Okay, here's a little holiday tale from me. I've made some assumptions with the characters. I've always loved Hannukah (even though I'm not Jewish) and thought there should be a Hannukah-like story. And I thought I'd take a shot at explaining Maple's past. It may not be completely accurate, so keep that in mind. Also, I figured the name Anna Murdock was as good a real name for Maple, so I'm using it as well:-)
The characters of Wenn belong to Rupert Holmes and some horrible company who doesn't deserve them. Sam and Louise Murdock belong to me. Here goes.
Louise Murdock clutched the arm of her seat as the plane. The trip had been nine years coming. It hadn't taken her that long to save up money for a round trip ticket to Pittsburgh or even moneyfor a hotel, but it had taken her all that time to work up the nerve to tell her husband.
"You won't use Anna's money for anything, so I'm using it. I'm using it to visit my daughter for Hannukah," she had said before she left.
It had been easier than she thought. Sam Murdock had just grunted. It was his usual response whenever Louise mentioned Anna.
Standing up to Sam must have taken all the courage away from her, because her knuckles were as red as her hair from holding on so tight. Slowly, she began to relax. She reached into her pocket and took out the letter that was becoming torn from so much handling.
This is coming early, but I wanted to make sure it got to you by Hannukah. I'm doing real good here. Someone even recognized me at the grocery the other day. He said "Aren't you that dame who plays the French maid Gwendolyn on that radio show?" I know Hilary would have thought it was terrible to be called a dame, but I thought it was fun to have someone know me by my voice.
Here's a little money from my paycheck. It ain't much, but actresses don't make big bucks here. Hope you can use it.
There was nothing about Sam. Well, Louise could understand that. Anna had written to both of them for months, but after all the return letters had only been from her, and not both of them, she probably just gave up. Louise was grateful that she kept writng at all. It had been a miracle when the first letter came. She had been so glad to hear from her baby that she had ignored the comment about what her job was. A burlesque dancer wasn't what she would have picked for her daughter, but Anna had said it was only until she could do something better.
When Sam had read that, he snorted. "First it starts with her singing and dancing at that rinky theater, and you know how that ended. Now she's doing burlesque." He had refused to even sign his name to the letter.
Well, Anna had shown him. She was now a respected radio actress. Louise smiled. Her baby had made it.
Maple LaMarsh looked in the mirror at her Mrs. Claus suit. It was kinda dumpy, like an old woman would look, but she knew her figure didn't match an elderly lady. Too bad Victor wasn't playing Santa. But he was in London, doing his bit for the war effort. Mackie would have to do. She smiled. It was actually a good thing. She could imagine the switchboard going haywire if Mrs. Claus got too personal with Santa on the air.
"Ready, Mapes?" Mackie whistled as he saw her. "I'll say you are. Rudolph won't be the only one turning red when everyone gets a look at you."
"You really know how to flatter a girl, Santa." Maple giggled and followed him into the studio.
The program went well. "Santa" asked the kids their names, and each one had spoken up loud enough for the microphones to pick up. "Mrs. Claus" handed each child a small token gift. It had gone off without a hitch. Now Maple was listening to Betty sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas". She got a lump in her throat as Betty stumbled over some of the lyrics. It must have been a hard song for her to sing while Scott was away fighting, but Betty was a trooper. That's what Maple liked about her.
"Excuse, me. I'm looking for a Maple LaMarsh." The voice pronounced the name hesitantly. Maple turned around.
"MA!" Everyone in the studio turned to see what was wrong, but Maple waved a hand and signled for them to keep broadcasting. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see my radio star daughter. You look fine, Anna." Louise put her arms around her daughter. The awkwardness melted, and they held each other tight.
"Wow. I never expected to see you here," Maple said as she walked her mother to the greenroom.
"I should have come sooner," Louise sighed.
"You're here now. What about Pop? Is he with you?" Maple asked hopefully.
"No, he stayed back home." Louise hated to see the light leave her daughter's eyes.
"Figures." Maple frowned. Then she smiled again. "You got a place to stay while you're here? How long can you stay?"
