewhat disoriented part of the day. The woman was escorted out by security and banned from the hospital. If you ask me, she needs a psych eval more than Mrs. Wronski.
"Nothing is known about Mrs. Wronski's past or family except that she is from Poland, which you'll hear in her thick accent, and by the way she dresses. She lives alone. The staff at the school keep an eye on her, especially the principal, Mr. Neville."
"Who is the woman disturbing Mrs. Wronski?" asked Dr. Ptak.
"Her name is Edna Hargrove. She owns Hargrove's Grocery on Seventh and Goldman. Her son Raymond is a police officer and is concerned about his mother's mental state. She's caused a lot of trouble not only for Mrs. Wronski, but a student at the school as well. Her son can't get her to get a medical evaluation. She's a menace, I don't mind telling you."
"Hmm. Number one is Mrs. Wronski must be protected from this Mrs. Hargrove. I'm not a legal person, but can they get a restraining order?"
"That's a good idea. I believe Mr. Neville is acquainted with the son and perhaps they can work on that."
"Thank you, Dr. Reynolds. I'll go up and have a chat with her. Please keep me informed of anything that comes up."
They shook hands. "Thank you, Dr. Ptak."
A Chat With Mrs. Wronski
Dr. Rafal Ptak entered Anna Wronski's room. The drapes were open and sunlight was pouring in. Anna was sitting up in bed looking at drawings the children had sent over. She looked up and smiled at Dr. Ptak, yet questioningly.
"Good morning, Mrs. Wronski. I'm Dr. Ptak." He reached out to shake her hand. Anna gave him a limp hand. She then remembered that Dr. Reynolds had mentioned that a Dr. Ptak was coming to see her. She frowned with worry. Were her tests bad? Did she need a specialist?
Dr. Ptak pushed his glasses up higher on his nose. He was a kindly looking older man with twinkling blue eyes. He saw Anna's anxiety. "Not to worry, Mrs. Wronski. I'm not here with bad news." He came to the side of the bed and looked down at the drawings. "Oh my, this looks like a fun way to spend an afternoon. Who did these come from?"
"The school children," she said in her thick accent. She pointed to a drawing of herself laughing at a dog. The dog looked more like a monkey. The two shared a laugh.
"May I sit and talk with you, Mrs. Wronski?" Dr. Ptak asked. She nodded yes, but once again looked anxious. He pulled up a chair beside the bed.
"I spoke with Dr. Reynolds just now Mrs. Wronski, and he said you are getting better. I'll bet you're happy about that."
"Yes," she said.
"Tell me, Mrs. Wronski, what are your plans when you get home?"
"I will go to school."
"School? What do you do at the school?"
"I look for my Gita."
"Gita. That means little pearl."
Anna realzed just then that he had a Polish accent. Her face lit up. "Yes, little pearl. Your name is Ptak, you are Polish?"
"Yes. I came over to the states just after World War two. I grew up in Krakow. Part of my education was at University in Warsaw. Where are you from?"
Anna's face went blank. She did not answer.
"My family comes from Krakow," Dr. Ptak said again.
Anna' face remained blank. Dr. Ptak finally called her back. "Mrs. Wronski?" She blinked her eyes but seemed a bit disoriented. He gave her a minute to acclimate. Finally her eyes met his.
"When did you come to America, Mrs. Wronski?"
"I don't know."
"It must have been a long time ago. Do you like it here in America?"
She blinked but did not answer.
"Tell me about your Gita, Mrs. Wrosnki. A family member?"
"Gita is my daughter." Light came back into her eyes and she smiled.
"She is lucky to have a mother like you. I have a daughter. Her name is Colleen. She is my little pearl, a real gem. But really, she's all grown u now with a family of her own."
"That's nice," said Anna. "Does she go to school?"
"Well no, she's done with school now. Her children, my grandchildren, go to school."
Anna nodded with a knowing smile.
"How old is Gita and tell me why you look for Gita at school?" he asked.
"She is six years old. She has not come home from school. She is a silly girl and loves to hide." She smiled with amusement.
"My Colleen loved to play hide and seek with me when she was small. Now I play it with my grandchildren. It's fun. How long have you been looking for your daughter, Mrs. Wronski?"
Anna became visibly anxious and could not answer.
"Tell me about Gita, what kind of girl is she?"
"My Gita loves flowers and dolls. She loves school very much. She is full of mischief."
"She sounds delightful," he said. She nodded proudly. "Tell me, do you have family here? A husband?"
Anna frowned. "No husband."
"I see. That must be difficult for you. Do you have any other family here? Sister, brother?"
"No." She looked confused and was becoming agitated.
