Minerva Ch. 09 of 10byDenham_Forrest©
For the rest of that day, nothing happened, well nothing of significance anyway. Except maybe, that I had apparently become, Lady Tanya's close companion. Or rather, being the only... non-professionals around, we seemed to spend all of our time together. Lady T insisted that I escorted her almost everywhere. Walking stick in one hand, she hung onto my arm like grim death with the other.
Mind you, we were both worried about what had become of Minerva for personal, not professional reasons. I suppose that kinda pushed us together, everyone else had a job of some kind to do; even if it was just keeping Tanya and I safe. With Burgess on the loose, no one dared take any chances.
Not that I could see him bothering to come to do harm to either of us. I had it figured that he'd got the hell out of Dodge quickly and efficiently enough when things started to look as if they'd gone pear-shaped on him. Surely he must have had an 'escape from the country' plan in place.
Lady Tanya's tack -- where I was concerned -- changed some, during that day. She -- like myself -- didn't voice any apprehension that Minerva might no longer be alive. Instead she kept talking about the future and what 'we' were going to do together in the future, when her niece was eventually found.
The 'we', clearly being, Lady Tanya, Minerva and myself, by the way.
Lady Tanya appeared to take it as read, that Minerva and I were going to get married pretty quickly once she was located. A little... er, optimistically, I thought.
Christ yeah, I had been a lot more than taken with Kylie, when we'd met at the Cliff Head Hotel, but... Well honestly, we'd only known each other a couple of days. A romance? Yes, I if I got my way, that was definitely on the cards. But talking about a wedding... No, her ladyship was rushing things, more than a little. But then again, I suppose that it helped to keep her spirits up.
Around lunchtime the next day, members of Lady Tanya's extended family began to make brief appearances at the manor house. All, to tell her how relieved they were to hear that she was still alive.
Oh yeah, and I was going to believe any of that crap, I'd seen most of the buggers when they thought that a financial share-out, was in the offing.
But Lady Tanya would still not let me out of her sight, if she could get away with it. So I had to sit through and witness almost all of the -- so called -- happy reunions.
None complained about the ruse of Tanya's feigned death; one would suppose they'd already been made aware of the previous attempts on her life by then. And none questioned outright who I was or why I was with Lady Tanya. But most of them threw me suspicious glances and dirty looks -- on the quiet -- when they thought Tanya wouldn't notice.
I do believe that a good many of them must have come to the conclusion that I really was Lady Tanya's toy-boy, or something anyway, by then.
Tanya herself thought that that assumption was hilarious. She didn't actually voice her thought's in words, but she made it clear to me that she was aware of their misconception. Actually I think, that the old-girl did more to reinforce their error, than correct it.
The next few days were much of the same. Lady Tanya insisting that I was her almost constant companion and John and Helen reporting very little to us. One assumes because there was little to report.
Several newspapers printed retractions of Lady Tanya's obituary. But to my utter confusion did not enlarge further than saying that her death had been reported in error. There were also stories and reports on the television -- not that the TV was one of Lady T's favourite pastimes -- that one 'William Burgess' was being urgently sort by the fraud squad. But once again no explanation was given and no connection was inferred between the two stories. Although a few pundits and analysts from the City were roped in, who hinted that Burgess's business empire might not be all that it appeared to be.
What surprised me was that there was no mention of what had occurred at Tarrent Hall, or that fact that Lady Minerva was missing.
"Simple Gilroy, the police are treating Minerva's disappearance as a kidnapping." John carpenter explained when I queried the point with him. "There's an agreement, no British news service, or TV channel will carry a report on anything about Minerva, until she is located. You never know, some accomplice who's been charged with detaining her, might panic and dispose of her, if they did.
"Burgess they've had to do a deal on workaround on. It's imperative that we lay our hands on him as soon as. But the press will keep the details about Minerva confidential for the time being."
It was very long two weeks before the Carpenters made their big breakthrough and from what I've learnt since, the information that led them there was not obtained legally.
It seems that some of Marco and Bernie's associates, don't have to bother about such legal niceties as search warrants etcetera. It was kinda inferred that straightforward house breaking, or burglary, can apparently be much more efficient, and quicker. I was asked not to enquire too closely on that subject.
