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

 

EPISODE #153 (March 7, 2012)
Same Day; July 1936 - Afternoon

REGINALD & JILLIAN’S HOME – FOYER

“Oh, it’s no use.”  Jillian Callison cried out as she took to the stairs, nearly two at a time.  She and her best friend, Lorraine Davis, had been preparing dinner for Jillian’s husband, Reginald, while doing the laundry, but had lost track of time chatting.  “I’ve ruined dinner – everything’s ruined!”

“Jillian, calm down; I’m sure it’s not that bad,” Lorraine said as she followed after her.   “Honey, slow down and be careful that you don’t….”

However, before Lorraine could complete her urgent cries and before Jillian could even contemplate what was going on, it happened.  Later, Jillian wouldn’t be able to recall whether it was one step or two that she’d missed in her panic.  The only thing she could remember was losing her footing and tumbling head over heels while becoming entangled in the laundry basket she’d been carrying.  Meanwhile, Lorraine could do nothing but look on in sheer horror and scream.

As Lorraine watched Jillian land in a crumpled heap at the foot of the stairs, she quickly rushed down and to her side.

“Oh, Jillian, are you all right?  Are you hurt?”  Lorraine knelt down besides her and began a quick inspection to make sure nothing was twisted or broken.

“I… I don’t… know,” Jillian muttered weakly, obviously stunned and winded.  “I think I’m… okay.  I….”  However, before she could utter another word, a searing pain pierced her side, causing her to double over and cry out.”

“Jillian?  Jillian!  What is it?”

“Oh, no,” she sobbed as panic quickly began to overtake her.  “The b-baby… It’s the… baby.”

THE CAMPBELL HOME – LIVING ROOM

“Well, what is it?” Corinne Campbell asked as she held the telephone receiver to her ear and leaned back in her large wingback chair.  “What has that husband of mine done now?”

“It’s not Talbot I’m calling about,” Nurse Fay Rutledge said on the other end of the line.  She was huddled over the phone in the corner of the second floor nurses station and deliberately speaking in hushed tones so that no prying ears might overhear her conversation.   “Well not exactly, at least.”

“Tell me!  Tell me what you saw!  If you didn’t catch my husband doing anything, then I don’t understand why….”

“I just thought that you’d like to know what Judith Linford has been up to….”

“Judith?”  Corinne’s eyes grew wide with interest.  “What has that hussy done now?  What foolishness is she up to with my husband?”

“Well, I don’t know anything about any foolishness yet,” Fay began to explain.  “But earlier while I was working on some charts, I witnessed one Mrs. Judith Linford filling out paperwork so that she can become a volunteer in the children’s ward.  I heard her say that she was doing it ‘for the children.’”  Fay threw her hand up to her chest in a display of mock dramatics.

“For the children?  Oh, children my eye!”  Corinne began to feel her blood pressure start to quickly rise.  “You know as well as I do that the only reason that witch would even think about being around a bunch of sick children is because it would allow her to see Talbot all the time.” 

“Of course I know that, but I don’t think chasing around after your husband is the only reason.”

“Oh?”  Corinne cocked an eyebrow as she listened carefully for Fay’s newest piece of information.

“I think one of the reasons she’s doing this is so that she can deliberately get under your skin.”  Fay paused and looked around to make sure no one was listening.  “I heard her specifically say that you were the reason she was volunteering.”

“How like her!” Corinne spat as she began to seethe.  “Why am I not surprised that she’s doing all this just to spite me?  What a mean, vicious, petty….”  She paused as she began to hear the echoes of commotion at the hospital going on in the background of the telephone call.  “Fay?  Are you there?  It sounds like something’s happening.  What is it?”

“Corinne, dear, I’m going to have to phone you later.  A young expectant mother was just brought in down in the emergency room – in quite a bit of physical distress….”

“Yes, yes, I understand,” Corinne sighed.  “You go take care of whatever it is you need to do and leave Mrs. Linford and my husband to me.”

After returning the telephone receiver to its cradle, Corinne sat in silence and strummed her fingers along the edge of the end table.  So Judith thought that she could use the children’s ward as an excuse to hover around Talbot like a vulture waiting for lunch, did she?  Not if Corinne had anything to say about it!

