Albanyville General Hospital“Lorraine!  Lorraine, what’s happened?  Is she all right?” Reginald Callison called out as he rushed into the emergency room.  He’d dropped everything at the office as soon as Lorraine had phoned him about his wife, Jillian’s, accident.

“I… I don’t know,” she shook her head as she choked back her tears of worry.  Dr. Campbell and Dr. Hardy are in with her now.”

“Lorraine, what happened?”

Lorraine Davis“Jillian was… coming down the stairs,” she started to explain, “and… I don’t know if she missed a step or… what, but….  She fell.  I… I didn’t think she’d fallen that far or that hard, but… she started having pains.  I called the ambulance right away and then… then called you.”

“This is just like my baby,” Judith Linford, seated right next to Lorraine, muttered under her breath.  “It’s just like what happened to me.”

In Reginald’s haste to find out from Lorraine about Jillian’s condition, he hadn’t even noticed Judith’s presence. 

Reginald Callison“Judith, how did you get here so quickly?” he asked his wife’s sister.  “I got here as fast as I could and you beat me.”

“I was already here at the hospital,” she explained.  “Don’t ask why.  It’s not really important.  Talbot – Dr. Campbell – came and told me what had happened as soon as he found out that Jillian had been brought in.”

“How is Jillian?” he asked as he turned his full attention to Judith.  “How is the baby?”

Judith Linford“We… haven’t heard anything yet,” she sighed and rubbed her temples in an attempt to relieve the stress that was starting to build.  The entire situation was far too familiar for Judith and she was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the painful memories she was beginning to experience.  “Dr. Campbell and Dr. Hardy are doing everything they can.  I suppose all we can do now is… wait.”

“Wait – just wait,” Reginald muttered, his hands clinched into fists in an attempt to keep them from shaking.  And then a thought struck him.  “Lorraine!  Dr. Jackson – phone Dr. Jackson!  You had problems with Mikey and he helped you all the way through….”

Dr. Talbot Campbell“It was a completely different set of circumstances,” she reminded.  “Besides, Dr. Hardy is an excellent obstetrician and he’s even got Dr. Campbell assisting.  Jillian’s in the best hands possible.”

At just that moment, Dr. Talbot Campbell appeared at the end of the corridor having obviously just come from Jillian’s bed side.  Reginald quickly rose from his feet and hurried down the long hallway towards Dr. Campbell with Judith and Lorraine close behind.  However, as soon as Reginald had reached the doctor’s side, Talbot’s solemn and dour expression immediately let him know that Jillian’s condition was far from all right.


The Gardens Restaurant“I went ahead and started going through Mr. Preston’s things,” Sara Manchester said as she started thumbing through the stack of files and folders she’d brought with her.  “It seems like he was a far more prolific writer than I’d ever imagined.”

“Oh?  How so?” Trevor Callison asked as he leaned forward, eager to hear what she’d discovered.

“Well, I found at least three fully completed novels filed away in his office and no fewer than five nearly completed works in progress.”  She paused and pulled a page of notes from the bottommost file in the stack.  “And from what I can piece together, there are possibly several more novels that haven’t gotten past the first draft stage.”

“This is… incredible.”  He took the list of works from her and began to review them.  “I can’t even begin to tell you how happy my father’s going to be when he hears this.”

“So explain to me again what you’re doing.  Why are you so interested in all of Mr. Preston’s manuscripts and drafts?”

“It’s about our contract with Mr. Preston,” Trevor began to explain.  “We still want to honor it.  Thanks to your help, The Manhattan Conflict is on schedule to be out in bookstores by the end of the summer.  We don’t want to stop there.”

“I’m… not sure I understand.  I would’ve thought that the contract would’ve ended when Mr. Preston died.”

Trevor CallisonDouglas wrote a very solid contract.  When Mr. Preston signed it, he effectively signed over all publishing rights to Callison Publications for at least his next five novels and that contract extends to his estate." 

“Ah,” Sara nodded as she slowly began to understand what he was saying.  “You want to publish all of the novels Mr. Preston had finished.”

“Exactly.  But we need your help and approval to do it.”  Trevor looked down at the list he held in his hands.  “Unfortunately, the one glitch in the terms of the contract was that Mr. Preston was only required to publish one book.”

“I’m not following.”

“Mr. Preston only had to publish one book with us,” he went on to explain.  “If he didn’t want to publish any other books, he wasn’t required to.  However, if he did publish any future books, at least the next five have to be published by us.  To break it down in the simplest terms possible, since he’s dead, if his estate doesn’t want any of his completed works published, then the estate isn’t required to publish them.  If the estate does decide to publish the remainder of his works posthumously, by the terms of the contract they have to be published by Callison Publications.”

