produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #74 (Thursday 9/20/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
same day - November 1935, early evening


THE STOKES MANSION - UPSTAIRS HALLWAY

76 Mapleton Way, Albanyville, ILJudith Stokes LinfordAs Judith Linford stood at her sister Janet's door, she hesitated for a moment.  She prepared to knock, but her hand hung in the air apprehensively.  Finally, she rapped on the door lightly and waited for a response.  There were things that needed to be said...things that couldn't be put off any longer.

"What is it, Judith?" Janet Stokes asked with apprehension after opening the door to find her rival on the other side.

"W-where's Jillian?" Judith asked nervously, referencing their younger sister.

"She went out.  She had to go meet Reginald for dinner."  Janet eyed her curiously as Judith pushed past Janet and into the room.

"Oh," Judith muttered as she realized that she'd been so lost in her own thoughts downstairs that she'd never even heard her leave.  Taking a deep breath, she turned to face Janet.  "I need to ask you a few things."

"What about?"  Janet quickly grew even more nervous in her sister's presence.  Surely she wasn't still determined to torment her with a barrage of questions about where she'd been during her weeks away.

Judith bit her lip in apprehension, but realized that she couldn't stop what she'd already set in motion.  "Burt Lamont.  I need to talk to you about Burt Lamont."


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THE GARDENS RESTAURANT

The Gardens Restaurant"Darling, are you okay?" Dr. Fred Rutherford asked as he reached across the table and grasped Francis Callison's hand firmly.  "You're not having second thoughts about all of this, are you?"

"I...I'm not sure," Francis confessed as she lowered her head with embarrassment.  "Do I really have the right to end my marriage after so many years?  People just aren't supposed to get divorced."

"You are completely justified in wanting a divorce from Charles!" he said with reassuring earnestness.  "That man betrayed your wedding vows.  He's the one who ended your marriage, not you."

She looked at him carefully as she thought about what he'd said.  True, Charles had been the one to destroy their marriage with his tawdry affair with Annabelle Lake, but could she really turn her back on him and all of the love that she still held for him?

"Look, Francis, this is something you have to do."  Fred nodded as he spoke as if to reinforce his statements.  "You can't allow yourself to be put in a position where you can be made a fool of again."

Francis Callison"I...I know you're right," she muttered half-heartedly.  "That's why I agreed to meet with your attorney...why I finally filed those divorce papers.  I just couldn't bear it if I allowed Charles to hurt me again."

"You're doing the right thing."  Fred gave her hand another reassuring squeeze.

"Well, if it isn't Francis Callison!" Leticia Stokes exclaimed as she quickly approached the table.  "I've been meaning to phone you for days to go over the plans for Reginald and Jillian's wedding."

"Leticia!" Francis gasped, rather surprised by the sudden appearance of her son's future mother-in-law.  "What are you doing here in Albanyville?  I was certain that after that disastrous party, you'd never want to set foot in this town again.  Well, at least until the wedding."

"To be honest, that had been my intention," she confessed with a little embarrassment.  "But, as I'm sure you know, all of my girls are here, now.  It just tears out my heart to have to be separated from them for so long."

"Oh, I most definitely understand.  I just don't know what I'd do if the boys or Maggie ever decided to move away."  Francis glanced over at Fred and gasped slightly when she realized that she hadn't made proper introductions.  "Oh, my!  You must think I'm so rude.  Leticia, this is my friend, Dr. Fred Rutherford."

"Nice to meet you, Dr. Rutherford," Leticia smiled warmly.  "I'm Leticia Stokes.  My daughter Jillian is engaged to marry Francis' son Reginald."

Dr. Fred Rutherford"Oh, yes, of course!" Fred smiled in response.

"So, Leticia, where's Nelson?  Don't tell me he let you make this trip all by yourself."  Francis looked at her curiously as she remembered that great disdain that Nelson Stokes had had for the city of Albanyville and its inhabitants.

"Um, actually..."  Leticia looked away briefly, quite flustered and uncomfortable with the question regarding her husband.  "Actually, Nelson is back in Manhattan."

