RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WISHING WELL SODA SHOPPE

The Wishing Well Soda Shoppe"I don't have any idea what you're talking about," Maggie muttered, unable to look at Stanley.

"Ah, c'mon, Mags!"  He reached out and grabbed hold of her arm, forcing her to look at him.  "We've been going out for months, now, and I can barely get you to let me hold your hand let alone kiss you."

"So?"

"So, not only did you kiss me tonight, but...well...you really kissed me."  He looked at her intently, still in shock over what had happened.

"Isn't it a perfectly natural thing for a girl to kiss her boyfriend?"  Even though she was asking Stanley the question, she wasn't looking at him.  She was trying to turn to look back over her shoulder and into The Well.

Stanley Fitzpatrick"Of course, it is," he agreed.  "But it's not normal for you."

"Stanley, why do you always have to question everything?" she snapped angrily.  "I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you.  Why are you making so much out of it?"

"I question everything because my pop's a cop!  It's in my blood to question everything!"

Maggie Callison"Well, just drop it!"

"I swear," he grumbled with exasperation.  "Women!  I don't think I'm ever gonna figure you out."

"Good," Maggie mumbled as she finally managed to pull away from him long enough to look back into The Well.  Through the glass she saw Randy Lamont, still huddled up close to Eliza Campbell.  But he was looking right at her!

As Maggie's cheeks turned a deep crimson, she realized that Randy had a direct line of sight out the front glass of The Well and he'd seen everything.  Suddenly, Maggie realized that she might have made the biggest mistake of her young life.


CALVIN'S HOME - KITCHEN

576 Tinsdale Dr."You've outdone yourself," Ruby said in between bites of dinner.  "Honey, you really are a wonderful cook."

"I had a little help," Calvin confessed modestly.

Ruby's eyes immediately went to Naomi.  Certainly she couldn't have....

"I owe any cooking skills I might have to Mamma," he explained before taking a sip of his tea.  "I always spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen and she insisted that I learn how to cook.  She sent me some new recipes in the mail today and I thought that I'd try one of them out."

"Well, you've clearly learned from the best."  Ruby reached out, took his hand, and smiled.  "To be honest, I'd thought for a minute that Naomi had been the one who'd helped you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Naomi snapped as she glared at Ruby.

"I...I didn't mean anything bad by it," Ruby blushed and then quickly turned to look at Calvin, frightened that she'd said something wrong.  "I just assumed...."

"Well, don't you ever assume anything about me!  You hear?"

"Naomi, that'll be enough," Calvin spoke up as he shot his sister a look of warning.  "She only guessed that you were the one who'd helped because you're here.  Why do you have to assume that everything's always about you?"

"Because she's always trying to find some kind of fault with me!"

Ruby Thomas"With you?"  Ruby's eyes grew wide, not able to believe what she was hearing.  "You're the one who's always trying to find fault with me!"

"I don't really have to look hard for that, now do I?"  Naomi smugly leaned back into her chair.

"I said that will be enough!"  Calvin's eyes burned with anger and disappointment.  He'd prayed that they'd be able to have an enjoyable meal without incident, but clearly Naomi was determined to make sure that that didn't happen.

"Oh, sure!  Take her side!"  Naomi jumped up out of her seat in anger.  "Take her side like you always take her side!"

"I'm not taking sides!"   He banged his fists onto the table as if he were trying to drive the point home.  "There aren't any sides to take!"

"Please, Naomi.  I didn't mean anything by it."  Ruby looked up at her and bit her lip.  "Honestly."

"Now, could you please sit back down so that we can finish dinner in peace?"  Calvin gave his sister a stern look that she knew better than to ignore.

"Oh, alright," Naomi muttered in defeat and then again took her seat.

"Naomi, I'm...sorry if I said something to upset you," Ruby apologized softly.  "I didn't mean to.  I'd really like for us to be friends."  She paused and inhaled deeply.  "So...how's the baby?  He's been awfully quiet tonight."

"Aubrey's a good boy," Naomi explained with a hint of pride.  "He's never any trouble.  In fact, you almost forget that he's even around."

"If I had a baby, I don't think I'd ever be able to forget that he was around.  I don't care how good or quiet he was."  Ruby sighed wistfully at the prospect of motherhood someday.

"Are you trying to say that I ignore my baby?"  Naomi eyed her suspiciously.

"No, I wasn't," Ruby replied cautiously.  "I was just saying...."

"Naomi, just settle down."  Calvin glared at her.  She'd promised not to start any trouble.  "That's not what she was implying and you know it!"

