produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #124 (Friday, 6/21/02) click here for a printable version of this episode
A Week Later
March, 1936 - Afternoon


THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM

76 Mapleton WayJudith Stokes LinfordJudith Linford stood facing the large French doors that led to the terrace and casually sipped her tea.  With an expectant smile, she pushed the doors open and stepped out onto the terrace, allowing the warm spring breeze that was blowing in off of the lake to caress her face.  Today was the day.

Glancing down out her watch, she realized that her husband, Mark Linford, was late---as usual.  She'd telephoned him, telling him that she needed to speak to him, but that had been hours earlier.  Granted, Judith was used to Mark never being where he was supposed to be.  She'd always assumed that he was out having one of his notorious romantic dalliances.  Today, however, she realized it was different.  Today there would be no clandestine romantic interlude for him.  Judith had seen to that.

As she took one, final long sip of her tea, she heard movement from inside the house and then a familiar voice.

"Judith?" Mark called out.  "Judith, where are you and what's so damned important that you had to drag me home in the middle of the afternoon?"

Another sly smile crossing her lips, she threw her shoulders back and took a deep breath before turning to head back into the house.  As she reached the doors, she saw her husband---back turned to her as he scanned the current edition of The Daily Post---and allowed her body to tense up in expectation of what was to come.  "It's show time."


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CALLISON PUBLICATIONS - DOUGLAS'S OFFICE

The Offices of Callison Publications & the Daily Post"Mr. Davis," came the voice of his secretary over the intercom, "Detective Fitzpatrick is here to see you."

"Great," Douglas Davis grumbled to himself as he leaned forward onto his desk and buried his face into his hands.  Whatever could the annoying detective want now?  "Thank you, Myrtle," he said into the intercom in a less than enthusiastic voice.  "Send him in."

"Mr. Davis, I'm sorry to just barge in on you like this," Jim Fitzpatrick said as he came through the office door a few moments later, "but I just wanted to stop by and congratulate you on a job well done.  You did some great work on Francis Callison's defense."

"Detective, I would have assumed that you would have been less than thrilled with the outcome of that hearing," Douglas responded as he looked up at him, suddenly quite interested in what he had to say.  "After all, you're the one primarily responsible for getting my client charged with murder in the first place."

"Yes, I was," Jim conceded.  "And, to be honest, I had doubts in my mind almost from the moment I had to interrupt that wedding and arrest her.  However, I couldn't ignore the evidence.  Everything that we had point to Mrs. Callison as being the killer."

"But that was all circumstantial..."

"Yes, I agree," Jim nodded, "but, truthfully, I'm not really here to rehash the investigation or your brilliant defense of your client."

Douglas DavisDouglas kept his eyes trained on the police detective and cocked an eyebrow in interest.  "So...?"

"Actually, I'm here to talk to you about Mrs. Lake's daughter, Stephanie," Jim explained and shoved his hands deep into his pockets as he moved closer to the desk.

"Well, I don't see..."

"Mr. Davis, let me cut straight to the chase."

"I wish you would."

"I want to talk to you about that letter," Jim paused, giving enough time for Douglas to comprehend what he was referring to, "the one that Mrs. Lake left for her daughter."

"I know what letter you're talking about!"  Douglas leaned back into his chair and folded his arms across his chest as he tried to figure out exactly what interest the detective had in the letter.  "So, why are you interested in it?  You know as well as I do that my client has been cleared of murder and that the district attorney has declared this case closed.  Stephen Lake killed his wife.  I don't see any need to...."

"Mr. Davis, if you'd let me finish."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "What I'm try to ask you is if...well...you were going to follow through on Mrs. Lake's wishes and give that letter to her daughter.  As you said yourself, this case is closed and I...don't know exactly what good could come out of...."

"Well, Detective, if I didn't know better, I'd say you really had a heart underneath that gruff exterior," Douglas laughed at the irony.  "You sound almost like you don't want me to give Stephanie that letter."

"Look, to be honest, I don't see what it would accomplish.  As you said yourself, this case is closed and..."

"Detective, as I'm sure you well know, I'm legally bound as Mrs. Lake's attorney to follow through with her wishes," Douglas explained calmly, "including delivering that letter."

"Mr. Davis, let me absolutely frank."  Jim moved closer and looked Douglas right in the eyes.  "Now, if you ever breathe a word of this to anyone else, I'll flat out deny it, but...well...I think that my department completely bungled this investigation."

"W-what?"

Jim Fitzpatrick"Yes, it's true," Jim muttered and hung his head.  "I think that with the pressure from the D.A., we were a little over zealous in our case against Mrs. Callison and...well...a little short sighted when it came to the investigation into what turned out to be Miss Lake's abduction."  He paused as he tried to collect his thoughts.  "Personally, I would just like to forget that this entire mess happened.  I want everyone involved to be able to get their lives back to something that resembles normal.  Miss Lake has been through a horrible ordeal these past few months---her mother's murder, her father's unexpected return, her abduction---and I'm not sure what, if anything, showing her that letter would accomplish.  She knows that her father murdered her mother.  Does she really need to know that her mother tried to murder her father?"

"You do have a heart!"  Douglas couldn't fight the surprised and amused grin that spread across his face.

"Let's keep that between us," Jim laughed weakly.  "I know that the decision about what to do with the letter is ultimately up to you, but---as the only other person alive who knows about its existence---I thought that I needed to add my 2 cents, whatever it's worth."

"You're right, Detective," Douglas nodded.  "That decision is ultimately up to me.  In fact, I've known what I was going to do with it long before today."  He rose from his seat, signaling that the meeting was over.  "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have quite a bit of work to finish."

Jim nodded and turned to head towards the door.

