produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

EPISODE #145 (Friday, 8/27/04) click here for a printable version of this episode
A Week Later
July 1936 - Afternoon


Stephanie Lake MonroeLerner's Department Store"And this gown is just exquisite," the sales girl said as she held out the evening gown for inspection.  "Just look at this fine detailing.  You're certain to be the belle of the ball in this!"

"It is nice," Stephanie Monroe nodded, her eyes focused on the gown.  "But...."


"It's red.  I'm not sure that I...well...I don't think that color would work for me."  More accurately, she was concerned that a red dress was exactly what everyone would expect from her -- the old her.  Stephanie was determined not to feed the energies of her nay-sayers and detractors.

"But, Mrs. Monroe, it is a Fourth of July ball," the sales girl pointed out.  "The color scheme is red, white, and blue.  This dress would fit perfectly!"

"I know, but..."  Stephanie grimaced.  True, it would fit the theme, but still....  "Do you have something in white?  Or maybe black?  Black is always a good evening color."

"Have you considered separates?"  The sales girl hurriedly pulled several pieces from the rack of gowns she'd selected for Stephanie to see.  "This evening blouse and ball skirt would make a delightful combination!"

"Oh, I don't know," Stephanie sighed.  "I just want this night to be perfect.  The dress I pick has to make a statement -- the right statement."

"Looks like your doing the exact same thing I'm doing today," came a warm familiar laugh from behind Stephanie.  "I swear, picking the right gown for one of these functions can be an event in and of itself."

Stephanie tensed up at the sound of the voice.  Just what she didn't need today -- nitpick fashion tips from the glamour-puss of Albanyville.  Taking a deep breath and putting on her best smile, she turned to face her newest friend and one-time rival Jillian Callison....

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The Wishing Well Soda ShoppeRandy Lamont pushed the doors of the soda shop open and all but forcibly drug himself inside.  He didn't want to be there.  He didn't want to listen to her or hear what she had to say.  But he'd made a promise to his brother Burt -- more of a split-second decision as a means of ending an uncomfortable conversation, but a promise none-the-less.  He'd promised to give Janet a chance to change his mind.  As he saw her sitting alone in a booth in the back corner, he began to slowly walk over to her.  No, he didn't want to be there.  Not at all.

"There you are," Janet Stokes said as she tried to manage a warm --  although still uncomfortable -- smile.  "I was worried you wouldn't come."  She motioned towards the booth across from her.  "Have a seat, Randy."

"I'm only here because of Burt," he explained bluntly.  "Nothing else."

"I understand that, Randy.  Really I do."  She leaned back into her own seat and swallowed hard.  "And I also know that we've had a lot of talks about this."

"What is it they say about beating a dead horse?"  He refused to look at her directly.  His eyes drifted to the movie posters and school pennants that lined the walls.

"Randy, I hope this isn't what that is."  Janet lifted her hand and motioned for the soda jerk to bring her the two malts that she'd earlier arraigned for him to make.  "I just want a chance to be able to sit down with you and iron out our differences -- to come to some kind of common understanding and common ground.  No pressure.  No hard sell."

"And you think bribing me with one of these is going to do the trick?"  He eyed the malt as the soda jerk set it in front of him.

"Randy, it's not a bribe.  Consider it a...peace offering.  Do you think you can do that?"

"I guess so," he muttered and slid down into his seat, still refusing to look directly at her.  Now, however, his eyes were focused on his malt instead of anything on the walls.

Janet Stokes"Just listen to me with an open heart and an open mind."  She reached across the table and grabbed his hands tightly in an attempt to make a connection between them that he could neither break nor ignore.

"I can't drink my malt if you don't let go of me."

"The malt can wait a moment."  She paused and exhaled slowly and then smiled in relief when he finally looked up at her, making eye contact.  "You and I have a lot in common, you know."

"We don't have anything in common."

"But, yes, we do.  We have the most important thing in common that there could be -- we both love your brother very much.  That love is what connects the two of us."

Randy sat in silence, considering what she'd said.

"And whether you believe it or not, I can understand the way you feel about me and my family.  Sometimes I'm not too comfortable with my family, either.  You try growing up being the middle child between two sisters like Judith and Jillian."  She let out a laugh, hoping to lighten the tension that still existed between them.

"It's not you," Randy muttered.  "It's not you and it's not your family, it's just...."

"It's Burt, isn't it?"


"You don't have a problem with me, really, do you?  We've always gotten along.  You do like me, don't you?"  She bit her lip, nervous about what his possible answer might be.

"I like you, Janet," Randy confessed softly and hung his head.  "I've always liked you."

"Then tell me why you've got such a negative attitude about me and your brother wanting to get married?  If you've always liked me, why don't you want us to be happy?"

"It's not you!" he blurted out suddenly.  "It's never been you!  You have nothing to do with this!  Burt's the only family I have and...."

Janet leaned back in her seat and considered his outburst and everything that he'd said.

"And you're afraid that by marrying me that I'm going to take him away from you.  That once we're married, he's going to forget all about you."  She nodded as all of the pieces fell together.  It was just like Burt had suspected.

