produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #158 (April 23, 2012) click here for a printable version of this episode
Same Day
July 1936 – Evening

SPRINGHILL MANOR – LIBRARY

54 Spring Lake Dr.Dane ManchesterDane Manchester stood in silence, his eyes unable to look anywhere else but at the photographs of him and Kitty Benedict that were strewn across the desk, as a huge lump formed in his throat.

“What’s wrong, Dane?” his mother-in-law, Joyce Preston, laughed menacingly.  “Cat got your tongue?”

“Where… where did you get these?” he asked as he finally began to gather his wits about him.  “Were you spying on me?”

“I have my ways.  Surely you know that by now.”  She leaned forward and brushed her lips against his ear.  “Now the question is – what am I going to do with those pictures?  I’m pretty certain that the last thing you want is for anyone to see them – not my precious Sara and definitely not your father.”

“What… what do you want?” he asked in a voice barely above a whisper, the wind almost completely knocked out of him.  “What do you want to keep those pictures secret?”

“What do I want?”  Joyce repeated the question and then let out a throaty laugh.  “Why, Dane dear, it should be blatantly obvious – I want everything!”


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LADY J’S JAZZ CLUB

Lady J's Jazz Club“Are you… sure about his?” Leticia Rutherford asked as her husband, Dr. Fred Rutherford, helped her push her seat up to the table.  Her eyes darted around the darkened and smoky club with trepidation.  “This doesn’t quite seem to be our typical type of crowd.”

“I know it’s a little off the beaten path, but it has quite the reputation at work.”  He hurriedly took his seat next to her, across the table from her daughters Judith and Janet and Janet’s husband, Burt.

“Oh, I’m sure it does have a reputation,” Judith Linford grumbled dryly and pulled her arms in tightly to her body, “and I can only imagine what it is!”

“The music, Judith – the music.”  Fred glared at his step-daughter before motioning for a waitress.  “Everyone at work goes on about how fantastic the music is from the singers to the band.  I thought it would be a nice turn to take everyone out for a nice evening that wasn’t run of the mill.”

Janet Stokes Lamont“Well, I for one think it’s fantastic!” Janet Lamont beamed, her eyes dancing over every possible inch of the room so that she could soak in every possible ounce of ambiance available.

“You would,” Judith again muttered icily.

Burt, isn’t this like some of those places you told me about where you worked when you were living in New York?” Janet turned asked her husband.  She didn’t see Judith’s eyes begin to blaze with jealous anger.

Burt Lamont“Very similar, yes,” he nodded in response, very deliberately refusing to pay Judith’s glare any attention.

“It’s too bad Reginald and Jillian couldn’t make it.”  Fred took Leticia’s hand into his and stroked it tenderly.  “But considering her condition, it’s understandable.  We’ll just have to make a point to have them over for dinner once she’s feeling better.”

“I’d really like that,” Leticia smiled, but then caught sight through the thick cloud of smoke of a Negro couple out of the corner of her eye.  “Are you… sure it’s okay that we’re here?  I… I mean we don’t exactly… seem to belong.”

Judith Stokes Linford“We don’t.”  Judith remained rigid in her seat, her hands clasped tightly in her lap as if she were afraid to touch anything.

Dr. Fred Rutherford“Nonsense!” Fred laughed.  “Everyone belongs here.  That’s one of the things that’s most appealing.  Just look around – you’ve got lower class, you’ve got the artsy types, you’ve got the ritzy upper class, you’ve got Negros… you’ve got a little bit of everything.  Everyone belongs.  And the music’s good.”

“I should’ve known this would be your type of place,” Judith continued to grumble.  “This is all right up your alley.  Honestly, I can’t believe you’ve dragged all of us out to this… this… hovel, but considering your lack of couth, I shouldn’t be surprised.”

Leticia Stokes Rutherford“Judith, don’t you think you’re over exaggerating just a tad?”  Burt leaned forward to address his sister-in-law directly.  “Why don’t you simply relax and try to enjoy yourself.  Janet and I are.”

“Oh, I bet you are,” Judith glared at Janet.  “Go head.  Live it up while you can.  It’s not going to last forever.”

Although Judith’s cryptic comments sailed past Fred, Leticia, and Burt virtually unnoticed, Janet was keenly aware of their implication.  Judith had made it very clear that she had affixed an expiration date to Janet’s happiness, unfortunately Janet didn’t have the first clue when that date was and that fact terrified her more than words could express.


