For Now and Forever
EPISODE #65 (Friday
THE LAMONT HOME - KITCHEN
Penelope Lamont swirled the glass around in the dishwater as she gazed out of the kitchen window at the leaves that were quickly changing colors and dropping to the ground. As a squirrel scampered across the yard she smiled warmly. She always had enjoyed the fall of the year.
Quickly drying her hands on a dishtowel before slinging it over her shoulder, she walked to the backdoor to look outside and watch the squirrel as it played in a pile of fallen leaves. As she leaned against the doorframe, she smiled to herself about how wonderful life could be.
Suddenly, a searing pain in her side took her breath and she began to gasp for air. The color drained from her face and she reached out for the door in an attempt to steady herself.
"No! Not now!" Penelope weakly shouted in fear. As her world faded to black, she collapsed in a crumpled heap on the kitchen floor.
ALBANYVILLE UNIVERSITY - LIBRARY
With a weary sigh, Stephanie Lake dropped her books down onto the desk inside the cubicle and flopped down into the chair. She eyed the stack of books with an intense lack of enthusiasm and grumbled slightly.
"How in the world am I supposed to get a research paper on the War of 1812 done in a week?" she muttered to herself as she grabbed the top book off of the stack and flipped it open. She began to read the text, not really paying that close of attention to what she was actually reading. However, she was making an attempt.
She scribbled down notes hurriedly and in a lackluster manner until she came to a peculiar passage in the book. Leaning back into her chair, she made as face as she furrowed her brow. "Who cares?" she asked, seemingly answering a preposterous question posed by the book.
Taking a deep breath she slammed the book shut in frustration and slid it to the back of the desk. Though she realized it needed to be done, she really wasn't in the mood for homework. As she began to tap her pencil on the desk, her mind began to wander. Only the rather loud chattering of a couple of girls in the next cubicle drew her attention out of her daydreams.
Curious as to who they were, she leaned back in her chair as far as she could without toppling over. Her eyes grew wide when she immediately recognized them.
"Omega Chis!" Stephanie exclaimed to herself. Quickly remembering Helen Van Dyne's plots with Clark Saxon, she quietly slid her chair as far into her own cubicle as she could manage. She just couldn't let them see her! Lord only knew what things Helen had told them about her.
"Did you hear about Clark Saxon?" The voice of one of the girls drifted into Stephanie's cubicle.
Curious as to what they might be talking about, she leaned closer in an attempt to hear better. She was quite interested to know what the other girls thought of the vicious lothario.
"No? What happened? I haven't seen him around in a few days."
"You haven't heard? Oh, my lord, it's awful! I just can't believe it!"
Stephanie cocked an eyebrow in interest as she continued to listen. What the devil had happened to Clark?
THE LAMONT HOME - KITCHEN
"Ma?" Burt Lamont asked as he walked into the kitchen.
He'd been upstairs in his room, lost in thought and concern over his girlfriend Janet Stokes...he was still trying to get used to that last name...who'd run away and disappeared days earlier. Despite his best efforts coupled with the efforts of her sister Jillian Stokes, Jillian's fiancé Reginald Callison, and the local police department, they still couldn't find her. Burt was beginning to fear the worst. In the middle of his worrying, he'd heard his mother cry out, rather loudly, from the kitchen and he'd immediately run downstairs to see what was the matter.
"Ma? Are you okay?" he asked again as he moved further into the kitchen.
Not seeing any sign of her, he bit his lip in confusion. He'd just known he'd heard her crying out as if something were horribly wrong. He was about to head back upstairs when he caught a glimpse of her, out of the corner of his eye, still lying on the floor.
"Oh, my god! Ma!" He rushed to her side and knelt down beside her. Seeing the beads of perspiration on her forehead he touched her face and was shocked by how clammy she felt. "Ma, speak to me!" Unsure of what to do, he slapped her cheeks frantically in an attempt to bring her around.
"O-oh....B-Burton?" Penelope finally spoke in a faint whisper as she regained consciousness. A throaty, disturbing cough tore from her chest.
"Ma, are you okay? What happened?"
"B-Bur...Burton," she muttered, clearly weak. The thinness of her breathing and the several, short gasp for air that she would make told him that she was most definitely not okay.
"Ma, I'm gonna go call the doctor." He quickly jumped up from his place on the floor and ran for the telephone.
"N-no, Burton," she muttered. "J-just...just help...me upstairs...to bed."
"Ma! You need a doctor!"
"B-Burton, I...I'm your m-mother. You w-will...do...as I say." Using what little strength that she had remaining, she lifted her hand to him as if begging him to help her stand.
"Just let me call the hospital first!"
Quickly weighing his options, he was unsure what to do. Ignore his mother's pleas and phone the doctor or do as she'd asked and take her upstairs? Realizing that she more than likely would be much more comfortable in her own bed than on the cold tile of the kitchen floor, he decided to take her to her room and then make the phone call.
