CALVIN'S HOME - LIVING ROOM
would you set the table for dinner?" Dr. Calvin Jackson asked as he poked
his head in from the kitchen. "Ruby should be here any minute and I
want everything to be perfect."
"How am I supposed to set the
table and watch the baby?"
Naomi Jackson asked as she cradled her infant
son in her arms. "I don't see what's so important about this silly
"It's important because I love
Ruby and I want you two to get along," he commented as he returned to the
task of stirring the gravy he had simmering on the stove. "Besides,
if you can't even set the table because of Aubrey, how do you even except to find a
"I...um...I'll get a baby
sitter," she reasoned. "I'll find someone to watch him while I
then, you need to be finding someone to watch him so that you can go looking for
that job like you promised me you would." He tapped the large wooden
spoon against the side of the pan and sat it down on the counter before stepping
back into the living room. "Remember, you promised me that you'd get
a job and help out with your part of the bills if I let you move in. So
far, you haven't even attempted to look for work."
"Well, I..." Her
voice trailed off as she shifted the baby in her arms. "I haven't had
time. I've been busy."
furrowed his brow and eyed her curiously. "Doing what? All I've
seen you do since you've been here is read those silly movie magazines and sit
with your ear pressed to the radio. I can't even get you to help clean the
"Clean the house?" she
asked with shock. "You sound like the only reason I'm here is to be
"Naomi, that's not what I mean
and you know it!"
"Well, it's hard trying to find
a job nowadays. There's not exactly that much demand for colored girl
singers in this dreary city." She paused and rolled her eyes as if
his demands and suggestions were of the utmost in ridiculousness.
"And I can't exactly drag my baby around on job interviews with me!
Why don't...why don't you watch him for me sometime so I can go out looking for
"I spend almost all day
everyday at the hospital," he reminded as he walked back into the kitchen
to check on the pot roast. "I can't just make my rounds with a baby
propped on my hip! You said that you were going to find a
babysitter. I suggest you do that so that you can go job hunting."
"Yeah, okay," she grumbled
under her breath. "Whatever you say. You know, I'm beginning to
think that you're just as bad as Momma!"
"I'll take that as a
compliment," Calvin grinned broadly as he again poked his head back into
the living room before going back to the kitchen sink to wash and dry his
hands. "Now, I've got to finish getting cleaned up for Ruby," he
continued as he walked back into the living room and headed towards the
stairs. "The roast is nearly done and I need to you make sure that
the gravy doesn't simmer down too far. The potatoes are nearly done,
"You're expecting me to
cook?" she gasped with offense.
"Of course, not," he
sighed with a shake of his head. "I want dinner to at least be
edible. I just want you to keep an eye on everything until I finish
getting ready. Ruby should be here at any time."
"Oh, all right," she
muttered as he disappeared up the stairs and out of sight.
However, instead of making another
preliminary check on dinner, Naomi simply returned to reading her newest
magazine. She had only gotten half-way through an article on Claudette
Colbert when the door buzzer sounded.
coming!" she shouted as she scooped Aubrey up in her arms and headed for
the door. "Oh, it's you," she sighed at the sight of Ruby Thomas
standing on the front stoop. "C'mon in. Calvin said he was
"How have you been,
Naomi?" Ruby asked as she walked into the living room. "Calvin
said that you'd moved in. Are you finding Albanyville to your
"This is the dullest city I've
ever been in," Naomi grumbled and plopped herself back onto the couch and
begin reading her magazine again. "I can't believe that Calvin and
Momma like it here."
"Albanyville is a beautiful
city," Ruby smiled as she sat down in a chair across from Naomi.
"Everyone is so nice and..."
"Are you for real?" Naomi
asked curiously as she popped her head up to eye her brother's girlfriend
carefully. "This city is so boring! There is absolutely nothing
to do. Now, New York was a city." Naomi's constant staring
began to make Ruby more and more uncomfortable. "So, what do you do
for fun in this stupid town?"
"I...um...spend time with
Calvin," Ruby blushed awkwardly. "I really don't have that much
free time. I work a lot."
"Work?" Naomi's eyes
grew wide as the gears began to turn inside her head. Maybe Naomi could
convince Ruby to help her get a job. "What kind of work?"
