produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

EPISODE #81 (Monday, 12/17/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
A Few Days Later
January, 1936 - Afternoon


54 Spring Lake Dr.Dane Manchester"Helga, dear, do you have to do that while I'm trying to read the paper?" Dane Manchester asked as he swatted away the flurry of dust that the housekeeper was stirring up.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Manchester," Helga Grimm said with a smile.

"That's quite all right."  He chuckled to himself as he thought about how he and Helga had gotten off on the wrong foot when he'd first moved in.  They'd since come to an understanding and had developed quite an odd repartee.  "Can you believe all of this about Sara's aunt?"

"It's just tragic!" she exclaimed as she walked over to him and peered over his shoulder at the late edition of The State Examiner.

"What are you two talking about?" Joyce Preston asked as she walked into the room.

"Annabelle's murder," he replied with a sideways glance in her direction.  "I just can't believe it.  Even more so, I can't believe that they say Reginald Callison did it!"

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76 Mapleton Way"Oh, this just all has to be some big mistake!" Leticia Stokes exclaimed while she paced around the room as she wrung her hands.  "There's no way that Reginald could have killed that woman!"

"Apparently the police don't think so," Judith Linford sighed as she sat on the sofa and flipped through The Daily Post.  "I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Callisons' own newspaper makes absolutely no mention of his arrest.  Poor Jillian.  She's not handing any of this too well."

Leticia Stokes"Well, of course she isn't!  My lord, she's barely left his side since that night."  Leticia walked over to the bar and poured herself a snifter of brandy.

"At least his father posted his bail right away and he didn't have to spend more than one night in jail."  Judith casually scanned the society page.  Even The Post's society column failed to mention anything about the murder.  With an exaggerated sigh, she flung the paper aside and reached onto the coffee table to retrieve the latest edition of The State Examiner.  "I bet they aren't ignoring this."

"Would you just put that away," Leticia grumbled.  "Why are you so interested in what some scandal rag has to say about all of this, anyway?"

Judith Stokes Linford"Considering everything that's going on, I would expect that you'd be interested in this, too, Mother."  Judith cocked an eyebrow and gave her a curious look.  "It looks like Daddy might have been right about Reginald all along!  Maybe he is nothing but trouble for Jillian."

"Oh, nonsense!"  Leticia waved her hand in the air as if to brush away the absurdity of her daughter's comment.  "I have faith in Jillian's judgment and I have faith in Reginald.  He's a fine young man and I refuse to believe that he had anything to do with Annabelle Lake's murder.  The entire idea is just preposterous!"

The conversion came to a halt as the tinkling chimes of the doorbell wafted through the house.

"Now, I wonder who that could be?" Leticia muttered and sat her glass down before walking towards the door.

Ruby Thomas"Mrs. Stokes, Mrs. Linford," their housekeeper Ruby Thomas said as she led a distinguished gentleman into the room, "Dr. Campbell is here."

"Ah, yes, Ruby, send him in," Judith smiled and tossed her newspaper aside.

"Judith, you're looking much better today," Dr. Talbot Campbell said with a warm smile as he walked over to her.  "You should be back to your old self in no time."

"That's what I'm afraid of," Leticia mumbled to herself.

"Did you say something, Mother?" Judith asked with a wry glance.

" that we've been so worried about you."  Leticia walked over and turned her attention to the doctor.  "She is going to back to normal, isn't she?"

Dr. Talbot Campbell"Why, as far as I can tell, Judith is as good as ever right now!"  Dr. Campbell reached down and patted his patient on the hand.  "There's no reason for her to stay locked up in the house all the time."

"That's what I keep saying!"  Leticia sat down on the sofa next to her daughter and took her other hand.  "Now, Judith, you need to stop this moping around the house and get out some.  You haven't left this house since..."

"No, Mother, I don't want to talk about it!" Judith snapped and yanked her hand away.  "I will start getting out when I feel like it and I just don't feel like it!"  She folded her arms across her chest defiantly and turned away to hide the constant emotional pain she'd been suffering since the loss of her child.

