produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

EPISODE #157 (April 15, 2012) click here for a printable version of this episode
Same Day
July 1936 – Afternoon


43 Landings Ct.Stephanie Lake Monroe“E-Excuse me?”  Stephanie Monroe eyed her husband, Patterson, in bewilderment.  Surely she was mistaken.  It almost sounded as if he was asking her to quit her job on the most popular afternoon serial on WALB Radio.  “I’m sure I couldn’t have heard you correctly.  It sounded like you said….”

“I said that I think it might be a good idea for you to quit working at the radio station,” he said again in a tone that clearly implied that he thought what he was suggesting was the most logical thing in the world.  “If you didn’t have to be at the station nearly every afternoon, you wouldn’t have to rush around here like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make it in time for….”

“Absolutely not,” she interrupted with a firm shake of her head.  “There’s no way I’m doing that.”

“Steph, be reasonable.”  Patterson reached out for her but she quickly pulled away from him.  “There’s no logical reason for you to be….”

“I said ‘no,’ Paddy,” she snapped angrily.  “And when I say ‘no,’ I mean no!”

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Callison PublicationsAgnes said for me to come right on in,” Trevor Callison said as he came through the door of his father’s office, a thick envelope tucked under his arm.  When he realized that his older brother, Reginald Callison, and company attorney Douglas Davis were also present, he paused for a moment, quickly assuming that he was interrupting something important.

“Did you bring the papers?” Charles asked, rising from his seat behind his desk and motioning for his son to come on into the room.

“Right here,” he replied and handed his father the envelope.  Sara sounds really eager to work with us on Thornton Preston’s manuscripts.  I didn’t have any problem at all getting her to sign the papers.”

“Good, good,” Charles nodded.  “Sara’s a smart girl.  I’ve always liked her.  I didn’t think there’d be a problem.”

Trevor Callison“So….  Am I interrupting something?” Trevor asked as his eyes moved from his father to Douglas before landing on Reginald.  “Shouldn’t you be at home with Jillian?  Didn’t she just get out of the hospital today.”

“She did,” he nodded, “but we have this meeting scheduled with Orin Macalister.  Maggie was there when I left.”

“We’re hoping we can finally persuade Macalister into signing that contract with us.”  Charles returned to his seat behind his desk and began organizing papers and documents for the meeting.  “I thought Douglas would’ve gotten him to sign when he went out to California, but….”

“He’ll sign,” Douglas quickly spoke up.  “I’m sure of it.”

Douglas Davis“And when he does, Douglas, we’ll owe it all to you and the ground work you laid with him.  If you keep doing good work like this with your contracts, our stable of talented and sellable writers is going to be well stocked.”

“Speaking of which….”  Trevor hesitated for a moment as he considered whether it was the proper time to bring up a question that had been lingering on his mind.  “I know that Douglas was instrumental in signing Thornton Preston and he’s the person who primarily dealt with him before he died.  Why isn’t he dealing with Sara about those manuscripts you want to publish?”

“I thought you’d be a better fit to work with Sara, honestly,” Charles explained.  “I know that the two of you are friends and could work well together.  Besides… well… I thought you needed something substantial to occupy your time.”

“What you mean is that you wanted to make sure I was too busy to keep looking for Grace, don’t you?”  Trevor looked his father dead in the eyes before turning to look at Douglas in a way that silently accused him of complicity in the matter.  Before anyone had a chance to address Trevor’s accusations, there came a knock at the door.

Agnes Martin“Mr. Callison,” his secretary, Agnes Martin, poked her head into the office, “Mr. Macalister is here.  Should I… have him wait for a moment?”

“No, send him right on in.”

As the four men waited anxiously for their first group meeting with famed adventure novelist Orin Macalister, Trevor shot both his father and Douglas a silent glare that let them know that their previous discussion regarding Thornton Preston and his search for Douglas’s sister, Grace, wasn’t finished.

“Gentlemen!” Orin called out as he came into the office, a boisterous and dynamic figure who instantly commanded everyone’s attention.  “It’s good to finally meet you, Mr. Callison.  Your man Douglas here has told me lots of good things about you and your company.”

Orin MacalisterOrin extended his hand to Charles, who promptly shook it, before offering his hand to the others.

“You already know Douglas,” Charles began the introductions.  “This is my oldest son, Reginald, who’s in charge of our newspaper, the Daily Post – he has quite a few wonderful ideas about serializing portions of your next novel in the Sunday edition of the Post – and this is my other son, Trevor, who’s currently working with the estate of the late Thornton Preston to bring the remainder of his novels to print under the Callison banner.”

“I can tell you have fine boys, Mr. Callison.”

Reginald Callison“Thank you.”  Charles maneuvered his way back to his desk so that he could have easy access to the notes, files, and legal documents he needed to help seal the deal with Macalister.  “But, in all seriousness, let’s get down to business.  As I’m sure Douglas explained to you during his trip to California….”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Macalister nodded with a sigh and a wave of his hand.  “You want me to sign with your company and allow you to handle the exclusive publishing and handling rights of my next four books.  Douglas here more than went over that.”

“Well, he indicated to me that you had some sort of problem with the contract.”