He changed the subject. "So, have you gotten good service here? Do you like your nurses and Dr. Reynolds?"
"Yes, but she comes and I am afraid."
"Who comes that you are afraid of, Mrs. Wronski?"
"Mrs. Hargrove." Anna bent forward, put her face in her hands, and rocked back and forth.
"Mrs. Wronski, Mrs. Hargrove will not be back. I promise you that. You don't need to be afraid."
Nurse Paisley walked in with a lunch tray. The smell of hot soup gnawed at Dr. Ptak's stomach. "Oh my that smells good," he said. "I should let you eat your lunch. It was nice talking with you Mrs. Wronski. May I come back and visit you again?"
She seemed not to hear him, she just kept rocking. Nurse Paisley patted her back. "Mrs. Wronski, I brought you some soup. Would you like to eat?"
Anna stopped rocking but kept her head in her hands. Dr. Ptak said goodbye with a promise to visit again. Anna did not hear him.
For the remainder of the day Anna was despondent and did not speak, nor did she eat. It was all the nurses could do to keep her drinking fluids. When nurse Paisley came to check on Anna around seven p.m. she was curled up in the fetal position, whimpering.
'Is she having a nightmare or a nervous breakdown?' she wondered. She called Dr. Reynolds. He was just heading home but still in the parking lot so he returned to see Anna.
After checking Anna out and not getting her to respond to his voice or questions, he called Dr. Ptak. "Hi Dr. Ptak, I'm calling about Mrs. Wronski. She's in the fetal position and whimpering and not responding to my voice. Her BP is way up, she's not eaten, and barely taken liquids. I've put her back on an IV. If at all possible, I was wondering if you could come in. I'll stay until you can get here."
"I'll be there shortly. Thanks for calling."
Dr. Ptak arrived twenty minutes later. As Dr. Reynolds had done, he attempted to communicate with Anna, but she did not respond." I hate to move her now, but I think she should be moved up to psych where we can help her more." He frowned in thought then asked, "Did you say she has a friend from the school, the principal?"
"Yes, Mr. Neville. He's very close to her."
"I'm wondering if he'd be willing to come in and talk with me and maybe he can somehow reach her. That will depend on what I learn in interviewing him. It's late, so probably tomorrow. For tonight, just have staff watch her closely. I'll prescribe a sedative to help her rest. I don't think she's sleeping, just shut down. Poor thing. You go home Dr. Reynolds. I'll stay awhile more until she is asleep."
Dr. Reynolds put his hand on Anna's shoulder. "Everything is going to be okay, Mrs. Wronski, I promise." He hated to leave her but knew she was in good hands with Dr. Ptak.
Plans to investigate
Gita sat straight up on the couch, having been napping. Her heart raced, she was in a cold sweat, and filled with terror. "Mama," she whimpered. The nightmare she'd had showed her mother in a hospital. A sinister force sought to hurt her. "Mama, something's wrong." She prayed her heart out, asking God to rescue her mother. She jumped out of bed and paced the living room, wrapping herself in a blanket. She couldn't bear it any longer and called her Aunt Ula.
"Aunt Ula, something happened to Mama in my dream. Please come over. And please, I want to hear what you know about Mama's disappearance and where she might be. You have to know something."
Ula's heart fluttered. Gita had a right to know what little she knew. "I'll be there shortly, honey. Hold on."
Fifteen minutes later Ula was sitting in the easy chair in Gita's front room. They both sipped hot chamomile.
"Aunt Ula, you've been quiet all these years about Mama. But Uncle Borys is gone now. Surely you know something about what happened to Mama. I don't care how small or nebulous, please give me any information you have."
Ula bowed her head. "Oh, Gita, my dear Gita, I know very little. What I do know is that Rufin came over on several occasions to talk with Borys just prior to your mama's disappearance. The doors were closed but one day I put my ear to the door and listened as best as I could. I remember hearing Borys say he had the perfect answer to Rufin's problem with your mother. I could hear Borys' voice coming closer to the door so I went back to the kitchen. A week later, Borys came home and said he had bad news, that your mama had left with another man to America. He raged over the terrible thing she had done and how devastated Rufin was. I knew better. I knew your mama better than anyone on the earth. She was a strong woman with a very virtuous character. No way did I believe this story. And when I saw Rufin, he did not behave like a man who was betrayed and grieving. Your mama confided in me for years about the problems she and your father had. Borys was always interfering. I pressed Borys and of course he became angry. He accused me of being a nagging, distrustful wife. You know how overbearing he could be.
