produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

EPISODE #28 (Wednesday 5/30/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
same day, September 1935


Thornton Preston54 Spring Lake Dr., Albanyville, IL"Helga!" Thornton Preston called out as he stepped through the doors of his new home.  "Have the driver bring in my bags."

"Yes, Mr. Preston," the faithful housekeeper replied as she rushed out to the car.

Thornton casually survey his new surroundings.  He'd rented the estate sight unseen through an agency.  He hadn't realized that the place had been constructed to resemble a veritable castle.  He smirked at the thought...a castle for a future Hollywood king.  As Helga hurried back in past him carrying and armload of small boxes, Thornton silently climbed the stairs to further inspect his new home.

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54 Spring Lake Dr., Albanyville, ILHelga Grimm"Mr. Preston?" Helga spoke up as he made his descent down the staircase.  "How are negotiations coming with Mr. Callison?"

"He's being quite the stubborn fool!"  Thornton walked across the foyer and slid open the large wooden doors that lead to the library.  He looked around and nodded his head.  He was very pleased that everything had arrived just as he'd instructed.  "As soon as he realizes that it would be extremely foolhardy to keep me bound by this ridiculous contract, the better off we'll all be!"

"Mr. DeMille phoned before you arrived," Helga announced as she stood tentively in the doorway.  "He said it was urgent and you were to phone him at once.  He mentioned The Manhattan Conflict..."

Thornton threw up his hand to silence Helga.  "Please, don't discuss these matters openly.  I don't need everyone on the planet knowing of my dealings with Cecil."

She casually raised an eyebrow and turned her head to survey the room.  They were the only ones there.  What could he possibly be worried about?  "Um...Mr. Preston, we are alone, you know?  The movers have all left and you gave your driver the rest of the day off."

Thornton Preston"Oh, yes, I did, didn't I?"  He sat down into one of the large, stuffed chairs in the library and lit his pipe.  "Well, pour me a brandy, Helga.  I've got to think of someway to get out of this contract.  Tainted Woman is sure to be a smash hit at the box-office and Cecil insists on directing the film version of Conflict.  He claims to be able to get me quite a hefty sum for the rights to it."

"But doesn't Callison Publications hold all the rights to your next novel?"

"Exactly, my dear."  He took the snifter from her hands and held it up so that he could inhale the aroma of the brandy.  "If I let Callison Publications do the negotiations, I certainly wouldn't receive the same amount of money that I would if I dealt with Cecil directly."  He pulled the manuscript for The Manhattan Conflict out of his briefcase and eyed it closely.  "Trust me, what he's offering is more than Charles Callison could ever offer through one of his stupid contracts."

Helga slowly maneuvered around the room straightening and arranging photographs and mementos.  She picked up a picture of an elegant, brunette woman and examined it closely.  "When will your wife be joining you here in Albanyville?"

"Please refrain from mentioning Mrs. Preston," Thornton ordered as his jaw clinched tightly.  "And put that picture away!  The less I have to be reminded of that woman, the better."

She nodded curtly and quickly turned the picture face down as she laid it in a drawer and quickly pushed it shut.  She knew Thornton's feelings about his wife and realized that she need not make the mistake of speaking of her again.


Grace DavisBaily Park"Are you sure you're alright?" Grace asked as she examined Janet closely.  "Just a moment ago you seemed as if you'd seen a ghost.  Why, you're as white as a sheet."

"I-I'm fine."  Janet raised her hand as if to brush away Grace's concern as well as her own troubled memories of the past.

"Grace!" Trevor called out as he approached the girls and interrupted before Grace had a chance to question Janet further.  "How lucky for me that I found you here!"

"Well, hello, Trevor."  Grace smiled warmly at him and quickly noticed the picnic basket that he carried down by his side.  "What's this?"

Trevor Callison"Actually, I was just heading over to your house to see if you'd like to enjoy this wonderful afternoon in the park."  He grinned at Grace and nodded politely toward Janet.  "I hope you like chicken salad."

"I love chicken salad!" Grace exclaimed.  She quickly turned and looked nervously at Janet.  "A-are you sure you're okay?"

Janet Stokes"Grace, thank you for your concern, but I'm fine."  Janet casually motioned for Grace to join Trevor.  As she watched the happy couple walk away, her mind again began to drift to things better left forgotten.  Why were all of these old memories rearing their ugly heads now?  Why couldn't she just leave the past in the past?  Suddenly, a familiar voice intruded on her dark reflections and brought her back to a happier present.

"I had a feeling I'd find you here."

"Oh, Burt!"  Janet all but glowed at the sight of him standing in front of her.  "I-I didn't hear you walk up."

"I didn't scare you did I?"  He took a seat beside her on the bench and looked deeply into her eyes.  "I-I have to confess that I haven't stopped thinking about you since the other night."

"You've been on my mind a lot, too."  She blushed slightly as she lowered her head.  She couldn't believe he was beginning to stir such feelings in her so quickly.  Was that why the past was starting to haunt her more and more?

Burt Lamont"I see you've been painting again."  Burt held up Janet's artwork and smiled his approval.  "Granted, I don't know a whole lot about art, but I'm just amazed at the work that you do."  Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of Trevor and Grace relaxing on a blanket under a small grove of trees.  He turned cautiously and began to watch them intently.  Trevor Callison was the type of man he'd dreamed he could have been...successful, well to do, prominent.  If only Burt had been born with the same advantages.  If only...