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

 

EPISODE #146 (Monday, 8/30/04)
Same Day
July 1936 - Early Evening

THE LAMONT HOME - KITCHEN

"Tonight?"  Burt Lamont's jaw hung open in shock.  "You want to elope tonight?"

"Yes, darling, tonight!"  Janet Stokes clasped her hands together in front of her as if she were saying a prayer to the heavens.  "It's not that far to Davenport and we can make it there in no time.  We've waited so long for this.  I just don't think I'd be able to bear it if I had to wait any longer."

"Well...."  Burt looked from Janet to his younger brother Randy Lamont who was standing silently off to the side.  "Randy, what do you think about all of this?  Do you think this is a good idea?"

"I've already told you that I'm giving you my blessing," Randy sighed.  "And I'm the one who told you about Davenport.  What more do you want from me?  To drag you to the altar myself?"

"My gosh, this is all so sudden."  Burt leaned up against the kitchen counter and rubbed his temple.  "I think my head's spinning."

"Oh, Burt, please say 'yes'," Janet begged as she grabbed hold of his arm.  "Let's do it.  Let's be wild an impetuous and run off and get married."

Burt paused and took several long breaths so that he could collect his thoughts.  Yes, it was sudden, but he was more than willing to marry Janet.  And this was clearly what she wanted.

"Randy, of course you'll come with us."

"I...I can't."  He looked away, unable to meet his brother's eyes.  "It's...it's not that I don't want to, but...well...after talking to Janet....  Well, not only did she make me realize some things about you two, she made me realize a few other things that I don't think she'd intended to."

"Things?" Janet looked at him with great curiosity.  "What things?"

"I...I really don't think I can go into it right now," he tried to explain.  "But it's definitely something that can't wait.  Just like you two have got to get married, I've got to take care of this.  I hope you understand.  I want to be there -- really I do -- but...."

"Well, if it's that important...."  Burt shook his head again, still slightly in shock.  "Tonight?"

"Tonight," Janet said again.

"Then...."  He paused.  "Randy, you drive Janet home so that she can get ready and I'll go upstairs and clean up and...."

"And?"

"Let's do it!" Burt grinned broadly, pulling Janet into his arms.  "Let's go get married!"

THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM

Judith 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 right.

Judith 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 life!"

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 me?"

"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 about Janet?"

"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 you."

"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."

"About?"

"Nothing, really," Judith lied.  "Just...different things."  She paused and glanced in the direction of the front door.  "Did Janet say anything?"

"The 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 is."

"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 man...."

"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 married."

"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.  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."

THE CALLISON HOME - DINING ROOM

"Honey, dinner was absolutely wonderful," Charles Callison complimented, wiping the corners of his mouth with his napkin.  "You and Hannah have really outdone yourselves tonight."

"I just wanted tonight to be perfect," Francis Callison smiled while Hannah came around and began clearing the dinner plates.  "What with everyone's lives going in so many different directions, it's not everyday that we can all get together for dinner, anymore.  Now, it's like an event."

"Mother, I promise you that we'll always make dinner as a family a priority," Jillian Callison spoke up.  "I'm so honored to be a part of this family and I want to make sure to uphold this family's traditions."

"Jillian, you're just like a second daughter to me," Francis beamed and reached across the table to take her daughter-in-law's hand.  "Now, if you'd like, I'll make sure to write down a copy of the recipes I used for dinner so that you can make them at home for Reginald."

"I'm sure Jillian would love that, Mom."  Reginald Callison briefly glanced in the direction of his wife and gave a subtle wink.  Jillian's cooking skills were practically legendary -- but not for the right reasons.  He was certain that her attempts to reproduce the success of the recipes would turn out to be interesting, to say the least.

"Coffee to go with the cake?" Hannah Meadows asked as she carried the tray into the room.

"I'd love some, Hannah.  Thank you," Trevor said and took a cup from her.

As Francis took a sip from her own cup, she noticed the sly glances and secret chatter exchanged between Reginald and Jillian.

"All right, you two," Francis laughed, "what's going on?  You both look like the proverbial cats that ate the canary."

"Oh, it's nothing," Reginald blushed.

"I think they've got a secret," Maggie Callison teased.

"Maggie!"  Charles shot his daughter a stern look.  "If that's the case, then it's their secret.  We've got no business...."

"Are you two up to something?" Francis asked, completely ignoring what her husband was trying to say.

"More coffee, please, Hannah."  Trevor held out his cup for her.  "This is starting to get interesting."

"Francis, we've got no place prying into Reginald and Jillian's business."

"It's okay, Dad," Reginald laughed and took his wife's hand.  "Actually, there is something that Jillian and I have been keeping to ourselves."

"We wanted to savor the news," Jillian continued, "but we'd planned on telling everyone tonight after dinner, so it's quite all right."