Powered by fear and adrenaline, he rushed back to her side and scooped her up into his arms before carrying her out of the kitchen and through the front hallway to the living room. Reaching the foot of the stairs, he ran up them with his mother in his arms, taking them two at a time.
Finally reaching his mother's bedroom, he gently laid her on the bed. Stopping only for a moment to gaze down at her, he saw how frail and delicate she had become. Because she'd not been in the best of health for several years, he was used to her occasional attacks, but he'd never seen one quite this severe. That worried him. More so, it terrified the daylights out of him.
"Ma, I've got you in your room. You're in your bed." Burt took her hand into his in hopes of somehow passing along some sort of strength to her. "Now, I'm going to go back downstairs and call the hospital. I'm going to be right back."
"B-Burton..." Penelope's voice was weak and raspy. She fought to open her eyes, but could only manage to barely lift her lids. "B-Burton...I h-have to t..." Her body jerked frantically as sharp pains shot through her and she cried out.
"Ma? Ma! Momma!" Burt knelt down beside the bed and again took her hand into his as panic began to overtake him. "Ma!"
THE RIVERVIEW NIGHT CLUB
"Well, hello, Doctor," hostess Kitty Benedict smiled coyly as Dr. Fred Rutherford walked through the front door. "Are you here alone?"
"Um, no," he replied as he eyed her up and down. Her bountiful assets never ceased to amaze and tantalize him. "I'm actually meeting someone."
"Oh?" She flashed another inviting smile. "May I show you to a table so that you can wait for your date? I have a nice, cozy one in the back."
"Actually, I'm not meeting a date. This is just business." He quickly thought of exactly what kind of business and carefully reached into his pocket to finger Annabelle's ring. "In fact, I think I'll just head to the bar."
Kitty seductively licked her lips and lowered her voice to a throaty growl. "Have a drink for me."
Fred nodded to her and began to head for the bar. However, he couldn't resist turning around to take in the sight of her ample curves one last time. Not watching where he was going, he tripped on a chair that was pushed out into the isle. Fortunately, he caught himself before becoming a spectacle and quickly looked around to see if anyone had noticed his fumble.
Pleased that no one had seen his near brush with embarrassment, he proceeded to the bar and ordered a stiff drink. It had been months since he'd enjoyed himself with a woman. Francis wasn't exactly generous with her favors. Of course, Fred realized that that was just the kind of woman Francis Callison was. She was far from the type to betray her marriage vows in such a manner, even if she were technically separated due to her husband's own affair. The frustration had almost made Annabelle's offer quite tempting. Almost.
"I hope you have the arranged payment." the man said as he sat down next to Fred. "You've kept the boss waiting long enough."
"I believe I've got something that will more than tide him over for a while." Fred kept his eyes straight ahead and refused to look at his creditor's hired thug.
"Well, fork over the dough!" The man's voice was nearly a raspy roar.
Fred fought the urge to look at him. To act like they knew each other just wouldn't be smart. Fred couldn't give anyone who might see them at the night club any indication that he would even know someone the likes of him, let alone associate with him in public.
After quickly glancing around to make sure no one was watching them, Fred reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring that was wrapped in a handkerchief and cautiously placed it in the other man's hand.
"What the hell is this?" the man asked with a tone of surprise. "This ain't no money!"
"It's not money, but it's very valuable." Fred choked back the nervous lump that wanted to form in his throat. "I-It's the best I can do right now. Just give it to your boss. I'm sure it will tide him over for a while."
"It's a stupid ring!" The man growled with anger as he unwrapped the ring and looked at it closely while he held it under the edge of the bar and out of sight. "The boss ain't gonna like this."
"Just give it to him!" Fred was beginning to find himself growing impatient. He had to accept that ring as payment. Fred didn't have anything else to offer!
"I don't like this," the man grumbled; yet he folded the handkerchief back around the ring and slipped it into his pocket. "But I gotta take the boss somethin'. You better hope he'll accept this or I can guarantee that you'll be seeing me again real soon."
Fred swallowed hard and said a small prayer as the man got up off of his bar stool and headed for the door. His nerves still rattled, Fred turned to watch him leave and saw him brush past Kitty who was eyeing the man curiously. Suddenly, she turned to face Fred with a look of bewilderment in her eyes.
Stunned and frightened, Fred quickly looked away. How much had Kitty seen? Did she know what kind of man he'd been talking to? Suddenly feeling oddly claustrophobic, Fred tossed some money onto the bar to pay for his drink and rushed out of the club, pushing past Kitty. He didn't even stop to say "good-bye".
