MANSION - LIVING ROOM
Linford leaned back into her chair as the room filled with gentle music coming
from the radio. The room was dimly lit -- only one small light on -- which
was just the way she wanted it. She didn't want brightness. She
didn't want the warm glow. She wanted the hypnotic shadows. She
wanted to set the mood for her to delve into the deep recesses of her
mind. She wanted to remember.
She lifted the martini to her lips and took a
long sip as she replayed the events -- in order -- that she could remember from
that fateful night so many months ago -- the night that she took a tragic fall
down the stairs resulting in the loss of her unborn child. A child she'd
shared with Burt Lamont, the one man she loved more than practically anyone else
other than her late father.
She clearly remembered standing at the foot
of the stairs and looking up towards the second floor landing. She
remembered the feeling that she'd had at that moment -- a feeling that she had
some goal, some destination, something that she was intent on doing.
She remembered climbing the stairs -- slowly at first but then with a quickened
pace. Had she fallen on the way up the stairs? Had she, in her drive
and determination, been careless and missed a step? No, that didn't seem
was certain that she remembered reaching the top of the stairs -- remembered
going to do something. She took another long sip of her drink and closed
her eyes and tried to clear her head of everything other than that night.
She remembered seeing Janet -- but was it before or after she fell? Janet
had sworn that she hadn't seen Judith until after the fall. That it had
been Judith's screams that had brought her running. However, Judith didn't
think that sounded quite right.
"I won't let you
do this! I
won't let you ruin my life like you've always tried to ruin my
Why...why did Judith suddenly remember that? What was so
important about an argument with Janet that made it pop into her mind so
suddenly? It couldn't have happened after the fall because even Janet had
said that Judith had been barely conscious. It must have been before the
fall. But...but when?
"What in the world are you doing sitting in here in the
dark?" Leticia Rutherford asked as she stood at the door of the living
room. She quickly walked over to the switch on the wall and flipped on the
lights. After several long moments of nothing but silence, she spoke
again. "Judith? Are you all right? Are you listening to
"I...oh...what?" Judith asked absently. She
hadn't been paying attention. She'd been so lost in her own thoughts that
she hadn't even heard her mother come into the room.
"I asked you if you were all right."
"I'm sorry," Judith muttered and took another sip of
her drink. "I was...just thinking."
"Oh." Leticia nodded slowly as if she understood
what her daughter was talking about, but she didn't really. Leticia was
still certain that there was something amiss, but knew Judith well enough not to
press the issue. Besides, there was another reason that Leticia had come
looking for her. "Where was Janet headed off to in such a rush?"
"Janet?" The name pulled Judith out of her fog
and she immediately focused her full attention on her mother. "What
"Well, she breezed in here in a big rush, went upstairs,
changed clothes faster than I think I've ever seen her do it and then breezed
back out like the house was on fire." Leticia paused as she
remembered the earlier activities of her middle daughter. "I swear,
she was all aglow like she was in the center of a million spotlights."
"Did she say where she was going?"
"Not a word." Leticia shook her head in
bewilderment. "I tried to ask her, but she was moving so fast that I
could barely get a word in. I was wondering if she'd said anything to
"No, she didn't." Judith downed the last drop of
her martini and rose from her seat. "Actually, I didn't even know
she'd come home. Like I told you, I was busy thinking."
"Nothing, really," Judith lied.
"Just...different things." She paused and glanced in the
direction of the front door. "Did Janet say anything?"
only thing I could get out of her was that she was going out of town and for me
not to wait up or worry." Leticia began to slowly walk around the
room. "She said she would probably be gone for a few days and that
she'd explain everything as soon as she got back." She stopped and
looked at her daughter again and examined her closely. "Darling, are
you sure you're all right? You don't look well."
"I'm fine," Judith muttered and then quickly spun
around to face her mother. "So, where's your sainted husband this
evening? It seems like he's hardly ever here. I wonder why that
"Fred is working an overnight shift at the hospital this
evening. He's a doctor. These things happen."
"Yes, I'm sure," Judith muttered dryly.
"Dr. Fred, always available to help the sick and the needy."
"Judith, I don't think I like your tone."
Leticia threw her shoulders back and took an authoritative stance.
"Fred is my husband and I'd appreciate it if you treat him with a certain
level of respect."
"If I thought he deserved it, I'd give it," Judith
snapped. "But he's nothing more than a lowlife who's weaseled his way
into our lives. Honestly, Mother, how you can be so blind to that
"I'm not listening to this." Leticia pushed past
her daughter and headed for the stairs. "Here you are in my home --
our home -- the home I share with my husband and you persist in doing everything
you can to hurt me."
"I'm not trying to hurt you, Mother. I'm trying to
help you. I'm trying to help you see exactly what kind of louse you
"I've had enough of this," Leticia mumbled in
irritation as she headed up the stairs. "I'm not going to stand
around and listen to any more of this!"
"Oh, go stick your head in the sand," Judith muttered
under her breath. "Do exactly what you always do -- turn a blind
eye and ignore all of the flashing lights,"
she thought to herself. "It's the exact same thing you
did with Janet all those years ago and we all know where that got us. But
I'm not you. I'm nothing like you. I see things for exactly what
they are and I face everything head on. That husband of yours is up to
something -- I know it! And I'm going to find out exactly what it is
whether you want to know about it or not."