SPRINGHILL MANOR – LIBRARY

“Mrs. Preston?”  Naomi Jackson cautiously knocked on the slightly open sliding doors that lead in from the foyer.  “I hope I’m not… botherin’ you, but….”

“No, Naomi, it’s quite all right,” Joyce Preston sighed.  “Come in, come in and close the door behind you.  There are a few things we need to talk about.”

“That’s why I’m here, Mrs. Preston.”  Naomi fidgeted and shifted her weight from one foot to the other.  She could immediately tell that Joyce Preston was in a very dour and no-nonsense mood.  “I think we got trouble.”

“Trouble?  What kind of trouble?”  Joyce stepped closer to Naomi, eager to hear what had gotten the girl so obviously worried.

“You remember Ruby – my brother’s girl?” Naomi began hesitantly.  “Well, she’s… she’s been pokin’ her nose in where it don’t belong and askin’ questions.”

“What kind of questions?  Girl, spit it out.  What the devil are you talking about?”

“She’s been askin’ questions about me… my baby… what we’re really doin’ here….”

“Well, you didn’t tell you anything did you?”  Joyce’s eyes grew wide with panic.  She knew she couldn’t have all her plans ruined by Naomi running off at the mouth.

“Of course I didn’t tell her!  What kinda fool do you think I am anyway?”

“Well… What did you do?  What did you say?”  Joyce moved even closer, anxiously hanging on every word.

“I warned her that she best say outta my business,” Naomi replied matter-of-factly.  “I threatened her that she’d regret it if she messed this job up for me.”

“Wonderful.  Simply Wonderful,” Joyce muttered in annoyance as she again began to pace around the room while her head filled with new thoughts and concerns.  “Not only do I have my errant son-in-law to think about, now I’ve got this… this meddlesome girl to contend with!”  She paused and tapped her chin with her index finger as she sank deep into thought.  “This girl – is she the one who barged in here the other day asking all those questions and making all those accusations.”

“Yes!  Yes, that’s her!  Ruby Thomas – my brother’s girl and a thorn in my side.  She can’t keep her nose outta my business!”

“Simply wonderful,” Joyce grumbled.  “As if I didn’t have enough to deal with since that two-faced son-in-law of mine has decided to go turncoat on me.”

“Mr. Manchester?” Naomi gasped.  “But I… I thought he was supposed to be helpin’ us convince your daughter to sign over that money.  You said that he was on our side and….”

“Now, now don’t you worry about that.  You leave my son-in-law to me.”  Joyce continued pacing around the room as the gears inside her head began to work overtime.  “I had a feeling that boy would try to stab me in the back, so I’ve already taken steps to insure that he keeps in step.  Now, as for your little problem….  I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying ‘keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer?’”

“I… I think so, Mrs. Preston.”  Naomi paused and cocked her head to the side as she thought about the phrase.  “But I… I’m not sure I understand what you’re gettin’ at.”

“Must I spell everything out for you, girl?” Joyce snapped.  “What I want you to do is make friends with this Ruby girl.  From what you’ve said, she wants to be friends with you because she’s fond of your brother.  Well, let her.  Confide in her – at least a little about nothing important – and then get her to confide in you.  She’s digging so hard into your affairs because you keep pushing back at her.  Stop.  Be nice to her.  Get her to like you.”

“Ah, I think I see what you’re getting’ at,” Naomi nodded.

“And while you’re at it, I want you to find out everything you can about her.”  Joyce smiled slyly as a plan quickly began to formulate.  “Then you tell me everything she’s told you.  Leave the rest to me.  By the time I’m finished, that girl will have so much upheaval going on in her own life, whatever is going on in yours – and consequently mine – will be the furthest thing from her mind.”

ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL – EMERGENCY ROOM

“Lorraine!  Lorraine, what’s happened?  Is she all right?” Reginald Callison called out as he rushed into the emergency room.  He’d dropped everything at the office as soon as Lorraine had phoned him about his wife, Jillian’s, accident.

“I… I don’t know,” she shook her head as she choked back her tears of worry.  “Dr. Campbell and Dr. Hardy are in with her now.”

“Lorraine, what happened?”

“Jillian was… coming down the stairs,” she started to explain, “and… I don’t know if she missed a step or… what, but….  She fell.  I… I didn’t think she’d fallen that far or that hard, but… she started having pains.  I called the ambulance right away and then… then called you.”