"News?"  Francis anxiously glanced from her son to his wife.  "What...kind of news?"

"Well...."  Jillian looked over at her husband.  "I know this is going to come as quite a shock to you -- we were rather surprised ourselves, to be honest."  She paused and took a long, deep breath.  "Reginald and I have an announcement to make."

THE WISHING WELL SODA SHOPPE

"It's about time you got here," Eliza Campbell snapped as she looked up from her magazine to see Stanley Fitzpatrick walking towards her.  "You were supposed to be here thirty minutes ago!"

"Ah, geez, Eliza," he shrugged, "I got caught up in the library and I lost track of time.  I was reading one of those detective books and...."

"Can it, Stanley," she interrupted, quickly tossing her magazine aside.  "Where's Maggie?  What's she doing?"

"You know she's got that big family dinner tonight."  Stanley plopped down into the booth across from her.  "In fact, I haven't seen her all day."

"Well....  As long as she's stuck with her family, I guess that means she can't be off mooning after my boyfriend."  Eliza leaned forward and propped her hand up under her chin.  "Honestly, you'd think I'd be able to trust my best friend, but...."

"I don't see what you're so worried about.  You're with Randy and Maggie's with me.  What's the big deal?"

"What's the big deal?"  Her eyes grew wide as if she couldn't believe he didn't understand the same things that she did.  "I'll tell you the big deal!  I've seen the way she looks at him when she doesn't think she's going to get caught.  Maggie gets all dreamy-eyed and stuff whenever Randy's within fifty feet!  And here I thought she was my friend."  Her shoulders slumped with a mixture of disappointment and assumed betrayal.  "I don't know why she went to so much trouble to get us together if she was just going to go out of her way to ruin it all.  If I didn't know better, I'd say she was just doing it all to spite me."

"Well, if Maggie were that underhanded -- which I really don't think she is -- why did she kiss me?"  Stanley lifted an eyebrow and nodded as if he were making a very valid and well-thought-out point.  "If Maggie really had no interest in me and were only interested in Randy, then why would she do that?"

"You've got a point," Eliza nodded.  "Now, don't get me wrong -- Maggie really is a great girl.  We've been best friends ever since...well...for as long as I can remember, but...."

"But?"

"Randy's just been so weird lately," she sighed.  "I mean, he barely says two words.  Not just to me -- everybody!  I can't figure out what's wrong with him.  And every time I turn around, he's all huddled up with Maggie talking about stuff.  Now, I don't think that Maggie would deliberately try to take Randy away from me.  I know she's not like that...."

"Then what's the big deal?"

"I told you that I see how she looks at him -- all starry-eyed and stuff."  She paused and took a sip of her soda.  "Sure, she'd never admit it, but I can tell she's got a crush on him.  And then with the way that he talks about her, you'd think that she was some kind of royal princess."

"Well, she is a Callison and they're practically royalty in this town," Stanley pointed out.

"And Randy can't stand a single one of them!"  She paused and took a long breath as her shoulders slumped.  "None of them except for Maggie."

"Ah, Eliza, I just think that you're making stuff up in your head.  Maggie kissed me, not Randy.  Doesn't that prove to you that she's more interested in me than in him?"

"You're really hung up on that kiss, aren't you?"

"Well...yeah!  Gosh, I waited forever for a chance to kiss Mags and then it finally happened!"  Stanley sighed and smiled, leaning forward onto his hands, his elbows propped up onto the table.  "She's so swell!"

"Maybe you're right," she muttered.  "Maybe there isn't anything to worry about."  She paused and strummed her fingers on the table.  "But I'm a sensible girl.  We can't take any chances."

"What...do you mean?"

"I mean that -- just to be safe -- we've got to keep Maggie and Randy away from one another."  Eliza started tapping her chin with her index finger, the gears inside her head quickly turning.  "If there is something going on between them, no matter how small, we've got to nip it in the bud right now.  Because, if we don't, we're going to be the ones left out in the cold."

THE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM
DAVENPORT

"Now, what's prompted you kids to just up and run off to get married?" the judge asked as he straightened his tie and led them into the living room.

"Sir, we've waited a long time to get married and we just didn't think we could wait any long," Burt explained.  "I love Janet, here, with all my heart and I just want to make her my wife."

"Besides," Janet continued, "my mother just threw a big wedding for my sister and I really don't want to make her have to go through all of that again."

"Well, I can understand that," the judge nodded.  "Do you have the rings and the marriage license?"

"Got them both right here."  Burt pulled the license out of his inside breast pocket and handed it to the judge.  "We just came from the courthouse."

"Hmmm."  The judge carefully examined the document and nodded.  "Everything seems to be in order.  Now, we do have to have witnesses to sign, but I can take care of that."  He stopped and walked over to the living room door that led out into the foyer.  "Ma!  Ma, you and Junior come down here!  We've got a young couple who want to get married."

