produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

EPISODE #144 (Thursday, 8/26/04) click here for a printable version of this episode
Same Day
June 1936 - Evening


Ruby Thomas576 Tinsdale Dr."Are you sure there's not something bothering you?"  Dr. Calvin Jackson eyed Ruby Thomas closely.  "If Naomi's done something to you again, I want to know about it.  She might be my sister, but I'm not blind to how she can be."

"No, she hasn't really done anything to me."  Ruby dried her hands on a dishtowel, turning her back to Calvin, and slowly moved away.  "It's just that she...."

"She has done something, hasn't she?"  He came up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder.  "What is it now?  What has that fool sister of mine done that's gotten you so out of sorts?"

She hesitated and bit her lip nervously.  Yes, Naomi was up to something, but nothing to do with Ruby, herself.  There was something odd going on between Naomi and the Manchesters.  Ruby was certain of it.  However, all she really had were suspicions based only on a half-heard conversation that she'd had no business overhearing.  Was it her place to tell Calvin a bunch of speculations and suspicions based, essentially, on nothing?  Would telling him about her concerns -- which, truthfully, could be completely unfounded -- cause more trouble between her and Naomi that she wasn't really eager to deal with?  And, after all, was it really her business?

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76 Mapleton WayDr. Fred Rutherford pushed the front door open and stepped into the mansion.  He clinched his fists tightly in an attempt to stop his hands from shaking and then reached into his pocket so that he could pull out a handkerchief to blot the perspiration from his brow.

The tension and stress of dealing with his mysterious blackmailer was getting to him.  It seemed like his every waking moment was consumed with thoughts and worry about who this person was and exactly what they were planning on doing with their information.

He walked over to the side table and set his doctor's bag down before snapping it open and pulling out the latest mysterious note he'd received.  The note had reminded him of the information that the blackmailer had on him as well as explicit instructions on how to make payment in Baily Park -- a payment Fred had just returned home from making.

As he eyed the letter nervously, he silently prayed that the payment -- although not quite the full amount that had been requested -- was enough to pacify his blackmailer.  Fred had finally managed to get his hands on everything he'd been working for and didn't need to have all of his hopes and dreams go up in smoke.

"Another late night at the hospital, doctor?" Judith Linford asked as she stood in the doorway to the living room.  She'd heard the front door open and, suspecting that it was her step-father trying to slip into the house unobserved, had crept to the door in hopes of catching him in the middle of something unseemly.  "It's getting to be practically a habit."

Dr. Fred Rutherford""  Startled by her presence, he quickly looked at her, crumpling up the blackmailer's note into his hands to keep it from being seen.  "I had a...late shift."

"You've had quite a few of those lately."

Judith folded her arms across her chest and moved further into the room, keeping her eyes locked on him the entire time.  He was visibly nervous and anxious and it immediately made her suspicious.

"You're looking a little green, doctor," she commented as she eyed him up and down.  "You're not coming down with something, are you?  I'm sure that being around sick people all day long puts you at a greater risk of catching something."

"I'm surprised that you're concerned," he replied and turned his back to her so that he could discreetly toss the crumpled letter into his bag and snap it closed.  "How so unlike you."

"Well, I'm only thinking of Mother, after all."

"Of course."  Fred paused and took a deep breath to steady his nerves and release tension and then turned to face her, shoulders thrown back in a display of confidence and strength.  "But I'm the picture of health.  Not a thing wrong with me.  There's no need for you to worry."

"I see," she muttered as she rubbed her chin with her index finger.  "But still...."  She cocked her head slightly and narrowed her eyes.  "You seem a little nervous, doctor.  Anything wrong?"

"No.  Nothing."

"You act like you're hiding something."  Judith's eyes went immediately to his doctor's bag, still sitting on the table.  "You were looking at something when I came in -- a letter of some sort."  A love letter, perhaps?

"You're mistaken."  Fred picked up his bag and walked past Judith and into the living room.

Judith Stokes Linford"No, I don't think so."  She immediately followed behind him.  He was hiding something.  "You were definitely reading something and it's made you upset."

"Judith, you've got an overactive imagination.  You can't stand the thought of me being married to your mother and you'd like nothing better than to find some way to destroy our marriage."

"Guilty as charged," she smirked.

"Well, your desire to find something unseemly is clearly clouding your judgment and perspective -- making you see things that aren't really there.  Give it a rest, Judith."

"I'll rest once your filthy hide is out of our lives and thrown out into the street where it belongs."  She walked over to him and looked him right in the eye.  "I'm watching you, doctor.  I'm watching you very closely.  I can tell you're up to something -- it's written all over your face -- and I'm going to find out exactly what it is."

"You better watch your step, Judith," Fred sneered coolly.  "I'd certainly hate for you to stumble into some kind of trouble that you wouldn't be able to get yourself out of."

