For Now and Forever
EPISODE #71 (Monday
THE CALLISON HOME - DINING ROOM
"Um, Mr. Callison?" Hannah Meadows spoke up cautiously as she walked into the dining room. "There is...there is a young man at the front door and he insists on speaking with you."
"Could you just tell him that I'm in the middle of a family dinner?" Charles Callison furrowed his brow in annoyance. "I cannot be disturbed! Take his name and tell him to telephone me at the office tomorrow."
"I will not be put off!" came the voice as it echoed from the foyer. "I've been forced to wait my entire life for this moment and I refuse to wait any longer!"
A shocked and confused Callison family quickly turned towards the sound of the voice to find Burt Lamont standing in doorway of the dining room.
DANE & SARA'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
Dane Manchester sat quietly in his chair, completely absorbed in reading the evening edition of The Daily Post. His wife, Sara, sat across from him on the couch, in silence, trying to preoccupy herself with a little cross stitch. Though neither one of them said a word, the tension in the air was thick.
"So, are you just going to sit there all night and not even look at me?" Sara finally spoke as she glanced up from her stitching. "You can't actually think that you can go forever and never say another word to me. I am your wife, remember?"
"I would prefer that you didn't remind me," he muttered, never taking is eyes off of the sports section. "Real married people don't lie to one another or deceive each other. But, then again, this has never actually been a real marriage!"
"Not a real marriage? How in the devil can you say that?" Sara tossed her needle point aside and jumped up off of the couch and quickly approached him. "Dane, I love you with all of my heart! How can this not be a real marriage?"
"You blackmailed me into this entire mess! Remember?" He glanced up from his paper, just momentarily, to shoot her a hateful look. "If I'd had a choice in this entire matter, we never would have gotten married in the first place! But, no, I went along with it to save my own future. I tried to be the good husband. I tried to put forth as much effort into this marriage as you seemed to be doing. Little did I know what you were lying to me the entire time!"
"But I did it all for you! For us!" Her lip began to quiver as she knelt down beside him and took his hands into hers, forcing him to focus his full attention in her direction. "I only took this job with Mr. Preston to make enough money to save us! I couldn't bare it if you had to give up all of your dreams to become an attorney just because of me and our marriage!"
"So...you did it all for the money." His lip curled into a sneer as the words of Thornton Preston's widow echoed in his mind...
"Anything for the money." Dane quickly snapped his paper back up in front of him, putting a visible barrier between him and his wife.
"You don't seem to be so upset with all of this that you're not opposed to taking control of your share of Mr. Preston's estate!" Sara began to find her own temper beginning to rise. Why couldn't he understand why she took the job? Why couldn't he understand why she'd kept the truth from him. "You're insisting that we move into that house!"
"It's our house, now, Sara," he muttered with a certain nonchalance. "There's no reason why we shouldn't live there. Why should we be forced to stay here in this little apartment when we own that big house?"
She stared at him blankly. Maybe he did have a point considering the house. It was theirs now. Why shouldn't they live there? As she began to contemplate what Dane had said, she suddenly became filled with a sense of foreboding. Maybe the house and the entire estate would cause more trouble than it was worth.
THE CALLISON HOME - DINING ROOM
"B-Burt, what's going on?" Trevor Callison asked as he rose from his seat and walked over to the unexpected guest. "What's so urgent that you've got to barge in here, like this? Not that I'm not grateful for the interruption." He shot Annabelle Lake a hateful glance.
"Yes, what is going on here, Mr. Lamont?" Charles eyed him cautiously. He could clearly tell by the intense look in Burt's eyes that something of dire importance was on his mind. But what? "Does this have anything to do with your mother's recent passing? I had intended to pay you and your brother a visit at the house to pay my respects, but things have been so hectic at the office lately, that..."
"Hectic?" Burt snapped with a sneer. "Oh, I can just imagine how this family can get so caught up in their own lives that they can just easily forget the people they've hurt...the people they've stepped on...to get where they are!"
"Mr. Lamont, I think you better explain yourself!" Reginald Callison spoke up as he quickly joined his father and brother as they stood facing Burt. "What's so all fired urgent that you had to barge in here?"
"Mr. Callison is right," Burt muttered before taking a deep breath. "This is about my mother. You see, I was with her when she took her last breath."
"Burt, I'm so sorry." Trevor extended his hand in hopes of showing sympathy, but Burt promptly yanked his arm away.
"I bet you're all sorry!" As the events of the past week began to get to him, Burt felt his face flush with anger. How dare they just cast him and his mother aside like they were common trash? How dare they deny him everything that was rightfully his?
"Mr. Lamont...Burt...what in god's name are you talking about?" Charles eyed him closely as he tried to figure out what had gotten the caretaker of his stables so upset.
