JOSEPH HAYNE RAINEY
MEMORIAL NEGRO HOSPITAL - CALVIN'S OFFICE
Ruby asked hesitantly as she rapped lightly on the slightly ajar door.
"I'm never too busy for
you!" Dr. Calvin Jackson laughed as he quickly rose from his chair and
walked over to greet her. "What are you doing here? Not that
I'm not happy to see you, but..."
"Oh, I had to run a few
errands," she smiled as she deliberately tried to be evasive. She
just couldn't tell him that those errands consisted of grocery shopping so that
she could prepare that night's dinner for the Stokes family. "A
His voice trailed off for a moment as his mind drifted to thoughts of the lavish
things that Ruby's wealthy background could afford her---things he could never
buy for her himself. "Well, I'm glad you're here. Now I have
something to take my mind off of things."
"Take your mind off of
things?" Ruby eyed him curiously. "Calvin, is something
wrong? A difficult day at the hospital?"
"Oh, no, not that,"
he sighed and folded his arms across his chest as he leaned back against his
desk. "More of a family problem. My sister decided to spring a
surprise visit on Momma."
"Well, that sounds like a
"You don't know my
family." He let out a small, uncomfortable laugh as he realized the
exact truth of that statement. "My sister's relationship with our
mother is difficult at best. It seems like every time we turn around,
she's done something else to get Momma all upset."
"Oh, no," Ruby
sighed as she placed a gentle and caring hand on his arm. "Would it
help if you talked about it? I'm a very good listener."
"Yes, indeed, you
are." He smiled at her again.
He was fully convinced that
there was no finer woman in Albanyville than Ruby Thomas---so warm and
loving. And rich! It was that fact that stuck in the back of
his head and wouldn't let go. How could he, working son of a simple
housekeeper, ever be able to compete with the lavish lifestyle that Ruby was
clearly accustomed to? After a brief moment, he took a deep breath and
"Well, you see, my sister
has always...well...been high spirited, to say the least." He lifted
his hand to massage his temple, the stress of his current family situation
having clearly gotten to him. "Ever since we were kids, she seems to
bend over backwards trying to get a rise out of Momma. She's really done
it this time."
"It sounds pretty
bad." Ruby sat down in the chair beside the desk and lifted her head
to look at Calvin as she listen to him intently.
"Very. To make a
long story short, she arrived---unexpectedly---with a baby."
shook his head, still in shock from the news.
"And she never told any
of you that she was expecting?" Ruby paused as he shook his
head. "Well, I can understand how that would be upsetting, but once
the shock wears off I'm sure... Oh, I see. Your mother
doesn't care for her husband. That's it, isn't it?"
"Oh, my lord!"
She slumped back into her seat and let out a sharp gasp. "Well, I can
understand, now! This must be a horrible shock to you. I can't
imagine how a family that is as socially prominent as yours is might react to
news like this!"
"It's not just a socially
prominent family, Ruby." He sighed as he thought about the reality of
his own family situation. "Any family would be shocked by
this." Looking directly at her, he was taken in by the understanding
and care that was expressed on her face. True, she'd been taken aback by
the news regarding his sister, but she was definitely not acting judgmental.
Maybe she would understand that he wasn't from as prominent a family as she'd
been led to believe. Maybe she would be able to accept the truth.
He had almost decided to
reveal everything about himself that he'd struggled for months to keep hidden
when, suddenly, the office door flew open and Naomi Jackson breezed into the
I just can't deal with Momma anymore!" Naomi shouted angrily.
"If I have to listen to that woman's rantings about my baby for another
minute I think I'm gonna scream!"
isn't..." His eyes darted from Naomi to Ruby and back again.
This was not the way he'd intended for Ruby to meet his family! Naomi had
a big personality and an even bigger mouth. He knew that she wouldn't
hesitate to reveal anything and everything that she knew and that fact worried
him to no end.
"Oh, I didn't realize
that you had a patient." Naomi inspected Ruby carefully, eyeing her
up and down. "You are a patient, aren't you?"
Actually..." Ruby spoke up, quickly growing uneasy.
"She's a friend of mine,
Naomi," Calvin said flatly as his jaw began to tighten. "Not
that that's really any of your business."
"Well! I can see
that you're puttin' on airs now, too!" Naomi stood with her hands on
her hips and pursed her lips tightly. "Just like Momma! She
thinks that just because she works..."
"Ruby, I'm really sorry
about this," he interrupted as he quickly rushed to move between her and
Naomi. "I had hoped that you two could have met under more pleasant circumstances."
Ruby carefully peered around him and at Naomi and furrowed her brow
slightly. He clearly hadn't exaggerated his sister's disposition in the
least. In fact, she was convinced that, if anything, he'd under-played
it! Ruby shook her head, not quite sure how a family as fine and
upstanding as Calvin's could have raised such an unseemly appearing young woman.
"Ruby, I hate to cut this
short, but I'm afraid that all of this is going to keep you from your
plans," he said as he took her hand and gently, yet urgently, led her
towards the door. "I'll...call you tomorrow about plans for
"O-okay," she nodded
as she began to feel even more out of place.
After a quick peck on the
cheek, Ruby stepped out into the hallway as the door quickly shut behind
her. As she began to walk down the long corridor, she stopped suddenly to
turn and eye the closed door with much concern. She couldn't help but
think about how out of place Naomi seemed considering everything she knew about
Calvin's social status. She also couldn't help but think that there was
something else terribly wrong. Ruby was convinced that Calvin was keeping
something else from her, but what in the world could it be?