Mind you, there had been a few false starts, or blind alleys. The police and/or the Carpenter's people, discovered that Burgess had money invested in several medical clinics in the UK, Europe and the USA. Police locally searched the establishments, but there was no sign of Minerva at any of them. Most were cosmetic surgery establishments anyway.
But a couple in France, one in Switzerland and one in the Western USA were... substance abuse drying-out clinics, to put it bluntly. All were very thoroughly searched -- on more than one occasion, as I understand it -- but no evidence of Minerva was found at any of them either.
To my mind, the trail had gone cold, unless the authorities could come up with William Burgess.
However eventually it appears that John's people had focused on a doctor... a psychiatrist who had at one time worked in a French clinic that Burgess held a financial interest in. I have no idea of how John's people singled the bugger out or why; but they somehow discovered that Burgess had been in regular contact with the man even after he was no longer employed by the Clinic.
Then it came to light that not five years before, the good doctor had set up his own private residential psychiatric clinic in Kent. By curious coincidence, not all that far from Burgess's British residence. And -- by a further extraordinary coincidence -- in a Stately Home, that had been purchased from Soleburn Industries.
As he said the name of that company, John Carpenter looked across at me. He appeared to be aware that I might (or should) recognise the it.
Well, I had mentioned the company to Harcourt and Sandra that first day. So I immediately drew the conclusion that either Harcourt had briefed John very thoroughly on our conversation that day... or he (or Sandra) had been wired, and John had either listened in, or to a recording of it.
I do not know for sure, why John Carpenter's people focussed on the guy in the first place; or how they came to know of his existence. But I do know that the information was kept from the police. John's explanation for that was that he feared that it would take too long to establish a sound enough legal footing to obtain a search warrant for the clinic.
"She's got to be there Gil, there's nowhere else left for us to look!" John had explained.
"But how are we going to get inside?" I asked. Kind-a wondering, how we were going to get in the front door of a mental hospital in the first place.
Oh yeah I was going with them; I'd dare anyone to try and stop me. But John appeared to have taken that fact as read.
"We just knock on the bugger. As of yesterday morning, Lady Tanya is trustee of Minerva's estate. In effect, she's Minerva's legal guardian, especially if... anyway Tanya or her representatives can demand to see Minerva anytime she likes, and there's sod-all... sorry milady... that anyone can do to stop her seeing her. From there on in, it's all down to you Gil!. You're the only one here, except Lady Tanya, who would recognise Minerva for sure."
"When are we leaving?" Lady Tanya asked.
"Tanya, it might get a little..." John started to say, but her ladyship was having none of it.
"John, I'm getting on in years, but I'm not that old. I've lived in places that you'd turn your nose up at young man. There's nothing much I haven't seen or done during my life. Besides, I can look after myself if anyone cuts up rough with me." Tanya replied.
Then taking us all by complete surprise, she unsheathed a damned vicious looking sword, from the walking stick she habitually carried around with her, and waved at us very... professionally.
"Do you want to try and take it from me?" she grinned, "I was a champion swordswoman in my younger days, you know. And I could cut you all down, before any of you got close enough to do me any harm. Mind, I doubt the police would be very happy about that sort of behaviour."
"Lady Tanya, those things are illegal."
"No they are not John... well, not here anyway; only in a public place. This is an antique; part of the private collection from Tarrent Hall. Your people are very efficient young man, but I just thought it prudent to take my own precautions as well."
Then she deftly returned the sword to its hiding place inside her walking stick.
"Shit!" Bernie's voice said from behind me. "Looks like our boys would have to protect any idiot who tried to assault Tanya."
"Thank you Bernaaard. But watch your language young man, if you don't mind."
"Sorry milady." Bernie blurted out.
"Tanya, will do very nicely thank you, Bernie." She grinned back at him.
---- ---- ---- ----
We all trooped out of the house together. Helen, Lady Tanya, Bernie, Marco and myself getting in the Rolls. John and several of his guys in his Range Rover. But before we pulled away Ronnie Mackintosh arrived at break neck speed and after exchanging a few quick words with John climbed into the Rolls with us.
Ronnie immediately started to say that Lady Tanya shouldn't be accompanying us on our excursion. But her ladyship promptly read him the riot act, and he went quiet for a while. I think that the old lady upset Ronnie for a moment of two. He looked pretty nonplussed, for a solicitor, anyway.
---- ---- ---- ----
It took us nearly two hours to get to the clinic. Mind you, some of that time we were sat in a lay-by waiting for a private ambulance, paramedics and two doctors to join us; one of whom turned out to be a trick-cyclist. But they travelled in their own car, where Ronnie Mackintosh joined them.
As we pulled away, yet another car joined the convoy, the occupants of which were to take no part in what happened later. I do believe that they were there as observers. However I'm sure that Harcourt was sitting in the front passenger seat and I thought that I recognised Sandra sitting in the rear.
---- ---- ---- ----
The clinic (actually the nameplate said 'Sanatorium') was in a house larger than the one Lady Tanya had been residing in, but nowhere near the size of Tarrent Hall. We swept into the drive without stopping for the guy who came running out of the gatehouse shouting.
Looking back though, I saw that a couple of familiar looking men had appeared from somewhere and were... keeping him occupied. It would seem that some of the Carpenter's... operatives, must have been 'in place' before we arrived. Maybe the guy should have kept those bloody gates closed.
Our arrival on the forecourt of the clinic, brought a security guy out to ask what we wanted, I think. I can't say what happened to that guy really, after he came down the steps he just disappeared. The Carpenters' guys again, I believe.
Ronnie Mackintosh led our entourage into the entrance hall, where we found another guy sitting behind a long high desk or counter. He immediately demanded to know what we wanted at that time of night. It was just gone one a.m., by that time.
Ronnie informed him that Lady Tanya Simpson wished to see Lady Minerva Wisdom immediately. Ronnie also spelling out that he was both ladies legal representative.
The guy looked a little confused and explained, firstly, that it was outside visiting hours, and secondly, that there were no patients named Minerva Wisdom resident in clinic. He even opened a filing cabinet and waved his hand across a draw full of files, almost saying, "Look for yourself!" He then flicked through the files quickly, and said that no one call Wisdom had ever been a patient of the clinic. He then suggested that if we didn't leave promptly, he'd have to call the police.
"She must be in here." John Carpenter said.
But the guy assured him again that Minerva wasn't.
But then Marco -- taking everyone by complete surprise, I think, because he is a really big man -- said, "Shit this?" vaulted over the high counter and landed -- rather daintily alongside the guy, who -- in shock -- turned to face the newly arrived mountain.
Marco gently placed one finger on the man's chest and kind of steered him into a chair.
"Sit there, keep quiet, and don't say another word dumb-nuts; unless you're spoken to first. And if you want to see the sun rise in the morning, you won't try to press any hidden alarm buttons or anything stupid like that!" Marco said to the -- by then -- terrified looking man.
Then Marco went through the filing cabinet himself, file by file. I somehow got the feeling that Marco had done the same sort of thing before.
"He's right! No Lady Minerva!" Marco finally announced, but for some reason he was smiling.
I think everyone's heart dropped a little, until Marco announced, "But we do seem to have a patient by the name of Jessup... Sarah Jessup! Rather a coincidence don't you think. What's more, this bloody file is empty." He added, turning to look at the nervous looking guy sat in his chair.
"Well?" Marco demanded.
I didn't think the man could look anymore frightened that he had when he suddenly found Marco's bulk standing beside him, but he did.
"She's a serious case. Violent and very dangerous, no one is allowed near her except for specially trained staff."
"How long has she been here?" John Carpenter demanded.
"I don't know. She was here when I started nearly two years ago; I've never seen her. Her room is on the top floor where all the special patients are. We don't go up there."
"Special patients? John asked.
"Yes, they can be violent and only specially trained members of the staff are allowed to go up there."
"And why no paperwork here?"
"I don't know. That's kept on the top floor as well."
What room John then demanded, but it was Marco who had been studying the fire-map on the wall behind the counter, who replied.
"401, looks like a suit of rooms on here. It's on the fourth floor."
The room number at least, must have been written on the file in the cabinet.
"Make sure our friend here doesn't sound the alarm Marco!" John said and started heading for the lifts.
He got a couple of paces before Marco called out to stop him.
"Fire keys?" he demanded of his captive, who retrieved the bunch from a draw in the counter. Marco threw them to Bernie who -- being a little more patient and probably more used to the kind of thing that was happening -- had waited for them.
Then Bernie took the lead, but he didn't head for the lifts, he went towards a door marked fire escape.
"We have to use the stairs John. If some bugger raises the alarm, they might switch the power off and we'd be trapped in there. Now as quietly as possible please, everyone."
Bernie and John led the way up the stairs, Lady Tanya, Helen and I bringing up the rear. I was quite surprised that Tanya didn't appear at all fatigued, by the pace we went up on those stairs.
On the fourth floor Marco unlocked the door and we exited the stairwell into a massive corridor that ran the full length of the house. I immediately realised that it was a long gallery, where the original owners of the house would have taken exercise during inclement weather. They were often positioned on the upper floors to give panoramic views of the estate through the large windows along one of the walls.
We got maybe halfway along the gallery when a male nurse dressed in white came out of a door and challenged us. I can't say what happened, I only heard the encounter from my position at the rear. However there was a brief altercation and then we moved on again. We saw the unconscious nurse lying up against the wall, being attended to, by the doctor from our party. Bernie's handywork, I suspected.
Then our crowd began to spread out as we reached the door numbered 401, John signalled me to come closer as he opened a little flap in the door and looked inside.
"Is that Minerva?" he asked.
"Difficult to tell from here, but I think so." I said as Lady Tanya -- forgetting her manners in her excitement -- elbowed me out of the way. She did apologised for doing so later though.
"That's my girl, I'm sure of it. Open the damned door John." Tanya demanded.
"Hold-up!" a voice said as John did open the door. "That man downstairs said that she may be violent; Lady Tanya I think you should stay out here with Helen please?" It was the psychiatrist who'd been with the doctor.
John and I approached the bed. Sure enough it was my Kylie, but she was... well more than asleep, she was out cold. Shaking her gently did nothing to rouse her.
The doctor having left his nurse patient, joined us and gave Minerva a quick examination.
"Drugged if I'm not mistaken." He announced, "Probably to keep her quiet during the night. Someone see if that nurse is compos mentis enough yet, to tell us what they've pumped into her.
Very quickly Bernie brought the very groggy looking and unsteady on his feet, male nurse into the room. The doctor demanded that he produced 'the patient's' notes; then Bernie, the nurse and the psychiatrist guy went off to retrieve them. In the meantime the doctor asked the rest of us to withdraw, excepting Lady Tanya and Helen, while he examined 'the patient'.
The psychiatrist guy reappeared with the notes quite quickly, reading them as he approached. He went straight past us into Kylie's room leaving John, Ronnie and I standing in the long gallery looking (and feeling) much like a group of expectant fathers' in a delivery suite waiting room.
Bernie returned alone a few minutes later, and replied that we didn't have to fret about the male nurse, when John enquired about his whereabouts. John just smiled at his reply.
Then the doctor opened the door and said that it was quite safe to move 'the patient' and that we should call the ambulance guys up with a stretcher. John thought that a little more haste would be prudent, so I swept Kylie up in my arms and we all let-out for the stairs.
Only Bernie insisted that it would be safer if he actually carried Kylie down to the ground floor and took over that task. Gently handing her back to me when we reached the foyer. I carried her on the last leg out to the Ambulance. She was quickly loaded onto the stretcher inside -- with the doctor and myself -- then the vehicle sped away blue lights flashing.
It took maybe twenty minutes to half an hour, for us to arrive at a hospital casualty department. Kylie was immediately moved into one of the emergency rooms and a whole team of doctors and nurses began to give her yet another good once over. The doctor who'd been with us and the psychiatrist guy -- who'd arrived at the hospital by other means -- began pouring over her medical notes, along with a couple of the hospital staff. I could not follow what any of them said, by the way; so don't ask.
Eventually our doctor approached me and informed me that -- putting it briefly -- Kylie had been fed a cocktail of drugs, most often used to keep violent patients and/or those suffering from dementia... well, docile. As well as having been administered something to make her sleep for the whole night.