Just released, Volume One of The Francie LeVillard Mysteries...featuring three short stories

** Doc's Drugs Problem **
** A House Divided **
** Raggedy Ann **

plus an original play presented March 10th 2013 in Monterey by the Friends of the Monterey Symphony:

** Flight to Nowhere **

 

   Monterey Mystery 


Set on the glorious Central Coast of California, Monterey Mystery delivers compelling detective stories in serial form online courtesy of generous Monterey County merchants. These mysteries, featuring the brilliant and engaging Francie LeVillard, are based on real events drawn from today's headlines. New episodes are posted on the First and Fifteenth of every month. Click on Archives for the earlier episodes.
 

Novels by
Tony Seton

Just Imagine, a dear, funny, look at auras and how they will define the future of the Earth. (Aug '11)
 



Mayhem is a contemporary version of the
mythic struggle between good and evil. (Jul '11)

 



The Autobiography of John Dough, Gigolo is an amazing tale of a man who devotes his life to helping women turn their lives around.
(Jun  '11)
 



The Omega Crystal is about the oil giants sitting on huge break-through discoveries in solar energy.
(May '11)

 



Silver Lining is a compelling, heart-warming story of romance, politics, media and guns,
torn from today's news headlines.
(Apr '11)
 

 

Truth Be Told is based on a true story about sexual harassment at a top-50 American law school. 
(Apr '10)

*   *   *   *   *   *

Tony's books and DVDs are available through local bookstores and on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Francie

Supporting Players

Some of her Cases

Francie's Creator

Francie Booked

Archives

Contact


By the by, the sounds you hear at the top and close of each episode are from the local aquatic denizens -- mostly sea ions -- by the Commercial Wharf on Monterey Bay.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Truth Will Out"
A Francie LeVillard Mystery
Episode V     

Here in Episode V of "The Truth Will Out," Francie LeVillard, the world's finest consulting detective, is back on the case of Walter Myers. We'll begin this episode with some interesting background.

* * * * *

When Pao Oulong emigrated from China to California, probably in the early 1860s, it was for a job in a San Francisco laundry owned by a distant cousin, ostensibly for him to make enough money to bring over his two younger sisters, something he eventually did. But according to sketchy records, Pao didn’t stay long at the laundry. Instead he quickly discovered that he could make a lot more money as a procurer of services for the sailors who arrived at the largest port on the West Coast. Pao expanded his business interests and became the largest owner of brothels in San Francisco and Sacramento before he retired with his considerable wealth to the Monterey Peninsula. His sisters, Maylin and Soulin, took over the operations.

Some say it was a change of heart, or maybe it’s just who he was all the time since he protected his people, paid them well, and took care of their health care needs. But Pao took his considerations a step further and opened up a clinic in Monterey to treat his employees, and their offspring. The Oulong Center for Health was also open to the general public. Those who could afford to pay were required to do so, but many people who lacked the resources were treated on credit, often never to repay...but with gratitude.

The health center was expanded over the years, first by Pao and later by his sisters. In their advanced years, they turned it over to the county along with a funding trust with the codicil that the name always remains the same, honoring their dear departed brother. The facility was one of the finest in California, at least, and a vital community fixture.

That is, up until the end of the Twentieth Century when the board of directors decided that there had been too little focus on profit. They started channeling the trust money into such budget items as marketing, public relations, and advertising, plus executive suite renovation and executive bonuses. The funds were shifted from budget lines like equipment upgrades and physician training.

The result, sad to say, was that the Oulong became less of a community health center that promoted prevention, hygiene, and nutrition, and more of a medical facility for the wealthy and well-insured. But even the well-heeled were not as well-healed. The center didn’t keep up with important advancements in technology, both equipment and training, and an increasing number of serious cases were shuttled north to up-to-date hospitals in San Jose and Stanford. While there were risks in sending some patients on a hundred-mile trip in an ambulance or helicopter, it was often better than having patients die on an Oulong operating table.

Such is what Francie found out in just a couple of days of digging. It helped that she had been in the area for as long as she had, and had developed a reputation for integrity throughout the professional community, from law enforcement to Cass Street medicos, from the attorneys to the business magnates. With just a few calls, she was able to establish the fact that almost no one had good things to say about OuCH, and that fact was underscored by the fact that most of them used the acronym. Virtually all agreed that if they got sick, they would go to Stanford without a second thought.

One wag, a doctor who had watched the center’s reputation slide, asked Francie if she had seen the George C. Scott film The Hospital. She told him that she had. "It’s like that," he said. "Everyone who knows anything about medicine would rather send their family to a clinic in Salinas than to OuCH. People die there who shouldn’t."