"Oh, all right," Naomi muttered with a scowl.  After a few moments, she allowed herself to relax a little and her features began to slowly soften.  "So, Ruby, let's talk about you for a bit."

"Me?"

"Yes."  Naomi put her elbows up onto the table and leaned forward, resting her chin in her hands as she looked directly at Ruby.  "Tell me about your life working for the Stokes family.  Is it really as exciting as it sounds?"

"Exciting?"  Ruby furrowed her brow, not quite understanding what Naomi was asking.  "I wouldn't exactly call it exciting.  It is work, after all.  I mean, Mrs. Stokes -- err, Rutherford -- is a very nice and fair employer -- her husband and daughter can be a little over demanding, though -- but it is work.  I have my duties to perform and I try not to get involved in their personal matters."

Naomi Jackson"I see."  Naomi smiled slyly as she leaned back in her chair and sat up straight.  "I guess it's hard to find much excitement in mopping floors and scrubbing toilets."

Ruby winced slightly.  "I'm sure you understand.  You do many of the same duties for the Manchesters."

"My job is absolutely nothing like your job!" Naomi snapped.  "You're just a common maid!"

"And what's that supposed to mean?"  Ruby glared at her.  "You're a maid, too!  I don't know how you can act so high and mighty when you and I are exactly alike.  We have the same job and do the same chores and...."

"You and I are nothin' alike," Naomi laughed.  "I don't know whatever gave you that idea.  My job is much different from yours.  You're just a maid.  My job is much more than that."

"Naomi...." Calvin spoke up with a warning shake of his head.

"When are you going to realize that you're not good enough for Calvin?" Naomi continued, completely ignoring her brother's eyes.  "He deserves better than you."  She turned to address him.  "Whatever happened to that nurse you wrote me about last spring?  She sounded like just the perfect girl for you."

"She and I were just friends," he explained calmly, his eyes darting to Ruby.  "She got married last summer and moved to Huntington."

"Oh, Calvin," she sighed with disappointment, "why are you always letting the good ones get away?"

"I really don't have to sit here and listen to this."  Ruby threw her napkin down onto the table and jumped up out of her seat.  "I think I need to go home."

"Ruby, I'm sorry," Calvin said as he quickly followed her out of the kitchen, throwing his sister an angry look in the process.  "I sorry about Naomi and..."

"No, Calvin, you don't have anything to be sorry about," she explained as she headed for the door.  "It's that horrible sister of yours who should be sorry.  I don't know why she doesn't like me, but I'm surely not going to sit around and listen to her try to deliberately insult me and get under my skin."

"Maybe if I have a talk with her she'll..."

"A talk with her?"  Ruby laughed weakly.  "All you've been doing for months is talking to her.  She doesn't listen!"

"Ruby, I..."  He reached out to take her into his arms, but she threw up her hands, pushing him away.

"No, I really need to go."

As soon as the front door closed behind Ruby, and angry Calvin spun on his heel and stormed back into the kitchen.

Dr. Calvin Jackson"What the devil do you think you're doing?" he snapped angrily, a fire in his eyes.  "You promised me that you'd be on your best behavior!"

"I was!"  Naomi shook her head as if she didn't know what he were talking about.  "I was friendly and chatty and attentive and...."

"You set out to make Ruby feel uncomfortable and inferior ever since we sat down to dinner."

"Oh, I did not," Naomi laughed as if what he was accusing her of was the most preposterous thing in the entire world.

"Yes, you did!"

"It's not my fault that she's so thin skinned that every little thing I say upsets her," she grumbled as she folded her arms across her chest and then stuck out her bottom lip in a pout.  "Maybe she really isn't good enough for...."

"You listen to me," Calvin said firmly as he grabbed his sister's arm, dragging her to her feet, "don't you ever-- and I mean ever -- talk that way to Ruby again.  I love her very much and I will not have you treating her like this!"

"Oh, I see how it is!  You're taking some total stranger's side over your own sister!"

"She's not a stranger!"  Calvin inhaled deep as he tried to calm himself down before speaking again.  "Listen to me, if you can't treat Ruby with any kind of decency, then maybe you should stay away from her."

"Maybe you should follow your own advice.  Stay away from Ruby," Naomi advised sternly.  "That girl's trouble with a capital 'T.'  I'm certain of it!"


THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM

76 Mapleton Way"That's strange," Leticia said as she hurried back into the room, interrupting the the tense conversation that Judith and Janet were having.

"What's strange, Mother?" Janet asked as she turned her attention away from her sister.  "Did you get hold of Fred?  Is he coming right home to take a look at Judith?"

