For Now and Forever
produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

 

EPISODE #86 (Monday, 2/18/01)
Same Day
January, 1936 - Late Evening

DOUGLAS'S CAR - SOMEWHERE ALONG ANDERSONVILLE RD.

Grace Davis leaned forward slightly, as if that simple action would help her see the road ahead.  Unfortunately, it had already snowed so much that she wasn't sure were the road ended and the countryside began.  Then, in the distance, she saw the bright glow of headlights as they reflected off of the cloud of snow that poured out of the sky.

Another sudden jerk of the car startled her and she felt the vehicle again begin a skid.  She'd hit another patch of ice!  She fought and struggled to regain control of the car, but her efforts were futile and she immediately began to panic.  As the car careened into the path of the oncoming headlights, a horrific scream tore from her chest.

KITTY'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
RIVERSIDE

Kitty Benedict took a long drag off of her cigarette as she walked around her empty apartment.  Slumping down onto the sofa, she let out a weary sigh.  Dane Manchester was so handsome and fascinating and rich!  She just couldn't have imagined how wonderful things would be with him.  If only his wife weren't in the way, then she could have everything she'd ever wanted---both Dane and his money.

Kitty's deep musings on her possible future with Dane were interrupted by the loud banging on her front door.  She furrowed her brow in annoyance, but quickly realized that maybe it was Dane.  Maybe he'd decided that driving in such horrible weather wasn't wise.  She sprung up from the sofa and rushed to the door, only to find disappointment on the other side.

"Sammy," she muttered as her face fell, "it's you."

"Gee, sis, don't act so disappointed," Sammy Benedict laughed as he strolled into the apartment.  He quickly evaluated her appearance, the alluring peignoir that she fought to hold closed, and the dim, smoky ambiance of the room and grinned slyly.  "I take it that Manchester was here?"

"Yes," she sighed as she returned to her seat on the sofa.  "He was here, but now he's gone home to his wife."

"Don't tell me you're getting hung up on that chump?"

"Of course not," she replied with a shake of her head.

"Kit!  You know you've got a job to do.  You can't mess up our plans by fallin' for that sucker!"  He sat down next to her on the couch and grabbed her by the shoulders in an attempt to get her to listen to him.

"You know, you never did tell me why you wanted me to get involved with Dane?"  Kitty eyed him curiously.

"Well..." Sammy grinned wickedly, "let's just say that the boss has a job for us to do." 

DOUGLAS'S CAR - SOMEWHERE ALONG ANDERSONVILLE RD.

Grace clinched the steering wheel tightly as her entire body began to shake.  Taking a deep breath, she peered through the windshield and saw that, not only had she skidded off the road, but she'd slammed the car into a tree.  Shaken, she took inventory of herself and realized that she was okay.  Despite the accident, she hadn't been hurt.

As she continued to look out the window, she saw the headlights of the other car reflecting on the snow.  Had she hit them?  Where they okay?  Suddenly, she saw the vague, shadowy figure of a man approaching the car.

"Are you all right?" the oddly familiar voice called out.  "Are you hurt?"

"N-no," she stammered awkwardly as she rolled down the window to see who the other driver was.  To her shock, she discovered that it was none other than Dane Manchester!

"Grace!" he exclaimed, surprised to see her.  "What the devil are you doing out here in this weather?"

"I...I have to get home and get Douglas," she muttered, still shaken by the evening's events.  "Our...mother is sick and I...have to get him."

"Not in that car," he laughed as he reached down and opened her car door.  "Looks like you banged it up pretty badly."

"My god, Douglas is going to kill me!"  Grace tugged her heavy winter coat closed as she stood in the deep snow and looked at the damage.  "I...I've got to get home."

"Just calm down," Dane sighed as he put his hand on her shoulder to ease her still rattled nerves.  "What's so important that you're in such a hurry?  You said something about your mother?"

"M-Momma is..."  She quickly turned away from him to hide her emotion as her eyes welled up with tears.  "Our mother is in very bad health.  The doctor said...that she won't make it through the night.  They haven't been able to get in touch with Douglas because of the storm."

"Grace, I'm so sorry."  He pulled her into his arms as she broke down sobbing.  "Look, lets just leave the car here and get in my car.  I can take you home."

"O-okay," she muttered with a nod.  "I just...have to get to Douglas."

"I understand," he said softly and led her to his car that had skidded off onto the other side of the road in an attempt to avoid her oncoming vehicle.  "Just get in and I'll get you home as fast as I can."

Dane started the car and shifted into reverse so that he could maneuver back onto the road.  With a curious look, he bit his lip and shook his head in frustration.

