Lamartha Schnidt leaned her elbows on her dark oak desk, the only light from the window facing south and streaking across her left hand and all the papers she had spread there. Work, once something she took pride in, had turned into a box of stress-filled misery day after day. And this week everything got worse.
Murder. Oh, sweet Abby.
Such stupid things happened in life, Lamartha had been alive long enough to know that life was a stormy sea of ups and downs. Yet, this most recent down was farther than she’d ever experienced before.
Lamartha's treasured residential treatment center was gasping its last breaths and had just received another sucker punch to the diaphragm. Lamartha thrived as its administrator for over two decades, she kept the books, the staff, all the workings of the center, a meticulously ordered machine. Until…
Six months ago, the numbers didn’t match up on the financials, no matter what she did or how far back she tracked to find a mistake, never finding one, things didn’t match. The accountant said it was all fine, she was doing something wrong, over and over. Until the gap got too big, then he didn’t have any explanation for it. And neither did the investigators when the higher ups sent them in. They found something, but nothing anyone shared with her.
Why the out-of-house accountant got big bucks for doing nothing, she’d never know. He was replaced now, anyway. And she’d never know why the dietitian would stay married to such a man. Dania Mert was a good worker, a strong woman able to handle anything thrown on her plate without ever a complaint to Lamartha, though Lamartha was smart enough to know complaints did happen, just not to her. Now Dania was little more than a part-time lunch lady. And Abby, always so meticulous at her job, suffered questioning because medications started to go missing and she had no answers as to why. Everything was a chaotic mess and, two days ago, it just got so much worse.
Lamartha covered her face with her hands. Maybe she was just getting old and couldn’t run a tight ship any longer. Maybe she should have taken early retirement two years ago.
Hart House was ordered to close when so many things went missing with no answers. Now, only four residents remained in a facility able to house twenty five. Emie, even with all her social worker magic, hadn’t been able to get any other facility to house the last four with their difficult conditions and temperaments.
Hart House had been the facility where everyone else sent the hard cases. The staff Lamartha oversaw and partnered with had been top notch and truly cared for the patients. Slowly she’d had to tell so many goodbye. The remaining staff's hope now was that in the next month, with such specialized and individual treatment, maybe the four remaining would improve enough to either go home or into another facility.
What made that goal a little more difficult was that Doc McDarvey, now full time at another facility, was only on call for Hart House. And Hart House Psychiatrist, Joey Penache, only worked Wednesdays. The daily loss of the two of them only punctuated the fact she’d had to let so many other staff members go. It’s what the higher-ups wanted. Having two of her direct team gone for the most part made the remaining five full time employees feel as if their large work family was fully broken.
Only Emie Carthar remained for the social work department. Abby was the only remaining full time nurse with Miana Dalko and Elrick Bandor, both CNAs, helping her. And now Abby was… gone.
Lamartha looked over the current office sheet with the list of all employees and their contact information all followed by the current residents with their stats. She should change it, but she couldn’t make herself pull Abby’s name out.
“What happened, Abby?” she whispered to the brimming daylight.