“I see.”  Sara tilted her head to the side and rubbed her chin as she considered the possibilities.  “So the decision to publish rests with me and Dane since we inherited the estate.”

“That’s where it gets a little interesting.  I’m not exactly sure whether you know this or not, but thanks to Douglas’s work with Mr. Preston on the changes to his will, Mr. Preston grouped all of his writings and manuscripts into a separate part of the estate – a part he left exclusively for you to control.  Dane has no part of this at all unless you allow him to be due to your marriage.”

Sara Manchester“And why are you involved?  Shouldn’t I be working with an editor from the company or some other executive or something?”

“Well, you probably should,” Trevor sighed, “however, my father decided that he wants me to be the one to work with you because… well… if you think about it, I’m partly the reason you got mixed up with Thornton Preston in the first place.  If I hadn’t talked you into taking that job with Mr. Preston so you could spy on him for us and….”

“I remember, I remember.”  Sara waved her hand as if to dismiss the memory.  “I don’t want to sound ungrateful – I do appreciate all of the help you’ll be – but isn’t this going to interfere with your other job?”

“I haven’t really written much of anything for the paper in months,” he confessed, “at least not since Grace left.  I think that’s a lot of the reason my father wants me working on this – he wants to keep my mind occupied and off of Grace.”

“Then you just leave things to me.”  Sara reached across the table and gave Trevor’s hand a reassuring squeeze.  “I think getting these manuscripts in shape for publication is going to keep both of us busy.”


54 Spring Lake Dr.“Massive Heat Wave Continues Grip on Country,” Dane Manchester read the headline to himself from the front page of the Daily Post.  Pausing to turn the page to finish the article, he looked over the top of the newspaper at his housekeeper, Helga Grimm, who was busy dusting the built-in bookcase across the room behind the desk.

“Did my wife happen to mention when she planned on being home?” he asked.

Mrs. Manchester only said that she’d be back before dinner,” Helga replied without even taking her focus away from her work.  “She was supposed to meet Trevor Callison at The Gardens to talk about working on dear Mr. Preston’s manuscripts.”

“So she said.”  He returned his focus to the newspaper article.  “Where’s her mother hiding?  She didn’t go with Sara, did she?”

“Hardly, Mr. Manchester.  To be honest, I’m not sure where your mother-in-law ran off to.  She didn’t say and I didn’t bother to ask.  She did act like she had something important to do when she left, though.  And before you ask, Naomi took that baby of hers over to her brother’s place.  She said something about dinner and was rambling on about making peace or something.  I wasn’t really paying attention to her.”

As Dane flipped the pages of the newspaper until he reached the comics – he was quite curious about what Dick Tracy was up to – he let out a contented sigh.  Outside of Helga, he was alone in the house and he was determined to enjoy every moment of peace and quiet that meant.  Unfortunately, no sooner had he begun to read about the latest developments concerning mob moll Mimi who needed a gangrenous hand amputated, the shrill doorbell broke the silence.

Helga Grimm“You stay right there, Mr. Manchester.  I’ll get it.”

Helga hurried out of the room and into the foyer.  Although Dane was trying to focus on the newspaper, he couldn’t resist straining to eavesdrop on whoever was at the door.  A few moments later, Helga came back into the room with a rather large envelope clasped in her hands.

“Helga, who was it?”

“It was a just a messenger,” she replied as she stood next to his chair, the envelope still in her hands.  “He delivered this.  He didn’t say what it was, but it’s for you.”

Dane took the envelope from her and examined it carefully.  It was definitely addressed to him – Mr. Dane Manchester, 54 Spring Lake Dr., Albanyville – but there was no return address.  Although he was naturally curious about what could possibly be inside, his gut instincts told him that opening the envelope was probably a task that was best done in private.

Dane Manchester“Helga, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’d like to be alone for a while.  You can finish your work in here later.  Why don’t you go ahead and start on dinner?”

“Yes, Mr. Manchester.”

“Oh, and Helga….”

“Yes, Sir?”

“Please close the doors behind you.”

After Helga had gone and the large wooden doors of the library were securely closed, Dane tore open the envelope and pulled out the contents for examination.  His gut instinct had been more than accurate.  The envelope was one that was best opened in private.  In his lap lay a series of photographs – photographs of him and one Kitty Benedict, portraying them in very compromising situations.  Included with the photographs was a note –

“Some affairs are best kept private, don’t you think?   Instructions to follow…”



Are Fred’s misdeeds starting to catch up to him?


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

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