“This is just like my baby,” Judith Linford, seated right next to Lorraine, muttered under her breath.  “It’s just like what happened to me.”

In Reginald’s haste to find out from Lorraine about Jillian’s condition, he hadn’t even noticed Judith’s presence. 

“Judith, how did you get here so quickly?” he asked his wife’s sister.  “I got here as fast as I could and you beat me.”

“I was already here at the hospital,” she explained.  “Don’t ask why.  It’s not really important.  Talbot – Dr. Campbell – came and told me what had happened as soon as he found out that Jillian had been brought in.”

“How is Jillian?” he asked as he turned his full attention to Judith.  “How is the baby?”

“We… haven’t heard anything yet,” she sighed and rubbed her temples in an attempt to relieve the stress that was starting to build.  The entire situation was far too familiar for Judith and she was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the painful memories she was beginning to experience.  “Dr. Campbell and Dr. Hardy are doing everything they can.  I suppose all we can do now is… wait.”

“Wait – just wait,” Reginald muttered, his hands clinched into fists in an attempt to keep them from shaking.  And then a thought struck him.  “Lorraine!  Dr. Jackson – phone Dr. Jackson!  You had problems with Mikey and he helped you all the way through….”

“It was a completely different set of circumstances,” she reminded.  “Besides, Dr. Hardy is an excellent obstetrician and he’s even got Dr. Campbell assisting.  Jillian’s in the best hands possible.”

At just that moment, Dr. Talbot Campbell appeared at the end of the corridor having obviously just come from Jillian’s bed side.  Reginald quickly rose from his feet and hurried down the long hallway towards Dr. Campbell with Judith and Lorraine close behind.  However, as soon as Reginald had reached the doctor’s side, Talbot’s solemn and dour expression immediately let him know that Jillian’s condition was far from all right.

THE GARDENS RESTAURANT

“I went ahead and started going through Mr. Preston’s things,” Sara Manchester said as she started thumbing through the stack of files and folders she’d brought with her.  “It seems like he was a far more prolific writer than I’d ever imagined.”

“Oh?  How so?” Trevor Callison asked as he leaned forward, eager to hear what she’d discovered.

“Well, I found at least three fully completed novels filed away in his office and no fewer than five nearly completed works in progress.”  She paused and pulled a page of notes from the bottommost file in the stack.  “And from what I can piece together, there are possibly several more novels that haven’t gotten past the first draft stage.”

“This is… incredible.”  He took the list of works from her and began to review them.  “I can’t even begin to tell you how happy my father’s going to be when he hears this.”

“So explain to me again what you’re doing.  Why are you so interested in all of Mr. Preston’s manuscripts and drafts?”

“It’s about our contract with Mr. Preston,” Trevor began to explain.  “We still want to honor it.  Thanks to your help, The Manhattan Conflict is on schedule to be out in bookstores by the end of the summer.  We don’t want to stop there.”

“I’m… not sure I understand.  I would’ve thought that the contract would’ve ended when Mr. Preston died.”

“Douglas wrote a very solid contract.  When Mr. Preston signed it, he effectively signed over all publishing rights to Callison Publications for at least his next five novels and that contract extends to his estate." 

“Ah,” Sara nodded as she slowly began to understand what he was saying.  “You want to publish all of the novels Mr. Preston had finished.”

“Exactly.  But we need your help and approval to do it.”  Trevor looked down at the list he held in his hands.  “Unfortunately, the one glitch in the terms of the contract was that Mr. Preston was only required to publish one book.”

“I’m not following.”

“Mr. Preston only had to publish one book with us,” he went on to explain.  “If he didn’t want to publish any other books, he wasn’t required to.  However, if he did publish any future books, at least the next five have to be published by us.  To break it down in the simplest terms possible, since he’s dead, if his estate doesn’t want any of his completed works published, then the estate isn’t required to publish them.  If the estate does decide to publish the remainder of his works posthumously, by the terms of the contract they have to be published by Callison Publications.”

“I see.”  Sara tilted her head to the side and rubbed her chin as she considered the possibilities.  “So the decision to publish rests with me and Dane since we inherited the estate.”