"Married?" the judge's wife asked as she hurried down the stairs, their teen-aged son following right behind her.  "At this hour?"

"I...I know it's late," Burt blushed, suddenly remembering the hour.  He was thankful that the clerk at the courthouse had been working late and had been kind enough to open up his office so that they could get the license.  "But this is really important to us."

"I'm sure it is," she smiled and then turned to Janet.  "And your dress is beautiful.  Very fitting for a young bride."

"Thank you."

"Well, now, if everyone's ready...."  The judge put his hand on Burt's shoulder.  "You stand right here and you, young lady, stand right here."  He turned to his wife.  "Dear, go to the piano and play something."

"Now...."  The judge positioned his glasses on the edge of his nose and looked down at the book he held out in front of him.  "Dearly beloved, we are gathered her today in the sight of God and these witnesses to unite this young couple in the Holy bonds of marriage.  Marriage is a sacred institution, honored by God, and shouldn't be entered into lightly.  If there's anyone who has just cause as to why these two should not be joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."

A lump instantly formed in Janet's throat and she quickly looked over at Burt.  They'd come so far.  Nothing could happen that might ruin their happiness.

"Judge, I...don't think anyone's going to say anything," Burt spoke up.  "After all, it's just us here."

"Of course," the judge laughed.  "Very well, then....  Do you...um...Burton Landon Lamont take this woman...um...."  He glanced down at the license that he held in his hand under the book.  "Janet Mae Stokes, to be your lawfully wedded wife?  For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love, honor, and cherish; forsaking all others from this day forward; as long as you both shall live?"

"I do," Burt beamed as he looked into Janet's eyes.

"And do you...."

"I do."

"I haven't even finished!" the judge laughed heartily as Janet blushed.  "Do you, Janet Mae Stokes, take this man, Burton Landon Lamont, to be your lawfully wedded husband?  For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love, honor, and cherish; forsaking all others from this day forward; as long as you both shall live?"  There was a pause of silence.  "Now, Miss Stokes."

"I do."

"All right, then," the judge nodded.  "You are exchanging these rings as a symbol of your love -- a never-ending circle that will bind you together, never to be broken.  As you place these rings on each other's hand, repeat after me....  With this ring, I thee wed."

Burt took Janet's hand, looked deeply into her eyes, and slid the ring onto her finger.  "With this ring, I thee wed."

Now it was Janet's turn.  She took Burt's hand, lifted it to her lips and kissed it tenderly, and then slid the ring onto his finger.  "With this ring, I thee wed."

"Then by the power vested in me by God, this county, and by the state of Illinois, I now pronounce you husband and wife.  Mr. Lamont, you may kiss you bride."

And that is exactly what Burt did.

THE CALLISON HOME - DINING ROOM

"Well, what's this big secret?" Francis asked anxiously, the anticipation nearly killing her.  "You can't simply bring all of this up and then just leave us hanging!"

"Honey, I'm sure they'll tell us if you'd simply let them get a word in," Charles laughed.

"Well...."  Jillian glanced to Reginald who gave her hand a gentle squeeze.  "I went to the doctor the other day and...."  She paused.  "Reginald and I are going to have a baby."

"A...a baby?"  Francis's hand flew up to her chest in complete shock.  "A baby?  But...but...you two just got married!"

"Well, I'll be a son of gun," Trevor laughed.  "Reginald, you sure don't waste any time, do you?"

"Now, I know it's rather soon and...well...we didn't plan for it to happen so early," Jillian tried to explain.  "This is the last thing that either one of us expected, but...."

"But it's all so soon."  Francis was quickly growing flustered and she rose to her feet to begin pacing around the dining room.  "I mean, I just don't see how....  You two just got married.  There hasn't been time since the wedding to...."  Her eyes grew wide with realization.  "O-oh.  I...I  see."

"Francis, I really don't think that's important."  Charles got up and went over to his wife, taking her by the hand.  "Like you said, they are married now."

"Well, yes...."

"And they're going to have a baby -- our grandchild."

"Our grandchild?"  Francis's heart began to beat a mile a minute inside her chest.  "A grandbaby?  Oh...oh dear."  She left Charles's side and rushed over to her daughter-in-law.  "This is such wonderful news!  I'm so happy for both of you!  Now, there's going to be a million things to do -- we've got to make sure we set up doctor's appointments and we've got to go shopping for the baby and we've got to get a nursery taken care of and...."

"The baby's not going to be coming for months and months, Mom," Reginald spoke up with a quick glance to his wife.  "We've got plenty of time for all that."

"Yes, dear, I know, but you can't get started too early.  The sooner we can get things squared away and taken care of, then the less there'll be to worry about when it's time for the baby to come."

"Looks like Mom's gonna have something new to fuss over," Maggie leaned over to Trevor and laughed.

