Chapter 13. Anne is missing.
Steve got back to the station and was typing up his notes hoping that Maeve would text him soon. He needed the maximum background info he could gather to assess whether this was a person at ‘significant risk’ of coming to harm, or a case that came under the ‘no apparent risk (absent)’ heading and just needed monitoring. If it was the former, and he thought it was, he should report it to the Super immediately. When he looked back at the note he had received he saw the mistake that the desk duty officer had made. The report said ‘young woman’ so probably lower risk, whereas in fact it should have read ‘Mrs Young, woman…’ It was her name, Anne Young, and the husband didn’t want anyone to know that she had started showing signs of dementia. That put her into a higher risk category. Ray, the husband, said they were keeping the dementia to themselves for as long as they could, hadn’t even told the children so when she didn’t come home he thought she might just have taken the wrong turning. Ray had explained “It’s not really noticeable yet, but when she makes a mistake she gets flustered and that can make it a lot worse, so I thought if she made a few wrong turns she would have got herself really lost.” Anne is in her seventies and still very active. She should be fine. The real problem was that Ray had waited almost 24 hours before calling it in. Tonight would be her second night in the open. Whatever Maeve knew, or had heard, it was absolutely right, it was urgent. Luckily the weather had been pretty mild but still the effects of exposure would further disorientate Anne. Plus she was not that warmly dressed, he had a note of a lightweight bright pink fleece, no coat . Ray had been in such a state when he was talking to Steve, that Steve hadn’t got much more useful information Ray kept repeating himself, ‘she’s a walker, she’s fit, she’s just on a long walk, she’ll come through that door in a minute and ask what’s all the fuss about’. But she hadn’t. When she was late home, Ray had gone out and walked all her usual routes, then all the other possible roads in about a mile radius. By the time he had talked to Steve, he was utterly worn out. As Steve typed, he thought, she is high risk. He hadn’t wanted to send his report to the Super because he should have picked it up earlier, it wouldn’t look well. Damn it! All this talk about a new woman too. Nothing for it. Steve had always done the right thing no matter how badly it reflected on him. By the time Maeve left Ray she was drained. The poor man was completely exhausted. Clearly he had been bottling it up inside, all the worries over managing with Anne’s dementia and now this. As soon as Maeve asked the right questions it poured out. Maeve made him multiple cups of tea, trying to feed him at the same time, he mustn’t have eaten since Anne went missing which wasn’t helping. He needed some food and rest. Meanwhile Maeve was keeping an eye on the clock, she didn’t want to be late for Ada. When she couldn’t put it off any longer she said, “I have to dash. Why don’t you get some sleep to be ready if Anne comes home? You need to eat something and then have a sleep. That sandwich is still on the table, try and have a bite. Then you will be full of beans. I’ll only be gone for a few hours. As soon as I get back and get Ada settled, I’ll be over and we can sort out shifts so that there is always someone here in case she comes back under her own steam. We can make a plan together.” It was the best she could do for the moment and Ray seemed relieved that he wasn’t on his own, and someone was making decisions for him. As she got into the car, she called Steve, he didn’t pick up in time so it went to voicemail. “Sorry, I can’t stop, I’m late. Susan already said it and I know Anne, I am convinced that she is in serious trouble, Steve. We need to do something. Maybe if I go door to door? I will get Ray to agree that we have to tell people, I’ll get a photo from him if you don’t have one already, we need help. I’m dashing off to get Ada, I’ll be on it as soon as I get back.” Once Ada had come through the operation, Maeve thought her dramas were over, now here she was in the middle of another one. Focus on one thing at a time, she thought, like that old trick of lining coins up on your arm and tossing them into the air, if you catch them one after the other you can get them all, if you try to catch all the coins in one go, you will drop the lot. One at a time. One at a time and I will get there, at least thinking that helped her get through the quick shop and drive over to the hospital. Steve had already emailed his report to the Super, but with a sigh he knew this wasn’t going to be enough, plus he had a stack of ongoing cases and he needed to check some of the paper files back at HQ. He set off for Maidstone. Canterbury station was up to speed and if, or more like when, this needed to be escalated at least he would be able to work with Maeve to get the neighbours involved and she would be offline for the next few hours at a minimum. Given the state he was in when Steve left him, he didn’t think Ray would be up to organising any local volunteers on his own. Settling his mind on riding the bike perfectly brought him a sense of peace, and with Jimmy Hendrix’s ‘Ezy Rider’ running through his head he was at one with the road. Maeve walked in to see Ada looking like a film star, “wasn’t I lucky? The hairdresser and make-up lady were doing their rounds today and I got a total makeover!” They had moved her to the general ward and she had been in her element entertaining the other patients. She wasn’t in a rush to go, and as ever had a string of goodbyes and thank yous to get through. Maeve felt the irritation rise, then she stopped, took a breath, and thought how glad she was that Ada was there. Breathing out slowly allowing the smile to spread across her face, Maeve went to the reception desk to check that they had all the right paperwork and that Ada’s next outpatient appointment was in order. “Come on, prima donna, your other public are waiting!” Ada was delighted with all the attention, with a final cheeky, “good-bye Nurse Ratched” they left the hospital. In fact Ada didn’t need the make-up, the stents had had an amazing effect, the increased blood flow gave her cheeks a healthy glow that had been missing. Seeing the improvement made Maeve realise that Ada had been looking pale and tired, she should have noticed it before. Feeling selfish she was now determined to do better. Maeve knew she would have to break habits formed in childhood to create this new relationship, and made herself a promise to do it now. They had been given a second chance and had to make the most of it. To change the dynamics they really needed something to do, a project, something they could do together, as equals. Ada was on a roll, “Maeve darling, we have to go by the house in Sandgate, I have no clothes, no make-up, nothing. I’m quite happy to have a robe and a rice bowl, so long as the robe is Issey Miyake, however I don't think Marieanne and Orla would approve. And I need my electric toothbrush, can’t live without that!....” Ada went on and the list got longer, Maeve realised that she was going to be doing the packing with Ada shouting ‘helpful’ comments; it wasn’t going to be easy to keep her promise. As quick as they could but longer than planned, Maeve and Ada set off for Canterbury. Ada had taken her favourite soft cushion with the deep purple velvet and Chinese embroidery cover, as a ‘make-do’ for the back of the car, so that she could ‘rest, following doctors orders’ on the journey. Actually even though she was clearly revelling in her new role, she did look tired and Maeve was glad to have some time to mull things over herself. They had only crossed the motorway when Maeve heard Ada snore, smiling to herself she knew that this was best not mentioned. Concentrating on the by-pass after the motorway, Maeve was a little disconcerted when she felt and then heard Kamal, he was sitting in the front passenger seat. Of course, this was his road, his last journey. Given all her recent experiences, this didn’t phase Maeve much, if fact it felt like seeing a friend that she was ‘getting to know properly’. She was glad that he was there. He started “It's okay, I know what you have done. You have begun.. that’s good. And when it's over and you have found the killer, please tell my story, I am no terrorist, I am just ordinary guy, you saw the photo, we started the rocket society, the ‘Space Society’. But maybe you don’t know, there are people there at the University who think the earth is flat and that our work is wrong, against their religion, they want to stop us. Not only terrorists are bad people, these conspiracy people are bad people too. But now there is something else, I know, and there is more for you to do, and I can help.”