"And don't worry, Detective," Douglas smiled slyly, "I'm keep this little display of compassion between us.  I wouldn't want to ruin your reputation."

Jim turned around to face Douglas again and nodded with a grin before closing the door behind him.

As Douglas returned to his seat, he let out a weary sigh and pulled open the top drawer of his desk before reaching in to pull out the letter in question.  Eyeing it intently, he shook his head as a look of determination washed over his face.  Yes, he had known for some time exactly what he would do with the letter and there was no time like the present to carry out those plans.  Why put it off?

Reaching back into the drawer, he pulled out a lighter and then determinedly held the letter over the open flame until it ignited.  No, there was no reason for Stephanie to ever see it---no reason for her to ever learn of her mother's true deviousness.  No matter what horrible things that Stephanie might have done in the past, she'd been through too much as it was.  Maybe it was finally time to put everything in the past and move on.

As the flames traveled up the letter, fully engulfing it, Douglas dropped it into the metal waste basket beside his desk and patiently watched as it turned into a pile of unrecognizable ashes.  With a smile of satisfaction, he knew that it was finally time to put the nightmare of Stephen and Annabelle Lake in the past.


THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM

76 Mapleton Way"So, are you going to tell me what was so all fired important that you had to drag me home in the middle of the afternoon?" Mark asked as he folded his arms across his chest and glared at her.  "I told you that I had some research to do down at the university's law library for that new job in New York.  You know that we're moving in less than a week and I have to be prepared for my first big case."

"Actually, that's what I wanted to discuss with you," Judith replied coolly and then casually strolled into the room.  "I want to talk about this big move you have planned."

"There's nothing left to talk about," he responded firmly and walked over to the bar to mix himself a martini.  "Everything's already set.  We'll be arriving in New York on Monday morning, just in time for my first meeting.  I've already signed the contract for a beautiful penthouse apartment overlooking downtown Manhattan and our things should arrive in just a few days."

"I hope the penthouse is a cozy one," Judith commented smugly.  "No sense in having too much room for you to get lost in."

"Cozy?"  He let out a hearty laugh.  "Well, isn't that a shock!  You're the one who's always said 'the bigger the better.'  I swear, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were from Texas."

"Enough with the witty comments," Judith grumbled with disdain.  "Besides, they've never been exceptionally witty."

"Okay," Mark sighed with annoyance and took another sip of his martini, "so, what's so important about this move that you had to set up this special little meeting?"

"I'm not going to New York," she replied calmly.  "I'm staying right here in Albanyville."

"What?" he asked in shock as he spun around to face her.  "Don't be stupid, Judith.  You can't stay here!  We're going back to New York!"

"No, we're not!"  She clinched her teeth tightly and tried to hold back her anger.  "I told you that you're going to New York and I'm staying here.  My family is here and I...I can't just leave with my mother married to that two-bit quack of a doctor!"

Mark Linford"I can understand your concern about your mother's sudden marriage."  Mark's tone softened as he tried a different approach.  In an attempt to soothe the savage beast, he quickly began to turn on the charm.  After all, it had been known to work in more than one instance.  "But your mother is a very determined woman.  That's where you get a lot of your own strength.  If she's determined to be married to Fred, there's nothing that you're going to be able to do to change her mind.  You'll be spinning your wheels by even trying."  He walked over to her and gently put his hands on her shoulders.  "Give up this foolish idea.  Your mother's life is not your responsibility."

"There's more to it than that," Judith responded sternly as she forced his hands off of her.  "Mother is only a part of the reason."

"Ah, I see," he nodded with a disgusted smirk.  "It's your little bar tender slash stable boy, isn't it?  You don't want to leave poor Burt Lamont!  That's the real reason!"

"You leave Burt out of this!" she snapped angrily.  "This has nothing to do with him!"

"Oh, doesn't it?"

"What Burt and I...had is in the past," she said calmly and then walked back over to the French doors to look out at the lake.  "He's with Janet, now.  There's nothing that I can do about that."

"And I'm supposed to believe that that's how you really feel?" he laughed.  "Judith, you forget.  I know you!  I know you better than anyone else.  In fact, I probably know you better than you know yourself."

"You don't know anything!"

"I'm your husband!" Mark reminded sternly as he quickly walked over to her so that he could grab her forcibly by the shoulders and spin her around to face him.  "Your place is with me.  By my side!  As your husband, what I say goes.  We're moving to New York and that's final!"

"You're gotten rather comfortable in that role, haven't you, darling?" Judith asked coldly.  She pulled herself out of his grasp and briskly walked over to the mantle of the fireplace where she picked up an envelope and held it tightly in her hands.  "Too comfortable."

"Quit playing games, Judith."

Judith Stokes Linford"Oh, this isn't a game, darling," she cooed and then threw the envelope at him.  "In fact, I'm very serious."

"W-what's this?" he asked as he caught the envelope in his hands.  He stared down at it as a feeling of both curiosity and nervousness overtook him.  The envelope was plain.  No name.  No address.  No indication of what might be inside.

"Well, open it and find out!"

Mark awkwardly did as she'd asked and then slid out the thick collection of papers so that he could examine them.  As he carefully scanned the documents, his brow furrowed betraying his worry and confusion concerning what he was reading.

"I...I don't understand," he muttered nervously.  "What...is this?  What the devil do you think you're doing?"

"You really are an idiot, aren't you, darling," she smiled.  "You're a lawyer.  Surely, you can figure it out.  Those are legal documents."

"But...they're..."

"Yes, they are."  Judith walked over to him and stood on front him, so close that she could feel his warm breath on her neck.

"They look like..."

"Divorce papers?" she cooed as she leaned in to him so that her lips could brush his ear.  "They are.  I'm divorcing you, Mark.  This sham of a marriage is over."