produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

EPISODE #39 (Thursday 6/14/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
a few days later, October 1935


Burt Lamont2312 Spring Lake Rd., Albanyville, ILBurt walked along the upstairs hallway and headed for the stairs.  He had a lunch date with Janet and didn't want to be late, but the sound of sobbing coming from his mother's bedroom stopped him dead in his tracks.  Burt quickly turned and noticed that the door was slightly open.  Very cautiously, he walked over and quietly looked in.  Penelope was sitting on her bed and looking at what appeared to be an old book.  The distressed look on her face worried him and he knocked lightly on the door.

"Ma?" Burt asked as he pushed the door open.  "Are you alright?"

"Oh, Burton!"  Penelope jumped slightly in shock and quickly shoved the book behind her.  "I-I'm fine."

Her actions had been swift enough to prevent Burt from seeing what she'd been looking at.  However, it clearly was a photo album.  As he stepped further into the room, he wondered why his mother seemed to be hiding it.

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Sunset Hotel, Penthouse A, Albanyville, ILFrancis CallisonFrancis stood in the doorway and glared at her daughter Maggie as she sat on the floor snapping her gum while she listened intently to the radio.  With determination, Francis walked briskly over to the radio and quickly switched it off.

"Hey, what did you do that for?" Maggie exclaimed as she bolted up right and looked angrily at her mother.  "I was listening to that show!"

"Young lady, you've spent entirely too much time listening to the radio and not enough time on your school work!"  Francis stood with her hands on her hips as she looked down at Maggie who was beginning to pout.  "I just received your grades for the first half of this semester and they leave much to be desired."

"Ohhhh," Maggie grumbled as she folded her arms across her chest and stuck out her bottom lip.  "It's just mid-term!  They don't really count!  I'll have them back up before Christmas break."

"Well, you better!"  Francis pulled the report card out of her pocket and held it up for Maggie to see.  "Just look at this!  English...'C', Algebra....'D', History....'D'...."

"I got an 'B' in Home Ec.!"

"Don't be fresh!"  Francis slapped the report card down on top of the radio before returning her focus to her daughter.  "Until your grades come up, no more radio!"

Maggie Callison"But, Mother!"

"No 'but, Mother' me!"  Francis turned and quickly sat down in the chair beside where Maggie was sitting on the floor.  "You're grades have to come up!  If you've got any intention of making something out of yourself, you have to lay the foundation now.  No college would even think to look at you with grades like these."

"Mother, college is still a couple of years away.  Why do I have to think about all of that now?"  Maggie shoulders slumped.  She knew it was useless trying to win this argument with her mother, but it was worth a shot.

"But you have to start planning now, dear."

"I don't know how you expect me to study considering everything that's on my mind!"  Maggie began to feel her temper rise again as she glared at her mother.

"W-what?  What's on your mind?"  Francis felt slightly taken aback.  She knew the obvious answer, already, but it was one problem she didn't want to deal with.

"Everything that's being going on between you and Dad."  Maggie's mind began to drift back to the day before.  She'd been over at Eliza Campbell's house and her mother Corinne had made a few backhanded comments about Francis.  "Momma, it's all my fault!  If I hadn't ratted Dad out, we would still be at home!  We wouldn't be living here with Nana!"

Francis felt her breath catch in her throat.  She'd known that her separation from Charles' had been difficult for their children, but none of them had seemed to want to discuss their concerns with her.  Now the result of their troubles was clearly reflected in Maggie's eyes.  Francis' heart quickly began to break.


Burt Lamont2312 Spring Lake Rd., Albanyville, IL"Is that a photo album you're looking at?" Burt questioned cautiously.  He had to have answers to his mother's secrets, but he was desperately worried about upsetting her too much.  Her health was much too important.  "I-I don't think I've ever seen it before."

"Um, yes, Burt, it is an album."  Penelope's fingers gently grazed its dusty cover as she carefully slid it further behind her.

"Where did you get it?  What's in it?"  He walked closer to her to get a better look, but she quickly shifted her position on the bed so that he couldn't see.

"Oh, they're just pictures of you and Randy when you were babies."  It wasn't a total lie.  There were pictures of her children in the album.  "Some pictures of me and your father before he left us."  Still, not a lie.

"Can I see them, Ma?"  Burt reached out his hand to her, but she backed away.  "C'mon, Ma.  I want to see the pictures of us and Pa.  I want to remember when things were better."

Penelope Lamont"Oh, it's best to just forget all that foolishness now."  Penelope exhaled slowly and hung her head.  "Your father's gone and, besides, things really weren't that great when he was around, anyway.  Let's just let it rest."

Burt let out a heavy sigh as he watched his mother closely.  Why did she look so wistful at first when remembering his father, but then seemed so cold when mentioning him again.  How many things was she really hiding from him.  "Okay, Ma, if you think it's best."  He knew not to press the issue.  It seemed like every time he tried to bring up her mysterious resentment of the Callisons, she'd have another spell.  He greatly feared upsetting her again.  Her health was much too precious for that.

"Well, I've got a stack of dishes in the sink, Burt."  Penelope rose from the bed with the photo album still clutched in her hands behind her back.  She discreetly slid it back to its home under her bed and slowly walked towards the door.  "Are you coming?" she asked as she turned to look back at Burt.

"Um, yeah, Ma," he muttered as he carefully eyed the exact spot where she'd put the album.  He was sure that it held the key to all of his mother's secrets.  Burt just knew he had to see what it contained without his mother knowing.  "Yeah, I'm coming."  As his mind begin to whirl with a million thoughts, he quietly followed Penelope's lead from the room.