"W-what's wrong?" Grace asked nervously when she realized that they weren't moving.  "I...thought you were taking me home!"

"Looks like we have a small problem," he sighed.  "We may not be going anywhere."

"W-what?"

"Grace, I'm sorry."  He turned and took her hand into his as his eyes filled with remorse and regret.  "But it looks like we're stuck."

THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - LOUNGE

As the darkened, empty lounge flooded with light, Reginald Callison hurriedly shoved the silk scarf into his coat pocket and braced himself for whomever had discovered his presence.

"Who's in here?" came the voice again.

Reginald's voice caught in his throat and he sunk back into the corner, hoping to remain unnoticed.  However, he knew, deep down, that his attempts would be in vein.

"Well, well, well," the man smiled as he turned to see Reginald in his hiding place.  "Did you decide to return to the scene of your crime?"

Immediately recognizing the man, Reginald let out a heavy sigh and stepped forward into the light.

"What are you doing here, Rawlings?" Reginald asked with a sneer.  "Trying to dig up some good dirt for that rag you call a newspaper?"

"Don't sound so bitter, Callison," Larry Rawlings laughed heartily.  "If The Post really wanted to report the truth, you could have scooped us on this one.  Not my fault that you want to keep your lily white reputation or that you want to keep your readers in the dark."

"Unlike The Examiner, we only print the truth!"

"More likely, your version of the truth!"  Larry eyed Reginald, a longtime professional rival, curiously as his mind whirled with possible reasons for his presence at the scene of Annabelle Lake's murder.

"So, Rawlings, what are you doing here?"  Reginald casually walked around the room, making an intense effort to keep the contents of his pocket hidden.

"Well, now that the police have cleared out, I thought I'd get a look at the scene of the crime, myself."  Larry's eyes followed Reginald around the room.  "You know, catching some of the things that the police missed.  What are you doing here?"

"Actually, I'm working on the same story," Reginald replied coolly.  "Just from a different perspective.  I think it would come across very interestingly from the view point of the accused."

"So..."  Larry let out a thin laugh.  "Any chance that I might get a statement from you...on the record?"

"Not a chance," Reginald said flatly.  "You and your scandal sheet aren't getting a thing out of me.  In fact, I'd advise you to give up on finding anything here.  The police's sweep was very thorough.  There's nothing to see."

"Right."  Larry wasn't buying a word he was saying.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm tired of looking for clues that don't exist and I'm going home."  Reginald pushed passed him and headed for the door.  "My best advice would be for you to do the same."

"Sorry, but I think I'll take a look around for myself."

"Suit yourself."  As Reginald prepared to walk out the door, he turned around to look at Larry again.  "Don't say I didn't warn you."

As soon as Larry was left alone in the lounge, he carefully surveyed his surroundings.  He was well aware, thanks to his sources at the police department, that Reginald had said nothing to the police in his defense when questioned about the Lake murder.  The question that loomed large in Larry's mind was why.  Considering all of the possibilities, he rested his chin in his hand and carefully evaluated what he did know.  However, the facts gave way to more questions than answers.  Now, he'd found Reginald back at the scene of the crime and clearly hiding something.  Larry Rawlings was determined to find out exactly what that was.  After all, his readers deserved to know the truth.

DANE'S CAR - SOMEWHERE ALONG ANDERSONVILLE RD.

"W-what do you mean?" Grace asked as she began to panic.  "What do you mean 'we're stuck'?"

"Exactly what I said," Dane replied as he looked intently down at the gearshift and again tried to shift into reverse.  "We're stuck!  It's the snow.  We can't go anywhere!"

"We can't be stuck!"  Her hands began to shake as she felt tears start to stream down her cheeks.  "I've got to get to Douglas!  I've got to get back to my mother!  Do something!"

"Okay, okay," he muttered and got out of the car.  "Now, Grace, you slide over into the driver's seat and I'll try to push.  You press on the gas and try to steer us out."

"O-okay," she nodded shakily and did what he asked.  

With fierce determination, she shifted the car into reverse and pressed down onto the gas.  When all her actions merely caused spun wheels and only a slight rocking of the car, more from Dane's pushing than her efforts, she tried again.  Over and over, she repeated her attempts to shake the vehicle free.  However, all of their efforts were in vein.  They were still stuck.

"Stop!" Dane called out as he walked back up to the driver's side door, covered in a icy mixture of snow and mud.  "This...isn't going to work."

"It has to work!" Grace cried.  "I have to get home!"

"We're stuck!" he said firmly as he grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her in an attempt to calm her and force her to accept their fate.  "This car isn't going anywhere."

"Then I'll...I'll walk!"  With determination, she got out of the car and immediately sank down into the snow before turning to start on her trek down the highway.

