Saturday, July 20th, 2024

B Book Excerpts by Jean Loxley-Barnard
The Hope Trap -- Danger


The following is an excerpt from The Hope Trap, Jean Loxley-Barnard's forthcoming book.

I vacillated between wanting to get Rob some help, wanting to slap his face, and wanting to castrate him. I was furious, livid. Without further thought, I picked up the phone and dialed his number. His answering machine came on.

"I think you will rue the day..." I began, and astounded myself by telling him exactly what I now knew in language I had never used before. When Rob heard that message, he would be quite certain I meant what I said. He'd be correct.

It occurred to me right afterward that I might have put myself in danger with that message. Now we both knew that I was coming after him. I needed to be elsewhere.

I dialed Eve's number, but her answering machine was on and I felt a little panicky. I called my former son-in-law and asked him if I could stay there overnight. He said yes, but was less than enthusiastic. Quent was one of the handful of people who knew much of what had been going on, but would be stunned to know more.

The half hour drive to Quent's after the earlier four hour drive from D.C., took my last ounce of strength. It was midnight when I made up Quent's sofa bed and set the alarm so I could leave before my granddaughter woke. I was relieved to be able to sleep in safety.

When driving back home at dawn, I pondered what I might find. Arriving home, there were no signs that Rob had been there. Relieved, I quickly locked the dead bolt behind me. I was in the habit of keeping everything locked. My car, for instance, each time I left it. Even when I was planning to come right back to it, I locked my car.

Caution was my goal. If I got in the habit of simply locking everything as I left it, I wouldn't have to think of it every minute. The habit would take care of itself. I was not frightened, I told myself, just prudent.

It occurred to me right afterward
that I might have put myself in danger ...
Now we both knew that I was coming after him.

I called Eve to say that it was past time to find out just what was going on and get all those involved together to find out what was rumor and what was true. Emotions seemed to be getting out of control. I knew mine were, and Kitty's mother, judging from our phone conversation the night before.

"Just when you think it can't get any more wild," Eve said, "it does!" Again and again she would interject, "I just can't believe all this!"

When I told Eve that I had suggested to Kitty's mother that we have a meeting with everyone at once, Eve suggested we meet at her home. Her street led to a cul de sac, was private, and had easy visibility to see any car that passed.

An old saying came to mind: Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean you're not in danger.

From Chapter 9: The Meeting

There needed to be a meeting of all who knew, even peripherally, about Kitty's relationship with a doctor three times her age. The picture that was emerging had to be dealt with, for this young girl's sake. It would certainly impact Rob, me, and others, but we had to save Kitty, a minor.

I called Kitty's parents, who were eager to come. The Reverend Jim Weaver and his wife, Diane, who said, "I'll be there, with or without Jim!" She was a gutsy woman I admired. I hadn't decided about Jim yet.

Diane surprised me by putting their daughter, Angel, on the phone. "I really need to tell you something," Angel began. I held my breath. "A few months ago, after Dr. Hood operated on my wrist, I went back for a final checkup. When I was ready to leave, he took me firmly by the shoulders and kissed me on the lips! It wasn't a little peck for the daughter of his friend."

Angel, about 21, was sophisticated enough to handle advances from a man her father's age, but she was clearly distressed. "I didn't know what to say, so I just left."

"Did you tell your parents?" I wondered aloud.

"My mother," she replied, "but I was afraid to tell my father."

"If you can tell him, Angel, it would be helpful," I urged.

I reached Jo last, and she said wild horses couldn't keep her away. Jo was always a comfort to me, providing support for what she termed the "outrageous" situation.

Pieces of the Puzzle

Diane and Jim arrived early for the meeting. I couldn't really blame him for wanting to believe in Rob. I had hung on to believing in Rob for too many years, despite his affairs and lies.

Jim liked having Rob become his best friend. There is something socially seductive about having a doctor as your best friend. Jim had much to lose if he fully believed what he was about to hear.

I thanked everyone for coming, explaining that we needed to separate fact from fiction, rumor from firsthand knowledge, and figure out what could be done for Kitty.

Patricia spoke first with a list of Kitty's illnesses and operations. We sat listening, appalled at what we were hearing. Kitty had been Rob's patient since she was 11 and had undergone eight operations over six years, three of which were done by Rob.

Our hearts went out to Patricia. She had endured her daughter's illnesses and, just when she believed her burden was lifted with a doctor ever-present, he turned out to be pursuing her child!

Patricia told how Rob had begun asking them the previous fall if he could take Kitty on Saturdays, while he ran errands. "It would be good for her to get out," he had said. Kitty was often housebound. The grateful parents had agreed that "Dr. Dad" could take his young patient out for a change of pace.

By November, the doctor had started visiting their home, telling them he was having marital problems and was lonely. They were glad to give the poor dear comfort. Then he began showing up every night.

Kitty's father added a light-hearted moment by noting that his co-workers riding in the work van had come to tease him about his daily visitor. "Is the doc with the caddy paying rent yet?" they'd laugh.

Then Patricia described the May Day revelation Rob made to her that he loved Kitty, "as a man loves a woman, rather than as a doctor loves a patient."

Everyone agreed something had to be done.

"Something has been done already," we heard Patricia say, falling silent in anticipation. "Kitty's GP suggested she see a psychologist."

Patricia described the doctor's shock when she told him about Kitty and Rob. "Dr. Smith told her to stop seeing him. When she said she wouldn't, he referred her to a lady psychologist. Kitty talked to her a few times until Dr. Hood told her not to talk to Dr. Randolph again."

Everyone gasped.

"Dr. Randolph reported Dr. Hood three weeks ago," Patricia continued.

There was more. Patricia revealed, "Kitty had gynecological surgery from Dr. Frank in March, and after she was home a week, Dr. Hood wanted to look at her stitches. He had her lie down on the couch, and he examined the stitches. One stitch had come loose, so he stitched it back up."

We sat horrified at what we were hearing. Rob was neither Kitty's surgeon for this operation, nor a gynecologist.

"Then," Patricia continued, "when Kitty had her follow-up appointment with Dr. Frank, Dr. Hood told me not to mention to Dr. Frank that he had done any of that."

That was enough. "I think we ought to get Dr. Frank's opinion on how serious this is," I said. I went to the phone and called Dr. Frank. He listened and said, "I'll be there within 15 minutes."

There was relief that Kitty's doctor would be joining us, I was glad that it was this particular doctor, a man who had the courage of his convictions.

Patricia went over the story about the stitches with the gynecologist as soon as he arrived. Dr. Frank listened intently and then leaned forward. "It's unconscionable," he told Patricia. "Dr. Hood knew that, you see, when he told you not to tell me. By the way, Kitty's records were transferred to another doctor shortly thereafter, eliminating any chance I'd find out about all this." Dr. Frank smiled slightly and added, "Or so he thought."

"What do you suggest we do, Doctor?" Ken asked.

"Get her away from him tonight," Dr. Frank said. "Tonight."