During a long follow-up call with Wally Myers, Francie had culled three names that were worth her detecting time. The first was Marshall Pitun, the chief of neurosurgery at OuCH. Wally said Pitun had wanted to join his operation, but Wally had told him that the card was already filled. In fact, he hadn’t found people for the last two slots, but he didn’t want Pitun anywhere near his enterprise. "He’s crazy, Francie. I mean that. Clinically he’s off his nut. I could tell you stories...."

"Tell me."

"The guy’s a surgeon, right? He goes into the OR at Natividad, cuts open a patient for a simple appendectomy, gets all woozy and passes out. Not only that, but he fell on top of the patient."

"Why did he pass out?"

"According to two nurses, it was the sight of blood."

"That doesn’t make any sense. A surgeon, fainting at the sight of blood? How could he cut people open?"

"Well that’s the point. He doesn’t any more. That was his last time in the OR. His friends at OuCH moved him up to Chief of Staff. He couldn’t cut anymore so they made him an administrator."

"That sounds sick, if you don’t mind the pun."

"Sick doesn’t begin to describe that creep. He blamed the anesthesiologist for releasing gas that made him faint."

"Did that really happen?"

"No, of course not. First of all, it would be dispersed immediately into the air and become ineffective. That’s why it’s administered to the patient with a mask. Second, how come the nurses weren’t affected, since they were closer to the gas than Pitun was? It was all hogwash. But worst of all, when he was made CoS, he had the gas man’s privileges cancelled at the hospital."

"That’s vicious."

"That’s the kind of guy we’re dealing with, Francie. So watch yourself."

When Francie ended the call, she opened a locked drawer in her desk and pulled out her seven-shot Kel-Tec P32. She slipped out the magazine, and looked down the barrel. It was smooth and shiny as it should have been. She always cleaned it after she came back from the range. She tested the action, then slipped the magazine back in the butt of the gun. She pulled back the slide and chambered a bullet. She put on the safety and then pulled back the slide seven more times, ejecting the bullets onto her desk. Then she removed the magazine again, checked the barrel to make sure it was empty, released the safety and pulled the trigger. Then she reloaded the bullets into the clip and put the clip back into the gun, leaving the chamber empty. She put the gun in her jacket pocket.

* * * * *

The other two names Myers had given her were Dixon Krobat and Melba Cheeth. Krobat was a urologist on staff at OuCH. He, too, had wanted to be part of Myers’ deal but the hospital wouldn’t let him. They threatened to fire him if he signed up. Myers told Francie that Krobat had resented him ever since. Then he lowered his voice and told her there might be something else to say about him. Then he gave a stage cough. They agreed to meet that evening at Vesuvio’s for a glass of wine.

Melba Cheeth had been Myers’ office manager until around the time the Varian was installed. The installation necessitated a thorough going-over of accounts to separate the accounts of the doctor’s office and the radiation operation. The accounting review turned up some anomalies, as they say in polite society, which indicated some unapproved expenditures had been made by the office manager.

Myers, not one for a confrontation, discussed the situation with his sister, an attorney who was in town for the holidays and she told him she would take care of the situation. As she recounted to her brother later, she met Cheeth off site and showed her the report with a dozen discrepancies circled in red. They totaled just over $6,000.

"She was great, my sister Melody is great. She told the woman that she had gone through her desk and removed all of her personal belongings. They were in a box in the restaurant manager’s office. She had to sign a document she handed her that didn’t say she took the money; just that she was responsible for the accounts that came up short. And she told her that if she didn’t sign it right then and there, and hand over her office keys, Melody would personally hand the matter over to the Monterey County District Attorney the next morning and ask that she be charged with embezzlement."

"And Cheeth complied?"

"Well yah, she had to. You don’t know my sister. You’ll have to meet Melody some day. She used to prosecute labor racketeers for the Department of Justice. She got more convictions and guilty pleas than anyone in the department. Yeah, she just signed the admission. Melody said her face was white and her fingers had trouble taking the keys off the ring."

"Nice result," Francie told him.

"Yeah, and I want something similar on this matter, too."

Francie said soothingly, "The best thing you can do to see that that happens is to keep your cool. Just tell yourself that it’s going to turn out for the best. Every time you feel like you’re getting upset, tell yourself that. You’re an excellent brain surgeon, aren’t you?"

There was just a moment’s hesitation and Myers said he was.

"Well I’m as good at what I do as you are at what you do, so lighten up." There was a pause and then she told him, "See you at five."