Burt took several long, labored breaths before finally speaking again. "As most of you know, my mother passed away several days ago. She was one of the most kind hearted, good natured human beings that I ever had the privilege of knowing. I feel honored to be her son."
"I'm sure she was a fine woman," Charles nodded. "I just wish I'd have gotten a chance to know her better."
"But you did know her!" Burt turned his head sharply to glare at him. "You knew my mother long before I ever brought her back here to Albanyville!"
Stunned with the announcement, Charles took a couple of steps back. He had known Penelope Lamont! He'd been sure of that the moment he'd met her that one time at The Gardens. He'd just never been able to place her. That uncertainty had haunted him for days and he'd hired a detective to find out exactly who she was. However, he'd never received a report and had allowed it to slip from his mind. After all, there had been quite a bit going on in his life, lately.
"However, I believe you knew her by a very different name," Burt continued. "Would the name Nellie Burgess ring a bell?"
"Nellie Burgess?" Charles quickly began to search the darkest corners of his mind for a hint of memory concerning that name. It did sound familiar. Who in the devil could Nellie B... "Oh, my lord!"
"Ah! So you do remember her?" A self-satisfied smirk quickly covered Burt's face.
"Father, you knew Burt's mother?" Trevor asked as he looked at him intently.
"I...I was only acquitted with her, actually," Charles confessed as he hung his head. "I do remember liking her very much. She was such a sweet girl."
"Who was Nellie Burgess?" Maggie Callison spoke up as she joined the rest of her family. "What's going on?"
Charles slowly ran his fingers through his hair as he was forced to remember a period of time that he'd tried so hard to move past. "You see, Nellie Burgess...Burt's mother...was your uncle Landon's girlfriend. They would meet out at the stables to go horseback riding and I would trail along behind them. Landon was never too thrilled about that. He always wanted to be alone with her. Of course, it was quite understandable that he didn't want his little brother hovering over him and his girlfriend."
"Your parents did not approve of my mother!"
"No, they didn't," Charles confessed with an embarrassed shake of his head. "I...I never really understood that. Nellie was so sweet and kind, but Mother and Father were very insistent about Landon marrying the proper girl. He was heir to the entire Callison legacy. They just didn't...think that your mother was of the right class. I often heard Father and Landon arguing about Nellie."
"Your parents forbid them to see each other! Your father even bought my grandfather's farm and threatened to have them evicted if Landon and my mother ever saw one another again!"
"I...I never knew that," Charles muttered as he hung his head, more than a little embarrassed by his own parents cruelness.
"R-Reginald?" Jillian Stokes spoke up as she joined her fiancé at his side. "What's going on?"
"Shhh!" Reginald held his finger up in front of his lips, not wanting to interrupt what appeared to be a gravely important matter. Soon, Grace Davis had joined the duo as they stared at Burt with curiosity and confusion.
"I bet there's a lot you didn't know!" Burt continued with his tale. "Do you remember that day out at the stables? The day your brother died?"
"Do I remember?" Charles inhaled deeply as a tone of sadness overtook his voice. "How could I forget? That was the day that my entire life changed forever."
"It was the day mine changed forever, as well." Burt lifted his hand to gently massage his temple. The stress of the entire situation was beginning to get the better of him.
"Yours? How? I don't understand?" Charles looked at him as he tried to comprehend what Burt was saying.
"You see, your brother was there that day to meet my mother. He was supposed to meet her down by Spring Lake. There was something very, very important that she needed to tell him." Burt ducked his head in an attempt to hide his eyes that were misting over with tears. "S-she never got the chance. He died before she ever had the chance. She was standing along the meadow under the trees and saw the entire accident. She saw him die."
"Oh, my," Charles gasped. "I...I never knew!" He paused and looked at Burt again, trying to understand what his roll in all of this was. "But, I don't understand. How does this directly involve you? What are you trying to get at?"
"You see, Mr. Callison, my mother had something very important to tell him...something she never got the chance to." Burt took a deep breath and threw his shoulders back as he prepared to finally reveal a truth that had been buried for to long. "You see, my mother was..."
Suddenly, Burt's announcement was cut short by the shrill ringing of the doorbell. In unison, everyone turned in the direction of the sound. Now, who in the world could that be?
DANE & SARA'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
"I've already made arrangements for us to be moved into Springhill Manor by the end of the week," Dane announced as he folded his newspaper and rose form his seat. "The decision had been made...my decision."
"No! I am your husband and these decisions are mine to make!" He smirked slightly as he looked at her. "Not that that's ever stopped you from doing what you've wanted, before!"
"Oh, Dane, I've tried to explain all of that!" Sara nervously began to wring her hands. Would he never be able to forgive her? Would he never be able to move past her lies and betrayal? She had only taken the job for his own benefit!
"That's enough!" he snapped and then turned away from her. "We are moving into that house and that's final!"