"Is that a threat?"  Her hand flew up to her chest in an exaggerated motion, displaying mock fear.  "Are you threatening me?  Your own step-daughter?  Why, doctor, how could you?"

"Not a threat," he grinned smugly.  "Just a word of advice that it might be of great benefit for you to heed."

He stared right into Judith's eyes and she momentarily felt a chill run through her.  She couldn't put her finger on exactly what it was, but there was something about his look, his demeanor, that informed her that he was serious -- deadly serious.  Yes, the good doctor would like nothing better than to wring the life right out of her with his healing hands.  Judith was certain of that.  Despite the clear and obvious threat, it only strengthened her resolve to get to the bottom of things.  She had to rid her family of Fred Rutherford once and for all -- before it was too late.


576 Tinsdale Dr."What is it, Ruby?" Calvin repeated his question.  "What's Naomi done, now?"

"It's...nothing," she stammered, turning her back to him so that she could hide her concern and worry.  "I just...."

"Yes?"  He came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders in hopes of giving her the strength and security to tell him what concerns were on her mind.

"Well, I...I went to see Naomi at the Manchesters' the other day," she began cautiously.  "I...well...I'd hoped that I could have a chance to sit down with her and talk some things out.  You know as well as I do that your sister and I don't exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things."

"Oh, how well I know," he sighed with a shake of his head.  "I take it that this peace summit didn't go well?"

"Not exactly."

Ruby bit her lip and again thought about the unusual and awkward scene between Naomi and Mr. and Mrs. Manchester that she'd walked in on -- a scene that still didn't quite sit right with Ruby.  Something was definitely wrong with the situation in the Manchester home and Naomi was deeply involved in it.  Ruby was certain of it.  However....

Dr. Calvin Jackson"Go on," Calvin urged.  "What happened?  What did Naomi do this time?"

She hesitated before going into the long story of what she'd seen and heard during her impromptu visit to Springhill Manor.  Perhaps Naomi had been right and Ruby had only simply misinterpreted what she'd heard.  Perhaps she was reading entirely too much into everything and making assumptions based only on a few words and phrases that she'd strung together without any solid facts.  If that were indeed the case, did she really have any right to state her assumptions as fact and get Calvin worked up and worried over what could very well be nothing?

"Naomi's a maid for the Manchesters, right?" Ruby finally asked.

"Yes, of course she is.  You know that."

"And as a maid, she pretty much does the same kind of work I do?"

"Cleaning.  Some cooking, yes," he nodded, not quite sure what Ruby was getting at.  "I mean, Naomi did tell me that they've got an actual housekeeper who takes care of a lot of the major details like running the house and such and that Naomi pretty much answers directly to her.  I'm sure that there are some things that you do that she doesn't necessarily do.  After all, you're Dr. and Mrs. Rutherford's only maid."

"True."  Ruby considered what he'd said.  With the housekeeper's help, Naomi didn't have nearly as many responsibilities that Ruby had.  It did seem odd, however, that the Manchesters would need more help around the house than the Rutherfords.  But, then again, the Manchesters were new money and, at least from what Ruby had heard, the newly rich tended to do things to a little excess.

"Honey, what's this all about?  Why so many questions about Naomi's job?"  Calvin eyed her curiously.  "When you went to visit, you didn't get the idea that Naomi's causing problems for her employers, did you?  I swear, if that girl's ruining this job, I'm going to...."

Ruby Thomas"N-no, it's not that, really, but..."  Well, it was that, but there was more to it.  Ruby was certain of it.  "Oh, I just noticed that there were some differences between what she does for the Manchesters and what I do for the Rutherfords.  It just seemed a little odd to me that even though we've got the same type of job, we're doing different kinds of work. that you've mentioned the housekeeper, it does sorta make sense."  Sorta.  But not quite.

"Is that really all it is?  Is that what's been on your mind?"

"Yes.  That's it."  Ruby wrapped her arms around Calvin's neck and hugged him tightly.

But, no, that wasn't all there was to it.  No matter how the housekeeper had described Naomi's work ethic, it still didn't explain the conversation she'd partly overheard.  True, the Manchesters seemed like good people and, perhaps, even if Naomi were shirking her duties, they've taken a bit of pity on her because of Aubrey, looking the other way in a lot of instances, but....  Well, it might explain it -- much too easily, in Ruby's opinion -- but it still didn't satisfy the voice inside her head that was telling her that there was much more going on that couldn't be so easily explained.

Even so, she realized that until she knew exactly what it was, she couldn't very well go telling Calvin a bunch of things that she really didn't know for sure.  With that taken into consideration, Ruby realized that she had to know what was going on with Naomi before she could even think of mentioning anything to Calvin.  Something going on in that house just wasn't right and Ruby was determined to find out exactly what it was.