* * * * *

Francie spent part of the day making phone calls to other acquaintances, including to Sheriff Telford Spivac. His nickname – in his line he needed one – was Bogie, probably because he could do a great imitation of the great actor. He had grown up on The Peninsula fifty-some-odd years earlier, and had seen a lot, heard a lot. Francie had met him when she was a reporter with the San Francisco station, coming down to cover stories in Monterey. They had reconnected when she first moved to town, and they had subsequently collaborated on a half dozen cases in which she had provided critical information to enable him to put a number of criminals behind bars.

Bogie echoed what she had learned about the hospital falling into avaricious hands. He was also aware of numerous complaints filed about collection agencies harassing patients and their families over bills, some of them small amounts. Not infrequently the collection agencies had gone after the survivors of those who hadn’t made it out of OuCH alive. Bogie himself had quietly organized some of the area's top business people to persuade the hospital to find a better approach to balancing their books. Of course it wasn’t really about balancing anything but human decency against greed because for the hospital it was a matter of how much profit they would make.

Mark David, who headed a top flight public relations firm in Monterey, was another who had his finger on the pulse of the community. More than once Francie had helped one of his clients who needed some unofficial assistance dealing with a personal matter. Francie had earned a reputation for discretion, if that doesn’t sound like an oxymoron, so Mark was always happy to take her call.

"I always thought that place was simmering on an open flame," he told her. "I’m sure there have been some large pay-outs to avoid publicity."

"You didn’t represent them, did you, Mark?" she asked, and then submitted, "You know I wouldn’t have asked if I thought they were a client of yours."

"No, no, no they’re not a client." He chuckled. "There was a time when I tried to get a piece of their publicity work but they went with firms in San Francisco. Same with their advertising agencies. They could have gotten just as good work down here, and it would have been better for their image, but they didn’t think that way. They were – they are – such arrogant SOB’s that they thought it made a better impression if they bought the high-priced spread. Of course it didn’t, since their market was down here. I mean, it wasn’t like people outside of the area were coming here for the medical work. Dumb, just dumb. Moreover they spent a ton more than they needed to. Probably a half-million a year in inflated fees alone."

"They could have bought a lot of Mercurochrome for that kind of money."

Mark’s voice tightened. "They could have done what they were supposed to be doing and that was serving the community. That’s the furthest thing from their minds today."

"Any good guys up there?"

"Some, but most of the people with real talent set up on Cass or over in Ryan Ranch. Some over in Salinas. They have their privileges at the hospital for their patients, and keep their mouths quiet for the most part about what they know. Still, word gets around."

"Word?"

Mark was fired up. "Yes, like about their chief of staff. He’s been known to throw tantrums for no reason at all. He’ll start screaming at his staff, at his patients. More than once he’s chased after a patient, yelling at them for this or that as they raced out the door of his waiting room. Once, I heard, it was a woman wearing a hospital gown who was screaming as loud as he was."

"And he’s their chief of staff? Why do they keep him? Does he have something on them?"

"From what I heard, he’s golfing buddies with a couple of the directors. I think probably they thought it would be easier to ease him out rather than go through the expense of getting rid of him. Anyway, his term as CoS is up this year so life should be easier for them."

"And the person who’s replacing him?"

Mark laughed. "I think they’re going from the frying pan into the fire. It’s a woman named Stephany Klave. A heart specialist by trade. Ironic but true, because from what I’ve heard about her, she’s as cold as they come. At Sloan-Kettering where she was before, they referred to her as the Wicked Witch of the East. She went through staff like a wood-chipper."

"Sounds like she’ll fit right in."

Mark wasn’t so sure. "Maybe. She’s a lesbian. Very, very hard woman. And that’s pretty much an old boys’ network up there. It’s not like they were going to pinch her butt, but you can be sure they expect her to know her place. And you can be sure that she got them to believe she would like to get the appointment. I expect the honeymoon will be over before the end of the first quarter."

"No wonder they call the place OuCH. Is there anything that can be done? Certainly the community would benefit from a quality hospital that put health care first."

"Certainly would," Mark said. "Maybe if they made some big mistakes up there that they couldn’t cover up, and there was a bunch of them, they could be put on probation, maybe lose their accreditation. That could leave them open for a take-over. Maybe by an Asian émigré who runs a chain of houses of ill repute?"

Francie laughed. "It would be better than what we have now." Before Mark hung up, he shared with her some gossip that she might be able to put to good use. That would be up to her.

* * * * *

Some interesting new developments coming up in Episode VI of "The Truth Will Out," right here as MontereyMystery.com on May 1st.

 

 

Please patronize the sponsors of the Monterey Mystery
 

If it needs to be said, all of the characters in the Monterey Mystery stories are fictional, except those who obviously aren't and deserve the publicity.

Monterey Mystery © 2011-2015 Tony Seton

Please advise webmaster@Montereymystery.com if anything is amyss.