"How's it feel to not be the baby of the family anymore, kiddo?" Trevor asked with a grin.

"I...um...."  Maggie's shoulders slumped as she sunk back into her chair.  "I don't know."  She pursed her lips as she thought about the pros and cons of the situation.

Just then, the doorbell rang.  A few moments later, Hannah came into the room.

"Who is it, Hannah?" Charles asked curiously.  "We weren't expecting anyone."

"It seems that Maggie has a visitor"

"A visitor?"  Francis shot her daughter a look of disappointment.  "Oh, Maggie, you know this is a family dinner.  Why do you have to have one of your friends stopping by right in the middle of it?  Your brother and Jillian have just made this huge announcement and...."

"Francis, honey, dinner's practically over and it's obvious that Maggie wasn't expecting anyone," Charles reminded.  "Maggie, just go see who it is and let them know that they're interrupting dinner."

"It's Randy Lamont, Mr. Callison," Hannah explained.

"Randy?"  Maggie carefully draped her napkin over her plate and rose from her seat.  "I wonder what Randy's doing here."  Without saying another word to anyone else, she hurried out of the dining room and through the foyer to the front door.  "Randy, we're having dinner and my mom's about to have a fit!"

"I...I'm sorry to interrupt," Randy muttered as he looked down at his feet.  "I just...I just wanted to come see you."

"Well...I guess it's okay."  She stepped outside and pulled the door closed behind her.  "Just for a minute."  However, an awkward silence hung between them for several minutes.  "Randy, for someone who just dropped in for an unexpected visit, you're sure quiet."

"I...I know," he muttered.  "It's just...well...I haven't been so nice to you lately and I wanted to apologize."

"You...do?"

"Yeah."  He finally looked up at her.  "Oh, Maggie, I've been an absolute heel.  I've been treating you pretty horriblely just because you're a Callison and I...I didn't want anything to do with anyone in your family because of Burt."

"I know all of that's been on your mind quite a bit lately."  She slowly moved past him and down the steps towards one of the large trees in the front yard, Randy following along behind her.  "Have you...have you talked about it with Eliza?  Maybe she can...."

"I can't talk to Eliza about anything," he grumbled.  "She doesn't understand anything."

"But she's your girlfriend!  You're supposed to be able to talk to her about things like...."

"Burt and Janet eloped tonight."

"W-what?"  Maggie was definitely surprised by the news.  After all, Randy had been quite vocal about his disapproval of his brother's wedding plans.  "But I thought that...."

"Now, don't say anything to anyone.  Burt and Janet want to keep it a secret until they're ready to tell everyone."

"I understand.  My lips are sealed."  She made the motion of pulling a zipper across her lips and throwing away the key, but then paused and looked at him curiously.  "But you've been so against Randy being involved with Janet lately.  What...changed your mind."

"Janet," Randy confessed.  "We had...a little talk tonight and she made me realize how stupid and bull headed I've been acting.  I've been...well...giving them both a lot of grief about all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons."

"And she made you realize that and convinced you to give them your blessing?"

"I'm the one who brought up the idea of them running off to get married."

"Wow.  That is a big change of heart."  Maggie went over to him and gave him a big hug.  "I'm proud of you, Randy."

"Well, I...."  He blushed in embarrassment and quickly turned away from her.  "But that's not really what I came out here to tell you."

"It's not?"

"No."  He paused and inhaled deeply, the warm summer air filling his lungs.  "Like I said, I wanted to apologize.  I didn't...I didn't want you to be mad at me."

"Mad at you?  Of course I've been mad at you," she laughed.  "But we're friends.  Friends get mad at one another and then forgive one another.  That's the way things like that work."

"But...but that's just the thing.  I don't...necessarily think of you as...a friend."

"You...you don't?"  The smile quickly faded from Maggie's face.  "Oh.  I...well...."

"Maggie, you're...more than that."

"I am?"

"I told you that I talked with Janet earlier and she made me realize a lot of stuff."  Randy moved closer to Maggie and put his finger under her chin so that he could lift her head up and look into her eyes.  "A lot of stuff about her and Burt, yes, but more than that.  She made me realize a lot of stuff about myself and how I feel about...well...things."

"She...did?"  Maggie bit her lip nervously.  "What kind of...things?"

"My feelings are...well...more than just...well...friendly."  He moved closer to her.

"How...how much...more?"

Without saying another word, Randy leaned in towards Maggie and gently -- carefully -- pressed his lips against hers and kissed her in a way that she'd only dreamed of being kissed.  Caught up in the moment, she kissed him right back the way she'd always dreamed of kissing a boy.  And in that moment, no one -- not Eliza, not Stanley, not anyone -- else in the world mattered.

TO BE CONTINUED

NEXT TIME

The Fourth of July Ball begins!

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

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions