JOSEPH HAYNE RAINEY MEMORIAL NEGRO HOSPITAL

Joseph Hayne Rainey Memorial Negro HospitalDr. Calvin Jackson stood in the hallway of the hospital looking over the chart of a patient.  Making methodical, mental notes of prognoses and medication, he nodded to himself silently and turned to head towards his office when he suddenly collided with someone else in the hallway.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," he said before quickly looking up from his charts.  "I...oh, I...hello!"

"Well, well, well," Ruby Thomas smiled as she took a step away from him to put an appropriate distance between them.  "If it isn't Mr. Jackson from the park.  Or, maybe I should say Dr. Jackson!"

"Well, yes, it is Dr. Jackson," he smiled warmly and nodded.  "And how have you been?"

"Doing good."  She eyed him closely.  In his white lab coat, he looked even more distinguished than when she'd first met him in the park.  Feeling slightly foolish, she quickly brushed off the warm feeling that had suddenly come over her.

"I hope nothing's wrong," Calvin said as he looked at her with genuine concern.

"Why would anything be wrong?"

"Um, well, you are in the hospital!"  He let out a hearty laugh that eased what little tension was still hanging in the air between them.

Ruby Thomas"No, nothing's wrong.  I'm just here for a routine check up.  Nothing major."  Ruby smiled again, yet lowered her head slightly as if embarrassed by his concern.

"You know, Ruby...I can call you Ruby, can't I?"

"Why of course, Mr. Jackson," she smiled.  "But only if I can call you Calvin."

"Nothing would make me happier."  He smiled broadly as they both began to walk down the hallway.  "As I was saying, I've thought about you quite a bit since that day in the park."

"You have?"  She tried to cover the surprise in her voice.  He'd actually thought about her!

"Um...yes.  And, actually, I was wondering..."  His voice trailed off as he tried to search for just the right words.  "Well, I had hoped that I'd manage to run into you again, and...well..."

"Yes, Calvin?"

"I was wondering if you would do me the pleasure of agreeing to have dinner with me sometime."  He felt his face quickly flush.  Why was he feeling so tongue tied around her?  He'd never felt this awkward around a young woman before...why now?

"I think I would enjoy that very much," she smiled.  "Here, let me give you my phone number and maybe we could set something up."  Ruby reached into her purse and pulled out a scrap piece of paper and hurriedly scribbled it down.

Dr. Calvin Jackson"Great!" he exclaimed even though he tried to keep from sounding overeager.  He took the paper from her hands and eyed it closely as if he were trying to commit it to memory.  "Well...um...I really have to get back to my rounds."

"I understand," she smiled again as she slowly began to back away from him.  "I'll be expecting your call."

"Great!"  With a nervous laugh, Calvin nodded to her politely and then turned to walk back up the hallway.

Thinking about their sudden meeting and future plans, Ruby let out a soft sigh.  He'd actually asked her to dinner!  Suddenly, a nerve rattling fact dawned on her.  Calvin was a doctor!  She was only a lowly maid.  Doctor's just didn't date maids!  As a wave of nervousness and apprehension began to wash over her, she silently prayed that she wasn't setting herself up for heartbreak.


ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL

Albanyville General Hospital"Dr. Rutherford!" the nurse called out in an attempt to grab his attention.  "You have a phone call."

With a wave of his hand, Fred acknowledged her and turned again to look at Francis.  "I'm sorry.  I guess I better take this.  Can a give an I.O.U. on that dinner?."

"Of course.  I understand," Francis smiled.  "Actually, I do need to head home.  I want to be there when Maggie gets home from her dance."

"So, I take it that you plan on waiting up for her?"

Francis Callison"Of course!  I want her to tell me every little detail over cocoa."  Francis looked at him nervously as a sudden tension began to grow between them.  The unusual awkwardness felt like an intrusion on the close friendship that they had shared.  As they stood there, she couldn't help but feel as if there should be something else, some other natural progression.

Suddenly, Fred leaned in and gave her a soft kiss on the lips.  As the cloud of tension began to lift, Francis felt a warm wave wash over her body.  Pulling away from each other, she smiled at him again.  Fred really was a wonderful man.  She knew that she'd never have to worry about him hurting her like Charles had.

"I...I really need to take this call," he muttered as he slowly backed away.  "I'll call you tomorrow?"

"I'd love that."  And, with another smile, Francis left Fred to his work.

"Hello?" Fred said as he picked up the telephone receiver and cradled it next to his ear.

"I hear that you might have gotten the message?" the ominous voice on the other end of the line said.  "I hope your little meeting with a few of my associates wasn't too unpleasant."

"I thought I told you not to call me here!" Fred shouted into the phone before catching himself.  Looking around nervously, he lowered his voice to a muffled whisper as he continued his conversation.

"Time is starting to run out, Rutherford.  You need to pay up!"

"I told you that I'm working on it.  I already gave you a partial payment."  He clinched his teeth tightly.  Why couldn't they be satisfied?  Why were they always wanting more?  Cordial Deception had been a guaranteed sure thing.  If that horse hadn't fallen and broken her leg in the last leg of the race, he wouldn't be in this situation.

"I need another payment...soon.  Or you won't have to worry about coming up with the rest of the money.  Interest is building up.  If you keep stalling, you'll be old and gray before you pay me what you owe me...if you live that long, that is."

Dr. Fred Rutherford"I told you that I need more time!"  Beads of perspiration began to form on Fred's brow and he quickly grabbed a handkerchief out of his pocket to blot them away.

"If you want more time, you need to deliver some more money to ensure that you're committed to following through on your obligations."

"H-how am I supposed to get you more money?  I'm almost tapped out, as it is!"  His pulse began to quicken as a sense of panic began to take over.

"Well, you better find a way!"

"I...I...I'll get you what you need."

With a click, the line went dead and Fred hung up the phone as he tried to shake the feeling of dread that filled him.  How in the world could he come up with more money?  He hadn't even managed to get Francis to formally file for divorce from Charles, yet.  Even when she did, it would be months before the divorce would be final and he'd be able to marry her.  He needed more time!

As he lifted his hand to touch the slowly fading bruises on his face, Fred began to rack his brain in search of an answer.  Suddenly, he remembered Annabelle Lake and his roll in helping her separate Charles and Francis.  Was it time to finally call in a favor?  Could he use what he knew about her without causing irreparable harm to his own plans?


JOE'S CAFE

Joe's Cafe"Steph, what's wrong?" Patterson asked as he sat down next to her at the table.  "You sounded upset on the phone."

"I...I told Momma about Clark," Stephanie confessed as she lowered her head, still shaken by the conversation with her mother.  "I told her every horrible thing that he and Helen have done."

"That's good.  You needed to talk to her about that."  He reached over and grabbed her hand in a display of comfort.  "W-what did she say?"

"Oh, she was unbelievably angry!  She said that she wouldn't let Clark get away with trying to use and humiliate me."  She quickly looked away, still embarrassed over her foolishness for even falling for Clark's charms to begin with.

"I shudder to think what she's going to do when she finally gets her hands on him."  Patterson let out a slight laugh as he tried to ease Stephanie's nerves.  "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes."

"She can be like a hurricane," she admitted before taking a deep breath.  "There's...there's also something else that's been bothering me, lately."

"Really?  Nothing serious, I hope."

She looked at him as she thought about what she knew about Dane and her mother.  Could she trust him to keep the information she had to himself?  Patterson had always been there for her before; would he be able to give her the sound advice that she needed now?

"I...um...I found out something about my mother and something about Dane," she finally confessed.  "I found out something that could very much cause a lot of trouble."

Patterson Monroe"This sounds serious."  He looked at her closely to determine whether what she had to say truly had as much importance as she claimed.  Stephanie did have a tendency to over exaggerate to a certain extent.

"Trust me, this is very serious!"  She hesitated for a moment as she searched for the right words.  "I...I know that Dane cheated on his entrance exam for Albanyville University.  That's how he got in!"

"Dane cheated?"  Patterson leaned back into his chair as he considered the ramifications of her revelation.  "Actually, that doesn't surprise me.  I know he's one of my best friends, but he's never been the most studious or ethical of guys."

"Paddy, if the dean ever found out that Dane cheated, he'd be expelled from school!  This is a big deal!"  She bit her lip as she thought about exactly how serious her news really was.

"And it would be just the perfect revenge for everything he did to you at Reginald and Jillian's engagement party?"  He eyed her cautiously as he quickly realized that maybe Stephanie hadn't done as complete a turnaround in her outlook as he'd thought.  "You set out to find dirt on Dane to get back at him, didn't you?"

"I...um...well..."  She blushed slightly at having been caught in her scheme.  "Yes, Patterson, I did set out to find a way to get back at Dane.  But what do I do with this?  How can I use this against him?  Should I go to the dean?"

"Don't do anything!  What would that accomplish?  Making him angry enough that he'd want to get back at you for ruining his life?  It would just start a nasty cycle of revenge, each of you taking turns!"

"I...I guess you're right," she admitted with a sigh.  Dane would want to get back at whomever spilled the truth to the dean.  However, she just couldn't resist the urge to ruin Dane for everything that he'd done to her.

"But, what's this about your mother?"  Patterson looked at her curiously.  "What could you possibly have learned about her?"

"Well, it's about her and Charles Callison."  Stephanie hesitated as she considered whether she should reveal her mother's actions.  Of course, it was only Patterson she was telling.  She knew she could trust him with anything.

"I'm not sure I'm comfortable discussing that with you," he confessed.  "I care about you a great deal, Stephanie, but I despise your mother for what she's managed to do to the Callison family.  I just can't believe that Charles was foolish enough to get involved with her to begin with."

"T-that's just it, Paddy, he wasn't!"

"I...I don't think I understand what you're getting at."

Stephanie Lake"He didn't get involved with my mother of his own free will!"  She bit her lip as she thought of everything that she'd learned.  "That night at the party, when Francis found out he was involved with her...Momma had drugged him!"

"W-what?"

"Momma drugged Charles Callison!  Paddy, she drugged him and then seduced him.  He didn't do it because he wanted to, he did it because he didn't have a lot of choice!  Momma drugged him, seduced him, and then fixed it so his wife would find them together!"

"Oh, my god, Stephanie!  You've got to tell someone about this!  This could save the entire Callison family!"  He grabbed her arm urgently as if to make her understand.

"But, Paddy, she's my mother!  I...I can't betray my own mother!"

"Stephanie, you have to do the right thing!"

She furrowed her brow as she thought about what he was saying.  Why was it more important to tell the truth about her mother than to tell the truth about Dane?  She knew the truth about both of them and was even more torn about what to do.  How in the world would she decide?



 


TOMORROW

Fred gives Annabelle an ultimatum.




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

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