"Back in Kentucky, there was the four of us -- Ma, Pa, me, and Burt.  We were a family."  Randy's voice stuck in his throat and he quickly looked away from her.  "Then Pa ran off and left us and Ma got sick.  Burt worked two, sometimes three, jobs just to keep a roof over our heads and pay for Ma's doctors.  He didn't have to do all that, but he did it because he loved us.  We were his family."

"He still loves you, Randy.  You're still his family."

Randy Lamont"And then he packed us all up and moved us here," he continued, tons of emotions and feelings bursting forth that couldn't be stopped.  "He did it so that we could have a better life, but it was the worst thing in the world that could've happened to us -- to our family."

"Randy, it hasn't been that bad."

"That bad?  It's been horrible!  Ma died and then we found out that Burt had a different father than I do -- a dead, rich father.  A father who didn't run out on him like mine did.  Our whole family fell apart.  Burt isn't a Lamont anymore.  He's a Callison.  I'm the only Lamont.  I'm the only one in my family."

"That's just not true!"  She squeezed his hands and pulled them across the table towards her, dragging Randy's full attention towards her at the same time.  "Burt is always going to be your brother.  He's told you that.  You two are a family.  I don't want to take that away from you.  I just want to join your family.  I want to help your family grow."

"Ever since we found out about Burt's real father, he's been changing.  No one else seems to be able to see it, but I do -- long meetings with Mr. Callison, family dinners in that big house across the lake, swanky society functions that we'd never been permitted to even see through the windows let alone be a part of...."

"And he's included you whenever he's had an opportunity."

"I don't belong there.  I'm a Lamont, not a Callison or a Stokes.  Ever since the Callison family came into our lives, they've taken him away and changed him bit by bit."

"And you're afraid that by marrying me, my family is going to take away even more of him from you."  Janet nodded in realization.  That was the crux of the problem.  "You think that the Callisons have taken away a huge part of your brother and your family and you're afraid that marrying me is going to take away what little of your brother and family you have left, aren't you?  That's what all of this boils down to, isn't it?"

Randy sat in silence, unable to look at her.  Yes, that was it.  That was the whole story.  But now that he was confronted with the truth about his feelings, how in the world would Janet be able to convince him that he was wrong? 


Lerner's Department StoreStephanie inhaled deeply and then slowly turned around.  "Jillian, how good to see you.  What are you doing here?"

"Same as you, I suspect," Jillian laughed as she walked over to check out one of the gowns the sales girl was holding.  "I need a new dress for the fundraiser.  What better place to find it than Lerner's?"

"You mean you're not having one custom made by one of your designer friends in New York?  You're not having one hand stitched and beaded?"  Although she was trying not to, Stephanie could barely contain the sarcasm in her voice.

"We only got our invitations last week, Stephanie," Jillian reminded.  "And, yes, although I've known about the ball for quite a while now, there just wasn't enough time to have designs drawn up and narrowed down and fabric selected and...."

"I get the picture."

"Mrs. Callison, I'm sure you'll find just the gown you're looking for," the sales girl spoke up.  "Our styles rival anything that you could find in one of those Manhattan fashion houses."

"Yes, they're just wonderful," Jillian smiled.  "Like that one."  She pointed at one of the dresses hanging on the rack.  "That one is especially nice.  I like the detail around the neckline and those sleeves are just darling."

"I was thinking about getting that one," Stephanie spoke up.  Of course, that wasn't exactly the truth -- she hadn't even seen that gown, yet.  "I think it would look fabulous on me."

"Mmmm...I don't think so."  Jillian shook her head as she tapped her chin with her finger.  "I don't think it would flatter your figure at all.  It's almost too sleek."

"Excuse me?"

"Well, Stephanie, you are more curvy than I am...."

"Are you trying to say that I'm fat?"  Stephanie's jaw tightened as she balled her hands up into fists and propped them on her hips.

Jillian Stokes Callison"N-no.  Not at all, dear," Jillian stammered, taken aback by how her comments were received.  "I was just saying that not every gown works for every woman.  We each have our own beauty strengths and weaknesses and we've got to learn to hide the weaknesses and accentuate the strengths.  It's one of those things that I learned in finishing school."  She paused momentarily, realizing that perhaps she still wasn't explaining herself as well as she'd wanted to.  "Steph, I'm not trying to criticize you at all.  I'm just offering my advice and expertise.  You've got to admit that I've got a little more experience at getting dressed up for things like this than you do.  I'm offering my advice as a friend."

"With a friend like you, who needs enemies," Stephanie mumbled under her breath.

"So, just out dress shopping today?" Jillian said casually after a long pause.  The tension in the air was more than a little apparent and she decided that a change in subject was desperately in order.

"Well, it's actually just one in a series of errands I've got to run before I go in to the radio station to do today's show."  Stephanie's eyes went back to the gown she and Jillian had been discussing.  "Just your usual stuff, a stop by the hospital, shopping for an evening gown...just your average errands."