"Oh, I'm sure he'll be joining you soon.  Especially if you plan on staying here in town for a while," Francis commented.

"Well...no, he won't."  Leticia again glanced away, unnerved by Francis' innocent questions.

"Leticia, what's wrong?" Francis asked as she reached up to take her hand.  "Is something wrong with Nelson?"

"Francis, dear, I've left my husband," Leticia stated firmly.  "We're getting divorced.  I just couldn't...couldn't deal with his heavy handed approach to me and the girls any longer.  I just couldn't take it."

"Oh, dear, I'm so sorry."  Francis' eyes met Leticia's as they shared a common bond...two woman at the end of marriages.  Two women who had lives in sudden upheaval.  "I...I know what you're going through."

Leticia Stokes"Yes, Jillian told me that you and Charles were having...well, problems."

"A slight understatement."  Francis lowered her head to hide the pain that seemed to be permanently etched on her face.

Meanwhile, as Leticia and Francis commiserated over their failed marriages, Fred sat in silence, lost in thought.  Leticia Stokes was divorcing Nelson Stokes, a wealthy Manhattan businessman.  Surely she would snare a divorce settlement even grander than Francis would.  As he eyed them carefully, he began to wonder which one would see her divorce finalized first.


THE RIVERVIEW NIGHTCLUB

The Riverview NightclubAs the energetic sounds of the band filled the air, Dane Manchester stood in the doorway of the nightclub.  With a smile, he inhaled deeply, taking in the new sense of freedom that had begun to take over him.

"Well, hello, Mr. Manchester," Kitty Benedict cooed seductively as she stepped from behind the hostess stand.  "Meeting your wife?"

"Not likely," he muttered as he carefully surveyed the club, taking note of all the attractive women present.  "I'm here for a little enjoyment of my own and I can guarantee you that that doesn't include my wife."

"Oh, really?"  She lowered her head slightly and gazed up at him through her long lashes.  With a careful, calculated hand she coyly brushed away a lock of hair from her cheek.  "Well, my shift is over in just a little bit.  Maybe I could join you for a drink.  That is, if your wife doesn't mind."

"What my wife minds is no longer any of my concern," Dane muttered with a slight sneer.  "I put forth every effort to honor my marriage...more effort than she apparently ever had any intention of putting forth."

Kitty Benedict"Now, that's a big change from what you told me before."  Kitty glanced around in time to see her relief step up to the hostess stand.  With a sly nod to the other young woman, she moved closer to Dane.  "What happened to change your mind?"

"Let's just say that my wife clearly has her own agenda that doesn't necessarily include me.  That being the case, I believe that makes me free to do as I like."

"And what do you like to do?"  She grabbed onto his arm and pulled him closer.

"I like to enjoy myself," he smiled.  "And have a drink.  I see that your shift is over.  How about joining me at the bar?"

"I thought you'd never ask."

Arm in arm, Kitty and Dane strolled to the bar, found two available seats, and ordered drinks.  A gin and tonic for Dane and a Chardonnay for Kitty.  They each took several sips of their drinks, never taking their eyes off one another.

"What are you thinking about?" Kitty finally asked as she licked a drop of wine off of her lips.  "I'm very good at seeing when a man has his mind focused on something."

"I bet you are," Dane smiled slyly.  "Actually, I was thinking about you."

"Oh, really?"  She let out a soft laugh as she tried to feign surprise.  "Do tell!"

Dane Manchester"More specifically, I was thinking about your...offer, shall we say?"  He took another drink before setting his glass down onto the bar and moving his hand onto her thigh.  "I was wondering if the invitation still stands."

"I think something could be arranged."  She covered his hand with her own and slid his hand a little further up her leg.

With a wickedly knowing grin, Dane swallowed the rest of his drink in one gulp.  "I think this place is getting a little too crowded.  Why don't we slip off somewhere a little more...intimate.  How about your place?"

"Why, Dane Manchester, I thought you'd never ask!"  With a laugh, Kitty slid out of her seat and took Dane by the hand and led him out of the club.