"I spent the next few weeks trying to find some evidence of what happened, asking some of our mutual friends if they'd heard anything. Most people bought the lie that Anna had left on her own free will with another man. A few of our friends said they were very suspicious but no one had any clue. One day I searched through Borys' office at home trying to find something that might give me a hint. I found a receipt from an ocean liner. Before I could finish reading it Borys came home and caught me. As you might imagine, I caught hell for snooping and he threatened to..." She put her hands over her face and could not say more.
"What, Aunt Ula, you must tell me. You owe it to me, I must know."
"He threatened to...to...make you disappear too. He knew threatening to harm you would stop me dead in my tracks. It did, Gita. I would not let anything happen to you." Ula began to weep. "I'm sorry Gita, so sorry."
Gita couldn't breathe for a moment, then ran and put her arms around Ula, comforting her. "Ssh, it's okay, Aunt Ula, you had no choice."
"One thing I do remember about the receipt for the ocean liner," said Ula, "is that the date was three days after her disappearance."
"Three days? That's odd." Gita couldn't imagine what had happened.
Another round of tea and Ula and Gita went into troubleshooting mode. "Gita, I have searched everywhere in Borys' things to find that receipt but to no avail. I think we should hire an investigator to find your mother."
"Aunt Ula, we don't have that kind of money."
"We do, Little Pearl. I fired Borys' attorney and hired another one to delve into Borys' affairs. He found some accounts Borys had I never knew about. He's had quite a job finding a way to get them into my hands. As soon as he succeeds I will use every bit of it if necessary to hire an investigator."
"No Aunt Ula, I won't let you put yourself at risk."
"Hush Gita. My attorney is doing an excellent job. I'm confident I will be well provided for. If not, I would sell my house and live in a tent to help you find your Mama. I love her too and I miss her, oh how I miss her."
Gita reached out and kissed Ula's hand. "I have no words, Aunt Ula, just thank you, from the bottom of my heart."
Ula entered the law office of Daniel Gorski. His secretary, greeted her and informed Mr. Gorski of her arrival through the intercom. He saw her right away.
"There is good news and bad news," he told Ula. "It will take a lot more time to get the money in the Swiss bank account, which could keep you living comfortable for the rest of your life and then some."
Ula was dumbfounded. "Where did Borys get that much money, Mr. Gorski?"
"I don't have that information yet, Mrs. Kowalski, but I'll do my best to find out."
"Okay, what's the good news?"
"The good news is that I found a pension account and as soon as you sign the papers, " he pushed the papers at her across the desk, "you can begin receiving monthly payments, which are handsome by the way, immediately."
Ula looked through the paper work. She would have more than enough to make ends meet.. "Did you find a life insurance policy?"
"That's where I was going next. Yes, I found one. It's small, but it's something and in the end, you're going to be well taken care of."
"I'm so relieved," she said, signing the papers and pushing them back to him. "Thank you so much, Mr. Gorski."
"Is there anything else I can do for you today, Mrs. Kowalski?"
"Actually, yes there is. I'm looking for a good private investigator. Do you know of one?"
"Do you mind my asking why you're looking for a private investigator?"
"It's for a missing person. It's a very long story and I need to go, but it could lead to a very serious crime behind the disappearance, and I'm sure my husband was involved."
"Well, okay, I do know of one. He's the best I know, actually. He has a very good reputation and record for success. The only thing is he is located down in Kraków. If you still want the number I will give it to you." Ula nodded and he searched a drawer in his desk and pulled out a leather phone book. He wrote the name and number down and handed it to her. She read it.
"Sasha Mazur." Her heart nearly stopped. "Mazur? Is he related to Judge Jakub Mazur?"
"I don't know, Mrs. Kowalski. I can look into it if you'd like."
"No, no that won't be necessary. Thank you."
Praying, Wishing, Hoping
"Sasha Mazur," said Gita. "I had a secret friend named Sasha when I was a little girl. He never told me his last name. He was very secretive about his family and home life. I never understood why."
"I remember you disappearing a lot, Gita. You always told me you went to a little friend's cottage by moon lake."
"I'm sorry I lied, Aunt Ula. It's a long story."
"You're forgiven little Pearl. Do you think he could be the same Sasha? I don't know if Judge Mazur had a son. I hope if it's his son he is not corrupt like his father. Mr. Gorski said he had an excellent reputation."
"Well, we won't know until we see him. We're in the Warsaw area, and he's south in Kraków. That's two hundred plus miles. We will need to make a day of it."
"I say we spend the night, Gita. I told you money is not an issue anymore. Let's make an appointment and make plans."
Later that night, Gita stood in her nightgown looking out the window at the pregnant full moon. She prayed, she wished, she hoped, that this Sasha would be her Sasha. Her heart fluttered.
© 2017 Lori Colbo