Rated: E · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #2287706
Episode V: Part I - The Case of the Nefarious Nephew
“It’s too risky,” Matt replied. “There are a multitude of crazies locked-up in that facility. Your safety cannot be guaranteed, and I don't know if I can help you should something go wrong.”
Delia turned in Matt’s direction, then made a face. “I’m telling you I can do this,” she argued. “I can initiate a self admission … just walk into their ER department and tell them I’m harboring suicidal thoughts. Once admitted, I can, with a bit of stealth, locate Melissa, let her know what's going on, and that we'll both be out of there as quickly as I can get word back to you."
Matt sighed again, shaking his head. “Still, things can go wrong … and very quickly. Paragon Mental Asylum is a state-run maximum security forensic psychiatric hospital … notorious for housing the criminally insane. Even the name ‘Paragon’ sounds out of joint. That’s a word better suited for use with with a new generation computer that features artificial intelligence or neural network pattern recognition features, not a facility for the criminally insane.”
The prospective client glanced at Delia, nodding his head in agreement. “Matt is correct. I understand what I am suggesting is risky," he said. Leaning back in a chair opposite Matt’s battered desk, J. Everett Holland sat with his legs crossed. Parked next to Delia, the six foot tall sixty something year old man displayed distinguished, but chiseled good looks. His gun-metal grey hair complimented a pair of tired, galaxy blue eyes. Wearing a crisp grey business suit, a white shirt with matching blue and white striped tie, the former personal assistant to the late shipping magnate Spencer Barton held tight to what appeared to be a red colored two inch expansion folder.
Matt exhaled a deep sigh and gave a hurried look at Holland. “Should Delia be discovered, it could be really bad news … for her. It’s a no-brainer to say that what you want Delia to do really bothers me … and that’s an understatement.”
Holland nodded. “I never argue with someone I agree with, but it’s the quickest way of locating Melissa and telling us exactly where inside the facility she's being held."
“And that’s only if she’s successful ... and that's a big if," Matt added.
Everett Holland pushed his chair away from Matt’s desk, shaking his head in frustration. “Please allow me to restate why I’m here,” he began, his tone of voice abrupt. “Spencer Barton’s adult daughter Melissa has been wrongfully committed to Paragon upon petition by Mr. Barton’s nephew Ray Sutton. It’s believed Mr. Sutton coerced or paid a mental health worker who was treating Melissa for depression to file a petition with the court in cahoots with Paragon’s chief medical superintendent and their paid-for attorney."
“A court order to involuntarily commit Melissa for depression?” Matt asked, a perplexed look on his face.
“After falsely accusing her of being suicidal … yes, that is correct,” Everett continued. “Melissa is the sole surviving heiress of Spencer Barton’s personal fortune, known to be in the millions. And it’s my further belief that his greedy, no account nephew has plans to have her declared mentally incompetent. That would place him next in line to inherit the estate, ahead of Melissa. There are no other surviving family or relatives.”
“Did Mr. Barton have a will?” Delia asked.
Everrett shook his head. “No, he died intestate. As the only surviving child, the intestacy statutes give everything to his only child Melissa … his personal fortune, property, the shipping business … everything.”
“You mean unless she’s locked-up in a mental institution … and/or declared incompetent,” Matt asserted.
“Has Melissa retained legal counsel?” Delia asked.
“With my assistance ... yes, she has,” Everett answered, pushing his chair away from Matt’s desk and crossing his legs. And it was her idea to retain your services," he added.
"Her? Who is this Attorney?" Matt asked.
“Her name is Erin Lauber, a sole practitioner. She’s in court today on an unrelated matter.”
“Hmm,” Matt drawled, “I know a lot of Attorneys, but I’m not familiar with this particular counselor. Are you telling me she’s onboard with this idea?”
“Has the attorney done anything on Melissa's behalf?” Delia chimed in.
“Attorney Lauber is preparing to initiate appropriate legal proceedings to challenge the court ordered involuntary commitment,” he answered. “But you can rest assured the hospital’s current chief administrator, along with their ‘anything can be proven by two false witnesses pettifogger’ will do everything they can to thwart those efforts.”
“Pettifogger? I haven’t heard that crooked attorney description in a while,” Matt chuckled, "but I agree. That could or will allow those parties to stonewall long enough to have her declared mentally incompetent … and indefinitely committed.”
“That’s exactly what Melissa’s attorney and I believe their end game to be,” Holland speculated.
Matt turned and exchanged glances with Delia, a worried look on his face. “Del, you know I have the utmost confidence in you, but there has to be additional safeguards," he insisted.
“Okay," she replied in a jocular tone. "So, who or what do you have in mind?”
“Blanchard and Morelli," Matt immediately blurted.
Delia bobbed her head and smiled. “Good answer.”
“Blanchard and Morelli?” Holland repeated, looking puzzled.
“My primary contacts with MPD and the FBI,” Matt answered. “I want people I trust and who I can count on to act in a moment’s notice to extricate Delia out of that hellscape should the need arise.”
“I'm not familiar with either party, but it makes sense to me,” Holland said.
Delia glanced at Holland. “Now you know why I work with this man.”
Matt smiled, then turned and locked eyes with Holland. “One last thing … what’s in this for you?”
Holland took in a deep breath. “Fair question, Mr. Duggan.”
“Please … call me, Matt.”
“Alright, Matt,” he said, sporting a half-smile. “I worked for Spencer Barton for more that thirty years. He was a good man, a fair and honest man, and generous to a fault. I did everything he asked and expected me to do,” he described. “Even though he’s no longer with us, he still wouldn’t expect anything less of me … and that includes what’s happening to his daughter.”
Acknowledging with a repetitive nod, Matt pushed his chair away from his desk and stood. “Because Melissa is represented by legal counsel, I’ll need to speak with her Attorney before I can green light this.”
“I’ll make the arrangements,” Holland said, standing and gently tossing the accordion folder he had held tightly to onto Matt's desk. "Be at Lauber's office tomorrow morning at ten." He looked down at the folder. "I'll need for you to bring that with you when you meet with her." He remained silent.
Casting a curious glance at the binder, Matt reached out and grabbed the thick file before glancing up and locking eyes with the middle-aged concierge. A pause ensued. “Alright … I give-up. What’s inside?”
Holland grimaced. “A lot of people's worst nightmares.”
Click to read Episode V Part II - "MATT DUGGAN - DETECTIVE SERIES"