“Oh, I had no problem with the contract at all,” Macalister laughed.  “In fact, as far as I can tell, it’s a damn good deal.  It’s no secret that I’ve been really happy with my most recent arrangements for quite a while.”

Charles Callison“Then I don’t understand why Douglas couldn’t get you to sign.”

“Mr. Callison, did you really expect me to put my signature on anything that I haven’t had thoroughly looked over by my own counsel?”  Macalister let out a hearty laugh.  “Besides, I wanted to make this trip and meet the people behind the contract in person.”

“Then you’re willing to sign the contract?’

“Of course!” Macalister laughed again.  “Now, are you going to give me the damn thing to sign, or are we going to drag this out all blessed day?  I’d hoped that we could get all of this taken care of pretty quickly.  I’ve got a lot of other more important things to take care of today than worry with some fool contract.”


54 Spring Lake Dr.“Now, if you’d stop leaving your empty glasses all over the house, I wouldn’t have to follow along behind you picking up after you,” Helga Grimm pointed out to her employer, Dane Manchester, as she gathered up an assortment of cocktail glasses from various points in the room.

“If I’m not mistaken, that’s what you get paid to do, Helga.”  Dane barely made the effort to even look up from the latest edition of the Daily Post.  “You’re our housekeeper – keep house!  Or should we replace you full time with Naomi?”

“You really do want this place to look like a pigsty, don’t you?”

Helga GrimmAs Helga carried the glasses out of the room, Dane heard the front door opening and closing followed, moments later, by his wife, Sara, coming into the room.

“Did you have a good meeting with Trevor?” he asked, still focused on the newspaper.

“We got a lot of details ironed out.  I think we’re going to work really well together.”  She paused when she realized that all of his attention remained focused on the newspaper.  “Is there… anything important in the paper today?”

“Just this wire service report about Father’s political campaign,” he muttered before folding up the paper and tossing it aside.  “I can’t wait until this entire mess is over.  Good Lord willing, he’ll lose and I’ll never have to hear about his political aspirations ever again.”

“I thought you wanted your father to win.”

“I want whatever he wants me to want, whether I really want it or not,” Dane grumbled.  “If Father wants my full and open support, then that’s what he’ll have.”

Sara Manchester“I still don’t think he likes me,” Sara muttered, remembering their trip to Chicago and her less than positive first meeting with Dane’s parents.

“Oh, I’m sure he likes you well enough – you are a pretty young girl, after all – but his approval is another story.  Of course, I wouldn’t necessarily worry about that, either, because Father doesn’t approve of anyone.  Hell, he doesn’t even approve of me half the time.”

Dane looked up at Sara and noticed the troubled expression on her face.  He quickly realized that discussing his father had brought up her own feelings of social awkwardness where his parents were concerned and he rose from his seat and went to her.

“Honey, don’t worry about my parents.”  He cupped her face with his hands and gently brushed away the beginnings of a tear that had started to form in the corner of her eye.  “I could’ve married a royal princess and I bet they’d still find some reason to disapprove.  Their feelings on the subject don’t mean a single thing to me.  I… I probably don’t say it enough but… I love you, Sara.  I really do.”

“Oh, Dane!”  An emotional Sara threw her arms around her husband’s neck and hugged him tightly.  “I just… feel so horrible for having forced you into this marriage – a marriage you didn’t really want – and how your father cut you off and….”

Dane Manchester“You listen to me, Sara – I don’t want you to ever think about that again.  Whatever happened in the past – whatever the actual reason was for us getting married – we are married now and I take that very seriously.  You’re my wife and I love you – don’t you ever forget that.  No matter what I’ve ever done or whatever I might do, I’ll always love you.”

“Oh, Dane,” she cooed softly, filled with tender emotion, and hugged him even more tightly.

Privately, as Dane held his wife in his arms, he couldn’t help but think about how much truth his words contained.  Yes, they’d married under far less than ideal circumstances and he’d resented her for forcing him into a marriage he hadn’t wanted and, yes, that resentment, compounded with his anger over her presumed duplicity in regards to Mr. Preston, had led to him engaging in some rather unsavory illicit endeavors; but deep down he was forced to realize that he did truly love her.  That revelation made him realize that the last thing in the world he wanted was for Sara to be hurt.

“Oh, I love you,” she sighed before kissing him softly on the lips.  “I feel… so foolish for letting myself get so emotional over what your parents think about me.”

“Don’t ever let them or anyone else make you feel like you aren’t good enough.”

“I… I think I’m going to go check on Naomi and see if she needs any help with the baby before lunch.”

Sara walked towards the large wooden doors that led towards the foyer, but paused and turned around to give Dane one last, loving look before exiting.  Once she’d gone, he couldn’t resist the urge to pick the newspaper back up and reread the article regarding his father’s political campaign.  Unfortunately, before he’d had a chance to get very deeply into the article, the robust sound of applause began to echo through the room.  Startled by the unexpected sound, Dane quickly turned towards the doors to the foyer.

Joyce Preston“Bravo!” his mother-in-law, Joyce Preston, applauded in her typical arrogant and smug tone, “Bravo!”

Dane froze at the sight of Joyce.  Her tone instantly told him that she was up to something and he couldn’t avoid becoming uneasy about what it might be.