“That’s where it gets a little interesting.  I’m not exactly sure whether you know this or not, but thanks to Douglas’s work with Mr. Preston on the changes to his will, Mr. Preston grouped all of his writings and manuscripts into a separate part of the estate – a part he left exclusively for you to control.  Dane has no part of this at all unless you allow him to be due to your marriage.”

“And why are you involved?  Shouldn’t I be working with an editor from the company or some other executive or something?”

“Well, you probably should,” Trevor sighed, “however, my father decided that he wants me to be the one to work with you because… well… if you think about it, I’m partly the reason you got mixed up with Thornton Preston in the first place.  If I hadn’t talked you into taking that job with Mr. Preston so you could spy on him for us and….”

“I remember, I remember.”  Sara waved her hand as if to dismiss the memory.  “I don’t want to sound ungrateful – I do appreciate all of the help you’ll be – but isn’t this going to interfere with your other job?”

“I haven’t really written much of anything for the paper in months,” he confessed, “at least not since Grace left.  I think that’s a lot of the reason my father wants me working on this – he wants to keep my mind occupied and off of Grace.”

“Then you just leave things to me.”  Sara reached across the table and gave Trevor’s hand a reassuring squeeze.  “I think getting these manuscripts in shape for publication is going to keep both of us busy.”

SPRINGHILL MANOR – LIBRARY

“Massive Heat Wave Continues Grip on Country,” Dane Manchester read the headline to himself from the front page of the Daily Post.  Pausing to turn the page to finish the article, he looked over the top of the newspaper at his housekeeper, Helga Grimm, who was busy dusting the built-in bookcase across the room behind the desk.

“Did my wife happen to mention when she planned on being home?” he asked.

“Mrs. Manchester only said that she’d be back before dinner,” Helga replied without even taking her focus away from her work.  “She was supposed to meet Trevor Callison at The Gardens to talk about working on dear Mr. Preston’s manuscripts.”

“So she said.”  He returned his focus to the newspaper article.  “Where’s her mother hiding?  She didn’t go with Sara, did she?”

“Hardly, Mr. Manchester.  To be honest, I’m not sure where your mother-in-law ran off to.  She didn’t say and I didn’t bother to ask.  She did act like she had something important to do when she left, though.  And before you ask, Naomi took that baby of hers over to her brother’s place.  She said something about dinner and was rambling on about making peace or something.  I wasn’t really paying attention to her.”

As Dane flipped the pages of the newspaper until he reached the comics – he was quite curious about what Dick Tracy was up to – he let out a contented sigh.  Outside of Helga, he was alone in the house and he was determined to enjoy every moment of peace and quiet that meant.  Unfortunately, no sooner had he begun to read about the latest developments concerning mob moll Mimi who needed a gangrenous hand amputated, the shrill doorbell broke the silence.

“You stay right there, Mr. Manchester.  I’ll get it.”

Helga hurried out of the room and into the foyer.  Although Dane was trying to focus on the newspaper, he couldn’t resist straining to eavesdrop on whoever was at the door.  A few moments later, Helga came back into the room with a rather large envelope clasped in her hands.

“Helga, who was it?”

“It was a just a messenger,” she replied as she stood next to his chair, the envelope still in her hands.  “He delivered this.  He didn’t say what it was, but it’s for you.”

Dane took the envelope from her and examined it carefully.  It was definitely addressed to him – Mr. Dane Manchester, 54 Spring Lake Dr., Albanyville – but there was no return address.  Although he was naturally curious about what could possibly be inside, his gut instincts told him that opening the envelope was probably a task that was best done in private.

“Helga, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’d like to be alone for a while.  You can finish your work in here later.  Why don’t you go ahead and start on dinner?”

“Yes, Mr. Manchester.”

“Oh, and Helga….”

“Yes, Sir?”

“Please close the doors behind you.”

After Helga had gone and the large wooden doors of the library were securely closed, Dane tore open the envelope and pulled out the contents for examination.  His gut instinct had been more than accurate.  The envelope was one that was best opened in private.  In his lap lay a series of photographs – photographs of him and one Kitty Benedict, portraying them in very compromising situations.  Included with the photographs was a note –

“Some affairs are best kept private, don’t you think?   Instructions to follow…”

TO BE CONTINUED

NEXT TIME

Are Fred’s misdeeds starting to catch up to him?

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

©2001- 2012 Classic Soap Productions