produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #159 (June 1, 2012) click here for a printable version of this episode
A Few Days Later
July 1936 – Late Evening

RIVERVIEW NIGHTCLUB

The Riverview NightclubDr. Fred RutherfordDr. Fred Rutherford strummed his fingers along the edge of the bar and fidgeted nervously on his barstool.  He didn’t necessarily like meeting Joyce Preston in such a public setting, but she’d called the get-together and he felt he’d had no choice but to comply.  After all, considering he wasn’t even close to having enough cash to make his next payment to her, it was the least he could do.

Ever since his wife, Leticia, had made the stunning and unexpected announcement that she had closed their joint banking account – his primary source of funding “discretionary expenses” – he’d been racking his brain trying to figure out exactly how he was going to come up with the money to placate Joyce and keep her threats at bay.  Unfortunately, Fred had swiftly found himself tapped out.  Of course Leticia had assured him that he still had access to their money – her money – but he had to go through her.  She’d assured him that she would approve anything he needed, but he found it highly doubtful that she would approve of continued payments to Joyce to keep her from spilling everything she knew about his prior involvement with late racketeer Stephen Lake, Stephen’s late wife Annabelle, or a certain long-missing nurse with whom Fred shared a rather secret illicit involvement.  No, Leticia most definitely wouldn’t understand any of that.

Truth of the matter was that Fred was flat broke with not even two slug nickels to rub together.  Until his next paycheck cleared from the hospital, he barely even had enough money to cover the cost of the scotch and water he’d been drinking which was starting to disappear almost as quickly as his financial prospects.  As he downed the last bit of scotch from his glass, nearly sucking every last drop of liquor from the ice cubes in the process, he spotted Joyce from across the room and his heartbeat began to quicken.  He exhaled slowly and pushed the now empty glass back across the bar.  No, he didn’t have the money to cover his next payment to Joyce, but he surely had enough to cover just one more drink – because he was going to need it.


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THE LAMONT HOME - KITCHEN

2312 Spring Lake Rd.“I’m glad Randy’s out with Eliza,” Burt Lamont smiled across the kitchen table at his wife, Janet, as he finished the last bite of his dinner.  “It gives us moments like this to be alone together – just you and me… and this wonderful roast.”  He flashed her a teasing grin.

“Oh, stop it,” she laughed and gave him a playful slap on the arm before rising from her chair to start clearing the dinner dishes.  “The real question is did you save room for some pie?  I baked a wonderful rhubarb pie this afternoon and I’ve been dying for you to try it.”

“A pie?  After all of that dinner?”  His eyes grew wide and he sunk down into his chair as if a two ton weight had suddenly been lowered onto his shoulders.  “I can barely move as it is.  If someone had told me a year ago that I was going to be married to the most beautiful girl in the world and that she could cook like nobody’s business, I’d have told them they were crazy.  Especially since I don’t think that expert cooking skills are something greatly stressed or valued among high society.”

“I told you that I used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen with the staff when I was growing up.”  Janet began to fill the sink up with water, dishes, and a bar of soap.  “Everything I know, I know because of Maeve.  I actually used her recipe for that rhubarb pie sitting over there on the counter.”

“The staff,” Burt muttered to himself as he cleared the rest of the dishes from the table and carried them over to the sink.

“Did you say something, dear?”

“I was just… well….”  He let out a long exhale.  “Look, Janet, I know this house isn’t anything like you’re used to.  It’s not one of those big houses on the other side of the lake and it’s not one of those penthouses in the middle of Manhattan.  It’s barely more than an old farmhouse that we get to live in free of charge because I take care of the stables and tend to the horses and….”

Janet Lamont“And it’s our home.”  She gently stroked his cheek and looked him lovingly in the eyes.  “You’re my husband now, Burt.  Wherever you are, that’s where I belong.  That’s home to me.  I could live in a castle fit for a fairytale princess, but if you’re not there with me, then it’s nowhere I belong.”

“Oh, Janet!”  Burt pulled her into his arms and held her tightly as he buried his face in her flaxen hair and inhaled her scent.  “You deserve so much more than this – than me.”

“And that’s where you’re completely wrong – I’m the one who doesn’t deserve you.  I’ve made so many mistakes… done some awful things… but you….”

Janet pulled herself out of his embrace and turned away from him, unable to look him in the eyes.  If he ever found out the truth – if he ever knew what she’d done – he’d never be able to forgive her.  She knew that for certain.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he chuckled as he reached out and took her by the hand, drawing her back into his arms.  “There’s nothing you could ever do that would make me doubt how much I love you and you deserve every bit of happiness that we’ve been fortunate enough to find.  I know things haven’t been easy for you because of Judith, but all of that’s in the past.  I should’ve been honest with you from the beginning about what happened between me and your sister in New York and the baby but….”

“That wasn’t your fault.  It was never your fault.  It was before we even met.  How… how were you supposed to know back then that we’d both wind up meeting each other here in Albanyville?”

Burt Lamont“Well, whoever’s fault it was – mine… the fates…  – I promise you that as soon as the inheritance Charles promised me from my father’s estate comes through, I’m going to build you the biggest house on the other side of the lake that you’ve ever seen.  It’s going to be everything that you deserve.”

Before Janet could protest Burt’s overly extravagant offer, the telephone rang, intruding on the deeply private and emotional moment.

“I’ve got it,” he said as he left his wife’s arms and reached for the receiver.  “Hello?  Lamont residence.”

“Burt darling, it’s Judith,” Judith Lamont said on the other end of the line.  “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I need to see you.  It’s important.”

“I… don’t think that’s a good idea.”  Burt’s eyes immediately darted to Janet who was listening to his end of the conversation with much interest as he struggled to conceal the identity of the caller.  He knew that a telephone call from Judith would upset Janet and he wanted to spare her.  “There’s really nothing we need to discuss.”

“Oh, I beg to differ,” Judith said softly.  “I need to speak to you about something that’s been weighing on my mind very heavily these last few weeks.  It’s something I tried to tell you before, but you wouldn’t listen.”

“What makes you think I have any intention of listening to you now?” he muttered under his breath into the receiver.

Judith Linford“Because this concerns Janet… and our baby,” She explained rather matter-of-factly.  “What I have to tell you is very important and it will change your life forever.”

“All… all right,” he grumbled.  “Meet me down at the stables in about 30 minutes?  I don’t want Janet to know anything about this.  I don’t want her upset.”

“Of course you don’t.”  click.

“Burt, who was that on the phone?” Janet asked as she came up behind him and he returned the telephone receiver to its cradle.  “I couldn’t hear what you were saying, but you look like it was important.”

“It’s really nothing to worry yourself over,” he smiled and then leaned in to kiss her lovingly on the cheek.  “Just Mr. McGhee down at the bank wanting me to stop by to fill out some paperwork about my father’s estate.  I told you I was going to build that house for you.”

“Mr. McGhee?  At this hour?”

“He must’ve been working late or something.  I really didn’t ask.”  He walked over to the backdoor and looked up at the sky outside.  “You know, I think from the looks of those clouds rolling in that we might actually be in for a storm.  I’d say it’s about time because after the way it’s been this summer, we really need the rain.  I better go down to the stables and make sure the horses are secure incase the weather gets bad.”

“All right,” Janet walked over to the open doorway and kissed him tenderly.  “Hurry back.”

“I will,” he grinned.  “And I have a feeling I’ll be ready for a piece of that rhubarb pie you made.”


RIVERVIEW NIGHTCLUB

Riverview Nightclub“I promise you that as soon as I get this mess with Leticia cleared up, I’ll have the money for you.” Fred said to Joyce as he motioned for the bartender to bring him yet another scotch and water.  “You have to understand that there’s no way I could’ve predicted that she’d just go and cancel those accounts on me.  Of course, I can’t really say that I’m surprised that she’s gotten suspicious considering….”

“Oh, would you please stop prattling on?” Joyce groaned with a wave of her hand.  “I told you that I understand about the money and your tenuous situation with the widow Stokes so you get your extension.”  She paused and smiled slyly.  “However, since I’m doing you this small favor, that means you have to do something for me in return.”

“W-what?  What is it?” he stammered.  “A-anything for the extra time.”

“I thought you’d understand.”

She ran her index finger around the rim of her wine glass.  She was clearly toying with him, but she learned a long time ago that it was always best to keep people off guard because it helped her to maintain an upper hand.

“Well…?”

“As I’m sure you know, my late husband decided to leave his entire estate to my deceitful little daughter.  I’m sure it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to know that that didn’t exact sit too well with me.  I’ve been working to rectify that situation, but unfortunately I’ve manage to run into a few more complications than I’d care to deal with.  To put it mildly, I’m running out of patience.”

“I… don’t see what that has to do with me.”  Fred began to anxiously swirl his cocktail around in his glass.

“It’s taking far too long to get my daughter to sign over my rightful inheritance to me.”  She paused and leaned closer to him.  “I need your help to move things along.  I need to speed up the process.”

Dr. Fred Rutherford“I really don’t know what I can do to….”

“Look, Dr. Rutherford, I know all about how you helped Annabelle snare Charles Callison.”

“I… don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, really?”  Joyce leaned back in her seat and chuckled.  “Dr. Rutherford, if you’ll remember, that file Stephen Lake had on you was very informative.  I know about that wondrous secret vile you gave Annabelle that she slipped to Mr. Callison to get him into bed with her.  I know all about that magical elixir’s, shall we say, mood altering properties.  I’m willing to consider your most recent payment ‘paid in full’ if you get me some of whatever it is that you got for Annabelle.”

“You want me to help you drug your own daughter?”  Fred couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.

“Just so that she’ll be more receptive to reason where the inheritance is concerned.”

“Well, I… I won’t do it,” he reacted with defiance and slammed his fist down onto the bar.  “To drug your own daughter is….”

“Don’t tell me that you’ve suddenly sprouted a set of morals.”  Joyce let out a thin laugh.  “Tell me, Fred, how did you manage to rope the rich Widow Stokes into marrying you?  Her husband was barely dead and buried before you two ran off to New York and tied the knot.”

“Leticia loves me,” he quickly answered.  “We realized that life is far too short to wait around for the right time.”

Joyce Preston“Spare me your heart- and-flowers act.  I’m not buying that for an instant.  However you managed to get a ring on that woman’s finger, you and I both know that your motive had far less to do with your love for her and more to do with your love of her bank account.  Either you get me what I need or I’ll make sure that your dear wife finds out all about your rather sordid past and then you’ll never get your hands on another dime of her money.”

“At the rate things are going now, I’m not going to be seeing any of that money as it is,” he grumbled.  “I told you that she shut that joint bank account down on me.  I have to go through her to get as much as a dime.”

“Interesting,” Joyce muttered as she tapped her chin with her index finger as her head begin to churn with a plan.  “You do realize that as the Widow Stokes’s legal husband, if anything were to happen to her you’d be first in line to inherit the vast majority of her estate.  Surely you can imagine all of that wonderful money at your fingertips.”

Fred began to feel a knot forming inside his throat.  “What… what are you trying to say?  Joyce, what are you suggesting?”

“Do I have to spell everything out for you?”  She leaned in close to him and whispered into his ear.  “Why don’t you get rid of her?  Permanently.”