THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE
- LIVING ROOM
you never did tell me why you came by," Dorothea Jackson said as she tried
to finish her dusting while talking to her son Calvin.
"Do I really need a reason to visit my
own mother?" Calvin Jackson asked as his eyes followed her around the room
as she worked. "I...I was hoping that Mary would be here."
"She went out to dinner with Francis.
Maggie is off at some Callison family dinner at her father's
house, so they thought it would be a chance to have a little mother-daughter
time." She turned to eye her son curiously. Why in the world
was he hoping to see Miss Mary? She prayed that he wasn't there to cause
He hung his head with a mixture of humility and embarrassment. "I had
hoped to apologize to her."
"You what?" The
feather duster stopped in mid air as Dorothea quickly spun around to face
him. "What are you up to, Calvin?"
"I'm not up to anything," he
muttered and then quickly thought of the incident with Douglas and
Davis at the hospital weeks earlier. "I just...well...I just have
been forced to think about things. My behavior and attitudes, for
one. I've been forced to see that maybe I'm not as right as I
thought I was."
"Well, bless my soul," she gasped
in astonishment as she sunk down into a seat on the sofa. "What in
the world happened to make you realize that?"
"Just something at the hospital,"
Calvin explained as he looked down at his hands. "A man and his wife
came in. They're white and she needed help. They didn't care that it
was a Negro hospital. Some of the other doctors refused to treat her
because they weren't Negro. It got me to thinking that maybe my attitudes
concerning Mary Albany weren't so different than the other doctors' about this
"So, are you trying to say that you're
not going to try to convince me to quit my job?" Dorothea looked at
him with confusion and apprehension.
"Well, no, I'm not saying
that," he said with a laugh. "I would still prefer that you
didn't work and that you'd allow me to take care of you, but I don't think that
Mary is as bad as I've thought her to be. Considering everything that's
happened, maybe she does view you with a certain amount of respect."
"Yes, son, she does."
"I...I'm not going to try to interfere
with your work. If you want to work, I don't think there's a better place
for you than here with Miss Mary." With a warm smile, Calvin extended
his hand to his mother and pulled her to him for a warm embrace. After a
few moments, he released her and spoke again. "Now, I better get
going. You've got a lot of chores left to do."
"You better believe that!"
Dorothea laughed and gave him a playful swat on the head with her duster.
"Now, don't you be a stranger around here, young man! I'm sure that
Miss Mary would love to see more of you."
"Oh, don't worry. I don't plan
to stay away for very long." With one last smile, Calvin walked out
the front door and promptly collided with Ruby Thomas who was just returning to
the Linfords' penthouse after running errands. "Well, I guess the
only way for us to run into each other is to run into each other." He
let out a hearty laugh as he gazed down out her.
um...I guess you're right," Ruby blushed as she lowered her head and
nervously glanced in the direction of the Linford penthouse. "W-what
are you doing here?"
"Just paying a visit to my
mother," he smiled.
"Your mother?" Ruby
fought to contain her surprise. Surely Calvin's mother didn't live in one
of the penthouses! How in the world did a Negro woman manage to live in a
penthouse in the Sunset Hotel? "Oh."
"And what are you doing
here? You don't live here, do you?" He eyed her
curiously. How could a young woman like Ruby afford to live in a
penthouse? Surely she must live with her parents...her rich
parents! A colored family with money...how interesting.
"Um, y-yes, actually, I do," she
stammered, unsure as to what to reveal.
"With your parents, I'm sure."
"Um...actually, no. Both of my
parents have passed. I...I live alone." Ruby felt her hands
begin to shake when she realized that she'd given too much away. How in
the world would Calvin think that she'd be able to live in a penthouse?
She'd have to tell him that she was nothing but a maid!
"Oh, I'm sorry." He reached
out his hand for hers and gave it a gently squeeze in sympathy. "But,
at least they were able to provide for you."
"I mean, at least they left you
comfortable enough to afford to live in a place like this." He
casually motioned around to the lavishness of the hallway. "It's not
too often that colored folk are advantaged enough to afford such accommodations."
Oh, no! Ruby bit her lip in
nervousness. Calvin thought that she was wealthy! He actually
thought she owned the penthouse! How in the world could she tell
him the truth? She quickly realized that she couldn't. Why would a
man who'd obviously come from such a prominent background ever be interested in
a simple maid? He really was only interested in her because they were from
the same class!
"Y-yes, I've been very fortunate,"
she finally spoke. "As have you, I see. Of course, I should
have gathered that, already."
"What?" Calvin furrowed his
brow slightly as he tried to understand what she'd meant. Suddenly, he
realized that she was under the impression that his mother owned the penthouse
and not Mary Albany! How in the world would he be able to tell her the
truth? Surely, a girl with such a wealthy background wouldn't give the
time of day to a man who'd mother struggled to make ends meet as a maid!
"Of course, I should have known.
You are a doctor, after all," she sighed, feeling foolish that the
truth hadn't dawned on her sooner. "The schooling for that takes
money. Of course you come from a prominent family."
"Um...yes," he stammered.
"I just find it impressive that the managers of this hotel permit our
people to live here. I'm surprised that there hasn't been some kind of
startling." She eyed him nervously as she suddenly felt very inferior
and unworthy of his attention.
"So, have you given any more thought
to that dinner?" Calvin's question was clearly against his better judgment.
How could he take her out to dinner when she so obviously thought he was
something he wasn't? However, he desperately wanted to see her again.
"Well...actually, I have," she
muttered uncomfortably. "I...I really..." How could she
agree to a date with him when she was so clearly below his class and standards?
"I just couldn't bear it if you'd
changed your mind and said 'no'," Calvin said as he took her hand in
his. "Please say 'yes'?"
As she looked deeply into his eyes, she
couldn't find the strength to resist. "Yes, I...I'll go to dinner
with you." Foolish, foolish, foolish!
"Wonderful! I'll make the plans
and give you a call." He pulled her into his arms to give her a tight
"T-that's great," she muttered in
response, still unsure of what she was doing.
As Calvin and Ruby stood there, embracing
in the hallway, both of them silently prayed that they could keep their
secrets. Surely, if they were ever to find out the truth about each other,
there would be no way that a romance between them would be possible.