"Only a week. And I have money for a hotel."
"Hotel? Are you crazy? You'll stay with me. My place isn't too big, but I can squeeze my own ma in."
It must have had something to do with the season, because they managed to talk for a whole hour without any interruptions. Maple filled her mother in on everything that she hadn't written in her letters. They laughed together as she spun around, showing off her Mrs. Claus outfit.
The family had never been real religious except for Hannukah, and they had even exchanged Christmas gifts, because everyone on the block did. But Santa had never come into it, and Maple had been 12 before she even knew he had a wife. She wondered why he didn't have his own kids if he had one. Looking at Maple, Louise knew Santa would never have had time for presents if his wife looked like that.
"What ever happened to that boy we saw you with? I mean..." She blushed.
Maple sighed. She knew what her mother was asking. maybe now she could set the record straight. "Ma, Pop kicked me out of the house before I could say anything. I'm going to try now. When you saw him on the couch, nothing happened. He had been watching the show. Then he came backstage to pick up one of the girls for a date. He saw a guy trying to get fresh with me and he decked him out. Then he found out you and Pop were visiiting Aunt Pearl and wouldn't be back until the next day, so he stayed over to watch me. He said a 17 year old shouldn't be alone. He slept on the couch the whole time." It was as much of the truth as Maple was willing to tell. She didn't want her mother to know how fresh the man had gotten. If someone hadn't come, well she didn't want to think about it.
"I guess you haven't seen him since," Louise said.
"As a matter of fact I have. Scotty kept popping up in my life. Sort of like a guardian angel." Maple snickered. She didn't know if it was the right image for Scott Sherwood. "He's off fighting now, but he's usually an actor here at WENN."
Louise teared up as she heard the story. They had judged Anna so unfairly. She wished she could have said it was all Sam's fault and she had just been too weak to stand up to him. But part of her had believed the worst, too. She gave Anna another hug. "Did you and he ever..."
"No, Ma. Me and Scotty have only ever been friends. He's got a sweetheart right here at the station. She's Betty Roberts." As she spoke the door opened, and Betty walked in.
"Oh, Maple, I didn't know you had company."
"This is Betty, I was telling you about. Betty, this is my ma, Louise Murdock."
"You're the Betty, Anna...I mean Maple...wrote so much about. Nice to meet you." She held out her hand.
Betty shook Louise's hand. She had always wondered about Maple's family. Because Maple had never spoken of it, Betty figured there must have been some rift with them. But the look in Maple's eyes proved that the rift was closing. Anna Murdock. It was pretty. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Murdock."
"Betty, would you like to have dinner with me and Ma tonight?" Maple asked.
"Sure. It'll be nice to spend some time with other people after work instead of alone at home." Betty shook her head. "Sorry, I promise to be better better company. Thanks, Maple."
Louise pressed Betty's hand. It wasn't fair that such a sweet girl had to feel alone.
The reminisces continued at Maple's small apartment. The dinner was spagetti, and all three of them laughed as Louise told about the first romantic dinner Maple had tried to cook for a boy. It had been a disaster. Maple had been so busy flirting, that she let the food burn to a crisp. Luckily they had leftover spagetti.
"I have something for you," Louise said, reaching into a bag she carried. She pulled out a small menorah.
"Oh, Ma," Maple said softly. "Let's see, I'll have to light all the candles. Hannukah was three, no, four days ago." She went to the kitchen and rummaged for candles. She came back and lit each one, reciting the Hannukah blessing.
Betty watched silently. She didn't know Maple was Jewish. It was just another thing she was finding out about her friend. She listened to the beautiful words she couldn't understand, and knew something special was happening. Brassy, but goodhearted Maple was left behind in the glow of the candlelight. Right now, Anna Murdock was sharing a special moment with her mother. It was something she felt they should share alone. She slipped from her chair and went to the door.
Maple looked up. Betty smiled. Maple mouthed 'Merry Christmas'.
"Happy Hannukah, Anna," Betty whispered, as she shut the door behind her.
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