"Grace, there aren't any houses close by," he called out after her.  "It's freezing out here!  You'll get frostbite before you make it home."

"I have to get home!"

"Look, this is a main road.  Cars come along here all the time."  Dane leaned up against the car and discreetly glanced up and down the road.  Of course, he hadn't seen a car in quite a while, but he didn't need to remind her of that.  "Let's just get back in the car and wait for someone to come along.  It shouldn't be very long."

Grace stopped in her tracks and considered what he'd said.  The frigid wind blew against her face and she shivered from the cold.  Maybe he was right.  Maybe it would be better to just sit and wait.  After all, a car could come along at any time.

"All right," she relented as she turned and walked back to the car.  With a sigh, she got back in on the passenger side and sat down.

"Now, that's better."  Dane slammed his door shut and turned to look at her.  Grace's emotion and anxiety were obvious and effected him deeply.  "I'm sorry we're stuck."

"It's not your fault," she sighed and slumped down into the seat, wrapped her arms around herself, and shivered, still chilled from the cold winter air.

"Come here."  He leaned over and wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to warm her.  "I told you that you wouldn't make it.  You're already freezing.  Can you imagine how cold you would have gotten if you'd kept going?"

"I know," she muttered as she allowed him to hold her.  It was a situation she found both comfortable and awkward.  She turned to glance in his direction and found him staring at her with a sly gleam in his eye.  "What are you looking at?"

"You," he chuckled.  "Even turned into a human snow cone, you're still beautiful."

His complement made her blush, but she found the resulting heat comforting.  Suddenly, she felt his lips brush her ear and the warmth of his breath on her neck.  As a chill ran through her, she swallowed hard.  She was alone with Dane, in his arms.  It was a situation she'd often dreamt of.  However, she thought that she'd pushed those dreams aside and put them in the past.  Now, in such close proximity, she wasn't so sure.

"Grace, you are so beautiful."

Dane pressed his lips against hers as the intimacy of the moment overcame them.  He was more than a little pleased when she began to respond and began kissing him back.

ALBANYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT - MAIN SQUAD ROOM

"It's not a fit night out for man nor beast," Officer Russ Leeds said as he came through the front door, shaking snow off of his coat and out of his hair.  "I swear that we've gotten every bit of that foot of snow that they were calling for."

"Yeah, well," Detective Jim Fitzpatrick nodded as he sat as his desk reviewing a stack of files.  "Anything going on out there?  Everything quiet?"

"Oh, yeah," Russ nodded as he hung his coat up.  "Anybody with any sense is at home by the fire.  No one's out tonight."

"It's just as well."

"What're you doing here?  You're off duty."  Russ poured himself a hot cup of coffee and sat down in the chair by Jim's desk.  "I figured you'd be at home, yourself."

"Well, I'd like to be."  Jim leaned back into his chair and stretched.  "But, I'm still working on this case."

"The Lake murder?"

"Yep."  Jim squinted his eyes and rubbed his temples as he tried to massage out the headache that had started to appear.  "There's just too much about this case that doesn't make sense."

"You still think Reginald Callison did it?  Looks like a pretty open and shut case, to me.  I'm sure the District Attorney's gonna think so, too.  How often to you find the perpetrator kneeling over the body with the murder weapon in his hands?"

"I'm not so sure," Jim sighed as he glanced back down at the open file that lay on his desk.

"What do you mean?"  Russ looked at him curiously.  "All of the evidence is right there!  Hell, you can't even get Callison to say anything in his defense!  I say he did it.  That's almost an admission of guilt, right there."

"Well, I'd be inclined to agree with you," Jim muttered as he furrowed his brow, "but it's all just too simple...too cut and dried."

"I...I don't get what you're saying."

"Why would he not even attempt to say anything in his defense?  Why wouldn't he come up with some kind of excuse?"  Jim tapped his pencil against his chin as he thought about the answers to the questions he'd asked.

"Simple.  He knows he got caught and he knows he's guilty.  Why make excuses?"

"But if he knows he's caught..."  Jim leaned forward onto the desk and looked at Russ intently.  "Then why not just come right out and confess?  Reginald Callison hasn't said much of anything, period!  Not an admission of guilt and nothing in his defense...not a word!"

"I see what you're saying," Russ nodded.  "It is kinda odd."

"There's just something about what he is saying that's just not quite right.  Actually, it's more what he's not saying."

"So, what do you think is going on?"

"I think he's trying to cover for someone," Jim revealed.  "And I'm determined to find out exactly who that someone is."

TO BE CONTINUED

TOMORROW

Eliza tries to play matchmaker.

For Now and Forever
produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions