Before Dr. Magill left, he had spoken with the Baldwin County Sheriff (Solly Smythe) about Burdell Wells. The Sheriff had assured him he would go to the Sanatorium and find Mr. Wells. Mercer told him just to advise the the Sheriff in Gallagher (Atasi County- Rascal Quitman), when he learned of Mr. Wells' status.
Before Dr. Magill and Iris got back to Gallagher, the Baldwin County Sheriff had called the Sheriff in Gallagher. "I just left the Sanatorium up here. We cannot find a Mr. Burdell Wells - alive or dead, or even any record of a patient with that name. There are no records of a male patient there who matches his description. Are you sure he was here?"
"His family says they visit him there regularly, although only one family member is ever able to see him. He never seems to be available when any others are there."
"Well, we have an accounting firm coming in to audit the books, the accounts, and the overall finances of the Sanatorium. I'll give them Mr. Wells' name and other information, including the family contact information. They should at least be able to track down the billing information. As soon as we know something we will call you."
The Sheriff thanked him and they rang off.
Back in town, 'Miss' Ella walked into the Tea Room. "Caroline, I just need a table for 2. Rayanne Murray will be joining me." Caroline said that would be no problem and asked her if a table by the window would be good? "Dear, that would be lovely." Caroline seated 'Miss' Ella and told her someone would be right over to serve her.
Just as Caroline left, Rayanne walked in and joined Ella at her table. Rayanne was one of Ella's oldest and dearest friends. They had survived the hell of Gallagher High School, roomed together for 2 years at the Magnolia Women's College for Ladies, been in each other's weddings, and helped each other through widowhood.
As soon as Rayanne sat down, she said, "I came as soon as you called." By then the waitress was at the table. Both of the ladies ordered a cup of Earl Grey with lemon. As soon as the waitress had left, Rayanne turned to Ella and said, "What is up?"
"I just needed to share this with someone and I knew you would appreciate it."
"Well, do tell!"
"Yesterday I was at Heddie's getting a new hat. Lenoir walked in to pick up her gown that Ada had altered. The dress was that beautiful blue that goes so well with her eyes. But, that child has never lost all that baby weight she gained when Paul was born. Bless her heart, no one will tell her that she should not wear anything form fitting. "
"And, Paul is now, what, 22 years old?" said Rayanne shaking her head.
Ella smiled. "Any way, Lenoir was telling me that while she was getting her hair done just the other day, Millie shared with her that she learned from Marge, earlier that week. Marge was at Ed's one morning. While she was waiting for her to-go cup of coffee, she overheard Mae comment that her boyfriend, Parnell, told her that Cre Uisce Aer, Parnell's family home place, had been sold. Seems that investor group that bought the place needs to unload it. And they have a buyer"
"Well who is buying it?'
"Very seriously,"said Ella, as she passed the sugar to Rayanne for her tea.
"Well, that is funny, because I just heard that some Russian multi-billionaire bought it for his girl friend. She wanted a 'Summer' Home."
"God, I hope not. They would paint the interior walls gold and try to put those funny shaped onion tops on the roof."
"No," laughed Rayanne. "Seriously, last I heard, they were talking about bulldozing down the entire place and making a strip mall."
"A strip mall?"
"One of those ticky tacky ugly string of stores that sell cheap hair products, cheap liquor, clothes that no self righteous woman would ever be caught dead wearing, and at least one Chinese Buffet." Rayanne took a sip of her tea and continued. "What other kind of 'strip malls' are you aware of?"
"Well, 'strip malls' are certainly not something I visit often." Ella laughed, "Why, even the name does not sound fitting for anyone proper to frequent."
Rayanne got serious,"The worse part is that they are going to do away with a true cultural landmark of our area. Cre Uisce Aer has been such an important part of our history. I cannot imagine it just being leveled to ensure more space for bleach blond hair color, extra large polyester pants, and General Tso's Chicken." She took another sip of tea and added, "And, to make it worse, they plan to call it, the 'Lucky Irish Town Center'."
Back at the the Baldwin County Sheriff's station, Solly Smythe called Rascal, "I put a priority on your 'Mr. Wells' and asked the accountants to scour the records for anything referring to a 'Burdell Wells' or 'Tula Wells' first when they started the audit of the Sanatorium's records. They came up with nothing. Nothing in the medical records, nothing in the financial records. They even checked to see if there was a patient, under any name, admitted the day the family says they took him there. They even checked that entire week. There were no admissions that week."
"Huh, well that makes this interesting. I thought we had a financial investigation, now we have a missing person. Thanks Solly for moving Mr. Wells to the top of your list."
"Glad to do it. Let me know what I can do to help. All my guys over here are aware of the situation. We'll find 'im one way or a 'nuther."
"Appreciate it Solly, I know we'll talk later." They rang off.
'Great', Rascal thought,'where the Hell do I start looking for Burdell Wells?' For once, he missed Reeza and her Tarot cards. Although he was sure she was just speaking in monkey dust, making it up as she went along. However, he had to admit, Reeza had been right about Mrs. Barker.
The thought was still in his head when a breeze from nowhere blowing in the office suddenly became a heavy wind. All the Sheriff could think of was, 'If that is Reeza returning, God please don't let her bring flying monkeys or an ornery raven.'