"Oh, I'm just...a maid for the
gasped. Well, scratch the idea of trying to talk Ruby into helping her get
a job. "You can't just be a maid! Why, Calvin couldn't actually
be dating a simple maid!"
"W-why not?" Ruby asked as
she felt herself feeling more and more nervous and out of place.
"Well, it's bad enough that
Momma is a maid. Calvin hasn't been the least bit happy with that fact for
years!" Naomi explained casually. "I just can't believe that he
would lower himself to actually date a maid."
"Yes! My brother is a
very important doctor. He saves lives for a living," Naomi
reminded. "I don't know how he'd get too serious about someone who
gets paid to jump on command like a dog in a circus act! Darlin', I
wouldn't get too attached to Calvin, if I were you. I'm sure that whatever
little...fascination, I guess it is...will be over before you know it. I
just can't see him getting serious about someone whose main goal in life is to
I'm...I'm only working so that I can...save money to go to...nursing
school," Ruby muttered softly as she sunk down into her seat. Naomi's
assessments of the situation were making her more and more uncomfortable.
Could Naomi's evaluations of her relationship with Calvin be accurate? Was
she really only a temporary fascination for him?
"Nursing school? How
sweet!" Naomi giggled. "Well, now, you just march yourself right
over to that lily white Albanyville University and sign yourself up in the
morning. I'm sure that they'll admit you right away." She let
out a self-amused laugh. "If you want to go to nursing school, you'll
have to go far away. Certainly you don't think that he's just going to
give up his position at Memorial and follow you, do you?"
"I can just see it now,"
Naomi laughed. "You'll go away to nursing school---once you slave
away a couple of years to earn the money, of course---and then you'll be gone a
couple of years studying. He's going to just sit and wait for you to make
something out of yourself? I don't think so! By the time you make
yourself good enough for him, he'll have long moved on with someone far more
suitable for him and..."
"W-when's dinner s-supposed to
be...ready?" Ruby muttered as she fidgeted in her seat.
"In a bit," Naomi
smiled. "Honestly, though, I don't even know why you're wasting your
time---or his for that matter."
paused and bit her lip as she glanced down at her watch.
"I...um...oh, gee. It's later than I thought and I...um...I really
can't stay for dinner."
"You can't?" Naomi gasped with false surprise. "Oh, dear. What a shame."
"Yes, um..." Ruby
continued as she quickly rose from her seat and headed for the door.
"Just...apologize to Calvin for me, please. Tell him that
"Oh, I'll be sure to,"
Naomi smiled again as she followed Ruby to the door. "Now, you don't
be a stranger. I think that you and I could get along like sisters.
Well, at least until Calvin finds someone better suited for him."
As Ruby hurried off down the
walkway, Naomi quickly closed the door behind her. A maid! How could
her brother even think to become involved with someone so...so lowly?
Naomi just couldn't fathom the idea.
"Was that Ruby's voice I
heard?" Calvin asked as he came back down the stairs. He paused at
the foot of the stairs and glanced around the living room before making a face
when he realized that Ruby wasn't there. "I could have sworn that I
heard Ruby's voice."
"Oh, you did," Naomi
nodded as she returned to her seat on the couch. "She was here.
"Strange?" He eyed
his sister curiously. "What do you mean by 'strange?'"
"Well, we were just talking
about her plans for nursing school and things like that," she explained
calmly. "I told her how I thought that was a wonderful idea, but she
just starting acting all...odd, you could say. She just got up and left
without saying a word. Really strange."
"What did you say to her,
Naomi?" he asked sternly. "I know how you can be!"
"Me?" Her eyes grew
wide with surprise. "I didn't say anything! We were just
talking. Honestly, I haven't the foggiest idea what got into her."
"Great," Calvin grumbled
as he headed back into the kitchen to check on dinner. When he discovered
that the potatoes had boiled over and the gravy had simmered down to sludge, he
groaned in frustration and disappointment. So much for his plans for a
perfect dinner. It was all ruined! However, the state of the food
was the least of his concerns. What was really on his mind was what had
gotten into Ruby. Why in the world would she have just shown up and then
disappeared without even saying a word to him?