LADY J’S JAZZ CLUB

Lady J's Jazz Club“Naomi, this was a wonderful idea,” Dr. Calvin Jackson smiled as he leaned across the table towards his sister.  “Ruby and I have been dying to come here for months.  I hear the band is something else.”

“I can promise you that you ain’t heard nothin’ like these boys.”  Naomi Jackson’s eyes darted from her brother to his girlfriend, Ruby Thomas, who sat in near silence next to him.  “Ruby, you ain’t said much since we got here.  Don’t you like Lady J’s?”

“It’s very nice, thank you,” Ruby replied with sincere honesty.  “I agree with Calvin.  I’ve heard wonderful things about this place, too.”

“That’s why I thought it would be the perfect place for us to go out and have a good time.  Once Mrs. Manchester found out that I wanted to take you all out for the night, it seemed like she couldn’t wait to offer to watch Aubrey for me.”

“Your employer offered to babysit for you?”  Ruby’s eyes grew wide.  “That doesn’t sound like any employer I’ve ever met.  I can’t even imagine Mrs. Rutherford or Mrs. Linford offering to babysit for me so I could have a night out.  Heavens, I can barely even picture them watching their own children.”

“Are you accusin’ me of lying?” Naomi snapped before she had a chance to catch herself.

Ruby Thomas“N-no, it’s not that,” Ruby quickly replied as she attempted to soothe what could quickly escalate into a volatile situation.  “It’s just that… well… I know how unusual it is to have employers who think of you as more than just an employee.”

“And Mr. and Mrs. Manchester do,” Naomi nodded, quickly accepting what Ruby had said.  “In fact, they once told me that thought of me and Aubrey almost like family.  Mrs. Manchester has really taken a liking to the baby.”

“You’re very lucky like that,” Calvin spoke up, hoping to ease a bit of the tension that had crept into the conversation.  “You know, Naomi, I have to confess that I was a little surprised when you suggested that we all come out together tonight.”

“Well, you know I told you how I wanted Ruby here and I to get along better.”  Naomi looked across the table and smiled sweetly at Ruby.  “Tonight seemed as good a time as any.”

Dr. Calvin Jackson“I agree,” Ruby nodded warmly, “but you’ll have to forgive me for be a little surprised by this sudden change.  After everything you said the other day, if someone would have told me that you’d be so eager to make nice, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather.”

“What’re you tryin’ to say, Ruby?  You accusin’ me of….”

“Now, now, Naomi, I’m sure that she doesn’t mean a thing by it – nothing at all.  Isn’t that right, Ruby?”  Calvin turned and shot her a stern look.  “But even you have to admit that this seems to come out of nowhere.  I’m sure Ruby is just as curious as I am about what’s changed your mind.”

Naomi leaned back in her seat as her eyes moved from her brother to Ruby.  No matter how Ruby seemed to deliberately try to get under her skin and trip her up, she knew that she couldn’t let her.  Naomi had to stick to Mrs. Preston’s plan.

Naomi Jackson“Well…  It was actually that day you can over for a visit,” she began to explain, a warm yet false smile stuck to her face.  She reached across the table and grabbed hold of Ruby’s hand.  “You kept going on about wanting to be closer and… well… I admit I wasn’t very nice to you that day.  In fact, I ain’t been very nice to you at all.  Anyways, after you left I started thinkin’ about what you said once about how much it’d mean to Calvin if we got along and that’s when I decided that I needed to put forth more of an effort.  If I do have a confession to make, it’s that all of this don’t have as much to do with you, Ruby, as it does with Calvin.  I want to make the effort to get along… for his sake.  And maybe, in the process, you and I might actually become real friends – best friends.”

“Well, I think this is fantastic.”  Calvin nearly glowed with joy over his sister’s revelation.  “You know, Naomi, this has been something that I’ve wanted for months – you and Ruby to finally get along.  I, for one, couldn’t be happier.  Don’t you agree, Ruby?”

“Um, I….  Of course.  Of course, I do.”

Ruby struggled not to display her shock and surprise on her face.  Nothing that Naomi had ever said or done would’ve led her to believe that any of this sudden change of heart was genuine.  As she sat in stunned silence, her hand still held tightly in Naomi’s, Ruby couldn’t help but be suspicious that her boyfriend’s sister was up to something.