"If...if that's what you really want," she muttered in defeat as she hung her head. After everything she'd done, she at least owed him that.
"From this point on, you will become the dutiful little wife you're supposed to be! No job, no betrayal! If I ever find out about something like this again, I'll will leave you so fast your head will spin, blackmail or no blackmail!" He spun around to glare at her angrily. "From this point on, I am in charge of this marriage, not you!"
"Y-yes, Dane," Sara muttered, realizing that he had the upper hand. "I'll do everything I can to make this up to you. I promise you that."
"We'll see how much your promises mean!" Of course, she'd promised to be faithful to him in their marriage and she'd clearly broken that one, as well. Why else would Thornton Preston leave his entire estate to her? After all he'd given up to be true to her! After putting aside his own desires for the sake of their marriage! How could she? Well, no more! This sham of a marriage...this farce...was clearly not a real marriage. Why did he ever have to think about honoring it? Clearly Sara hadn't given it a second thought.
"Dane, please!" she begged as she grabbed his arm. "Please try to understand!"
"The only thing that I understand is that you disgust me!" And with those words, Dane stormed out of the apartment leaving his wife to fall onto the couch in tears.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"So, 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 trouble.
"Well...I..." 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 Lorraine 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 couple."
"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.
"Oh, 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 uproar."
"Um...it is...rather 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 hug.
"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.
THE CALLISON HOME - DINING ROOM
"Um, Mr. Callison," Hannah spoke up as she stepped into the room carrying a large envelope. "T-this was just messengered to you. That's who was at the door."
"Thank you, Hannah," Charles replied with a sigh. "Probably just some manuscript someone wants me to read. Just put it over there." He pointed to a nearby side table as she looked down at the envelope with curiosity and surprise.
"A-actually, I think you need to open it now," she said cautiously.
"I said to put it over there!" Charles knew that Burt Lamont was clearly about to announce something and he didn't have time for such an annoying interruption.
"Now, Mr. Lamont...Burt...you were about to say?" Charles looked at him intently as he waited for him to continue with what was assured to be an announcement of utmost importance. "What about your mother? What did she have to tell Landon?"
"Yes, Burt," Trevor chimed in. "Go on."
Burt stood silently, for a moment, as his eyes briefly darted from one member of the Callison family to the other. His family! "As I was saying, my mother had to meet with your bother to tell him some very important news. News that he died without ever hearing."
"Yes, yes, we know that already!" Reginald snapped, quickly growing impatient. "What did she have to tell him and why is it all so important that you have to just barge in here like this? Not that I'm complaining, of course." He turned to shoot Annabelle a hateful look.
Burt hesitated for a moment and took a deep breath. This was the moment he'd waited for...the moment when he would reveal the truth. However, a discomforting sense of nervousness began to overtake him. How would the Callisons react? Would they believe the truth? Would they grant him everything that he'd deserved? Before speaking again, he took another, long breath.
"You see, my mother needed to see him because she had to tell him..." He hesitated. "She had to tell him that she was expecting his child."
"What?" Charles jaw dropped in shock. "This is ludicrous! Landon never had a child! Why, if my brother had ever fathered a child, my parents would have worshiped the ground it walked on. They all but revered my brother!"
"Your parents were spiteful, arrogant people you set out to destroy my mother whom they deemed unfit to even wipe your family's shoes!" Burt spat as the fire returned to his eyes and voice. "Your parents found out about the baby...I'm not sure how...and set out to ruin my mother's life! They didn't think she was fit enough to raise a Callison heir and wanted to take the baby away from her. Of course, my mother wouldn't allow that! She refused to allow anyone to separate her from her own child!"
"M-Mr. Callison?" Hannah spoke up as she still held the envelope in her hands.
"Not now, Hannah!"
"I...I'm sure that, in time, your parents just forgot about the baby. They realized that it was best for them if both the child and its mother were gone." Burt hung his head in sadness as he thought about how hard his mother's life had been. "You know, nothing to put a blight on the sterling family name like a bastard child and it's poverty stricken mother."
"Oh, my lord," Charles gasped as the full realization of his parents' deeds began to take hold of him. "I have...a niece or a nephew? What...what happened to the baby? How do you know all of this?"
"My mother told me everything right before she..." Burt paused and choked back a tear. "Right before she died. She couldn't go to her grave without a clear conscience. She had to finally tell me the truth that she'd hidden for so many years...hidden in fear of your family!"
"The baby, Burt, what happened to the baby?" Reginald asked as he grabbed Burt's arm tightly. "Who is Landon's child."
Burt took another deep breath and looked Reginald square in the eyes. "I am. I am Landon Callison's son."
TO BE CONTINUED
Judith, Jillian, and Janet receive unsettling news.
For Now and Forever
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