"I don't want that man anywhere near me!" Judith snapped, her eyes still locked on Janet.

"Well, I guess that's irrelevant, now," Leticia muttered and then looked away nervously as she began to wring her hands.

"Mother, what is it?"  Janet asked and reached out to take her mother's hand.  "Is something wrong?  What did Fred say?"

Leticia Stokes Rutherford"I...I didn't talk to him," she explained awkwardly, her eyes moving to Judith.  "The nurse at the hospital said that he wasn't there and hadn't been...."

"Wasn't there?"  Judith's eyes grew wide with shock.  "But I thought that you said he was a busy doctor who was dedicated to healing the sick and the infirm!  If he's not at the hospital, then where is he?"

"Gee, Judith, you're awfully concerned about Fred's whereabouts," Janet commented quickly.  "Just a minute ago you acted like you didn't even want to admit that he existed and now you're worried about where he is."

"It's not that I'm worried about him," she smiled slyly.  "It's just that if he's lied to Mother about where he was supposed to be, tonight, then I'm worried about her."

"I'm sure that Fred didn't lie about anything," Leticia said firmly as she glared at her eldest daughter.  "Maybe I just...misunderstood him."

"Yes," Judith muttered, "I'm sure that's all it is."

As they contemplated Fred Rutherford's whereabouts, they turned in the direction of the sound of the front door opening.  Moments later, the "missing" doctor walked into the room.

"Oh, Fred, there you are!" Leticia exclaimed as she rushed over to him, throwing her arms around him and hugging him tightly.

"Good evening, dear," he smiled warmly and kissed her on the cheek.  "I'm sorry I'm late, but I had a lot of things to get done at the hospital before I could leave."

Judith immediately arched an eyebrow in response to his explanation.  "That's odd," she began slowly.  "Mother just called the hospital for you and she was told that you weren't there and hadn't been there all night."

Dr. Fred Rutherford"W-what?"  Fred felt his heart jump up into his throat as his eyes darted to Judith.  "What...do you mean?  Of course, I was there."

"The nurse I talk to said that she hadn't seen you all night long and you hadn't signed in."  Leticia explained, never once moving her eyes from him.  "I thought that you'd said you were going to the hospital, but I guess I misunderstood you."

"I did tell you I was going to the hospital," he explained calmly.  "I was there all night."  He slowly began to pace around the room, hoping to allow himself some time to think of a good explanation.  "I bet it was that new nurse."

"New nurse?" Janet asked.

"Yes," he nodded.  "There's a new nurse on the second floor.  Just started this week, I think.  She doesn't know who everyone is yet.  So, maybe, she didn't know who you were asking for.  Maybe she got me confused with someone else."

"I...guess she could have," Leticia muttered, his story making sense.  "After all, it was the second floor nurses' station that my phone call connected to."

"See!  That must be it!"  He smiled broadly in relief as his eyes again moved to Judith.  "But why were you trying to get in touch with me?  Is something wrong?"

"Oh, yes!" Leticia exclaimed as she remembered the nature of her call.  "Judith collapsed earlier and I'm afraid that she's taking ill.  I just wanted to you come home and take a look at her to see if there's anything wrong."

"I'd be glad to."  Fred walked over to where Judith was sitting.

Judith Stokes Linford"If you so much as lay a hand on me, I'll break it," Judith hissed.  "I'm fine.  I don't need a doctor.  Even if I did, I'd make an appointment with Dr. Campbell.  Not this witch doctor!"

"Judith!" Leticia chastised sternly before rushing over to take her husband's hand.  "Oh, Fred, I'm sorry.  I just...don't know what comes over her sometimes."

"It's quite all right, dear," he smiled, his eyes still focused on Judith.  "Like you said, she's a little under the weather.  I'm sure she's acting like this because she's not feeling well."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "Well, darling, it's late and I'm very tired from work.  I think I'm going to head up to bed."

"I think I'm going to join you," Leticia said warmly and then followed her husband out of the room, leaving Judith and Janet alone.

Janet Stokes"You should have let Fred take a look at you," Janet spoke up dryly.  "After all, you made him sound perfectly qualified."

"What do you mean by that?"

"What better patient for a witch doctor than a witch!"  And without another word, Janet stormed out of the room leaving Judith to seethe in anger.

"Oh, you can act as smug as you want, sister dear," Judith muttered to herself angrily, "but I'm certain that both you and the good doctor are hiding something.  And I'm going to find out exactly what you're up to."



 


TOMORROW

The newlyweds return!




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

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