Her daughter's display forced Leticia to turn her attention to Dr. Campbell and she looked at him with eyes full of questions and worries.  His only response was to solemnly shake his head.  It appeared that no amount of reassurance or coercing was going to return Judith to her formerly active self until she was ready to let go of the emotional hole she'd buried herself in.


54 Spring Lake Dr."Well, I don't know this Callison fellow," Joyce said as she walked over to the bar and poured herself a scotch, "but if I know Annabelle, I'm sure she deserved whatever she got!"

"Mrs. Preston!" Helga gasped in shock over the comment.  "How could you say such a thing about your own sister-in-law?"

"Ex-sister-in-law, Helga," Joyce reminded before taking a sip of her drink.  "And, believe me, there was never any love lost between myself and Annabelle.  When Sara's father and I were married, we could barely stand the sight of one another.  That woman had to be the most opportunistic person I've ever met!"

"Takes one to know one," Helga muttered into Dane's ear as she leaned over to him.  It was all he could do to restrain himself from bursting out into laughter.

Sensing that the housekeeper was up to something, Joyce turned to shoot her an angry look.  "Don't you have some high chandeliers to dust or something?  I'm sure we can find some very tall ladders for you out in the storage shed."

Helga Grimm"Actually, I just dusted those last week," Helga replied with a smirk.

Joyce took in a deep breath as she tried to find the strength to deal with the overly opinionated housekeeper.  "Whatever," she grumbled before turning her focus onto Dane alone.  "So, Dane, no one ever told me how my darling daughter wound up with such a handsome husband."

"Let's just say she made me an offer I couldn't refuse."

"Sara sure wound up with quite a catch."  Joyce flashed him a sly smile and slowly walked over to him.

"Trap would be more like it," he muttered to himself as he began to read the newspaper again in an attempt to ignore his mother-in-law.

Catching only a bit of what he'd said, Joyce looked at him curiously.  She was certain that she noticed a touch of dissatisfaction coming from him in regards to his marriage.  In fact, she'd gotten that impression almost from the moment she'd met him!  Her eyes narrowed and she began to inspect him closely.  Maybe that was something she could use to her advantage.

Joyce Preston"Dane, darling, we all must go out for the evening, sometime," she smiled coyly as she stood next to him and lightly ran her fingers along his shoulder.  "I'd so hoped that you and Sara would have taken me along to that wonderful party, but..."

"I thought you said you couldn't stand Annabelle."  He glanced up from the paper to look at her.  "Why would you want to go to her party?"

"Well, apparently, I missed all the fun!"

Dane Manchester"I don't consider murder fun," he replied flatly and returned to reading.  "Though I have to admit that it is something I've considered on occasion."

"I'm sure you have," she smiled.

As Helga continued to dust the knickknacks, she kept her ears very tuned to what was being said.  She didn't trust Joyce Preston at all and was certain that she was up to something.

"Keep your eye on that one," she whispered to Dane as she again leaned into him.  "She's got more venom than a cobra."

"I'll keep that in mind," he replied with a sly smile.

"I'm getting quite tired of your little side conversation!" Joyce snapped angrily.  "Don't you realize that it's very rude to have such private talks while there's someone else in the room?"

"Then leave," Helga said flatly.

Sara Manchester"I am so glad classes are over for today," Sara Manchester exclaimed as she breezed in through the front door and into the room.  Quickly noticing the atmosphere in the library, she looked alternately at her husband and mother.  "Am I missing something?"

"Ah, my exit cue," Dane muttered to Helga with a grin before rising from his seat.  "Actually, Sara, no.  You're not missing in thing.  In fact, I was just going out and..."

"I thought we were having a conversation!"  Joyce glared at him angrily.

"Well, your daughter will be more than happy to fill in for me."  He hurriedly took his hat and coat from Helga as she brought them into the room.  "I really have to go.  I have so many things to do."  He turned to smile and wink at Helga.  "Have fun with those two," he whispered.

"Oh, don't worry," was her muttered reply.