ALBANYVILLE UNIVERSITY - LIBRARY
Stephanie struggled to listen closely as the girls in the other cubicle continued their idle chatter. She made a face when she realized that they weren't discussing Clark any longer and clinched her teeth in frustration. They needed to spill what they knew! She was growing quite agitated. What in the world had happened to Clark?
"It's just not going to be as much fun without Clark around anymore," one of the girls sighed.
Not around? Why wouldn't Clark be around?
"I just can't believe he got kicked out of school!"
Stephanie leaned back and gasped in shock. Clark Saxon had gotten kicked out of AU! She desperately tried to contain her glee as she grew more and more curious about exactly what had happened.
"Did you get to see him before he left?"
"Yes. Actually, I saw him when he was moving the last of his things out of the Delta Phi house."
"Did you ask him what happened?"
"Of course I did, silly!"
"He wouldn't talk about it! He just said that he got called into the dean's office and got kicked out of school! He said he couldn't wait to get out of this godforsaken town and that he was never coming back!"
Stephanie rushed to cover her mouth in an attempt to stifle the squeals of glee that wanted to escape. Clark was gone for good! He was never coming back! She wouldn't have to worry about his threats any more!
However, her thoughts quickly turned to Helen Van Dyne, Clark's co-conspirator in the plan to ruin Stephanie's life. If Helen was still determined to get back at Stephanie for what had happened at Reginald and Jillian's party, Stephanie had to think of a way to get back at her. She had to stop her before she had a chance to completely ruin her life.
As Stephanie leaned back into her seat, she tried to tune out the other girls whose conversation had turned to more giggly topics like movie stars and fraternity pins. Though she was plotting to take care of Helen, she couldn't help but wonder why Clark had been kicked out of school and forced to leave town so suddenly.
THE LAMONT HOME - PENELOPE'S BEDROOM
"Oh, Burton," Penelope muttered, sounding even weaker than before. "I...I don't think..."
"Ma, you're gonna be okay! Just don't worry!" Burt bit his lip and he wondered how he could convince her not to worry when he couldn't even convince himself. "Now, just lie here and be still. I'm going downstairs and call the hospital."
"N-no...Burton." Her breathing was raspy and she kept making several short gasps for air. "T-there's not enough time."
"No! Don't say that!" He knelt back down beside the bed and took her limp hand into his. As he fought to keep his own hand from shaking in fear, he noticed how thin and pale her skin looked. Though she was often not well, he'd never seen her looking this bad before.
"Burton, there's something I need to tell you." Penelope's eyelids fluttered slightly and she took a deep breath before a loud cough tore from her chest.
"Ma, just be still. Let me get you some water."
"O-okay...t-that would be...nice."
He ran to the large chest across the room where she always kept a pitcher of water and carried it and a glass back to her bedside and set it down on her nightstand. As he poured the water into the glass, he couldn't keep his hands from shaking and spilling small sloshes of water onto the bed.
Gently, he lifted his mother's head so that she could reach the glass that he held in front of her and he watched as she took several small sips to wet her throat. Suddenly, his thoughts turned to his younger brother Randy. Where was Randy? While Burt sat with their mother, Randy could call the hospital and have them send a doctor!
"Ma, where's Randy?" he asked, trying to keep the urgent fear out of his voice.
"H-he went....went to the...soda shoppe...to meet t-that girl," she mumbled. "The one he...took to t-the dance."
"Ma, please let me go downstairs and call the doctor!" He clinched his teeth in frustration. Why was she resisting him so much? Didn't she realize how serious things were?
"B-Burton, there's no use," she said as her eyes started to water. "I-It's...too late."
"No! Don't say that!"
"Burton, there's something...something I need...to tell you."
He looked at her with concern and confusion. What in the world could she tell him at a time like this? What was so important for him to know that he couldn't leave her to call for help?
"Ma, what is it?"
"B-Burton, I'm...going to die."
"No! Don't say that!" In spite of himself, he couldn't control the tears that were building up in his eyes and they quickly started to overflow.
"Before I die, there's something...something I have to tell you." Penelope paused and took a long, deep, raspy breath. She looked even more weak and frail than before and Burt knew that she didn't have much time.
"O-okay, Ma," he muttered softly, trying to fight his overwhelming emotions. "Okay. Tell me. What is it that I need to know?"
"B-Burton...I have lied to you your entire life." She rolled her head away as if to hide her embarrassment despite the circumstances. "I...I just can't go to...my grave with...with that on my...conscience."
"Lied? About what?" What in the world could she be talking about? Had she progressed so far that she was no longer in her right mind? Was she that close to.... "Ma, just don't think about that now!"
"I...I have...to." Using all of the strength she could muster, Penelope rolled her head back over and looked her son in the eyes. "I'm going to die and...I have to tell you...the truth."
TO BE CONTINUED
Will Penelope reveal her secret in time?
For Now and Forever
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