"The hospital?"  Jillian's eyes grew wide with surprise.  "You're not sick are you?"

"No," Stephanie laughed.  "Todd's come down with an earache and I needed to pick up some drops for him."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.  But at least it seem like things are working out between all of you.  I know that at the wedding there seemed to be some tension between you and Todd."

"Still is, actually," Stephanie sighed.  "But this has all been such a big adjustment for him.  It's going to take some time for all of us to get used to everything."

"I can completely understand that," Jillian nodded.  "You know, it's funny how life can throw little curve balls at you just when you think you've got everything all settled and planned out."

"Yes, it is."  Stephanie watched Jillian closely and saw that Jillian's attention, too, was drawn back to the evening gown.  "Are you...thinking about buying that one?"  She paused.  "Like you said, it has a sleeker line.  It would look good on you."

"I'm...not sure."  Jillian examined the dress again.  "I do like it, but...well...I'm not sure it's exactly what I'm looking for.  I'm not sure if it's the fashion statement I want to make."

"So like you to put so much thought and planning into a dress."

"Well, I'm a firm believer in that what a woman chooses to wear makes a statement about how she is as a woman and how she wants to be seen."

"Really?"  Stephanie's eyes narrowed, her curiosity peaked.  "And what kind of statement do you think this gown is saying?"

"Honestly?  Glamour, sophistication...."  She paused.  "I see it as a gown that the wealthy heroine of a sweeping romantic movie would wear for a ball with her dashing hero."

"And that's not the statement you want to make?"  Stephanie blinked her eyes in surprise.  "Sounds like a pretty good statement to me."

"Honey, I just started shopping," Jillian laughed.  "You never simply grab the first dress you see without taking into consideration all of your choices.  There very well could be another gown that makes that statement even better.  I've got to carefully consider all of my choices."

"So you're not getting it?"

"Probably not," Jillian sighed.  "I hardly ever pick the first dress I see.  I always have to over-think decisions like this.  I suppose you could call it a character flaw."

You admit to having a character flaw?  Stephanie struggled to fight her urge to smirk.

"You're not getting it, are you?" Jillian asked curiously.

"After you so kindly told me how inappropriate it would look on me?"  Stephanie's hand flew up to her chest as if she were stunned that Jillian thought that Stephanie wouldn't automatically take her recommendations.

"Now, I didn't say 'inappropriate'.  I mean, it could work with some alterations -- a larger size to fit you through the bust and then take it in a little through the waist and...."

"A larger size?"  Stephanie's jaw begin to tighten again.

"You know what I mean," Jillian laughed uncomfortably.  "Oh, well, look at the time.  Reginald's parents are having us over for dinner tonight and I promised myself that I would get this entire dress business taken care of today.  So, if I'm going to get anything accomplished, I better get myself moving."  Her eyes went back to the gown.  "Don't worry.  You'll find the right dress."

Stephanie Lake MonroeAs Jillian walked away, Stephanie bit the inside of her cheek, the gears inside her head working a mile a minute.  Margie, the prop girl at the radio station, was a whiz with a needle and thread.  After all, she was always making her own clothes.  Perhaps....

"I'll take that one," she blurted out, startling the sales girl.  "That one Mrs. Callison and I were looking at."

"But I thought she said...."

"Who cares what she said?" Stephanie snapped.  "I want that dress!  Have it wrapped up and sent to the radio station and put it on my account."  My account -- she liked how that sounded.

"Y-yes, ma'am."

"Now I've got to get going.  I've still got errands to run before today's show."  She paused and eyed the girl curiously.  "You do listen to my show every day, don't you?"

"That's hard to do when I'm here every afternoon."

"Well...whatever.  Just do what I asked you to do.  Have that dress sent to the radio station."

"Yes, ma'am."

As Stephanie hurried away, the sales girl went about her assigned task of packing up the gown for shipment.  A few minutes later, Jillian came back through, still in search of the right dress.

"Any luck, Mrs. Callison?" the girl asked.

"None," Jillian sighed.  "Nothing I've seen even comes close to that first dress."  She paused and rubbed her chin as she examined it, still hanging on the rack.

"The dress you and Mrs. Monroe were looking at?"  The girl's voice caught in her throat.  "But I...."

"Oh, my own rule be damned.  It's perfect!  I'll take that one!"  Jillian held out her finger and pointed at the dress in question.

"T-that dress?" the sales girl gasped.  "B-but, Mrs. Callison, you can't buy that dress!"

"What?  Why can't I...oh...I see."  Jillian carefully looked at the tag.  "You're absolutely right.  Thank you so much.  I definitely have to have a smaller size.  You do have this in a smaller size, don't you?"

"Well, yes, I do, but...."

"Wonderful!" Jillian exclaimed in relief.  "Then you just wrap it up and have it sent to my home and put it on my account."

"But, Mrs. Callison...."

"I'll be expecting it later this afternoon."  Jillian turned and began to hurry off down the aisle.  "Thank you so much for your help!"

As Jillian turned the corner and disappeared out of sight, the sales girl shook her head with worry and dread.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the Fourth of July Ball!